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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Nidderdale–The Upper Bits

I was somewhat delayed by a cosy, stark but ultimately unmemorable dream (that is to say, that whilst remaining slightly unnerved all day, I can’t remember a thing about it) . Which is why me and LTD didn’t arrive till eleven o’clock.
The objective of today’s assignment was to bag Woodale Moss – on 11 August when the grouse-shooting starts on 12 August, or 13 August cos they don’t generally shoot on Sundays. Woodale Moss is verboten to yer canines, so I left him by the gate…. no, really…….. honest.
We bagged the top in short order and progressed towards How Stean Gorge, which, we were disappointed to learn has a seven quid entrance fee, Seven quid?  Lttle chance of that, so we moved on, pausing only to eat some vergeside blackberries and cock our leg in the general direction of mammon.
We moved on even further to Lofthouse and to the bridleways that skirt the edge of the dale quite beautifully  at a high level back to the car which was parked very prettily and freely at Scar House Reservoir.
Plus things: A red kite – there’s some danger for a red kit up here – this area is absolultely the most notorious area in England for the illegal killing of birds of prey, even though a red kite hardly qualifies. They’re a right set of bastards up here an’ no mistake. They’ll kill anything thats not a grouse, and then they kill the grouse.  And, to make it all nice and everything, they dress up as Edwardian gentlemen to do it. Nice hills, shame about the locals in their clinkered boots, checked shirts and feckin tweeds – I meantersay, who wears feckin tweeds in 2018? They’re right nasty buggers, though, so don’t get caught criticising cos they is violent criminals innit an’ they’ll fuck you up.
Yorkshire Water need to consider their policy towards grouse shooting – the burning, trapping, killing and exclusion – and disregard for the law just to make a few bob is well past it’s time. This is 2018. It’s time to move on.
More plus things: Two mountain cyclists took time to make friends with Lucky The Dog. This is not specially difficult cos he’s a bit of a tart. And we had a nice, long chat with some ramblers doing the same route in the opposote direction.
There’s a cafe at Scar House, just in case anybody requires a cup of tea….
And it was a nice day – almost perfect fro the walking, in fact.
We did 11 miles.
Next – which will be the occasion of a short blogging pause – me and Dawn are off to the Cairngorms to get  wet and eaten by midgies. It could be fun. I’m taking a book in case of rain.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Accessibility Guide to UK’s National Parks

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NRS Healthcare is a company supplying mobility and daily living aids and they’ve produced a PDF which has information  about access to activities in each of the UK’s 15 national Parks about
We (that’s me and the dog by the way) think this is a top-hole idea and I’ve supplied a link to the PDF at the end of this blog post.
Hopefully, this is just the very first public version of this useful information. I say this  because we don’t seem to be doing very well in providing access to activities and each of the fifteen National Parks only lists a couple of Things To Do (if that’s the correct term..)
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Clearly, the function of a National Park is principally as a planning body and most “activities” will necessarily be provided by commercial providers, or by organisations such as the Forestry Commission or utilities companies.
When I say that the National Parks don't seem to be doing very well,  the Lake District, for instance manages only one location, but adds that they also provide 48 miles of footpaths without stiles. Others just have a couple each. Dartmoor does better with a bunch (mathematical term which is higher than a few but less than a lot)
We at the Pieblog (me and the dog, remember…) applaud the publication of the guide and hope that it will be helpful. We (specially the dog) hope that , somehow, National Parks and the businesses embedded there will be encouraged to develop more “stuff” and that there’ll be updates showing increases in the number of entries.
The PDF “Accessibility Guide to the UK’s National Parks can be …er…. accessed by clicking here

Speaking of disability and, in particular, mental illness; following one of my regular visits to St Cuthbert, on the occasion of buying more gas for an up-coming backpacking trip, I am minded (see what I did there?) to relaunch my fundraising efforts for MIND. I am currently thinking about this with my mind. I have asked the dog to come up with ideas and all he can say is something incomprehensible about a pussy cat being seen at the bottom of our garden.
So, readers…  if you have any brill ideas , I’d be very pleased to hear them. The basic philosophy or strategy is to do things where those giving up their hard-earned spondoolies actually get something out of it. This means that there will be NO sponsored events, cos that would just be me getting money for stuff I’d be doing anyway. And I hate collecting the money too, so…
Pic below shows Cafe Akto in operation in Glen Mazeran durung a TGO challenge. This raised lots of cash and was quite good fun too. And peeps got beer, bacon butties, tea, coffee, chocolate cake….

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Once More Unto The Beach, Dear Friends


Englishmen now abed would think themnselves accursed they were not here…So, me and LTD and Dawn went nack to fave spots in Northumberland. The idea is to spend the night in a small tent or bivi on an empty Northumbrian beach, eat beef stew and bacon and drink tea (and, in, my case, a bit of merlot) – have a dip or three in the briny, take any opportunity to top up the tan and then go home again.

These pleasures are simple ones.

But first, there were three small Tumps to bag – each one in a small trio or group a bit to the South-East of Flodden Fleld. (Scots will probably stop reading at this point)

Firstly, White Hill – easily bagged from the road and patrolled only by a small herd of youngish, inquisitive but harmless cattle. LTD stayed in the car with Dawn.


Then there was Goatscrag Hill – a small but perfectly formed sandstone crag a bit to the left of Routin Linn – a waterfall of disappointing dimensions. Goatscrag Hill is a fine spot with a fine view of the Cheviots and is liberally covered in sheep muck. The crag around the foot looks exciting and with not much in the way of grip.

After lunch, we attempted Doddington North Moor, from a place marked on the map as a “Cup and Ring Marked Stone”. We couldn’t find this. A route up the hill presents itself on the map as being obvious – follow the wall alongside the wood till the top which is a trig pillar just over the wall. In practise, there’s  wild woodland spreading over the moor which includes singificant forests of rhodedendrons. Some of these have been grubbed up into huge piles of impassable debris. Dawn waited by the fence. Me and LTD were rejected by the hill, the piles of dead vegetation being impossible to cross,  and retreated a bit before taking a flank attack. This lead into healthy rhodedendrons and deep, deep, I mean really deep, bracken. And blackflies. Hundreds of feckin blackflies. Sheer determination, pigheadedness and a refusal to be beaten eventually lead to the top. The retreat from which was a repreat of the ascent, buit with a much wider route and some even deeper bracken. Two blackflies were accidentally swallowed. LTD’s harness almost got ripped off. My lickle legs got ripped by brambles. Ow.

We repaired to Ross Back Sands where Dawn’s tent/bivi thingy was put up as the tide came in.


Overnight, the Otterburn ranges fired artillery, machine guns and something which made huuuuge bangs and the seals sang to us sweetley and a bit spookily. LTD tucked into his sleeping bag a groaned a bit…..

In the morning we had the place to ourselves till just about lunchtime. The sun came out, the breeze breezed and the sea was chilly but deep and, clear. My first dip was interupted by the appearance, too close by for comfort of a large black head. We met eye to eye. It dipped under and another appeared just over there….  then another and another .. maybe the first one from a different place. I left the water. I mean, do these seal thing bite? Maybe they were just nosy. It was a little uncomforting.

Dawn had several dips too – we tend to take turns – it seems like a sensible health and safety thing…. and the survivor gets the teabags…

I had another two proper swims, being gently lifted by an easy swell and pushed towards the sands. The sea was very calm and shallow.

We left in the late afternoon……..

This sorta thing’s not allowed by the way – but we’re quite discreet and leave absolutely no trace at all, save for some footprints in the sand…

Friday, 3 August 2018

High Street Damply

Plan A was to take two of the grandsprogs up Helvellyn, but we did this last Wednesday. Plan B was Fleetwith Pike, the West-facing ridge of which they would have enjoyed – and it could have been followed by various scrambles up the rocky tors between Fleetwith and Haystacks. In view of the sudden hospitalisation of one of the sprogs, (he’s much better now) I decided to put Plan B on the back-burner for future use and, instead, took the tallest sprogling up High Street via the Long Stile ridge – marginally scrambly and with impressive views and so on…..   So we set off, trusting the BBC weather forecast which had a warm 22C for NW England and some cloud, but nothing much to bother the tyro rambler.
When we arrived, though, the hill-fog was at low levels, the becks were in spate and it was drizzling. And it drizzled all day and we saw nothing much at all, apart from a blank wall of cloud and water specs on…specs….
The plan was to climb High Street via the Long Stile ridge, and, when the clouds broke and the sun came out, wander over to Thornthwaite Beacon and return to the start via Nan Bield and Harter Fell – a fairly routine but rather lovely little fellwalk.
We did have a break in the orange greenhouse/aka group shelter half way up Long Stile, in order to allow the weather to clear. But it didn’t. On the upside, due to a rather encouraging HbH1C result a few days earlier. I enjoyed my first Whispa bar for twelve months. I’m hoping to have another in August 2019.
We bashed on up the hill, passing some wet chaps ruining the path to make it awkward and slippery and eventually located the summit trig, where we retired once more into the group shelter for lunch. We spent some time in there as the drizzle sizzled on the cover.
Ultimately, we had to leave and we abandoned our walk by descending Nan Bield Pass back to the car. We’d done six miles. Damply. My advice is not to rely on the Beeb weather forecasts for weather forecasts, but, rather, to consult proper mountain forecasts, which can be a bit over-cautious, but, had I got a forecast containing drizzle and hillfog, I wouldn’t have driven 60 miles to get wet. My mistake. At least the drizzle was warm.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Hot Stuff Around Troutbeck

On the occasion of one of our regular visits to the Kendal sept of Clan Knipe, We  (me, LTD and The Bro) parked pretilly and Very Cheaply (i.e. freely) near Troutbeck Church, as opposed to the eight quid that everybody else was paying… and wandered up through Limefitt Park to climb Troutbeck Tongue, which we soon had licked.
There was shouting on the hill. We’ll have no shouting here, thius is a local hill for local people. The shouting turned out to be a gathering of herdwicks on the flanks of Ill Bell. We continued…
….  and climbed the wide corrie leading up to Stoney Cove Pike. This was a sweaty, drippy, heatful trial. LTD’s tongue grew to eleven feet and dripped dogsweat. I just panted and tried to wag my tail., but it was too hot.

We descended via Pike How and Hart Crag towards a long ridge pointing approximately to Morecambe. There was a lack of gates and/or stiles, so we teetered over wobbly walls and, finally, into steep and deep bracken – all of eight feet high in places. This descent took a while but eventually, a clapper-style ancient bridge was crossed and all we had to do was to plod the final three steamy miles back through narrow ways to the car, which was exactly where we’d left it.
In the sky, the clouds had built into towers. LTD sang “There may be trouble ahead” but, luckily, nothing happened till we were fully committed to the fast bit of the A66 back to Barnard Castle, where the heavens were opening, quite noisily and with lots of flashing.
We did 11 miles and about 3000 feet of up.
Phew, worrascorcher…