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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Bolts Law Solstice Stuff

solsice eve sunset north pennines
The knipemobile, still  not yet being mobile, I was going to catch the bus to Stanhope and then walk up to Bolts Law for a bivi. As it happens, Maggie got home from Halifax and, after tea, she took me to Parkhead, just above Stanhope and I wandered along the old railway line for the three or four miles or whatever it is, and then through a bit of deep heather to the top of Bolts Law.
bolts law cairn
Bolts Law  summit is at 540 metres and it overlooks a substantial section of the Durham coastline, roughly from Gateshead to Easington. I could also see Cross Fell and as far South as Mickle Fell – and some hills which must be at the other side of the Solway. So – a big view.
I had a brew and rang Brian. He was in the bath. I could hear him bombing his rubber duck. He’d be here by eleven, after picking up Charlie from Westgate.
is he dead? bolts law bivi site
And so, me and the midgies kept a short vigil till it got chilly, when I climbed into the bivi bag and snuggled down. The midgies stayed outside, got bored and went off somewhere else.
I’d put a thermarest inside the bag and a very old sleeping bag with “Blacks of Greenock” written across the foot. Its a damn fine and toasty sleeping bag. I fell asleep, just after snapping the sunset picture and having a brief swig of Co-op Special 40% proof Not Highland Malt.
A couple of hours drifted by.
The phone rang. It was dark. “The navigator has failed to navigate” said the voice. “And we’re lost”
the sign next to it says "no dogs"
They described being near a chimney. I knew where they were – it was the lead mine flue chimney from a few blog posts ago (pay attention at the back…) and peering in the appropriate direction, I could see some headlights. I flashed me liddle petzl at them. The headlights flashed back. I gave further and better instructions and the headlights set off back up the hill.
An hour or so later, it was even darker and the phone rang again “We’re setting off” said the voice.
I kept a better watch and soon, two lights appeared on the track below. We signalled to each other for a while, then a light appeared close by and a voice I didn’t recognise said “Did you call the mountain rescue?”
Luckily, it turned out to be Colin, the landlord from the Hare and Hounds at Westgate. He’d brought Southern Comfort, sausages, bread and beefburgers.
Brian and Charlie turned up shortly afterwards with whisky, quails eggs (I kid you not) and chocolate biscuits.
A party followed
Some staggering was done. We pontificated and put the world to rights. There was a little singing – mainly from Brian. We had a small cooking fire on a rock and a catering style iron pan.
About dawn, Charlie and Colin set off roughly in the direction of Rookhope whilst Brian snored underneath a flysheet. I returned to my cosy bag – it being perishing cold just then.
About half eight or nine, in full daylight and warming sun, I brewed up again, had porridge and we lazed about for an hour or so.
rookhope inn
Eventually, Brian went off to find his car and I wandered down the hill to find water. There wasn’t any water. Its hasn’t rained, y’know.  There was some brown smudgy stuff in an old reservoir and some iron-red liquid seeping out of the ground, but the streams were dry. So I mooched over the moor and down the other side to Rookhope where the pub serves shandies and beers and there’s a bit of crack. I stayed a while. There were cyclists outside in their sexy pants.
rookhope to eastgate path
A hot afternoon’s wander down by the beck to Weardale and then along the flowery riverbank brought me to the cafe’s and pubs of Stanhope – ideal if you have a bus to wait for.
I was feeling specially fragged by this time – too much scotch and not enough sleep and water. So I’ve spent 24 hours dozing and drinking water and only I can now think of more walkies to do.
river wear near stanhope
The walking was 14 miles altogether with just about 800 feet of uphill…… 
So that was the solstice. I may have missed the crucial event.
I expect there’ll be another one along in a while.
Its all downhill till Christmas now, but…..
Incidentally, the photos are a bit limited as the camera doesn’t do night time. Hopefully, Charlie and Brian will supply a few piccies in due course. If there are, I’ll insert some more and publish some separately. There are no pictures of Colin and Charlie because it was mainly dark when they were there….
Worralaff, though..  We really need to grow up.

4 comments:

PhilW said...

“Blacks of Greenock”
I remember them! Think there's some up in the loft (sleeping bag, tent?). Ah, the memories.

Mike Knipe said...

High quality stuff, Phil. Its a bit heavy, but ideal for winter car camping, or if you have hired a porter (1)

Phreerunner said...

Excellent, Mike. You put the rest of us to shame.

Mike Knipe said...

I'm not sure about some of the apostrophes in the posting, though... I never really did apostrophes''' ooer - see, there's some spare ones...