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Monday, 15 January 2018

High Cup Nick and Backstone Edge by GPS


Langstrath pools will have to wait a little bit longer for a blogpost because, in the meantime, me and LTD did this one:


The idea was to bag two fairly diminutive Tumps at Dufton – Harthwaite and Keisley Bank. Harthwaite is not open access and bagging the summit is a trespass, but, as there was no stock on the hill, and nobody to witness my ascent, I considered it fairly harmless to visit the top. It’s a lovely, green hill with a small disused quarry on the top and a gate at the bottom gives access to a lane which, in turn gives access to the open access land on which stands the slightly higher Keisley Bank.


Keisley Bank has a steep scarp facing the Pennines, at the foot of which is a small but bijoux tarn, – Studgill Tarn -  hidden away and, probably, not very well known.


The plan was to bag these two and then head up to High Cup Nick via the Pennine Way and getting there involved negotiating a series of broken walls, gates, frozen bogs, unfrozen bogs and some sheep pens. When we arrived, the results were disappointing. The fog was down, the wind nithered through the nethers and the ground was frozen hard, so we retreated inside our big orange group shelter for a chicken salad butty, a Coopland’s curd tart (don’t mention this to the cardiac nurse or, indeed, the dietetic nurse). In the comparitively tropical climes of the big orange bag, we (that is to say, me) consulted the Howgills and Eden Valley OS map for a continuation of our adventures.


A traverse of Backstone Edge was the decision. This involved switching on the Garmin, selecting the trig point on the summit as a target and heading off up the steep and rocky edge into the feeezing misty murk of Backstone Edge. Almost immediately, we put up a large male (? dog ?buck ?bull) hare who hared off into the glaur. Everything was well iced and it took us a good half an hour to get to the trig point. The trig point is about to fall over. A second target, just 200 metres away, was the high point, at 699 metres. We found a cairn quite close to this point, but not quite at the point marked on the map.


Next, was a “mine”, about 700 metres away and down a steep slope. This marked the start of a bridleway whioch eventually leads back to Dufton via Great Rundale. Great Rundale is a huge gash in the hills with mines in the crags at either side and a very large area of industrial devastation at it’s head. This is not pretty, but lower down, the valley becomes deep and impressive and the track leads easily back to Dufton.

We did 10 miles and 2600 feet of ascent. I was quite glad I had the Garmin too. I don’t use it for seriously all that much although I do like to watch the distance to target numbers decreasing…  The back country behind Backstone Edge is quite rough going and a bit flat, so navigation can be tricky, although, in practise, the numerous ponds and tarns provide good targets, and the edge overlooking the Eden Valley is pretty distinctive.

backstone edge

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Borrowdale 1 - Sour Milk Gill and Seatoller Fell


Desultory arrangements resulted in me, LTD and Dawn nicking off to Borrowdale  on Monday last for a few days camping.

Two walks were done from the campsite at Chapel Farm – this one and an exploration of the lovely pools in Langstrath. Since some people might be  specially interested in the pools, in which much refreshing dipping can be done, in conjunction with a spot of sitting about scoffing chicken salad butties and bananas whilst soaking up the hot sun, I’m leaving that for a separate blogpost. So, you’ll just have to make do with the one walk on this one.


It had been specially cold over the previous few days, and Monday night was a rippingly chilly night. although, at only –2C or –3C, quite a bit warmer than it had been.

The dawn (not Dawn (!) (dhuhh) ) was typically late for early January and despite the huge amount of sleep provided by the long and dark hours from 5pm the previous afternoon, it was specially hard to wake up, particularly in the light of various interesting, if irritating dreams.  LTD was snuggled on his own mat, with a woolly comforter and an ancient but serviceable four season sleeping bag and, apparently, hadn’t even noticed the onset of daylight to disturb his 14 hours in sleepy snoozy dreamyland during which his dreams seemed to consist of various bouts of running about and barking. But we did not care, because our target for today was Seatoller Fell, a small but contoury lump just…Seatoller, so not too far away and easily acheived in a shortish timespan.  We were to get there via Sour Milk Gill, a steep and icy climb with a scrambly bit.


There was no snow at this level – up to about 400 and a bit metres, but the paths were icy and the becks and waterfalls were heavily decorated, although not fully frozen.

And the sun beat down mercilessly. Actually, it was a bit chilly, but quite beautiful anyway, with spectacular cloud formations pouring over nearby higher fells and dispersing as they descended.


We bashed and tiptoed and heaved our way up the path, cleverly designed to hold as much ice as possible, thereby making the whole expedition just that little but more of a thrill.

From the Seathwaite slabs, a wall lead us around the head of the corrie, under the ramparts of Raven Crag and, by contouring, on to the top of Seatoller Fell.

We returned, as the light began to fade, by the Honister Pass road, which was quiet and quick.

It was just about 6 miles and 1400 feet of up, most of it squashed into a small area above Seathwaite.

Just time for soup and a snooze to build up strength for  a stewed steak and spuds tea and our main sleep later on. This is what I like about winter camping, you can get sooo much rest.   ZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, 12 January 2018

Shivery Walk (Upper (very Upper) Weardale)


I’m doing a bit of blogpost catching-up here, being a couple of walking incidents behind.

This one is from 5 and 6 January and concerns “A Shivery Walk to the Border” The Border in question being the county boundary bgetween County Durham and Northumberland. This is a guided walk, initially done as part of Durham County Council’s guided walk programme (wot I’ve abandoned) and now done for the Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays group, which is a kind of DCC splinter group, organised almost entirely by email by the redoubtable Eric Borley. Peeps can get on the list of email addresses by request. (Just ask)


So, me and LTD did the reccy on 5 January. This was a bit late because the walk took place on 6 January, but the weather was , frankly ‘orrible during the week before and I had Christmas whisky to drink anyway, so it all had to wait.



So me and LTD did the reccy, from Cowshill , adding the summit of Middlehope Moor for an additional thrill and it was all very cold and snowy and a bit icy and windy and, a bit on the ‘orrible side to be fair. We began with  clear views and then the hill-fog came in and me beard froze, as did LTD’s tail and it was not specially very nice.


Overnight on 5/6 January, it snowed again and, at 07:30 am on the 6th, it was dark and cold and there was heavy hail hitting the parapets of knipetowers and so LTD declared a rest-day – having briefly looked outside and then headed back to his cosy stink-pit next to the radiator in #3 Barrel-Vaulted Tower, refusing to consider putting a harness and lead on and threatening extreme violence to anybody who might try toi disturb his cosy time,  his favourite place. So I turned up with an empty lead, but , not unnacompanied, having collected Li Yang from her hilltop fortress on the way.

11 other people turned up.

The sky was blue and the cold was “noticeable” – partly from the fact that my beard froze and formed icicles where icicles are Not Required.


We heaved ourselves up into ever-depening snow to the Northumberland boudary, crossed it and entered an arctic landscape of pure white and blue, eventually achieving the summit of Middlehope Moor with it’s immpressive 18 inch frozen cairn.  I suspect that most walkers were a bit underwhelmed after all that effort.


The things got worse. We headed for a small square blob on the near horizon – rumoured to be an old sheepfold where the burning sun and the shelter from the arctic nither would produce conditions suitable for a coffee-stop and, if too much time were to be spent here, a lovely suntan which would make holiday-makers in the tropics or Australia jealous with rage, and those  wimpy doggies now abed curse themselves that they were not here..

This took some considerable effort, the drainage ditches and hags being hidden under deep and  soft snow, letting in whomsoever might go first up to their nips, and having to be lifted out by whoever was behind them. I spent several episodes up to my chin in snow.

In the end the sheepfold was a bit warmer and just about OK for brief stop.




Then we had miles and miles of semi-frozen tussock and grass, whilst all the time being beaten by fierce and uncompromising blizzards of snow and bits of ice wot hurt on the face until we found shelter begind the complex walls of Race Yate where the blue and purple flourspar glints unnoticed in the weakened sun. [Thats enough of that sorta stuff by the way]

And so, we finshed more easily by roads and riverside paths back to Cowshill, 8 miles in total.

We might do this walk again next year. Please don’t try it in the summer, it’s much more fun when it’s a bit cold. and it’s much, much more beautiful.

shivery walk mark 2

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Something to do in 2018


And you know, many people come up to me and say “Get out of my bathroom I’m calling the police”

Many bloggers (read “some” bloggers) (actually, one blogger) are, currently writing things about “wot I did in 2017” and quoting several statistics such as the number of bananas they ate on their walks, how many times they insulted a herd of cattle and what they’d like to do in a Youth Hostel dorm when all the lights go out.

By way of contrast, I’ve been struggling with my TGO challenge route. I have the route, but measuring and descibing the fecker in understandable terms is, for some reason or other, a real pain in the crampons.

So I gave up.


Instead, I’ve created a route which joins up several pubs in the Durham Dales. For completeness, the route starts just outsid County Durham, a few yars inside Northumberland, in fact, and ends in North Yorkshire, a similar number of yards beyond the border.

But, for completeness, and to avoid any driving after all that beer, it has an extension to Kirkby Stephen, in Cumbria, which has a railway station quite a distance outside the city centre, nonetheless, but in consolationj, it also has a fine selection of pubs, shops, chippies, cafe’s and public toilets for the entertainment whilst waiting for a train or a bus.

fleetwith - haystacks 006

The route begins at The Lord Crewe Arms at Blanchland and it goes like this:

Blanchland to Edmundbyers 5 miles (2 drinking opportunities (DO’s))

Edmundbyers to Stanhope 9 miles (3 or 4 DOOs)

Stanhope to Rookhope  6 miles (at least 1 DO)

Rookhope to Westgate  4 miles (1 DO  and, possibly the best steaks in Co Durham) (Just sayin’)

Westgat to St Johns Chapel 2 miles (2 DOs and 2 tearooms)

St Johns Chapel to Cowshill 3 miles (1 DO)

Cowshill to Langdon Beck 8 miles (1 DO)

Langdon Beck to High Force 3 miles (1 DO)

High Force to Holwick 2 miles (1 DO)

Holwick to Middleton in Teesdale 4 miles (?4 DO’s)

Middleton in Teesdale to Mickleton 2 miles (?1 DO’s)

Mickleton to Eggleston 3 miles (?2 DO’s)

Eggleston to Romaldkirk 1.5 miles (2 DO’s)

Romaldkirk to Cotherstone 2.5 miles (1 DO)

Cotherstone to Bowes 8 miles (?2 DO’s)

Bowes to Tan Hill 8 miles (1 DO)

Tan Hill to Kirkby Stephen (optional extension) (Multiple DO’s)


Clearly, I need to explore this further.

The challenge, should anybody be rash enough to take it, would be to attempt to drink in all the establishments on the list which will eventually be published on this very blog. From previous experience, many will be closed when you arrive. There may be too many pubs in one day for comfort and for a happy bladder and some will have been converted into private homes. Others will have grumpy landlords/landladies, and others will be absolute stars.  For those with dogs, they might not let you in and there will be cattle, horses and surly gamekeepers protecting the lives of their grouse and pheasants so they can be killed later.  And you doctor/cardiac nurse/diabetic nurse/dietitian will not approve of this type of thing. But your life is but short anyway. If you don’t die of this, you will die of that, and that could well be a lot worse than this.

Pics are from 2017 walks in a random order or fashion

Happy New Year.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Yuletide–Loosing the Trousers Up Freeholds Top

Me and LTD, chauffered by Mrs Pieman, visited Mrs P’s Dad in Halifax over Christmas. No walks were done till Boxing Day, apart from a bijoux bag of one Kail Hill in the gloaming of Christmas Eve on the way. Kail Hill is at Thorpe, quite near Grassington. Mrs P’s satnav had never heard of it and, it is said, that even Scottish raiders on their annual collection of other people’s cattle and daughters and lead by an Australian bloke called Bruce, entirely missed the place whilst on their way to stand outside Skipton Castle shouting naughty words at the Cliffords inside. Such was the obscure geographical location of the place. But I digress/diverse/head in the wrong direction etc.
Christmas Day was spent quite near Nottingham at a small but lively Knipe enclave which guards Junction 25 on the M1. The Christmas meal was healthy, enjoyable and substantial but the healthiness was completely wrecked by the fact that Mrs Pieman was still driving, thus releasing Yours Truly on the merlot and various fine whiskies.. We repaired to Halifax with dignity almost completely intact. I am mainly speaking of lTD’s and Mrs Pieman’s dignity here you understand. I spent much of the journey home wrapped cosily and snorily in dreamy snoozy sleepyland, as did LTD.
Boxing Day dawned darkly with heavy snow falling, so, after taking LTD on a short, cold and wet constitutional, we jointly agreed that a morning drinking hot coffee and considering bacon butties to be a much better option than waiting for a bus to Todmorden, which was the original plan. So that’s what we did. LTD had chewsticks instead of coffee.
By lunchtime, the snow was thawing and the sun was fighting it’s way through the dismalities, so we went  for a walk. We ended up at Luddenden Foot, some six miles away, after crossing Tower Hill and Warley Moor and various lanes and bridleways. The sun came out and, at a distance, it all looks quite beautiful. Close-up, there’s a lot of dereliction and litter, and, basically, crap. We did notice a large lump of cast iron in the approximate shape of an old boiler, plus quite a bit of iron slag on the edge of Warley Moor. It seems, according to this evidence, that there might have been some iron working up here in the deep and dark past. I wonder if anybody has any clues about this? At the moment, the place is moorland and rough pasture with nothing at all to indicate past industry.
We caught the bus back to King Cross in Halifax.
The next day, we went for our target Tump – one Carr and Craggs Moor, just above Todmorden. Mrs Pieman took us to Toddy in case we suddenly developed Calderdale Lassitude again.
It was much colder, and above about 250 metres, the ground was frozen hard with a thin dusting of fresh snow. We followed the Calderdale Way and then the old toll road towards Bacup, leaving the road, now overwritten by wind-farm roads,  for a plod through frozen tussocks to find the highest point.
After this, we followed the Limers Gate bridleway to Freehold Top, where my trousers fell down. Y’see, I’ve lost a few kilogrammes (despite the attentions of the various Christmas Kinpes to feed me up) and my beautiful but ancient thermal-lined Rohan kecks are getting a bit loose around the top, so , I had the dog’s lead in one hand, my kecks held up using my other hand whilst my new map case slapped me around the face in the nithering Northerly blasting from somewhere in the approximate direction of Spennymoor.
I did manage to tighten them up later, sufficient for there to be a modicum of dignity on the bus ride back to Halifax. I might have to buy some new winter pants. These are getting quite frayed around the ankles anyway. This could be due to the lower parts dragging along the ground, I suppose.
We ended the walk with a little trundle beside the Rochdale canal, which leads the baggy-trousered one and his pet dog back to Todmorden city centre without the need to consult any mappage. (If that’s a word) (Which it is now) We caught the bus back to King Cross and walked back to Castle Carter up High Road Well. I appeciate that this will mean nothing to people with no knowledge of the geography of Halifax.
The second walk was 12 miles.
The we went home up the A1(M) and found that some silly bugger had accidentally turned off the freezer. [koff]  Not me. Musta been the dog.