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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

A Mozie Over to Mozie Law (South Top)

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It’s not a mistake to allow your pet dog to study maps y’know. LTD had been pawring (see what I did there?) over OL Whatever-It-Is – a 1:25k map of the Cheviot Hills when suddenly he pointed at a small and obscure ring of contours and barked excitedly. On investigation, there, hanging off the Souhtern slopes of Mozie Law was, indeed an intruiging ring of two contours. Due Diligence proved this to be the very obscure but rather lovely Tump named Mozie Law South Top. I expect that this isn’t really it’s name, but it’s the name given to it in www.hill-bagging.co.uk , the web-based bible for all things important and many things not really very important in the Ramblers version of trainspotting, the bagging of hills.

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So, we went. We were diverted from our trip up the A68 by a multi-day-once-in-thirty-years resurfacing of the road..er…surface at Ridsdale on to some obscure road that drifted aimlessly in the approximate direction of Stockton-on Tees, which made us late. What made us even later was my arrival at the Chew Green car park after two hours driving when I had already passed my intended car park at Buckhams Bridge some time earlier and had been held up by a herd of cattle chewing the cud in the middle of the road and/or tucking in to the contents of a road-salt bin and covering said road in slippery poo. I’m not sure if road salt is good for cows or not. I wonder if it curdles the milk?

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Anyway, eventually we set off and after a bit of a moorland wander populated by many cattle, turned up at Yearning Saddle Mountain Hut in time for lunch out of the lively and chilly breeze wafting off the Solway Firth and tight up the kilt. I mean Right Up.

We were joined by a friendly Pennine-Wayfarer who gave me the news that Colin and Joyce  are selling-up their hostelry at Byrness. It’s probably deserved, but they’ll be missed by Pennine Wayfarers and the odd (some would say peculiar) wanderers along the Scottish/English Border. They dried my boots and socks and fed me and beered me, so it’ll be a bit sad, but, hopefully somebody will carry-on the good work. There’s not much else in Byrness to be fair.

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Mr Pennine-Wayfarer marched off towards Hen Hole for the camping out of the wind and we followed him a bit – as far as Mozie Law and then down steeply to discover a steep green mound with a small cairn on the top – Mozie Law South Top. It was much too windy to hang around drinking coffee and eating baked black olives (my latest addiction) So, to the East of this lump, a couple of hundred feet below in a deep valley, there’s a flat green sward providing somewhat of a sheltered sun-trap. A group of about a dozen feral goats had also noticed the sheltering effect of the gill immediately above and these were sitting about reading the Guardian and sipping Pimms with nibbles, or just scoffing the grass. We didn’t bother them.

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A brief but brutal lunge up the hill brought us to The Street – an ancient road to Scotland - where, back in the wind, we had a breeze-assisted traverse over Swinside Knowe and Bought Knowe to descend through more cattle to the farm at Carlcroft. They have a lot of dogs at Carlcroft and we were greeted by a couple of adolescent collies, the local alpha-male collie who sniffed LTD’s bum, and a couple of levely pups, off on some adventure, but beating a hasty retreat into the farm buildings on encountering a grumpy LTD. No harm done, though. The cattle weren’t interested in us or made off in an opposite direction and the farmer waved.

A quick march up the road returned us to the knipemobile which was still where we’d left it.

Ten miles and a couple of 2200 feet of ascent and a severe hair-ruffling. Winter draws on, I think. I might have to start wearing trousers quite soon.

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Monday, 1 October 2018

Nenthead to Ashgill and Back–A Walk With Wolsingham Wayfarers

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I’d done this route once before with the Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays group, but this time it got placed on the Wolsingham Wayfarers Sunday walks programme.

Me and LTD did the initial reccy on the Wednesday – a foggy and mizzly sort of back-endish day with a lively breeze, an aspect felt more keenly in a kilt, specially when crossing stiles. But as there were no witnesses, save LTD, who has seen it all before, I wasn’t too bothered with the modesty.

On Sunday, I collected Li Yang from her hill-top fortress and John from the Demesne Mill car park and orf we went to Nenthead. There, we met four other walkers and Holly the Collie – a very well-mannered pooch – behaviour which rumbustuous knipehounds would do well to emulate. (This means you, Lucky The Dog)

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I’d changed the route a bit at the start to make it simpler to navigate and a bit in the middle where I found a nice path from the fell down to the Pennine Way.

On the day it was bit colder than before and the breeze srill flirted with the Parts That Remain Hidden (specially on the stiles) and it all went reasonably well, altthough we did get wet a couple of times. I’d just overspent on a fabby-whizz new windproof jacket – a Mountain Equipment Vulcan jacket which turned out to be more waterproof than my waterproofs and snuggly cosy to boot against the withering nither of an arctic drift (the temperature at Nenthead was just 6C when we arrived) Brrr as they say in Rekyavick.

The walk goes over the moors from Nenthead to Bentygill Mines, follows the Pennine Way to Garrigill, then the South Tyne Way to Ashgill where we scrambled up behind the waterfall, and then back over the moors to Nenthead.  9 Miles altogether and quite good fun.

Pics are from the reccy and a few that I took on the day.

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Note for information: Whoever is driving the multiple views of a post about a walk at Attermire with Martin Banfield in November 2009,  the motivation behind which is obscure, I’ve made the post inaccessible – just like the neighbouring post about Cautley Crag, which, a few years ago, received thousands of hits in a few weeks and which I also made innaccessible. If the idea is to bugger up my stats, then you’ve been successful. I suspect, though that the motivation is much dafter than that. Several years went by before whoever it was realised that Cautley Crag wasn’t working and moved on to Attermire. Attermire’s not working now. Since the viewer is likely to be a Ukrainian bot, I expect that it might take a few years to move on to a neighbouring post. So, I’ve buggerred up quite a few neighbouring posts too – one of which has only had 27 views since November 2009 – so…….

More pics below – click to make them bigger:

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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Full Moon at Druridge Bay–The North-East Skinny Dip Again

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Policemen, Paramedics, A&E staff and Pub Landlords will all testify to the strange effect that a full moon has on people’s behaviour. ‘Course, there’s no scientific evidence for this, but, people do demonstrate unusual and/or bizarre behaviour when it’s a full moon. That’s what I think anyway (As a lad I worked in a casualty department for three years) (Whilst I may have grown up a bit during these three years by the way, I did develop a view that if you had a good idea to do something, you’d best get on with it before something disastrous happens to you and the moment passes – this didn’t acrually prevent many such moments passing by the way…) (Full moons were often much busier nights than the other times and people often had more interesting accidents)

The moon was full (ish) for me and Dawn’s bivi on a certain Northumbrian beach where camping is strictly prohibited (so, we didn’t camp, we just had a long nap under one of Dawn’s many shelters.)

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It was the weekend of the North-East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay on Sunday morning, bright and sharp. But we put up our shelter in a brief rain shower on Friday afternoon – the idea being to have a relaxed time (this is a very good place for relaxed times), and, maybe a dip in the briny by way of emergency climatisation.

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The climatisation part didn’t work too well, the weather being  breezy and chilly till Saturday afternoon and the sea being in a bad mood with strong, confused currents and some big and scary waves. We tried, nevertheless and, ultimately repaired to Druridge Bay on Saturday afternoon to put up a tent and have a test-dip. This went better than the other place, the sea feeling warmer and friendlier but still with some beefy waves.

At dip time, Brian appeared from his mountain-top fortress in the sky, together with about 600 other people, several looking cold and nervous and several others just looking cold. It was the middle of the night, aka 06:30 in the morning and the sea was a long way out. A long way to run. More evidence of the lunar effect on unlikely and slightly silly behaviour in the huming bean.

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Had it not been a full(ish) moon and/or not in a really good cause (proceeds to MIND), or had it not all been quite good, if chilly, fun on the several previous occasions when we’ve attended this event (it’s annual, around the time of the equinox) – I might have stayed cosy in my steaming stink-pit, dreaming of another tussle with Kylie’s awkward bra strap whilst listening to “I should be so lucky” whilst LTD twitched and gruffed a doggy-dream in his doggy bed… 

It was, in fact, perishing cold. But, there was no surprise here,  we knew that before we began. It’s the North Sea. It’s late September. It’s the autumn equinox.  Nenthead had had a frost and I was using my toastie winter sleeping bag and my Not A Onesie and long socks….

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We just joined in – after a long wait whilst people gathered and waited for the dawn, people suddenly became naked and there was a brief count-down before a wave of flesh dashed across the wide beach to meet powerful watery waves coming in the opposite direction. There were crashes and splashes and screams and many sharp intakes of breath and some naughty words. Some people’s dips were short whilst others managed a good half an hour or so. I have no idea how they do this. I can manage abot ten minutes at the most, although I have a tactic of going in, coming out again, then going back in. The second time is a lot less uncomfortable. Afterwards, there is a really good feeling -  bit of a “high”, in fact, and it lasts for quite a while.

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There are some people there who keep their clothes on. These consist mainly of the Coastguard, a coterie of press photographers, some dog-walkers (not sure what they make of this) and a few people forming a small audience and some supporters and others who just don’t want to take their kit off (cos it’s not compulsory)

Afterward the dip, we had bacon and hot tea followed by a second breakfast at Cresswell, just a bit down the coast, and a longish stroll up Druridge Bay, amongst the dog walkers and kite-flyers and joggers. One lady was in the sea having a swim. Brave soul. Only one, though….

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I also collected quite a bit of sea-coal which is, basically, just lying about in bands (?seams) on the beach.  I can confirm that this stuff burns really well, if a bit quickly. There’s less actual sand than on previous years. It seems to have been stripped off by storms, leaving areas of sandstone slabs and some tree-stumps, which I assume to be specially ancient.

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If a thought should ever enjoy the merest suggestion or hint of flashing briefly through your mind what a brill idea it would be to gather on a North-Sea beach at dawn at the atumn equinox, take off all your clothes on command and then run shivering and screaming into some very very cold and salty water which has waves and power which might easily carry you off towards Fife (see a previous blog post) – or, even Denmark, for that matter and you immediately reject the idea because you’re a bit overweight or too skinny, or too short, or hairy, or not hairy, or bits of you are missing or scarred due to having a life, or your idea is that you’re far too shy, or your Mum won’t like it, or anything else that might prevent you actually doing it – then reject all this, get organised and go and do it. It doesn’t last long – only a few minutes for the unclimatised, but it might, just might, change your life for the better. Temporary euphoria is also available due to the release of endorphins, apparently.

I hope there’s repeat next autumn. If there is, and I survive the intervening 12 months, I will be there. Depends of the phase of the moon, obviously…

NESD’s facebook page is here - click the link

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

First Foray to Fife and Firth of Forth

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Fife - land of golf courses and pubs and streets with golf names and VW golfs. I’ve never been to the Fife coast and neither has LTD, so it was high time for a visit. And it was on my List of Things To Do.  Dawn has written about this in her blog and a link appears at the end of this post for those who like to read more sensible stuff than this.
I thought that as a contrast to recent trips involving bivvying with Lots of Sand getting everywhere and camping on noisy and occasionally wet campsites, we should have a bit of luxury and hire some self-catering shelter. LTD was all in favour of this as he has a fondness for carpets, rugs and radiators, all of which were available at our cottage near Anstruther.
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The idea was to bag a few hills and explore the coast a bit, all of which we managed to do in the four days we were there – Largo Law, which I bagged by myself since we obeyed a notice prohibiting dogs during the “summer”, due to cattle being present (there were no cattle) ,  Kellie Law, a vaguely pointy tump not near anywhere, Drumcarrow Craig which has archeology, mainly in the form of a broch, Lucklaw Hill, a very steep little bugger to the North and Kincraig Hill, a coastal lump with a World War 2 coastal battery which would have dismantled any any unauthorised shipping wandering up the Firth of Forth in short order and quite violently with some Big Guns.
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We poked around Tentsmuir forest and beach, identifying possible wild camping spots, just in case a walk around the Fife Coastal Path might be undertaken. This is a massive beach with nobody on it and great fun for a dog, as LTD pointed out.
KIncraig Hill has a nice bit of coast which we explored from Earlsferry. Dawn had a swim but I didn’t. I’d like, at this point , to introduve you to the Airedale dialect word “caffle”. The meaning is approximate to the proper English word “careful”. If a person declined to take part in an activity which appeared to be a bit risky, or, indeed, cold and, specially, wet, giving some unlikely excuse, then that person could be said to have “caffled”. As it was my Auntie’s birthday, I caffled the swimming at this point in favour of sitting out of the wind and finishing my hot coffee.
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We also walked up, and back down, the coast to Crail, a small town with a harbour which smells of sulphur and sells lobsters cooked to order. This was a cracking walk with caves to explore and a fossil tree which we may or may not have identified.
Unfortunately, due to me trying to be in two places at once, we had to leave a day early so that I could lead a Wednesday Walkers Walking on Satuurdays Walk on Fiend’s Fell – the walk wot me and Li Yang reccied last week. I might do a blog post about this if I can fit it in – there’s a busy few days coming up involving a visit to God’s Own Halifax and the North-east skinny dip. For this last event, it would probably have helped for the climatisation had I not caffled the sea swimming last Thursday. Anyway, the point is, I wont be writing anything till at least next Monday, and that depends on survival of a dawn dip in the chilly briny with 400+ other screaming eejits. If it stays windy, the waves could be “interesting”, I think. LTD won’t be attending the skinny dip because he’s far too friendly and has sharp claws, should he decide to jump up to greet anybody. He can also be a bit embarrasing with the sniffing, if you catch my drift…..  I don't really like to use the word “drift”, in the same post as one containing sea swimming, it occurs to me just now…  tempting fate… there’s a strong Northerly current sometimes at Druridge Bay – roughly in the direction of Fife, as it happens.
Dawn’s account is here - click this
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Friday, 7 September 2018

Wenselydale With Crook and Weardale Ramblers

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We did about ten or eleven miles. 

Let’s not forget that walking, at the bottom line, is a form of entertainment. Here’s Kath, the leader, swinging about on a rope swing we came across.

The Pieblog is firmly in favour of this kind of stuff….

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AS well as the lovely, green mileage and the good company there was also quite a lot of very sweet and ripe blackberries, probably as a result of the hot weather in June/July

I think there were ten of us humings, plus Lucky The Dog, who got a bit beside himself in the company of some pheasants.

It was all very enjoyable.

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Join the Ramblers for access to  wide selection of fablious walks!!  (Although, the general purpose of the Ramblers isn’t really as a federation of walking clubs, innit – more of the political stuff later, perhaps…..)