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Mountains • Walking • Camping • Adventure www.tgomagazine.co.uk

£4.50 | MARCH 2017

HELVELLYN • SKIDDAW • SCAFELL PIKE

LAKE DISTRICT Find your perfect winter walk THRILLING RIDGES

From Glen Etive to Snowdonia

WALKING TOOLS TESTED! Expert reviews of ice axes and trekking poles PA G E S 7 4 - 8 3

“One of the best miles in Lakeland”

EASY WALKING ON WONDERFUL WHITESIDE

MOUNTAINS AT DAWN

Incredible wild camp photos


CONTENTS March 2017

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Escape Inspiration to get away 8 Rothiemurchus, Cairngorms 10 G  lyder Fach, Snowdonia

Striding Edge How Lakeland’s most famous ridge can offer an Alpine experience close to home

Almanac In the outdoors this month 12 In the frame Wasdale 13 Stories Ben Lomond 14 Poll Charging for Snowdon 16 Calendar Forthcoming events 114 Readers’ pictures

There was barely a breath of wind, but still the clouds swelled silently behind me, rising on the thermals down in the glen

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The Starav Five Three days of magnificent walking and camping on Ben Starav and its sister mountains above Glen Etive

David Lintern, page 19

On the cover Taking a walk on Whiteside, by Stewart Smith

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Glyder Fach Sleeping out on the summits for the ultimate outlook from the Glyderau

4 The Great Outdoors March 2017


There can be few finer feelings than waking in the morning to golden light spilling through your tent, the sound of the river filling your senses Alec Connon, page 40

Viewpoint Opinion | Comment | Reviews | Feedback 55 Mountain Magic Carey Davies revisits the Fairfield Horseshoe 56 Comment Roger Smith looks at issues at home and overseas 57 Hillwalkers library One Man’s Mountains by Tom Patey 58 Book reviews A Poacher’s Pilgrimage 60 Readers’ page Your letters and photographs

Hill Skills

48

The Great Outdoors guide the mountain environment 63 Place names, magnetic anomalies, weather 65 Understanding geomorphology and glaciology 67 The winter mountains

Moel Siabod

Easy Grade 1 mountaineering on the Daear Ddu ridge

Gear The latest news, reviews and product comparisons 72 New gear 74 Trekking poles 80 Ice axes 84 Questions of kit 88 The Classics

SUBSCRIBE TO TGO Turn to page 70 for details

And also... 36 Pacific North-west Introducing America’s wonderful Olympic National Park 42 Whiteside The perfect mile of straightforward Lakeland ridge-walking

Wild Walks Walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales 91 Ben Macdui & The Goat Track, Cairngorms 93 Creach Bheinn, West Highlands 95 The Stob, Southern Highlands 97 Skiddaw and Great Cockup, Lake District 99 Scafell Pike, Lake District 101 Rudland Rigg, North York Moors 103 Lud’s Church and the Roaches, Peak District 105 Tal y Fan and Drum, Snowdonia 107 Waun Fach, Brecon Beacons 109 Quantock Hills, South West

March 2017 The Great Outdoors 5


THE A N G E L S'

18 The Great Outdoors March 2017


Winter Munros

Though relatively close to Glasgow and easily accessed by car, the Munros of Glen Etive nevertheless feel wild and remote. David Lintern drinks his fill on a long weekend's circuit of the Ben Starav Five

SHARE I WASN’T EXPECTING TO BE HERE, but here I was: walking up the north ridge of Ben Starav at 8.30 in the morning, fresh snow underfoot, on the fifth day of spring. My other plans hadn’t worked out: the weather window was wrong, I was full of a cold (I have a toddler: I’m always full of the cold) and it looked as if winter was over. But as the saying doesn’t go, if life gives you lemons, make gin and tonic. Storm Katie had swept in a few days before, bringing fresh snow. Now, with a brief lull in her wake, I had spied an opportunity. Over the past year or so, I’ve focused on exploring the mountains closer to home in Glasgow, and Glen Etive is somewhere I keep returning to. The glen itself could use a good deal less forestry in my view, but it’s still an almost shockingly beautiful place that feels truly remote given how close it is to the Central Belt, and is surrounded by the most incredible mountains. Corbetts, Munros and a host of unnamed tops; broad ridges, narrow arêtes and deep chasms; wild waterfalls and craggy

bealachs; easy walking through to mountaineering and complex climbing routes – there’s something for everyone here, even those who don’t stray from the road at all, and only come for a car camp or a ‘Skyfall’ selfie. We came for the first time with my daughter on her second wild camp, and got to within 100m or so of the top of Ben Starav. The final section of boulders was just too slippery with frost for us to continue safely, and we turned around, still having had a fantastic day on the hill in glorious autumnal weather. Ever since then, that hill has been a stone in my pocket. I wanted to come back, and in winter if possible. Starav is the most westerly of a group of five Munros that adjoin those of the Black Mount to the east – but which are much easier to access from the head of Loch Etive. I kept on studying the maps, but was convinced I’d missed the season. If that sounds as familiar to you as it is to me, then let me assure you (and myself!) that there’s a logic to all our frustrated weekends and missed chances, when the rest of life makes other plans for our time and attention. If we continue watching the skies, keeping the faith, our number will come up on those outstanding projects in the end. As I climbed, I became aware that this was one of those times. I’d been granted special dispensation, and the mountain was welcoming me back.

Ben Starav

There was barely a breath of wind, but still the clouds swelled silently behind me, rising on the thermals down in the glen. Everything was quiet and still, my only company the sound of laboured breathing and snow giving away gently underfoot. I’d arrived late and plodded up to about 600m before camping just above the snowline, trusting to the weather forecast. Thankfully, it was accurate – there’d been no rustling of tent fabric on the ‘hill of [opposite] Glas Bheinn Mhor glimpsed on the ascent to Ben Starav [left] At the head of the scramble to Stob Coire Dheirg

The Great Outdoors March 2017 19


S T R I D over snow

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Helvellyn

D I N G In the right conditions, the Lake District’s most famous ridge has a distinct flavour of the Alps, says Ronald Turnbull. Make a day of it with a few extra Wainwrights and finish in style with an Ullswater sunset

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A NIGHT ON GLYDER FACH

Capturing the blush of a mountain dawn is a tempting goal for any aspiring landscape photographer. As Helen Iles found last winter, the perfect shot takes effort but brings unforgettable memories 32 The Great Outdoors March 2017

AT 3AM I HAD NEVER FELT COLD LIKE IT. My tent was almost brittle, and the cold invaded my two sleeping bags, full winter thermals and every outer shell I possessed, as if I was wearing nothing but shorts and T-shirt. “Er, Kris…” I shouted over to my mate’s tent. “You still alive?” “Brrrr,” came the almost reassuring reply. We are both photographers and, after watching the forecasts for a while, had headed out that afternoon in the hope of capturing the final snows of the season on Castell y Gwynt, the otherworldly outcrop of rocks near the summit of Glyder Fach.


Photography

Forecasts were clear, wind minimal and so – loaded with gear – we started up the steep but quick Miner’s Track. After a breath-stealing upward hike, we summited just as the sun was setting, the tops of Tryfan and Pen yr Ole Wen revelling in the last of the light. There was more snow than we had expected, and everywhere was frozen solid already. The famous Cantilever Rock was decorated with rime ice; rocks glistened with the suddenly dropping temperature. We made our way over to Castell y Gwynt, but the light had beaten us. Now the temperature started dropping rapidly. It was

almost audible. The wind dropped too and any last moments of psychological or physical reassurance the sun had given us evaporated. There was an eerie silence between us as we realised that we’d better get the tents up quickly. We had previously decided on a ledge overlooking Llyn Cwmffynnon and facing Snowdon, but pitching onto the frozen ground was challenging work. And still the temperature fell. My damp boot laces froze and became like wire, every water bottle froze too. I slept with my camera inside my sleeping bag to stop the moisture on it freezing on the outside. As soon as I

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PLAYING IN T H Whether it’s glaciated mountains, temperate rainforest or rugged Pacific coastline you’re after, the Olympic National Park in America’s Pacific Northwest offers them all in great, teetering shovelfuls, says Alec Connon

36 The Great Outdoors March 2017


Pacific Northwest

T HE OLYMPICS WHILE THE UNITED STATES may have recently elected a man whose idea of national protection entails opening up the country’s wilderness to an onslaught of drilling and mining, historically our American cousins were light years ahead of us when it came to protecting their most iconic natural areas. While Britain's first National Parks were designated in the 1950s, the first area of American wilderness to be afforded government protection came as far back as 1864. At the time, this idea – the idea that an area of land ought to be set aside, be kept apart from industrial development, in order to be enjoyed solely for its natural beauty – was nothing short of revolutionary. Nothing like it had ever been done anywhere in the world. Many now call it America’s greatest idea. It certainly wasn’t its worst one. It is largely owing to this remarkable vision that, even today, the Olympic National Park, one of America’s most biologically diverse areas, remains so untrammelled by the foot of modernity. First accorded a degree of federal protection as far back as 1897, the area was largely spared from the twin assaults of mining and logging. And today it is home to one of America’s largest preserves of old-growth forest. Some of the largest trees in the world grow here.

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The perfect

MILE For all the thrills of a winter ridge without the technical terrain, head to Whiteside, says Stewart Smith

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Lake District

THIS IS NO TALE OF A 3AM START and 250-mile drive. No waking cold and breathless in a frozen tent. No headtorchled climb in an enveloping darkness. Sometimes a simple Sunday afternoon walk with friends along one of the finest ridges in the Lakes is all you need. No, not that Lake District ridge (Ed: turn back to page 26 for that one). It may not be as sharp an edge as some, and won’t satisfy those with a yearning for extreme exposure, but – unhindered by overly polished rock, any need for scrambling, awkward downclimbs, deliberations over bypass paths and other complications of more technical edges – it’s a simple sustained thrill ride over one of the best miles in Lakeland. Take a walk

on Whiteside. With my usual outings centered around landscape photography and the traditional trappings of early and late light chasing, I often walk alone, at unsociable hours, half of the time in the dark. Any hill time is good time, obviously, but occasionally it’s a release to forget about angles of sunrise and sunset, optimal locations at the relevant times, too much cloud, too little cloud... and just head to the hills for a sunny and sociable day of walking. The Saturday night plan formed in the pub wasn’t exactly specific – just a reaction to the forecast of a pristine winter hill day. We’d drive out, see where we found ourselves, and climb something. I can’t deny that living in the Lakes allows us a

little lazy Sunday self-indulgence now and then.

Blue skies and soft powder

The following morning, Carl, Dave and I found ourselves at Lanthwaite Green staring at the steep nose of Whin Benn and Whiteside, wishing we had as much boundless energy as accompanying cocker spaniel Finlay. High above us was the promise of that easy mile of gently undulating ridge, soft powder underfoot and blue sky overhead. All we had to do was get up there. The fun part is initially hard fought, with all the climbing done in a shorter distance than the length of the ridge itself. Heading gently over the common The Great Outdoors March 2017 43


WHO DAEARS WINS Spectacular to the eye... yet easy on the crampons. Whatever your experience level, few winter routes can offer as much grade one fun as Moel Siabod’s Daear Ddu Ridge, says Dan Aspel

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Moel Siabod

The southern aspect of Moel Siabod, seen on the approach from Capel Curig

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HILL SKILLS ● Magnetic anomalies ● Plants of the hills ● Mountain toponymy ● Weather

● Geomorphology and glaciology guide by Ronald Turnbull

● The winter hills ● Birdlife ● Avalanches ● Long-term snow patches

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66–7

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Photo: Shutterstock

The Great Outdoors Guide to...

The Mountain Environment


Photo: Guy Prince

Magnetic anomalies

How metal in the mountains can ruin your navigation

M

Magnetic interference – where compasses give inaccurate readings due to the presence of metal objects or magnets nearby – is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem as walkers carry more mobile phones and other gadgetry out in the hills. In some cases, it can cause reverse polarity, where the magnetism in the compass needle becomes permanently reversed so the red end points south instead of north. But even if you’re meticulous about protecting your compass from interfering objects, you may find that the environment itself plays tricks on your compass. The most

1

(in)famous location for this is the Cuillin on Skye, which are well-known for their compass-tampering gabbro, a rock which has magnetic properties. Other places where magnetic anomalies have been reported are Ben More on Mull, Ladhar Bheinn in Knoydart, Hecla on Uist, the Ore Gap on the northern side of Bow Fell and Carnedd Llewelyn. Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Adviser for Mountaineering Scotland (www. mountaineering.scot) suggests these three simple ‘Golden Rules’ to avoid being caught out by a faulty compass reading.

Keep your compass in a separate location to other electronic items you carry with you on the hill and ensure when you are using it that it is held well away from your body. Ensure you read the contours on the map. You should have a very clear idea as to what should happen under your feet as you walk on your compass bearing. If this is not happening, the alarm bells should be ringing and you should re-evaluate. Always carry a spare compass in the event of malfunction, damage or loss.

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Four common MOUNTAIN PLANTS 1. BUTTERWORT

Feeds on insects, which are attracted to its sticky secretions.

2. COTTONGRASS

1.

2.

3.

4.

Widespread on moors and heaths, actually a type of sedge, not a grass.

Another carnivorous plant, often found alongside butterwort.

4. SPHAGNUM MOSS Can hold water

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Photos: Shutterstock

3. SUNDEW


Gear comparative review

Trekking Poles

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3

Chris Townsend assesses the latest developments

I

IN TERMS OF FUNCTION trekking poles are relatively

simple items, basically just hi-tech walking sticks. What makes them complicated is the requirement for them to be collapsible for packing and adjustable for different types of terrain. A simple stick only needs a handle and a point. But such a stick isn’t easy to transport and can’t be adjusted. Whether you opt for a pair of traditional walking sticks or modern trekking poles, having four points of contact with the ground makes walking easier and less of a strain on your body. On ascents, poles can help push you up, taking some of the effort from your legs, while on descents they can help prevent your knees aching by taking some of the weight off them. Poles can also make walking safer. Slips are less likely to result in falls when you have poles, especially when carrying a big pack over rough ground and when it’s very windy. I’ve stopped quite a few falls with poles. And if an injury does occur, poles may mean you can limp out rather than having to be rescued. On boggy terrain and stream fords poles, are useful for balance and for prodding soft ground and water to see how deep it is. They can also be used as supports for a shelter in lieu of tent poles, something I’ve done on my last three long-distance walks.

Poles aren’t suitable all the time though. They can get in the way on scrambles and don’t replace an ice axe, though in winter you can combine an axe in one hand with a pole in the other. If you do this, don’t use the strap. You need to be able to drop the pole if you self-arrest. To gain the most from poles you need to use them correctly. This means angling them backwards a little when you push down on them so they help propel you forwards. For this to be effective the pole needs to be parallel to your body – if it’s angled outwards you’ll be pushing yourself sideways; if it’s angled inwards you’ll get it tangled with your feet. The length makes a difference too and here many people have their poles too long. Your arm should be at right angles when holding the pole with the tip on the ground. On steep uphills you can shorten the pole a little; on steep downhills lengthen it. If it’s for just a short distance, rather than adjusting the actual pole length you can hold the shaft lower down to shorten the pole and put your hand on top of the handle to lengthen it. A few years ago most poles had internal expansion adjustments, which can jam or slip. External clips are easier to use and less prone to problems. They’re now found on many poles, sometimes in conjunction with a button lock on one or two sections.

3. Straps

Features 1. Length Poles should extend so you can hold them vertically with your arms bent at right angles at the elbows. They have a limited length range so make sure you choose ones that are right for you. Check the packed length too, especially if you might want to pack poles inside your rucksack or travel luggage.

2. Weight I don’t think weight matters with poles unless you’ll be carrying them on your pack for long periods. I can’t tell the difference between poles when using ones of very different weights in each hand.

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1

2

5

Straps should be easy to adjust in length for use with gloves or mitts and comfortable on your hands as they take most of the weight.

in snow but otherwise can catch on vegetation.

4. Handles

Anti-shock is said to absorb some of the impact when you place the pole. I don’t find it makes any difference and I dislike the ‘give’ when you put weight on the pole.

The grip should be comfortable to hold. However it should rarely be necessary to hold the poles tightly so this isn’t crucial. An extension below the grip is useful when holding the pole lower down the shaft.

5. Length adjustment. Poles should be easy to adjust and the shafts should lock firmly in place so they don’t slip.

6. Baskets All poles come with small baskets, which are fine for use other than in deep snow. Some also come with wider snow baskets, which are great

7. Anti-Shock 6

8. Care Pole sections should be separated after use so they can dry. Button-lock ones should be fully extended. It’s best to store them like this too so that they don’t corrode and jam.


comparative review Gear

Pacerpole Dual-Lock £107

590g

shaped handles, adjustment system nothing Length: 65-133cm Sections: 3 Material: carbon fibre Grip: shaped Anti-shock: no Adjustment: lever lock, button lock www.pacerpole.com

Pacerpoles have been my favourite poles for many years and I’ve reviewed them numerous times. While the left- and right-shaped handles that make Pacerpoles different to all other poles are the reason for my praise, I’ve never been totally happy with the internal adjustment system as it can slip or jam after a fair amount of wear and isn’t that easy to adjust if you want to change the length in use. So I’m delighted that this year Pacerpole has introduced the Dual Lock model, which has an external lever lock on the upper section and a button or pin lock on the lower section – a metal knob that pops out when the lower section is extended. This needs to be done quite sharply. Once done though, the two lower sections are quite stiff. All adjustment is done with the top section and the lever lock. This makes adjusting the pole very easy. Pacerpole says that the reason for using one lever lock and one pin lock is to ensure the pole is lighter in the lower section, as shaft weighting affects the swing of the pole. For least effort the weight needs to be at the top. I must admit that I don’t notice an issuse when using poles with lower lever locks. However I do like the lever lock/pin button combination as it means I needn’t think about the lower sections when adjusting the length. The unique Pacerpole angled handles are very comfortable and mean you don’t have to cock your wrists or grip tightly. Straps aren’t needed either and only thin cord loops are provided. I rarely use these. Because of the angled handles, when you hold the poles the shafts naturally point backwards, which means getting maximum propulsion requires less effort and stress than with straight-handled poles. Dual-Lock Pacerpoles are made from carbon fibre. They’re lighter weight than the aluminium ones with internal twist-locks but heavier than carbon-fibre ones with the same twist-locks. I think the extra weight over the latter is well worthwhile. They’re also the heaviest of all the poles tested (by 10g) and the longest when closed. I don’t think either of these is a significant drawback, though the latter could be if you want to pack your poles inside a small pack or travel bag.

Leki Black Series Micro Vario Carbon £165

420g

compact, lightweight expensive  Length: 38 -130cm Sections: 4 Material: carbon fibre Grip: thermo-moulded, extended Anti-shock: no Adjustment: lever lock, button lock www.leki.com

Unusually these poles are only partly telescopic. The lower two sections are connected by a flexible wire and don’t fit into the rest of the pole so when collapsed there are three sections rather than one. These are short in length and will fit inside a small rucksack. To extend the pole, you slot the three lower sections together then pull the upper of the three out of the top section until the button locks, which tightens the wire. Any adjustment is then by the level lock on the top section. As with similar poles this means that although the poles are very short when collapsed, the minimum extended length is actually quite long at 110cm. That’s right for me – though I can’t shorten the pole for steep ascents – but wouldn’t be for anyone who needs a shorter pole. In use, the poles only have a slight flex, less than with other four-section poles, and the lever lock and button lock both feel very secure. There is a slight play between the lower sections but again less than with similar poles. The handles are comfortable and have long extensions. The thin straps aren’t as sweaty as some. There’s no padding but they are very soft. For a compact four-section pole the Micro Vario Carbon poles are excellent. However they are also very costly, the most expensive of all the poles reviewed.

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3

TAKE T H R E E Ice Axes In the first instalment of this new series we look at three axes aimed at walkers TAKE 3 IS A NEW SERIES in which we examine

three items that all fall into the same gear category but that vary in price. We’ll be looking at each piece of kit – a budget option, a mid-range option and a premium option – on its own merit, but also examining what your money buys. First in the series is a look at three walkers’ ice axes. When there’s snow and ice on the hills, as there is at the time of writing, a good ice axe and the skills needed to use it are essential. Britain’s hills can quickly become serious mountains in winter conditions, and hillwalking can soon turn into mountaineering. This is not a huge equipment category, as only a handful of brands manufacture walking axes, so the variety in pricing isn’t as wide as, for example, in waterproof jackets. All the ice axes tested will play the same role in keeping you safe on the winter hills, and they are all rated by the CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation. CEN have two categories for ice axes: B (basic) and T (technical). Axes designed purely for walking are B-rated. T-rated axes are for mountaineering and climbing as well. Remember that walking routes, especially scrambles, can easily become mountaineering ones in winter conditions. The main purpose of an ice axe when walking is to stop a slip turning into a slide by thrusting the shaft into the snow. If a slide does occur then the axe can be used for self-arrest by using body weight to push the pick into the snow – this is a technique that needs to be learnt and practised. On steeper ground the axe can be used as a support and climbing aid by hitting the pick into the snow or ice. The adze can be used for cutting steps in hard snow or ice, though crampons are far better for dealing with such terrain. For hillwalking and general mountaineering, an ice axe should have a gently curved pick as these are best for self-arrest. In case self-arrest is necessary, the axe should be carried by the head with the pick pointing backwards and so should be comfortable held like this.

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take 3 Gear

1 Photo: Dougie Cunningham

budget OPTION

GRIVEL HELIX

£55

What you’re buying: a low cost walking axe designed to be comfortable when held by the head.

HEAD carbon steel Shaft aluminium Leash Yes Rating B

Lengths 53, 58, 66cm Weight 475g (66cm) Innovative Features Plastic cover over the head for comfort and glove protection

USAGE NOTES: Grivel reckon that “walking axes are carried 99.9% of the time by the head,” which is certainly the case for me. To make holding the axe like this more comfortable and warmer, Grivel has fitted a plastic cover over the head of the Helix. This cover is comfortable and warm and also protects your hand against the teeth on the underside of the head. It’s a bit fiddly to take off as the leash has to be removed first but you’re unlikely to need to do this very often, if ever. The length of the leash is adjustable and the hand loop is big enough for use when wearing thick mitts. As the axe is designed to be held by the head virtually all the time, the straight shaft doesn’t have a rubberised cover at the lower end. If you do need to hold the axe here, note that the shiny metal is slippery, especially when wet, and also cold. There’s a spike cover attached to the narrow

webbing leash, which is useful when the axe is on your pack. The pick, teeth and adze aren’t very sharp and the adze isn’t very wide – fine for hillwalking but indicating that the axe isn’t designed for ice climbing or much step-cutting. The CEN B rating also suggests this – it means the axe isn’t strong enough for use as a belay or for technical climbing. If you’re planning any graded snow or ice climbs, a T rated axe would be better. CONCLUSION: A good hillwalking axe and a great choice given the low cost. www.grivelgb.co.uk ALSO AVAILABLE: CAMP Neve, £55 See: www.tgomagazine.co.uk/review/ice-axe-reviewcamp-neve

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Wild WALKS 10 varied walks in Scotland, England and Wales Panorama looking north from Foel Lwyd

CONTRIBUTORS

Photo: Roger Butler

Keith Fergus

Craig Weldon

Alan Rowan

Roger Turnbull

Our walks this month

Paul Richardson

1 Cairngorms Ben Macdui & The Goat Track 2 West Highlands Creach Bheinn 3 Southern Highlands The Stob

1 2

3 Steve Eddy

4 Lake District Skiddaw and Great Cockup 5 Lake District Scafell Pike

4 5

6 North York Moors Rudland Rigg 7 Peak District Lud’s Church and the Roaches

6

7

8

Roger Butler

8 Snowdonia Tal y Fan and Drum 9 Brecon Beacons Waun Fach 10 South West Quantock Hills 90 The Great Outdoors March 2017

9 10 Tim Gent


1

16.5km/ 10.25 miles/6-7 hours Ascent 983m/2677ft

Ben Macdui and The Goat Track Cairngorms SCOTLAND

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4

1 Start/Finish

Coire Cas car park GR: NH988060 From Coire Cas car park, descend track R of Funicular Railway entrance then bear right onto Fiachaill a’ Choire Chais. Climb gradually then steeply SE onto Central Cairngorm Plateau beside marker cairn.

2 Head SW near cliffs of Northern Corries (beware, cliffs will undoubtedly be heavily corniced well into spring) over Stob Coire an t-Sneachda. Drop down to path rising from Coire an t-Sneachda (the Goat Track).

Retrace steps across plateau to Northern Corries at Goat Track. Path zig-zags steeply NE down into Coire an t-Sneachda. There are steep drops on L so real care required during winter. Danger of rockfall when snow melt begins. Path descends to base of corrie.

2

5

5

Continue N, path soon running alongside Allt Coire an t-Sneachda, eventually reaching junction. Bear R, follow path NE back to Coire Cas car park.

3

3 Cross plateau SW, eventually reaching Lochan Buidhe. In poor visibility excellent navigation would be required. Bouldery terrain then climbs SSE onto Ben Macdui.

4

Gradient profile Metres above sea level 1,000 500 0

0 km

10

5

15

16

Keith Fergus takes a classic route to Scotland’s second highest Munro THE CENTRAL CAIRNGORM PLATEAU, linking Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui, is notorious for its extremes of weather. Gusts of wind can regularly exceed 100mph, while snow can lie well into the summer months. Cross the plateau on a benign day during winter, however, and you might be rewarded with a walk that will live long in

the memory. As well as some astonishing scenery, wildlife such as mountain hare, snow bunting and ptarmigan may well be spotted. Even so, a benign day can very quickly change to something more hazardous: white-out conditions, high winds and snow-corniced cliffs all present dangers, so you need to know your stuff.

Always take a map and compass with you. ©Crown copyright 2017 Ordnance Survey. Media 047/16

A wintry ascent of Ben Macdui was the plan as I left Coire Cas car park, with skiers outnumbering walkers by about ten to one. I also wanted to take in the Northern Corries with a descent into Coire an t-Sneachda via the Goat Track. I decided to climb onto the plateau via Fiachaill a’ Choire Chais, which presented fantastic views of the corries. Crunchy The Great Outdoors March 2017 91

The March Issue of The Great Outdoors  
The March Issue of The Great Outdoors