Tuesday 19 October 2010

dartmoor wild camping: snowdon summit

Yes, you read correctly – I wild camped on the summit of Snowdon, Dartmoor. Well I had to didn’t I?

Work is driving me slightly mad, I swear it, why else would I keep doing this to myself? I mean, sure, Dartmoor is lovely in it’s own way, but I can’t help but find it a little dull. I also don’t really like wild camping, let alone solo wild camping, although strangely enough the more I do and the more I work out my systems, the more I’m beginning to enjoy it.

That said, the only reasons I keep heading out like this are: 1) I need an escape from work, and the wilderness is the closest I’ve got down here to the mountains. 2) I need to log more ‘Quality Mountain Days’ and wild camps for my ML logbook (oh yes, I still intend doing it, even though the urgency has lessened somewhat now) and 3) it is all good practice, especially the navigation in the fog or in the dark, and I need to do something to ‘keep my hand in’ for MR, at least psychologically.

So, anyway back to the walk – I parked the car up at Combestone Tor right after work and thus proceeded to walk up to the summit of Ryder’s Hill (the highest point on the southern moor). I then headed over to Snowdon, SX 6684 6840, via what was possibly the boggiest, most unpleasant track I’ve had the misfortune to encounter recently. It looked so innocent…right up until you found your foot engulfed in a horrible gelatinous sludge, or more to the point, when I found my foot engulfed in a brown mucky goo that seems to have violated my boots and left them permanently traumatised…and the bog seemed to go on forever…


Snowdon is actually a chain of cairns on a moorland high point, one of them even has a summit shelter, the point visible in the centre of the picture is actually Puper’s Hill, there is another Snowdon cairn out of view to the right 


Just to prove it, yet another crappy tent photo – cairn and summit shelter are visible behind

So yes, yet again I have put myself through a kind of semi-torture, but oddly, once again I really rather enjoyed it in some ways – the sunset was beautiful, and the sky was once again crystal clear for much of the night. The solitude was less eerie than last time, and more cathartic. I was even treated to a flare display by the MoD over on the Merrivale range.

I do still hate packing up a wet tent in the morning.

Saturday 9 October 2010


I’d never climbed on Cornish granite before, never climbed on our far south western sea-cliffs, not until a couple of days ago that is.

Now, I have climbed on sea-cliffs before – Gogarth and Swanage being the main examples, but I can’t say I particularly like it. In fact, I can quite categorically say that I do not like climbing on sea-cliffs. I find the whole experience morbidly terrifying, I really do. I’ve never liked the water (and this stems from a near drowning experience I’d had at the age of 2), and as such, the thought of climbing above a broiling, tumultuous froth of angry ocean, is for me really rather harrowing.

So there’s my excuse. There’s my feeble attempt to explain why I couldn’t scramble down to the cliffs at Sennen and climb back out. Demo Route still has to wait.

Thankfully though, Bosigran isn’t quite the same kind of sea-cliff – you don’t have to downclimb to a sea-washed ledge and then start climbing directly above it. The main face at Bosigran is set back from the actual sea somewhat, and has a nice simple grassy path underneath the crag, although it’s still a little close to the water for real comfort – I still get mesmerised by the violent swirling cauldron of waves below, and the thunderous sound of them colliding with the rocky landmass still makes me uneasy.


Doorpost. This HS 4b is supposedly the route of the crag. Three very different pitches of really rather wonderful granite climbing, up the main section of the cliff.

I know it was an easy route, but for me ‘Doorpost’ was more than just an easy rock climb – it was my first time climbing on granite (excluding my forays onto Dartmoor with the bouldering mat), my first time climbing in Cornwall, I had to swallow my apprehension of the sea-cliff environment, and the first pitch was a traverse…

Oh yeah, I probably haven’t mentioned my hatred of all routes that go sideways have I? There you go, in this one simple blog entry I have just revealed that I’m really rather pathetic as a rock climber – scared of sea-cliffs, and scared of traverses. Great.

Anyway, I led the first two pitches of Doorpost – the traverse and the crux, then seconded the last pitch so Patrick could take photos of my face rather than just my arse again, and actually, I really rather enjoyed it. I’m not sure Chair Ladder will be on the cards for a while yet, and I still don’t know if I’ll ever suck it up and manage to climb at Sennen, but Bosigran is definitely somewhere I’d like to climb again!

Thank goodness.

IMG_1511 Look! I’m leading a traverse!!

IMG_1523 The crux, a surprisingly awkward little sequence

SDC11872 Patrick coming up the classic ‘Alison Rib**’, Diff as an alternative to the walk out!