Monday, 30 November 2009

Plane Crash Hunting

Marcell and I are really getting into this plane crash hunting malarky, so on Saturday we left Sheffield in the rain and arrived at the top of Snake Pass to find a fair amount of SNOW!

It was a trek across the top of the ridge on the Pennine Way to get to Mill Hill, the site of the first crash, which can clearly be seen from Google Earth. This site is right next to a footpath and is thus popular. It was eerie walking the several kilometres to get to the site in the snow with the mist down, and suddenly looming out of the mist, covered in a sprinkling of snow was the plane.

This is the crash of a Liberator B-24J from 310 Ferring Squadron which crashed on 11.10.44

This site is spread over a small distance with two engines and some fuselage at the impact point and some more fuselage to the South which can be seen from the path.

From here it was a walk up 'Stairway to Heaven' and the top of Kinder Scout. The hill climbs steeply and the mist thickened at the top, which was incredibly spooky once we left the path and wandering to the 600m point through the deep Peat gullies caked in snow.

It was then a quick hunt on the top to find nothing before walking/bum sliding down the steep hillside. In one stream, Marcell's Hawk eyes spotted a large piece of twisted metal. My navigation (minus compass) took us further down onto the flatter moor to find the next main site, which again Marcell spotted making increasing his lead to 4:1. Not a happy Emily!

This is the crash site of two Sabres from 66 Squadron which crashed on 22.07.54

This site was just above the snow line and by the time we got down the hill to it, the mist was clearing and we could see down the valley to Hope Forest and Snake Pass.

The whole walk took us 4 hours, and perhaps we were walking slower because of the snow and mist, but it seemed a long way back to the car!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Saturday 21st November

Being unable to think of a title for yesterday, the date will have to do!
A brief 60 minute bike ride in the morning, which took me on some sort-of new routes in the rain, meant I could get back and into town as soon as possible to see my family. I've haven't seen them in 4 months since the Scottish 6-Days, and given that they were heading up to Newcastle for the British Schools Foot-Orienteering Championships, they had decided to come to Sheffield on Saturday, run the ShUOC City Chasing start.

After a nice drink in a cafe in the centre, they had to head back to get ready for the second race, whilst I and my sister nipped to the High Street for some shopping. I needed some flat shoes, and came out having spent £70..... not on shoes!

Unfortunately it rained in the afternoon, so standing around watching the finishers come in meant I got pretty wet jeans. A nice meal in the evening at Felicini's before my family left Sheffield and went north!

All in all, a really nice day, albeit a brief amount of time spent with the family. Can't wait for xmas now when I get to see my gorgeous doggie :-)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Dark Peak Plane Crashes

After a friend mentioned that since before WWII there have been over 50 plane crashes in the Dark Peak with the wreckage left at the sites, it was natural for me to be inquisitive since this was new information to me!

After doing some serious google'ing and plotting the grid references on an OS map, we planned Walk Number One which we hoped (grid references correct) would lead us to find 3 crash sites. We drove out to Edale before heading up the valley and turning right off the beaten path just before the scree slope/footpath. This what-felt-like-near-vertical climb took us to site one.
Above is the crash site of the Wellington W5719 of 150 Squadron RAF which crashed at Far Upper Tor on 31/07/41. On the internet are pictures of this site, which make this pile of metal look bigger than it was, so it was pure luck that we stumbled across this one, incidently, where I had marked on the map.

Next up was a brief path section in the very gusty strong winds which saw us blown over a few times, before walking past the water up and out into the Peat Moors of Kinder. Given that someone (ahem, not me) had forgotten the thumb compass, this was hardcore navigation! Picking a route around the gullies and ridges of the peat moor to avoid wet feet, whilst trying to maintain some sort of bearing wasn't too difficult. Navigating the area was easy, finding the crash site was harder. Firstly we headed to far south before being too high and wandering to far north. After a quick discussion, we decided to head on to our planned third site, before seeing if we could pick site 2 up on the way back. Finding site three was easy! Down into the valley and up the gully to the rocky knoll, where a quick hunt and following some old footsteps in the mud lead 'Marcell' to find site number 3, slightly to the south of the grid reference and in the same rocky flat gully as the rocky knoll.
Site number 3 is an Avro Anson N185 of Halton HQ Flight RAF which crashed on Edale Moor/Kinder on 23/11/45.

After following our own footsteps back the way we had come, it was easier to see how high we had been. I decided to play 'Ray Mears' and followed the old faint footprints which lead pretty much straight from site 3. Marcell was wandering somewhere to the East of me and occasionally caught a glimpse of him when out of the gully. As it turned out, the footprints lead me straight to the top end of site 2, and initially I thought the scattering of splintered wood was it. Fortunately, after shouting to Marcell, and wandering down the gully from the flatter section of marsh, I stumbled across the first engine, stark white against the peat, but no way to see it without either being in the gully or standing immediately on top. Further down is the other engine.
Site number 2 with the first engine in the foreground and just a bit further down the gully is the second. This was a De Havilland Dragon Rapide G-ALBC which crashed on 30/11/63. It is a strange feeling coming across these wreckages in the middle of nowhere and to see it surrounded by mud and
So from here it was back to the footpath, scrambling down the rocky scree/waterfall/stream/footpath thing, and heading back to Edale.

We were very lucky to find these sites, and with the weather, which, although was rather windy, the sun was partly out and it didn't rain! Looking forward to finding the next lot up the top of Snake Pass :-)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dalby Forest

Plans changed. So late of Friday a group of us were sorting transport to go biking in Dalby forest on Saturday. I mended my brakes on my Merida so I was ready to tackle the 25mile loop, all XC, all rocky and technical, with minimal relief on my arse!

It was a fun trip. Lots of jumps :-), lots of berms and lots of hills! The problem with riding the Red loop at Dalby is the course (despite its attempts to contour the dales and riggs, still seems to be all up-hill....

Four hours after starting out, we made it back to the cars slightly worse-for-wear, plastered in mud, getting on the cold side, and absolutely shattered! Everyone had a great time and we are contemplating a trip down to Cannock in 3 or 4 weeks time to ride on the 'secret' tracks I've been told about in Sherbrook and Abrahams Valley. May even do some MTBO while I'm down there!

The trip home involved a detour to Brighouse and then a more exciting detour to Domino's pizza. On walking/staggering in my front door at half 7 (12 hours after I left) it was a quick shower and straight to bed, which was then subsequently disturbed later on in the evening but a lot of yelling and screeching from the lounge!

I am thinking about buying a Full Suss Carbon frame and build a really kick ass bike.... :-)

Firework Night

I was meant to be going to Don Valley to watch the fireworks on Thursday, but plans fell through so things ended up with all my housemates going out, and I was left twiddling my thumbs.

Having never been to After Dark before, I was keen to go. A mate and I drove out to Don Valley found a bridge over the railway facing Don Valley just as a crowd of people was starting to gather.
As it turned out, our bridge was in a prime location for watching the After Dark fireworks (without paying). There was a great community atmosphere which was really nice, just my sort of thing. Perhaps it was better than Don Valley without the 18,000 people there, no need to look directly up all night and end up with a sore neck in the morning like my housemates!

Monday, 2 November 2009

A weekend of biking fun

This weekend I headed up to Peebles in Scotland, just south of Edinburgh with Hallam Cycling. Plan: to ride bikes!

After leaving Waitrose car park 'on time' at 1820 we faced the four hour minibus journey up north. I say on time, but for a bunch of lazy cyclists, 20 minutes late is the best I have ever seen with our usual departure time 60 minutes later than planned. The trip began with a quick visit to Waitrose for beer, and diet coke, as well as a quality comment from Jody... 'What's your name mate? Did you say it was Marcell?' Mike: 'No, it's Michael!' Unfortunately for Mike the name Marcell stuck like glue, and calling him Mike now doesn't seem appropriate!

As per usual I fell asleep laid across 3 chairs in my sleeping bag for most of the trip, and awoke when we hit the bumpy gravel track up to the car park at Glentress which was to be our campsite. We arrived shortly before midnight on friday, and after some more beer, the boys proceeded to search for a suitable place to pitch the tents, which wasn't on the car park gravel nor on the wet and sodden banking! I didn't have an invested interest in putting up tents given that I had opted for sleeping on the minibus floor, so instead, I held the torch.

The boys tents pitched well within the fire zone our Health and Safety officer approved (whilst not quite sober, nor really caring about the closeness of the tents given the rain and late hour)!
Most of the guys didn't sleep all that well, and woke in the morning to find the 'soft' patch of ground was actually mud covered rocks. I couldn't help a small smile at this given that I had slept like a baby for 7 hours in a space barely big enough for my shoulders!

So in the morning it was off for a glorious day of MTB'ing at Innerleithen. We rode up the mountain, down some beautiful sweeping singletrack with bitchin' jumps and berms, turned around and did the top section again because it was just awesome! We then carried on down the mountain with some more berms, rock gardens, big dippers and jumps. Two and a half hours later we arrived happy and muddy in the car park for lunch, before heading back up, but riding up the Downhill push up route and attempting some DH tracks. I passed on this after seeing the beginning of the Matador and the vertical drop and so Bob and I headed around the mountain to find the XC track again. The XC descent was a million miles better the second time around and I made it to the bottom feeling fairly pleased with some of my jumps!
It was then back to Glentress for showers before pitching our tents at Innerleithen on the grass and walking into the village for fish and chips. A small (5 hour) stop at the pub saw the boys getting progressively worse for wear and playing with the two dogs, and me falling asleep curled up on the sofa! Another quality comment from Jody took the boys into hysterics again 'What's your name mate?'
'What did you do when the Darkness split up?'!!!! I suppose if you saw Lee, this comment might make more sense, but a tall thin guy with shoulder length messed up hair might help!

Sunday saw the boys wake up late, and due to missing our minibus driver who had disappeared all weekend with some other mates and decided not to hang out with us, we were a bit stuck on how to make the 7 mile trip to Glentress. I'll just say we made without mishap and leave it at that!

Well....on sunday the 1st November, it rained, and rained and rained some more. My back disc pads wore down to the metal and the cage imploded so I couldn't use the brakes. My waterproof leaked and I was wet through and frozen. The boys drove off to the cafe so I had no dry clothes and got colder. Rode down the hill to the Cafe but somehow missed them and got even colder. Thanks to Bob for the hot chocolate. I was pretty much dripping water by this stage as my kit was so sodden. The boys dragged me out of the cafe and onto the bike where I subsequently couldn't get my hands onto the handlebars without a great deal of concentration, and made me ride back up the hill. At the top my legs were just warm, and I managed to get into dry things before curling up in my sleeping bag. Marcell was good to notice I was non-responsive and hypothermic. I think he got a bit concerned when I stopped shivering, lips went blue, my breathing rate dropped and I stopped waking up to being prodded. Fortunately, knowing the signs of hypothermia, he somehow forced me to drink a bit of tea (yuk) and got the minibus heating on.

Today at work was a bit of an epic. I felt shattered on waking up this morning and felt sick and dizzy at work, as well as feeling pretty vacant. I made it to lunch before heading home for a 3 hour much needed sleep.

That pretty much sums up the weekend. What a great time!