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Friday, 22 July 2016

Druridge Bay–Barely Surviving

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Having visited various Northumbrian sandy beaches last year, it became seriously apparent that the erection of a tarp or tent would be compromised by the stupidly soft sand that they have around here. Dawn had put her not incosiderable skills and experience into solving this problem and had come up with a collection of huge wooden stakes and a huge wooden lump with which to bash them into the sand. The only issue remaining was a location to test out this system. We would have liked to visit Ross Back Sands, but due to the prescence of some rare and guarded terns nesting there, we terned (sic) our attention to Druridge Bay.

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Eventually, after driving about a lot and seeking water supplies, we terned up at Druridge Bay, plodded Northwards for a while and then erected Dawn’s stake-based tabernacle in a sheltered corrie in the dunes, on the edge of the main beach.

I should add  here (look away those of a delicate disposition) that both me and Dawn are booked in to the North-East skinny-dip in September and, in order to do do justice to the ten quid layout, it’s essential to acclimatise one’s body to cold water, so some dips into the North Sea (currently around 11C) are essential. Dipping into cold water does work as an acclimatisaion strategy and ensures that a longer dip later on, in marginally warmer water might actually be enjoyable. So, we dipped, although, not necessarily in a skinny-fashion. It was OK, actually.

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This provided a fabby-whiz camping spot and we mooched around for the evening, collecting wood, seeing off a local prevert and, in the case of ltd, doing poos for collection in the poo bags wot I’d bought that very morning in Tow Law. We drank tea and scoffed some Peggoties Pasties ( from Peggoties bakery in Wolsingham) and I had a tin of IPA.

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We lit a small fire. Then it went dark(ish), somewhat mitigated by a full moon rising over the sea and we drifted off into sleepy snoozy snory dreamy land. LTD cuddled on a blanket and deep underneath a down jacket snuggled up close to my bivi bag.  I stroked his tummy under the warmth and we floated peacefully away far upstream, dog and prat in sleepy harmony. Neither moved for hours and hours.

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Then, maybe five hours later, the sky lightened and turned a bit orange and, slowly, the sun appeared over the sea. We brewed, marvelled at the scene and had photo-calls for a bit and then returned to cosy sleeping bags for another four hours.

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In the day, we dipped and snoozed and lazed about and scoffed the deli meats and cheeses Dawn had brought. The sea was cold  and mischevious but friendly and the sun was hot and skin-drying.

We should do this more often.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Leg News

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Me and the Leg went for an ultrasound scan today at Bishop Auckland General Hospital and the consultant wot did it showed me some grey and blurry pictures on a screen and said something to the effect that the muscle at the top of the thigh has been damaged and is now appearing, in a starring role as a wobbly lump and that there’s a bit of a space where it really ought to be. It looked like a joint of beef to me.


But, as the muscle is working (see 12 mile walk with 4100 feet of ascent in a previous uncorrupted posting on this very blog), there’s nothing to be done about it although I might consider having it tattooed in the form of a side view of the South face of Ben Nevis with the tourist route etched out in red dots. This would be useful since OS maps can blow away, whereas legs…

In the meantime the lovely nurse in attendance was dribbling, moaning and banging her head on the wall whilst my rather lovely, naked and now very slippery leg was being examined. Nothing much has changed in the NHS since I left it.

I have been advised to a) go back to my GP to hear him tell me that its a permanent injury and as the muscle is working that there’s nothing to be done about it. There’s always a chance that if it’s explained to me again, though, I might actually understand what’s being said although my ability to comprehend complex facts (e.g. bus timetables) has been rather limited recently. By recently, I mean the last ten years. And my attention span has..  Twin Peaks. Now they should bring that back. Lovely music..


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b) I need to consume much more in the way of muscle-relaxing fluids in order to prevent a similar accident happening again. Basically, I’m just not drinking enough beer. In fact, the consultant was astounded that I’d not injured myself falling over before now and that the consumption of safe levels of beer, wine or whisky would make the muscles floppy enough to cushion any sudden impacts. Its only sensible, really. Mrs Pieman doesn’t think any of this is likely but she’s been out of nursing for quite a while now and is clearly not up to speed with modern health prevention strategies.


c) I should forget Strictly Come Dancing.

I’m trying to think up a name for the lump. Best suggestion wins a photo of a a tattoo of the South Face of Ben Nevis with the tourist route pecked out in red.

Should anything else happen, I’ll write about it here….


Monday, 18 July 2016

Luss Hills again (old post got corrupted somehow)

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I’ve had my bagging sensors twitching for the hills just to the left of Loch Lomond for some time now so, having booked a pitch on the Luss campsite, I collected Dawn and we hurtled up the M74 in low dudgeon and arrived a bit early due to missing a key motorway junction which would have provided a half-way Tump bag. If you know what I mean.
Wednesday dawned brightly and so we set off for what I expected would be a reasonably short and easy hillwalk around the Scriddle Horseshoe – not so much a horseshoe as half a banana, but famous walks never refer to bananas, so they. I meantersay, the Fairfield Banana wouldn’t really cut it, would it?
The first hill, Beinn Dubh has lots of closely-packed and tightly knit contours – knitted, in fact, into the shape of a huge green hill which is odd since the hill’s name translates as “Black Hill”. However, in July, it is covered in luciously sweet summer grass; a beautiful prospect. It was poiled somewhat by an early but short shower which we avoided by a ten-minute break under my group shelter thingy. The next shower got us wet, though, as did the one after that and the next one and so on…
After Beinn Dubh, we passed fairly easily over Mid Hill and descended by it’s East-facing ridge, pointing directly at Loch Lomond’s islands. 8 miles, according to walkhighlands route-planning doinz.
Thursday was to be a better day for the weather and we returned to Glen Luss to climb Beinn Eich – a similarly grassy upturned-boat-shaped lump with heavingly closely packed contours, but finishing with a little grassy cone and followed by a delightful romp down a long and narrow(ish) grassy ridge. This kind of thing is much more suited to Cumbria where it would get much more attention from hillwalkers and would have it’s very own chapter in a Wainwright guidebook. As would Doune Hill – the next one on the ridge.
Doune Hill has a steep descent to a bealach where Dawn was left to set up Camp 1 with the rucksacks whilst me and LTD struggled up the slopes of Doune Hill East Top.
LTD  remarkably showed off his tracking skills by locating Dawn’s temporary camp using only his nose and we all set iff down the steep slopes to Glen Mollochan which leads soggily back to Glen Luss and Luss village. We did about 12 miles.
Friday had a bad forecast and so I made no hard plans, but thought we could maybe have a half day or an hour or two bagging something a bit easier on the legs and it was with some relief, after a bit of a lie-in, that the first spatters of rain hit the tent at about ten o’clock. Then it proceeded to chuck it down all day. There was a hint that it was slacking off a bit in the afternoon so we set off hopefully for Balmaha for a little expedition up Conic Hill. But the weather was terrible, so whilct Dawn stocked up on whatever she stocked up on, I bought dentasticks for the pooch and Australian merlot for me.
And that was that.
The Luss Hills are very fine hills, though and we only bagged three of the eight Marilyns available there. And we spotted multiple fine wild camping spots. And there was just the one other party behid us on the first walk and nobody else on the hill on the second walk, so we had the place to ourselves. And, the campsite is much too expensive for it’s own good, and occupied and/or visited by criminals one of whom was carted off by a huge gang of youthful policemen and another who pinched the campsite’s bikes and an honesty box. Then there’s the constant noise of the main road which roars away all night, the screeching gulls, the german tourists chattering late into the night and the disco from the hotel next door, plus wandering Glaswegian drunks…..  Am I going on too much? At least nobody complained about my snoring. It’s cos they couldn’t hear it above the din. Innit?  Not going back to the campsite anyway.
But the hills are worth it. I’ll have to return for the hills.


Monday, 11 July 2016

Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays - Mallerstang Edge Guest Post By Kathy

You’ll have seen the pics from the reccy, which, if you have, is just as well becasue on the day it chucked it down and we could see bugger-all along the tops.
But enough of this; it has become traditional that on a Wednesday Walkers Walking On Saturdays group, that somebody writes a report. This often, if not usually, falls to Kathy. And Kathy wrote a write-up on this occasion too, and this is copied using the magic of CTRL-C and CTRL-V below.
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As for me, I’m off to Loch Lomond with Dawn to get eaten by midgies.
Enjoy:  (All thanks to Kathy for the write-up by the way… maybe I should have asked permission except to say that we’re having a wake here at Knipetowers for Trex The Cat who passed away peacefully during last night after 18 years of murder, mayhem and pillage (he never mastered rape) on the small birds and insects of Foundry Fields in Crook. And I’ve been celebrating his life and his easy passing with a glass or two of Australian plonk.)
Here goes:
Driving westbound along the A66 yesterday it was a dry, cloudy morning. However, as we reached Cumbria we could see heavy, dark clouds over the hills - it looked ominous. We knew we were in for a soaking, but being the intrepid "gang" we are, it did not faze us one jot!
10 walkers and "Bailey", the Terrier met Mike Knipe, the walk Leader at Kirby Stephen railway station for a 13.5 mile "hard" walk and waited for the 10.17 train to Garsdale Head Station (see photo below.) Once boarded, there was banter and laughs as some of the walkers enjoyed the company of others walkers who were returning from a walking holiday. Garsdale is not a village, but a valley through which runs the A684 road from Sedbergh to Hawes and is situated within the Yorkshire Dales.
There was only a slight drizzle and a temperature of approximately 14 degrees C as we left the station and headed towards the 12-span Garsdale Viaduct (see photo below.) We climbed up to the Pennine Bridleway, also known as Lady Anne's "Highway." (See photo below.) Lady Anne's "Highway" takes it's name from Lady Anne Clifford who was born in Skipton Castle in 1590. It is a 100 mile long distance path from Skipton Castle to Broughton Castle at Penrith (a high route over the fells from Wensleydale into Mallerstang.)
We enjoyed lunch by Elmgill and some walkers removed their waterproofs as the drizzle had stopped. Following lunch we walked on to Hell Gill Bridge where we found a waterfall with a deep drop into a rocky ravine.
From here we climbed steeply to proceed along Hangingstone Scar, which is part of the Mallerstone Edge. The Guidebooks state "ruggedly beautiful." However, by this time, heavy and blustery rain and fog arrived. Sadly, some walkers did not have time to put on their waterproof clothing and got soaked!
We continued along the pathless fell side with streams and brooks, between the many short grassy ridges to High Seat. Despite it being below 2000 feet, it is the highest point for about 5 miles in any direction. By the time we reached High Peak (658 metres high) the rain had become heavier and the fog this time, even the most garrulous of walkers were subdued!
As we started to descend, most of the walkers recognised the area through the fog - we had visited this area before when we visited the 9 Standards (another tale well known by the DCC Walkers!) last year with Mike. We continued to descend quite quickly, looking forward to reaching Nateby village. However, disaster struck when we saw the bridge we should have crossed had been wrecked by a land-slip. So, we had to "slither" down the soaking wet river bank (no DCC Stewards to assist us) and everyone for themselves! (see photo below.)
Eventually, we arrived back to Kirby Stephen railway station at approximately 17.15. Not
surprisingly, none of the walkers enjoyed the usual refreshments and "debriefing". Everyone headed for their cars and home!
Thank you so much to Mike for organising yet another challenging WSWG walk - everyone agreed that it would have been a fantastic walk........just a pity about the awful weather and it will take days for our boots to dry out!