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Friday, 21 October 2016


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Samhain is a mirror for looking into the future

It may seem like the end of the light times and the start of the dark times, but, really,  it’s just the end of October. If you want to be humourously scary and get free sweeties as per the newly-invented culture of the USA, you can be a ghost or a ghoul for a time and be spookily happy. There’s no danger in the fun, it’s just fun and means nothing at all. But If you want to review the end of this summer and the summers before, maybe long before, and the good times that have  passed and to remember those who were lost  this year, and  at other times before, and to love and honour them just like you did when they were here, as if they were still here… then Samhain might be your thing. Bless their memory. They’re still more than important to you. Never forget them and their odd little ways and the things they did and the things they said and the way they loved you much, much more than you deserved. And for those you loved who didn’t know.  And then move on to the future.

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This is the time I start to plan my next twelve months, assuming I’m going to complete another twelve months. I’m thinking about it. I have ideas. I will consult with pals.

Janet’s tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee….

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Border Bagging Bimbles

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It’s been a bit quiet here on the Pieblog for a couple of weeks. This is because me and Mrs Pieman and LTD have been on our holidays and I don’t write blogging stuff on holidays. This isn’t because I have any deep philosophical objection, it’s because I don’t really know how to do it.
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Hennyway, we went to Leintwardine, which is a small but bijoux village just inside Herefordshire and not very far from Shropshire. This is really very handy for bagging Herefordshire and Shropshire Marilyns, Humps and Tumps, which is what entertained me on the days when I wasn’t doing anything else. Thus we abandoned the dark wuthering moors of Hen Ogledd for the softer oak-clad legend-soaked slopes of the Welsh Marches.
I won’t drag out the details of each walk, except to say that there were five main ones and several unmain ones, bagged en passant whilst off to do something else. LTD enjoyed these small intervals of brambly joy.
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Altogether, 23 hills were bagged for The Pieman and 25 for the Pieman’s Pooch (I’d already ticked two of them) These were:
Grimshill – A Hump in Corbett Wood, just a bit North of Shrewsbury on the way down the A49
Weaver – A Tump with a cracking view near our cottage
Evenhay – A sheep pasture near Mortimer Forest
The Coggin – Brambly wooded top near Evenhay
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High Vinnals – Marilyn – highest bit of Mortimer Forest. Well populated with dogs on walks.
Bringewood – Mortimer Forest Hump ascended via an “extreme” mountain biking route
Wapley Hill – Large hillfort Marilyn in a forest
Shobdon Hill – Forested, brambly Marilyn – met Jenny Hatfield and her partner Rick. They gave me a lift back to my car. Jenny is the first woman to complete ALL of the Marilyns, a stupendous acheivement. We really are not worthy.
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Croft Ambrey Hill – National Trust land – stupidly expensive car parking and volunteers who apparently know bugger-all about the hillforted summit which has enormous and extensive ramparts AND medieaval rabbit warrens just like they have on Wapley Hill. “Oh, we’ve got nothing like that” said the very nice but ever-so-dopey volunteer.
Monks Well Hill – Just outside Hay on Wye. Ridiculously easy Tump and I camped within  a couple of hundred metres after a walk over the Black Mountains a few years ago.
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Merbach Hill – A Hump on the way to Hereford for a new battery for Mrs Pieman’s car key. Cracking view of the Black Mountains.
Callow Hill – Marilyn with a tower on top – Flounders Folly, built by a Yorkshireman for no good reason other than he bloody well wanted to.
Woolverton Hill – A brambly wee shite on Wenlock Edge
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Clee Barf – Now we’re talking – a proper hill at last.
Brown Clee Hill – Highest point in Shropshire. Marilyn with horses.
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Titterstone Clee – Devasted Marilyn with huge holes, and electronical stuff on top. Nice views, though
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Coxhall Knoll – Brambly in the extreme, but with enormous ramparts on the hill-fort at the top. Probably forty feet high at one point. I got lost on the way down. I knew I was lost by LTD’s sighing, tutting and eye-rolling. Dhuhh.
Helmeth Hill – wooded Tump at Church Stretton. Woodland Trust path from the bottom to the top. We love the Woodland Trust. Very steep.
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Hope Bowdler Hill – Rounded, misty Hump with rocky tors. Steep
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Caer Caradoc Hill – Best hill of the lot. A Marilyn with craggy tors and a hillfort. The sun came out. Super stuff. I’d done it before though.
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The Lawley – Hump just South of Caer Caradoc. Long, thin ridge. Quite steep with superb views.
Shelderton Hill – A ploughed crop field near our cottage. A Tump.
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Bradnor Hill – Marilyn with a golf course at Kington. Very foggy. Couldn’t see a thing.  Ended up climbing barbed wire fences during a fracture in the Earth Time and Space continuum which caused some temporary misalignment of my navigational senses.
Rushock Hill – A Tump on Offa’s Dyke. I did this before with Dawn on a backpacking trip.
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Herrock Hill – A big, rounded Tump with Offa’s Dyke as a high necklance overlooking Wales.
And that was that.
We’re back now. The knipemobile is currently broken, so there may be another short hiatus. I need to throw money at it. Or I need a new car…
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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Damp Camp at High Cup Nick

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Me and Dawn and LTD got an invite to join Geoff and Chrissie and their pups Pebbles and Islay for a night out at High Cup Nick.

So, after a humungous and delicious all-day breakfast at the Post Office Cafe in Dufton, we (me , Dawn and LTD, remember?) hung around till the Crowther party turned up from their camper-van site somewhere over there ------>

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It soon became clear, just after we’d met Carol the Pennine Way runner’s Mum and Dad waiting in the lane, that it was going to be A Wet One. The sort of fine and driving Pennine drizzle that gets you really really wet met us on a freshening breeze as the cloud base lowered and lowered…

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We soon had the tents up on a green bit just a bit left of the actual High Cup Nick nick, where, withing a couple of hundred yards or so, a fine spring of fresh water bubbles up.

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Lucky occupied his usual spot on a piece of karrimat, covered in an anorak and snuggled wetly under my berghaus down gilet. He moved not an inch during the night, apart from a forced exit intended to escort me back to the spring for more water. It was dark and foggy and wet and I very quickly formed the opinion that this search for extra water in the murky clag was foolish and that it would be unlikely that I’d ever see my tent again. So I gave up, allowed LTD back to his cosy pit and consoled myself with a small but adequate supply of rum and radio 4.

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In the morning, conditions were just the same, so we went back to the Post Office cafe for egg rolls, breakfast rolls and cups of hot caffeine.

Later, we repaired to the camper van for more caffeine and flapjack.

Not many miles (about 8 in total for me and LTD and Dawn) – and the claggy driving clag prevented much in the way of socialising but an oddly satisfying night out. I quite like this kind of weather if I tell the truth, specially when tucked up inside a cosy and dry tent with a small but adequate supply…. and it was nice to see Geoff and Chrissie and the dogs again.

Thanks to the Travelling Crowthers for the invite.


Sunday, 25 September 2016

The North-East Skinny Dip

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This event gets bigger every year. This year, I understand, there were around 450 dippers of all shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of nervousness.

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Me and Dawn have been practising, or, I should say, acclimatising with various bivis on Northumbrian beaches. Northumbrian beaches are specially fab at any time, but this time we had Ross Back Sands all to ourselves and a few curious seals for much of the day.

At teatime, we transferred to Druridge Bay where Brian (of the holes in the ground)  turned up and we camped in a quietish bay alongside several bottles of merlot.

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At 5:00 am (in the bloody morning) to the unwelcome sound of rain of the flysheets, we got ourselves unready for the dip and by a bit after six we were on the beach where there was a fire-juggler and cafe’s and burning things…

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And then we dipped, screaming, cold shocked into the stormy waves of the North Sea. The sea was in a very lively mood and there was a strong drift towards the North Pole. It wasn’t outrageously cold, though. My blogger settings prevent me from publishing any pictures involving obvious willies or bosoms and the camera I used didn’t cope well with the low light conditions.

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There was no sunrise, just a cold, grey, spitting dawn.

After, I joined several dippers forming the initials NESD laying face-down in the sand (avoiding pics of willies and breasts again) and before hypothermia properly set in, I was back in the tent in my not-a-onesie and sleeping bag supping hot chicken soup.

And that was that for another year.

I’ve written before about the positive aspects of this event. Even the cold water and weather is positive. It does have an immediate effect on my mood and briefly turns me into a euphoric but goose-pimpled idiot.

Everybody should be skinny-dipping. No, I mean everybody. Really.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

More Beer Trekkin–The Missing Link

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Last May me and Dawn attempted to walk between the four highest pubs in England (whether they were open or not) and met with mixed success. Due to superb planning on my part, by the time we reached Todmorden we were two or three days behind schedule. It was a duff schedule anyway. Mrs Pieman relayed us from Todmorden to Skipton and we carried on. Now it was time to fill in the gap between Toddy and Skipton. The team consisted of Me (Executive Planning Manager) Lucky the Dog (Young Executive Emergency Navigation Officer), Dawn( Executive Travel and Logistics Manager) and JJ (Excecutive Musical Director, Peace Negotiator and Director of Suntans)
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We rendons-nous (prolly duff French) en Todmorden at the train station. An Executive Co-Ordinating Committee Meeting was held in the beer garden of the Golden Lion. (We worked out a route)
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The route was this: Calderdale Way ….   enhanced by a few off-route explorations (i.e. getting a bit lost and encoutering “vegetation”, often “very wet vegetation” during which my best socks got wet.)
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It was very hot. We achieved the summit of Bridestones and visited the site of the Sportsman’s Inn – now somebody’s house and eventually turned up at the New Delight Inn just a bit North of Blackshaw Head. New Delight has a campsite, some very nice beer and some delightful scoff – and the locals are friendly too. We counted the New Delight as a Win.
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In the morning – a dewy, damp one during which the burning sun burned down hotly and stewed us a bit, frankly. We followed the Pennine Way not very well for a bit then turned off whilst being seduced by a sign declaring an Aladdin’s Cave of cold drinks, cakes and crisps. This turned out to be true. High Gate Farm provided cold drinks, cake and sugar and thus forified, we pressed on over the Pennine Bridleway to the Packhorse Inn at Widdop where a less-than-friendly landlord thought our route needed redesign. We had jinkies there, though before marching on up the Pennine Way over to High Withens, where we disturbed a  wobbly bloke attempting to take nudie selfies and where the thunder first rumbled in a dark and menacing kind of way.
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Ultimately, after passing several wild camping possibilities, we turned up at Ponden where the campsite is down a big hill in a wood next to a beck and where the showers and bogs are back up the hill next to somebody’s house. It was here that the sky went a bit mad for a few hours. The sky rippled with light and rumbled and cracked and banged for several hours. LTD hid panting under my down jacket whilst I sipped morale-building raw rum and shouted nervous jokes across to Dawn’s tent. In the meantime the rain came down in lumps. I mean big lumps. Not the little tiny lumps they have in rainforests, but big, huge fuck-off lumps.  It was all a bit mad.
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Another dewey morning followed. I explained our mission to a slug. It was a King Black Slug. A big ‘king black slug. We left in case it ate parts of LTD and pressed on for the Bronte Way to Wycoller. This started out reasonably well and we only got a bit lost a couple of times but then we entered The Jungle.
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The Jungle is the mile or two over the International Yorkshire-Lancashire border and ending, with some relief at Water sheddles reservoir. This is a bracken and rhodedendron hell. The bracken is eleventeen feet high and the rhodedendrons bite your legs. Some of the bracken is even deeper. I would say how deep it was but my bracken-depth monitor gave up in a puff of white smoke.
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And then we decided to visit the Herders Inn. This involved leaving the relative safety of the Bronte Way (we could hear Kate Bush singing in the distance) for the utter madhouse of the Keighley-Colne road. It was a waste of time. The Herders is closed and derelict and possibly being done-up. The paths that followed, though were a delight with big views over an escarpment and ancient walls and hedges of the Wycoller Country Park, leading down to Wycoller itself. This was the scene of several childhood visits for me and took me back many years to when almost all the buildings were empty and derelict. They’re not now, though and whilst we did have lunch here, in the heat, a brief exploration provided intelligence that the tea-room was closed. Bugger.
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We continued – inneficiently following the Pennine Bridleway and/or the Pendle Way over cow fields and the lovely Knarrs Hill to Black Lane Ends which happily was open. Were they still serving? (after 3:00 o’clock) – Yes –Would they allow LTD in? - Yes. Would they possibly have anywhere to camp out the back? – Yes…  And could we get a meal at night? Yes. We stayed, of course, camping out the back. We all had Pie-Of-The-Week  which was fab and substantial and served by the most personable waitresses you could wish for and me, LTD and JJ stayed carousing for a while as Dawn went for the dreamy-snoozy-sleepy option. We like the Black Lane Ends…
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And so, in another damp but promising to be hot morning, we steamed off to Lothersdale where the Hare and Hounds was closed and where the hot got hotter, and over the moors to Carleton Biggin and, finally, just by the crematorium, into Skipton.
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JJ went off for a train back to Urmston (There’s two ways you can go) and me, LTD and Dawn went for the Cock and Bottle which provided beer and respite from the heat.
And that, roughly, was that. The Beer Trek is complete. Maybe I should write it all up as a route. We went wrong in a few places, so there’s the route we did and the route we should have done.
Congratulations to anyone who made it to the end of this blog post by the way. It was about 33 miles…