Lancashire Mountaineering Club

Lancashire Mountaineering Club
March 2015 - E-News

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Spring is on the horizon and its time to start planning adventures in the hills. A delicious sense of things to come is sparked by pouring over guidebooks and maps; almost as rewarding as doing the routes themselves.

What better place to start planning the year than with careful scrutiny of the club's programme. Thanks to the work of Joanne Whitely, this is wide-ranging with meets and activities planned across the UK and elsewhere in the world. Additionally the meets list is supported by fully sponsored training opportunities for club and prospective members. This newsletter focuses some attention on these initiatives.

Please send info to the Newsletter Editor, Roger Finn (tel: 01600 773203)


Meets and Activities: April and May 2015

  • 3rd to 6th April - Easter Weekend - Cornwall
    Will Weale - 07765 400 985
  • Sunday 13th April - New Members Meet
    Tim Greenhaigh - 07769 041 345
  • 18th April Progression to Rock - Windgather Rocks
    Kate Toon - 07800 561 338
  • 25th to 26th April - Vice Chairman's Curry Meet. Cae Ysgubor
    Jason Whiteley - 07765 004 222
  • 1st to 4th May - Early May Bank Holiday Meet - Ullapoool
    Jason Whiteley 07765 004 222
  • Sunday 10th May - North Wales
    Nigel Lyle - 07989 577 968
  • 16th to 17h May - Progression to Rock - Pike o'Blisco (The Loft)
    Kate Toon - 07800 561 338
  • 22nd to 25th May - Canoeing Meet - May Bank Holiday
    John Toon 07789 658 096
  • 23rd to 3rd June - Mingulay
    David Toon - 07764 857 221


Obituary: Tony Sainsbury

Sadly I have to report the death, at the age of 77, of one of the club's elder statesmen, Tony Sainsbury. Perhaps, appropriately, he suddenly collapsed when returning from the Golden Rule in Ambleside. I say appropriately because, over the years, Tony had made great efforts to support the brewing industry.

Tony Sainsbury

1996, Wasdale - Tony is the
one on the left

Tony was a wonderful, fun-loving and irreverent character who truly loved the hills. He was a founder member of the LMC and held many offices within the club including those of hut warden (the Loft), chairman and newsletter editor.

However it is as a man of words and humour that I want to briefly remember him. On a bitterly cold winter's day, with the crags covered in snow, Tony and I were climbing a route on Penyghent called Red Pencil. I think it was one of those E thingies or something like that. Well go on, it was a VD but an extreme one and, in the conditions, too much for us. Anyway with great difficulty we had reached the short summit crack but, embarrassingly, neither of us could make the final move. In desperation we resorted to combined tactics with Tony standing on my shoulders. Unfortunately we were being observed by a pimply faced youth and his mates who, much amused by the antics, were determined to have fun at our expense. As Tony's head appeared over the top, the youth made his move and said "Do you want a hand up granddad?" Tony's reply was a masterpiece of wit; "Piss off you spotty bastard".

Tony's funeral took place on the 13th March and a celebration of his life was held at the Salutation Hotel, Ambleside. Here his family, friends and a contingent from the LMC gathered to pay their respects and share stories of Tony's life. It was not a sad event; Tony would have wanted it no other way.

We remember Tony with love and great affection. He played a big part in our lives. Our condolences go to Jean, Tony's wife, and Jennifer and Kate, his sister and daughter.

Roger Finn

Days with Tony

I first met Tony Sainsbury many years ago on a weekend meet in the old Solitary hut at Blea Tarn. He was full of enthusiasm for getting out onto the hills whatever the weather and if my memory serves me correctly we walked the Langdale horseshoe round.

Following this I enjoyed many days out on the hills with him and other LMC members, the Lakeland three thousanders was my third......... 'only madmen do this more than once Dave'; the Mosedale Horseshoe on a blistering hot day followed by a superfast scree run down into Mosedale where we found Tony cooling off in the beck; many visits to Skye and the various summits on the ridge as well as Ben Hope the most northerly Munro which we approached by car from the sandy beaches of Achmelvich whilst on one of the superb Lochinver meets. Indeed it may well have been Tony who discovered Valhalla, a bar on the west coast just south of Lochinver having a picture window affording the most wonderful sunsets. They even had fantastic beer and you could buy a deep fried pie from the Lochinver chip van on the way back to camp!

Tony was also a good climber and I had some excellent days on the crags with him; Moss Ghyll Grooves on Scafell on a perfect day being just one of many. But a climb which sticks in my memory was our failed attempt of The Centaur on Scafell East Buttress - a magnificent 3 star HVS. I managed to lead the first pitch at 4b and Tony set off on the second at 5a but the corner proved too much of a challenge. I couldn't manage it either, so we agreed to retreat by abseil. We were belayed by two 'oldish' pegs and had them backed up with a half Moac on rope, so should we abandon the Moac with its screw gate and trust the pegs? It was my Moac and my vote was to leave it in situ. Tony abseiled first and I watched in horror as both pegs bent over with the load, thankfully they held and didn't even load up the Moac, I didn't need any prompting to leave it where it was!

Tony served the club well over many years and was editor of many newsletters and journals. He encouraged ... nay persuaded many, even me, to write reports and articles to spread the word that the LMC was an active and enthusiastic club with extensive annual meets. Times with Tony will be fondly remembered by many.

Dave Sudell

Letters to the Editor

If you publish an irate letter will the club hierarchy take note? Probably not.

I informed the club secretary of an error on the 2014 membership card. I have been ignored. The error is repeated on the 2015 membership card. The club was not founded in 1967. It was formally established at a meeting in Lancashire County Hall in November 1966. It was then called the Lancashire Teachers Mountaineering Club. Many years later, the word "Teacher" was dropped from the title because a considerable proportion of the membership were not teachers.

Yours as ever,
Grumpy of Cheltenham
(Name & address supplied)

Hut News

Cae Ysgubor - the last build report!

This project has been a bit like a steeplechase run - the last lap and just the water jump left to deal with. With every lap this seems to get more difficult but just one more!!

With the end in sight, building control has thrown in a couple of extra requests for energy value and emergency lighting and alarm systems BS compliance certificates in order for us to get the written sign off. Everything else has been signed off verbally. Nothing insuperable but takes time, a lot of beavering and money for the right certificates. Hopefully these will be with us in the next few days. The written sign off will trigger our request for dustbins, etc. Until then users will have to take all their rubbish away.

Currently we are not offering more than 12 bed spaces as that is the number in the original planning permission. We will be applying for a variation in this number to 20 but have decided to put other items in the application. Fortunately Highways have indicated that our car park vehicle permission (max 12 vehicles) would be what they expect for 20 person occupancy and they would not object to the increased bed number. Once that permission is granted there will be a need to look at issues such as sole occupancy rentals, room reserved for members, etc.

What is obvious from outside interest is that we could rent this superb facility out 50 weekends a year. BUT this isn't why I and a lot of other members have put heart and soul (and a fair bit of sole!) into this project. We want it to be used so much by LMC members that there isn't any available space for outsiders (except Red Rope who did put £10k into the project at a very crucial time.) John Toon will be in touch with members very soon to let you know how to use/book/check availability for Cae Ysgubor and to circulate a single A4 "how to use it" sheet.

Finally can I thank all the members (and non members) who have given so willingly of their time and expertise over the last few years? We now have a club property to be proud of and that will be there for members to use for the next 50+ years.

Chris Walker

Hut Warden of the Month!

Mr Nigel Lyle

Committee News

Chairman's Ramblings

It looks as though winter may be over? We had a winter skills meet in the Lakes (led by Will Wheale) on March 8th but the only slippery stuff was wet grass ....

I managed a week skiing with my wife at the start of January on the proper slippery stuff (snow) and then a week of climbing the other slippery stuff (ice) with the club meet to Senja in Norway; very pleasant.

The midweek outdoor (Tuesdays) meet will start on March 24th and we are looking forward to our summer programme. There will be another alpine/foreign trip this year and we have been thinking about where to go. I know there are some people who would like to do some big mountains in the Valais (e.g. around Zermatt) and others who want to go for rock climbs and walking e.g. Dolomites. Let me know if you fancy one or the other, or somewhere else.

We are planning the training programme which we have advertised before to be funded by the monies received from Sports England for this purpose. The programme will include members of the club and, also, members of our four LMC 'satellite' clubs. It is a great opportunity.

At long last we have received an updated lease for the Loft at Blea Tarn which now will include the Byre, i.e. the lower floor. So, we can now get on with plans for refurbishing and enlarging.

Cae Ysgubor is physically ready to use although some of the hoops of paperwork are taking a little longer that we would have hoped.

Kate and Dave are running their 'Progression to Rock' programme again this year. There are four dates starting on March 21st. We have lots of novices wanting to join us for these days, but we need more experienced climbers to come along and assist. Please contact Kate if you can help.

Have a good spring and summer and, subject to mountaineering being a risk sport, be careful out there!

Roger Gott

LMC Training Opportunities

Kate Toon, Roger Gott and I have been working on the LMC training programme. This is designed to give members and potential members the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge and encourage more people (particularly young ones) to enjoy the sport of mountaineering. Also it is very much about growing the membership of the club.

A quick update of the various elements of the programme is as follows:

Progression to Rock

Principally this aims to help young people make the transition from indoor to outdoor climbing. The programme for 2015 builds on the foundations successfully laid down last year. The four dates for 2015 are -

  • Saturday March 21st - Wilton 2 and 3, Lancashire
  • Saturday April 18th- Windgather, Peak District
  • Saturday May 16th - Pike of Blisco, Lake District
  • Saturday June 13th- Idwal Slabs, Ogwen Valley

Kate would greatly appreciate help on any of the meets. You don't need to be able to lead anything difficult, just be competent in taking a new outdoor climber up an easy route safely and explain what you are doing so they can learn something from the experience. If you can help please contact Kate Toon (T: 07800 561 338).

LMC Progression to Rock in action, 2014

Training for LMC Members

This is a real opportunity for members to take advantage of the £10 K that Sport England has given the club to organise a programme of training for its members. All tuition will be delivered by professional trainers and, best of all, it is almost free. Roger has asked LMC members to identify their training needs; the results have been encouraging. The principal needs would seem to be navigation (Wednesday Wanderers please take note), Mountain Leadership Training and self-rescue. Other areas of attracting significant interest are first aid and winter mountaineering. It is not too late to add your name to the list; simply contact Roger, saying in what areas you would like training and why. Also you need to explain how your training will benefit the LMC; the idea is that you will use your newfound skills to help develop the next generation of mountaineers.

LMC Satellite Clubs

The satellite club scheme is designed to foster strong, working relationships between the LMC and providers of outdoor education for young people. Specifically it seeks to give young people pathways into mountaineering and access to individual membership of the LMC and all the benefits of belonging to a BMC affiliated club. Four local organisations have expressed a wish to become satellite clubs of the LMC. They are:

  • Eccleston D of E Group
  • Westview Climbing Wall
  • Essa Academy, Bolton
  • Crompton House, Oldham

I have been liaising with them, and following discussion, programmes of training are being arranged. For example we have set up NICAS courses for the D of E group and mountain training courses for both them and one of the schools. More will follow.

This is an exciting opportunity to encourage more young people the chance to get involved in Sport and develop a love of the Great Outdoors!

For further information about the LMC's training programme, please contact Mike Haines (M: 07857 271 242.)

Mike Haines

Meet Reports

Australia 2014 (and Brinscall 2015!!)

Bride and groom

The wedding was idyllic! We sat by the River Yara in the open air on a fine, warm Melbourne summer's day in early December. On the opposite side of the river, huge fruit bats hung in silence, waiting for a cooler time in the day.

David Toon, the LMC's communication and web person was marrying Kate Hawkins, who is our LMC membership secretary and the organiser of the Progression to Rock sessions.

Kate's family and friends gathered for a beautiful ceremony, presided over by Kate's uncle Peter. There were some very touching readings. I was asked to read a poem about the mountains.

David in action

Afterwards, we gathered at one of Kate's brothers for the reception, which included live music and excellent food. David's brother John was best man and give a scurrilous character assassination by telling lots of true stores of earlier years. We did all laugh lots!!

The following weekend we had second special occasion, as Emelia, David and Kate' daughter, was christened in the local church where Peter had been the Parish priest some years before. Again, we enjoyed a splendid outdoor party afterwards, picnicking in a local park. The children had a great time racing around and playing on the swings.

A couple of weeks earlier, there had been an LMC meet rock climbing at Arapiles, which is a four or five hour drive to the east of Melbourne.

Dave and Pat Buchanan were using this as a warm-up before continuing their explorations in the antipodes in New Zealand. They had already spent a few days in the Grampians just a few miles away, finding some attractive climbing in this compact hilly area of Victoria. David and Cathy Medcalf were also making the most of the long trip by visiting family. Steve Lyon was on a solo trip, packing in some sightseeing in Sydney on the way home. I was staying a few miles from the hot campsite with Jean, in an air-conditioned hut in the closest town, Natimuk. Kate's mum was in the neighbouring hut. Nancy had flown over from the States, with tent and climbing gear.

Nancy struts her stuff

The climbing was fantastic! Arapiles has routes of every grade, so we were all able to enjoy 10 days of perfect warm rock. We had one day of rain, just to remind us of home! Most days it was extremely hot midday so we retired to the primitive campsite to eak out the water and look for shade. A couple of times we drove back to town for ice creams and drinks in the pub! Yes, we did spot wallabies and kangaroos several times, as well as strange lizards and noisy birds.


It was truly a trip of a lifetime with memories that will last. Kate and David were keen to be able to share their happiness with friends and family back in England, so we had another lively social event in Brinscall Village Hall, with around a 100 or so guests, just after Christmas, in January of this year.

Richard Toon

LMC Annual Dinner 2014

Norma, the first lady of the LMC,
with husband.

LMC belles

Early December once again saw the social event of the year, with 70 LMC members ranging from very young to young at heart descending on the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal for LMC annual dinner. Members partook in various walking, climbing, biking, shopping and café sampling on the Saturday before assembling in their finery for a welcome glass of wine - contrary to what you might think they all scrubbed up rather well!

After the usual stand up bingo, compared excellently as always by Bernard, the meal followed with 3 courses of excellent food served up accompanied by all the usual balloon escaping, cracker pulling, horn blowing merriment. There was even a visit from Saint Nicholas himself, though the youngest guest turned out not to be too impressed by his bell! Whilst coffee was served the Chairman got duly heckled during his address, before the annual Enema awards were announced (we'll save the winners from any further embarrassment here!), along with the photo competition winners (though if you're thousands of miles away in Oz does that mean you can still win??).

There then followed the opportunity to work off all those calories that had just been consumed with some ceilidh dancing accompanied by an excellent (and very patient) band - safe to say what our members lack in skill they make up for in enthusiasm when it comes to dancing!

LMC dinner lady with assistant
- the one in the centre!

The Sunday morning saw members tucking into what for some was a much needed breakfast to ease away that hangover, and despite the less than clement weather many members headed off to various parts of the Lakes to blow away the cobwebs and the fuzz from the night before. Overall it was an excellent weekend - watch this space for details of this year's dinner, where I hope we'll get to see even more of you.

Joanne Whiteley

A Wednesday Walk on the Wild Side

Graham and Ian approaching
the summit of Pendle Hill

Dramatis Personae: Mary Ledwick (Leader), Jim Cunningham, Jim Lawson, Brian Guilfoyle, Bob Thomasson, Roger Speare, Bernard Foley, Ian Aitchison, Pete Melling, Graham Welch, Liam & Pat O Cleirigh, Roger and Sue Finn. Wednesday, 11th December10th 2014.

The forecast was for a weather bomb to hit Lancashire, bringing severe gales, hail and snow. Mary, as leader has sensibly planned a low level walk rather than attempting the planned route, a 9 mile linear crossing of Pendle Hill. As we were being battered in the relatively shelter of Spring Wood car park outside Whalley, this seemed an enticing option. Not so to the testosterone fuelled madmen in the party. "It won't be too windy up there." said Jim C. shouting down our leader above the rising gale. So off we set for Downham and the start of the walk. As we left the cars, a vicious snow squall hit us and Brian, in a few terse phrases, questioned the sanity of the madmen, now manfully striding ahead. Grumbling, he fell into line for the ascent. This, fortunately, was accomplished with the minimum of pain as we were sheltered from the storm.

Sheltering from the stormy blast

As we approached the top, Mary announced that lunch would be taken in the "shelter" of a stone wall. We all hunkered down and quickly took on board some much needed fuel. The trig point was our next objective. It was then that the full force of the weather bomb hit us. Young Bernard's rucksack cover went " blowabout" and we all watched in awe as he zoomed off and caught it. Sue was lifted completely off her feet and slammed into the nearest solid object - Roger F. Jim C. then announced that he thought we shouldn't be up there as it was dangerous! He suggested to Mary that we should get down off the hill as quickly as possible. As we were standing on the top, he fully deserved Mary's pithy response. We made our way down the main path to the Nick of Pendle, Roger F. holding on tightly to his most valuable asset. Jim L. looked back and commented that we resembled the lost tribes of Israel.

After a quick refreshment stop we made our way across field paths back to the car park. "That was hard work." commented Sue to Mary. "Yes," she replied. "The lower level walk would have been more sheltered and we could have had lunch at the garden centre." Aaaargh! The group eventually re-assembled in The Swan, Whalley, for beer/wine/tea etc. It was at this point that a quick head count revealed one of the group to be missing. Ian couldn't find the pub. Mary generously went to look for him, ignoring some members of the party who chanted the club motto, "f------ him".

Thanks to Mary for leading a tremendous day out and ensuring a full head count at the end. Just to put the weather into context, Jim C took only 2 photos instead the usual 400.

Sue Finn

Great for you to have me back!

Attendees at this meet were Josie and Bernard Smith, Roger Speare, Bob Thomasson, Jim Cunningham, Ian Aitchison, Graham Welch, Roger Finn and myself, Jim Lawson.

At last my first trip to Scotland following seven years exile in France. This was not an "official" LMC meet; it turned out to be a Wednesday Wanderers "on tour" event. Jim Cunningham kindly organised it and arranged for us to stay in the SMC's Naismith Hut at Elphin, north of Ullapool. This far west corner of Scotland is my personal favourite place in the whole world. Probably most of you will have visited this area which has the most wonderful coastal and mountain scenery; if you haven't, go as soon as you can, it is spectacular.

Suilven from the Naismith Hut

At the usual booze fuelled dinner, we decided that our first mountain would be Ben Mor Coigach, above Ullapool; not a big hill but a truly terrific one with apparently fearsome winter routes.

Disappointingly the forecast was for deteriorating weather over the next few days. However it was in sunshine with a bright blue sky that we set off from the car park at Bleugharary. Over the past few years I have been used to balmy summer days in the Pyrenees with walking and scrambling on dry rock. I had forgotten the intensity of bog trotting in Scotland, especially in this geologically ancient area. Eventually we got onto the drier rock and ascended quite steeply to Speicin Coinnich, the first and shapely peak at the start of the ridge leading to the summit.

Ben Mor Coigach with Speicin Coinnich
on the left sky line

The weather "clagged" in as we reached the ridge with a brisk wind, snow and sleet directly in our faces. The route to the summit is a little convoluted and navigation tricky in mist. As usual there was too much chat and not enough navigation and an aerial view of our tracks would have looked like the Olympic rings. Eventually, after much mirth, we retraced our steps. Jim C thought that we could claim at least five ascents of Coigach that day.

Another excellent evening was had in our extremely comfortable hut. Bernard suggested Ben Stack as our objective for the following day. A thirty five mile drive north took us through some stunning scenery to the start of the route at the end of Loch Stack. This is a fantastic little hill rising out of a land of bogs and lochans. At the start, the path was dry but soon deteriorated into yet more bog. Again the cloud descended with wind and snow blowing in our faces. A steep rocky ridge took us to the snow line not far beneath the summit. Here, miraculously, the cloud briefly parted to reveal brilliant views and a brocken spectre. A slushy, slippery descent followed.

Summit of Ben Stack

That evening Josie and Bernard prepared our meal while the rest of us sat in the lounge drinking and talking. We ended up having the most surreal conversation for many a year. Unfortunately most of what was said can't be repeated as children might be reading this. However much of the conversation came from Bob who is known as a quiet and reflective chap. Drinking Boddingtons's Tongue Loosener, he regaled us with tales of his youth. I advise you, no matter what the circumstances, to never accept a glass from Bob.

Descending Ben Stack

Also from another member of the LMC there is a claim that, allegedly, his Auntie Nelly had an affair with a famous guide book writer. There is a drink at the club dinner for any member who can name the aforementioned member, identify the guide book writer and find out the lubricant that Auntie Nelly used.

The final day loomed and the forecast was crap, so a valley walk was proposed from Strathcanaild. A grumpy Jim C, a supposedly leading light in the Blackburn and Islamabad Photographic Club, failed to appreciate the stunning scenery. The drab greys and browns failed to excite him and he felt the waterfall left much to be desired (possibly the limited amount of "fall" and "water"!).

Arkle from Loch Stack

A cracking few days enjoyed by all with a snowy drive back to Lancashire.

Jim Lawson
Ed note: Photos by Jim Cunningham

The Lakes Walk, Jan 2015

The forecast for the weekend was horrendous; gale force winds, hurricanes, typhoons, even a bit of rain. This didn't prevent the Lakes Walk Meet from taking place though. Laughing in the face of adversity, ten of us set off from the car park above Braithwaite, along the ridge and up Grizedale Pike. We were quite sheltered from the wind at this point as it was a westerly. Sheltering at the summit enabled us to take on drinks and food, whilst the winds could be heard all around us, just waiting.

A wintery Hopegill Head

On to Hopegill Head next, with the wind hitting us full force now along the broad ridge. It was hard to stand up at times and at one point two members of the party were lifted off their feet and blown over. Luckily the direction of the wind blew them to safety on the less-steep side of the hill. We took as a good sign that only 20% of the group suffered this fate! Looking at the Met Office website the day after confirmed the maximum wind speed to be 65mph.

Looking down on Coledale Hause

From Hopegill Head we headed down to Coledale Hause, struggling to stay upright, and on past Force Crag mine. The promised rain had come in now so it was time to get off the hill and into the pub. Two pints of Sneck Lifter later we headed back after a good day out, if a little challenging at times.

Jason Whiteley

Thank You

The LMC welcomes contributions to its newsletters. Please send text and photos to Roger Finn Copy for the next newsletter should reach him by the end of May, 2015. Very grateful thanks to all those who have contributed to this newsletter.

Roger Finn, Newsletter Editor

If you would like to contribute to the newsletter or e-news then please contact the editor.