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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Around Grayrigg

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The only instruction given to The Bro was that Dillicar Knott needed bagging and that a walk should include that. Afterwards, there would be sweet biscuits for a demonstration of “snarly snarly” for LTD. Snarly snarly is LTD’s habit of threatening titbits if he’s not given them straight away. Its quite funny, really.

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So, we met in “The Layby”, just South of Dillicar Knott and climbed it in short order. Dillicar Knott has some masts on the top and a fine view of the Lune Gorge, complete with the M6 and the West Coast railway line. Unfortunately, there’s no easy direct way through to the start of the Grayrigg Forest ridge , so we had to back track a bit.

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After, we climbed Grayrigg Pike, which has an even better view of the M6, followed by Grayrigg Forest, a Marilyn which I’d previously bagged on 16 November 1975, but which was a new tick for LTD. I must say, that despite me leading him around all these fine hills, he’s showing very little interest in his tally of ticks and hasn’t even got his own pencil. He’s going to have to go to baggerdog classes…

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Anyway, we used the access road to the repeating stations stations stations to leave the hill and work our way back on a complex route through farmland and bits of soggy moor to the Old Scotch Road which eventually brought us back to our cars.

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The sun came out, it got a bit warm and we saw three or four deer and a flock of white geese in a scrapyard…

LTD then went to Kendal for sweet biccies and episodes of the snarly snarly game.

10 miles and 2100 feet up up and there’s a map just a bit below this sentence..


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Britain’s Best Walks : 200 Classic Walks - Review

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Readers with reasonable attantion spans may remember that Harper Collins sent me a couple of copies of this newly published book of walks for review and to see if I could raise a spot of charity cash too…  very nice of them , I thought, and so did LTD.

Soooo  we went off to Huddersfield to test out a couple of the walks and also to keep Dawn company in her role as house-sitter.

We did one and a half walks: The first, at Hardcastle Crags at Hebden Bridge, where we were distracted by a stray dog which required recovery to it’s owner and a one at Meltham which we completed without any interuptions of difficulty.

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Britain’s Best Walks is a compilation of Christopher Somerville’s contributions to The Times newspaper in his regular and popular column “A Good Walk” It is priced at £30. £30 for 200 walks seems like a reasonable deal to me…

We tried just two walks. You may consider this to be insufficient to form any kind of opinion, but, I have to point out that I have been wandering about the hills of Britain since I was eleven years old and I am now G^(*&’’0”  (sorry, something happened to my keyboard there..)  but anyway, its a long time. And during this long time, I’ve been all over the place and it seems that I am really quite familiar with a large number of the routes included in the book, specially those in the Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and the Lake District, but also with several others in other places. A couple of them coincide remarkably well with guided walks I lead for Durham County Council, so I am qualified to make judgements.

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But first, what do you get in the book?  I pinched the following bullet points from Harper Collins website (sheer laziness and it’s so easy to copy and paste)

Each of the featured walks contains:
• Detailed description as featured in The Times column
• Postcode and OS grid reference start point
• Instructions on how to get there
• Distance and grade so readers can suit walks to their ability, fitness and mood
• Simple step-by-step walk instructions
• Beautiful colour photograph for each walk
• Full colour, clear and up-to-date map
• Food and accommodation details for the hungry traveller

All of this is true, the writing is, as you would expect from The Times, quite inspiring and necessarilly brief, so , if you have a short attention span….

And the photography is superb too.

And the extra information about starting points and refreshment opportunities is useful.

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The book is a big book, though, and much too big to carry around a route – and you’d damage it anyway in doing so. So you need to record the route somewhere – I drew it on an OS map using the map in the book for reference and just navigated my way around without reference to the route description other than remembering something about posts with red markers. This was sufficient for me and quite simple to do and the only difficulty we had was on the Hebden Water walk at the top of a steep slope where the actual path on the ground doesn’t follow the line of the right of way very well and an impasse was reached on tricky ground (with a large and reluctant captured dog!) but close attention to the OS map sorted it out.

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However, the book is rather beautiful and the walks are high quality expeditions. Give it as a present. Take it on holiday but don’t take it on walks!

If you want to try to win a copy, it’s being raffled in aid of St Catherine’s Community Association in Crook Co Durham: Donations received will have the appropriate number of raffle tickets allocated to the draw

Money/cheques etc.( minimum £1)  should be made out to St Catherine’s Community Association and sent to St Catherine’s Community Centre, South Street, Crook, DL15 8NE. We’d need your name and address to send it to you if you won (!) We’ll pay the P&P

For a more reliable method of acquiring the book click this:Buy Britains Best Walks

Monday, 28 November 2016

On Encountering a Loose Dog

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Me and LTD returned to Almondbury to keep Dawn company for a few days and to have a look at a couple of walks in the Britains Best Walks book wot they sent me the other day, the better to write some kind of review – more of which in another blog post in a couple of days…
So, we went off to Hebden Bridge to have a go at a shortish walk entitled “Hebden Water” – we felt a bit lazy and wanted an easy start to the proceedings.
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And the proceedings went well enough, after we’d paid the outrageous five quid parking fee. Five quid? I meantersay – five quid…
Hennyway, we progressed through the rather lovely autumn woodland on the bonny banks of Hebden Beck. I’d last been here ar Christmas, some 31 years ago, just after moving up from West Yorkshire to County Durham. I couldn’t remember any of it, really… Odd, that, because in the 1980’s I used to haunt the place, it being a through route from the valley to the moors beyond.
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We lunched briefly in a sun trap at Gibson Mill – the cafe being closed – and crossed the bridge to wander further up the little glen. It was here that we were first approached by the dog – a golden retriever-type of pooch wearing a Ruffwear harness just like LTD’s. The dog approached then retreated, as if waiting, perhaps, for an owner.
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A little later it ran past us and then returned, looking quite stressed and confused as to where to go. I decided that it was lost and removed the climbing sling that I use to hold LTD’s lead, and clipped it on to the stray’s harness with a krab. Dawn took LTD and me and the retriever headed back towards Gibson Mill. After half a mile, the dog sat down, anchored it’s paws into the ground and refused to move anywhere but upstream. So we went back and continued with the walk, but now with two dogs instead of one.
We lurched up the steep bit to Walshaw farm, where the new dog seemed to know the way through the farmyard, although the route description in the Times book was less than helpful..  and the dog pulled off the walk route and back towards Gibson Mill – so that where we went.
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Back at the mill, we approached two rangers – who turned out to be friendly volunteers who quickly took charge of the dog and made us a cup of tea. This was nice. We tried the various phone numbers on the dog’s tag and made contact with the owner’s wife who was on a journey between Preston and Liverpool at the time. Another mobile number failed due to lack of a signal in the deep valley. So we left the dog in the custody of the rangers and headed off back to the start, meeting the owner on his way to collect the dog – the “employed” ranger having met him in the car park. The dog had just run off , apparently. Some dogs do that…
So that was that. We failed to follow the route due to the dog emergency.
We would try again at Meltham the following day.
In the meantime, Dawn having found a debit card by the toilets, we tried and failed to find a cop shop in Hebden Bridge. My phone said that the nearest coppery was in Halifax and then took us on a mystery tour of the narrow, cobbly lanes above Calderdale to eventually turn up at Halifax police station.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Pieblog’s Christmas Raffle -The Times–Britain’s Best Walks

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Harper Collins, publishers have sent me a couple of copies of this new walking guide – The Times – Britain’s Best Walks – 200 Classic Walks, written by one Christopher Somerville and, as a first impression, I’m really quite impressed with it. The walks are based on Somerville’s contributions to The Times Weekend section and are accompanied by am OS-based map and directions, including where to have lunch (bonus!)

I’m due to re-visit Dawn in her temporary winter quarters in Huddersfield quite shortly and, it seems, that three of the walks detailed in the book are quite handy for Almondsbury, so , I’m hoping that the weather is kind so I can go and check out the guide on the ground as it were and, subsequently, write a proper review. But, I have to say, that it does look rather nice. There’s a link to Harper Collins marketing blurb thingy at the end of this post so you can have a look. (and you should have a look)

Regular and attentive Pieblog readers will remember that my charity dosh-rasing activities often centre around Things Sent For Review and thats what I’m doing with this.

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The book will be in the Christmas raffle for the St Catherine’s Community Association in Crook. St Caths operate a community cafe and host a wide range of events in support of peeps in Crook and their County Council grants have been slashed considerably, so they need the dosh, see?

If pieblog readers would like to have a go at winning a copy of this book, I will accept donations by cheque. The raffle tickets will be one English pound (or Clydesdale Bank, or other Scottish bank) for five tickets, so, if you were to send a fiver, you’d get 25 virtual tickets in the draw. Or if you live in Co Durham, and/or will be attending am 8 mile guided walk leaving at 10:00 from St Caths in Crook on 3 December lead by your’s truly and wearing a festive hat (all welcome – and it’s free and doggy-friendly) you could buy a ticket or two at the counter in the cafe. Your pooch may even get a complimentary chewstick.

The book is priced at £30, so winning it for a quid would be a significant bargain and I’d send it to you in time for you to wrap it in Christmassy paper and give it to one of your hiking friends, or you could just keep it all for yourself. The raffle will be drawn at the winter solstice on 21 December and all cheques cleared by then will have numbers entered.

Cheques should be made out to St Catherine’s Community Association and sent to St Catherine’s Community Centre, South Street, Crook, DL15 8NE. We’d need your name and address to send it to you if you won (!) We’ll pay the P&P

Here’s a link to click for more and better info: britains best walks

I’ll do a proper review once I’ve had chance to do a couple or three of the walks… and, I have to say, I’m looking forward to the test.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Rejected by Chapel Fell

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Me and LTD were intending to go from St John’s Chapel to Chapel Fell Top, across to Fendrith Hill and then down by the Weardale Ski Club’s installations at Swinhope back to the start.

We began in an incipient snow shower and plodded up the lane towards Green Laws Vein where the snowing stopped and the sun came out.

However, it had been quite hard work so far. I was having one of those “unfit” days and, wearing winter gear for the first time which I find restrictive and heavy.

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Up by Green Laws, the snow was suddenly deeper. It was heavy, wet stuff too, with greasy mud underneath and deep vegetation.

Higher up, by the steeper bits, even LTD began to struggle, now ignoring the rabbit scent and footprints for a series of short leaps and, at times,  he was almost swimming through the white stuff.

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We reached a flatter bit. The snow was less deep here and there was even  a bit of spindrift but we were now in the cloud and it started snowing again. It drifted past, freezing one side of my face and covering my specs. I blundered on a bit on a compass bearing, trying to ignore the feeling that this was all about to go badly wrong.

So, we turned around and followed our footprints easily back down the hill.

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Lower down, the sun came out and the tops appeared out of the mist. But it was too late. I didn’t have the motivation to have another go and, instead, repaired to the Chatterbox Cafe in St John’s Chapel where the dog is allowed in to witness me supping hot coffee and scoffing a jammy scone whilst chatting to the lad at the counter, who told me about running his 4x4 into the ditch just a bit up the Chapel Fell road.

I’ll have another go on another day. Chapel Fell’s been there a while and it’s unlikely to be disappearing soon. What we need is for the snow to build up a bit more and to freeze into some lovely neve. This is not all that uncommon up the Weardale Fells.

Or I could just dig out the snowshoes and goggles. (dhuhh)