Sunday, 17 August 2014

Lucky Goes camping (In Harrogate)


Despite the fact that I had to drive myself down the A1 (miles and miles of  soporific 50mph) (and don’t those twats understand the concept of “average speed”)… I was more than chuffed about Lucky’s behaviour in our little camp up by Fell Beck on Ingleborough.

trow gill - on the way up

I collected An Important Relly and we went off to Clapham and walked the three miles or so up to Gaping Gill and selected a bijoux camping spot in the place called Harrogate – an area sufficiently far away from the Craven Pothole Club beer tent and winch, but near enough to call for help and a lend of some bacon and a couple of slices of wholemeal should the need arise.

gaping gill tent town

I was important to pick a nice spot since the wind was blowing a hoolie and a sheltered bit would be Just The Thing. As it happened, the wind around Lucky’s bottom was also blowing a hoolie , so some of the ensuing  dark and windy night was a bit disturbed. To say the least. Next time’s kit list will include a clothes peg (for the nose) Phew…. and Ghasp….

outer harrogate

Overnight, it chucked it down Big Time and was quite windy – although not up to Cadair Idris standards. We checked the level of the beck at occasional intervals and No Threat was detected, although it did get a bit noisy at about 4:00 am. Fell Beck is quite capable of wiping out anybody and all their gear and washing it down the 350 feet drop into Gaping Gill should it so decide. (This would be briefly quite exciting, though the landing could pose survival issues, I would expect)


And in the morning, after brekkies and brews we retraced to Clapham.

A short trip, but an important one for Lucky and, I’m really pleased to say that his behaviour was almost impeccable, if you ignore the midnight attack on the food bag and the scoffing of the sheep’s skull – but apart from that, he loved it inside the tent and slept and slept and slept.

This is good.

trow gill again

I’m happy, and the pooch seemed to enjoy himself too. So, more camping in wild and woolly spots are planned. His needs are few – just a woolly blanket, a selection of leads – fixed, extendable and a thing on another thing you screw into the ground, and 350 grammes of doggy bix and scoff per day. And I can manage to carry this.

So all is good.

And the Relly enjoyed it too, apparently.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Get Your Fablious Pieblog Exclusive Souvenir T Shirt!



Mike, Our moggle thinks he spies the postman. Or something.


I was so pleased to be asked to be a moggle for these fablious T-shirts with a lovely picture of an old mongrel on the front (pic by martin Banfield, I believe).

I have a small bunch or collection of these marvellous examples of high fashion – a few medium-sized and a few large ones. The one in the picture above is large, obviously.

Note how the moggle’s expensively acquired beer belly has almost completely disappeared.

Here’s a closer view:

fablious  pieblog t-shirt

Each Pieblog T-shirt contains an exclusive motto aka “ a bit of reading” They all say the same thing, so if you buy two you won’t be able to tell the difference unless you have a merlot accident with one of them.

navigating is simple in a pieblog t-shirt

See how our moggle (me) confidently points the way towards the Isle of Man. Navigation whilst wearing our Pieblog T-Shirt can be a  simple matter.

dog training whilst wearing our exclusive t-shirt

Our moggle now demonstrates just how effective dog training can be whilst sporting our exclusive Pieblog T-shirt. This is a real dog by the way, not a moggle. Here we are demonstrating total control whilst gently coaxing the hound to stay with the words “stop bloody wriggling yer little bugger”

You too can own one of the Fablious Exclusive Pieblog T-shirts featuring Bruno the ex-Superdawg. Any profits will go to Mind. ten quid inc P&P. Send me an email and we’ll sort out the details. ( (but its in my profile on this very blog) (I just thought I’d save you the bother of looking it up) (I really like using brackets)


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Mountain Warehouse High 50L Rucksack

High 50L pack on Keir Hills

It seems that Mountain Warehouse have recently cottoned-on to the use of hillwalking bloggers as part of a marketing strategy judging by Judith’s recent review of a nice red jacket which she was disporting on our recent walkies around Cadair Idris and which she writes about here

To exactly the same end, Mountain Warehouse recently (well, fairly recently anyway) sent me two rucksacks. This was part of my charity-fund raising strategy where I ask either for a payment for reviewing something , or extra kit which can be sold. As it happens, they sent me two different packs, so I sold one and used the other – the High 50L pack for review.

The Mountain Warehouse has details about the pack here and the pictures here are better than mine and there’s a magnifying-glass thingy so you can have a closer look.

I’ve been using this pack since the end of June on day walks and it’s done about 80 miles on my back and during this time it has replaced my ageing and veteran Mountain Equipment Trek 35.

It’s features are:

Air-mesh padded back

Chest strap

Adjustable shoulder straps

Lid bungee

Lid bungee for a fleece (or whatever)

Large extendable collar with closure clip and lace clossure

Two closure straps with clips

Zipped lid pocket

Large compartment split into two, one with velcro closure

side view

Compression straps

Two mesh bottle pockets

Hipe belt with two zipped pockets

Two ice-axe loops

This pack has a remarkable similarity to the pack I’ve just retired, except in a couple of major respects:

My old pack has two zipped side-pockets which despite forcing themselves open when the pack is full, are deep enough that not much falls out!


My old pack is supposed to be 35 litres, whereas the High 50L (presumably) is supposed to be 50 litres and – they’re both the same size.

Having said this, I can’t find much to fault the High 50L despite it’s very low price – you should be able to get one for around £30, although the full price is £60, but they’re usually on half price sale.

The ice-axe fitting on the 50L is actually better than on the Mountain Equipment pack where the axe flops around and dismembers passing ramblers if they get too close.


And it seems to be reasonably waterproof, having been subjected to a couple of lively summer thunderstorms and one full North Pennine drizzly mizzly day.

And it’s been fine in the hot weather in terms of not being specially sweaty across the back and so on – I have a notoriously sweaty back – and it’s comfy and so on.

So, I quite like this pack and I’ll continue to use it, despite the apparently inaccurate claim to 50 litres, cos I like to carry loads of stuff – mainly pies, obviously, but also things like group shelters for the Durham CC guided walks and first aid kits, spare hats, doggy treats,  pictures of Kylie and so on…

Thanks to Mountain Warehouse for the extra pack which I sold in short order with the proceeds going to Mind via this web page and if you have any other stuff you’d like to bung my way….

druridge bay skinny dip 2013

Incidentally – I’m wracking my very brains for taking the amount raised through the blog for  Mind through the final two hundred and seventy-five quid to it’s £1000 target, the principles of which are that nobody gets owt for nowt (unless they just want to give money and get a warm and fuzzy feeling). This means that despite my entry for this year’s North-East Skinny Dip at the autumn equinox, I won’t be asking for sponsors.   Here’s a link to the skinny dip facebook page where readers will find some vairy interestink news involving Robson Green….  skinny dip

Anyway, the point is, I’m encouraging ideas – and considering a prize for the best one…


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Weardale Wander (Again)

elephant trees from nr allotment house

This was my August contribution to the Durham County Council guided walks programme.

I did the reccy last Sunday in drizzle and got wet, losing my camera case on the way.

cowboy pass aka forgotten quarry

The route is exactly the same as on the two or three previous occasions we’ve done this walk as a DCC guided walk – that is to say, Wolsingham – Chatterley (the lady was out, I think) – Elephant Trees – Allotment House – Fine Burn – Bollihope Burn via the Cowboy Pass – White Kirkley – Harehope Quarry – Kingfisher Caravan Park – Wolsingham – some eleven and a bit miles.

On the day (Wednesday) – despite a very duff weather forecast, 33 people turned up including stewards Ian, Compulsory Dave and Spare Compulsory Dave.


I bought a rather nice Bakewell cake (far too big to be a tart) from Peggotty’s Cafe and Bakery in Wolsingham and put up the cherry on the top as a reward for anybody spotting my lost camera case. Unfortunately, the cherry met with an unfortunate accident before we got to the Elephant Trees, so it was a good job nobody found the case. It was, I have to report, an extremely nice bit of baking and I’m determined to bring a couple of these cakes home quite soon so they can be smothered in custard and attacked with spoons. Nom nom.

harehope quarry

Instead of the downpour promised by the Met office department of joke weather forecasts, there was just a few showers, although these occasionally set out to be torrential, they’d mainly stopped by the time I’d got my caggy on. Many walkers didn’t bother with raincoats at all and they seemed no worse off than those who’d struggled into their waterproofs. Whatever rain fell was quite warm anyway.

above harehope quarry

We’ll likely do this walk again in the event that next year a guided walks programme survives the apparent fraying at the edges of the Countryside service which seems to be happening just now. (I blame the bankers)

Here’s a map for anybody who feels like a nice little wander from Wolsingham.

Whatever you do,  my advice is  “Take a Peggotty’s cake with you for lunchtime.” I can’t think why I haven’t done this before.

weardale wander


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Lucky’s First Walks

Lucky spots pheasants

And so, following a peaceful first night where the new pooch spent most of the night in his new dog bed and a bit of the night on Bruno’s beanbag (with the pictures of bones on it) without any of the usual new-dog wandering about whining problems, I decided to take him to Tunstall reservoir this morning for his first walk.

And, as he’s not specially fit at the moment, this two-mile trundle around the reservoir would be Just the Thing.

tunstall shore path is a bit overgrown

And it was. He wasn’t sure what to make of all the new smells and sounds at first – specially the waves lapping on the shore but soon became more animated on meeting half a dozen female pheasants who had decided, somehow, that running about squawking would be a better survival strategy than flying away.

We also met four family groups including four dogs, only one of which seemed aggressive, which Lucky noticed straight away and didn’t do his usual frenzied tail-wagging but favoured instead a low growl. No harm was done , though.

And, apart from when there’s something running away – e.g. some pheasants – he’s quite good on the lead and doesn’t pull but spends most of the time with his nose to the ground in a spaniel-type way and at other times he heads towards whatever noise is on offer at the time – be it dogs barking in the distance or a sheep or a cow or even the sound of a stream. So, basically, he’s very nosey.

backstone bank wood

The afternoon walk was from the North Portal of Pietowers (the one with the double drawbridge) and up the Deerness Valley Way walk to the top of the hill overlooking Crook.

Here we met many dogs and noticed that some of the blackthorn bushes are heaving with sloes…

Meeting lots of other dogs is useful and I was chuffter than chuffed to see that Lucky is maintaining his rosy view of human-kind and most of their dogs. He didn’t like the horse we met, though and had another growl whilst walking backwards with his hackles up.

And knowing where all the sloes are is also useful.


Other training started today, since we seem to have bonded a bit, included “Sit” (with cheese) – only 5 minutes on this, but he seems to be getting the idea, and he had his tea just inside his dog crate, and we have made a bit of progress on his lack of etiquette at mealtimes – he thinks all food is shareable and wants to help clear your plate.

Trex seething with evil intent

By rewards when he hasn’t jumped up, he seems to be getting the idea  about this as well although he did have a fleeting snarl at Trex, our veteran tom cat at lunchtime since Trex was sat on a chair when he was being prevented from doing so. Taking on a veteran tom cat who has seen many a dog come and go through the Knipe household may well not be the best idea. We did explain this to the dog, but I’m not sure he’s quite taken this message on board yet.

lucky identifies some flora

And I got a call from Vetphone – part of the rehoming support strategy and I mentioned the brief anti-cat aggression (although maybe I made too much of this) and the fact that Lucky is currently Unlucky in the bowel department; in fact, it’s too loose to pick up. The vetnurse on the other end of the phone has sent me a PDF with advice on a bland diet designed to sort out a problem like this – so, unless there’s an improvement tomorrow, it’s egg, cottage cheese and rice for a few days for the pup.

Total miles done today in two walks – 5 with 600 feet of uphill. Its a start, innit?