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Friday, 30 October 2015

Lets Do The Timewarp Again

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Warning: The Content of this blog post may be disturbing to some readers. Viewer discretion is advised.  Just sayin’

Prancing about like a tart ranks alongside the North East Skinny Dip in terms of potential for embarrassment by getting involved in something which really gets les butterflies fluttering and a bit of adrenalin flowing. For some reason, not specially clear to me at all, tomorrow night I’m attending a halloween do at St Catherine’s Community Centre in Crook attired in fancy dress.

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The original thought was to go as Franknfurter – that is to say, in a black waspie, pants, fishnet stockings, curly wig, arm sleevy things (sparkly for the use of…) and high heels and pearls. I ordered said uniform from that interweb thing and discovered, once they’d arrived, that the knickers were more than indecent, caused by the fixed suspenders pulling them down at the front (I don’t want to go into any more detail about this)  and that the outfit was generally pretty cheap and nasty  although I did quite like fishnet stockings (I have very nice legs as it happens) (never mock my legs by the way)

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Happily, Dawn has come to the rescue. I asked her if she knew where I could get some size 10 high heels and not only did she source those, but also a very nice red and black basque……  you can see where this is going by now, I expect. Anyway, much gratitude goes to Dawn for help with the kit.

So, I’m not going to be Franknfurter, but Franknfurter’s transvestite Transylvanian brother. (Not thought up a name as yet)

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Mrs Pieman has sourced some decent pants from Asda, had back-up suspenders in reserve and provided honest opinions once she stopped laughing.  And I am the proud owner of a garter. Mrs Pieman is also helping with the false nails and eyelashes and in return, I’m cooking the spicy lentil and tomato soup (a Pieman specialty not involving any pork-based products at all.) I’ve painted  my own toenails too, in antici……….pation.

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I’ve also been practising by teetering about knipetowers in the high heels – and have been complimented by the postman on my neat ankles. The extra height has also given me a new outlook on life and I can now see the top of Mrs Pieman’s head, even when she’s standing up. I’ve also had to practise putting on the basque and developing a some new dressing techniques involving stockings and suspenders – the ones round the back are specially difficult and a nightmare for anyone with a stiff back.  And I’ve had to check my appearance in the hallway mirror to make sure it’s all in the right places.  The neighbours, however, are giving me some odd, knowing looks, but not actually saying anything.

The prospect of appearing like this scares the willy off me, which may well be No Bad Thing. But I appear to be committed (ought to be committed!) I have a little bottle of moral strengthener, as it were, to take beforehand.

Wish me luck.

I’m not sure how I got myself into this.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues highlighted in this blog post, then call our helpline……

Somebody kidnap me before tomorrow….please…

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Various Cracking Views Around Loughrigg

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Loughrigg,is a huge but not tall lump of heathery, brackeny rock just outside Ambleside and it seems, is incredibly popular for family dog walks. It’s so popular, in fact, that all the car parks (at seven quid a shot) are permanently full to bursting and local knowledge is required to find somewhere to dump the knipemobile AND not pay any money for the privilege.

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So thats what we did – we, being me, LTD and the Bro. We started up a steep road which links White Moss with Grasmere with a steep lurch through bracken and over a little top with a cracking view of Rydal Water and joined the corpse road to Rydal, where we found our route up on to Loughrigg.

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The first top, Lanty Scar, a 230 metre rocky top with a cracking view of Grasmere. Here, we lunched whilst looking at the view and remarking (without dropping any crumbs) how cracking the view was. (We’d been delayed by traffic between Ambleside and Rydal moving at a stupidly slow rate caused, it would seem by the sheer number of cars on the road. The lesson being that visiting the Ambleside area at half-term is a really daft idea)

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From the Very Lovely Lanty Scar, we progressed to our next target – Fox How - 246m – another brackeny place with a little rocky fin on the top and another cracking view of Windermere.

Onwards to Todd Crag 224 m– apparently more popular than the other two. We noted that the view was cracking all around.

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More thigh-testing contours lead to Top 289, which may have a proper name but isn’t named on the 1:25k map is on the way to Loughrigg summit and also has a cracking view, specially if your gaze is drawn towards the Coniston Fells.

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Finally, we managed to arrive at the top of Loughrigg, Lucky’s 14th Wainwright. Only 200 to go, Lucky…  I was last here in September 1974, so its a regular hillwalk for me, Every 41 years I climb Loughrigg. I’m looking forward to the next time. I will be 105 years old. I’ll probably have a different dog. Loughrigg summit has cracking views too. And a high population of walkers and their dogs.

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A steep path with some very slippery, almost dangerous steps and cobbles leads down to Loughrigg Terrace, a gently descending path with took us down to White Moss car park, which wasn’t too far from where we had so cheaply dumped the car.

We suffered a bit from the shortness of the day, made worse by the slowness of the road. Must set off earlier in winter, I think.

The walk was 7 miles with 1800 feet of ascent.

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Saturday, 24 October 2015

Harbottle Crags

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Me and Lucky collected loadsa stuff from Dawn’s, although Dawn herself couldn’t walk today, so it was just me and LTD.

So, on a pretty grey kind of day, we went to Harbottle and parked in a forestry commission car park at the start of a public footpath signposted to “Drake Stone” Now I thought Drake Stone played a Private Detective in Black and White on ATV in the mid 1960’s, on Thursdays when I should have been doing Physics homework or learning a Latin verb or something, and just after a couple of hours with my pal Neil Harvey on the bench up on the Earby moors with Radio Caroline and a packet of Benson and Hedges (Two and fivepence halfpenny for ten from the shop next to the library). (Thats nearly 12p by the way)  But no – its a huge great rock. Its just as well that its not on the actual summit of a hill or I’d have to try to climb it, and it looks tricky.

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The path winds up easily through deep heather to a small tarn or “lough” as they have it up here in Northumberland. Oddly enough, this one is called Harbottle Lake. Lucky got too close to the edge and fell in, and then couldn’t get out again. There was a brief period of panic.

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We plodded on through rougher stuff along a narrow trod through more deep heather, and all to the sound of heavy armaments battering something not too far away. Eventually, as the army either had lunch or finished early for whatever they do in the mess on Friday afternoons, we achieved the summit of Cold Law where it started raining.

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The descent (after lunch during which I discovered that I’d left my flask of coffee at home) was through increasingly difficult forestry, with bogs and wind-blown trees, but emerging eventually on a good ride and a short walk back to the start.

Harbottle Crags is a nature reserve which cuddles up to the Otterburn training area and it’s covered in boulders and outcrops and lots of deep heather. Judging by the paths, most people make it just as far as the Drake Stone – a few more get as far as the lake and one or two do a circuit over the moor, so, for solitude, follow the fence to Cold Law – this does get a bit rough in places.

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Pics are generally a bit dull…. my new (cheapo) camera sometimes fails to record a picture. And, of course, all the best ones haven;t come out. Its a kind of modern version of getting your pictures back from the chemist only to find that most of them are rubbish. I may have to buy yet another camera.

The walk was only about six miles. I’m not getting excited about it, although it’s probably quite a good walk for a short winter day when you’ve a party to go to…

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lucky The Dog Does Bowscale Fell and a TGO Chally Announcement

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Whilst surfing that interweb the other night, in particular the www.hill-bagging.com site, Lucky noticed that he’d never been up Bowscale Fell (he’s not been up most other mountains as it happens…) and that Bowscale Fell also has a little top which I’d not been up either – one Bowscale Fell Far-East, a 604 metre swelling on an a ridge overlooking Mungrisdale.

So, we went and had a walk.

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Starting from Mungrisdale, we lumbered up the Very Steep start to that ridge, bagged the Far-East top, then the East Top (a deleted Nuttall, apparently), then the top of Bowscale Fell itself, then by a lovely path countouring around the head of the corrie, for Bannerdale Crags with a final flourish on Souther Fell.

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So that was three Wainwrights for the pooch and a Synge for me. (yes, I know, the list of hill categories available in Cumbria just goes on and on….).

The day was cold and murky and a bit drizzly at the end. Very much like autumn, in fact. I almost put me gloves on. And, typical of Lake District hills, it was quite busy. But people were friendly and, for some reason, talkative.

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And then, on the way home, we bagged a little Tump – one Hutton Roof – a hill which requires almost no effort at all to bag, as long as the bagger can open two gates and isn’t to bothered about traipsing through somebody’s back yard – but that’s where the path goes.

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And, as many readers as are bothered will probably have realised by now, I have decided not to enter for the 2016 TGO Challenge. For some reason, the prospect of it seems like a drudge. I just can’t be arsed and I need to move on. I might try for 2017, though, if I can work up some enthusiasm and I’ll probably go to the English gathering in March.

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Instead, I’ll probably do the huge pub-crawl between England’s highest pubs. I’m undecided yet whether to do the ten highest or just the four pubs mentioned in a previous post. Three highest pubs has a ring to it, but two are very close together. Four pubs doesn’t have much of a ring, and the fourth highest is Kirkstone Pass. Whereas, the top ten……..

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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Up The Trossachs

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Before I go on, I have made a decision about whether or not to apply for next year’s TGO challenge – and I’ll reveal what it is shortly (in case I change my mind!)
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Alert readers may have noticed a quiet period on the blog. This is due to the entire Knipe Court removing itself to The Trossachs for two weeks during which there was no wifi, no computers and no knowledge or skills concerning mobile blogging. In fact the phone signal was shaky to say the le….  (this last sentence is a typical ending to an attempted phone conversation including one during which Dawn announced that not only had she survived a monumental flood up some Scottish dale or glen, but also that she had got me a red basque and some high heels… I think that’s what she said anyway – it was a bad line and the phone cut off at a crucial point.
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Me and the dog did some bagging  - starting with Ewieside Hill quite near Dunbar and not at all very close to The Trossachs, and ending 13 days later on The Ptarmigan ridge of Ben Lomond. In between there were lots of quite short but brutally rough little walks involving deep heather, bogs, some kind of dwarf bush thing and eight-foot deep bracken (I kid you not). And ticks.
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First up was the Marilyn Meall Gainmheich where I broke my rule of never climbing anything I can’t pronounce. This was Rough with a big R and involved following deer tracks, there being nothing else to follow. Happily, the walk also included Ben A’an, a well-known and popular climb currently from Loch Achray by a diverted path which has rope handrails for the nervous or those with slippery shoes. Everybody and his dog was up Ben A’an, but then its a good hill. A few libations were purchased at the Aberfoyle Co-op for the post-walk celebrations.
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It got rougher on the Menteith Hills a couple of days later on a murky day of light rain. We did the ridge, involving the Marilyn summit Craig of Monievreckie plus two other minor tops. There was Very Steep Heather. It was a struggle at times. Lucky fell off some of the heather. By the end I was lathered and the dog had four ticks. We returned to the start by the Rob Roy Way. Called at the Co-op in Aberfoyle for a bottle.
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Doon Hill was done whilst visiting the Aberfoyle Co-op for more beer. Doon Hill is the site where the Reverend Robert Kirk disappeared into fairyland, leaving a corpse on the summit which wasn’t him, but just looked like him. The entrance to fairyland is via a pine tree on the summit. People have left lots of stuff up there revealing the hopes and prayers of various people, mainly children– including some quite moving stuff involving baby’s dummies and teddy bears, messages hoping that grandad will get well, requests for help with schoolwork and “Dear Jim, can you fix it for me to win the lottery”
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Ben Uamha is the Ronnie Pickering of Marilyns, in that its very rough and nobody has ever heard of it before. It lies between the head of Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond. And its very very rough. And a bit foggy. Any plans to walk along the ridge for a bit were abandoned due to a big deer fence and the fact that every drop of energy had been used up getting to the top.
Even rougher was Creag Mhadhaidh, just off the Duke’s Pass. We were just passing and I though this would be a quick and easy bag. This is where the deepest bracken was. It was a struggle for survival. Lucky got some more ticks.  One of them was quite pretty. Back to the Co-op for more supplies. I included crisps this time too.
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Beinn Uird is a big (alomst 600 metres!) and rounded lump just to the right of Ben Lomond, up which the walk started but then foolishly turned off for a heather-and-bog fest. It was a nice day. It was sunny and warm. It was another struggle. We spent some time on the summit, when we eventually arrived there. There was a small cairn, occupied by a heaving, dripping lump of beardy lard and his little black dog. Luckily, the Aberfoyle Co-op was on the route home. They have a fine selection of beers, wines, whiskies and delicious snacks for when you’re watching NCIS after a shower.
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Craigmore looms over Aberfoyle in a looming kind of way and, there was a rumour that it was possible to climb it directly from the back door of our self-catering establishment. I investigated this and discovered, quite easily that this would involve just about 1000 feet of closely packed bracken at a stupidly steep angle. So I climbed it from the Visitor Centre Lodgey thing. This involved lots of trees, about four hundred feet of closely packed bracken and some over-affectionate contours. There was a cracking view from the top, though and even a blubbering, dripping wreck (and his little black dog) could appreciate the fine vista once the lungs had restarted. Irritatingly (in many ways) – I found a really nice path on the top which lead all the way back to my car and which would have been a much better way up had I known about it.  As the checkout assistant in the Aberfoyle Co-op said “ Is that you just finished another walk, Mike?” and “Are ye having another party tonight by the way?” and “We’ll see you again tomorrow then eh?”
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Frankly sick of all the bracken and heather and sloppy bogs, I decided that a final walk should be on Good Paths. And whilst I’d climbed Ben Lomond back in 1989 when the world was young and everything was in sepia, I’d not done the Ptarmigan ridge. And it would be Lucky’s first Munro.
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It was quite fab. The sun shone. The path was busy (I don’t mind busy hills by the way), the views were superb and the was No Bracken. The “hill-path” climbs relatively easily – just a bit of a plod, but with improving views, and gets interesting at the top, with three steep cones. There were a couple of dozen people on the top and one or two coming up from the Ptarmigan ridge – panting and sweating heavily and looking quite knackered, it has to be said.
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I found the descent to the Ptarmigan delightful – quite steep and marginally scrambly in places and the little nobble at the end of the Ptarmigan ridge is a cracking place to sit and, well, do nothing for half an hour in the warm sunshine. Quite a good end to the fortnight’s struggles, I thought. And so did Lucky. And so did the lassie at the Aberfoyle Co-op. Its just a pity they stopped doing the divi.
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Friday, 2 October 2015

Bar Trekking

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Lets just assume for a moment that I decided not to apply for the 2016 TGO Challenge and, instead, opted to do something else.
I have mooted (so moot it be!) once or twice, an alternative to the National Three Peaks madness wot goes on every summer. And this proposed walk would not at all suit those one-offers who climb Scafell Pike in the middle of the night, empty their bowels at the summit cairn and distribute various bits of waste plastic, paper and other stuff along the paths and fields of Wales, England and Scotland. Because it would take too long.
The idea is a simple one – to link the three highest pubs, or, at least three of the four highest pubs in England  in one mighty stagger AND to have a few beers in each one, AND to link up any walkers-type pubs that might be open along the way AND have a drink in each one of these too.
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And to design this walk, which ought to take between two weeks and forever, I need your help.
I’m just about to abandon Pietowers for a fortnight for the purpose of mounting an unarmed raid into Scotland in order to bag some hills and stuff like that there. So, readers, (if, indeed there are any still out there…) you have two of your Queen’s weeks to submit, through comments, or emails, supposing you can work out what my email address is, the names and locations , and any other information you might consider relevant, of your favourite public houses,  hotels,  inns, drinking dens and dives, or even locally celebrated off-licences to me for consideration and to see if I can weave some of these into a route.
The three main pubs seem to be: Tan Hill Inn 1730 feet, The Cat and Fiddle, 1680 feet and the Travellers Rest Flash 1500 feet. Note well that there are no pubs in the British Isles Furth of England which achieve a sufficient altitude to be included in this walk, and we aren’t including summit cafes on Snowdon, the Cairngorms or, indeed, on the Isle of Man. In fact, linking the three highest National pubs would be a different walk and an interesting challenge for another day.
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In order to make the 3 Pubs walk completely illogical, I will aim to start at the most Southerly boozer on the list and finish at the Kirkstone Pass Inn, or, actually, the Golden Rule in Ambleside, since I’d probably have to visit Ambleside to get the bus home.
So, any pubs etc. you think should be included – and I’m not going any further North than Tan Hill – just let me know by, say, the end of October. So, the pubs have to be between Flash and Tan Hill and between Tan Hill and Kirkstone Pass.
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I appreciate that this venture is utterly irresponsible and that alcohol should be consumed responsibly which means being really careful not to spill any cos that would be a waste.  I promise, therefore, to try not to get completely leathered at the three or four main landmark pubs, but to use the opportunity to rehydrate and refresh.
Oh, I dunno, though…
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