Friday, 22 July 2011

Great Dome Art Fair 2011

After a year of waiting the Great Dome Art Fair is here. It opens at 7pm tonight. Then open 10am to 4.30pm over the weekend. Free entry, over 60 top quality artists exhibiting under the Peak District Artisans umbrella. The venue is spectacular too, the Buxton Dome, at one time the largest unsupported dome in Europe, still larger than St Pauls dome in London.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Walking Again

I am in the Gallery in the Gardens today until 6pm. The 6 mile walk this morning was good, quite sunny but cool.

Felt a bit lethargic to start with but soon into the swing of it again, just 3 days after finishing the 5 day 64 mile trek across the Lakes. Incidentally, I lost 2% body fat and gained about 1kg in weight. I put the weight gain down to building muscle rather than the 33 pints of beer or copious food intake!

Al and I were both going well at the end. Al had blisters on a toe that was painful for the first 2 days until he wrapped it in Compeed. He also needed encouragement to go high on day 4 after hearing the BBC give out a severe weather warning. He was going to get wet going high or low and always possibility of a big view if you walk the tops. He had no problem with the walking once the decision was made though. The forecast heavy rain arrived after we reached the pub anyway!

For me, my bad back was surprisingly pain free until the last day. I think the very soft bed at the White Lion in Patterdale was to blame but Voltarol (which I took 3 times a day every day) helped.

Buxton is buzzing right now. It is festival time, lots of opera, theatre and literary events for a bit over 2 weeks. Quite busy too.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Shap Beer Review and Official MPG figures for trek

What a surprise, the Greyound in Shap was a Camra real ale pub and had 8 on hand pumps. The landlord said if we drank all 8 he would give us the 9th free. A challenge too far for us, methinks!
We had a couple as soon as we arrived; it was a hot afternoon! I started with Lancaster Black before trying the Lancaster Red. The Black was a tasty pint, a cross between a black bitter and a stout. The red was quite bland with little taste.
After showering and changing it was time for dinner. I had the local Cumberland sausage (thought I should have one before leaving Cumberland), which was very nice, with Cumbria Langdale, a very tasty pint, followed by Hawkshead Windermere pale ale, a bit too hoppy for me but nice all the same. Then it was Dent Aviator, always a good pint, finishing with Hawkshead Red, freshly tapped and a good one to finish on.
Overall, that makes 33 pints of beer in 64 miles over 5 days, giving a final figure of 15.5 miles per gallon. A very creditable performance!
Watch out on my main web site for the trek photos in a few weeks time. I will try and remember to post a note here too.

St Bees to Shap Trek - Day 5

Al and I finished the 5 day, 60 mile plus trek across the Lake District. I am writing this a bit late as I fell asleep late yesterday after I started. It was either the exertions of the last 5 days or the 6 pints!
Today was the best weather, sunshine, blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Days you dream of!

We left the White Lion in Patterdale at 8.45am, heading across and then uphill to Angle Tarn. This was a good place for photos so I was running around picking out the views as the light changed.
Quite a high day, taking in Kidsty Pike before dropping down to the huge reservoir of Haweswater. Nice clouds helped a few shots. Then a few more miles saw us into the village of Shap and our lodgings at The Greyhound Hotel at 5.45pm, just 9 hours for 16 miles over the tops, including quite a few photo stops.
Overall, we had some nice weather every day, as well as rain most days.

Both of us were going well most of the time. I only had to encourage Al to do more than he wanted to on 1 day, the ridge up and over Fairfield. He was glad he decided to do it as the views were fantastic and the forecast bad weather was delayed until we were safely in the pub.

Best shots were probably around Sour Milk Gill above Seathwaite, with the backlit waterfall from below, but some of the big views should look great with the clouds. That is the bonus from changeable weather - good clouds.

Best day probably Grasmere to Patterdale taking in Fairfield and St Sunday Crag, closely followed by Ennerdale Bridge to Stonethwaite because of the descent down Gillercomb as the rains cleared.

We met lots of interesting people for chats on the trail and in the pubs. It was really nice having good company with the common goal of a specific walk. In particular I always looked forward to chats and banter with Trevor and Wendy from Letty Green, Leanne and Margaret from Australia and Brigitte from Switzerland.
Al was good company, as always and it was good to spend time together as I hadn't seen much of him in the last few years.
We are in the minibus going back to the car in St Bees, the home later. Will work out the miles per gallon (beer!) later, probably less than 20 though.

Last nights beer review to follow!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Patterdale Beer Review

Just turned in for the night at the White Lion Hotel in Patterdale. We planned a visit to the Patterdale Hotel a couple of hundred yards away. In the end we were having such a good time chatting to fellow walkers that we stayed put.
We had been spoilt at previous hostelries so just having 2 real ales on seemed a bit limiting.  There was Bass and Tirrell White Lion, both bitters. Both very palatable but not very special. That's it, beer review over! 
Not sure why but of the 10 of us we were last to leave the bar again. That's 4 nights running and we have only been going 4 days!
We walk 16 miles tomorrow and finish at Shap. Fingers crossed for good weather for good views on the tops.

St Bees to Shap Trek - Day 4

Jolly nice day today despite BBC weather forecasting end of the world storms! It was a short day of just 9 miles so we had a leisurely breakfast and left hotel at 9.30am, in sunshine.
Straight up hillside to reach Great Rigg at 11.15am. Views back over Grasmere with a bit of light and interesting clouds. Used a dark yellow filter to helpwith tones in the clouds.
Another half hour saw us on Fairfield, one of the biggest peaks in the Lake District at just under 3000 feet. A bit too dull for photos but still good views (the first time I have seen the views in 4 visits to the top!).
Then over Cofa Pike and on to St Sunday Crag, just an hour from Fairfield, where we stopped for lunch (Eccles Cakes for me). Met Wendy and Trevor again (from Letty Green - I can remember going to parties here in my youth!) and Anne from Australia. They were all putting on waterproofs ready for the approaching rain that we could see heading our way.
Then downhill all the way to Patterdale and the White Lion Hotel. It was just 2.45pm so we decided we would have a couple of lunchtime pints: Bass and White Lion bitter.
It was dry pretty much all day, with just a few minutes of light rain. So much for weather forecasts!
Just 1 day to go to Shap where we finish.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Grasmere Beer Review

The novelty of having phone signal has prompted me to do a 2nd post today. It's mainly a beer review - Al and I had a bit of a session!
First it was into Tweedies Bar for a few beers and a meal. All were jolly nice. I started with a Cumbrian Brewery Grasmoor dark ale. Oaty and smooth and jolly nice (best of the night and probably trip too). Then on to Coniston Old Man in reasonable condition before trying the Orkney Raven summer ale, foolishly I thought being called Raven it would be a dark ale, how wrong I was. This was champion beer of Scotland but no idea why. It was very bland and could have been anything.
I finished the early session with Old Peculiar, tasty as ever but preferred the Grasmoor. Special note: Al had a Yates Bitter, normally I steer clear of Yates beers as I have had too many bad pints but he insists this one was good and deserves a mention. So there it is - probably the first and last mention of Yates beers in this blog!
Just been having dinner with Al and he reminded me of a story I forgot to recount. At the Shepherds Arms in Ennerdale Bridge Al's bed was next to the bathroom door. Every time I went to the loo in the night he woke with a start and thought there was an earthquake. It turned out to be a loose floorboard rocking the bedside cupboard! What a sensitive flower he is.
Al has just discovered the way to see emails from more than the last 2 weeks. He has just downloaded emails back to 2003. I hope Carol doesn't see the mobile phone.bill!
Met up with a couple of fellow walkers in the Red Lion to end the evening. Trevor and Wendy were from Letty Green where I used to go for parties in the '70's and Al's wife used to live. Small world.
We finished with a couple of Dent Brewery beers: Ramsbottom, followed by Kamikazi. 2 strong beers and both jolly nice. The evening went a bit hazy after this.
Patterdale tomorrow, hopefully over Fairfield.

St Bees to Shap Trek - Day 3

We made it to Grasmere from Stonethwaite. Quite a bit of heavy rain but with some sunny spells. More importantly there is a phone signal, something we haven't had for the last 3 days.
Heading off to the pub soon, probably Tweedies Bar as they had 7 or 8 real ales on when we checked it out earlier.
We left the Langstrath Hotel at 8.25am and walked up the dale beside the river, which is now a raging torrent from all the heavy rain. High up the track was under several inches of water and became a waterfall higher up.
Very boggy underfoot. Made way to start of ridge to Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag . We spent about 1.5h on the ridge from 12pm, including several photo stops, chats with other walkers and a bite to eat. The light was pretty good but changed very quickly for photos.
The path came down steeply into Grasmere and it rained again as we finished the 8 mile walk at 3.15pm. The hotel is pretty good. Not much choice when booking as few places here will take 1 night bookings but we seem to have done well.
Well, the pub is calling to us so must dash.

St Bees to Shap Trek - Day 2

A mixed day today. We left hotel at 8.25am in dull but dry weather and made it to Ennedale Water in the dry. A few photos but light was a bit flat, I may have a bit of work to do to put some life in them.
The rain started after an hour or so and continued for over 3 hours. It was stair-rods and not very enjoyable to walk in, even wearing waterproofs.  It was a bit cool too so I ended up wearing 5 layers including 2 fleeces and waterproof. Al stopped a couple of times to repair his gammy toe. Not sure it did any good! Blisters rule ok!
The plan was to climb Green Gable but the clouds were down so we gave it a miss, skirted round on the Brandreth side to the head of Gillercomb. This was our route down, straight down! Steep grass slopes and a good scree run helped us down in double quick time.
Then it was along to Sour Milk Gill and a spectacular series of waterfalls. The sun had come out and was back-lighting the top section, the best viewpoint was in the middle of the stream, as usual. Had to clear water of the lens every other exposure, I was a bit close at times.
The end of the day was great, blue sky and white fluffy clouds and clear as a bell.
Jolly steep down to Seathwaite, then along to the Borrowdale road and across to Stonethwaite and a jolly warm welcome by Vicky at the Langstrath Hotel. We were very well looked after and wound down with pints of Cocker Hoop and Thirst Fall, both on form.
Our evening meals were excellent and we tried the other 2 real ales, Black Sheep bitter and Cumberland Ale. What a jolly good way to end a day on the hills!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

St Bees to Shap Trek - Day 1

We have just finished a nice meal at the Shepherds in Ennerdale Bridge. A couple of pints too, Ennerdale Liquidator and Jennings Bitter. I preferred the Jennings.
After lunch at the Brook Inn we headed up Dent, a small peak outside Cleator. Then it was mainly downhill into Ennerdale Bridge. Very little rain until after we had reached the Shepherds Hotel.
just finishing off the day at the Fox and Hounds with a pint of Burnmoor Pale Ale, and jolly nice it is too.
Tomorrow we head to Stonethwaite via Green Gable if the weather is good.

St Bees to Shap trek - lunch in Cleator

Left St Bees b&b at 8.20am and walked the mile to the beach for a paddle before starting the walk proper. Then a breezy walk along the cliff tops before heading inland. Mostly dry and warm.
Walked past pub in Moor Row knowing there were pubs in Cleator a bit further on. Shock, horror - pub and hotel in Cleator were both closed!
Al used his initiative and asked a local for guidance to nearest pub and 10 minutes later we were in the Brook Inn, a bit further along the main road towards Cleator Moor. This was a real gem. Good real ale (Cocker Hoop was excellent) and nice fresh sandwiches. This should be a mandatory stop on the Coast to Coast walk (which is what we are doing the first 5 days of).
Bit of a grey day but did take some photos along the beach at the start and again at the top of the cliffs.
Coming to the end of our second pints so better get going to Ennerdale. More later if there's a signal.

Monday, 4 July 2011

St Bees to Shap Trek - Arrival

I am in St Bees on the west coast of England ready to start a 5 day trek with old friend Al, probably about 65 miles with a few peaks en route. Hope my bad back survives (I am on the Voltarol already and we haven't started).
The sun is shining and it's quite warm (25C). Unfortunately, the forecast is for 4 days of rain. I hope it is either wrong or we have showers not persistent rain. I thought this would be a good way to get some new Lake District photographs, especially big views from the tops.
May have to rethink what gear I carry. No point carrying tripod if little chance of a photo. We have arranged for luggage transfer between each nights lodging so that we carry light day sacs only.
Will check out the local pubs for food and real ale in a few minutes.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Lake Light Exhibition at The Storey in Lancaster

I have an exhibition at The Storey in the centre of Lancaster, in the Thomas Storey Room. This is just 200 yards from Lancaster Castle, on the city centre side, so you should be able to find it without sat nav!

A total of 25 framed photographs from 25 x 20 cm to 70 x 70 cm are on display with another 50 mounted photographs in a browser.

The exhibition was opened on Friday 1st July and ends on Wednesday 10th August (we actually take it down on 11th August 2011, so you could actually see it on the morning of the 11th if you have no other time to get in there!).

They are all black and white photographs of the Lake District across all seasons and in all weathers. lots of big views, waterfalls, lakes, trees, snow and ice, as well as the odd infra-red shot. They can all be purchased on the day, you don't have to wait until the end of the exhibition. The framed photographs are priced from £25 to £300, all very reasonable Derbyshire prices, not London ones!

Here are some images (taken by Jan on a little Panasonic Lumix camera) of the gallery and exhibition to give you a better idea. Hope you like them.

Buxton Artist & Designer's Fair

Today we are at the Artist and Designer's Fair in Buxton Pavilion Gardens. There are 46 exhibitors in all with paintings, jewellery, wood turning, felt, another 4 photographers and lots more. It is free to get in and closes at 4pm today. Jan is there all day, I will be there this afternoon, I'm just packing up for a 5 day walk across the Lake District with good friend Al from Gloucester.