Sunday fixed.

13-16°C, light wind and dry.
A decent ride with variety in hills and flatlands. Home commitments left me with too little time to ride 100km which wouldn’t be much extra effort. Shame.

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Sunny and warm week.In an attempt to make up for last week, I’ve been out at least once a day. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve somehow gained 2 kilos in weight.

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DofE 7.0

11°C, very heavy showers including hail, lightning and thunder.

180 mile drive to camp. Looks like a nice campsite, all modern and plush.

Bronze Qualifying in the East Cotswolds. I had a delightful group of year 9 girls. They were trouble free and remained in good spirits on both days. That was helped by good weather, even the bright sun wasn’t too warm. They did finish day 2 about 40′ late, a minor problem not helped by a tendency to chat at checkpoints. I share some of the blame for this so will have to watch this on future trips.

The only fly in the ointment was conflict with another school’s expedition sharing the same camp. It wasn’t their kids but one of their staff. He wasn’t even a teacher but the husband of one. It was ironic really, their kids spent the night in one of the pavilion rooms, probably because they were heated on this cold night. More worrying for their school, the voices heard indoors were both boys and girls. Oh dear.

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DofE 6: Ousedale.

Heavy showers and bright sun. 11°C.

Heading down a day early on a longish drive ready for Bronze Practice.

The camp is good but lacks showers, not a problem for Bronze though.

DofE 6.1; The groups were dropped off a few miles away and we had 2 each. Each instructor mapped a route to camp along footpaths. Since camp was so close, I took mine SW before looping round towards the finish. Group 2 really couldn’t understand why. They were impatient to get to the finish first and wanted to follow the boys’ groups. Missing the point, they thought it was some kind of race. The same group had a habit of following other groups without knowing where they were going and rushing past signs that were needed.

We all stopped for sandwiches by a remote bridge. One of the girls took out a bottle of Tabasco sauce to drip over hers. What a strikingly good idea! I couldn’t resist asking for some and it gave my mushroom pate/cheese roll a real lift. Excellent, I’m going to pack a bottle Nas soon as I get back

Setting up camp was straightforward even though rain had started, the tents were in good nick and all complete.

DofE 6.2 predictably, group 2 went wrong early on. Having remotely supervised them, I was not party to their decisions in the field. Either they were following another group or had trouble with direction finding. They happened upon another leader’s checkpoint who redirected them NW. I had asked that they were sent back along their planned route but the group messed that up again.

Group 7 arrived late at the busy road crossing. There are no qualms about their conduct; they overshot their turn but found another instead (as briefed). A good outcome in the end.

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DofE 5; Storm Hannah on the Berwyn range.

5°C, gales and heavy rain all-day.

Thirteen girls on Silver practice. I picked them up this morning and eventually started them off in Corwen, North Wales.

DofE 5.1; I’m taking 3 silver Practice groups to Corwen. Thus turned into a very late finish after compounded problems. The worst was Storm Hannah. We got off with a day of light rain, most of the storm blew out during the morning drive. However, it still sapped the morale of my groups who them went in circles in the woods after dropping down from the Moors. Group 2 was not heard of since the moor top, their radio had failed (I’m told it got wet), and there was no phone signal. By 8pm I was stressed looking for them in the bus while shepherding the other 2 groups into camp.

I should not have had 3 groups to manage but a member of staff dropped out and wasn’t replaced.

They needed some help at camp, one tent lacked pegs for example. At about 21.30, I got away for the 45′ drive back to the staff camp at Pistll Rheadr. See note later#.

5.2: Cadair Bronwyn; head up to the summit via Cadair Berwyn to man a checkpoint.. The storm has cleared with light winds and a cloud base about 1,000m above the tops. Even so, problems arose for group 1 early. One girl returned to the start feeling ill escorted by her team. Thus, team 1 ( who combined with G2) started again to arrive 4 hours late at the summit.

The prospect of another late finish loomed large. I redirected their route away from the 2 summits and refreshed their water supplies. The photo shows the spring I filtered from. An excellent spring I thought. Tasty water too.

To come off the hill, I escorted a walking casualty off the hill, their prime navigator as it happens. Good that they had other good navigators in the now merged team. They can’t travel as a 3 so I merged all three teams into one group of 8.

A colleague offered to drive over and see my group in, he could see how tired I was after that very late finish. I was worried about driving feeling like I did but was despirate to see them. Reluctantly, I agreed.

Apparently they didn’t arrive to camp until 8pm. We got in about 7pm along with another unwell group. That put me on the opposite side of the mountain from my own teams. Deeply unhappy about this, one of the ML guys knew about my 01.30 finish and could see how tired I was. He offered to go over to catch them, along with CH. Two MLs had to go in case a night search was necessary.

5.3: 9km to the finish on relatively low terrain, only 540m top.

#1: I’m going to camp nearby next time. This valley has no signal for any network and there is no landline or VHF reception. This troubles me profoundly. What if there was a first aid emergency in the night? We got away with this, but not again.

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Parlick start.

22°C, milky sun and light wind

Parked after a fairly short drive from home and climbed Parlock in the Forest of Bowland. I got to the summit of Fair Snape Fell for supper in the shelter.

As the sun set, it approached its own reflection in the sea off the coast of Blackpool. Soon after, I headed off to find somewhere to set camp.

My little Banshee fitted out of sight in the dried up bogland. To avoid being seen, I found a shallow dip where my headtorch would not be seen.

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Long day on Bowland

23°C, warm milky sun with moderate SE breeze.

Woke and got the tent packed by 06.40.

A suitable place for breakfast wasn’t far away. The Moors are too dry to risk the chance of fire. Hence, water supply became a problem. I set off with 2 litres yesterday and finished it on coffee. The search for water required a change of route.

Eventually, tanked up, I resumes the route north following fence lines. The blanket bog is very dry and sinking in is unlikely. The next Summit was a sea of gulls, that seemed strangely out of place to me. I picked up a couple of helium balloons off the fence along here.

I collected 9 of these during this day. This particular one had printed ; Happy 9th Birthday printed in blue. What do parents think happens to balloons when their little one lets go of the cord? They end up in places like this. The helium is wasted too. There are better uses for that non-renewable resource. We can’t make helium, it slowly collects in gas pockets as a by product of radioactive decay. Our world’s stock has built up over billions of years giving us about 25 year’s supply. Idiot parents are throwing away this precious resource which is needed for medical services like MRI scanners. What a stupid, pointless product; you should choose which is more important- balloons or MRI scanners?

/Rant over

Next: head north on a loop towards the Trough of Bowland. This included another summit – Holdron Moss.

This trig point has seen better days. This just shows how deep and soft the boys are. Somebody built a cairn which I added 2 layers on top.

On reaching the Trough, a decision was made between the summit north or head along the road to cut the corner. I went up.

There’s quite a panorama up there but I was getting thirsty. I’d only had 3 litres all day. The water in the stream that runs through a sheep farm tasted very nice (after filter).

Part three; Langden Vale. This is a drinking water catchment, renowned because of the purity caused by the gritstone bedrock.

The return leg was a push because of impending darkness. Up on the moor needs compass work but mine let me down. I used landform clues to get orientated rather than walking on the compass. I took a slightly earlier descent into farmland as darkness fell. Passing one farkwas amusing. Their dogs were caged in the yard and were barking vigorously bat me. I could see 10 pairs of silver eyes shining in the torchlight.

That was a very long day and I really hoped to buy an easy meal at the services. No such luck.

Today’s data- 13.3 thousand calories.

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Five in a row

20°C, clear blue with negligible SW.Five day in a row I have ridden. I can feel it now so the average speed is down noticeably.

The photo is a dereluct house in Formby. Looks like it is a project now.

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Nearly 80!

20°C light SE, deep blue.

Out on the Paddy-Wagon on the summer wheels. The route is flat but the variety comes from downwind zooms and climbing into the wind.

Rode back with a guy who told be about some of his achievements: 2nd in national champs for cyclo-cross, 360 miles in a 24hr TT. Best bit, he will be 80 later this year.

That was a good ride for me, comfortable and quick.

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Good Thursday.

19°C, milky sin, warm dry with medium E breeze.
Gravel Roads: this route never strayed far from home but was a decent outing. These gravel roads may need tougher tyres, winter CX tyres are fine on wet grass but some of the stones are sharp.

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