End of year 2016.

24°C, still and few light clouds.

Summer Holiday starts today, we got out early because there isn’t the usual goodbye to staff. This year is different; they’re leaving through redundancy.

Posted in Work | Leave a comment

Gold, day 4.

I hiked with MapMyRide+! Distance: 10.84km, time: 04:18:00, pace: 23:49min/km, speed: 2.52km/h.


This guy came out from under my flysheet when breaking camp.

Finally, a successful day.. Carl and I hiked up onto the plateau ready to intercept the group. For us, that was lots of micro-navigation across the moorland spur.the northern edge above a scarp would give a good view in binoculars.
The radio reception was clear there too. But, unfortunately, we’d missed them. So quickly, we plotted a cross country route that should take us back to the finish point. From featureless moorland to a path is a harder target to hit. Eventually, a path that was hidden by bracken appeared. Again, our nav. was spot on.
Passed a small reservoir and onto a bridal track then in front, there they were, all finished and relieved.
The girls were patching themselves up, some cleaning legs; others, treating blisters.

Posted in DofE, Hiking, Hill & Moorland | Leave a comment

Gold, day 2. Ferry water.

Very hot day, 31°C, 0 cloud breeze higher up.

I biked with MapMyRide+! Distance:19.75km, time: 03:20:00, pace: 10:08min/km, speed: 5.92km/h. It was hire bike with a kiddie trailer filled with 20kg of water.


Today’s route is up the side of both reservoirs and then across the moors to Midhope. For water supplies 2 staff came down from the north onto the moors and I hired a bike and rode up the reservoirs to the Slippery Stones.
It was an ordinary mountain bike with a kiddie trailer which we filled with 5litre water bottles and my rucksack.

The group can fill up from my supplies and make the climb and meet the next checkpoint with water in 5Km. that was the plan anyway.


Bike route up the reservoirs’ west banks.

That bike was tremendous fun to ride. I had 4 5litre bottles in the trailer. When the water started to rock back and forth, the water in all of them synchronised. From the front, the trailer lunged at a constant rate, it was like riding a rocking horse.
I wondered, as I rode, what’s the etiquette for this? If a normal mountain bike overtakes, and I chase him down; is that ethical when he believes I have kids in the back?The ride was hot and sunny and lasted about an hour.
I set up my checkpoint in the trees, lay down and watched the dragonflies. The sandwiches were good.​

The group arrived
about half an hour late. That’s okay.
I led then down into the trees and settled them down to cool them off.
They weren’t in the mood to continue, it was too hot and they couldn’t face the climb. They also feared another evening arriving in camp after 10pm. All group coherence had gone. Some were game to continue, some were persuadeable but that’s no use if the remainder refuse. I tried my best, I really did, but got nowhere.
Then the clock moved on, the bike has to be back at 5pm.

In all, I spent about an hour trying to persuade them to complete the hike. I tried everything I could think of. Come and wash your feet in the river, (that didn’t work) but washing hands and forearms in the cold water went down well.

Riding back down, I crossed Chris in the minibus and explained what had gone on. He took the water and headed north.
With the bike returned on time, I relaxed with a nice cup of tea. Another hour passed, and a silver minibus pulled in with the whole group. They had all chickened out.

Posted in DofE, Hiking, Hill & Moorland | Leave a comment

Gold expedition, d1

I hiked with MapMyRide+! Distance: 14.96km, time: 04:18:00, pace: 17:15min/km, speed: 3.48km/h.


Crash site on the edge of Kinder.

Hot day, our big priority is to take water to the more remote parts of the hill. Today, it’s Kinder Scout. I wanted to meet the groups on the western edge. Here they will have completed the longest dry stretch.
We waited for an hour. Kinder is largely flat on top, so we decided to go up for a better view. The groups’ route was along the southern edge which is well paved. Up some false summits and false headlands we searched. Even better, let’s go to the trig point only half a Km away. Surely a vantage point with binoculars.
This worked, they were on the other trig, about 3Km away. In binoculars, the group were just visible. It was odd though. They were standing about. Why? Then knew we could see them, but not were we were.
A few sharp words over the radio to get them moving. ‘The water isn’t coming to you, and standing there won’t cure your thirst’.
This is a gold expedition, and they expected up to come trotting over to their position.
Both groups arrived after a very long time. Average speed well below 2 Km/hour. This was only checkpoint 2, a long descent was to follow.
We can’t follow the group and had two choices of route, one on the opposite side of the valley they would use. The other was the Pennine Way.
The latter is slabbed so we took that.
What a lovely route it is, slabs all the way across the boggy Moor for at least 5Km. Our speed was fine too, just over 6Km/hour. The sun was striking below angle with a golden light. Utterly beautiful!
Even on reaching the road, Snake Pass was not spoilt by traffic and we sped along in single file, me in front.
A good finish for me. Not so good for the other staff and I’ve groups. They didn’t get down before dark.
These Golds were not prepared for this either, they only had two lights between them, one handheld.
It really shows, that they didn’t do Silver. I really wish they’d come on the silver training days two weeks ago.

Posted in DofE, Hiking, Hill & Moorland | Tagged | Leave a comment

No ride

19°C, warming up.

Sunday is cycling day, it’s been a tradition of mine for at least 25 years. But today, despite the fine weather, is different. There are no social plans, or work prep that are getting in the way. Today, I can’t be bothered.

Maybe it’s a virus sapping my energy, or cumulative tiredness, or even that end-of term approaching feeling.

I don’t know, but no cycling today.

Posted in Cycling, No category | Leave a comment

Head sting.

Rode Home with MapMyRide+! Distance: 29.66km, time: 01:15:13, pace: 2:32min/km, speed: 23.66km/h.


Ordinary ride home until the wasp got into my helmet. I heard a faint clunk as it entered one of the helmet’s vents. It didn’t sting immediately giving me time to pull over and take the hat off. The wasp then seized its moment and stung just below my head buff thing.
That’s it! Three or more days of itchy head. The piercing sting sensation wore off after a few hours and didn’t even bother me while getting to sleep.
Was that little wasp trying to sting through the fabric of my hat? I can picture it probing the fabric with its sting.

Posted in Commuting, Cycling | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cross the Chase.

I rode The Jake with MapMyRide+! Distance: 70.44km, time: 04:40:08, pace: 3:59min/km, speed: 15.09km/h.


I stayed upright, I even passed some mountain bikers on a climb. Later, just as hunger dominated my thoughts, a nice cafe appeared near the Katyn Memorial. Food meant I could continue riding. So the next leg, the Glacial Bolder.
I used a leftover map from easter’s treasure hunt, a training exercise for Y9s who had signed up for bronze. My group didn’t make it to this checkpoint and I wanted to see it. It’s on the edge of a heather moorland that is dotted with warning signs about mine subsidence. Actually, there were stories about people disappearing up here, in particular, a young lad. It turns out tattie stories were nearly true, he was actually rescued by miners.
Most of the tracks were of coarse round pebbles, the Bunta Pebble Bed. The same deposit that Birmingham is built upon.
Mostly dry and dusty, they were no real hazard today.
At the Glacial Bolder, a guy was with a group of teenagers and we got chatting. There are groups of youngsters all over the chase today, in small groups carrying rucksacks. I asked whether they were DofE, but no. It was part of the NCS Scheme.

My bike at the Glacial Bolder for scale.

The Glacial Bolder is am erratic from RW Scotland.


Later, I rode north and eventually got to the canal at Great Hayward.
Here’s another curious picture:​


Look at the size of it! It must be 10ft high, oh sorry I’ve gone metric, it’s 3m.
It looks like wild rhubarb to me, but is it?

Anyway, I’m recovering now. My arms have taken a battering from the vibration and my tiredness is mostly dehydration.

Posted in Cycling, cyclocross, Kona Jake | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Silver Training; day 3.

Day 3:

shorter routes with most kit except tents.Each day we took a different group, today’s were a super-quick team that I worked with on bronze. They were so fast on the descent. Navigation was superb amongst these, my confidence was very high.

Coming out of Castleton, our path off the lane was flooded, the water flowed towards us, muddy and deep. They said, come on, we can do this. They picked a way through the skinny mud and nettles without complaint. That illustrates their whole attitude, they are physically approaching their prime and full of confidence. This group contained all the stars of the recent Sports’ Day.

Incomplete route to Mam Tor.

However, on the climb up to Mam Tor, ZK with a recurrent knee injury had it flare up considerably. I could tell she was beyond comfortable. I’ve had knee injuries in the past and know how painful that can be. I carried ZK’s pack up the main climb, despite her reluctance. She clearly wanted to avoid letting the others down when I suggested we get a lift back after the summit. “Z, You don’t have to prove anything, your capability is already clear, we could even start the drive home early if we stop now”. She is a participant who went straight to Silver. Perhaps ZK feels there is more to prove.
Wind at the summit was strong, as it was all along the ridge. They were tired now, at took a break on the ridge.
Immediately, most of them got their phones out. Delighted to have a signal. They buried themselves in pointless online updates. Some had posted videos of talking in silly voices. I can’t understand it myself.

Overall, it’s a big deal for teenagers to walk 7 – 10 miles with a full pack. they find it really hard. They have to maintain the concentration right to the end to avoid navigation mistakes. Mistakes can cost them many hours correcting a wrong direction.

I’m filled with admiration for their determination, their can-do attitude.

Posted in DofE, Hiking, Hill & Moorland | Leave a comment

Silver Training; day 2.

Low cloud and breezy, rain overnight, 12- 14°C

Making coffee from my little hiking tent. About 05.30am.

Day 2: relocate to another camp carrying full packs for about 7 miles over moorland. Staff carried full kit too as we are using the same campsites as the kids. The liked this camp better because of phone signal and no midges.The walk was long though, and galling for the kids I had; it began with a steep climb up Jacob’s Ladder. My 5 were very anxious about it and took several breaks going up.
Once on the Moor, we were in hill fog for most of the way.

Excellent, we can ‘walk on the compass’, pace and get therefore of finding markers on the route. In this case, the markers were lengths of slabbed path between boggy moorland. These girls hit the paths every time, it was working! That cheered me up after the misery expressed on the climb.

Eventually, we started a slow descent and came out of the cloud. Landmarks started to appear and the girls perked up.

On the turn, we encountered that group from a school in Hull. They seemed happy enough despite an error in Nav.causing considerable delay for them.
From this point, the day slowly brightened up and we started to dry out.
The campsite is nice, only marred by the farmer shooting to clear a wood of crows.
Rain blew in on the stiffening wind mid evening. Staff sheltered in the minibus.

Posted in DofE, Hiking, Hill & Moorland | Leave a comment

Silver Training: Dark Peak.

Grey cloud at 800m, light wind but dry.

25 Year 10s on Silver training for 3 days in the Dark Peak area of the Pennines. This is much better training than we have done before, 3 days simulates their qualifying expedition more closely than other training ‘exercises’ we’ve run in the past.​

Venture onto Kinder Scout.

Day 1: onto kinderscout and return late. I took a nice group with a middle range of fitness. We let them put tents up and travelled with medium weight packs. The navigation was fine even on the Kinder plateau. It’s nearly featureless up there, so am excellent opportunity to teach some Nav. techniques. The tracks across the Moor and bog are not clear in the least.
We’ve dedicated 3 days of training for this group and it’s worthwhile that they have to acquire entirely new techniques compared to the mainly rural farmland they are used to.
On the last leg we crossed a group of girls from Hull doing their Silver Qualifying. They were almost at camp and some visibly exhausted. In contrast, others were quite upbeat. They chatted, they even said they disliked their accents. Sounded fine to me!
Delays meant we missed the gate so we took the road. It’s nice and easy to follow in the gloaming. Torches on at 10pm.
As soon as we arrived my group were horrified to hear that midges were there. This group were traumatised by midges a few weeks ago on bronze practice. None had midge nets. Some elected to cook near the barn and dive into bed later.
Some were hard to pervade to cook anything. So what if you have no appetite, that’s not why we’re eating tonight.


Posted in DofE, Hiking, Hill & Moorland, No category | Leave a comment