Academic year 2016-17

Edale, 16 October 2016

Trip summary

A fresher's perspective on the freshers' day trip...

This was the first trip of the year and being designated mainly for keen freshers saw well over 50 people attend and head, in the pouring rain, cold and dark, towards the North. But these being freshers, there was still an air of optimism regardless.

The bus driver's somewhat interesting choice of route led to the coach getting stuck near a tiny bridge, and so all the poor freshers had to walk several miles to the start point, leaving the bus driver to complete his hundred-point turn, much to the locals' dismay. Luckily it had stopped raining though!

We split into groups based on keenness, and between these covered a large area of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District, including Mam Tor and Kinder Scout. The weather actually became warm(ish), and the sun came out. Things were looking good!

Highlights of the day included the Kinder Downfall (a waterfall basically in the path) and the celebratory pint at a pub in the great village of Hayfield.

With the walking over, we boarded the coach again (in a large car park connected to a nice, wide, bridge-free road) and set off back to Cambridge.

Chris H

Eskdale, 28—30 October 2016

For our first weekend trip of Michaelmas, we set off from Cambridge to Boot, a small village within the glacial valley and civil parish of Eskdale. The weather in the Lake District is always unpredictable but we were hoping that we’d see some sunshine. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.

We awoke on Saturday to horrific weather. However, this didn’t dampen our spirits and everyone was keen to make the most of the day and embark on a long and pleasant walk in the hills. Most groups chose to ascend Scafell and Scafell Pike – the highest mountain in England at 978 metres above sea level. Whilst there was low visibility and persistent rain, everyone felt a great sense of achievement at the summit and enjoyed the day overall.

The evening was filled with fun and games, including pumpkin carving and apple bobbing to celebrate Halloween. Some delicious meals, which were prepared collectively, were also enjoyed. It wouldn’t be a CUHWC trip without singing from the infamous songbook… some promising talent was heard! Finally, the majority of hillwalkers made their way to the Boot Inn for a pint.

The wet weather cleared in time for Sunday. The majority of people wanted to go on a relatively shorter walk and there were even some who chose to go fell running! For many, the day involved steep inclines, ridge walking and swimming in a tarn.

After a long drive, we were back in Cambridge ready for Monday lectures. It was a fantastic weekend that was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone that came along. CUHWC will have to return to Eskdale in the near future… maybe we’ll see the views from Scafell Pike next time!

Arthur G

Caseg Ffraith, 11—13 November 2016

Author: Zekang C

Trip summary

The trip to Caseg Ffraith was the largest trip this term. 42 people managed to get a place in the trip and more people turned up at St. John's on Monday morning who were unsuccessful in receiving places. Maria B showed up at St. John's at 6:00 am, although at another gate!

The weather was not pleasant enough on both days. On Saturday, most people went south to Tryfan. Rose and Andy went east bagging reservoirs and they seemed to have the best weather on Saturday. George went out for a hardcore 47k run (if my memory is correct). On Sunday Rogelio and Felix left early for Snowdon while most groups went north. David, Andy, Ben and I had great fun scrambling to the summit of Tryfan.

The hightlight of the weekend was the Saturday evening. One group failed to have their planned dessert as the club salt was labelled sugar and was added to the apple pudding. But the salty pudding was very tasty and was finished almost instantly. Due to the cold weather, mulled wine was served by Andrew and 34 people shared 12 bottles. CUMC joined us later and there were more than 50 people in the bunkhouse singing. This included the the "Stand" verse of the "Cow Song", which was as always a smash hit. After singing, we spent quite a while playing board games, cards or Bananagrams before sleeping. It was a jolly good evening.

Trip participants

David H (TL), Arion P (TSO), Paul C, Marie S, Rose P, Andrew W, Andy H, Susannah P, Jacques S, Marcel P, Kuba S, Jens A, Maria B, Anna S, Kara F, Michael S, Chun Man C, Ramya G, Hannah W, Tom W, Felix K, Zekang C, Juliette M, Adrien LF, Yuze W, Fedir K, George B, Matthew G, Rogelio L-L, Austin H, Emma H, Sophie M, Antonio R, Miriam G, Morgan S, Scott S, James T, Harriet C, Molly V, Ben H, Eky F, Rory G.

Swaledale, 25—27 November 2016

Author: Andrew W

Trip summary

With a promising weather forecast for the weekend, following a dump of snow over the previous week, trip participants were particularly excited by the prospect of the Club's first visit to the Yorkshire Dales for a few years! And for once we were not disappointed.

Friday evening began for some people with a short walk beneath the stars, which was only somewhat disappointed by the sound of a nearby barking dog, which broke the subliminal peace and tranquility. With the promise of superb conditions on Saturday, most people opted for ambitious walks. Crisp snow on the ground and a clear blue sky matched the forecast pretty nicely. A lot of people explored Gunnerside Gill and other hills close to the bunkhouse. A particularly keen group decided to walk all the way to Tan Hill (~20 km from the bunkhouse), the highest pub in the UK. Even though this resulted in a few people becoming a little tipsy, they all made it back to the bunkhouse in plenty of time for the evening's centrally coordinated CUHWC Christmas dinner, which has now become an annual tradition on this trip. Everyone participated to create a stunning array of dishes, which were nicely complemented by some carol singing (from memory).

On Sunday, the weather was not quite as remarkable, but a lot of people enjoyed climbing Great Shunner Fell or other hills from Reeth.

All in all, quite a trip to round off the calendar year!

Coniston (New Year), 6—10 January 2017

Author: Erin Barnard

This was my first New Year’s trip and having been warned that past trips at this time had been mostly mild and damp, I wasn’t hopeful of fine conditions!

In fact, on arrival it wasn’t looking particularly promising that we would be able to appreciate the bunkhouse’s location. Dense fog was obscuring all the nearby peaks. Having never been to this part of the Lake District before, I was baffled. In which direction is Lake Coniston? Am I really in the Lake District at all? The air of mystery to the trip was intensified due to late arrival of two extra trip attendees not on the list…

On Saturday, in spite of the lingering fog, the conditions were very calm and a large group of us decided to explore the supposedly nearby peaks of Brown Pike and Old Man of Coniston. The contact lens wearers were smug as the glasses wearers struggling with perpetual condensation. I realised, on removing my glasses, that it wasn’t as foggy as I thought and we began to notice patches of blue sky and some cloud inversion. Note at this point that some glasses wearers (cough Ben) hooked their glasses onto their backpack.

However, unfortunately but inevitably, this was not going to continue as we climbed back into the fog. Grateful for the cairns along the ridge we passed Buck Pike and Dow Crag virtually unnoticed and reached the summit of The Old Man of Coniston for a compulsory summit photo. As we descended to Levers Water, Ben noticed his glasses were no longer there. We considered a search but concluded that the Old Man of Coniston could keep the glasses.

On returning to the bunkhouse we appreciated the excellent showers, fine food from Shirley and Paul F and the joys of Sushi Go, a theme that was to continue.

On Sunday, the mist was still there. Ben, Sarah, Paul F and I went for a long but touristy low-level walk while Ranulph, Alex and Paul C went on a Langdale Pikes epic capturing the best of some impressive cloud inversion. The evening saw a comprehensive run-through of the club songbook, with Paul F on guitar and myself on blow-piano, the tubing of which was used continuously in our struggles to light either of the two stoves.

Pretty tired from two relatively long days and unmotivated by the high wind and heavy rain that greeted us, Monday saw a very slow start. After a lethargic breakfast we noticed that we could actually see the mountains outside the bunkhouse! As the rain passed, we all quickly left, the majority of us heading for Wetherlam. Finally we could appreciate the surrounding landscape!

In characteristically high spirits we attempted unsuccessfully to set a cheesecake in a few hours that evening. A Sushi Go tournament was won by Paul F drawing the trip to an end. Much fun was had by all!

Cheviots, 3—5 February 2017

Is there any better way to start the CUHWC 2017 adventure series than a sunny weekend dash up to the Scottish border? An atmospheric and relatively comfortable bunkhouse, good luck with the weather, and wonderful company (as ever!) made the beautiful rolling Cheviots a perfect destination for the first trip of the term.

The drive was long, yes, but not as bad as I’d expected, and with frequent-enough pit stops it was definitely worth it. We arrived quite late on Friday night, but this didn’t stop anyone from attacking the hills the next day in all earnesty. Some people chose to admire the beautiful views from the Pennine Way, some faced the wind on the top of the Cheviot itself, and some ended up walking a lot further than they’d originally planned (a pub stop was enjoyed as a result!). The views and walks were perfect, and with the bunkhouse being hidden away in a quiet valley, it was a world away from the bustle of city life. Legs aching pleasantly, we enjoyed a lovely evening of food and songs, and once it had got late enough, some people grabbed the headtorches and went on a night hike to make the most of being in the middle of a Dark Sky Park. Unfortunately, the clouds didn’t quite reveal the stars this time, but it was a lovely walk nonetheless.

Sunday morning again saw us scaling hill after hill in the sunshine, and we made the most of the day before reluctantly saying goodbye to Scotland and heading back homewards. It was such a peaceful, fun, leg-testing and beautiful weekend, that I’m already forward to the next one.

Ilinca Aricescu

Duddon Valley, 24—26 February 2017

The weather forecast wasn't great for this weekend (even by hillwalker standards), the wing mirror of one of the hire vehicles got smashed off on Friday, quite a few people forgot essential bits of kit, and the trip leader was ultimately driven to drink. Despite this, we managed to get 36 hillwalkers to and back from the University of Leeds' Dalehead bunkhouse in Dunnerdale in one piece. Among these people was our new fresher co-president who has probably aged 10 years from the experience.

Saturday morning brought rain and wind as expected, so some people (ex-presidents included) went on either a strenuous walk or run to the pub. The wind kept the rest of us on lower slopes so more or less everyone paid a visit to the pub at some point in the day, even if only to keep us warmer than being in the bunkhouse. Quite a few people also walked over the Hardknott pass to see a Roman fort (which wasn't particularly impressive by all accounts, but made a nice walk anyway).

The Saturday evening group cooking typical of trips was livened up by the lack of enough seats and setting off the fire alarm. There was sadly no singing after food, which was very disappointing.

The weather on Sunday morning seemed to be dry (!!), but once everyone had actually got ready, it started raining again. There was a bit more optimism with walk lengths but most groups ended up doing similar routes so as to avoid walking for long periods in the low cloud. A couple of ex-presidents decided a pub visit was still in order, but most people got back to the bunkhouse in good time so the minibus and cars were able to make fairly early departures (hopefully never to return to this location).

While some referred to the trip as being "shambolic", a more accurate description might be calling it a a bit odd, not least because of how flat the walks ended up being. That said, it was worth leaving Cambridge for: it's less depressing being soaked by rain surrounded by mountains than being soaked by rain surrounded by bricks and optimistic tourists after all.

Sarah M

Shropshire, 5 March 2017

Despite, with all the optimism of a new committee, deciding to run three trips within a fortnight, we managed to get a full complement of 24 people off on our day trip to the Stiperstones, in the Shropshire Hills. Those of us who made it were rewarded with gorgeous moorland, dramatic tors, and the full gamut of Spring weather. After torrential rain and a little hydroplaning on the drive, we were welcomed by snow-dusted hills and only mild drizzle, which cleared for most of the day and was even replaced at intervals by sunshine. Only the March mud was a constant.

All walks headed along the main ridge, mostly Northwards (where the various routes encountered clear quartzite outcrops, less clear hill forts, and abandoned mine shafts that extensive scientific experimentation demonstrated to be 'quite deep'), but in one case Southwards (where instead there were good sheep, a haphazard off-path descent through woodland, and Wales). Most then reunited at a 16th century pub that proved to be hard to leave, not least because the 'quick 2km back to the cars' involved as much uphill as the rest of the day. After a 'run' by the trip leader and a quick shuttle service, all cars and people were once more reunited, and only great conversation and the journey back remained. It's not often you start from Cambridge, walk into Wales, and are back within a day.

Matt Arran

Rhyd Ddu, 10—12 March 2017

Author: Chris Hewetson

Details to be added later.

Glen Coe, 26—31 March 2017

Trip report

Author: Erin B.

There was much hype before the trip for proper winter conditions (well at least I hope I wasn’t the only one avidly watching the Glencoe ski resort webcams…) and the chance for 10 of the 14-strong party to complete a 2-day winter skills course. Unfortunately, on the early arrival of myself, Andrew, Alex, David and Paul to Crianlarich Youth Hostel on Saturday evening for an extra night’s stay before the official start of the trip, we realised that this wasn’t really going to be the case.

Nevertheless, we were greeted from first light the following morning with clear blue skies for our attempt of Ben Lui. We probably couldn’t moan too much about perfect summer weather conditions in the Highlands minus the midges, even if it was unnervingly warm…

We managed to get the hire car and what seemed like a life’s supply of equipment and food to the bunkhouse that afternoon and were greeted by a bunkhouse in an absolutely stunning location. The Scottish Mountaineering Club’s Lagangarbh hut is located at the base of Buachaille Etive Mòr, providing many photo opportunities for both us and various other tourists, particularly during the beautiful sunsets and early morning sun of the next few days.

On Monday and Tuesday, the 10 of us signed up for the winter skills course set off with leaders Ian and Richard (aka Papa Smurf) for a combination of navigation, scrambling and winter skills where we found odd patches of snow still remaining. This led us on to Beinn a’ Chrùlaiste on Monday and Buachaille Etive Beag on Tuesday. Once again, the weather was stunning! Andrew, David, Paul and Jose bagged the eastern Mamores on Monday and on Tuesday Andrew and Jose took to the Glenfinnan horseshoe whilst Paul and David completed a scramble up Buachaille Etive Mòr.

On Wednesday nearly the whole party took to routes including Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire nan Lochan and Stob Coire Sgreamhach via the Lost Valley. Unfortunately the weather was a bit of a “ming-fest” compared to the previous three days and we all got particularly damp. Nevertheless, we managed to make good use of the ice axes – especially for posing in photos. Andrew was in typical bagging mode taking Beinn Sgulaird and Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Spurred on by pub hype, Alex, Bronwen, Seb and I took on Buachaille Etive Mòr via Coire na Tulaich on Thursday in the much better weather than predicted. A combination of swimming, A&E-ing, and running occupied the others. This included the club president running to and from the pub, which led to plans for his impeachment as he had the bunkhouse key… A wild night ensued: venison, haggis, beer, whisky, ginger nut biscuits and nutella, planking, climbing round the kitchen table and the cardboard box game.

Friday was the last official day of the trip, with most of the party leaving after lunch. The weather was as predicted – very wet. Most people didn’t venture from the bunkhouse for too long. David, Bronwen, Bronte and I walked for a while up Lairig Gartain and got soaked through. Bronwen and Bronte then proceeded to swim in the River Coupall outside the bunkhouse. Mad. I suppose we couldn’t get any more wet than we already were. Alex headed up Buachaille Etive Beag.

Andrew, Paul, Alex and I bagged Schiehallion on Saturday morning on our journey back to Cambridge, by far the easiest of the Munros I had climbed that week!

Overall, I absolutely loved this trip. What an amazing group of people to spend a week with and to tick off my first Munros with. A particular highlight was stargazing on Monday night. I’m sure this is a trip that will be repeated, even if now too late in the year for winter skills courses to take place. Thanks to Iain and Richard from Kendal Mountaineering Services for running the altered course for us.

Trip List:

  • David H.
  • Matthew A.
  • Jose G.
  • Paul F.
  • Erin B.
  • Bronwen F.
  • Sebastian P.
  • Prabhvir M.
  • Bronte P.
  • Alex D.
  • Andrew W.
  • David Z.
  • Jilles F.
  • Toby L.

Mystery Trip, 12th-14th May 2017

This years' mystery destination was Solihull Mountaineering Club's Bryn Golau Hut, in South-Eastern Snowdonia. An extended period of sign-ups by e-mail meant there was time for a few far-too-subtle clues, though some members guessed the place before any were even released! (Turns out listing the number of places available's a giveaway if only one hut has 17 bunks).

Nevertheless, knowing where the bunkhouse is wasn't the same as finding it, with one car's passengers going on a night hike across the valley (and apparently becoming the most exciting thing in Dinas Mawddwy) before spotting the right lights for which to aim. Thankfully, a light wind over the weekend meant sufficient electricity generation to keep those lights on, while it wasn't so warm out that the lack of a fridge was disastrous.

Walks on the Saturday were all up Aran Fawddwy, whether by the obvious route or a more circuitous circuit round to the North and back. Unexpectedly glorious sunshine necessitated a stop for water at a farm, while the 'Gin and Tonic' walk didn't, unfortunately, involve its namesake. Instead spirits were saved until the evening, with authentic palinka accompanying a goulash that only its chef insisted wasn't authentic. The other two menus looked so good it was tempting to have all three, though in the end only Wasim went for it and doubled-up his meal.

On the Sunday, a huge number of walks set off, covering Maesglase, the other Dyfi hills, and Aran Fawddwy again. They included photography, slate, and what little bog remained after the dry spell. The forest was verified to smell of jam, while a swim in Llyn Foeldinas as 'actually, warmer than Emma pool'. The pair late back received appropriate remonstrance in the form of the only rain on any walk.

Trip participants: * Matt A * Paul C * Callan H * Camilla P * Wasim B * Fedir K * Yuze W * Adrien L * Juliette M * Ilinca A * Jingyi W * Wong P * Barbara M * Binbin W * Yuqing W * Marci G * Helen G

Matt A

Ennerdale, 9-11 June 2017

For the last trip of term, we headed to the wildest part of the Lakes: Ennerdale. Unfortunately, in this case, that also meant the wettest and windiest. On the one hand, that necessitated the cancellation of a scrambling course, led to the abandonment of any ridge walk plans, and resulted in an MPV balancing on the edge of a precipice. On the other, there was no shortage of water for wild swimming.

The start of the trip wasn't very promising, with the trip leader arriving from Langdale by foot, just in time for the cloud to come in and a lone, laden scree slope scramble up Wind Gap to seem less like a good idea. The long wait for vehicles to arrive ('wild' meaning 'hard to get to', and my on-the-way pick-up plan being 'ambitious') was filled with reading and fire-tending, two recurrent themes of the weekend.

However, things rapidly got more exciting the next day; scramblers were packed into an MPV to meet up with Kendal Mountaineering Services and sent off into the rain, only to discover that wet mud banks subside easily when steered onto in the face of oncoming traffic. Fortunately, the beached MPV brightened the days of passing, rain-soaked walkers, and the scrambling course was cancelled in any case, due to the dangerous conditions. While the trip leader, safety officer and driver waited for a hastily-called tow truck, walks headed off around Ennerdale Water, over to Buttermere, up the surrounding hills, and to the pub. With the hill walks' exit routes being taken, the pub trip seemed most successful, though the Buttermere group were back sufficiently later than planned to see the weather brighten a little, and the early returns of others permitted a few dips in Ennerdale water.

With excellent food (multiple shakshukaat, butternut squash, and turkey escalopes), beer from the local brewery (brought over by the warden), and a fantastically tuneless acapella rendition of Wonderwall, the evening made up for the day's problems. Table football was played, the fire tended, club calendars planned and beers drank, to the enjoyment of all, and in the hope of a better day to follow.

Walks on the Sunday mostly remained low, and were rewarded with mostly dry weather. Even better, staying close to Ennerdale Water permitted easy wild swimming, with peer pressure ensuring that over the course of the weekend, over a third of the trip had taken a dip. Sufficiently refreshed, the return to Cambridge was smooth.

Participants: Matt A, Callum R, Paul C, Callan H, Gilad A, Sarah M, Sonja G, Johanna F, Ping L, Yaron B, Miriam G, Eric W, Ilinca A, Immy C, Camilla P, Bronwen F, Alex M, Helen G, Vera K, Louise T, Marci G, Kara F, Brigitta S, Barbara M, Laurent M, Anthony K, Yuqing W, Chong C, Yong Y, Jinggao S, Bruno V

Matt A