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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Drizzly Day in Langdale

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I am now interupting LTD’s rampage of sniffing, leg cocking and barking (at other dogs) for a brief and misty expedition into the Lake District on the occasion of another little trundlette with The Bro and Ria.

The objective of our attentions was a small, cute and fluffy (that is to say, boggy) Synge luring suspiciously above Mickleden named Martcrag Moor, or, if you had a very old one-inch map, Martcrag Moo. This may have been one of those OS deliberate mistakes to root-out copyright infringements. Or it could have been a morning-of-Christmas-Eve-in-the-office-post-sherry-can’t-be-arsed-cos-we’re-off-to-the-pub-at half-eleven things. (Or was this just an NHS type of thing?)

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Anyway, the Met Office said it would be mild and wet and that it would brighten up in the afternoon. It was, indeed mild and a bit damp and there were hints of a brightening at first. The, in the words of Homer Simpson, it just got worse and worse.

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So, we set off up the steep, slippery and, in places, badly paved path beside Dungeon Gill and, after bagging the viewpoint Synge Pike Howe, we traversed on a thin/little used, unadulterated and perfectly safe path which emerged just a little way above Stickle Tarn and heaved and balanced our way up the random stones to Harrison Stickle summit where the rain started to become a bit heavier.

After lunch in a small nook or cranny beneath the top, we headed off towards Pike O’Stickle, with a small but bijoux diversion for the summit of Loft Crag on the way.

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Pike O’ Stickle (aka Pike Of Stickle according to the Ordnance Survey peeps) was acheived by a short scramble and another short and slippery scramble to get back down again.

In the mist, we considered that we had found the top of Martcrag Moo(r) but the “mound” marked on the map which seems to delineate the highest point, was not obvious. That is to say, we didn’t find it at all. However, we did seem to be at the highest bit.

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A long descent of Stake Pass followed on paving which was better than the Dungeon Gill paving, but nevertheless managed to provide of a couple of “whoops” moments which, had they not been controlled by deft rebalancing, would probably have resulted in  a brain-stem injury and/or a broken neck. Its not a surprise that in places, alternative paths exist in the more grippy grass to the awkward and unpleasant new trip and slip hazards. What we really need is some proper handrails and public first-aid kits every half a mile or so. 

We did just 7 miles and 2800 feet of up and down.

And it rained.

Now handing control back to LTD who is currently snoring in his dog bed by the radiator. He’ll be left to fester for a bit, then we’re off for a walk.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dowfold Hill–A Week of LTD’s Doggy Walks by LTD

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In the face of a fierce but very short snowstorm and the suspicion that the weather was going to get a bit wet, Monday’s Sniffathon was a short 5.2 kilometres (3.23 miles) over Dowfold Hill, a hillock which looms for about 300 feet above the teaming metropolis that is Crook.

But first, we visited St Catherine’s Community Centre to collect a couple of doggychews. I visit St Cath’s roughly twice a week and the customers there give me a great welcome and Doreen (its usually Doreen) gives me some doggytreats. So, it’s worth going.

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After this we wandered up through the golf course , which was very quiet, apart from a lady with three not-quite-pedigree greyhounds who investigated my parts indiscreetly. The lady asked Pieman why he’d got the beard and didn’t he look like Santa and she called me by a name I’m not familiar with. It didn’t really dawn on her at all that she was mistaking Pieman from her brother (probably doesn’t see him that much) and me for her brother’s pet dog, a member of an opposite gender to me, as it happens. She went off still convionced that her brother had grown a white beard and that for some reason he was pretending to be somebody else, probably to avoid all that Christmas family nonsense.

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Dowfold hill itself is a fine wander and you can look down on Crook and over to the Pennines where the local ghillies were once again setting fire to the heather.

Dowfold Hill is crops and a couple of pastures for horses and ends with a steep sledging hill which had no stock on it today, so I was allowed off the lead for the running about, sniffing and leg-cocking. The sniffing was specially interesting today.

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The return is by the Deerness Valley Railway path where more doggies were met and much more wagging, indelicate sniffing and so on occurred.

The railway path goes to Langley Moor, just outside Durham and is quite beautiful in places, although it may be better on a bike, I expect.

The railway itself was originally built to link various collieries and industrial sites together and opened in 1855, the collieries around producing huge quantities of high quality coal for a hundred years or so. Its now possible to walk the line from Crook and link up to similar railway paths to Bishop Auckland, Lanchester, Consett and up into the Durham Dales at Stanhope, Rookhope and Westgate, or down the Derwent Valley to Gateshead. In fact, should you so wish, you can walk your little legs off.

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Today’s question was “how do golfers know which ball is theirs when they get to that little hole with the flag?” It’s a mystery.

Here’s a map.

Kendal tomorrow. I’ll be getting sweet biscuits but I have to do snarly snarlies to get them.

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Stanley Moss–A Week of LTD’s Doggy Walks By LTD

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Sunday’s walk – walk number three. Yes, I know we missed a day but yesterday was the occasion of The Pieman leading 12 Wolsingham Wayfarers on an 11 – mile ramble around Doctor’s Gate and Black Banks, so we both reckoned that was far enough to avoid a second doggy walk till bedtime.

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So, today (dontcha just hate people/dogs who begin explanations with the word “So”?), we headed off up past Kittys Wood and some back lanes to the left of Billy Row to find some re-established/unmapped footpaths leading up the hill to Sunniside. All of this area has been mined andthis particular bit has, in addition, been opencasted twice, most recently in the last couple of years. The result is that the landscape is super-smooth. All random lumps and bumps like wot you get with most British landscapes, have been dug up, ironed out, and replaced very very neatly. It’s not unnatractive. They do tend to put in extra bits of woodland, some rough and tussocky bits for animals and birds that enjoy rough and tussocky, and a few small ponds.

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On the top of the hill, we find Stanley Moss. This is a nature reserve, although, the weather being spectacularly cold today with a bitingly strong Northerly blowing that seeped into the very pores , and, also the paws, naturists were noticeably thin on the ground. Stanley Moss is also liberally decorated with wind turbines, which are somewhat noisy.

Stanley Moss is a Durham Wildlife Trust reserve; a lowland blanket peat bog and more info about is can be had by clicking here (recommended, but please come back)

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We returned via well-known tracks and bridleways. Aoart from the nithering cold, it was quite a nice day and there were many opportunities for running about daft, investigating suspicious smells and, generally sniffing. We met just a few people, three on horseback and one with a small and friendly dog. We wagged our tails at each other and enjoyed a brief moment of bum-sniffing until rudely interupted by an old lady, who thougt she was in control of the other dog. (Hah)

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We also came across a fine example of the work of the local Roddymoor Feral Art Group. The artist in this case has, by the clever interplay of an image of a soft and incompetent male member roughly inscribed onto the hard brick ediface of a small culvert or bridge, suggested ironic tension between eroticism and humour, and, quite cleverly, I feel, failed quite spectacularly and deliberately to describe either, thus attacking the concept of male aggression in inter-gender sexual relationships. Amazing.  Either that, or he started the image from the bottom  and , during the process, suddenly realised he was too near the top of the wall to get the whole image on. It is, of course, criminal damage.

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Here’s a map: The walk is 10.18 km (6.73 miles) with 198 metres (about 650 feet) of ascent. The map doesn’t shopw the new paths but has the word “workings” where the new fields are. The high-quality coking coal – about 70, 000 tons, went by train from Wolsingham to Lincolnshire to make coke and , then, presumably, steel. There should have been more coal but the old miners had removed 85% of the coal instead of the 75% considered safe, so there was a bit less.

Landscape by Banks, drawings by Mr Floppy.

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Friday, 10 November 2017

Cold Knott and Kitty’s Wood–A Week of LTDs Dog Walks By LTD

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I spent most of the morning and into the lunchtime snoozing, watching the street from a bedroom window or murdering a squeaky squirrel who thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I expect. Eventually, after the postman had been with some new toys for The Lad, he put the lead on and orf we jolly well went into the nithering northerly blowing from somewhere even colder than here with ice and big white bears and eskimoes and stuff. Nice to have the fire lit back at Pie Towers

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Today’s trundle was up through a few narrow lanes and quiet roads to the highest point to the immediate West of Crook – Cold Knott – 259 metres above sea-level and with a cracking view of Weardale and bits of the North Pennines where, it seems, having not enough grouse to shoot , the local gamekeeperami are occupying their time by setting fire to the moors.

And then we did some more lanes and bits of woodland, some sheepy pastures and into Kitty’s Wood.

Sometimes I was off the lead, doing my sniffing and sometimes I was on the lead, doing the navigating.

DOG ON THE TELLY< DOG ON THE TELL>>>TWO DOGS ON THE TELLY .. TWO DOGS

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Most of this area has been seriously dug up over the last 100 or so years, specially the places on the way to Cold Knott where huuuge holes were dug in the late 1980’s to get at the coal underneath and, also in Kitty’s Wood, which was the site of part of Roddymoor Pit and, if you dig a small hole, like I enjoy doing on occasions, you’ll find lots of ash and clinker and not much soil. Roddymoor Pit was a massive industrial complex employing 3000 men at it’s peak. It had railway sidings, the coal mine producing high quality coking coal, a benzine works which the Luftwaffe attacked but missed and a brickworks producing signature cream-coloured bricks with the word “Pease” stamped in them and which appear in most, if not many of the old houses throughout Crook. It closed in the 1960’s and the place was landscaped, including a 200 foot high smoking spoil heap and was substantially planted with trees. Following a campaign by locals, significantly those living in Roddymoor, seven new rights of way through the woods were established a couple of years ago. So, it’s a busy place for dog walkers, kids on bikes, Ray Mears wannabe’s and teenagers having late-night boozy parties. Most people agreed that the pit’s closure was a bit of a bugger, specially when the other big pit closed at roughly the same time. Thus the men of Crook were to “enjoy” a period of leisure, so it’s no wonder that many got a bit miffed when new owners of Kitty’s Wood recently tried to prevent access.

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Only a few doggies out today – just one of those little Tricky-Poo fancy, barky little feckers and a greyhound who was a bit nervous. Other animals were some sheep, some horses (quite a few horses as it happens) and a donkey. None of these were specially threatening.

The walk is 7.59 km (4,72 miles for Anonymous) and 109 metres of ascent (about 300 feet) and there are plenty of opportunities for a bit of a mad dash-about/ zooomy.

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Thursday, 9 November 2017

Hedleyhope Fell–A Week of LTD’s Doggywalks by LTD

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Ok, so, I’m taking over the blog for a bit. I’m doing seven walks wot that idiot Mike takes me on every day. He likes to vary them a bit. In fact he thinks he’s in charge of where we go, utterly unaware of the mind control wot I have over him just by shear concentra…. CAT ON TELLY. LOOK THERE’S A CAT On TELLY……

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Hennyway – Today’s (Thursday 9 November 2017) was at Hedleyhope Fell near Tow Law, which is where Mike buys his coal, sticks and logs. Probably a coincidence that we went there….

Hedleyhope Fell is technically a lowland heath and a nature reserve for adders and butterflies and lowland heath stuff, but it’s also somewhere people go to walk their dogs, so there’s quite a lot of sniffing and standing on three legs and barking to be done.

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Apart from the doggies and the feckin butterflies, Hedleyhope Fell  also has coal. There’s two old shafts and, probably some drifts with bits of coal appearing in the spoil heaps. They’re a bit hard to spot. One shaft is now just a depression in the floor of the valley, but, apparently goes to a depth of about 80 feet. It closed in 1929 which even before Mike can remember. Just before that, about 400 men were employed. The very last diggings finished in the mid 1950s with just a few old blokes in flat caps mainly looking fowrward to a few pints of mild and a bath in front of the kitchen fire whilst SHE cooks the tea. Nowadays, it’s under the management of Durham Wildlife Trust. I’m not a member, but Mike is.

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The walk is 4.29 kilometres with 133 metres of ascent, mainly on paths but with a short section of tussocks. I had to be on the lead cos the notices say that dogs have to be on leads and there’s a bunch of fairly stroppy Swaledale sheep doing some conservation grazing, presumably to stop the place turning over to scrub.

It’s very nice anyway.

You don’t have to take a dog and it’s very nice in summer.

DOG ON TELLY BTW….. NO SORRY, IT’s A MEERKAT. Where’s ,my chewstick anyway? Also- there’s two chickens in the car park. Nobody knows why, but, apparently, you’re not allowed to chase them or play with them.

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