Wasps’ nest

23°C, clearing to blue sky. No real wind.
I have a wasps’ nest in my house. It’s actually in an air-brick to the front room. Last year, I blocked the air-brick because ivy was growing through into the room right behind my stereo.
I discovered the nest yesterday when trimming a sapling Ash tree which is trying to establish itself next to the house.
Early in the morning, strange scratching sounds house can be heard from behind the stereo. Moving closer, you could clearly hear buzzing.
I presume they were warming themselves up for the day, or even cooling the nest because the sun shone on the vent.

This presents a problem- what to do, if anything, about it. Continue reading

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Another one.

24°C, nil wind, nil cloud and simply a perfect day.

N+1=5 what have I just bought?​

[Insert paragraph where I justify another bike.]

I have test ridden it and it fits well.

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Summer cold.

23°C ,cloudless blue, perfect day.

What a day to get a cold. I have so much to do here at home. Garden, marking and decorating.
At least this may explain why the last few days hiking were not as energetic as normal. Often, I get back feeling that my stamina is indefatigable. Mike R. had a cold mm last week’s expedition. That’s where it came from, no-one else has one.​

My partner pointed out that I have just been on a very demanding (physically) course, in bad weather where I get cold and wet. With all that on top of wind, rain and lugging a heavy load, the expedition was lead by a guy who had a cold.
It’s not surprising then…

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Crash sites.

Up to now, I have found air crash sites while hiking. Remote mountainous areas are a threat to low flying military pilots. Our intended camp was confirmed when we found aircraft wreckage by a small lake. We all pitched together by some crags.
On Mull, a Dakota; Dark Peak, a Lancaster and the Carneddeau, a Camberra.

This picture was taken on the Dark Peak near Kinderscout. The plane was well scattered such that I only saw one engine and some pieces of fuselage. The engine was a radial, possibly a Hercules.

RAF Camberra , here is a turbine engine of the type common in early post war jets.​

This next shot shows what I think may be a tail pipe, also from an engine.​

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ML training expedition.

12°C, cloud from 50m, strong wind 40mph at 900m.​

Heavy pack was a drag on this climb. But to walk in a group, I was not left behind even though my bag was the heaviest (at 18kg).

We got to Foel Grach and I took the navigation from there to the next summit. 40mph wind and rain was quite a force away from the shelves of a wall. Paths are, however; easy to follow up there. Jenny navigated to the next summit which has a mountain rescue shelter that we recovered in for a while.
Descent to the lake also offered some respite, although the wind dropped, gusts were stronger.
Our intended camp was confirmed when we found aircraft wreckage by a small lake. We all pitched together by some crags.
I was glad to climb in and change into some dry clothes.
Night navigation: u that was hard. Wind, hill fog and bouts of rain made visibility poor at best. We had to figure where we are at any time from the slope of the land in a circle 20m around. Occasionally, you can use a arch as a landmark, or grass but that’s all. But, it is actually enough.
Two obstacles were tiredness and the visibility. If only there was a clear sky above.
I think I did okay.
Mike, the trainer thought so too. However, I have a few problems to solve:
Poor vision in rain,
Keeping warm,
Feeding in the night.

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Mountain Leader training.

Day 1; micro-navigation,

Day 2: moving on steep ground. We climbed Pen-yr-ole Wen by the route from Llyn Ogwen. Our tutor demonstrated how a rope could be used on the scrambling section to get a group of novices up.
Day 3: steep ground practicing with ropes. Tried out several belaying types and the Sth African Abseil method. That one could be very useful on solo trips. Then we climbed up to L Tryfan ( the one by the Llanberis track).
Day 4: Confidence roping and river crossing in Nant Gwynant.

Day 5 & 6: expedition. This 36 hours of my life deserves a separate post.

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Cluanie Ridge

Creag a’Mhain, (m), 947m,
Druim Shionnach (m), 987m;
Aonach air Crith, (m), 1021m;
Maol Chin-dearg, (m), 981m;
Sgurr an Doire Leatham, (m), 1010m;

Started with cloud at 800m with some breaks. After tricky path finding up Drochaid an Ullit Ghubhais it got easier, though steep. Once on the ridge, paths were easy to find despite no visibility. Concentration was needed to keep a track on location. Ahead lay a string of summits and bealachs. With visibility no more than 30m, other techniques were necessary to keep your position in mind. At 12.30, I pulled the storm-bivvy bag out and climbed in to read the map and eat sandwiches. These things are amazingly warm, even by myself.

On the next summit, a guy appeared out of the mist heading my way. He was James, a real Munro bagger. He had 90 odd and was keen to get as many as possible today. He suggested we walk the whole ridge together to his car and he could drop me back at Cluanie Inn. That’s not much more than my planned walk and I’d get 7 munros ‘ticked off’.​

Part of the ridge, from the road.

Finally, the skies started to break on approach to the last climb. The bonus munro would be free of hill fog. Better than that, the light sharpened revealing fine views south into the deep Glen and even out to sea. Skye could be seen and possibly, Rum.
Feeling tired and thirsty, I hoped for an easy descent. But no, the rounded boulders underfoot would require concentration all the way down from 900m to the river. On another day, that would have been fun. I will have to come back.

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Glen Affric return.

Aonach Meadhoin, (m), 1001m;
Ciste Dubhe, (m), 929m;

Woke at 6am to an inversion in bright sunshine. Look:

Chilly but what a gorgeous way to wake up. This will be one unforgettable day. The landscape was like a one large white duvet with pointed summits poking out. In places the cloud peeled over ridges and spilled down into hanging valleys. Occasionally, wisps of cloud seemed to pass by at knee level.
Breaking camp and collecting water took nearly 3 hours. I watched the clouds fall over the ridges, as the deer watched me. One solitary antlered head stood on the horizon 200m away. Then it vanished only to reappear leading a herd over the spur to the north.
Not 15 minutes later, another herd split south and downhill. I think I was near their morning watering hole.

Anyway, I set off eastwards to resume my route. A few summits passed easily. Then a big descent into the bealach where I’d planned to spend the night. It was darker down there, under the cloud. Bogs broke out of the grass and looked less appealing that the bealach I left a few hours earlier. This is the place I visited last year on that short walk up Am Bathach from Cluanie. Time for sandwiches before a big climb up the last munro.

I say ‘last’ because I have scrapped the idea of climbing up Beinn Fhada. One guy, yesterday, said that was a 9 hour walk in itself. So a change of plan, head for the SYHA in Glen Affric and then back to Morvic.

I can’t see how the original route could have worked, there was no sign of a river crossing north of Ciste Dubhe. You have ot divert a few km east to reach a little suspension bridge near the Youth Hostel. There, I found a sign offering tea & coffee. People in there was very calm and friendly, nice to chat to as I drank from a large pot of tea. However, they did tell me that the walk to Morvic is five hours. Blimey, five hours! that’s five hours to add onto 18.30pm. That means arriving at the car after 11.30pm, better press on then. Of I went only to stop in a dip to cook some cous-cous.

I did briefly consider stopping the night at the bothy at Camban, 2km west but it was filled with a noisy group. The walk down the glen was wonderful despite the building rain. I wrapped up and eventually passed a steep down-section by a very fine waterfall at the top of Allt Grannda. The cascade itself was only part of it, the falls were framed by majestic and sublime black sharp cliffs. I must go back there, this is no time to stop and take photos.

Eventually, the path wound round to the south and crossed a wooden bridge by a hut- Glanlichd House. A rumbling landrover drove up to the house so I moved on. Then the rumbling came back, was he suspicious of me walking by the house? I stuck out a thumb.

That hitch back saved me hours and hours. We belted along in that landrover, it rattled and ground along a quite a speed, even the cattle had to run out of the way. He was kind enough to drive me right up to my car.

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Five sisters, d1

Sgurr nan Saighead , 929m;
Sgurr Fhuaran, (m), 1067m;
Sgurr na Carnach, (b), 1002m;
Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe (m), 1027m;
Sailag, (m), 956m;
Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg (m) 1036m;

Full kit, the Banshee tent, sleeping bag and food for 3 days. With water, it weighs in at about 16kg. It’s a comfortable bag so walking with it is not really so bad. Going uphill makes it noticeable. The initial climb was hard work. Fortunately, once on the ridge, the day will be easier.
The first summit was in cloud and a light breeze. Some breaks appeared quite soon.
Weight: the bag weighs roughly 16kg, but with water and the camera, considerably more. I felt this weight on the climbs. On the level, that is such comfortable bag that the weight didn’t matter.

Water,  became a real problem on Sailag. This is a more grassy mountain with no visible, or audible springs.Thirst was a serious problem for over 2 hours. Over the spur, a small Lochan and springs in the Glen to the north, not far.
It’s late, 8.30 and I can’t see there being time to make the next summit as planned. So make camp.​

An early picture, the day cleared up brightly by lunch.

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Middle-aged man in sandals.

British men in sandals are infamous for a supposed style crime. It’s the socks apparently. Style writers in newspaper magazines, especially the sundays, talk about style rules. Style rules can be broken by wearing “the wrong thing”.

You and I know that such rules don’t exist, they are a contrivance. Our suspicion is that the motive is to generate money for the clothing industry.

Question is, do toe socks keep our feet warm in the cool british climate without offending the fashion victims?

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