Butser × 4 × 2, more Snowdon training

On Sunday I once again visited Butser Hill to do more preparation for Mount Snowdon. It’s now only about 6 weeks away, and I’m starting to feel more confident. A couple of weeks ago I was at Butser on my own, and completed the training circuit 4 time. The most time I have summited Butser so far. I made a few posts on my Instagram feed as I was doing the hike, for my own insanity if nothing else. So that’s where the × 4 of this blog title comes from.

× 2

The × 2 is because I was back there on Sunday, and reached the peak 4 times again. This time Wulf from our group Walking with legends was there to keep me sane. We didn’t do the standard route at all this time. Instead we tried a new path that Wulf had seen. It was a bit harder than the normal path, and had two choices of direction towards the top. For the first ascent we took the path on the left as it looked like it may be the slightly easier of the two, so better for the warm up. It was an interesting change. A bit narrower and a bit steeper, but good none the less.

Upon reaching the trig point, we headed towards the northern outcrop of the hill. The plan was to head down in to the valley or bowl and up the other side. With the rain and everything, I thought heading straight down was a bit steep for me. But hey, I’m still new to all this. so we headed along the northern outcrop for longer and zig-zagged our way down in to the valley. It was still steeper than I’d have otherwise had attempted, but I did it and felt pretty accomplished. I did stop half way down, but mainly to take a couple of photos.

Butser Hill valley panorama
A panoramic photo of Butser Hill’s valley, on the way down. Later we would be climbing the steep section around the corner from the rightmost part of the valley.

At the bottom of the valley, we started heading south towards the bowl area. There were two options for getting back up the top. The direct route up the north face of the bowl, or the path in the south east corner. The south east corner didn’t look as steep, but I know from the week before, has a very muddy section around 2/3rds of the way up. The north face is steeper, but looked firm. So up the north face we went. I stopped twice to catch my breath, but we made it up fairly quickly. My lungs felt freezing at the top, it was definitely a test. We joked that there’s no way we have CoViD-19 after climbing that. But that ascent made me feel a lot more confident for the coming Snowdon adventure.

The third ascent

After a brief break at the top for a PHD Smart Plant protein bar (a review will follow soon) and to use the loo, we set off again. We used the standard descent path and headed back around to the new ascent. This time we took the right hand option at the fork. It was a bit steeper and didn’t level out until the top. Near the top, the path curves around to the left, towards the stile. However, even though there is a bit of a path in the beginning, it soon just turned in to brambles. I turned around and spotted a gate about 5 metres to the right of the curved path, which you just don’t see when following the path. Lesson learned, turn right at the top next time.

Discovering new places

As we approached the gate, we spotted another path we’d not seen before. This was heading back down the hill on the north east. We figured “what the hell” and went on a wander down the path. We arrived at a view looking over the A3 of the quarry by Queen Elizabeth Country Park. There was a strange platform with a ventilation pipe and a cover for what we can only guess was a ladder. We spotted more of these later on, there’s one right next to the trig point, and wondered where they go and if there are tunnels under the hill.

We carried on down the path which eventually lead in to some woodland. The path slowly disappeared until we came to a steep descent towards an area of grass and a green lane. The descent was loose and slippery, but we made it to the bottom and headed up the green lane. What we came across was both weird and wonderful.

A strange thing we saw in the woods. Possibly it was a hide of some kind?
A strange thing we saw in the woods. Possibly it was a hide of some kind?

The first area we came across had a few parked cars, but loads of odd things parked up or left. There was lots of stacked wood as well as other oddities that I wish I’d photographed. We carried on up the green lane and came across what looks like the remains of a hide. It looked like originally the roof came right to the front. It was accessed from the rear and looked out in to the woodland, so ideal for bird or wildlife spotting.

We carried on up the path, spotting weird and interesting things, like a bath and bird watching chair. At the top of the green lane was a turnaround and behind that was a structure that looked like it was used of drying things. There was a fire going, smoke, and a lovely woody smell in the air. No idea what it actually is, but it was pretty cool.

Hiking in the woods
The view from the platform in the woods

We back-tracked to the bird watching chair and started heading up into the woods towards Butser’s summit. There were paths cut into the ground with wooden barriers. They zig-zagged up the hill to a platform built near the top. We took the more direct route and eventually found ourselves back on Butser. We came out near another path that we’ll investigate in the future. But, this time we turned left and headed up to the trig point and the end of the day’s adventures.

Hiking, it’s a bit good really

The data and map for our hike on the 15th of March, 2020.
The data and map for our hike on the 15th of March, 2020.

I’m really enjoying this hiking malarkey. Getting out and just wandering about and finding new places it pretty awesome. The fact that you can get health benefits from it while chatting with friends is a welcome bonus. Hopefully we will get out every weekend until our trip to Snowdon in May. We’ll have to see what happens with this whole SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. But at the moment the camp site at Snowdon have said they’re staying open. So here’s hoping that it all still goes ahead. Keep safe everyone, and get out and enjoy the outdoors.

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