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Sunday, 6 May 2018

More TGO Challenge Training–or The Dog on the Tyne Is All Mine All Mine


Although I missed the training target for walkies with contours, I did manage this walk, on a warm and windy Saturday. The idea was to walk 20 miles and I chose to do this route wot I’d done a couple of times before because I knew it was 20 miles. Simples, innit?

The route starts at Garrigill, follows the South Tyne Trail alongside the River South Tyne, heads up through the Moorhouse and Upper Teesdale NNR by Troutbeck to Dun Fell Hush, crosses Great and Little Dun Fells and Cross Fell, down to Greg’s Hut and along the fairly dull return to Garrigill following the Pennine Way.


This gives a walk of 20 miles with 3100 feet of ascent on mainly very easy walking, which is coming quite close to my hardest days on the planned TGO chally route – a bit longer than any of the days, but with about 500 feet less of ascent. This has given me a bit of confidence.

And, having established that a kilt will be a main part of my kit, there’s a effect on the weight of the spare clothing I’ll have to carry, partly enhanced by a very lightweight RAB wind-shirt which will replace a heavier RAB anoraky-type jacket and a merino buff/hood for headwear. So, I’m losing a coulple of KG’s here.

Speaking of losing Kg’s , having implemented some long-disused elements of willpower and using my long-standing obsession with measuring things and drawing graphs with the data, ( this helps with inspiration) I’ve managed to be starting the 2018 TGO challenge about 10kg lighter than when I started the 2017 TGO challenge. Losing any weight on the actual walk may well result in me disappearing altogether…. The upshot is that I’m finding walking on the hills much easier than this time last year, so providing I don’t get asaulted by a stag, or poison myself with Bad Cooking Strategies, I’m fairly hopeful of a good result. (Nothing is absolutely certain when it comes to the TGO, other than getting the mind relaxed into the need to Chuck Away the Wristwatch, Just Keep Going and Never Pass A Tearoom it is, in fact (almost) All In The Mind. We shall soon see, anyway.

Poeple and Things  met on the walk across Cross Fell:


A lass on a bike with two black dogs

A hill-farmer  with a baby on his back sorting out some sheep – we had a brief conversation about what a cold spring it had been

A keeper who thanked me for having the dog on a lead.


Nobody for hours and hours…… whilst climbing up by Troutbeck

Lots of walkers on the Pennine Way. LTD licked a stranger’s legs on the summit of Cross Fell (I would get into serious trouble for this kind of thing but he seems to be able to get away with it) – He was rewarded by the woman’s hubby donating the remains of his tuna butty.


A bottle of Budweiser in Greg’s Hut. Ta for this. It was very nice. I sat outside and admired the view.

Little patches of snow on the North side of Cross Fell – LTD ate some.


Piles of grouse-shooting equipment beside the Pennine Way, and every small beck or syke holding a trap on a log. New roads…. vehicles……plastic paths so the shooters don’t get mucky boots – general industrialisation for the fun of walking about dressed as Edwardian gentlemen shooting at flocks of grouse and/or anything else that moves.



Frog-spawn in the pools in the sinkholes.

A woman waiting for friends, late from their walk from Dufton to Garrigill. I suggested that they could be another hour so so, given the distance involved.


And I felt fine at the end of it all – I could have walked much further, I think. So, that’s a good sign. The conditions were excellent, though – warm and sunny but with a bit of a headwind going up by Troutbeck. (Lots of cracking camping spots up there by the way)

There will be no more walkies for me till next Friday, when I start the TGO (there will be doggy walks but you don’t want to know about the intricacies of poo bags, LTD’s friends and enemies or why we keep doing the same routes….

In three or four weeks time, blog readers of this blog, and many others will be thoroughly sick of hearing about the TGO challenge and I’m thinking about that, but I can’t ingnore it. I may just look for Warples.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Lucky The Dog Does Buckden Pike

Plan A had been to go to the Lake District for it’s compacted contours but the weather forecast had thundery showers with hail and lightening. I have a certain distrust of lightening and LTD isn’t fond of thunder, so, we overslept and determined, from a detailed search of various databases, manual records, anecdotes and vague memories, that LTD had never been up Buckden Pike.
So, that’s where we went.
We went the long-way up – that is to say, the Roman Road also known as “The Rake”, the turn-off up to the pike, also known as “The Fork”, the squashy bit on the top aka “The Trowel” (yes, I know this doesn't quite work, and I’m open to suggestions to try to fit in a wheelbarrow and a spade)(which I always like to call a “spade”.)
The murky clouds of the morning cleared and it became sunny and quite draughty in a cool and breezy kind of way.
Buckden Pike summit was occupied by just two “senior” ramblers – senior meaning anybody older than me, so it’s a small but bijoux cohort. It was far too chilly here to consider sitting around damaging a chicken and tomato butty, so we progressed, quite quickly, past the WW2 Polish Air-accident memorial to a turn in the wall which provided shelter from the nither, a period of warm sunshine and a nice view. It was here that the chicken and tomato and mustard butty and a banana all came to grief. Nom nom.
Our two senior ramblers rambled past, followed by a semi-retired NHS worker from Lancaster, who was off to bag Great Whernside.
I caught her up a short time later as she tangled with the sloppy bogs created by some eco-dams and last night’s heavy rains. This provided many navigational problems and there was severe danger of wet socks. But we managed. She went off to Great Whernside and me and LTD descended to the Bluebell Hotel in Kettlewell for a shandy. Note for dog-owners – the Bluebell is very dog-friendly. Just sayin’.
To finish, we followed the Dales Way back to Buckden where the knipemobile was still parked.
We did 12 miles and about 2000 feet of ascent, which, really, for the purposes of TGO training was just not enough. The TGO challenge starts next week, and, whilst I’m getting progressively skinnier and a bit more racing-snakeish, I’m not specially confident about sticking to my planned route, which is fairly hard in places. However, I’m a right sneaky bugger when it comes to implementing routes and there are other options available if required. Or if I just can’t be arsed at the time.
My route also coincides substantially with JJ’s – probably as far as Rannoch, or even Carie campsite. And, we both have kilts innit?
More walkies quite soon………

Monday, 30 April 2018

Wolsingham Wayfarers Walk to High Hurth Edge Forest-in-Teesdale


This was another Walkleader Replacement Service, the proper leader being indisposed just now – an 8 mile walk from Bowlees to Forest in Teesdale. I made the route up and it was, kind-of, figure-eight shaped where the middle bit of the figure eight didn’t quite meet up. I tried to make it interesting by including some light speleology.

Me and LTD did a reccy last week in nice, warm sunshine, with lambs gambolling in the pastures, curlews and lapwings hurtling about everywhere and no cows in the fields. This is important because cows can be specially excitable when they’ve just been let out of the sheds and LTD barks at cows. This is not a good indicator and puts the willies right up me I can tell you.


In the end, I worked out that the route was 8.5 miles.  Participating Wolsingham Wayfarers, of which there were seven declared that is was 9.5. It was probably somewhere in between.


We had a bit of woodland walking, some fairly blank moorland, some pastures and a little crag (High Hurth Edge) which has some small caves in it, previously visited on Durham County Council walks. The caves are explorable with a little care and one seems to be occupied by animals, possibly rabbits, maybe a fox, and there was some kind of raptor nesting on the crag last week, who didn’t seem to be there on Sunday. LTD was really very interested in the occupied hole and snuffled, whined and wagged his tail at whatever was in there.


High Hurth Edge is a cracking lunch spot by the way – it has a fine view of the wilds of Upper Teesdale as far as the Cross Fell hills and, when the sun eventually does shine, it can get quite warm and there is a temptation to allow oneself to doze-off in such circumstances. I doubt if whatever is living in the cave is dangerous, and a snooze, therefore, should be quite safe.


We returned to Bowlees via more lamb-occupied pastures and a bit more moorland. Still no cows out, although there were hopefull glances grom a small herd in a shed. I expect they’ll be out as soon as the grass starts to grow a bit more. It was quite cold on Sunday, so the grass is still being a bit reluctant.

After-walk jinkies in the form of tea and scones were had in the cafe at Bowlees.

There’s a map below. (Not to be used for navigation or wrapping chips)

Wolsingham Wayfarers Walks are free to attend and their website is here- click this link and have a look

high hurth edge

Friday, 27 April 2018

Clapham to Dent–Not a Daunder nor a DofE expedition –pre TGO stuff

So, I decided that a short backpacking trip, pre-TGO chally would be Just The Thing. LTD thought this was a rubbish idea and why couldn’t we just stay at home. But a vote of the general household at Knipetowers overuled this notion.
Nevertheless, I invited a couple of friends, not wishing for the thing to get too big and too organised. Thus, (despite the gentle attentions of the railway companies who determined that me and Dawn and LTD should arrive two hours late) just the four of us, plus dog met eventually in the New Inn at Clapham – the group being me, JJ, Chrissie, Dawn and LTD.

We progressed wetly up to Gaping Gill where we erected our tabernacles and retired cosily inside.
The rain rained and the wind blew. And the mist gathered around us very damply. The yawning pit of Gaping Gill called in the night, inviting any one of us to sample the delights of a 350 foot freefall into a dank oblivion-headed darkness. Oooer…..
In the morning (this now being Tuesday), we slogged up through the tussocks and bog to the col or bealach between Ingleborough and Simon Fell where Chrissie put up a tent and me and JJ and the dawg visited the summit of Ingleborough and where there were wet people and NO View Of Anything At All. We returned to Chrissie’s camp and then followed the rather lovely (normally anyway) path along the edges across Simon Fell and Park Fell and down to Ribblehead where a few jinkies were jinked before erecting our tabernacles once more in the nithering gale blowing off the viaduct and the sprinkling showers sprinkled our tents quite liberally. An evening of beer and steak pies was had (JJ didn’t like his cos it was all dried out, like, and others ate other things involving chickens and sausages) Pub staff appeared unhappy about something. We didn’t enquire, not wishing to intrude on their private anxieties, some of which may well have included the opening and closing of the gate onto the moor behind the pub. This seemed to be somewhat of an obsession.
If you’re considering camping behind the pub, by the way, it is free at the moment, but several brainless-types have littered, lit fires, left a general mess and, probably , emptied their bodily cavities all over the place and it’s probably only a matter of time before the free camping in stamped on. Try not to light a fire, get drunk, have a fight, break glass, chase sheep…….
The night was wet and breezy but LTD was cosy in his bed wot Chrissie made, snored loudly all night and, frankly, was reluctant to emerge on Wednesday morning.
We delayed the day’s start due to a re-evaluation of the route in view of a duff weather forecast. Chrissie decided to abandon due to an incipient migraine and the remainders eventually emerged and plodded off towards Blea Moor.
After a few showers, though, the day turned bright and cold and we sploshed over Blea Moor and down into Dentdale, pickernicking by the river Dee before catching the train to Leeds and home.
What’s the point?
Well, it gets you in the mood for TGO stuff- TGO weather specially arranged for the event. I eventually remembered things I’d forgotten to pack – tissues for the bum and a sponge/scourer for the pan – and not too bothered by the weight of the pack – and having to keep going in the face of morning drizzle and gloom – and I tried me kilt. It was too cold  and windy for kilts on Day 2 but I wore it under waterproofs on Day 3 and let it all hang out after lunch. I’m happy to wear this on the TGO. Some peeps may ask for a reason why I wore a kilt. All I can say is that I can wear whatever I feckin want to wear and not answer to anybody else with a reason. I like the kilt. It’s adding miles to my day. And I have rather lovely legs, though I say it myself (LTD agrees and he has a special view, not revealed to most people) Only one person has questioned this, in seven walks. They need to have a word with themselves, I think.
Not many miles were done, but I enjoyed it anyway, despite the glaur and the wind and the recalcitrent railway system. Almost up to TGO speed…..

Monday, 16 April 2018

More TGO Challenge Training Stuff–Sheffield Pike and Other Hills

There’s been a minor hiatus in Piewalks recently due to Pietowers maintenance requirements and an almighty wind which rent the firmament and cast down the high places including bits of the new tabernacle. So, I’ve got a bit of catching-up to do.
Part of the catching up was to do a walk with some contours and the English Lake District is ideal for this kind of thing. This walk, in particular turned out to have 1044 metres of uphill contours and a very similar amount of downhill ones too, given that I ended up exactly where I’d begun.
And this was also the second outing for The KIlt – proper hillwalking test with proper mountain breezes and lots of witnesses too, which, to be honest, was the part I was a little worried about.
I parked expensively in Glenridding. Eight quid. I meantersay, eight of Yer Queen’s Quids. You can have full access to my body for several hours for eight quid fer evvansake. (I’d demand biscuits, though)
Despite this initial setback, we left the expensive car park (they’re taking the mickey, surely…) and climbed Glenridding Dodd for starters. Lots of contours here.
We followed this by an enjoyable climb up some more contours to Sheffield Pike which was sloppy on the top but otherwise pleasantly rocky but not really scrambly. This gives access to the vast open grassy prairies East of the Dodds – in this case, a contouring route to Hart Side and a gentle climb up to White Stones where lunch was declared. A few people passed. Nobody mentioned The Kilt.
We made a long plod up to Stybarrow Dodd and then across the motorway path to Raise, the highest point on the walk at 883 metres and the only snowpatch on the route, although the ice-axe and spikes I was carrying were unrequired. Here, I met a lassie who was deciding where to go next. We had a chat about what a lovely day it was and how nice it was to sit in a bit of warm sunshine and she didn’t mention the kilt. I should point out that whilst the hills had been claggy in the morning, the sun had broken-through and it was now a thoroughly cracking day, ideal for sitting about considering some salted nuts. if… maybe not the….  An elderly, I should say, senior fell-runner, was the only person to mention my hillwalking kit – and she said “You’re a brave man getting your knees out…” as she hopped gracefully from boulder to boulder down the hillside. She was a brave woman to be hopping gracefully from boulder to boulder; if I tried that I’d probably require a new face.
Anyway, my next objective was the diminutive Synge named Stang, a small lump on the ridge heading East from the summit of Raise. This also has the terminus of a lead-mine flue ending at a “chimney”. This now provides a small stone shelter, suitable for sitting in with a satsuma or, indeed, a banana should there be a strong westerly airflow making sitting about with fruit a bit uncomfortable.
It was here that the extent of the rambling population of Helvellyn could be made out – lots and lots of little black dots on the horizon, many, no doubt, carrying comedy hiking kit and teetering and sliding riskily down the snowy headwall of Swirral Edge. I expect that this could have been “thrilling” for some. As for me, I was clearly over-equipped for a sunny spring day with no snow, yet oddly under-equipped in the trouser department.
We progressed and followed the flue down to the lead mine spoil heaps and then down the Stake Pass path to the YHA where I joined the hordes returning from Helvellyn. Nobody mentioned the kilt here either, although I did detect some interest from some senior ladies. I trust they could raise the eight quid fee….. To be fair, most people seemed more interested in LTD, who is extremely friendly to strangers and this does distract attention from the knees, I think. DSCN2803

We did 9 miles and 3400 feet of uphill. I really really like this kilt, thing. (In fact I wore it again the following day on a 9 mile “easy” trundle with Crook and Weardale Ramblers and , whilst there was some initial banter and the singing of “Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?”, in general the reception was positive. I suspect that most people, when sober, are just too polite. More kiltiness coming-up soon.