This blog post is only to be read by those for whom the carrying of a map and compass is a mere foppish pecadillo. I didn’t do it on purpose, oh no – it was the dog’s fault and it was up to the dog to resolve the issue once the problem had been identified.
This blog post also contains a novel and innovative er.. innovation… in the field of interactiveness. There will be, at some point, a gross over use of the word “Utter”. readers will be able to choose how many “Utter”s to read by sending the word “Utter” and the number of “utter”s required in a sealed envelope with a cash, cheque or postal order payment to the “Mike Knipe Support British Breweries” campaign. A worthy cause, I’m sure you will agree.
Y’see, getting ready for a day walk can be a fairly long drawn- out process involving coffee, porridge, toast, breakfast TV, cheese butties, selecting maps, finding car keys and falling over the dog. Once Bruno gets wind that a long walk is in the offing he starts runign around in circles making yippy puppy noises and blocking the way out of the front door whilst drawing attention to his lead and harness which are in the “Bruno’s Lead and Harness” drawer. This often makes me forget things – mainly cameras, lunchboxes, car keys and boots. On this occasion it was the Outdoor Leisure map of the North Pennines containing the fine details of how to get up Cross fell and back down again. I discovered the loss about halfway up the Pennine Way out of Garrigill.
the day was clear, though and it’s not as if I’d never been up Cross fell before. So I plodded on. It started raining. I plodded on. The cloud base lowered and it became ever so gloomy. I formed a plan.
The plan consisted of two elements.
Element One (Or “A” if you prefer) – My old GPS. This would be used to record waypoints (not much battery life in it). I could retrace to one of these uisng the “GOto” function. It doesn;t have maps. This was invented before maps.
Element Two (or B) The dog has an amazing and proven ability to retrace his own steps exactly – and I do mean exactly – over several miles.
Plan B – I could just go home. It was raining after all. I had an excuse. I could blame the dog.
Soon, we were damply entering the refrigeratorish innards of Greg’s Hut. Greg’s hut was occupied by some ladies (or girls if you prefer) listening to a walkie-talkie device which was producing the noises made by somebody with a severe speech defect giving instructions in Welsh on how to bake shortbread using a faulty microphone. It was some kind of radio-ham’s thing and the voices were coming from Cross fell, apparently. They left soon after our soggy arrival, announcing that they were on Wainwright’s Not the Pennine Way route.
Their place was taken by a young (well, younger than me anyway) and very damp lad who said his Dad was close behind. His Dad joined me in the main room whilst Son scoffed in the annex. Dad said only one word during half an hour and kept his concentration on his map. He appeared to consider that the living room of Greg’s Hut was just like a London Tube train where any human contact could be seen as a threat or an offer of very expensive sex. His only word was utterred as me and Bruno abandoned the oasis of calm for the slashing storm outside. And the word was “Bye”. I thanked him for the interesting and enjoyable chat.
Me and the Dawg pressed on. AS we climbed the hill, the cloud lifted with us and by the time we were at the summit furniture, the sun was peeking shyly through the glower.
I could see the tall, thin cairn at the other end of the plateau and me and the dawg romped off towards it. All around, the mist was ripping itself from the fells and areas of distant fellsides lit up with an orange glow.
(wait for it… wait for it…)
Its difficult to put into words the utter, utter, utter joy of that short walk over the flat top of Cross Fell (is that too many utters? Have I overdone the utters ? Am I a nutter for the utter?) You know what to do. A fiver should be enough. Hurry up, though – TGO coming up next week and this involves many bars.
I could see the length of the infant River Tees from here heading off towards Cow Green and decided to follow that. This, dear readers, is what’s known in yer navigating world as “handrailing”. Handrailing is my favourite thing. the trick is to handrail the correct handrail and not something that you thought was the right one but wasn’t. There is only one River Tees, so I followed it.
This is quite nice, really. Its a bit rough in places, and there’s an inconvenient fence which gets in the way a bit, but there’s some cracking camping spots and if you keep following it (its best to transfer to the South bank at some point), it ends up at a bridge at the meeting of the River Tees with Trout Beck and puts the now completely knackered rambler on a good, hard road that will take him and his still annoyingly energetic pooch back to the fleshpots of Garrigill and all he has to do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other for miles and miles and miles…..
We did 18 miles and 2500 feet of upness. Bruno did roughly double that and ate quite a lot of snow, there' being a bunch of glacier-like lumps of the stuff in shakeholes and becks and other sheltered places.