Short and Sweet – The Cleddau Clamber (Part One)

“On a Mish” #313 Cleddau Clamber – Part One. Upper Cleddau Valley. Fiordland National Park. 15.12.2021. From the instant I first saw the mountains of Northern Fiordland I knew it was the beginning of a long and highly enjoyable relationship. The place very quickly became my most sought after, and time and time again I would drive from far away to get a taste of the alpine feast on offer. Not once have I left disappointed or unsatisfied, and the entire time I am on a mish I have a smile stretched ear to ear…

A recent climb above Dore Pass(1390m), near the Milford Track, had worn my broken body down. The last part of the adventure was a harsh reminder of the damage done to my hip. Unfortunately an addiction needs to be fed, but fortunately my addiction is extremely good for both body and mind. I’m not one to let an opportunity of clear weather in the mountains of Northern Fiordland (especially in the Darran Mountains), so with time off and a camping forecast I gathered my gear for a mountain mission. I knew that I couldn’t go far due to hip pain from my last mish, so my plan was to head to the historic Cleddau River Bridge near the Grave / Talbot Pass Route on the Milford Road. From there I was going to cross the bridge and follow the old track to a spot where I could pitch my tent and chill in paradise. As I made my way along the Milford Road everything was falling into place. The sun was shining and many times I was driving alone on one of the best roads on the planet. While waiting by myself at the Homer Tunnel entrance I got out of my car (while the tunnel entrance timer kept me waiting) and enjoyed the wonder of the Upper Hollyford Valley. A small village was once a buzz with workers hacking away at the rock during the tunnel’s construction in this location. On this day it was just me and the sound of the many waterfalls cascading down the step walls of the upper valley. Green light, time to go underground. 1.2km later I burst out into the sunlight of the Upper Cleddau Valley and I pushed back into my seat by the intense grandeur. It is a bit of a mission to drive and also take in the incredible scenery, so I would always rather be a passenger while travelling on the Milford Road. I zigzagged down into the forest below the tunnel and it wasn’t long before I was pulling up at the start of the Grave / Talbot Route and the start of my short wander to a campsite.

I was stopped dead in my tracks by a ‘Track Closed’ sign at the start of the track to the old Cleddau River Bridge. Not in the plan and what makes it even more annoying is the fact the damage that closed the track was caused nearly TWO YEARS AGO! You don’t go to a garden and not smell the roses, so I had to think of an alternative mish as I was still in the grandest garden of them all and the roses sure did look pretty! After a quick think I came up with the plan of heading into the valley below Mt McPherson(1931m) Cirque, but as I drove back up the Cleddau Valley a rocky gut caught my attention…

The Cleddau Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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