No, I don’t mean that Standards are up, this is not another blog post title aimed at reeling in retired teachers for a bit of a rant. Standards is up. Standards is the top of a little hill stuck on the side of Long crag, which, in turn, is stuck on the side of Mickle Fell. It suddenly appeared as something I had to tick in the www.hill-bagging.co.uk website. I did consider this hill at christmas, and even got to park at the bottom. It was chucking it down at the time and, whilst I waited for it to abate, I accidentally ate my banana. Everybody knows how dangerous it is to go out on the hill without a banana, so I had to abandon the walk, go home and drink hot coffee and eat toast and jam in front of a warm dog.
But today was different. The roads were a bit slippery this morning, but the sun shone and the landscape baked in just-below-freezing temperatures, so I set off. Bruno, unfortunately, couldn’t come as this is a dog-free zone, as is much of the North Pennines due to the
grouse need to preserve ground-nesting birds.
Standards is a mere hop and a skip from the Brough-Teesdale road and the route passes Close House mine – which seems to consist of a huge open-cast hole in the hillside and some ponds. And some signs which are intended to deter casual visitors – such as “no unauthorised entry” and “its really really dangerous in here” and “bugger off or I’ll bite your leg”. I ignored these and climbed the hill using the estate tracks, with a short loop or diversion to bag the baggable.
Its a good top, too. It has a cracking view and multiple cairns, including an ancient one with a little roofed room attached.
The bogs were well frozen and there were extensive patches of hard, pure-white neve and so, in view of this and the fine, sparkly weather, I was drawn ever upwards on to the Long Crag plateau.
I trespassed briefly across the line of the Warcop firing range warning signs to reach the summit of Long Crag and then used the boards as an easy navigation aid to get myself into Arn Gill for a look at the waterfall.
This was a bit underwhelming, but nice enough, I suppose. I escaped back to the car the way I’d come in. There was estate activity around the mine, including driving a JCB about and lighting a huge fire whilst lots of kids and dogs ran about just like kids and dogs are supposed to run about.
Fab day, on the whole. Just under nine miles. There’s a map below, although why anybody else should want to wander around in circles like this is a mystery, unless they just do it for fun.
I suspect “Standards” might refer to the cairns. Who knows?