Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Lanzarote: Caldera Blanca

I'm sure I must have walked over a fair amount of volcanic rock in my time on the hills of England and Wales but none of it displayed its origins as obviously as the terrain we hiked in Lanzarote earlier this month. This was our first visit to the Spanish island just off the north west coast of Africa and we were determined to make the most of our week there, alternating hiking days with days exploring the local culture and history.

The choice of Caldera Blanca as our first walk of the holiday was pretty much made for us - almost every website we visited (including the Happy Hiker's excellent pages about Lanzarote) said this volcanic cone was a must-do. We were staying in Arrecife so it was easy enough to set the alarm for an early start and jump on the bus to Mancha Blanca*, a village just a few miles away from this dormant volcano.

Caldera Blanca from Mancha Blanca.
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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

A Carneddau Traverse

While I was doing some housekeeping on the blog over Christmas I realised I still hadn't written up the traverse of the Carneddau mountains I did in 2017. A linear walk, it took me from the Ogwen Valley in the south to the edge of Llanfairfechan on the north-western fringe of the mountains. Aside from a little scrambling near the beginning, there were no technical challenges but I did find it a real test of stamina, with some 4000 feet of ascent over its 11.5 mile course. It was too good a day in the hills to leave off the website so here it is - more photo-heavy and a little less verbose than my usual trip reports due to much of the detail being lost in the mists of time.

Y Braich, from a previous walk. Pen Llithrig y Wrach is the mountain lit up in the background.

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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Kinder Scout: the River Kinder and Kinder Gates

Intrepid explorers walking the length of the world's great rivers has become something of a cultural phenomenon in recent years - think Ed Stafford trekking along the course of the Amazon for almost two-and-a-half years or Levison Wood hiking the Nile from its origin in the Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda to the Egyptian shores of the Mediterranean.

With adventures like these in mind it's little wonder that we became suddenly inspired to walk the River Kinder a couple of weeks ago, from its source deep in the Peak District plateau to... Well, only as far as the Downfall actually, because we wanted a nice circular route that didn't involve traipsing downhill and back up again. And we didn't quite walk it from its source, to be honest, because - rather like the Nile - there are several indistinct points at which its waters bubble up from the ground and start their journey to the sea. If we'd put more time and effort in to complete the River Kinder's entire three-mile course, no doubt I'd have a book deal and probably my own TV show by now but we didn't so you'll have to make do with another verbose blog post and some occasionally over-exposed photos.
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Thursday, 13 September 2018

High Wheeldon and Pilsbury Castle

Two significant Peak District rivers have their sources on the Axe Edge watershed - the Manifold and the Dove. Over millennia, their meandering journeys south-east carved out deep gorges in the bedrock, resulting in limestone tors and caves that have long drawn sightseers to the area (including William and Dorothy Wordsworth).

If you're in the White Peak, the breathtaking scenery of Dove Dale and the Manifold Valley should definitely be on your list of places to visit but you shouldn't underestimate the countryside north of these tourist hotspots. Here a generous network of footpaths weaves quieter routes through broad valleys or over rounded hills and provides plentiful options for short walks, be it a half-day excursion or a summer evening ramble of an hour or so.

Looking south-east from Axe Edge Moor, source of the River Dove and the River Manifold.
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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Western Carneddau

The day after we walked Pen Llithrig y Wrach on the eastern fringe of the Carneddau mountains I set off on my own to explore some of the peaks on the western side of the range. There was one major summit that I hadn't visited - Yr Elen - and I was hoping to do this via its north eastern ridge before having a more gentle wander back down over the hills to the north. I'd seen this ridge on a traverse of the Carneddau last year and it looked like a fantastic airy route onto the tops.

Yr Elen's north east ridge from a previous walk in the Carneddau.

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