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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Path49 Again

aap path 49 004

Today was the day appointed for me and the Dawg to have a seven (ish) mile trundle on some paths surrounding Crook to see if all was well and to snitch to Durham County Council rights of way peeps if it wasn’t.

We waited till it stopped raining. This involved drinking lots of coffee and watching the telly or , in Bruno’s case, sitting next to the drawer with his lead in it looking a bit forlorn and abandoned for a couple of hours….

aap path 49 003

Eventually, in warm summer sunshine, we set off to Path 49. Our little patrol took us along FP49 ( hedges need some attention from the hedge clipping chap), Path 51 with it’s new Public Footpath sign, Path 56 – a bit obscure at one point, Path 176 – whoa….  The gate to the farm was locked and there was a new ladder stile over the wall, taking the volunteer and his faithful dog on an unfamiliar route avoiding the farmyard. Now I really don’t like going through farmyards, but was this an official diversion? There wasn’t any waymarks like wot they stick up when a path’s been diverted. This just shows how daft English countryside access legislation is. This wouldn’t matter North of the Border, but down here in pedantic land, an unofficial diversion would be Against the Rules. Anyway, I’ve told the Right of Way peeps and they can do whatever they need to do. Its probably a formality anyway. 

Further along FP176, Bruno was followed uncomfortably closely by six or seven horses, lead by two ringleaders, who eventually went off to bite and kick each other.

aap path 49 009

…nicely marked out path through the crops…

aap path 49 011

Bruno detects previous dogs

aap path 49 012

Crook. You can see our house from here

Other footpaths – 106, 108, 106 and 32 went through fields of crops – nicely marked out by the farmer, Crook Golf course – new waymarks but still a bit obscure in places, and along the little edge overlooking Crook. You can, indeed see our house from up there.

Its quite a nice little walk, really… we’ll be back in the winter

Friday, 26 July 2013

More A-Z Adventure Atlases (says Alan Rayner!!!)

a-z

According to Alan Rayner, over on his Blog on the Landscape (link later in this blog post, we don’t want you wandering off on your own, now do we…)   the A-Z peeps have produced some new maps. I wouldn’t have believed this only they sent me the AZ Adventure Atlas to the Coast to Coast path (the Alf (what’s that woman doing in my slippers) Wainwright one which is a de facto LDP.  So, I had a look and, since they sent me a free copy worth nearly eight of your earth pounds, I promised to write about it.

There are seven new titles, mainly but not exclusively based on LDPs (or de facto LDP’s) (for those without Latin O’levels, “de facto” kind of means “in practise, but not really officially…”). These are:

Pennine Way North

Pennine Way South

Coast to Coast route

Cotswold Way

Surrey Hills

Ridgeway

Thames path

between shap and k stephen

What’s in an A-Z Adventure atlas?

Well, the Coast to Coast one has the following: (I expect the other titles are similar)

Handy-size for a map case when open

Ordnance Survey 1:25000 explorer series map key

Overview map key showing the limits of each map.

79 1:25000 OS maps showing the route highlighted, along with all alternative routes. (This is a huge weight and cost saving for backpackers)

Index of place names with grid references – including even quite obscure places. very useful for ad-hoc GPS navigation in particular

Route planner with distances in both directions, including an index of facilities at each place – shops, pubs, accomodation etc)

Notes on safety and security and the countryside code

QR codes with useful contacts/websites etc. relevant to the path.

If you order on line before 31 August 2013 using the discount code GETWALKING, you’ll get £2'.50 discount noff the RRP of £7.95 (thats £5.45!)

Alan’s blog with clickable links (I couldn’t be arsed) is Alan's Blog

 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Pennine Way - Looping the Bowes Loop

resting on goldsborough

Yet another Durham County Council guided walk stewarded by Anne, possibly the only steward able to walk far enough to do the Pennine Way walks.

I did the reccy last week on another steaming hot day with many a probing attack by the Pennine clegs. these all failed, I’m pleased to say, due to more of that Ultrathon lotion.

The reccy was straightforward – I met only one person who marched past whilst I was lunching at the Deepdale shelter and another who’d come up from the battle Hill direction for an old folks ramble (or something..  I could barely understand him as he was from Darlington. 

On the day (yesterday) there was just the six of us, including me and Anne. Apart from me, everybody else was female – although I do have my feminine side, probably somewhere underneath the beard.

god's bridge

And so, in reasonably cool conditions, we set off towards God’s bridge to join the main Pennine Way as it heads North over Cotherstone Moor towards Scotland. A short beak was had here, just long enough to see if I could get under and through the bridge without getting wet or losing any dignity. The answer to this question is “no”.

bowes loop 007

We passed the haunted Bowes Bus station. I snapped Sheila studying a blank doorway, claiming she could see an evil presence staring back at her, but there was nothing there, as you can see……

across the a66

There’s a shooting hut in Deepdale which has a room left unlocked as a shelter for walkers and this contains chairs which may be taken outside to allow a small hiking group like us to site outside and eat our butties. There’s a bit of an issue with the door at the moment, which is difficult to close properly and, it would seem that one of the local sheep had discovered this at some point and had spent long enough inside to do a small poo – probably a minute or so. Other, more scummy walkers, I noticed have left litter in there. Honestly….  dhuhh…. they carry full sweetie wrappers but can’t carry empty ones. The estate doesn’t have to leave this place open y’know. If it starts to get trashed and mucky, its likely that they’ll just lock it up. Pennine Wayfarers ought to know better.

bowes loop 009

We progressed. The clegs came out. We got to Clove Lodge and met the local dogs, who were all friendly and a bit knackered from their walk – and we passed on through the haymeadows, mostly in the process of being cut (if you’re after studying Northern haymeadows, you’re probably too late now – and you’ll have to wait till next summer) – and on up to Goldsborough where we took tea. Here, it is rumoured, that there is a cup and ring marked rock. Its not the one covered in grass halfway down the ridge to the North – oh, no. It’s another one…….. 

bowes loop 014

We continued, meeting a chap on his way to Hadrian’s Wall. He was too clean to be a long distance walker and, once trussed up, smeared with skin-so-soft and probed with heated walking poles, he admitted to having just left Bowes an hour or so ago. We let him go and wandered past Levy Pool with it’s superbly restored ling-thatched cottages and through the chemical warfare storage site with it’s superbly derelict and polluted storage areas, back to Bowes where it all ended with tired legs and cleg bites (just two for me – it could have been worse).

The walk is 13 miles. Here’s a map.

bowes loop

Friday, 19 July 2013

How to Upset Clegs Ticks and Midgies [Ultrathon insect repellent review]

mallwyd 013

I got sent a supply of Ultrathon insect repellent ages and ages ago for review and since I received it I have not come across any significant numbers of insect nasties at all. I assumed, for a while, that merely carrying a bottle of the stuff in my rucksack pocket was deterring the little blighters from having a go at my delicate flesh. My recent trip to Wales , however, has proved this theory to be incorrect. they were, in fact, just waiting in ambush for the Right Kind of Weather.

It seems that The Right Kind of Weather has now happened, in particular for yer horsefly or cleg. There are fahsands and fahsands of these on the hills at the moment, as many of you will have already discovered, and they’re all hungry for blood. The problem with yer cleg is that you often don;t notice their presence until after they’ve taken a chunk out of your skin. They take such a big chunk, in fact, that blood is drawn and the resulting bite site can often swell up and require piriton or similar to make it go down again (vinegar seems to work by the way…)

mallwyd 004

So it was with very mixed feelings that whilst half way up my first Welsh hill, one such cleg took away a piece of my leg. Whilst on the one hand, I was being assaulted by roving nasties, on the other, I had armaments in my pack which ought to put an end to any more of this free lunching. So I used the pump spray. I used it on as much bare skin as I had going and, whilst I still encountered collisions with horseflies for the rest of the day, the only place I got another bite (another two bites, actually) was on an unprotected and untanned part of my gluteus maximus. A couple of the evil little swines had managed to invade my shorts.

The next day, on the Cwm Amarch skyline, I used both sun block and the Ultrathon aerosol spray. The results were similar to the previous day. I didn’t get bitten by another cleg, although there were many collisions with clegs who’d decided I was ripe for a nip. They don’t like it, y’see…

The evening on the campsite was a midgie heaven (heaven for midgies anyway) I used the aerosol again and whilst it didn’t prevent midgie expeditionary forces from circling quite closely, and, occasionally touching down on an ear or a forehead, it soon became apparent that no nibbling was being done.

Finally, on the last of the three walks, I used the lotion. Pretty much the same effects, really.

tyne gorge 4

Yesterday’s paddle/swim/plodge down the North Tyne from Ashgill to Garrigill (you must try this some time!), where I was unprotected and wearing only shorts and hiking boots ( a lovely sight and one reason why there’s no pictures – pic is from a previous trip) resulted in multiple opportunistic clegs having a right good go at my bare skin. They only stopped for the five or ten minutes after a deep bit where my skin was cold. (This must say something about horsefly behaviour and whatever it is that attracts them to you)

So, it seems to work:

Some Ultrathon facts and info:

Ultrathon is manufactured by 3M and is available through Tesco’s or Co-op pharmacy or various on-line suppliers.

The “time release” technology used in Ultrathon means that the evaporation of Deet repellent is slowed down, which in turn means that lower concentrations of Deet can be used and that you don;t need to re-apply so often. Concentrations of the Deet in the Ultrathon products I was sent vary from 25% to 35% and the effect is claimed to last either up to 8 hours, or up to 12 hours, depending on the product.

ultrathon repellent

The lotion has 34% Deet and lasts for up to 12 hours and costs  £8.29

ultrathon pump spray

The pump spray gas 35% Deet and lasts for up to 12 hours for  £8.49

ultrathon aerosol

The aerosol spray has 25% deet for up to 8 hours protection for around £8.29

You can use sun block in tandem although it may reduce the effectiveness of the sunblock.

The sprays may damage man-made fibres, nylon and plastics but can be used on natural textiles.

The repellent is splash and sweat resistant. (Note that blackfly, which don’t bite, but seem to be attracted to sweat, tears, blood, etc, are repelled but I found that after I suffered a small cut to my shin, I couldn’t use Ultrathon where there was an open wound and it was soon buzzing with blackflies having a good old lick. (eeeyooo!) The answer to this, of course, is elastoplast!

Did it work?  Yes – though, probably not for a full 8 or 12 hours but I did get a full day’s walking out of an application. The evidence seems to be that unprotected bits of my superbly honed [koff] anatomy got chewed whereas places where I’d squirted didn’t. It didn’t prevent optimistic approaches by clegs or midgies, and these can be unnerving, even if they’re not biting. I didn’t see any ticks. I expect there were plenty of ticks, though…

I liked the lotion best – just because it’s the easiest to see exactly where it’s been spread.

Here's a link

 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Four Tops and Lots of Clegs From Bwlch y Groes

south ridge of esgairiau gwynion

Taking advantage of a start at an altitude of 540+ metres at the car park at the top of Bwlch y Groes for the bagging of the four final tops was a bit of a no-brainer. The temperature at nine o’clock at the top of the pass was 20C. It soon rose to “hot” and , it seems that the long extension of the 2012-13 winter into May not only benefitted several species of wild flowers, but also the mighty cleg or horsefly. I’d noticed that on the previous two walks, there was a lot of cleggy activity, but on this one, the clegs were rampant, and I do mean RAMPANT. Along with the clegs were fahsands and fahsands of little white moths. I don’t mind little white moths. I mean ter say, only fur coats hate yer moth.

I covered myself liberally with more Ultrathon from the lotion bottle (easier to put on, I find…) and marched off on an easy track which handrails the fenceline. This disappears into a bog after a bit and then it’s just Pieman, fenceline and bog – a fairly common combination, I find.

foel rhudd

After a bit more, I decided to contour along to a little bealach or bwlch which connect to Foel Rhudd – my first top tick of the day. Another walker appeared from my left and scutterred off at some speed up the hill and, by the time I’d reached the top – he was far away on to the next summit. As for me, I was already lathered and dripping and with tired legs from the previous day’s efforts. Foel Rhudd is nothing much to write home about, to be honest. It has a fine population of healthy horseflies who all have huge appetites and an inability to fly into a deet-covered leg with any dignity. Horseflies came from all directions  - and bounced off. The moths ignored me for the most part. I blundered on.

There’s a bit of a path up to top #2 – Esgairiau Gwynion , so I followed that. The horseflies followed me. It was almost reminiscent of a Durham County Council walk in many ways, except that very few of the punters on the Durham walks have evil intentions concerning your legs. Esgairiau Gwynion is a Marilyn, a Hewitt and a Nuttal. Other than that, its has roughly the same level of excitement as Dodd Fell or, maybe, Lovely Seat….

It does have a rather pleasant South ridge, though, which leads the walker and his hungry companions (the clegs) quite suddenly into more scenic territory – with big views of the Aran Fawddwy ridge developing. I stopped here to cool down for a bit. I was taking in vast quantities of water and the opposing slope, up which I would soon have to struggle, looked steep and long and full of contours, all cosily snuggled up together in a lump.

Eventually, I stumbled off down the hill and  sweated and heaved my dripping fly-blown carcase up the other side. It wasn’t quite as steep as I’d thought and soon, or, at least, eventually, I was on the ridge for an easy plod to the top of Hill Tick #3 Foel Hafod-fynnydd. This has a nice, conical top, a little quartzy cairn and a specially good view of Aran Fawddwy and the little tarn Creiglyn Dyfi which looked inviting, and probably wouldn’t have taken much effort to get there and back…. but I just couldn’t be arsed. I opted, instead , for a little snooze. There was a little breeze…and the clegs were still failing to nibble.

llechwedd du

Top #4 was, it seemed, a long way away, back up the hill I’d just come down and followed by a long plod beside the fence I’d followed earlier. The heat was now getting quite uncomfortable and I was running out of water. I retraced to the fence and then back down the hill to a stile. From here, there is what appears to be an old track climbing the hill diagonally which was a helpful line through the rough ground. . At one point, I refilled my water bottles from a small stream of icy cold water and hit the fence line which is followed to the top of Llechwedd Du. This is very Pennine – a tiny cairn amongst peat hags and I stayed here for a bit and drank more than half of my beautiful icy beckwater.

The return to the knipemobile aka mobile oven (gas mark 9) was a simple plod through the bog. Tragically, my mars bar was a squishy mess. The lesson here (hill-tip coming up) is to scoff the chocolate before it melts. I  do like to pass on the skills I’ve picked up over the years…..

And so, the next morning, which was forecast to be even hotter, and, having bagged everything on my List of Things to Bag This Week, I went home. I now have only five Hewitts to bag. Two of these are in the same (ish) area – Tarrenhendre and Tarren y Gesail. Another is Pen y Garn, near Devil’s Bridge, there’s High Willhays on Dartmoor and, finally, and, probably the last one, should be Mynydd Mawr in North Wales.

Here’s a map of today’s walk, though. Just 7 toasty miles today and 1600 sultry feet of up. I’m trying not to complain about the heat. I’m glad I didn’t bring the dog, though. This sorta thing isn’t really good for dogs…

bwlch groes

 

Monday, 15 July 2013

More Dinas Mawddwy – Cwm Cywarch Skyline

cwm cywarch

Another hot day – I set off early for the short drive into Cwm Cywarch for a bit more Hewitt bagging.

First of all, I was stunned by the sheer beauty of Cwm Cywarch. Not only does it have a car park at the head of the dale, but its got an honesty box with donations going to the local air ambulance. I have no problem at all with making a reasonably hefty donation to this. In fact, I feel much better about it than adding to the fat coffers of United Utilities at Thirlmere with their stupid seven quid (SEVEN QUID!) parking charge. And, of course, with all this making me feel much better about stuff, the actual landscape is beautiful beyond words – all green and craggy and quiet and just scintillatingly superb in every kind of way. I don’t feel jealous of the people who live around here and have this stuff handily to..er…..hand. Oh no.

maesglase from glasgwm

 

I set off to find the track to Gesail farm and, having passed this, entered into bracken and horsefly land. This is because I stupidly tried to follow the right of way marked on the map instead of the more obvious forestry-style road which zig-zags it’s way quite cleverly up the steep hillside. Eventually, after sweating much sweat and swearing many rude swears, I joined the road thingy at a bit higher than 300 metres. After that, it all went swimmingly and I soon found myself on the ridge with a quick and easy bag of Y Gribin – a 600 metre Dewey with cracking views (everything had cracking views today by the way, so I might not mention this again)

llyn y fign

The path up to Glasgwm starts off steeply but soon slackens off to a reasonable plod and not too long later, after being mugged by ever increasing numbers of clegs, I discovered Llyn y Fign – a beautiful and deep tarn at something above 760 metres and a superb spot for a high-summer camp with a bit of wild swimming thrown-in. (I use the term thrown-in figuratively, although it does appear to be fairly deep) And so, I bagged Glasgwm and it’s little outlying and unclassified top just over there ---> with the fine view of  Maesglase and Cadair Idris and other  stuff. The RAF, meanwhile , did their stuff….

mallwyd 021

The descent from Glasgwm is fairly steep and it was here that I met a couple fighting their way uphill and thanking  my good judgement in resisting the extremely strong urge that I’d had by the summit cairn to throw off my clothes for a dip in Llyn y Fign – an action which would have put me some distance from my kecks at round about the time of this couple’s arrival. (It was very very hot today). My wearing of large amounts of Ultrathon deet could well have had a poor effect on whatever life there was in the little tarn as well, which is another good reason not to do this kind of thing….   But Llyn y Fign IS a very nice place to camp (I I would have thought). Maybe I should be a bit braver about this sort of thing….

There followed much bog. This went on over the next summit – Waun Camddur and for a significant way up tick #3 – Gwaun y Llwyni – a top with a drop – a big one, down the other side, and which comes as a bit of a surprise after the last hour or so of moorland walking. A good place for lunch, though.

memorial cairn

I dripped and swore my way up the big slope up on to Drws Bach – a very fine mountain spot, sporting a large cairn in memorial to Michael Aspain, a  mountain rescuer who was killed by lightening close to this spot in 1960. The cairn is on the edge of a huge and steep drop down into the main Corrie – an impressive place for a sit and a bit of a contemplate. You wouldn’t want to be here in a thunderstorm by the way….

I descended over Drysgol and bagged a little boggy Nuttal Gwaun Lydan (hardly worth the effort after all this mountain stuff) and sidled off sweatily to the final top – Pen yr Allt Uchaf – a fine and narrow(ish) ridge with a stupidly steep descent to the Aran Fawddwy ridge path where I discovered that it was even hotter down here than “up top”

And so, another three Hewitts and some Nuttals were bagged. The walk is 10 miles and 3700 feet and you could include Aran Fawddwy for an extra thrill on not-such-a-hot-day or for those with excess energy. It was far enough for me anyway.

Down in Cwm Cywarch it was 28 degrees and two lasses were sitting in the beck. This, it would appear, was a really good idea. I returned to a frazzled campsite.

Here’s a map. Use the car park!

cwm cywarch

 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

TWOT 4 A TWIT At Dinas Mawddwy

craig maesglase

Its about that time of year when The Pieman likes to go a-bagging of Hewitts down in Wales. And so, last Tuesday, the knipemobile was all packed and off I went up the A66, M6 and various other important highways till I got to just the other side of Welshpool where I stopped for the bagging of the notoriously easy Marilyn Y Golfa.

view towards England from Y Golfa

It became obvious almost straight away that it was much too hot for this sort of thing and despite the shortness of  three-quarter mile uphill walk, with about 500 feet of naughty brown contours, I was fair lathered when I got to the top. Y Golfa is, of course, a golf course (of course it is, what else would it be..?) and it was noticeable that nobody was playing any golf today. I returned to the knipemobile and took it a further thirty-odd miles to Dinas Mawddwy where I lighted on the Celyn Brithinion campsite which, being within easy reach of at least three public bars (notably, the Red Lion) would be an ideal, if warm, base for the next few days baggings.

cool tunnel

First of the Hewitts to be bagged was Maesglase. This was lightly defended by a hugely steep pull up through the woods to some quarries where, I was delighted to discover a tunnel or level out of which gushed a bright stream of ice-cold water and a freezing breeze. I considered staying here for the rest of the day, indeed, having brought the akto as a backup in case my cheap tent failed in a strong breeze, i could have set up camp here for the rest of the week….  

But I didn’t. Onwards and upwards through tussocks, bog, heather and horseflies, I eventually reached the top of Foel Dinas – a HuMP which is linked to Maesglase by a grassy ridge and which, fortified by a banana and defended by Ultrathon super-dooper insect repellent (the horseflies hated it) soon, or , at least, eventually succumbed to a combination of sweat, determination and a refill of my entire water supply from a nice cold beck.

craig maesglase

The path here goes alongside the huge Eastern escarpment of Maesglase and thus, provides entertainment and big views. Further entertainment was had from the regular visits of RAF trainer aircraft and Eurofighters who passed by noisily below, occasionally upside-down. Maesglase has two tops – the place which people used to think was the top at Maen Du, and the place which really is the top. There was no relief from the heat on either and the horseflies were still buzzing around but not biting (apart from the one that successfully invaded my shorts which, undefended by Ultrathon’s jungle strength deet, took advantage of the sweet and delicate flesh lying in there, and took a huge lump; an action which caused a sudden reaction on my part and the untimely meeting of horsefly and it’s Maker.

lamb in bother

I descended a steep ridge and joined a permissive path down the hill to Ty’n-y-Celyn farm where I reported to the farmer, his wife and four dogs (including quite a nice pup which the farmer insulted by calling it a mongrel in Welsh) that a lamb was “in bother” just up the hill. The animal had collapsed and was shivering and groaning and Mr Jones (I expect that this could well have been his name) diagnosed heat exhaustion, a conclusion which I suspected could have been spot on. Who knows… I’m not a vet, innit…? But it was stupidly hot to be wearing a thick wooly fleece, or, in fact, anything…

I repaired to the Red Lion for cold cider and a general sit-about. I considered this to be my best idea of the day.

later, I got back to the tent, where it was still far too hot. I had to rehydrate with several tins of Thwaites dark mild. It was awful. When the sun went in, the midges came out and more Ultrathon deet juice was applied. The midgies gathered in clouds around my head, but bit not a bit of a bite.

mallwyd 011

The walk was 8 miles and 3200 feet. Here’s a little map.

maesglase

Don’t relax yet, there’s another two days of this rubbish to come…..

Incidentally, the Ultrathon insect repellant was supplied free for a review absolutely ages ago, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to use it as a defence against insects – up to now, just the knowledge that I had this stuff in my rucksack seems to have been putting them off. I’ll do a proper review fairly shortly.

 

Monday, 8 July 2013

‘Neath the Heat of the Desert Sun - Pennine Way to Tan Hill – Phew


pw tan hill 005
Navigation is simple when you carry your own signpost around. (Thanks to Rob Cunningham for the pic)

I blame the heat and the fact that there was some kind of tennis match on, plus the longest walk on the Durham County Council guided walks programme, and the early start, the price of petrol and the monetary crisis in Greece -  AND  the cheap barbeque supplies at your local Fresco’s – that only five punters turned up, plus one steward, the Very Brave and Long Walk Stewarding Specialist Anne.
pw tan hill 004
Tan Hill Inn
I did the reccy a few days earlier and arrived unruffled after eight and a bit  uphill miles  from Bowes at the public bar at Tan Hill Inn where I fortified myself with two pints of Black Sheep and a pint of Ewe Juice (nom nom – Dent Brewery – 5% proof and only available at Tan Hill) – and then walked eight and a bit miles back again, teaming up at one point with a lass from Texas and her daughter and an English bloke who were making for the Unicorn at Bowes.
On the day, the seven of us did more or less the same thing, except that I restricted myself to a pint of Yorkshire Lager and another pint of Ewe Juice.
pw tan hill 001
OK, they don;t look specially excitable do they? (Its the grey one at the back…)
As identified on the reccy, there are no particular hazards on this walk – just a little boggy bit for the last half a mile or so to Tan Hill, and a few cattle, one of whom was “excitable”, but, apparently harmless. There was a lot of pollen, which caused sneezing. this was about the worst of it.
pw tan hill 012
Rob passes the cairn on the way to Tan Hill
pw tan hill 013
… lots of cotton grass
Apart from arriving at Tan Hill at the same time as about fifty bikers, and the steward leaving the back of her pack open, thus spilling contents all over the moor, it all went reasonably well, I thought. We retrieved a lost fleece by retracing our steps exactly and found it sitting waiting expectantly on the path. It seems nobody else had been that way today.
On the upside, the moorland birds were in full voice and the cotton grass is in specially abundant flower this year.
pw tan hill 008
Walking in heat may cause grumpiness

And it was really hot. I’m trying not to whinge about the heat…..

The walk is 17 and a bit miles of fairly easy going with some big views.
Now I’m off to Wales for several days on a Hewitt bagging expedition. Its going to be hot. The targets for today are on the Northern end of the Cadair Idris group and the Southern end of the Arans – and most can be done from a campsite at Mallwyd. I might bag a Marilyn on the way. I mean, who knows?  I mean, who really cares?
You may read  quietly for a while and, as it’s quite near the school holidays, those who struggle with reading – are you listening John..?  may play quietly with the toy you were allowed to bring to school this morning. Barbara will write the initials of anybody misbehaving on the board.  Martin, don’t do that, it’s not nice – go and get a tissue…   If you’re all really good, we may go on a nature ramble this afternoon after dinner. This is me setting off now….
Here’s a soppy video

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tilberthwaite and Yewdale –Bruno Bags Big Bunch of Bijoux But Beautiful Birketts

superdawg on  great intake





Me and the Dawg have had this plan to bag a well bunched group of unbagged Birketts which are gathered around the foot of Wetherlam and the plan was to do it later this year with the Bro. But, monny a plot gangs aglay as they say in Corby and, as neither of us had any important plans for today, apart from the dog, who generously cancelled some afternoon snoozing on the settee, and the forecast was for “sunny”  and the knipemobile had some petrol in it, and (there’s more…) I had a fresh mars bar  and some new bananas, on a whim, we set off stupidly early this morning  and parked in the free car park (yes, folks, that’s a free car park in the Lake District!) at Tilberthwaite.
Quite soon after this, we found ourselves lurching and sweating up the dangerously congested contours which interfere with fast and comfortable progress towards Greenburn.





highland cattle and langdale pikes
great intake

After crossing a huge stile, and plodging a bog, we were soon enjoying the vista from the top of Birkett #1 – Great Intake.
Great Intake is a beautiful rocky dome overlooking the Langdales and is occupied by a small herd of Highland cattle – presumably for their assistance in preserving the right kind of vegetation.
I suspect that “Great Intake” is more likely to be the name of the enclosure than the hill. It makes little sense as a name for a hill….!
Onwards and sideways!
retrospect from one of the birketts
Next up was Birkett #2 – High Fell, which was back over the big stile – rocky and sporadically wooded with Scots Pine – quickly followed by Birkett #3 Hawk Rigg and Birkett #4 Haystacks – also beautifully wooded and defended by crags. Quite good fun so far – and each of these tops is less than 400 metres from the others, although each has a short but steep climb and a small and well- defined top.
The final top for the morning was Birkett #5 Blake Rigg – a more rounded summit with good views over Coniston.
We retraced a bit and found the path to Tilberthwaite Gill and, after some brief shenanigans caused by a small time/space continuum accident somewhere out in space which resulted in a brief period of dislocation from Ordnance Survey, we lunched in the sun by some old mine workings.
coniston old man from kitty crag
There now came a long (ish) walk South up on to Coniston Moor where we were soon bagging Birkett #6 Kitty Crag. Bruno was disappointed not to find any pussycats there, but enjoyed the extensive view of the West face of Coniston Old man.
in between birketts
Birkett #7 Long Crag was just a few hundred metres away, and a bit further was the pointy and rocky top of Birkett #8 High Withow. A  dreamy snoozietime was declared here. This was possibly an hour or so. I mean, who cares, really……  We were chastised by what appeared to be a wheatear and mocked by two ravens but the snooze went on. There’s far too much rushing about goes on y’know…
brackeny crag stand-off (bruno won the staring competition)
Eventually, it was time for Birkett #9 – Low Withow – another rocky top and finally Birkett #10 Brackeny Crag – a deliciously beautiful place, ideal for a kid’s expedition involving rock scrambling and egg sandwhiches. Brackeny Crag has lots of little rocky bays, sun traps and places to bivi. Its an ideal place for contemplation and the cleansing of belly buttons from the blue fluff….
And then, after another bit of a sit-about, it was time to descend. I’m afraid, readers, that at this point, I became quite lost. I ended up fighting my way through a forest of juniper bushes and deep bracken. I descended rocky slabs and slithered and scutterred downhill till eventually I found a path. Don’t go this way. Paying more attention to the navigation will reap rewards, although you won’t visit places never before trodden by man like wot we did.
This is a cracking walk for days when the big hills are smothered in cloud or for people who just can’t be arsed with going up high today. It’s full of nooks and crannies (mainly crannies, though I did spot a few nooks), and little scrambly bits for those who want safe adventures – and holes in the ground…..  and places to snooze away an afternoon…. and for Birkett Baggers….
Its only 6 miles, and nearly 2000 feet of ascent. Here’s a map.  You may well be able to improve on this route
tilberthwaite and yewdale