samedi 19 août 2017

The Owens' return to Britain (only joking, it was a holiday!)

What do you do when your physio goes on holiday and you can't go climbing? Visit Britain of course. To be more precise, visit the Yorkshire Dales and Snowdonia. Why not?

The shoulder has been making good, steady progress. With Patrick (my physio) going on holiday we had a little over three weeks before my next session. Elaine didn't want to go climbing in the summer heat (nor did I want to go to some awesome new crag, as it's way too early for me to even think of doing easy climbs). We needed a totally different kind of holiday this summer and decided to visit Britain, to go walking and climbing indoors.  

We made the long journey north and took the ferry from Calais to Dover. It's amazing to think that we used to do that same journey six times a year, before we moved to France. Driving round the M25 reminded us just why we'd left Britain all those years ago. The weather was vile and driving conditions were awful. At least the British drivers were driving courteously and sticking to the speed limit. First destination was Elaine's cousins wedding reception in Buckingham (thanks for the bacon butties - we were so hungry!). It was great fun seeing the Scottish side of the family again: Susan, Michael, Graham and Bonny.

Next day we headed further north towards Settle in North Yorkshire, destination Settle Lodge Bed and Breakfast, to stay with Eddie and Mandy for a few days, to do some walking in The Dales and, of course, to enjoy Eddie's famous cooked breakfasts. We had a wonderful room with a great view, a very comfortable king sized bed, superb modern shower and the softest, fluffiest towels we came across during our stay in Britain. As usual they were both on fine form and had us in fits of laughter. The four of us made the classic walk round Gordale Scar, Malham Cove and Janet's Fosse, the scenery is still stunning after all these years. Unfortunately nobody was climbing but it was nice to be able to still visualise the moves on the starts of New DawnZoolook and Raindogs. Standing there on The Catwalk surrounded by so many classic climbs was like saying "hello" to lots of old friends. On another occasion we took Ruff for a long walk up Ingleborough from Clapham (some thirty four years since the last trip up there during the Three Peaks Walk). Later in the week, we were unimpressed when we visited Kendal Climbing Centre: verdict very expensive for mediocre bouldering, unfriendly staff and not at all dog friendly. Ruff and I were ejected from an otherwise empty cafe by a surly young woman (having bought a sandwich and a coffee) and had to wait in the van whilst Elaine climbed. I really wouldn't recommend the place to anyone and I certainly wouldn't consider going there ever again. With a full weekend of bookings at Settle Lodge, we bade farewell to Eddie and Mandy and headed south towards Wales. En route we visited my sisters, Elaine's brother and The Hangar in Liverpool (quite possibly our favourite climbing wall; very dog friendly too).

We had got very much used to the luxury of Settle Lodge and decided against staying in the Cali, using the rain and my shoulder as perfect excuses. So we booked a nice little cottage on a working farm. Ty-Mawr Farm in Llandeiniolen was perfectly located for access to the mountains and The Beacon climbing wall. 

The highlights of our two weeks in Snowdonia  were undoubtedly meeting up with so many old friends (particularly my old climbing partners John Roberts, Brian Jones and Pete White) and walking and scrambling in the mountains, the very same place I learnt all my mountaineering skills as a teenager in the 70's. The landscape is still as beautiful and stunning as I remembered it. I think it's true to say that my heart definitely belongs in North Wales (despite the cold, wind and rain!).

By the way, we had so much fun that we'll probably be going back next summer. Any of our French friends fancy joining us to do some trad?
Mandy showing Ruff how to work out on a wet day in Settle.
Ruff enjoying the descent from Ingleborough.
Ruff getting all the attention at The Hangar.
Elaine in the big cave at The Hangar.

I started climbing with these guys: Pete White, John Roberts and Brian Jones.

A chilly day to be on the summit of Pen Yr Ole Wen, looking towards Tryfan, Glyder Fach and Llyn Idwal (Snowdon hidden in cloud on the right).

Imagine bumping into Martin Crook and Mel Griffiths at The Beacon?

Elaine in the big cave at The Beacon.

We also bumped into Bonny Masson as well.

Al Stewart in The Beacon's big cave.

Coffee on the sofa. Al Stewart, Ken Latham, Elaine, me, Denise and Brian Jones, Sarah and John Peake.

Mick Lovatt gave us a guided tour of the Lleyn crags.

View from Mynydd Perfedd, L to R: Tryfan, Glyder Fach, Foel Goch (closest), Glyder Fawr (most distant) and Y Garn.

Meeting up with Kath Goodey and Dave Lyons at Joe Brown's in Capel Curig.

Meeting up with Fluff from our student days at I M Marsh over 30 years ago!

Summit of Tryfan, there were people all over Adam and Eve (hence the reason they're missing from the photo, just left of Elaine).

The classic photo of The Cantilever on Glyder Fach.

Meeting up for a meal with Sue and Colin Goodey in Penmaenmawr.

Meeting up with some old faces from the Liverpool/Deeside scene at The Boardroom. L to R: Roger Bennion, Andy Boorman, her, legend Phil Davidson, me, Paul Bolger, unknown, Al Stewart.

Re-living the good old times. Me and Phil Davidson. When was the last time we climbed together?

Excellent motivation for next summer's visit.