England v Ireland, Women’s 6 Nations 2018, Ricoh Stadium, Coventry

England v Ireland Celebrations-3090
Some were less happy to be supporting the Red Roses!

England Women played Ireland Women in the last match of the 6 Nations competition at the Ricoh Stadium on 16th March 2018.

England v Ireland Celebrations-3112
England’s Sarah Hunter

England could secure a 6 Nations title with a win against Ireland, if France lost to Wales, unfortunately for the Red Roses this didn’t happen, England convincingly beat Ireland but France thumped Wales 38 – 3.

England v Ireland Celebrations-3137
Ireland & England line-up for the national anthems, prior to their 6 Nations match at the Ricoh Stadium, Coventry.

Tries for England came from Danielle Waterman, Marlie Packer, Amy Cokayne, Ellie Kildunne and Amber Reed.

England v Ireland-1875
Amber Reed breaks for the line
England v Ireland-1890
Amber Reed scores for England
England v Ireland-1486
Ellie Kildunne tries to break Ireland’s defence
England v Ireland-1236
Sarah Bern breaks through
England v Ireland-1097
England’s Danielle Waterman
England v Ireland-1007 copy
Ireland’s Sene Naoupu
England v Ireland-0996
England’s Rachel Burford is upended
England v Ireland-0907
Ireland’s Louise Galvin chases back
England v Ireland-0873 copy
England’s Katy McLean

The only Ireland try came from Claire Molloy.

 

Aside from a truly cracking game of rugby, the stand-out event of the match was the sheer emotion of the game. The teams both looked tired and it had clearly been an exhausting 6 Nations campaign.

The Ireland fans packed out the East Stand to support their team and when the game finished, many of the Ireland players came to join relatives and fans, clambering over the advertising hoardings.

England v Ireland Celebrations-3475
England’s Shauna Brown signs autographs for fans
England v Ireland Celebrations-3420
Ireland’s Ailsa Hughes & Laura Feely
England v Ireland Celebrations-3361
Ireland’s Claire Molloy
England v Ireland Celebrations-3356
England’s Catherine O’Donnell
England v Ireland Celebrations-3339
Ireland’s Laura Feely
England v Ireland Celebrations-3336
The teams were both well supported with a record crowd at the Ricoh Stadium
England v Ireland Celebrations-3270
Ireland’s Niamh Briggs
England v Ireland Celebrations-3240
Ireland’s Niamh Briggs
England v Ireland Celebrations-3182
England’s Katy McLean

It was very emotional and lovely to watch.

 

Advertisements

Scafell Pike Hike

Last weekend a group of work colleagues and I took a trip to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in the Lake District.

I’ve previously climbed Scafell, some 20 years ago, but either by the Wasdale Head or Boot route, this route was via the Corridor route.

We gathered at Seathwaite Farm and proceeded through the farm premises, if you want to relieve yourself before you’re forced to do so in the wilds, the farm owners have helpfully provided toilets.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
Stockley Bridge, over the Derwent

The path generally follows the River Dewent, you cross Stockley Bridge and make your way up the hill to the right and crest onto the platau which will lead you to Styhead Tarn.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
The view towards Seathwaite from the hill past Stockley Bridge

From the resting point where a stretcher is helpfully stored in a box for injured walkers, we took in some water and some amazing flapjacks, baked by a colleague’s wife.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
Stretcher box provided by Mountain Rescue

From here we turn left as you look at the stretcher box from the path and follow the route up the hill.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
Many cairns guide your route to Scafell, this shot is looking back towards Styhead Tarn

This is where is gets tougher, there are 2 scrambles and 1 climb, once past these obstacles there’s a reasonably easy ascent to the next decision point, I’m not sure if it has a name but they both lead to Scafell eventually. From the path the left route is shorter and more difficult and the right, longer but slightly easier going.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
We took the high road!

If you are attempting the right route just be mindful of a significant scramble up steep lose stone & rock, initially taking you to the platau between Green Crag and Scafell Pike. Once you’ve cleared this leg of the scramble there’s a further set of loose, jagged rock to tackle taking you to the summit of Scafell. This route is not for the ill-prepared.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
On a clear day you can see the coast, Sellafield and the Irish Sea

Once we’d cleared these hazards we joined the other hikers & climbers at the top of Scafell.

I had an issue with my Camelbak at this point, which was more about me being a moron than an actual issue, the water lock on the Camelbak differs from the Osprey, my old one, and my head couldn’t work a way round it. I only mention this as a precautionary tale of being tired and how the brain works in these conditions.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
Cairns – very arty

There are a few Cairns on Scafell giving you the shelter from the wind to enjoy some lunch and drink in peace and the opportunity to keep warm, but don’t huddle for too long – ensure you get the selfie on top of the stone pile and read the dedication plaque to the men and women who died in the great war. There’s also a helpful mountain range peak map.

fshbty
Sweaty, but I made it, also I forgot to take the obligatory panorama!

Obligatory panoramas are a must, the Lake District is very special!

Once we were fed and watered it was time to go back down and descend all the way to Seathwaite. Descending is my least favourite part of any trip! It’s a bugger on the knees and ankles, having suffered from patella tendinitis recently.

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
Oh to have fours legs and a low centre of gravity!

Due to logistical issues our campsite is an hour and forty minute drive from Seathwaite, which is a little irritating, but a fine meal at the Kings George IV pub is the reward and we settle for a nights rest at the Fisherground camp site.

Sadly cramp plagued my legs and my sleep was restless, such is the burden of hill walkers!

However the view in the morning is sublime!

Nikon D810 28-300 Police Mutual Scarfell Pike Cumbria Lake District
Horses in a field adjacent to Fisherground Campsite

This trip was cathartic to say the least, it differed from my normal trips in that we didn’t ascend, camp and then come back down, my pack was lighter and I relied less on poles. The trip is a good basis for the Three Peaks Challenge which I hope to complete later this year. We have another trip to Snowdon due in June and I need to get to Ben Nevis which I’ve never climbed, so a reccy trip required, before doing the challenge.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please do ask below.

 

 

 

 

Loved Shot: Cypriot Banana Grower

Cyprus is one of our favourite destinations. The beautiful island is as diverse as it is populated by the British.

We tend to frequent the Paphos end of the island, rather than the popular destinations of Aya Napa & Limassol, there’s the busy touristy area of Coral Bay but it’s contrasted by the subdued restaurant laden areas of Peyia and Latsi.

The valley between the sea and the hills that will eventually lead to the Troodos mountains, are home to fields and fields of banana plantations.

These rustic leaf tree lines have to be irrigated, I can’t imagine the rainfall in Cyprus is actually adequate to support banana growth. These ladies had turned up to service their plantation near to the wreck of the Edro III, if you know the area.

Sadly, being a peasant British person who speaks only English, my lamentable attempts to communicate were mainly by showing my camera and pointing, rather than any skill in Greek.

After a few attempts I ended up with this shot, which I’m pretty pleased with.

Cyprus 2018-4682

It would be easy to default to black and white for this type of photograph, but you’d lose the gorgeous colours of the rusting tractor and the deep greens of the banana leafs.

What I did manage to glean from these ladies is that they are mother and daughter, I wanted them to stand together, sadly it was a step too far to get that across!

This is the mother. I love the way the sunlight catches her face as her black dress blends with the shadows of the banana trees, this is her way to provide for the family, a tradition, passed down and it was a pleasure to watch them work.

The bananas grown here will eventually make their way to the docks and onward to countries like Britain, you don’t need to speak Greek to know this, they put signs up saying who the family growers are and where they send their produce, helpfully in English as well as Greek.

Thanks for reading.

An Overnight at Llyn y Cwm & Glyder Fach

After the last trip here Dean and I had been monitoring the weather to check for the possibility of high-pressure weather fronts moving in and creating the right conditions for cloud free summits!

The 29th March looked ideal, even though the weather reports were erring on the pessimistic side.

OT9A7297
Shetland Ponies at Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia

We arrived at Ogwen Lodge around 2.30pm which is good time, but the curse of photographers is the fact they keep stopping to take photographs, so by the time we were reaching the wall at Llyn Caseg Fraith we were chasing the sunset.

Oddly at Llyn y Cwm there were two young men and a lady taking photographs whilst holding her upside down, stood in the lake – whatever floats your boat, the shots may have been great!

OT9A7313
Glassy Surface – Llyn y Cwm

Dean and I took some shots around Llyn y Cwm and then started the accent to Glyder Fach, however, probably not even a 1/4 of the way up it because abundantly apparent we would not make the summit whilst sunset was ongoing. We decided to descend and pitch our tents for the evening.

After a nice meal cooked on the trusty Trangias, we had a crack at some star photography and the obligatory ‘lit-tent’ shot! I’ve never really tried astro-photography seriously and it is much harder than it looks, I had far more failures than successes.

OT9A7413
My MSR looks enviously at the Hilleberg!

The weather was good, with no real wind, but it’s never going to be warm at 750m so we retired to our tents and set an alarm for 4.30am.

The alarm at that time is never the greatest moment! A quick change, boots on, headlamp, waterproofs (just in case) and grab the camera and we’re off. Firstly we decide on the stranger decision of scrambling for the Glyder Fach peak by heading straight up from our camping position, rather than returning to the “paths” that lead up from Llyn Caseg Fraith, the climb was not easy, the rocks are loose, as they are on the other routes, but bigger and more precarious. At one point we thought it may have been a mistake and we should turn back, but that risked missing the sunrise – so we carried on and eventually made the summit around 6am, only to find two adventurous young men camping out near to the Glyder Fach summit! Fair play to them and it’s a thought for the future and it saves a climb in the morning and possibly a lie-in!

The weather was tremendous, the clouds were low and the sky clear – the sun broken the horizon and we were treated to a glorious sunrise with clouds reflecting the bright rays, if I had a complaint, and it’s a pernickety one, it was hard to try and get some dynamic range with the sun being so bright!

OT9A7454OT9A7442OT9A7484OT9A7486

We manoeuvred around the summit snapping, lapping up the scenery, taking as many shots as we could. Once the sun was well above the horizon we decided it was time to descend.

It was only as we started the descent you realise the toll such treks have on aging knees and the route to Glyder Fach is particularly unforgiving, after a couple of portraits as a reminder of such great weather, we made the less steep portion of the path, passing the climbers at the base of the slopes of Glyder Fach, we eventually made it back to the car. Exhausted, it was an absolute pleasure to put on some more relaxed shoes and get some lovely pastries from the shop at Ogwen Lodge.

 

The Quest for Lightness

This is going to be an ongoing post with regular updates.

Total Weight Saved: 4.53kgs (so far)

Lightness, when backpacking, is something most seasoned hikers & campers strive for. I hadn’t given it much though when I first went camping, my pack weighed just shy of 22 kilos, that’s some hefty pack and that doesn’t include my Canon 5D Mk IV, Lee Filters and batteries which were on my ThinkTank chest rig.

I decided to make some changes, and below are the kit swaps I have made and the weight savings realised. I don’t have a full pack weigh at the moment as I haven’t been camping since changing some of the gear out, but as soon as I have a full pack to weigh, I’ll put it up for you.

Tripod

In: Benro Slim Carbon Fibre Tripod Kit + N00 Ball Head (1kg)

Out: Gitzo Series 2 Traveler GT2540T Tripod 6X Carbon Fibre with GH2780TQD Ball Head (1.8kg)

Saving: 800g

We all know Gitzo, lovely tripods, sturdy, expensive, however even though the series is given the title “Traveler” it weighs 1.8kgs, the Benro is not quite as sturdy, to get to its very impressive 1kg weight you have to make cuts and the legs are thinner, and the joints where the legs join the centre column are not quite as rigid and they don’t fold back on themselves, but 800g is a significant saving. Gitzo do make a lighter tripod, pretty much the same weight as the Benro, but it’s £800, the Benro was £90. Hook a bag underneath for long exposures and I don’t miss the Gitzo at all.

Backpack

In: Osprey Exos 58 (1.32kg)

Out: Berghaus Khumbo Atrek Pro 70+10 (2.68kg)

Saving: 1.36kg

Slightly unfair comparison this one, the Osprey is much newer than the Berghaus, better technology and lighter materials, it’s also 22 litres smaller than the Berghaus, but on a quick test pack I didn’t really notice the reduction in space, due to the flexibility of the Osprey, it also sits more comfortably than the Berhaus which, I’m guessing, is down to advancements in technology, also the Berghaus has an adjustable back, whereas the Osprey you buy to suit your frame length.

Boots

In: Scarpa Manta Pro GTX (size 10.5) (1.6kg)

Out: The North Face Verto S6K (size 11) (2.94kg)

Saving: 1.3kg

Another slightly unfair comparison, The North Face boots are a professional mountaineering boot, extremely rigid, the Scarpa is similar but designed to be more flexible, you can fit a crampon to it but also use it for hiking and mountaineering equally well. It’s as waterproof and a very comfortable boot. It’s also the top boot on many outdoors review websites.

Sleeping Mat

In: Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 (746g)

Out: Adtrek inflatable sleeping mat (1.84kg)

Saving: 1.07kg

Not really a surprise this one, going from a generic Amazon purchase to a proper sleeping mat designed for hiking adventures. Aside from the weight saving, the Mountain Equipment mat is significantly smaller when rolled-up and, I can only assume this is because of the more professional materials and better build quality, I didn’t miss the 5cm thickness of the Adtrek compared to the 3.8cm of the Mountain Equipment.

Walking Poles

In: Leki Micro Varios Carbon Poles (229g)

Out: Trek Mates Peak Walker Poles

Saving:

Another one that isn’t going to be a surprise, going from a cheap pair of poles bought from Go Outdoors to a professional, and very expensive, pair of hiking poles. The Peak Walker are aluminium (or other metal) whereas the Leki are carbon fibre. They’re both quite comfortable, although the Leki poles are slightly more padded on the handle. The defining feature of the Leki is that they collapse into 3 pieces, so are very pack-able.

Book Review: Photographing North Wales

I thought I would follow-up my post about a trip to North Wales with a review of the book we used as inspiration.

IMG_2391

Photographing North Wales is a photo-location guidebook published by Fotovue and written by Simon Kitchin, a superb landscape photographer based in North Wales, so he really knows the area well and it shows.

The first thing that stands-out about this book is the quality. The imagery is stunning and it’s motivating, which is the whole idea, especially if you’re starting out and for seasoned ‘togs the same, you’re never too experienced to pick-up ideas and tips.

Opening the fold-out cover the reader is presented with ephemeral information and the book continues in this way, not with ephemeral, but really useful information on every page. For example the book divides North Wales into 7 regions, going from Anglesey to Snowdonia, which is divided itself, this makes finding interesting subject in the area you’re going to really easy to find.

IMG_2393

The locations are then listed, numbered so they can be easily found within that region, but it doesn’t stop there, once you’re into a subject you want to photograph Simon splits the subject into viewpoints and then supports each view point with information and local knowledge, and it doesn’t stop there either! There’s an information box on each subject giving the reader information on how to get to the location, how accessible it is and the best time of year to visit.

IMG_2392

The book is filled with Simon’s photography, which is superb, and some shots from guest photographers, including one particularly stunning image of an American F15e Strike Eagle fighter plane flying through the Welsh Valleys (the photo is by Ben Gilbert). How could you capture such images? The book goes on to tell you how and where to stand for the best chance.

The useful information doesn’t just stop there, the book finishes with more information about events and when they take place in North Wales and a small bio of Simon.

I absolutely recommend this book, although it may seem like it is pitched at beginners, everyone can benefit from an expert’s experience and local knowledge.

These photo-location books are a series and you can find one for pretty much most regions of the UK, penned by other fantastic and talented photographers.

Photographing North Wales is published by Fotovue Outdoor Photography (ISBN: 9780992905118).

Popular shots! Llanberis – Lone Tree, Penmon & Cwm Idwal

If you’re a keen photographer, such as I, you can do worse when considering landscapes to pick up the Photo-Location Guidebook series for the area you are going.

The books are quite superb with loads of information about well researched locations, best time of year to visit, local knowledge, postcodes for satellite navigation etc. A lot of people think that great landscape photography is simply a matter of turning up and photography the vista, but it takes planning and an awful lot of luck.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, part review and part “here’s my shot,” let’s start with the location, Snowdonia. Yes I know, “can’t this git go anywhere else?” Well there’s a reason, I grew up in North Wales, spent a lot of time in Snowdonia and I absolutely love the place, so my usual photography partner in crime Dean and I set-off for North Wales with out Photo-Location Guidebook, the book is written by Simon Kitchin, an absolutely fabulous photographer who lives and works in Snowdonia. You see, I may be from North Wales and know Snowdonia, but I don’t know it like Simon.

We decided to head for Bangor, an area I’m particularly familiar with, with the intention of catching the sunset over the Menai Strait, sadly, and once again, a tardy departure put pay to our plans and we didn’t arrive in Bangor until gone 11pm.

All was not lost, snooze, up and a quick McDonald’s breakfast and off to Llanberis we went.

Llyn Padarn is the name of the lake in Llanberis, but many people refer to the photo location as ‘Lone Tree,’ and the name absolutely makes sense when you see it.

As the name suggests, it’s a tree, on a tiny bit of land sat about 10ft from the edge of the waterline. The water is shallow so the angles and position you can photograph down Llyn Padarn are numerous.

We got there around 6.20am and was greeted by another photographer patiently waiting for the sun to break the mountains between Glyderau and Snowdon.

By 7:05 it was clear the cloud was not going to break, but we got some lovely sky colours from the sun behind and the lake, as Simon says, is like glass on a still day, it really is the most beautiful scene.

Lone Tree 01
Lone Tree, Llyn Padarn, Llanberis

After we’d taken all the shots and realised the sun was not going to break the cloud and mist, we headed off to Cwm Idwal, near to the Ogwen Valley, a beautiful glacial lake which is extremely easy to get to, even for the most green hiker.

The wind was low, the cloud still an issue, so the lake was glassy, but the sun didn’t manage to break, in fact it got worse as the morning wore on.

We met another photographer at Cwm Idwal, who’s name escapes me now, but a very friendly chap – who’d just become an ambassador for a new range of landscape filters, if he ever reads this post I’m more than happy to add his name to this blog post! This is a very popular area for photography!

Cwm Idwal
Cwm Idwal, Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia

After the cloud stubbornly refused to lift we decided to head back to the coast where the weather shifts a little more quickly and has a better chance of being clear.

Penmon Lighthouse is situated off the north east coast of Anglesey (Ynys Mon), it’s on private land, but the landowners have capitalized on their position and charge a very reasonable few pounds to park nearby.

There’s a coffee shop and good access to view of Penmon.

Penmon Lighthouse
Penmon Lighthouse

So to finish, we didn’t get the glorious sunrise we were looking for on our trip, but we made the best of the locations we went to and were well informed by Simon Kitchin’s book, which I heartily recommend. If you’re new to a location or an old hand, with these types of books you may find yourself surprised at hidden gems not far away, a prime example for me would be Dolbadarn Castle – which I’d never even heard of before! One for another trip to glorious Snowdonia.

Thanks for reading comments, as always, very welcome.