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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Fremington Edge

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Here’s some pictures from the Wednesday Walkers Walk on Wednesday AND the Fremington Edge reccy wot me and Lucky did several days before. Seven people and an extra dog (Bailey) attended the walk on Wednesday and it all went swimmingly, including a repetition of the same navigation error – the second time caused by a phone conversation with Fight Club Hiker Masey and the first time caused by a bit of a reverie on the part of yours truly and the only specially remarkable happenings being the cheekiness of the local waskally wabbits and the fact that Lucky seems to have remembered the route.

Hennyway – here’s the pics and there’s a map at the end too at no extra charge.

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Calver Hill from the road up to Fremington Edge

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Lush summer stuff

Lucky spots a cheeky waskally wabbit

Cheeky wabbit trying to kweep up on Lucky. The waskally wabbit…

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Reeth’s “Swing Bridge” doesn’t swing. Lucky doesn’t care, though, he just wants to get off.

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Wednesday walkers just finishing the hard bit

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Well-built cairn overlooking Arkengarthdale

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Wednesday walkers overlooking Arkengarthdale

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Lunch in a flowery bit. Lucky is hoping for a cake donation from Eric

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In the meadows (about to be cut, apparently)

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Friday, 17 July 2015

Cloudy With No Chance of Meatballs

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Once again, Lucky driving this time since he’s not done the A69/A1 yet, we picked Dawn up from her dockside den and trundled off up some obscure roads to the diminutive but busy Northumberland town of Alnwick.

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Here, we parked badly, just like everybody else and trundled through the town to find Ratten Row – a place where ne’er-do-wells may well have been done away with in olden times, so we had to be careful, what with there being an Irish dog with us an’ all.

This leads to the Duke of Northumberland’s lovely Hulne Park which we could not enter, having been in the company of Lucky O’Pooch.

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So, instead, we got lost and skirted a housing estate which appeared at first glance to be absent from my map. This, though, readers, is the kind of thing that happens when you’re not exactly where you think you are.

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But we soon sorted out the navigational indiscretion and quite quickly found ourselves on the sylvan path to Alnwick Moor. The path on Alnwick Moor is straight as a dye and handrails (navigation talk for following something) a huge park wall, a dozen or so feet in height. This plods on relentlessly, accompanied by several dozens of black fly to a gate next to a huge golf-ball radar-station thingy. Looking through the gate reveals a superb view of the Cheviot Hills, Coquetdale and heathery ridges to the South.

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The wall provides shelter, a warm place to soak up the blazing Northumberland sun, and where a cheese and pickle butty can be enjoyed whilst watching the dog rolling about on his back. In the meantime, workers on the Big White Dome over the wall were making all kinds of odd beeping noises..(?)

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Later, we followed the wall over the rough and heathery stuff to Cloudy Crags. Now Cloudy Crags is an ever-so-slightly strange place. It’s made of sandstone and the rock has odd swirly formations (apologies for the use of technical geological jargon here) and a most peculiar arch. It’s also full of nooks and crannies and anybody with an hour or so to spare and, probably, a pair of rockboots could have a nice play on all those lovely friction holds.

We progressed along the radar station service road to join the public road at the point where the “sorry no dogs” sign is. Further road walking and some footpaths brough us back to Alnwick where the car was just as badly parked as it had be3en before.

My mapping says 7 miles. Dawn’s says 8, apparently. These things hardly ever come up with the same answer.

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Four Walks Later - Catch-Up

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There was a short hiatus or space in the blogging there. There’s no reason for this, apart from the fact that I didn’t have much of interest to say.

I did four walks since the last blogging:

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A reccy of a guided walk around the Efelent Trees and Bollihope, including Cowboy Pass amounting to some 11 (some would say 12) miles without the dog due to the sheer number of suckler cattle to be encountered on the route. This was remarkable mainly for the absolutely superb Northern Haymeadows encountered on Carrs Farm. These meadows may well be just about ready to be cut and are, therefore in full flower and absolutely buzzing with life. I meantersay, they’re just wonderful and alone would justify a long trip from somewhere else to Weardale just to have a look. It’d be useful to be armed with a guide to British wild flowers.

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Then there was the actual guided walk. This was attended by 13 people and stewarded by Diane and Derek and, once again, Lucky was absent – mainly due to the fact that I’m not allowed a pooch when leading a walk, but also because of the cattle. Bailey, a terrier of extremely diminutive stature, did attend, though but her size and shape was not recognised as canine by any of the cows. Either that or they weren’t interested.

It rained. The meadows were wet. We got very damp up the legs.

Its a nice route, though and there’s a map below for anybody who fancies a little trundle around Weardale.

best of teesdale

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Next up was a walk in the Cheviots – at extremely short notice – I noticed extremely shortly that it had stopped raining, Lucky was chewing the cat in boredom and so we set off, topping up supplies of pasties, bananas and dark Ghanaian chocolate at Tow Law Co-Op

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We started near Barrowburn and bagged Shillhope Law (I’d been up there before) , Kyloe Shin – although I’m not convinced that this is the name of this hill – it’s more likely to be Kyloe and the shin is the slight ridge on it’s South side. Mid Hill came next, complete with nettles, thistles, deep wet grass, blackfly, horseflies and a startled fox. Then Ward Law and finishing on Shorthope Hill where the cattle failed to notice us.

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Apart from the fox, the walk was remarkable for the huge explosions going on over in the Otterburn training area, the gunfire, the lovely, green hills and the tea and cake at the Barrowburn tea-room afterwards. It was 9 miles.

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And finally, me and Lucky attended Wolsingham Wayfarers 9 mile walk on Wolsingham North Moor. Fourteen peeps and three dogs on a gentle ramble over the grassy and heathery bits of the North Moor. I’ve  mentioned Wolsingham Wayfarers before – but for new readers and established pieblog readers who can’t remember these things, they’re a voluntary group who help to keep rights of way around Wolsingham and Frosterley open. They also do free guided walks on the second Saturday and last Thursday of every month – AND they have guided walks leaflets AND their website which provides lots more faxaninfo than is available on this Pieblog can be found by clicking here 

And that was it, really. More walkies quite soon…..


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Buffs And Stuff–Lucky’s Dog Buff from Kitshack

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I really ought to apologise for the left-handed post title here… but I won’t
A while ago, partly via a third party (known to many people as JJ, veteran folk musician, hillwalker and writer of adventures with jj blog, I was contacted by Anth of Kitshack to see if I would be interested in reviewing a dog buff. I wouldn’t, obviously, but Lucky jumped at the chance, then rolled over and then asked for a chewstick.
So, we agreed and a couple of days later a small package arrived with Lucky’s new dog buff in it. Yes folks, it’s a buff for dogs.
This one is bright yellow and matches his bright yellow liver Dog’s Trust yellow liveried dog collar and lead, although his Ruffwear harness is red and his Ruffwear panniers are blue.
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There’s two sizes available – small and, presumably “standard” or “ordinary” and they come in and a quick shufty at the Kitshack website will reveal the range of colours and patterns available too.
What’s it like? It’s a Buff. Buff’s are simple loops of material and this one is just like a Buff for peeps, only smaller and it has a couple of reflective strips and other than this, it seems to me to be the same as other Buffs.  In fact, Lucky first wore it on our recent trip to Loch Tay and Glen Lyon and one day was so sweaty that I had to pinch Lucky’s Buff to wear as a personal headband to stop the sweat dripping in my eyes off my forehead, (I was daft enough not to attend this trip fully equipped with my own Buff – I have four available as it happens)
What does Lucky make of it? He hated it for the first few minutes then forgot all about it. He hates anything new, though and always thinks the worst until an alternative view is proven. He’s a bit of a git like that, really.
He’s now had it on for three weeks and it does look a bit grubby and so, it’s probably time to give it a wash. According to the blurb on the website, it can just, simply, be washed. No faffing with special washing machine settings. I could probably squeeze it through in a beck on a wild camp, along with a pair of socks and some shreddies.
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What’s the point of a doggy Buff?  I’m not sure. It looks quite pretty and makes it appear that I’m quite fond of him (I am quite fond of him as it happens cos he’s such a star) It may be that in a bit of wild weather on a hill, that the pooch will appreciate the Buff being pulled over his ears. He won’t stand for it now, being suspicious that you’re “up to something” but, when the hail is pelting down, maybe…
I got a “standard” one because Lucky is 15kg and really isn’t “small” – but it’s slightly too big. I can fix this by putting folding half an inch over and sewing it up – if I could sew, that is, but I’m a bit ham-fisted with yer cotton and needle. I might ask Mrs Pieman to do it. If I feed her some chocolate, she might well agree.  Sizing may be the only negative thing I can think of – there’s just two sizes and, according to Crook Dog Club, dogs are all different sizes, so at least another size would be helpful – maybe a “medium”?  And they’re all £8.50
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Have a look at the Kitshack website cos it’s full of all kinds of Buffs. The doggy ones are £8.50. They sent me a spare – its a blue one with little doggy toys on it and I have it to use to raise money for the Mind money-raising campaign. I haven’t worked out how to do this yet, though.
Kitshack’s website with the doggy Buffs is Here  - but if you just want to look at a cornucopia of Buffs of all kinds - and other gear then look here

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Advice For Auld Codgers On Keeping Cool And Safe In Hot Weather

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The car temperature thermometer warmth indicator thingy was reading 27C today, and this was at 620 metres (ish) at Killhope Cross on the Durham/Cumbria border. This is quite warm for 2000 feet.

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The advice on the radio was that this hot weather could be dangerous for yer Old Codgers and that they should really be trying to find ways to keep safe and keep cool. This mainly involved shutting all the doors and windows and sitting naked by the open door of the fridge sucking a mivi whilst wearing a wet teatowel on the hairdo. (Do they still make mivis – if not, Soleros are very nice)

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Brian, though had a different idea and this was to do the South Tyne Plodge  once again with his old kneecap so he can repeat it again on a future warm day with his new kneecap. By immersing one’s venerable bones in the River South Tyne, they would be kept cool and safe and, when the heatwave is over (Tuesday), we phogies can return once again to trying to keep warm by shutting all the doors and windows, wearing three cardigans and some woolly socks whilst sipping hot cocoa and watching Corry and Jeremy Kyle on the telly.

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The sky, though, had a few towering clouds and the forecast was for thunderstorms  - and – AND , mind you, the square corridor of rock that holds the River South Tyne from it’s junction with Ash Gill for, maybe a mile or so downstream would be a bad place to be in any sudden flood of the type often found during or just after a thunderstorm.  It’s pretty much inescapable for a distance and, this lead to a certain tension in the proceedings. But we kept an eye on the sky and an ear out for a rumble up top.

Two cars are needed for this trip – one parked at Garrigill and the other at Ashgill Bridge. Which is what we did.

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We descended into Ash Gill and had a series of little swims in the waterfalls and deep pools that lead down to the Tyne.

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The rest is mostly walking on slippery cobbles, but with the occasional deep bit. It is, however, an intensely beautiful place on a warm summer day. It’s also well populated with dippers, who seem to display an interest in intruders and the pools are full of darting fish – probably trout, I suspect, and lower down, there’s a healthy population of blackfly and horseflies who delight in taking a chunk out of any bare skin. I have noticed, though , that skin that’s cold from a dip in a deep bit is ignored by these evil ravenous  beasties. Another option is to wear a wetsuit…

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Just beyond a stone footbridge, we entered a short gorge where the river is wide enough to touch both sides with outstretched arms. The gorge is deep and the water is specially deep. And black. And slow. This is the best bit. A little bit scary. But the water was reasonably warm (tested at 16C with a greenhouse thermometer)

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The final few hundred metres is a trial of slippery cobbles, finally emerging at the ford at Garrigill. Meanwhile, back at Pietowers, the sky was flashing and banging and the power was off as the storm meant for me at Garrigill missed me by about 25 miles.


This is the third or fourth time we’ve done this plodge. Hopefully, we’ll both live long enough to do it again.

The Ash Gill/South Tyne Plodge starts at Ash Gill bridge on the B6277 Alston – Teesdale road a bit South of Garrigill and ends in Garrigill city centre. You have to be able to swim!

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Finally – Big thanks to Juan for the donation to Mind through the virgin money-giving site – good for the health of the karma, Juan – there’s a link here click here for karma enhacement  for anyone who needs to lose a pound  or two….