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Greymatter, are a five piece British folk rock band established in 2004 in the South of England, and are building a strong reputation for consummate musicianship and engaging live performances, and are gathering a dedicated following of enthusiastic and loyal fans. Their songs are a distinctive blend of beautiful vocal harmonies, skillfully layered electric and acoustic guitars, piano, and trumpet, with solid bass and tight drum rhythms. Their sound is simultaneously unique and familiar, reminding the listener of the Indigo Girls, Mellisa Etheridge, and Shawn Colvin. Their enduring and rich melodies are interlaced with heart-felt and memorable lyrics about love, heartache, yearning, and passion.
2008 has seen the release of their second album, Caterpillar Tree, a 10 track follow up to their critically acclaimed debut album, Hands on Fire. Both are available to buy from the Greymatter website at www.greymatter-music.co.uk. Greymatter have played a variety of venues and events over the last few years including The Playhouse in Nottingham, St David's Hall in Cardiff, Brighton's Komedia, Nottingham, Brighton, and Reading Prides, the Isle of Wight Festival, the International Fete de la Musique in France, and the International Women's festival in Lesbos. Georgey's talented songwriting, vocals, guitar and piano; Emma's expressive vocal performances; Julie's strong bass rhythms; Jules' musically accomplished guitar and trumpet; and Carys's timely drums. It all adds up to a sound that will leave any music lover wanting more.
You can view their own website and find their performace dates and venues here.
The Challenge... written by Ian Woodford
On arrival we found the weather at the local Tourist Info at Ben Nevis and decided we should do the walk almost on arriving from the Airport. So we got a few bits from the local Sainsburys and went to the start point. That's when I realised I had forgotten my hat and gloves!! But luckily the others had brought spares.
We set off on Ben Nevis at 14.15 on Saturday 28th. The scenery was great. At the bottom the temperature was around 1 degree so we knew it would be cold. At half way up Ben Nevis, appropriately Halfway Loch. I couldn't believe there would be a lake as massive as it was half way up a mountain!
Shortly after that we come to a path called the Zig Zags. They were so steep. By now the weather was getting worse. It took a long time to get past this point. At the top of the Zig Zags was the steepest of the climb. It carried on through the clouds and was so cold. Our water bottles and camelbacks (water bags carried in rucksack with tube to drink from) had frozen, cutting off the water we had carried. We had to eat snow, although it was very refreshing. Then the blizzard started. All the snow and ice crystals were blowing around. It was freezing. It looked amazing when it wasn't blowing in your face. We think it was about -15 degrees at this point. We reached the top of Ben Nevis which was amazing. You could see the clouds below you. The blizzard had either stopped or it was below us. There was a lot of wind and it was deadly cold but we were so happy to get to the top. We reached the top approximately an hour after we wanted to so already time was against us.
On the way down we passed through the blizzard again and when we got to the Zig Zags we found a steep route which went down the sides of the paths. It was a frozen waterfall with snow over the top of it. One of the lads sat down and had a go at kind of Bob slaying down the waterfall which he did with some success. Then the rest of us did it. It was so funny! We saved about half an hour and morale was probably at the highest point here. Even though we had soaking wet bums! The rest of Nevis coming down hill was fairly straight forward. It took a lot out of our legs and our knees. We got back to the van for a quick change of clothes and we set off almost right away for our second mountain, Scafell Pike.
There was literally no traffic at all through Scotland and down to the Lake district. Maybe this was helped by the International football that was on at the weekend, I'm not really sure. We stopped once to get some more food and to refuel. We made up the rest of the time we lost from Nevis by skipping a break and being lucky with the traffic so we almost started Scafell Pike on time. Of the 6 walkers, 5 rated this their least favourite mountain as although its the smallest, its very technical, very steep and we were doing it at 2am! Weirdly I was the only one who had this mountain as my favourite. I love the scenery the best and I think I like it as it was the first mountain I ever climbed.
It was blowing a gale and was very cold again. Probably -8 or -9. Again our water bottles and camelbacks had frozen so we couldn't drink much. We were again eating snow and drinking from the waterfalls and streams running along side our paths. It was actually very tasty!
We had only climbed this mountain about 4 weeks ago, but it looked so different in the dark, almost completely unrecognisable. We were aching from sitting in the vehicle from the last walk. We set off at a really good pace knowing if we did this mountain on time we would have a real chance of completing within 24hours. Then disaster struck, we took a wrong path and got a bit lost! We ended up on the wrong side of a small hill and the path ended. I think by now some peoples heads started to drop but it was important morale stayed high. We searched for the path. Ivan and Richard took the lead here as we tried to work out where we went wrong. Richard thought he found the path about 45 mins after we got got lost but we still wasn't sure if it was the right one. Then Ivan took charge, told us not to move and wandered further over a hill. He did a lot of pacing around and looked at the map and then came back and said "follow me!". We did and he found the path. It was such a high and we quickly set off back in the right direction. Thank god for Scout Leader Ivan!
Reaching the top of Scafell Pike was great for 2 reasons. For one, the snow had thawed from our practice climb so the summit point had a climb to it instead of being on ground level. This must of meant that the last time we climbed there must of been about 20ft of snow under us! Also we had just reached the top of Scafell as the sun was coming up. If we were half an hour later we would have seen the sun pop up over the horizon but we couldn't wait. Some of us were beginning to get really tired too but we knew we could soon kip in the van and was over half way.
On the way down we bumped into some people who were also doing the 3 Peaks Challenge. They recognised us from Ben Nevis! They were running a little bit behind and one of their team had dropped out. I'm not sure if it should have done or not, but this gave us a lift as they looked like experienced walkers and it made us feel like we weren't doing too bad.
We had worked out that if we got to Snowdon without a break, we would have 2hours 30mins to climb it (which was how quick we did it in practice) so morale was very high despite us being very tired now.
Then another set back. Almost as soon as we got into Wales the traffic built up. It was about 9am and we had road works ahead of us. I have no idea how long it took to get through it but it seemed like ages and was eating away at the time we had left. Once we got through the traffic it was ok. We arrived at Snowdon with approximately 2 hours to climb it.
We set off at a fast pace. As we finished the paths on the build up to the mountain the minutes really were burning up and the mountains were busy too. I think reality started to set in for all of us that we wasn't going to do it within 24hours at this point, but non of us really wanted to say it. The climb was a little slower due to the amount of people on the mountain. Its all narrow paths and bits to climb so you're constantly waiting for people to go past you. Around half way up people were telling us it was icy up ahead and they were turning back. Again it was very windy and bitterly cold. About 300 meters from the top it did start to get very icy and instead of walking up steep paths, we found ourselves scrabbling up ice and rocks with our hands and feet. This was very tiring. Some of the paths you couldn't walk on and we could see why people were turning back.
At 24 hours we could see the summit. It was only about 200 meters away but there was no real disappointment. I think the determination to reach the top took over us and pushed us on. We reached the path I call 'Death Valley'. Its a narrow path on the side of a cliff with a drop of around 700 meters. That too was covered in snow and ice and wasn't helped by people coming down it on their bums as this made the surfaces smooth.
We reached the top of Snowdon shortly after. We had achieved the 3 peaks challenge in 24 hours and 50 mins!
We were a little disappointed that we didn't do it in the challenge time scale, but so proud of ourselves. Everyone we spoke to said we were crazy trying it at this time of year.!
We are already talking about doing this again another time to try to complete it in the time frame. Possibly in the summer sometime where conditions will be better.
Vroom has been an amazing support for us. The money you saved us literally made this experience happen and it helped raise us around £3000 for Comic Relief.
Lots of people wanted to know about Vroom and hopefully you will get some calls from people who have seen 6 mad people up a mountain! Hopefully we will still get asked about your company and we surely will continue to spread the word.!
Again thank you all!
Ian Woodford, Richard Main, Ivan Hinsley, Matt Thompson, Garth Frommholz, Neil Wray, and the driver Rob Pilford (The Stig)!