Sunday, 7 October 2012

CLIC Sargent

With such a demanding challenge ahead of me I thought I would take the opportunity to endeavour to raise much needed funding for CLIC Sargent. The Charity is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. CLIC Sargent was formed in 2005 after a successful merger between CLIC and Sargent Cancer Care for Children.

Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening experience and the emotional, practical and financial implications of treatment are intensely challenging for the whole family. The Charity provides clinical, practical, financial and emotional support to help the family cope with cancer and get the most out of life. CLIC Sargent are there from diagnosis onwards and aim to help the whole family deal with the impact of cancer and its treatment, life after treatment and, in some cases, bereavement.

If you can help in any way, please do so.

Best wishes, Fraser.

4th October 2012

Friday, 21 September 2012

Back 2 Nepal

Back 2 Nepal I have decided to go back to Nepal to attempt the following:-

• Climb Mera Peak (6,476m) and Island Peak (6,189m)
• Trek in the mountain wilderness of the Upper Hongu Valley and cross the challenging (and technical) Amphu Labsta Pass (5,780m)
• Trek through the Everest Region seeing the world’s six or so highest peaks.

Of the 29 days (21st Oct to 18th Nov 2012) some 21 nights will be spent in a tent so upgrading my sleeping bag will be essential as will be Spantik boots and warm gloves.

This is one of Nepal’s finest and most challenging mountain journeys – the scenery will be magic.

The last time I was in Nepal was in 2008 (do the years not fly past?) and again I would like (if I can?) to record my progress on my blog.

Best wishes, Fraser.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Dave MacLeod Lecture Chester 28-5-12

Dave MacLeod, born in Glasgow and living in Letterfinlay, is one of the UK’s most exciting climbers so it was a great pleasure to listen to his address in Chester this week. As well as climbing Dave writes and makes films and you can look at his helpful and detailed website at He has done a lot of demanding climbs in the UK and around the world. What impressed me was the amount of training he undertakes and the sheer strength he has in his hands and fingers. He has a training “board” in a room in his home which he practises on.

The audience saw footage of the first death defying free ascent of Orkney’s Longhope route, conquering 400m of sheer rock face. He put a massive amount of effort into researching and getting familiar with the rock face, returning to this unique place on a number of occasions, before doing the climb. As well as the climb he had to deal with fulmars defending their “pitches” on the cliff face.


Sunday, 27 May 2012


Nowhere in Wales evokes quite the same emotions among mountain lovers as the Ogwen Valley. To me it is a mini Scotland with towering peaks, jagged ridges, sheltered cwms and imposing rock walls.

I have two possible challenges in Wales this year:
The Welsh 15 three thousand + feet peaks, within a window of 24 hours
Welsh 1000m Peaks race on Saturday 9th June 2012.

With this in mind it was important to familiarise myself with the routes and with friends over 3 days this was done.

Day one – Saturday 5th May

We left the car park at Trasbwll at 9.15am and at 10.45am we had reached the top of Foel-fras (942m). It was a nice morning and it was mainly dry under foot all day. We reached Carnedd Uchaf (926m) at 11am and then had a coffee stop in the mountain hut on Foel Grach (976m) at 11.20am. It was then a walk in light cloud arriving on Carnedd Llewelyn (“CL”) (1,064m) at 12 noon. It was then across to Yr Elen (962m) at 12.20pm and we took the lower path on the slopes of CL and along the stony ridge to Carnedd Dafydd (1,044m)at 1.25pm with lovely views all around. At 2.05pm we reached Pen-yr Ole Wen (978m), our 7th peak of the day before descending to Glan Dena, arriving there at 3.05pm. It was then a long walk back to Capel Curig and a lovely meal at the Moel Siabod Café.

Day two – Sunday 6th May

Staying overnight in Capel Curig and having a lovely vegetarian breakfast at the café we were at the base of Tryfan (915m) at 9.15am to commence our day’s massive challenge. At 10.30am we had reached the top coming up the steep direct route by the Bochlwyd Buttress. Flurries of hail had accompanied us for most of the way up and we had to put on winter gear as it was very cold. Light snow was then the order of the day so reaching the base of BR at 11.30am we needed to be very careful in making this demanding scramble. We went up the ridge with two groups of climbers and this was good as we helped each other up to the top and we were able to take photographs as we ascended. At 12.30pm we reached the top and then it was on to do Glyder Fach (994m) at 1.00pm and Glyder Fawr (999m) at 1.35pm. It was then a decent through the scree slopes down to Llyn y Cwn and then up to Y Garn (947m) by the ridge route, arriving there at 2.45pm. By now the snow had abated and eventually stopped as we made our way to the isolated top of Elidir Fawr (924m) arriving there at 4pm. After a break of 20 minutes in afternoon sun we left on our long and steep decent and we were down in Nant Peris for 5.30pm and a quick pint in the local pub before catching a bus at 6pm which took us back to Capel Curig.

It had been the intention to do Snowdon, Carnedd Ugain and Grib Goch that day but this was deemed 3 mountains too many to attempt due to the time of day. The three would be done on a separate day to complete our 15 Peak recognisance.

Day three – Thursday 24th May

On a beautiful day at 10am we set off from the north end of Lyn Lockwood by the new path to reach Pen-y-Pass, then taking the Pyg Track to Bwich y Moch and then taking the steep Crib Goch path and the demanding scramble to the top (Grade 1) of Crib Goch (923m), reaching there at 12.20pm. The 921m east top is one of the finest views in British mountaineering which is guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping. Then the start of the section that everyone wants to cross with the Bwlch Goch pinnacles keeping your “rock count” high for the day. Once over the pinnacles it is more a sedate stroll up to the flakes and pinnacles of Crib y Ddysgl and then on to the top of Carnedd Ugain (“CU”) (1,065m). We had a couple of breaks as we made our way along the long narrow ridge getting to CU for 2pm. It was then onto Snowdon (1085m) at 2.16pm and then a drink in the café and a supply of water taken with us as we had decided to do the Snowdon Horseshoe on this hot and windless day. The Snowdon Horseshoe has long been rated as one of the finest mountain days in Wales, if not Britain. Despite sun cream we well knew we were going to get burnt. It was then down the long scree slope to Bwlch y Saethau, along the ridge and then the challenging scramble (this is scrambling at its best!) up the escarpment edge to the top of Y Lliwedd (898m), arriving there at 4pm. Two people we knew were climbing on the cliff face and we did meet them having successfully completed their climb. It was then along the ridge with breath taking views down to the shores of Llyn Llydaw, then on to the Miners Track, where we linked up with the two climbers once again, and walked back to Pen-y-pass. We were back at our car at 6pm and then it was on to Moel Saibod Café for a well earned drink and a chat over the success of the day.

Over the 3 days some 16 mountains had been done adding to my annual mountain count.

26th May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Wednesday 9th May and Thursday 10th May 2012 were set aside to walk in the Lake District and do some more of the Central Wainwrights. We left Chester at 7.45am and with a brief shopping stop in Ambleside we were at our overnight accommodation in Langdale at 12.15pm and we commenced our walk at 12.50pm with a nice dry clear day, indeed ideal for walking. A BIG day was planned and some 7 mountains were on the Agenda, alas not all Wainwrights but all counting in my annual “mountain count”.

We did the following mountains:
Rossett Pike (1.30pm)
Esk Pike (2.30pm)
111 Crag (3.20pm)
Broad Crag (3.50pm)
Great End ((4.20pm)
Allen Crags (5.00pm)
Glaramara (5.50pm)
Allen Crags (6.45pm).

Alas a light rain started at 4.45pm and the cloud began to drop. On Glaramara we put on our waterproofs as the rain was getting heavier and visibility was rapidly vanishing. We reached the top of Allen Crags for a second time as this was the best route back. The question I ask is – does this count for 8 mountains in the day or just 7??

In the darkening after a long and hard walk we were in a pub having a well earned pint at 9.55pm.

It poured during the night and was a terrible morning again on Thursday so we made the wise decision to return south. Activities for our second day would need to wait!!

12th May 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Coast2Coast “Way of the Roses” Morecambe to Bridlington – 170 miles (274km) Monday 14th – Thursday 17th May 2012

It is our main bike challenge for the year and we have been training hard for it. We are waiting the 8.22am train at Cuddington on Monday 14th May to take us to Chester, then the 8.52am Manchester train to Warrington. Here we change to get the Virgin train to Edinburgh, exiting at Lancaster and then catching the 10.19am to Morecambe. The pressure is on but all goes according to plan and at 10.45am we leave the prom. at Morecambe bound for Settle, our first overnight stop. At 12.45am we are at Hornby and have an enjoyable lunch at the Royal Oak. It had threatened to rain and the dark clouds above us told us a shower was imminent so we took shelter at the pub until the shower passed and we had an enjoyable day as we make our way passing through small villages and over moor areas, some steep gradients and by the River Ribble into Settle. We arrived at our hotel – The Craven Arms – in Giggleswick and we very much enjoy our overnight stay. We finished at 4pm having travelled 60kms.

Having had gear changing problems with both bikes we called into the bike store at Settle to have them looked over and we were ever so impressed with the service and advice we received. We knew we were in for a very hard day with the first massive hill climb as we left Settle at 11.30am on Tuesday 15th May. (Alas we had taken the wrong route out of the town, our only wrong navigation error on the trip!!) However it was a long downhill ride to the lovely village of Airton. It was then a lot of up and downs, with some hail showers, which proved tiring as we were carrying all our kit in two pannier bags over our back wheels. At Hetton we stopped for a coffee break at The Angle Inn, a delightful location with two wood burning stoves bringing warmth on this cold but dry day. At Burnsall we reached the River Wharfe and stopped to take photographs on the bridge crossing the river. From here we negotiate the longest and steepest hill of the trip taking us up onto the Nidderdale moor and the highest point of the route at 1,312ft (402m) at Greenhow. The decent down to Pateley Bridge was ever so steep (14%) with lots of tight bends. Once at the base of the decent we needed to stop as we were cold and not in a good way. We bought milk, sausage rolls and chocolate cake at the local bakery to help us recover from the long climb followed by a very demanding decent.

Our climbing and walking with our bikes is far from over as once in the town of Pateley Bridge we are once again climbing and eventually reach the top of Brimham Rocks. Farms are cutting their first silage and here we hear a cuckoo making its unique call. At last gradients start to get easier and the Vale of York and the riverside path into the City of Ripon were flat. At 6.30pm we arrived at our hotel – The Unicorn – somewhat knackered, having recorded our hardest ever day cycle. Once in our hotel the heavens opened for an hour or so – how lucky were we. We travelled a hard and demanding 77 kms.

9.45am on Wednesday 16th May sees us pass Ripon Cathedral and we are bound for York. This proves to be a very scenic route and we are off road for long sections as we reach the River Ouse. We are in the centre of York by the Minster having a coffee break in a Café at 1pm and we have travelled some 50kms. We are well pleased by our performance and cycling has been so easy compared to the previous day. Again we are blessed with good weather. Today we are bound for Pocklington and staying at The Feathers Hotel. At Stamford Bridge we pass the sight of the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066). Fields of bright yellow oil seed rape have fascinated us each day and as for the first time our track took us through a large field we stopped to take photographs. A little further on we stopped for a snack at the road junction just before “Fat Rabbit Farm”. We knew we were doing well and at 3.45pm we reached our hotel having travelled some 80kms.

We are up earlier on Thursday morning and we are on our bikes at 8.45am ready to go. Alas there is a light drizzle of rain (which lasts all day) but does not hold us back. Again for most of the day we are on narrow lanes in lovely country side and apart from two hills to negotiate we are mainly on the flat. We stop at Driffield for coffee at 11.15am having cycled 38kms. At 1.48pm we arrive on the finishing point on the prom. at Bridlington, our massive challenge has been accomplished and what a great feeling of achievement. The tide was in so we went and touched the sea. We had travelled 70kms.

Finding the station we were on the 2.11pm train bound for Sheffield (our target had been the 16.09 train). Here we would catch a train bound for Manchester which was extremely busy but we fought our way on and got off at Stockport and immediately getting on a train bound for Chester. We were back in Cuddington at 6.45pm. all going like clockwork, and our adventure was over. Our effort was well rewarded with an overwhelming sense of achievement and memories of iconic landscapes and beautiful skies that will never be forgotten.

This is a hard route especially if you are carrying your own gear without any support as we were doing. Our overnight stops were well thought out and in reflection there were few alternatives. The route is well sign posted but you need to be careful as other routes are also sign posted. Sustrans has done massive good work in creating this route through The Lune Valley, the beautiful Forest of Bowland, the wild and wonderful Yorkshire Dales and the no less captivating Yorkshire Wolds. Give it a try and you will enjoy it.

19th May 2012

Across Wales, Anglesey and Holy Islands by Bike Tues 1st May to Thur 3rd May 2012 178.5kms

Leaving Chester on our bikes at 9.55am we were at the Welsh Border at 10.05am and with a good tail wind on a dull but so far dry day we were in Prestatyn by 12 noon. With ever more darkening clouds we decided to put on our waterproofs at Rhyl but I am glad to say the heavy down pour did not materialise and only light intermittent drops were felt. At Abergele (1pm) we stopped at a seaside café – Pantri Bach – for a light lunch and by 1.30pm we were on our way again arriving at Rhos-on-Sea (our overnight stop) at 2.30pm well ahead of our expected arrival time. What a difference a tail wind makes!! We had cycled 71.8kms. We spent an enjoyable evening in this small town.

Wednesday 2nd May saw us start at 9.30am on a lovely sunny morning with no wind and with the prom. At Llandudno open on a trial basis to cyclists for the first time we could not miss out on this opportunity to go through the town and round the Great Orme, arriving in Conwy at 11.30am, having cycled 18kms. The scenery all day was spectacular. We had a short café stop at 28kms and at 3pm we were at the Menai Bridge, having done 50kms. At 4pm we were at our overnight farm B&B near Pentraeth and we had cycled 61.7kms.

A short taxi ride took us to the Ship Inn for drinks and a meal at the lovely location of Red Wharf Bay. I had passed through this delightful location a few years before on a C2C walk across Anglesey.

Thursday 3rd May turned out to be another nice sunny morning with a light wind as we left our accommodation at 9.30am after an enjoyable breakfast. We were on narrow hedge bordered lanes as we made our way across the Island. By 11am we had done 19kms and we were in the village of Maenaddwyn. The next section of the route was mainly down hill with two long straights, for the first time we touched over 50kms per hour on our bikes. At 12.30pm we were at Trearddur and on the small island of Holy Island (Ynys Gybi) and enjoying a coffee and hamburger by this lovely beach. At 1.30pm we had reached Holyhead and made our way to the railway station. We had done 45kms. We boarded a Virgin Super Voyager 2 bound for Euston at 1.58pm. By 3.20pm we were back in Chester at the end of an enjoyable trip.

5th May 2012

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The National UK Three Peaks Challenge

In June 2010 (18th to 20th) I had the privilege and responsibility of leading a Group of 16 people to undertake and complete The National UK Three Peaks Challenge. We did hire two mini buses (bear in mind the vehicles have a 100kms per hr(62mph) speed restriction which was not taken into consideration for my road times!). We did travel to Scotland to firstly climb Ben Nevis (the tourist route), followed by Scafell Pike (from Wasdale) and lastly Snowdon (Pyg Track). I completed the challenge in 21hrs.13mins ( 9.58 hrs on the mountains and a 11.15hrs road journey) which was the second best time (best - 20hrs.48mins) and all completed the challenge within the 24hr window. We had two wonderful drivers and we were lucky with the weather. In the months before the challenge I took the participants on three training walks and a few discussion sessions as some had no previous walking experience. Having the right kit is essential.

As a Group we raised £17,000+ for Leukaemia Research.

Since doing the challenge I have been asked on numerous occasions about the event so I am now placing my “Overview Document” (see below) on my Blog, which in reflection I should have done at the time. I hope this proves helpful to those who wish to have a go to complete the challenge. Should anyone wish additional information on any point do not hesitate to make contact with me.

31st March 2012

“Overview Document”

The purpose of this document is to look at all issues surrounding this important charity fund raising challenge and to ensure all members of the Team are prepared for and enjoy the enormous challenge that lies ahead.

The National UK Three Peaks Challenge.
The challenge is to climb, and travel between, the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales. This is attempted over a continuous 24 hour window.

The Three Peaks are:
Ben Nevis - Scotland: 1344 metres (4,408ft) Highest in UK.
Scafell Pike - England: 978 metres
Snowdon - Wales: 1085 metres

We will aim to complete the mountains in a time of 12.5 hours - Ben Nevis in 5 hours, Scafell Pike in 4 hours and Snowdon in 3.5 hours; however this will depend upon the speed of the Team.

The distance walked is around 25 miles, the height climbed is around 10,000 feet (over 3,000m of non-technical climbing) and the distance to be covered between the mountains is some 450 miles - normally via car or minibus, taking over 10 hours in a minibus. I am not sure what the record is, but 16hrs 30minutes springs to mind. The drivers must know the route intimately and must be able to navigate without support from any walking team member who will need to use this travel time as sleeping time.

Careful preparation is essential and everyone should become actively involved in this, creating a “Team Spirit” from day one. Everyone needs to know the part they have to play and the Team need to be supported by two capable drivers who would also help with kit, food preparation and water supplies.

A massive effort must go into training in the mountains and getting “MOUNTAIN FIT” before hand. Team members must take on their own training plan to include the gym, cycling, swimming and mountain walking and everyone will enjoy the challenge a whole lot more.

Would it not be a great shame to put all of this work in, just to set out on Ben Nevis and realize you or other members of The Team simply weren't fit enough? It is a “Team” effort from day one and this must be remembered. IMPORTANT: due to the time sensitive nature of this challenge, slow moving participants may be asked to drop out, in order for those participants who are well-prepared and moving swiftly to complete the challenge within the maximum time frame.

Three Training Walks
Dates are now in the diary for the three training walks and specific instructions will be issued ahead of the dates as to travel arrangements, sharing of cars and walking routes etc.
o Cadair Idris (Sat 3rd April) – this is a hard welsh mountain and perhaps as near to Ben Nevis as we will get. We are to do a full transverse of the mountain as well as go down the Fox Path and back up the scree. This will give us a full five hours on the mountain with perhaps heavier ruck sacks than we will need on the 3 Peaks Challenge.
o Snowdon (Sunday 11th April) – we will go up and down the Pyg Track, the route we will be using on the Challenge itself. We will endeavour to do a fast time.
o Scafell Pike (Friday 7th May - a Night Walk) – here we will walk with head torches up the route from Wasdale. We will come down a different route thus giving us a full knowledge of the mountain. It will also permit car drivers to familiarise themselves with the narrow roads in this part of the Lake District.

Undertaking these three walks will give all of us some mountain walk experience and it is important that you gain some experience of night walking, thus leading to an element of confidence on the 19th/20th June.

The Mountains
Ben Nevis
During your attempt, you should be able to complete Ben Nevis within the following times:
Climb - 3 hours
Descent - 2 hours

Q. What time should we start our 24 hour Three Peaks Challenge?
A. It's a good idea to try and complete most of the walking in daylight and the driving in darkness. My recommendation is we start at 7am sharp, allowing us a greater chance of completing Scafell Pike within daylight hours

Q. Do we have to start at the Visitor Centre?
A. You can also start from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, and the Ben Nevis Inn at Achintee, but parking and facilities are limited. As we are to be dropped of I recommend a higher start at Achintee.

Q. How difficult is navigation?
A. The paths are well maintained and obvious in good, clear visibility, and only basic map reading skills are required. However, when the summit is snow covered, or in misty conditions, it is easy to get lost. The summit is extremely dangerous in poor conditions.

Q. What are the summit conditions like?
A. Snow stays on the summit well into the summer. Conditions can change very quickly here. A forecast is posted in the visitor centre, and the staff will offer friendly useful advice. We should check this out on arriving in Fort William on the Friday evening.

Q. Where is the best place to stay?
A. Fort William and the surrounding area has plenty of campsites, bunkhouses, hostels, B&B's and hotels. However, these can become fully booked well in advance, so don't just turn up! Simon and I are already booked into a B&B I always use in the town centre. It is so important all get a good night sleep and late drinking in the pub is out.

Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike is the second of the three peaks to be climbed and will often include a certain amount of walking in the dark. This is allegedly one of the wettest places in England, so you can also expect a fair chance of rain, mist, and pretty poor visibility. Thus perhaps the most difficult walk of the challenge.

Although navigation on this peak may seem fairly obvious in good conditions, route finding can prove to be extremely difficult in the mist, and in the dark - with many groups coming into difficulties when descending. It is very important to be fully aware of the terrain here, which can lead weary and disorientated walkers into some dangerous and exposed cliffs, gills and gullies. We will route mark on the way up to help with our return down.

GPS units are very useful but can give false readings due to the crags and cliffs, and mobile phones will not work in the valley.

Q. From Wasdale or Seathwaite?

A. The most popular starting points for Scafell Pike are from either Wasdale or Seathwaite. Both have extremely limited facilities, and we need to make best use of motorway services before entering the Lake District.

Seathwaite is the easiest to access from the M6 motorway, via Keswick, and reduces the overall drive time by around 1 hour. The downside is that the actual walk to the summit is longer, adding the hour saved by the shorter drive.

Wasdale is situated on the western side of the Lake District, and should be approached via the main A595 road. Wasdale is not suitable for larger vehicles.

Walking Routes
From Seathwaite: From parking in the lane, quietly go through the farm and follow the main path easily to Stockley Bridge. Cross the bridge and continue along the path into Styhead Gill, more steeply now. From the mountain rescue kit at Sty Head, bear left then turn right onto the Corridor Route, through the crags to Lingmell Col. Bear left here for the final climb to the top.

From Wasdale: From the car park at Wasdale Head, head south on the tarmac road to the style/gate and bridleway and footpath signs. Follow the footpath through a field to cross a river on the footbridge. Gentle uphill path right, to path junction at Lingmell Gill. Left uphill, through gate and continue uphill by the gill. Cross river and climb more steeply past Brown Tongue. Bear left on the main path here, across Hollow Stones to Lingmel Col. Bear right on final climb to the top.

Walking Times
As a rough guide, you should be aiming to achieve
these times on the mountain:
From Wasdale: 2 hours climb, 2 hour descent.
From Seathwaite: 2.5 hours climb, 2.5 hours descent.

My preference would be to go up and down from Wasdale being the shortest walking time. I do not fancy parts of the Corridor route in darkness!! Don't underestimate just how difficult this mountain can be when navigating in poor visibility. We are to pay an essential visit to the area before your challenge, so we should be familiar with the routes when we return. Many mistakes are made by trying to return back from the summit too quickly. Steady accurate progress down the mountain will be the order of the night/day. Always carry a head torch and spare batteries, even if you do not intend to still be on Scafell Pike in the dark.

Hi-viz jackets and rear LED lights or glow-sticks are an ideal way to help a team stay together. Groups should stay together in poor visibility. It is very easy to get split up, and even pass each other without realizing it.

One common reason for failing to complete the challenge within a 24 hour period is time lost searching for team members on Scafell Pike in the dark. It is my wish that we all stay together at all times. We will take turns to be leader and we will always have a “back marker”. Beware of becoming confused by other head torches on the mountain. It is very easy to be drawn towards other teams, only to discover they are lost, or are attempting a different route. Stick to made-up paths, and the route with cairns. If possible we will try to remain in contact with our support vehicles.

We will use the motorway services (before Carlisle) to have a break, get a hot drink, fuel up your vehicle, use the toilets, dispose of rubbish, fill up water bottles, change maps, sort out your kit and rucksack ready for Scafell Pike, arriving ready to start walking. We need to respect these quiet and remote locations.

Both areas are sensitive and are surrounded by working farms, campsites, B&B's, etc. Noise and disruption should be kept to an absolute minimum. Arrive quietly and turn your engine and headlights off. Don't slam vehicle doors, play loud music, or shout to each other.

Walking times
As a rough guide, we should be aiming to achieve
these times at least on the mountain.
From Pen-y-Pass:
2hr 15mins climb
1hr 45mins descent.

Remember that Pen-y-Pass is at around 360 metres height, reducing the total climb up the 3.5 mile Pyg Track to the summit. My recommendation is that we go up and down the Pyg Track.
And you may be very tired by then..!

What gear you want to wear and what equipment you want to use is very personal and in this section I am giving you my personal views. I am a great believer in travelling as “light” as possible but always with safety in mind. You will all have a copy of the document Bill circulated “Leukaemia Research” (undated) which gives an “overview” of the event and details kit etc. Weather will play an important part over the two days and thus we must be prepared for bad weather and have spare items of clothing just encase we get soaked.

What Gear/Equipment should you have?
Wicking Base Layer 'T' Shirt long or short sleeved(2/3items) (no cotton material)
• Pants (2)
• Thermal Fleece Jacket (1)
• Waterproof/windproof Jacket (1)
• Walking Trousers/shorts (3) (No jeans)
• Waterproof Over trousers (1) (Half Leg Zips)
• Walking Boots (1/2 pairs) (Training shoes and fell running shoes are not suitable for this challenge)
• Lightweight synthetic liners and heavier wool-blend or synthetic socks (2/3 of each)
• Gaiters (optional)
• Hat & Gloves (2 of each) (Cap if sunny)
• Bandana (1)
• Small Rucksack/Day sack
• Waterproof rain cover for your pack
• Hi-viz jackets and rear LED lights or glow-s
• Head Torch & Batteries
• Watch
• Insect Repellent
• Sun Cream
• Sun Glasses
• Walking/Trekking Poles (I strongly recommend these)
• Bladder type hydration pack or water bottles (1/2)
• Rehydration sachets (1) – (restores natural salt & fluid balance)
• Personal medication if needed
• Pain killers
• Blister pack
• Toilet paper
• Wet wipes
• Hand washing gel
• Lip salve
• Small sweat towel
• Multi tool knife
• Mobile Telephone
• Camera
• Food as required
• Mat to sit on.

Gear in Kit Bag kept in vehicle
• Towel to dry you if wet conditions
• Change of clothing to relax into in journeys between the three mountains and to wear on completion of challenge
• Stuff bag for dirty clothes
• Toiletries for overnight stay in Fort William
• Supply of food
• A supply of water will be kept in the support vehicles and Team members will fill up as required.

Again food is very personal and here I feel every one should be responsible for their own requirements. However I do make comments for you to consider. Food – taken in a food cooler with frozen cooler packs. Here I would suggest you have some of the following:- fruit, dried fruit such as apricots, unsalted nuts, tin of sardines, sandwiches, pasta salad, mars bars, energy bars, crisps, isotonic drink mixes (concentrated energy drinks in powder form can be added to a water bottle to give an extra boost, especially in hot weather- the make I use is Go Electrolyte), water ( a minimum of 2 litres or 4 pints is recommended), packet soup, coffee, tea, and dried milk.

To avoid fatigue, top up your glycogen store the evening before with a carbohydrate – rich meal of pasta and refuel regularly with carbohydrate – rich snacks such as ripe bananas, dried fruit or muesli bars on the route. Avoid high–fat foods as these slow absorption of carbohydrate. It needs to be lightweight, easy to carry, nutritious and be fun to eat. Have a plastic (say a freezer bag) to hold your banana skins, used tea bags and other used items – always take your rubbish home.

We will hopefully have breakfast before we leave Fort William so on Ben Nevis I would have the minimum of food but a good supply of water. After changing at/in the car (after the walk) we would have a light meal and then try to relax/sleep. An hour or so before arriving in the Lake District have a further snack. Again I would not be carrying too much food up Scafell Pike as it will likely be night time and full concentration will be on the path up and down the mountain. A meal will be taken after we change and get back into the car. Get a good sleep in the car before we reach Snowdon. Again have a snack in the car an hour or so before we reach Pen-y-Pass. Change and have a meal at Bryn Tyrch hotel in Capel Curig after completing the challenge. We need to book the meal well in advance.

A supply of water will be kept in the support car. Endeavour to keep this cold. You have to drink whilst hiking, even if you do not feel thirsty. Dehydration takes place even in cool weather and it is necessary to replace the fluid your body loses naturally through breathing, perspiration and urination. Under normal hiking conditions 3 to 4 litres (6 to 8 pints) of fluid per day should be ample replacement.
An isotonic drink is simply one that is already in balance with the body’s fluids, ensuring it can be absorbed using the minimum amount of energy.

Toilet Breaks
On the mountains if necessary.
Youth hostel or bunk house at base of Ben Nevis.
Motorway or petrol stations.
Toilets behind Pinnacle Café at Capel Curig or at Café at Pen-y-Pass.

Road Route
Here the two drivers will be responsible for the routes we take. Having been to Scotland on two occasions this year I have to report an inordinate amount of roadwork’s on the M6 and on roads in Scotland. There is a particular long stretch of roadwork’s round Cumbernauld and with this in mind we need to consider using the Loch Lomond route instead. On returning to the Lake District the recognized route is to Wasdale but we need also consider doing our walk from Seathwaite.

In Wales I would favor the A55 up to junction 10 and then the A5 to Betws-y-Coed, Capel Curig and Pen-y-Pass. Being organized to get quickly out of our support vehicle is essential as we may have to temporarily park as each drop off point may be very busy due to other Teams doing the Challenge on the same two days as us.

One of the hardest parts of the challenge is driving between the hills. This alone will clock up some 500 miles, and take around 10 hours. Remember that you will have to drive to the start of the challenge, and then, of course, drive home afterwards. So the round trip will be at least 1,000 miles.

Details of the recommended road routes are:
From Fort William
(Get fuel at Morrison’s Supermarket in Town)
A82 south to Crianlarich
A85 south to M9
(Stirling Services)
Join M80 to J4
A80 to M73
Join M74 south
(Bothwell Services or Gretna Services)
M74 to J44 M6
A7 to Carlisle
A595 to Gosforth
At Gosforth, minor road
to Wasdale Head
Minor roads back to A595
A595 south toward Barrow
A5092 to Lowick
A590 to Newby Bridge
A591 to M6
M6 south
(Forton Services
Charnock Richard Services)
Join M56 after J20
M53 south into A55
A55 toward Bangor
A5 south for 100metres
B4366 to roundabout
B4547 to T junction
Left into A4086 to Llanberis.
Continue for Pen-y-Pass.
(Could also leave A55 at Jn 19 for Betws-y-Coed, go through Capel Curig and on to Pen-y-Pass)
Checking for any travel info. on the day will help to decide on the best route to use.

Other things that need to be done whilst traveling:
Changing wet clothes
Top up water bottles
Replace used items
Change maps and route cards
Get Fuel
Toilet stops
Sleep !!!

For this reason, a dedicated pair of drivers would be invaluable to share the driving and navigation. If this isn't possible, we will have to take it in turns to drive and navigate, whilst the others sort themselves out and get some rest. Remember that the more tired a driver becomes, the chances of them driving unsafely, getting lost, taking chances or falling asleep increase. Don't forget to do basic vehicle checks before you leave home, oil, tyre pressures, washer bottle etc, and make sure that the jack and wheel brace won't be stored underneath everyone's kit. Sort out a light for the navigator which won't annoy the driver during darkness. Try to fuel up before the start; will the vehicle need fueling en-route? If so, where? And is the petrol stations 24 hours?

We need to be aware of the many Speed Cameras that will be in use over the length of our road journey.

Group Safety Equipment
First Aid Kit
Maps & Compass
Bothy/Group Shelter
Emergency food & drinks
Mobile Phone
GPS System
Powerful Hand Torch

Rob Richardson and I will share the carrying of the emergency equipment.

Other Matters
We will NOT try to drive and walk. We will get at least one, preferably two, dedicated drivers who will not be climbing the mountains. If you end up driving and walking, and are involved in a crash, you may well be prosecuted for a variety of driving offences (it does happen)!

Sort food and drinks for both walkers and drivers. (Here my recommendation is that all are self sufficient with the food we like.) Taking some simple cooking equipment and a few hot water flasks will help keep everyone fed and watered. Don't simply rely on catering outlets (McDonalds, chip shop, 24 hour motorway services) as they are not always serving food!

We will get the right size of vehicle(s) for the group. You should leave plenty of space to relax and spread out, store your kit and food supplies. As a rough guide, unless you have lots of stowage space, try to leave a third of seats empty i.e.15 seat minibus = 10 passengers maximum.

Check driver insurance and license entitlement, especially if hiring a vehicle. Minibus drivers must have D1 category and are normally required to be over 25 and under 70 for insurance purposes.

Be flexible with your route. During a 450 mile journey you are bound to encounter some delays, slow moving vehicles, or road works which were not predicted. Matrix signs are in operation on the main routes which give early warning of accidents, delays, or road diversions.

We use a Satnav and road map. The satnav gives a good estimated time of arrival at your next mountain, and can be a great help getting back on track if you take the odd wrong turn or two. The road map is the best way to decide upon alternative routes to avoid delays.

• Members of Group falling behind or being injured - need to return to base of mountain.
• Move forward at all times as a Group
• Two mini buses - allocated spaces
• Travel in tandem between mountains (If engine problems one vehicle can move forward)
• All alternative routes to be discussed encase of road closures etc
• Nav systems in both vehicles plus map routes to be marked
• Spare wheel to be readily accessed and drivers know how to change these.
• Other risks have been catered for in main discussion paper.
I have gone for a target of 22.5hrs. - the window, as you know is 24 hours.

Ben Nevis
• 7am start
• 10am Top
• 11.30am finish - 4.5hrs
• Road Journey - 6.5hrs
Scafell Pike
• 6.00pm start
• 8.00pm top
• 9.30pm finish - 3.5hrs
• Road Journey - 4.5hrs
• 2.00am start
• 4.00am top
• 5.30am finish - 3.5hrs
Time on mountains -11.5hrs
Time on road -11.0hrs
Total -22.5hrs


Fraser Mackay

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Canada comes 2 Stockport, UK

Saturday 11th February 2012 saw me bound on a train for Stockport Plaza to see a number of adventure films shown at the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff Canada in November 2011. Some 300+ films featured in the Festival and the very best of these films have been selected to feature in the Tour which will be seen across 7 continents, 35 countries and 700 other audiences.

Over 900 people turned up (a record number in the UK) and there was a buzz and exciting ambiance in this unique venue as the first film was shown on the BIG screen with magic clarity and excellent sound effects. Thousands of people have become “hooked” on the exploration, courage and at times the foolhardiness featured in these amazing films. Having been at the Kendal Mountain Festival last year I well knew the passion for adventure that is experienced during a screening and vivid memories will always remain. I was excited as to what was to be shown and all being AWARD films, I well knew we would be in for a special treat – I was not disappointed.

I want to comment on three films that I thought were very special:-
• Cold On Feb 2nd 2011 three climbers made a winter summit of Gasherbrum11 (the world’s 13th highest peak), one of Pakistan’s 8,000 metre peaks for the first time. The immediacy of the footage and the ferocity of the climb are totally inspiring. Just wonderful. I was with the climbers all the way to the top (half way) and back down again!
• Kadoma This was a kayak journey (some two months) through Central Africa by three kayakers that had me sitting on the edge of my seat though the entire 42 minutes. I have never seen so many and such large, terrifying and fast rapids. Dangerous wildlife was always around as well as unpredictable soldiers. Alas “Hendri” Coetzee, the leader, got into trouble with his kayak and was attacked and killed by a crocodile. The cinema was in total silence as the audience grasped the horror of what had happened so quickly.
• Obe & Ashima Guided by her bouldering coach Obe, 9 year old Ashima from New York has got a unique ability to climb and at such a tender age it was totally amazing what she can do. Anyone interested in climbing should watch the film.

Roll on next year. Order your ticket early or you will miss the show.

14th February 2012

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

"A White Lake District" 27th to 30th January 2012

Friday 27th January was Liverpool Trekkers first walk of the year and Fairfield Round in an anti-clockwise direction from Ambleside at 10am was the challenge - 17kms (10.5 miles) with a total ascent of 1,050m. As we leave Low Pike and head for High Pike we are in 4/6 inches of snow and it is not long before we are in near “white-out” conditions and much deeper virgin snow as we make our way over Dove Crag, Hart Crag and on to the massive flat top of Fairfield and at 873m (2,864ft), the highest point of the day. Careful navigation by Lee gets us safely to the top and from here we take a further compass reading to take us to Great Rigg, then Heron Pike and finally Nab Scar; a Wainwright count of eight!

At the back of 5.30pm we are all in The Golden Rule for a well earned pint. Some of the Group are going home while others are staying over for a night out on the town.

After the winter conditions of Friday, Saturday turned out to be a lovely sunny day with such clear visibility. Today the challenge is to get to the top of Loughrigg Fell which proves to be a lovely walk with lots of people on the Fells. It is then a long walk to Silver How, coming back to the start point of Rydal by Grassmere and Rydal Water. Starting at 11am I was back at the car at 4pm after such an enjoyable day.

Sunday was another good walking day – a little colder on higher ground and not such good visibility. Helm Crag was the first Wainwright of the day, “raising so abruptly” from the village of Grassmere. The Fell is affectionately known as “The Lion and The Lamb” and may well be the best known of the Lakeland Fells. The summit is altogether a rather weird and fantastic place. There is a remarkable array of rocks, some upstanding and others fallen and getting to the top of the two towers needs to be done with care. It was then on to Gibson Knott and Calf Crag before making a decision to turn right and head for Steel Fell. It was a steep decent off the Fell down to Mill Bridge and the A591 where my car was parked. Starting off at 10.15am I was back at my car at 2.50pm. This was an exhilarating walk with wonderful views all around and such beauty looking down on Grassmere. Underfoot it was frozen ground and ice and in places deep snow.

Monday morning saw me back again to park at Grassmere Village and today I had my winter boots on and crampons in my rucksack as I hoped to reach as far as High Raise and take in a total of four Wainwrights. My first stop of the day was at noon at Easedale Tarn below the cliffs of Tarn Crag with the Fell fully reflecting in the icy waters of the tarn. From here it was a steep walk up to Raw Pike and then to Blea Rigg my first Wainwright of the day. I was in deep snow and all around was basked in sunshine and such clear visibility – it was a white wilderness with few walkers to be seen. Looking ahead to Sergeant Man I realised this was going to be a demanding route and I was delighted to reach the mountain’s top at 2pm. Two walkers were having a quick lunch in a sheltered spot just below the top and it was ever so cold. For me I was pressing on as I wanted to get to the trig point on the top of High Raise and I was there at 2.20pm. The views were wonderful. I was back on the top of Sergeant Man at 2.40pm for a second time and decided that my best way back was to head for Tarn Crag and continue on the ridge back to Grassmere. This was ever such an enjoyable part of the day with the sun on my back and casting massive shadows of my profile across the deep snow I was making my way through. By 3.40pm I was on the top of Tarn Crag my last Wainwright of the day. By the time I reached the valley floor I was in darkness but on a good path and by 5.30pm I was at my car and having sandwiches etc which I should have stopped and enjoyed on the hills!

Alas my time in the Lakes had terminated and I had a two hour (110 miles) journey back to Chester. I was well satisfied with my Wainwright count.

31st January 2012

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Outdoors Show – Excel, London & other activities - 12th – 15th January 2012

Friday 13th January 2012 saw me at the Outdoors Show once again. As well as the Outdoors Show you also gain entry into the Bike Show, the Boat Show and the Active Travel Show. I went round all shows and very much enjoyed my seven or so hours there. This year I did resist the temptation of buying a new bike!

Saturday 14th was a visit to Borough Market, look round the very busy Market (I think the biggest in Europe) and I had a pint in The Rake. It was then a walk by the Thames to the Tate Gallery and a walk across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s where I looked at the now established “camp site” and listened to some of the speakers on the Cathedral’s steps.

Staying in Islington (a great part of the City) I was able to try out some of the many bars and restaurants. A new experience was trying out the Kurdish Restaurant - Gem - at 265 Upper Street. I found it excellent value with good food, wine and service. Quatme (bread) with various fillings (e.g. onion, herbs and parsley) was a starter and Incik (lamb shank with vegetables) being the main course. I also tried a portion of Bulgur Pilva (cracked wheat) and enjoyed it. A complimentary sweet of ice cream and sweet cake followed.

I discovered a good bottled Ale (brewed in Chicago, USA) – Goose Island Honker’s Ale. At £4.60 for a standard bottle you must not drink the contents too fast!!

Sunday morning saw four of us bound for the Chiltern Hills, an hour’s ride on a train out of London. We were starting our walk from the village of Great Missenden with a walk of some 14.25kms through the chalk downs back to Amersham. It was a lovely sunny day all day, although cold with a white frost underfoot. We passed through the ancient village of Little Missenden and stopped at the Squirrel Pub for lunch in the village of Penn Street. I enjoyed a couple of pints of Young’s Winter Warmer – sheer nectar. At times we were on the South Bucks Way and the Chiltern Trail. What beautiful countryside. We had walked for five hours. We caught the Metropolitan Line back to Kings Cross. My very first walk in The Chilterns and I hope I will be back.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Millennium Trilogy

A few months ago I was given three large books to read (each having 700+ pages) and told to read these in the correct sequence:

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  • The Girl Who Played with Fire

  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

I finished reading the last book yesterday and I have to say this is as good as crime writing gets. When I started I did not think I would finish one never mind all three. All are exhilarating reads and Stieg Larsson had me totally gripped all the way through. Each time I picked up a book I new I was going to enjoy the content and at the same time giving you so much food for thought. So well worth reading.

10th January 2012

Asturian House

Remote Emergancy Care

Henry Garcia Tours Madeira

Henry Garcia Tours Madeira
Henry at your Service

Homestay at Evans Bay New Zealand

Rachid Imerhane

Rachid Imerhane
Guide & Organizer of Treks - Mountain - Coast - Desert & Imperial Cities

Clashview Kinlochbervie

Clashview Kinlochbervie
Clashview Kinlochbervie





Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris

Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris