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Friday, 2 October 2015

Bar Trekking

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Lets just assume for a moment that I decided not to apply for the 2016 TGO Challenge and, instead, opted to do something else.
I have mooted (so moot it be!) once or twice, an alternative to the National Three Peaks madness wot goes on every summer. And this proposed walk would not at all suit those one-offers who climb Scafell Pike in the middle of the night, empty their bowels at the summit cairn and distribute various bits of waste plastic, paper and other stuff along the paths and fields of Wales, England and Scotland. Because it would take too long.
The idea is a simple one – to link the three highest pubs, or, at least three of the four highest pubs in England  in one mighty stagger AND to have a few beers in each one, AND to link up any walkers-type pubs that might be open along the way AND have a drink in each one of these too.
And to design this walk, which ought to take between two weeks and forever, I need your help.
I’m just about to abandon Pietowers for a fortnight for the purpose of mounting an unarmed raid into Scotland in order to bag some hills and stuff like that there. So, readers, (if, indeed there are any still out there…) you have two of your Queen’s weeks to submit, through comments, or emails, supposing you can work out what my email address is, the names and locations , and any other information you might consider relevant, of your favourite public houses,  hotels,  inns, drinking dens and dives, or even locally celebrated off-licences to me for consideration and to see if I can weave some of these into a route.
The three main pubs seem to be: Tan Hill Inn 1730 feet, The Cat and Fiddle, 1680 feet and the Travellers Rest Flash 1500 feet. Note well that there are no pubs in the British Isles Furth of England which achieve a sufficient altitude to be included in this walk, and we aren’t including summit cafes on Snowdon, the Cairngorms or, indeed, on the Isle of Man. In fact, linking the three highest National pubs would be a different walk and an interesting challenge for another day.
In order to make the 3 Pubs walk completely illogical, I will aim to start at the most Southerly boozer on the list and finish at the Kirkstone Pass Inn, or, actually, the Golden Rule in Ambleside, since I’d probably have to visit Ambleside to get the bus home.
So, any pubs etc. you think should be included – and I’m not going any further North than Tan Hill – just let me know by, say, the end of October. So, the pubs have to be between Flash and Tan Hill and between Tan Hill and Kirkstone Pass.
I appreciate that this venture is utterly irresponsible and that alcohol should be consumed responsibly which means being really careful not to spill any cos that would be a waste.  I promise, therefore, to try not to get completely leathered at the three or four main landmark pubs, but to use the opportunity to rehydrate and refresh.
Oh, I dunno, though…

Thursday, 1 October 2015

North Pennines Walking Festival–Around the Long Man

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This walk got included in the North Pennines AONB walking festival by a fluke of timing – that is to say that it’s timing to coincide with the festival was….. coincidental.
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It doesn’t  matter, though and 17 people turned up at Bollihope and NO DOGS because there was a little bit of open access where yer pooches are technically banned and , as I found on the reccies, there was a lorra lorra cattle.
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The route circumnavigates the Long Man – a hill on the Weardale/Teesdale watershed so named either because it has a big cairn on the top or because it’s profile is of a long ridge. The top can be easily accessed from the parking area at the summit of the Eggleston to Stanhope road, but this delight was not for us. We went around.
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Me and Lucky did a reccy in cold, windy and sunny conditions about a week ago – doing about half of the route, and abandoning the attempt near the Elephant Trees due to four fields full of cows with no apparent avoidance tactics available. So I returned a few days later and did the cowful bits without Lucky my Cuddlebuddy (interesting concept by the way – check it out on Google – there ought to be more of this kind of thing…). None of the cows were any bother and neither were the two horses or the two friendly farm dogs, one of whom selected a cow pat in celebration of our meeting and presented to somebody in the farmhouse kitchen.
On the day it was cool on the tops and quite hot on the bottoms… not…  that was a different blogpost…
Here’s a map. Its 11 miles and you’re supposed to try to follow the line of the “roman road” (not actually roman at all) “Five Peaks” mentioned on the map is actually called “Five Pikes” well dhuhh…
around long man

Monday, 28 September 2015

Skinny Dip!!! Yay!! Jeez Brrrrr!

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Yes folks, it was that time again – The North-East Skinny Dip in aid of Mind.
This year the venue moved from a remote part of Druridge Bay to the Visitor Centre where, for a fiver, a tent could be put up. And the toilets were open and, in the morning, so was the cafe (although a huuuuge post-dip queue indicating an overwhelmed server-on had us driving up the A1 for a “Drivers Breakdast” at Belford.) The change of venue to a more civilised spot probably caused the increase in numbers of dippers this year – I understand that there was 300, or, maybe, 350 altogether of people in the altogether.
Anyway, I collected Dawn from the Usual Place and we camped for a noisy night amongst much laughter and late-night clinking of bottles and some light striptease and/or streaking from some of the less inhibited campers. We were much more refined, as we should be at our age.
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And then it was quarter to five in the morning – yes folks, there really is another quarter to five in a day – this one in the middle of the night, it seems, and perishing cold it was too, the only light being the huge brown moon sitting on the treetops.
Eventually, and by some miracle of night-time navigation involving following somebody else, we found ourselves on beach with a flat sea slapping lazily at the hard sand (too early for the sea to wake up, obviously). I made the mistake of filling some of the wait for dip-time with a little paddle. This anaesthetised my toes very effectively, or actually, it made them hurt if I’m honest.
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Something inaudible was announced on a megaphone and then, suddenly, everybody stripped off, did a count-down and charged towards the sea.
Dawn’s comment on the way to the briny was “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I strongly suspect that quite a few others were either saying, or at least, thinking exactly the same thing.
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Then we were in. Splashing and laughing and shivering and screaming and, in may cases, trying to breathe.
Then, there was a cheer and a round of applause, apparently aimed at the sun which had just peeped over the horizon. Many rushed for the shore and warm trollies. I stayed in for a while, coming out only to collect my camera for a few pics of this magical scene of humanity in it’s salty, beautiful playground, bathed, as it was , in gold.
I took some pic of the well wrapped-up press photographers snapping the massed undressed cavorting in the sea..
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This girl was taking instructions from a photographer so that the sun would be cradled in her arms. To get the same picture I would have had to sit on his knee. I suspect that this might have caused some tension, so I did as best I could:
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The last picture I took before my camera broke is this one:
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Serves me right, I suppose.
So there are no pictures of the achingly beautiful Ross Back Sands where we spent the rest of the day snoozing and reading and brewing (and, in my case, dipping again) in the warm sunshine. Shame, really.
So, that’s another dip dipped. I shall do it again. I’m grateful to Dawn for her support – I’m never keen on being the single (old) male on these occasions, so Dawn’s presence made it easier for me and, in the process, she’s raised a couple of hundred quid for Mind too, so it’s all good. We could do with a few more recruits, though, I think. Anybody feeling daft/brave/too warm?
As for me, the greeting of the sun by many dippers was spiritual and the whole thing has left me feeling euphoric for some unexplainable reason – I suppose it’s the same mixture of joy and spirituality that you get at Yule with the connection to the turning of the year and all that. And then there’s quite a lot of people being quite brave about revealing their bodies against instilled social taboos, overcoming shyness, inhibitions and fear. And doing something a bit naughty too.  I’m hoping that the event grows in popularity even more. I could be quite evangelistic about this if I tried…


Friday, 25 September 2015

TGO Challenge–Shall I or Shan’t I? (Do you really care anyway?)

d9 cameron

Mrs Pieman gets me the TGO mag on subscription as a Christmas present, so I got the copy with the application forms in it (innit?) a week or so ago and I started filling it in. But it’s still sitting there half completed.

I’m not sure if I really want to do this or not. I have completed 12 TGO crossings, starting in 1998 and my last one was in 2013. On a couple of occasions I’ve haunted the route instead of doing the walk – notably 2014 when I did “Cafe akto” which raised loads of spondoolies for Mind and was, basically, a hoot.

But I’m undecided.

i am the music man

There are pro’s and cons:


If I do another I’ll probably aim to get to 20 crossings. This would be a bit of  an achievement, I believe.

I’d meet lots of old friends.

I’d drink lots of scotch, most of it fairly cheap stuff.

It would be fun (mostly, but not all of it)

It would be a hoot.

aa day 3 camp


Its fifty quid!!  Fifty quid. I meantersay – it’s fifty quid….

Last May I did the English CtoC with my little dog “Lucky” and this was a hoot and I met some friends (and relatives) and I supped lots of cheap scotch and I could do something like this again.

I would put myself back into a hillwalking rut

Everybugger and his dog (apols- not his dog – dogs aren’t allowed) does a feckin trip report and some do a feckin feckin list of gear. The sheer weight of all this information is mind-bendingly dull. And I would have to write a feckin feckin feckin trip report on the Pieblog otherwise readers would assume that I’d died or otherwise failed to complete the route. Casual readers would turn away as soon as they spotted yet another feckin feckin feckin feckin TGO chally feckin trip feckin report.

If I don’t get a place at first and end up on a standby list, it buggers up my 2016 walks planning. Or I could withdraw at that point and lose my fifty quid. FIFTY QUID BY THE WAY|!

I could do something else.

I could do something else.

I could do something else.

I’m still thinking about this. I won’t decide to apply (yes, I do understand that I might not get a place – see above_) until I’ve had a fortnight in the Trossachs with Mrs Pieman and the little Piedog. And in 2013 I wrote that 2013 would be my last and final TGO challenge.

The dog would get fat and bored whilst I’m away.

I think I can see the way it’s going…..



Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Tales From Druridge Bay

Y'see... all the best people.....

Its not too late to bung some dosh into Dawn's Skinny Dip sponsor thingy in support of Mind   Click here

In fact, its not too late to decide to do it yourself. It ALL has to come off, mind...  click this link:   see new goosepimples where goosepimples are seldom seen