Sunday, 19 October 2014

More Lucky’s Adventures in Wales (part B, in fact…)

the new bridge across afon hyddgen

A few days later it was Marilyn-bagging time and, by parking in almost exactly the same spot as on Sunday, I could work a way around the head of the Nant-y-Moch reservoir for the bagging of Drosgl and Banc Lechwedd-Mawr.

afon hyddgen and drosgl

The only worry was that it had been chucking it down for two days and the local streams were likely to be in spate and the last time I was here, with Dawn, we had to paddle the Afon Hyddgen – a serious bit of water when in flood, I should imagine.

hengwm from the afon hyddgen bridge

So, I was more than pleased (and so was Lucky – he’s not specially keen on cold water) to spot a new footbridge and, as the river was in a seriously bad mood, it was A Good Thing. I wouldn’t have got across otherwise and would have had to wander over the dam wall to a far-off parking spot to get a foothold on the outrageously lovely Drosgl. This would have taken some significant time and effort, neither of which I could be arsed with, to be frank….

The bridleway from the footbridge is a maze of huge tussocks. Lucky enjoyed these immensely and spent time leaping from tussock to tussock. I just kept falling off them… And swearing.

bridge with nest

And then, joy of joys, there was another footbridge over another raging beck exactly where it should be for the final struggle up Drosgl – this time over the Very Grumpy to the point of Raging  Afon Llechwedd-Mawr. Strangely, this bridge had a large bird’s nest on it, a testament, perhaps, that not very many people use it. I wouldn’t have got across this stream either if not for the bridge.

top of drosgl

there's a little camping spot by the trees!

Drosgl went easily enough and the grass was shorter but the roaring wind on the top discouraged a stop and I returned to the bridge with the nest  in short order. Drosgl, though , has cracking views of Hengwm and also reveals one or two fine camping spots… just for future reference…

hen gwm

an ariel on banc-llechedd-mawr

Banc Llechwedd-Mawr was climbed directly and a bit steeply from the birds-nest footbridge and went easily enough too and a descent directly to the Afon Hyddgen bridge made a nice, short route – this time just 6 miles and 2000 feet of up. The question we should ask ourselves at this point is “Am I taking this trip to Wales in too relaxed a fashion…?”

The only odd thing about Banc Llechedd-Mawr, by the way, is that it has an ariel stuck into one of the summit cairns… (?)

hafod ithel 

So, two Marilyns bagged – and the next day, in slashing rain, me and the pooch managed the diminutive Marilyn Hafod Ithel in a walk of much less than half a mile whilst driving back from Tregaron. Maggie stayed in the car with Mills and Boon. Three Marilyns bagged.

Easy peasy. I could tell that Lucky was impressed, specially by the sufficiency of the supply of winalot.

The map shows apparently aimless wandering….  The standing stones marked on the map are named “Cerrig Cyfammod Glyndwr” which might mark the site of the 1401 victory of Owain Glyndwr over a large force of English and Flemish troops. Although how they got permission for a battle from the water authority is a bit of a mystery.  I must visit the stones some day. See this for a bit more info…

and rest...again...



Lucky’s Adventures in Wales (Part A)

lucky remarks on the outrageous state of my boots and goes "tut"

The recent hiatus in blog-posting was the result of me and the wife and the dog nicking off to Wales for two weeks and , despite the fact that we actually took a laptop this time, I only used it to play dragontiles…  and not for blogging…

But now, we’re back…. hence , this:

Last year, I completed a round of the Hewitts with a bijoux ascent of the very lovely but foggy Rhinog Fawr, in the company of Bruno the Superdawg.  A round of Hewitts, however, leaves Nuttalls undone, and who wants to have loose Nuttalls, eh?  Before today’s walk, there were 14 loose Nuttalls to be done, one of which was Pillar Rock (oooer!) But leaving any concerns about Pillar Rock aside there was a handy and undangerous Nuttall nearby…

lucky on the scree-y bit of pumlumon

The nearest undone Nuttall to the Knipe caravan, in fact, was Pumlumon Fach, a small and rather undistinguished lump sticking to the side of Pumlumon. And so, on day one of the hillwalking programme – the first Sunday, in fact, me and the new dog Lucky went off to Nat-y-Moch reservoir for the bagging of it. A duff weather forecast indicated a quick bag was required unless I wanted us to get really wet. (Which we did, by the way…)

summit of pumlumon

This brought us into the little soggy dale of Hengwm – a splodgy, trembling, spongy but splendidly wild sort of place previously visited on two recent enjoyable occasions by the elite Linney-Knipe backpacking team, once from Machynlleth and once from Nant yr Arian

The climb up to the summit of Pumlumon from the outdoor pursuits ex-sheep station near Maesnant was a straightforward lurch up rough grass and a final bit of steepish grass and scree

lucky bags the trig

The summit was windy and cold, though, so we tarried not there but wafted off down the hill to visit the two lumps on the way down, one of which would be the Nuttall, and the other not. (I wasn’t absolutely sure which was which at this point, so we went to both.

sign basically says "look, just stoppit"

We descended to Llyn Llygad Rheidol to read the warning signs about how deep and cold the water was and the fact that it was probably full of rat wee and that if anything untoward should happen we should dial 999. Lucky pointed out that not bringing a sufficient supply of winalot biccies probably qualified as an emergency but agreed that a swim in the black and freezing wave-ruffled waters would constitute foolishness.

its that copse again

So, we followed the road and then the little beck down to a copse of conifers which is where me and Dawn camped a couple of years ago. I found an old tent peg on the bit where we camped at first (we moved inside the copse eventually) and noticed that the patch outside the copse looked quite heavily used and had dried out somewhat and also that inside the copse was quite clean and tidy, which was nice – it seemed to have some significant use from yoof groups.

I also spotted a rather nice camping spot a few yards downstream from the footbridge.

Then, as the heavens opened, I abandoned my nostalgic exploration and returned to the knipemobile and, despite the short hop along the track, we got absolutely soaked. Lucky considered that this was entirely my fault and mentioned that it had better not happen again.

...and rest...

I saw only one other walker that day – and he was at some distance, way up Hengwm as the rain started. On the next occasion, I would meet nobody at all…

A short walk of just 5 miles and 2000 feet of up.

Thanks, by the way, go to John and Gayle for adding lumps of cash to the virgin money-giving page thingy in aid of Mind (still a while for this project to run - so  add money here! )

pumlumon fach



Wednesday, 1 October 2014

North Pennines Walking Festival: St Johns Chapel to Race Head Guided Walk

ford on the wear

Today’s walk was my little contribution to the North Pennines Walking Festival organised by the Friends of the North Pennines.

This year, we were asked to provide walks based on local eateries and, as I already had a prepared walk based on St Johns Chapel, it wasn’t difficult to link this walk to the Chatterbox cafe which is, of course, in St John’s Chapel.

lucky leads the way

Me and Lucky did the reccy last week in warm sunshine but a sort of wind that seeks out any wardrobe chinks and freezes whatever skin is lying inside the chink.

upper weardale

The reccy was straightforward enough, apart from my neat parking of the knipemobile in the way of the transporters taking sheep from the St Johns Chapel auction mart away dahn sahf to places such as Gloucester. Indeed, the drivers cab door of one huge sheep bus was handing over the knipemobile’s boot. I heard  dark mutterrings of Weardale farmers….

lucky's daft ten minutes

Lucky, on the other hand, had a significant development in that for a couple of long sections of the walk, he was off the lead for the first time. Most of this time he walked to heel without being asked to do that, but he did manage a daft runabout for a bit, and at one time he hid in the grass and “ambushed” me as I got near. Wot fun.

starting to rain...

On the day, 24 people were booked , plus me and the two stewards, but in the end there was 29 of us.

rain chasing us up sedling rake

I started the day well with a bacon butty and huuuuuge pot of tea in the Chatterbox and, eventually, we all set off on the walk up by the River Wear to Wearhead and then steeply up the hill to Sedling Rake and Race Head where views weren’t quite as fine as on the reccy due to an Atlantic cold front which determined to deposit low cloud and a bit of drizzle on us.towards sedling rake

By the time we finished the walk, the sun was shining again and about ten or so of us took refuge from the searing heat [koff] to drink tea and coffee and have civilised things such as jammy scones and teasted toecakes and so on….

Lucky couldn’t come on the guided walk bit – he’s not allowed to come with me when I’m leading walks as a County Council voluntary ranger – but when I returned, I did treat him to an hour at Crook dog club where he learned that if you get lairy with a Rotty pup, you get sloshed with cold water. He now has an incipient phobia concerning plastic water bottles. (dhuhh).

lucky waiting anxiously at home

I’ll be cheering him up shortly with his nightly doggy walk up the Deerness Valley Way in his new flashing greenish yellow collar (It does quick flash, slow flash, constant glow or “off”)

After all this we are mainly going to Wales for a couple of weeks, so there’ll be little or no more blogging till I’ve climbed something Welsh.

pulley from slitt mine headgear

More info about the North Pennines walking festival can be got by clicking this link: North Pennines Walking Festival

race head walk

And the Chatterbox Cafe facebook page is here for anybody wandering about Weardale and needing large (or even small) quantities of tea and other sustenance, specially those wandering with a pooch because it’s a dog-friendly spot.. In fact, along with the superbly fine cakes to be had in Wolsingham which I may well have mentioned before, maybe I should do a review of Weardale cafes and tea rooms and , maybe, pubs….. 

Thanks to John for the spondoolies into the Mind fundraising account by the way…  it slowly grows….. 




Sunday, 28 September 2014

Weardale Abseiling (no, really…)

clints crag waterfall trying not to slide into the puddle

Its quite a long time since I abseiled anywhere.

clints crag However, the other afternoon, me and Lucky went off ooop Weardale, met Matt and wandered a couple of miles up by Ireshope Beck to Clints Crag. Clints Crag doesn’t show up much on OS maps, but it’s an interesting spot, full of nooks and crannies and little gorges and caves and all kinds of geological stuff.


looking up

The main crag’s abseiling potential is limited a bit by a general lack of nice, bomb-proof belays (essential if you’re out of practise) – but the main gorge – a dark and slippery place, gives a couple of slides of about 25 to 30 feet – the main waterfall being split by a large ledge which holds a  suspended pool with walls which give the same amount of grip as a lump of melting ice. I found this out on my little trip down the hole and ended up knee-deep in cold water.

at the bottom

We had one and a double half abseils (Matt had two, I had one) and left as the cloud began to envelop the local high tops and the Pennines began to look a bit more Pennine…..


Lucky didn’t think too much of being belayed to a rock and made to wait till we played and made lots of groaning and whining noises just to indicate boredom and disapproval.

We’re considering other spots for similar playtimes, though.


Quite good fun.

Note to self – next time take some butties….

smug mode


Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Durham County Council Guided Walk and Reccy in Baldersdale

I’ll mainly let the pictures do the talking. We’ve done this walk before and, I daresay, we’ll do it again (probably next March…)
Me, Matt and Lucky and Mollie did the reccy about a week before the walk – which was on Wednesday.
It was damp and foggy and just the kind of day you often get in November.
We diverted from the route to have a look at Goldsborough.
approaching race yate
And then, on the day, 25 people turned up for the walk, including stewards Eric, Maria and Clare (no compulsory Dave this time…) and it was loverly and sunny and we stuck to the route.
Since they weren’t shooting on the Battle Hill ranges, we got into the ruins at West Loups’s (correct number of S’s here!) where we could get out of the nithering nature of the breeze and sit in the sun.
The route goes from Balderhead Reservour to Blackton Grange, Clove Lodge, South on the Pennine Way, East to Battle Hill ranges, Northish on the Bowes Loop to West Loups’s and then down to the reservoirs to follow the shorelines back to the start.
The walk is just a bit over 11 miles – me and Matt, Mollie and Lucky did 12.
rocks at Goldsborough
Matt and Mollie at Goldsborough
bovine luggoils
Nosey Cow
goldsborough from pennine way
Goldsborough from the PW path to Race Yate
rock art
Cup and Ring marked rocks near West Loups’s
west loups's
Heading for lunch at West Loups’s
goldsborough from west loups's
Goldsborough from West Loups’s
Top end of Blackton Reservoir
race yate