Cover Photo: Woolacombe from Putsborough Beach

Cover Photo: Woolacombe from Putsborough Beach

In time for our summer visitors at The Old Bakery/Paul’s Place I have produced my 2016 North Devon Calendar. I sell these calendars in aid of our charitable trust Paul’s Fund and in order to keep the unit cost down I’ve pushed the boat out and ordered 100 this year!

You can order them directly from me (phone 01271 891076 or email david.hmorton6@gmail.com).

In the past I’ve sold them for £10 or more including an automatic donation to Paul’s Fund, but this year I am selling them at cost price of £6.00 plus P&P but I am then asking you to go to the Paul’s Fund web site to make an on-line donation (which you can Gift Aid).

Paul’s Place is located in Georgeham in this amazing part of the world and by buying a calendar and making a donation you will be helping a young adult with a terminal or life threatening illness to have a free holiday here. Thank you!

Rachael, Jo and Dave on the summit of Pt Lenana.

Rachael, Jo and Dave on the summit of Pt Lenana.

Well, we made it! 42 years after firstly climbing Mt Kenya as an 18 year old, I returned with two very special friends of our son Paul. Rachael and Jo were brilliant companions on this 6 day adventure.

To see a selection of pictures go to Mt Kenya 2013

On day one  we set off with our guides Peter and Caroline (and more porters than I’m willing to admit to!) from the Sirimon Park gate at 8,700ft (Sirimon is near Nanuyki on the north west side of Mt Kenya).  We had an uneventful walk up through the forest  to Old Moses Camp at 11,000ft , crossing the equator on the way.

Next day we continued up to our base for the next three nights – Shipton’s Camp (13,900ft) at the base of the main peaks. Sadly we were in cloud and rain all day so we didn’t get any views and we might have been on the equator but at well over 10,000ft it felt more like Scotland (it was cold as well as wet!); still, a  closer look at the vegetation  reminded us we were indeed in Africa!

After a cold night, day 3 dawned bright and clear with stunning views of the main peaks directly above us. Rachael was definitely feeling the effects of the altitude as we set off for an acclimatisation walk up to the Hausberg Col (15,100ft). Sadly she had to turn back half way up but Jo and Peter and I continued to the top by which time the mist had rolled in although we did get some views. On the way down the mist thickened and by the afternoon it was raining again, setting the pattern for the rest of then trek.

The afternoon was spent in the camp feeling very cold despite wearing everything we had. Fortunately Jo and Rachael enlivened the long hours of waiting with card games and oregame which kept us, and the porters, well amused!

Day Four was our summit day. We set off in the dark about 3.00am. It was well below freezing as we made our way up the steep slopes towards Pt Lenana (16,350ft) at a slow but steady pace under a brilliant, star studied sky.

Rachael was definitely feeling the effects of the altitude, but it was our no. 2 guide Caroline who had to turn back feeling unwell! So that left Peter and the three of us to carry on, aiming to reach the summit by sunrise. It felt like a long hard climb with several false summits, but we arrived breathless just as the sun was appearing above the horizon. It was an intense experience with all of us in a very emotional state! Rachael (I think) with relief at having made it, Jo because of Rachael, and me as I thought of Paul who would so have loved to do this trek and who was so much with us in our thoughts (and on the banner we had brought!).

The views were amazing, especially in the early morning light, with bright shafts of sunshine illuminating the main peak of Nelion just 5ooft higher than us, and Pt John below us.

Many photos later we headed back down, now with some concern about Rachael’s well being. It was an equally long descent despite now being in bright sunshine. As we got lower, Rachael’s condition worsened with bouts of mild delerium so that she needed a lot of encouragement and physical support, but 3 hours later we were back in camp for a very welcome breakfast! Rachael spent much of the day in bed with Jo reading Harry Potter to her whilst we kept an anxious and close eye on her condition. Altitude sickness with headaches, dizziness etc is one thing but pulmonary oedema is a much more serious condition and needs rapid evacuation. Happily she made a gradual recovery and by late afternoon we were confident she was on the mend! It was a long day with sunshine giving way to the usual cloud then rain!

Next day once again dawned bright and cold as we set off back down to Old Moses Camp. In many ways this was the best day as we enjoyed the views we had been denied on the way up and warm sunshine (despite the air temperature still being well below freezing and the ground very icy).

That evening at Old Moses we enjoyed a rather surreal and impromptu dance in the dark accompanied by music on our porters’ smart phones! As well as disco dancing we tried teaching them a Scottish jig – Strip the Willow – which all made for a very entertaining evening! We shared the camp that night with a religeous sect  who decided to hold their own knees up – or rather sing along – at 2.00am in the room next to ours! Fortunately they were persuaded to stop!

On our final day we again enjoyed warm sunshine as we returned to the Park Gate to be greeted a couple of hours later by my wife Pip and daughter Rebekah who had flown out from the UK that night. Thus one adventure ended and another began, but that is another story!

The trek was not only successful in reaching the summit but is set to raise well over £4,000 in sponsorship for our charity Paul’s Fund (for more information and to make a donation go to Paul’s Fund) as well as raising awareness of the charity which is great and just as important!

 

Mt Kenya: Main peaks from the Teleki Valley. Batian (17,058') and Nelion (17,022'), then Pt John (16,021') and Pt Lenana (16,355') (head of glacier).After a busy summer I’m getting very excited about an up and coming trip to Africa  in December that has special significance.

Back in 1971 as an 18 year old I was on my gap year (before the name had been invented) which I spent at a rural school in Kenya teaching (sort of!). The school was close to Nyeri in the shadow on Mt Kenya and one of the many highlights of the year was to climb Mt Kenya – or at least the third highest summit Pt Lenana which we reached on Christmas Day. The expedition took a dangerous turn when one of our porters developed Pulmonry Odoema that night and we had to carry him off the mountain but it ended happily!

In contrast, my son Paul as an 18 year old was facing a very different challenge – diagnosis of a brain tumour. He died 20 months later and this November it will be 5 years since we lost him.

To mark the occasion (and my 60th birthday!) I am returning to Mt Kenya on 1 December with two of Paul’s friends, Jo and Rachael and another friend Jerry. We will be traversing the mountain from north west to south east via the Sirimon Track and Chogoria track, hopefully reaching the summit of Pt Lenana (16,355 ft on the 4th day).

This time we are raising money for the charity my wife and I set up in Paul’s memory, “Paul’s Fund” which pays for young adults facing challenging circumstances to have a free holiday staying at our B&B in North Devon.

For more information about Paul’s Fund or to make a donation you can visit www.pauls-fund.co.uk

For some rare photos from a bygone era, go to my Mt Kenya 1971 page!

Georgeham Village Stores

Although the heatwave had not yet arrived, we enjoyed some lovely days in June and many of the   spring flowers lingered longer than normal after the cold weather.

Our village shop had a makeover with boxes of flowers to brighten the shop window. The only down side of the flowers is that they hide the beautiful hand crafted wood work on display inside the shop courtesy of Mike Taffinder who makes beautiful candle holders, mirror frames and other woodwork in his workshop just up the road. Not to mention some delicate paintings by local artist Emily Garnham Wright and one of my own pictures!

Walled Garden at Hartland Abbey, May 2013With a predominantly northerly wind, May 2013 has not exactly been the warmest of Mays, but it has produced some stunningly beautiful sunny days with crystal clear air. And unusually those sunny days have actually been on Bank Holiday week ends! The cold conditions have meant the Spring flowers have lingered and some of our local gardens have been looking amazing.

My photos this month mostly feature Hartland Abbey and Marwood Hill Gardens.

Hartland Abbey is a private home near Hartland Point about 40min from Georgeham. It is open to the public and the highlight this Spring were the blue bells in the woodland walking down to the sea, and the walled garden.

Marwood Hill Gardens is a favourite of ours. Just a 15 min drive away, this private garden is tucked away in a sheltered valley and even featured on Gardeners World last week for it’s Magnolias.

Click here for May’s Photos.

 

 

Bluebells in Prior's Wood near BristolToday is Paul’s birthday. He would have been 24. Paul was 19 when he died from a brain tumour in November 2008. He had been diagnosed in February the previous year when studying for his A levels, but despite that went on to get a place at Leeds University reading Biochemistry and made it, just about, through his first year.

Paul loved photography – it was one of his A levels – and I continue to get inspiration from his style, as well as continuing to use his own Canon 400D DSLR. You can see some of his images here.

 

Paul at his Devonshire Hall annual ball, Leeds University.One of his legacies is the charitable trust my wife and I set up in his name, Paul’s Fund, and which now pays for young adults to have a free holiday staying at the B&B we run and call “Paul’s Place” in the context of the charity. To be eligible the young adult will be facing diagnosis of a life limiting or terminal illness, have been bereaved, or be a full time unpaid carer.

This web site is dedicated to Paul and proceeds from the sale of any pictures goes to Paul’s Fund.

Marwood Gardens, April 2013

April brought some beautiful bright sunny days even if it was somewhat cold! Although that delayed the emergence of Spring, the daffodils seemed to thrive and last longer than usual.

This picture was taken at Marwood Hill Gardens. This private garden is open to the public and is a gem tucked away in one of Devon’s typical hidden valleys just 15min drive from Georgeham.

For more April pictures including a stunning sunset, the emerging gorse along the coastal path and the inevitable lambs, click here.

Daffodils by Loch Duich with The Fiver Sisters in the Background. April 2013In April a friend and I spent a week staying at Ratagan Youth Hostel on Loch Duich in the Scottish Highlands. Despite some very wet and windy days we enjoyed some great walks and climbed several  “Munros” (mountains over 3000ft). One day the sun did shine and we enjoyed spectacular clear views across snowy slopes. We thought we’d done pretty well that day climbing two Munros until we met a 70 year old hitch hiker returning to his car having traversed the 15 mile long South Glen Shiel ridge with 7 Munros! O to be old and fit! Click here for more picture.

Putsborough and Baggy Point in the morning. March 2013.Problems with uploading photos has delayed me posting some photos from March 2013 which provided some wonderful clear, crisp days and a dusting of snow one morning.

Winter and early Spring are quiet in this part of the world but very rewarding for the person who wants a bit of space and solitude.

Click here for more pictures.

 

IMG_4994_Low ResAmazing surf today and glorious sunshine! Mind you, plenty of surfers being wiped out by the big waves! More to come this week but a  bit smaller which will suit the less experienced.

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