For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Nought out of three

Thursday 31st July.

Callerhues Crag (NY853 865) has been in my sights and aroused my curiosity twice before. First time on my Pennine Way, and again on my LEJOG. From a distance it looks like a good rock climbing venue and research had confirmed that to some extent.

Today I decided to visit and had also established there were two geocaches there. Also the map shows Hareshaw Linn Waterfall as being on the way. On arriving at that point there was no possibility of a waterfall and closer examination of the string of blue writing established that it was half a kilometre away over rough terrain so that was failure number one.

Branching off the Pennine Way I was on rough ground approaching the crag, but worse still the steep slope up to the rocks was covered in head high bracken. The going was almost impossible. The first geocache was supposed to be in a muddy cave but it was almost impossible to traverse along looking and I exited with some difficulty up rocks to the crest. That was failure number two. The going there was only slightly better and it became apparent that the second geocache was located in rocks formidably guarded by more bracken so I gave up on that one and beelined back to the Pennine Way. Failure number three.

I had already visited two cafés in Bellingham, but on the way to this little adventure I had noticed the Carriages Tearoom and called on the way back to sit in one of three old Pullman coaches converted into a café. It had been a bit of a silly walk, but at least closer inspection of the crags had been satisfied. They would provide some interesting one pitch entertainment before the bracken gets going, but I won't be going there again, but that café would be worth a return visit.




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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Scottish hospitality

Wednesday 30th July 2014

Greatmoor Hill, 599m, NT 489 007

Cauldcleuch Head, 619m, NT 458 008

Planning last night left me uncertain in two ways about bagging these two.

The map showed a farm one mile up a track giving the closest access (NY 504 992, Sundhope). My plan was to drive up the track and ask permission, and as I got closer I was imagining all sorts of unwelcoming scenarios, BUT, we are now in Scotland. A guy appeared immediately I arrived near the farm and I was preparing for the worst. Angus is the incumbent shepherd and the only inhabitant. He had no problem with me tramping wherever I wanted on his hills, and then said, "call in on your way back for a cup of tea" - you think I'm making it up don't you?

My second concern was whether I could comfortably manage visiting both summits involving a fair amount of ascent and descent across unknown but likely rough terrain.

It was raining and the tops were in cloud. I waited half an hour until it abated.

I followed a faint quad bike track to the first summit (one hour). Intermittent showers and clearances prevailed but improving, so it was onwards to number two. Apart from knee discomfort I felt very fit.

Weather allowed for decent views, and back on the first summit for the second time I had a nostalgic distant view of the twin peaks of Eildon Hill south of Melrose which I walked between on my LEJOG and they recently had an airing on Mick and Gayle's blog on their trek north to the TGO.

Down at the farm I sat with Angus and talked about his shepherding. He has represented Scotland in the One Man and His Dog tv programme. Even though he breeds the dogs and has a dozen or so he still counts himself as an amateur at sheep dog trialling, I am not so sure. He had photos and original paintings of sheep dogs and sheep all over the walls of his sitting room. I suppose everybody's life is mor complicated than we would know from a casual meeting, but here was a guy content with his employment and his passion with very modest demand on materialism. That will most likely be the highlight of this trip for me.



Sundhope where Angus is resident shepherd and sole inhabitant.




Greatmoor Hill summit. The dark green hill to the right is my Marilyn number two.


Looking towards Greatmoor with a swirl of cloud atop awaiting my second visit of the day on my return from number two.
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REPLY TO COMMENT

Gimmer - the area is overwhelmingly concerned with non-deciduous forestry so in a way it is much more "industrialised" than The Lakes, but somehow that seems to be part of its charm, along with its extensive upland areas, more often than not pathless and rarely visited.


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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Blackwood Hill, NY 531 962, 447m.

I like to follow the test match. My only option is the 7:00pm highlights programme on Channel 5. I go through agonies trying not to here any news about the game before I watch. Returning from today's expedition I went for a shower. Radio 2 plays in the toilet block. Yes, there I was, naked in the shower with fingers in my ears preventing me from hearing the hourly news.

Info. from: www.hill-bagging.co.uk said take the forestry track. Go up a fire-break in the forest (NY 541 958) and turn right at the top for the summit. I have now discovered the OS 1:50000 shows fire-breaks as a dimmed out red band. Afterwards I saw this one had a dog leg. I wrongly went straight on at the turn and found myself ascending a small stream bed with fallen trees across, hardly qualifying for fire prevention. That was a struggle but it got better as I proceeded. Turning right at the top I then passed the emergence of the proper break and obviously decided to use that for the descent.

At the bottom, in the horizontal part of the dog leg the way was blocked by a wall, 100yds deep, of felled pines lying criss-cross and without any possibility whatsoever of getting through. I tried up and down for half an hour getting scratched and scraped, crawling under, and climbing over. In the end I retreated back up hill into the forest and thrashed through until I came to the stream bed by which I had ascended. This was the least enjoyable of these Marilyns so far, but once again there was some satisfaction in getting out alive.

Questions are asked about various Marilyn statistics. The "bible" with all the info. is: The Relative Hills of Britain, Alan Dawson. It can be obtained via Cicerone a Press. In one of the appendices additions and deletions that have occurred over the years are listed and I have now found that Hedgehope Hill I climbed a few days ago along with The Cheviot has been deleted, not that it matters, it was part of an excellent mountain day horseshoe. I am in no way obsessive about this list, it just provides a framework. The above mentioned Hill Bagging website is another excellent resource and always reliably up to date.




On the way up the stream bed. Under or over?


The unpretentious cairn. The other end of the ridge has a trig but is 42m. lower.


The proper fire break on the way down


I had to get out of the way for this rumbling monster. There was a lot of forestry work happening here.
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REPLIES TO COMMENTS

GImmer - these sort of trips don't lend themselves to meeting many people. I was hoping, and tried a bit of conversation manipulation but no luck- must be losing my touch.

RR - I am sure life in an isolated Northumbrian cottage wouldn't suit VR, so Kentish maids are obviously not stereotypes.

JJ - looks as though I've blown it with these posts, but most of my readers are aware anyway. I'll try not to tell too many others!


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Monday, 28 July 2014

Larriston Fell, 512m., NY 569 921

Northumberland is a driver's dream (don't tell Jeremy Clarkson about it). This morning I set off at 7:00am and drove 29 miles and only saw three other cars all coming from the other direction.

Four kilometres ascending on forestry track took me to a mast at the edge of the forest. The summit was across gently rising ground for another kilometre, but pathless and heather and tussocky grass again, but not as rough as Sighty Crag.

There is an atmosphere of remoteness and peaceful solitude about these Northumbrian hills that is surprisingly more pronounced for me even than Scotland. I do wonder how infrequently some of them are visited.

I must have stayed for half an hour at the trig with a feeling of contentment in the warm sunshine and gentle breeze.

On the ascent I passed a very isolated house about half a kilometre up the forestry track from the road. On the return the lady popped out and said hello and we had quite a chat. She and her husband have lived there for twenty two years originating from Kent. What a contrast, but the length of their residence I hope is a tribute to the quality of life in this, for me, newly discovered county.




Morning sun on the forestry track


The mast after the forest. Larriston Hill on the horizon


A close up sample of the terrain - imagine yourself walking a kilometre or so across it.


Distant Kielder Water from Larriston trig


More cloudberry

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REPLIES TO COMMENTS (Google won't let me post them in the normal way)


Gimmer - I don't remember any trials on the Scottish part of LEJOG! Mm?
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BC - my dad used to take me beagling (chasing hares with dogs) now much to my shame.


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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday, rest day

Went off and found two out of four geocaches all within three miles of Bellingham. Twas a good choice in view of frequent rain. Better forecast for tomorrow so hopefully another Marilyn.


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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Sighty Crag NY 601 810, 518m.

I drove the car about 1.5km up the forestry track until it became too rough. Another 1.5 km saw me exit the forest onto the hillside and another 1.5km on the summit.

That is the short story.

This is one of the toughest hills I have ever climbed. There was no path whatsoever. Knee deep heather and tussock grass mounds made for painfully slow going. The heat was intense, and hot and bothered was the order of the day.

I walked on some firm peat in a peat hag which suddenly deceived me and I was in right up to both my knees. Extrication was problematic. Another time I fell flat on my face in the heather. Not far from the summit I had to negotiate a barbed wire fence, then two more unbarbed.

Descending I decided to beeline for the forest edge at a point where it was only about 200m from the track to reduce the distance over virgin moor covered on the ascent.

That two hundred yards was through almost Inpenetrable pine forest descending very steeply to a stream and finally climbing back out up to the track. I was gasping, shredded and overheated at the track.

I'm often asked if I enjoy such outings, and my answer this time may be undecided, but the view from this very remote top and the feeling of utter isolation and tranquility on a perfect, weather-wise day compensated for the trials, and I had that little glow of knowing that I had conquered against some difficulty.




Sighty Crag - the distant one in the middle. That hillside looks benign - don't be deceived


The limits of the so called viewfinder on the TZ40 - supposed to be the scene of my knee deep struggle in the peat, but I missed the spot - ah well I tried after years of forgetting to snap mishaps and the like - at least I'm learning.


The remote summit of Sighty Crag. 200M from the summit I received a call from Pete. His wife Liz fell in the kitchen whilst visiting friends in Scotland. She knocked out her two front teeth and severely bashed her cheek. They have returned home early. Yesterday I got a call from daughter Jill to say she fell on the stairs and broke a bone in her foot which is now in plaster. She insisted I didn't need to come home this time!


Bog cotton I think.
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When I arrive at the site with caravan I reckon I have everything sorted within ten minutes. Last night I watched a guy opposite take two and a half hours including erection of the awning, installing carpets and furniture and trying to set up his satellite dish so he can watch Sky. Tonight I notice he is now using a totally different aerial consisting of eight horizontal bars mounted on a tripod strong enoughd to support that thing at Jodrell Bank.

I suppose I spend a lot of nerdy time with all this tech transferring photos and the like, but I am not on show.

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Peel Fell (602 m NY 626 997)

I had half decided to have a rest day after yesterday's biggy. I breakfasted and read my book, but by 9:45 I was restless and not wanting to waste another glorious day. I had chores to do first, getting water container re-filled and washing up, so it was quite a late start.

An hours walk on decent Forestry Commission tracks took me to the edge of the trees, and then I was out onto the open hillside. There was a rudimentary, steep path and I went right to the top without stopping, albeit at a very steady plod.

I had this one to myself and stayed for twenty minutes or so soaking up the solitude and extensive Northumbrian views, drinking coffee with some munchy bars.

The round trip took 2hrs. 35mins. With no hitches - a smart little performance and most enjoyable.




Emerging from the forest - the route went straight up the hillside.


I think these are the same as seen on Holme Fell in The Lakes a few posts back - forgotten the name. The summit cairn can be seen on the horizon.


Cloudberry. This was apparent in small clusters here and there on the summit. Others were still orange, and this red one was an exception.



Typical Northumbrian summit view.

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REPLIES TO COMMENTS ON PREVIOUS POST

Gimmer - you might have thought differently in that heat.

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Bowland climber - that was all from the heart John. Such memories are priceless.

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The Crow - ok, but on the whole the Forestry Commission are not a bad lot and always seem to pursue their activities with thou roughness and competency.

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AlanR - that old railway wagon has struck a few chords here. My reply to BC applies here also.

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Cheviot and Hedgehope Hill

The start of this horseshoe round was over an hours drive from my caravan down the beautiful valley of Harthope Burn, and I was able to start walking at 8:30 am. I met a guy called Steve (from Jarrow I think) and he asked if he could accompany me, he being a novice walker in his thirties I guess. He had a great little Border terrier called Archie who was pretty well behaved.

We pounded up Scald Hilll in the heat and then to The Cheviot. An idle thought - If that hill had been another 99metres and 1.5 kms to the south west it would have qualified as a Munro.

Onwards to Cairn Hill which is on the Pennine Way, the Cheviot being an optional, there and back, diversion from that hill. When I did the Pennine Way back in the Eighties I arrived at CH in the dark and rain, and a howling gale. I didn't take the option. I spent a very uncomfortable night in an old railway wagon placed a little further on as a mountain refuge. My sleeping bag was wet and I had no food. Next morning, a I walked into Kirk Yetholme to finish I had a little cry. It was Sunday. Everybody was in the church and the pub where you could claim a half pint on Wainwright was closed. I hitch hiked home to Preston arriving early afternoon. SO, today's visit to The Cheviot was a bit of unfinished business.

Finishing off down the southern arm of the horseshoe to pick up the second Marilyn of Hedgehope Hill was pretty arduous in the heat. The summit had a trig point and stone circle windbreak, and rather bizarrely there was a bee's nest inside and the whole area was swarming with them, but I braved through and visited the summit without getting stung.

This was a splendid round and a proper 7.5 hour mountain day.
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In the beautiful Harthope Burn valley. Hedgehope Hill, our return route


Steve and Archie - Scald Hill ahead


Archie and The Cheviot


The Cheviot summit

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Reply to comment:


The Crow - the Forestry Commission obviously had good intentions for their vehicles, but not we walkers.

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Reply to comments

Google thinks someone is trying to hack into my account and won't let me comment on my own blog without going through impossible to answer, Catch 22 questions that I can't answer, so I will reply here via Blogpress.

RR - You pursue your own chosen vocation of writing with just as much fanaticism arising at a ridiculously early hour in the morning, and agonising over drafts and re-writes.

I bought a thriller on the way here: Patrick Lee, Runner. I am half
tempted to have a rest day but then...

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Mike M. Have found out it is not my bridge being closed. If it had been, going across on Thursday to climb the hills north of the bridge would not have solved the problem because I have to get back to my caravan site each night south of the bridge.


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Nearly as good as a Munro

Tosson Hill NZ 004 982 440m

Remote peak - need to summit two others on the way.

Mist covered all at start. Cleared to perfect day as I arrived at summit.

Two hours to summit compares with Munro times.

Classic ridge/edge walking reminiscent of Derbyshire edges, but higher and more remote - extensive views and rock climbing crags.




The distant trig point and lots of heather in bloom.




Interesting climbing crags snapped on the way back.





Looking down to my car on the way back - the light patch on the other side of the road.

Arriving back at the car I had time to drive to:

Long Crag NU 062 069 319m

I was up and down in just under two hours including fifteen minutes sat in the shade of the trig point having a munch and coffee. Half the walk was on a well constructed but very rugged Forestry Commission road - hard going. The second half was on good peat paths mitigating the uncomfortable FC road.



I tried to think of a simile for walking on this road but when you see the photo there is no need.

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Road/bridge closure update.

I have now found out the bridge to be closed is not the one leading into Bellingham, so no problems now.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tech and bridge problems

Google is now telling me I am trying to get to Dashboard in a different way and wants me to enter a code sent by a text message to my iPhone, but I have no Vodafone signal - Catch 22.

So I am trying with Blogpress.

I can't believe it. My caravan site is a few hundred yards south of Wark Bridge leading into Bellingham and all routes north. I have managed to pick the one time in my lifetime when it will be closed for repairs from Friday until December. That means massive detours if you want to go north. There are Marilyns to the north west that I can do, but that will be to some extent a compromise. It is annoying, but I will make the best of it.


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Arnside to Bellingham

No, I didn't walk here!

I arrived by car with caravan today (Tuesday).

The intention is to do some of the local Marilyns. I am on the Camping and Caravan Club site where I have full free wifi, but Vodafone is absent for miles around. I had to drive four miles to get a signal - they really are getting money by false pretences.

This is just by way of a test. I have my old laptop and thought I would be able to post from it, but Blogger is no longer supported by anything prior to Explorer 8 and I can't download that because I am still on Windows XP with this laptop and XP  doesn't support Explorer 8, so I'm blogging from the iPad and just want to be certain this goes ok.

Ps. If anybody wants to communicate with me please use email: conrob@me.com

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Walking photos

Thursday here again. Pete is ok for modest distance so we had a steady 4.5 mile geocaching trip from Cartmel finding six out of nine.

Following last week's dearth of photos I clicked more often. The weather was hot and sunny, not always the best for photography, but looking at the results was interesting. I know little about the finer points, but I do take all my photos through Photoshop and crop many and also use the enhancement features on most which allow:

1. Darken/lighten highlights (nearly always darken)
2. Lighten/darken shadows
3. Contrast (only used occasionally)

This day I took 13 pics and discarded two and created one new one to compare with the original. I felt no need to make any adjustments under the three above categories, and only cropped the one of the sunlight in the woods slightly, and the final one of Cartmel Priory to illustrate a point. I suppose the camera was having an easy time with default settings working well in perfect light conditions obviating my need to intervene afterwards.

This Panasonic DMC TZ40 is proving to be a good buy rendering realistic colour and impressively detailed and sharp zoom shots, even at 21 x, and with the neat advantage of fitting into an easily accessible, horizontal, velcro fastened pouch attached to my rucksack waist belt. That encourages  opportunistic snapping which is missed when the camera is stowed less conveniently.

CLICK FIRST PIC TO ENLARGE

Route started at the priory going clockwise

In Cartmel Priory grounds - location of our first geocache

Cartmel Priory

In the village - very touristy - lots of people about

Home of the original ubiquitous "sticky toffee pudding" now seen on nearly every pub menu in the country 



The interior of this construction was totally overgrown so no clues to its purpose - anybody any ideas? See the next pic. which details the cement rendered curved wall tops.


Howbarrow, 170m.
 It has a trig point which you can just see.
 The people were a family from Oregon in The States seeing more of our super country than many other visitors from abroad.

Pity about the electric transmission lines across the pic.

I seem to remember visiting here with Gimmer to stock up with veg. at the start of some expedition into the wilds. I think it has now closed down. Too remote even for the more ardent organicists?

This view of Cartmel Priory with Hampsfell in the background has been trashed with the modern building, the hideous portacabin thing and the car park, but below shows what can be achieved with a bit of cropping - what you see in the cropped photo is pleasing, but the real life view can't be avoided


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UPDATE - The unidentified shrub photo in my last post was Lavatera.
From Wikipedia:
Many Lavatera species have now been transferred to the related genus MalvaLavatera species are known as tree mallows, or rather ambiguously as rose mallowsroyal mallows or annual mallows.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Is geocaching single minded?

Thursday walks with Pete, who had his 80th on 4th July, are being threatened, but after this week I am more optimistic.

For three months Pete has had pain in hand, knee and foot joints. The g.p. ran tests, and administered an ineffective course of pills, then referred Pete to a consultant - he had to wait six weeks for that appointment. Rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed. Pete was given a cortisone injection which has given partial relief, and he will see the specialist nurse again in six weeks for further treatment.

So, on Thursday we had a triumphal time finding nine out of ten geocaches. The first batch were around Levens only about seven kms. from home, and then we drove north to find more around the almost too-pretty-to-be-true village of Brigsteer.

Once again we found ourselves on previously untrodden footpaths. At Levens the track at SD 486 872 would be an unlikely place to visit because it doesn’t lead anywhere, but the views to the west towards Whitbarrow and The Lakes are worth a visit.

Pete was surprisingly active, and I think he actually found more of the geocaches than I did, but two of them involved climbing huge old larch trees, although the first one was only a few feet off the ground.

Searching for the second tree cache I left Pete and thrashed off through a landscape of sparse old trees, and brambles underfoot following the g.p.s. The cache was hanging from a branch  over twenty feet up in a cylindrical six inch container and I found my body threaded in an S shape, feet on one branch, body threaded through another at waist height with another branch over my shoulders.


Back on the ground I had lost all sense of direction, and I had been a long time. At first I couldn’t raise Pete by shouting and thought he may have gone off back to the car in a huff, but after taking a compass bearing, and more shouting contact was established and a pleasant walk on good paths took us back to the car and a drive to Café Ambio for tea chocolate brownie and almond tart.

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I seem to find it impractical to combine geocaching  with a walk that has its own objective - something to do with time constraints, and the male inability to multi-task I think. Despite superior scenery and other possible items of interest, photography, and to some extent conversation are inhibited, so on a day that lent itself to pictures there are only a few. In the words of the old school report "...must try harder."


Levens Church - the location of our first cache is within this photo




Across to Whitbarrow from the cache on the cul-de-sac path mentioned above


All the gardens in Levens and Brigsteer were in "bright array" and their owners out in force snipping, dead heading, and toiling. Pete knows all the latin names and rattled this one off but I can't remember.



Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Holme Fell (Marilyn nr. Coniston)

A few years ago, I had a wonderful day in the Arrochar Alps with a good friend, Malcolm Lomas, aka Sol. We have known each other since the 50s. Sol is the eternal optimist, an ideal companion on the hill and the the safest guy in the world for rock climbing. He always sees the patch of blue sky before anybody else, and I have always respected his judgement. 

On that crisp, cloudless blue sky day, with snow cover on the tops I remember having that pleasantly satiated feel after seven hours and anticipating relaxation back at the caravan, and then Sol... "It's great isn't it. You just don't want to go down do you?" Sol was always ready for more.

Another time we used mountain bikes for a couple of Munros. Returning to the car after a strenuous day Sol opted to cycle the six miles back to the caravan leaving me to come back by car.

Sunday had a similar feel. My commenter Gimmer is another old friend. We go back further than Sol to our school and scout troop days. List ticking is aired from time to time here. I unashamedly wanted to finish my four remaining Lake District Marilyns and suggested Holme Fell. It can be assumed from the six hours we took compared with a less than one and half  hour there-and-back dash I had read about, that our motives were more focused on enjoyment than list ticking on such a glorious day.

As you turn up to Tilberthwaite from the Coniston road the rocky south west prow of Holme Fell is dominant. I have always thought it would make a good scramble and we were half considering this, but we opted for an easier route.


On Sunday I had that "...just don't want to go down" feeling.



Bog Ashpodel

I am particularly drawn to heather - seems a bit early here?
Langdale Pikes at skyline - see next shot for zoom to pikes

Holme Fell summit. Windermere in background

On the way back

My speculation re scramble was enacted. We saw a couple high up on the face after our ascent. There seemed to be one pitch marginally justifying the rope which is shown here. I think that I was on 21 x zoom. I am well pleased with this performance of the Panasonic TZ40

They are just finishing the pitch shown above. I have reversed the order of these two pics. to fit my narrative