Monday, 2 March 2015

Baldersdale Reccy Abandoned.

sunny at hury this morning (koff)

I was supposed to do this reccy for Wednesday’s Durham County Council guided walk on Sunday. The walk’s on Wednesday and starts from Balderhead reservoir at ten o’clock. However, it was wet and windy at Pietowers on Sunday, so I put it off till today.

This morning, it was snowing heavily at Pietowers and reports from the Knipe/Gray Eyrie up high in the Pennines indicated swirling blizzards and even blizzardier blizzards than in Crook. So I had another cup of coffee. And the last chocolate biscuit.

an early squall or blizardette

At some point mid-morning, in a short period of caffiene-induced enthusiasm, I decided I’d better set off. I put the dog’s saddle on, loaded him into the knipemobile and set off down the A68, which was clear and fast. The road to Hamsterley was no problem, but the high road over the tops was covered in highly polished ice and snow. Despite all this, I successfully avoided the white van that slithered towards me sideways at one point and arrived at Hury Reservoir without a scratch, ding, or small bush sticking out from the front bumper.


And not only this but the sun was shining and Lucky was happy, more than happy, really, to have a bit of snow to bounce around in (about two inches is my guess)

We weren’t supposed to be at Hury, obviously, because the walk starts at Balderhead, but it visits Hury and my guess was that the Balderhead road would be just one scary point too scary, whereas…

there may be trouble ahead...


quote "oh this just gets worse and worse" homer simpson

Hennyway, we progressed into a buffeting and arctic headwind, but in bright and beautiful conditions. After two miles, though, we hit the blizzard, or, rather, it hit us. I had my snow goggles on, so I was pretty much OK, but Lucky could make no progress at all into this storm and was intent on heading off towards Darlington. This was a worry cos I got the pooch from Darlington and it wouldn’t do to have him suddenly turn up at the Dog’s Trust all iced up.  So, we turned to shelter behind the dam wall. This wasn’t much help, to be honest and I couldn’t help noticing that the moor above the reservoir was a chaos of speeding clouds of drifting snow. There was no prospect that man nor dog – specially not a goggle-less dog would be able to cope with this – and this is where the walk goes next. So I packed it in and, with the wind now pushing me along – almost hurrying me away from the place, I retired to the knipemobile for chicken and turkey butties and chocolate and coffee.

where's goldsborough gone, then?

The storm abated and the sun came out. But it was too late now. I might try again tomorrow.

As a consolation prize, I went off down the A66 and bagged a small but bijoux Tump – one Diddersley Hill – 209 metres, and right next to the road. You are forgiven for not knowing where this is, or even, I should say, caring much about not knowing where it is. It does have a very good view, though.

We did four miles. That’s four out of eleven.  But I still have my dog.


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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Mind? I don’t mind…


Many readers probably won’t be aware that this pieblog supports the mental health charity Mind.  This is likely to be because this fact has had a low profile so far this year as a strategic decision on my part. And another reason is that I appear to have attracted a bunch of new readers recently and, unless they’ve been really avid and enthusiastic, they can’t be expected to know things like this.

Anyway, welcome to the blog to the new readers and I hope you’ll stick around.

And – I get to the point eventually – it’s 1st March and the first day of spring (possibly why the knipetowers battlements are dusted with ice just now) and it’s time to relaunch the Mind initiative.

soppy picture of lucky's first day at pietowers aimed at maintaining interest in an otherwise dull blogpost

The rules are simple:

I don’t ask for sponsors. People who cough up spondoolies do it because they get something out of it. In the past I’ve resold gear given to me as part of a review deal (I ask for two items of gear – one to use and one to sell). Organisations have had little plugs for their publicity campaigns in return for a small but bijoux fee and stuff like that. I will consider requests, although offers to write blogposts from companies selling fashion pullovers or whatever get rejected.

Finally, for anybody who really wants to donate, there’s a virgin money-giving page which is last year’s page with a new target amount and a new closing date.

cafe akto's luxury bar

cafe akto - glen mazeran

Last year, instead of taking part in the TGO challenge, I plonked myself in various places where I knew TGO challengers would be passing, and I provided coffee, beer, bacon, chocolate cake, sympathy…. you get the picture – and they gave me money. This raised £370 and I got a nice little jolly in the process. This was Cafe Akto – and a lot of fun for yours truly.

But I’m not doing that this year!

Click the  here or anywhere on the logo below to visit the money giving page to have a look, or to leave any odd bits of cash you might have lying about…  If you want something in exchange for the cash then you’ll just have to say what it is you want…

Service will resume, more or less as normal quite shortly – I’m off up Baldersdale tomorrow on a reccy for a Durham County Council guided walk which happens on Wednesday. It’ll be fun. It’ll be cold. It’ll be Quite A Long Way. Lucky is coming too.



Saturday, 28 February 2015

Me and the Pooch Go Camping

borrowdale 2 027

There was a certain amount of unfinished business at Rosthwaite, so me and the dog went back. The campsite was closed, or, at least, locked but this didn’t deter us from putting up the tent and the farmer came, declared that I must be mad and charged me nine quid for three nights. It would have been four, but there was a storm involving drifting snow and closed roads on the Monday, so there was some slight delay…

eagle crag and dog

eagle crag 

And so, Wednesday dawned wetly. The wetness went on most of the morning so, after consulting the dog, we decided to have a longer snooze than we should have done and eventually, when the last drips of drizzle had splattered the tent, we set off, up through Stonethwaite and on up the impossibly steep path towards Dock Tarn.

summit of knotts

temporary tarn great crag

At the part where it levels off a bit, we turned left for the bagging of Knotts, a 400 metre TuMP where, it seems, nobody goes, specially not Wainwright or any of his fans and acolytes. This turned out to be an error, however – we should have turned right. (dhuhh) Thus, we missed the bagging of High Crag, which was definitely on my List Of Things To Bag, in favour of Great Crag, which wasn’t , as I’d already been there.

great crag smug dog

It was such a nice walk, though, so far, and Great Crag – a Wainwright (more dhuhhh) has a cracking view. Innocently, and forgetting that I’d already been here some thirty years ago, I congratulated myself, kissed the dog, embraced the summit cairn and severely damaged a  Warburton’s Thin thing, charged, as it was, with some Mackerel with a twist.

to the pub!

The rest of the walk was rubbish. The path goes North through an area of lank grass, of no use to man nor beast, bog, (frogs quite like bogs, I suppose) and dying heather – a sloppy. squelchy walk over a poor landscape of which the National Trust should be ashamed to have allowed to deteriorate into this mess, frankly.

I pointed Lucky towards the Riverside Bar at Rosthwaite for a brief moment of celebration for the bagging of two new hills. Lucky likes this pub for it’s warm fire and the fact that everybody seems to like him there – the barmaid even knows his name. She doesn’t know mine, though!

lucky's favourite place in cumbria

Except, I’d only bagged one…

lucky caught ripping up a shredded wheat packet

It chucked it down big time from about six at night till well after  Thursday lunchtime, melting much fell snow and turning rivers and streams into raging rivers and streams. This meant that me and Lucky got lots of sleep. I read more Beowulf and sipped scotch whilst Lucky ripped up bits of paper between bouts of doggy snoring and doggy  running and yelping dreams.

view from castlehead

from castlehead

black crag (I once climbed this!)

So, it was late when we set off for Keswick for the bagging of Castlehead and Grange Crags – both of which provide superb views for very little effort – thus three ticks for the trip – I thought I had four – and I missed my little Birkett, stuck, as it is on the side of Glaramara and permanently in hill-fog. It’ll wait. I’ll do it later with a proper walk along Glaramara and Allen Crags.

Lucky did get four ticks by the way – he’d never been up Great Crag.  There’s nothing worse than a smug dog.

Couple more pics below…

from grange crags

jaws of borrowdale

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Intermission – there will be a short pie-based one whilst I nick off to the Lakes for a few days. Me and Lucky will be camping. The weather is ‘orrible. This may end up with a lot of sleeping and drinking of tea etc. I’ve just bought a little radio for £4.50 in Asda. My record with radios is not good – I’ve never had one that really works when I’m camping, but I still buy them. I should have a sale, really…..   In the meantime, a member of staff will visit this auditorium with a range of delicious iced refreshments and cold kia-ora at stupidly outrageous prices. or you could just nip out for a wee.

Back Friday by the way.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wythop – Five Out of Four’s Not bad

can't go this way

The plan was to drive to Braithwaite, quickly bag Braithwaite How, drive to where the Swan Hotel used to be (site of the celebration of the completion of my final Wainwright in 1981 by the way) = er, where was I… oh yes, bag Powter How, then drive a bit further and bag Ladies Table and the diminutive Birkett Burthwaite Heights and then come home for a brief period of celebration.

It was Not To Be.

causey pike from braithwaite how

The first two Hows went well enough – and very nice they were too, specially Braithwaite How which has pretty much open access and appears to be some kind of huge childrens playground (i.e. a big playground, not a playground for giant kids…)

cant go this way either

Then I found that the Forestry Commission, in their quest to turn their trees (aka our trees) into electricity had closed all of the footpaths and forestry rides, so, not only could I not access the Ladies Table, but a walk to Burthwaite Heights would be circuitous and very very long…  and probably not very nice either.

So, I drove off in a huff…. actually, its an Audi A4, but it looks like a huff.

wide open spaces

Then I found this gently tilted and, above-all, free parking area just next to Brumston Bridge – in easy bagging distance of Burthwaite Heights – so I bagged it easily, finding gates in all the right places and following a couple of other baggers up the path (yes folks, there’s a path) to the summit area – which is undulating and gently grassy to such an extent that the highest point is somewhat in doubt.

I decided, at this point that two other hillocks just over there ----->  could also be bagged and yet more gates were in the right places for access, except I did have to climb just the one fence.

view from harrot

And so, we bagged Embleton High Common and Harrot – with it’s fine view of the Northern end of the High Stile/Red Pike ridge.

My old map didn’t have the farm buildings by Gray Beck and the yards were full of some very fat looking sheep. The farmer was friendly, though and she assured me that I could pass through with no problems so I did.

I returned to the knipemobile via some quiet lanes and a bit of a bridleway and made ten miles altogether.

lucky's not interested in barky dogs

Lucky met two sheep dogs by one farm and four more later on. His strategy of lunging at barking dogs which has so far either sent them packing or made them pretend to be doing something else didn’t work on the second occasion and something of a cross-fence face-off ensued with the little idiot finally deciding that he needed to sniff some grass instead of being a bad boy.

In the end, I planned to bag four hills and actually bagged five.

I’ve also registered Lucky as a hill-bagging site user, and his total so far is 80 hills bagged - more than me this year so far, because he’s newly bagged a few hills I’ve already been up (e.g. Cross Fell) and you only count the new ones, innit?

I let him drive home, obviously.