Friday, March 28, 2008

Staithes Car Park

Recently I visited the small hamlet of Staithes on the Cleveland/North Yorkshire border and what a day to visit. It was during a period when little old England was getting hammered by strong winds from the Atlantic, however the wind kind of enhanced my visit and added to the enjoyment of being there especially with regard to the waves that the North Sea was sending against the rocks and breakwater of Staithes harbour. Staithes is a seaside village which is divided between Yorkshire & Cleveland by Roxby Beck with about 90% of Staithes being in North Yorkshire. In times past it was one of the largest and most productive fishing centres in England by the North Sea, however nowadays it is largely a tourist destination due to it's attractive olde England appearance. Staithes is noted for its sheltered harbour, bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters, a mile to the north is Boulby cliff which is the highest cliff in England. The cliffs around Staithes also are popular with sea birds and it can get a bit noisy. Staithes population has dwindled due to a lot of the cottages being owned by people from Leeds and York for example and during the winter it can appear like a ghost town with few visitors but this is a great time to visit if you can handle the stormy weather. Staithes still maintains its tradition and many of the local women still wear their Staithes bonnets (some can still be bought today in the Gift Shop in Staithes!) for the annual nightgown parade, and the Fisher Men's choir is still going strong along with local participation in the local RNLI Lifeboat. In 1745-1746, Staithes's most famous son (born in Marton near Middlesbrough), the young James Cook worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his passion for the sea. Later he moved to Whitby where he joined the Royal Navy. William Sanderson's shop, where Cooky worked, was destroyed by the sea, but parts were recovered and incorporated into "Captain Cook's Cottage". A local family has lived here for a number of generations. Should you find yourself in Staithes make sure you visit the Royal George or the Cod & Lobster for a pint of the local and a bite to eat. One last thing Staithes is famous for , it has the most dangerous car park in England as can be seen by my picture. When I was there a local resident by the name of Sandra climbed down to investigate this strange sight. ( I suspect she's a menber of the Royal Marines Reserve but the secret is out now)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Great Gable

Great Gable is a beautiful mountain situated at Wasdale Head in Cumbria opposite the Scafell Masiffs and adacent to Black Sail Pass which nestles between the mighty Pillar and haystacks. I chose to tackle it from Seathwaite rather than from Wasdale Head as I had just recently climbed Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head. The climb started with a scramble up Sour Milk Gill for about 1000 ft followed by a long drawn out climb between Base Brown and Brandreth to ascend Green Gable. Green Gable is to the rear of Great Gable and it gives on a clear day wonderful views of Gable Crag on the back of Great Gable along with a fantastic view down the Black Sail Pass and the River Liza. From Green Gable we dropped slightly to the south and then began the climb up Great Gable. The weather remained unpredictable with cloud and rain followed by sunny spells but I was able to see opposite Sprinkling Tarn and further on the summit of Scafell Pike. Finally reaching the top I was met by a strong wind which denied me being able to boil up some water for a cup of tea. The top of Great Gable indicates that it is a war memorial, and it is in fact the largest memorial in Europe with a large number of climbers grouping on its summit each rememberance Sunday. Down below to the south is Wastwater and Wasdale head with the Wasdale Head Inn, home of the biggest liar competition.
Whilst on the top I slipped and twisted my ankle which made it difficult coming down especially in the dark but hopefully I will find the time to visit Great Gable again to check out its world famous needles on the south traverse. Pictures include the sun going down over Wast water, a view down Black Sail Pass , myself on Great Gable & myself on Green Gable with Great Gable crag behind me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not your normal High Street

This last week I have been up in England's Lake District in the county of Cumbria. Cumbria , situated in the north west is England's most mountainous county filled
with wonderful peaks with names suchas Haystacks, Pillar and Hellvelyn to mention but a few, They are not mountains on the scale of the Himalaya's or Southern Alps but non the less in my opinion they are just as beautiful,if not more so. There is so much history to be found in these English mountains from shepherds and their flocks to slate miners. This week I went to climb a mountain known simply as 'High Street' in the vicinity of Haweswater. The name High Street does not imply that you will find a butchers or bakers on the summit rather it takes you back to the day when it's summit was a high up Roman road linking their garrisons at Ambleside and Brougham and on the south side of the mountain lies the Troutbeck slopes where Scotch invaders were repulsed by the shepherds, dalesmen and farmers whom made the summit their playground and feasting place during their annual horse racing meets. I made my ascent via Rough Crag which at first is a pleasant climb with the odd scramble thrown in to get your hands dirty however the English weather was quite bad at the time with high winds from the Atlantic buffeting us as we ventured into exposed area's. We made it into the snow about half way up Long Stile which is around 100 yards from the top but due to the severe winds in this unsheltered area we decided to come back down via Blea tarn. No sooner had we turned back when the summit became a white out with a snow storm coming in from the south. The climb down via Blea Tarn leads one to a lovely body of water with a small dam surrounded by the mountain, and a gentle walk down to Haweswater following Blea Water Beck through gorgeous coloured fells with a number of waterfalls thrown in to impress. If your interested in this part of England may I recomend the books of A Wainwright or the DVD's of Wainwright's walks presented by Julia Bradbury.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

High Cup Nick

One of the many treasures to be found on England's Pennine Way, a rugged walk that will take you down the hilly spine of England, is High Cup Nick. It is situated on the border's of Cumbria & County Durham and can be described as 'A deep chasm on the Pennine fellside, this famous nick, a dramatic geological formation at the top of High Cup Gill is part of the well-known Whin Sill, and overlooks the best glaciated valley in Northern England. Here you can see the grey-blue dolerite crags which also form High Force and Cauldron Snout (Waterfalls)'. I walked from the village of Dufton ,north to Maize Beck following it east to join the Pennine Way and on to High Cup Nick. It is an awesome sight and pictures simply do no give you the scale and majesty of it. It is a windy place so one needs to be careful when near the edges in certain area's depending on which direction the wind is blowing but it has to be seen from all 3 sides followed by a climb down into its deep chasm. You can finish your walk back in Dufton followed by a swift half in the pub.