Thursday, 30 October 2014

Kirkcarrion (Never Camp In…)

approaching kirkcarrion
A short while ago me and Lucky decided that a short overnight in Kirkcarrion in Teesdale would be an ideal way to celebrate the autumn equinox. For those not familiar with this familiar landmark, where’ve you been hiding? Its reputed to be the burial site of a Brigantian prince named Caryn. Hence Carreg Caryn - Caryn's stones which when anglicised by Angles eventually becomes Kirkcarrion. It’s also supposed to be badly haunted. We don’t believe rubbish about places being haunted , now do we? Eh?  We don’t, though, do we. I mean, we don’t, though….?
kirkcarrion approach
Autumn equinoxes, of course, are notorious for autumn equinox gales affecting Britain and tonight was to be no exception. In fact it wasn’t just the dog that was windy when we arrived late on a dark and gloomy October afternoon.
settling in...
I clambered over the wall and found a nice sheltered spot for the akto and me and the pooch settled in. It became immediately apparent that the pup wasn’t happy and he shivered nervously all night, refusing to sleep and occasionally trying to escape into the increasingly wild black night outside.
topsy and tim blowy night
The akto shook and the sides blew in and the trees creaked and moaned in the roaring gale. An unpleasant enough night. Neither of us slept much and on several occasions, I had to leave the warm sleeping bag to reset pegs and tighten up guylines a couple of times – all in the dark with a panicking pup on a tight lead to prevent any successful, and, probably disastrous attempt to leave for home.
And then, of course, in the darkness of the night with the inside of the akto dancing around and being only half awake, it was easy to imagine noises outside and someone, something, maybe, prowling around just outside, breaking twigs, rustling grass and leaves and whispering and generally lurking and that the bigger, more violent gusts could be that something pushing or falling against the tent. Lucky’s 3:0 am ten minute barking frenzy and serious attempt to leave through the zipped-up tent door didn’t help to sooth the imagination.
dark whispering wood
In the grey morning, I took the dog for a short constitutional around the wood – a kind of post-breakfast (which he refused to eat by the way)  dog-emptying exercise prior to another brew and, maybe a snooze in the now calmer conditions before packing up and going home.
The wind was still battering the tent and we wandered around the wood in a fairly random and aimless fashion.
And then, Lucky stopped and seemed to be staring at something on the edge of the wood. All I saw was tree stumps, but Lucky saw something else and tried once more to make an escape – only prevented by my firm grip on his lead.
I thought I saw a looming figure, there one second and gone the next.
I thought that above the roaring of the storm there was something whispering.
Then, over the wall and against the direction of the howling wind floated several strange little lights which danced around the trees and the cairn and then left as they’d come.
matts orbs
With the skin crawling and the hackles on both me and the dog stood on end and with a looming shadowy presence stalking the walls and trees not far enough away for comfort I packed up and left, smartish and a bit feverishly, truth be told.
This is the second time I’ve been chased out of this place with all me hair stood on end.
lucky does a michael jackson (thriller)

Happy Halloween, readers. Sleep well. Mwwwwhahahahah….

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hunstanworth Hobble in which Lucky leaves me for another woman

deborah wood footbridge

Hunstanworth Hobble is the rather silly title I gave to this ten mile Durham County Council guided walk. This was probably the third time we’d done this walk.

Me and Lucky did the reccy last Wednesday in cold, grey autumnal conditions on a day when the seeking wind couldn’t be arsed going around a body but preferred to go straight through.

lucky in The Big Orange Kennel

It was so cold, in fact, that I used the group shelter for the lunch. Lucky demonstrated his usual behaviour when encountering something new – he tried to run away. But once inside the tropical confines of the Big Orange Kennel and fortified with a couple of Bonio biscuits, he soon settled in, enough to doze off for a while.

I saw no-one else on the reccy. Nobody at all. Not even a car on the road to Rookhope.


25 people turned up the the actual walk today, including  stewards Compulsory Dave/David, his partner Ruth and Sheila.

Lucky is not allowed to accompany me on County walks when I’m leading or stewarding and so, acting on an email from Jo, he went with her.

summit of bolts law

jo with lucky

Apparently, he behaved himself reasonably well apart from a little barking and growling competition with two terrier-type dogs (they started it!) – handbags at dawn, in fact. He seemed Ok with it, but was quite stressed on the way home. He has offers for future dog-leading interventions on County walks, which is good, and, maybe he’ll get used to it. And its much better than staying at home watching Mrs Pieman knitting, so he’s lucky. No, I mean he’s Lucky…

sun going down....

We followed the walk with his weekly visit to Crook Dog Club during which an hour of fairly intensive training takes place. His one brief spell of growly stuff  with a fellow student was dealt with by a tiny splash of water on the nose. Her really hates this and hides under a chair but is soon brought back to smiley/waggy dog when a new task starts.

As for the walk- we had sunny weather, which was almost warm at one point, but by three o’clock it started getting quite cold. We’re on the edge of winter, it seems.

The walk is ten miles

Lucky says thanks to Aunty Jo…

hunstanworth hobble



Saturday, 25 October 2014

Abseiling at Goldsborough

the big buttress

I left the pooch at home today as he doesn’t seem to be very well and didn’t want to get out of bed – so, after a bit of a dog-emptying walk, I left him there. He’s just starting to recover a bit now. I suspect he’s eaten something he shouldn’t…

DSCN2265 DSCN2268

And so, I had to drive myself to Baldersdale where I met Matt, Rachel and Mollie the Dog and we had an afternoon of abseiling over the overhanging buttresses of Goldsborough Crag

Goldsborough is a cracking place for this kind of thing because it has big metal stakes impaled in the ground at the top for belaying off. They’re bombproof, it seems.

DSCN2271 DSCN2273

Wot fun, and I think we’re getting better at it….

And it rained a bit, so after a couple of hours we abandoned and I returned to my poorly pooch.

Most pics by Rachel – I can’t take pics and belay at the same time, innit?


dark skies and a rainbow


Friday, 24 October 2014

Right Through To The Undies – Blake Rigg

blake rigg

Me and Lucky, The Bro and Ria went off to Blea Tarn for the bagging of a couple of wayward Birketts and a climb up Pike O’Blisco, setting off in that kind of driving drizzle that gets you really really wet.

blea tarn

But every now and then, it stopped raining and we progressed, more or less in tact to the Wrynose pass road and up by a little beck towards Pike O’Blisco, turning off across a little corrie to the first top Blake Rigg.

wrynose pass

Uphill progress was generally slow and a bit halting and, what with the long drive to Kendal and everything, by the time we got to Blake Rigg, it was lunchtime, so we lunched – me and the bro and the pooch inside the group shelter with Ria left outside in the rain – which came on more seriously at that point.

Top two was the rocky knobble of Wrynose Fell – Long Crag where the weather took a turn for Even Worse.

brrr - 'orrible...

The fog was thick and the rain  drove along in a lively breeze and so, at this point, a committee meeting was held to determine whether or not we really wanted to go up Pike O’Blisco. Lucky couldn’t decide and abstained. me and Ria voted for the downhill route back to Blea tarn and The Bro said it would probably brighten up quite soon…..

So, downhill we went….. it really wasn’t the day for doing this kind of thing anyway.

A short walk of not more than 4 or 5 miles. But we were Very Wet.

I let Lucky tackle the dark and rainy spray-covered M6 – a wise decision since, as I snoozed in the back, he seems to have called at Kirkby Stephen co-op for supplies of fish, ciabatta rolls and merlot…..

Brrrr… shiver…. I’m not sorry about the failure to top Pike O’Blisco and Kettle Crag – I’ve been up Pike O’Blisco before and Kettle Crag can wait for a warm summer day next…summer when I go to bag Pike de Bield just off Crinkle Crags….

blake rigg


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Big Orange Kennel


This is Lucky halfway through the process of consuming a Bonio during a lunch stop underneath the bright orange group shelter on a reccy of the “Hunstanworth Hobble” a Durham County Council guided walk which starts next Wednesday 29th October from Baybridge car park and pickernick place and which continues for at least 10 miles over Bolts Law and various bits of delectable moorland and which is lead by Me(!).

It were a bit cold and rainy, see….

Bring your own banana.

More later, but I’m orff to the lakes tomorrow…