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Monday, 22 July 2019

Long Walks - Dun Fells and Cross Fell from Garrigill


And now it was time to do July's long walk. This one is a simple route with a bit in the middle that's potentially a little tricky to navigate....  but not on this occasion.  The route is just 20 miles and goes from Garrigill City Centre along the South Tyne Trail to the source of the River South Tyne, over to the Tees and then follows Trout Beck to Dun Fell Hush, Great Dun Fell, Little Dun Fell, Cross Fell and the Pennine Way back to Garrigill where, it is hoped, the cars are still parked.
 
 So, we had me, Lucky The Dog, Li Yang, Diane and David and Bailey The Other Dog. And it was quite hot at the start - for some reason I'd put on an ancient, but very warm Paramo wind-shirt and I was thinking that maybe this was a mistake. But - as we approached the strange statue-thingy at the head of the River South Tyne, it began to rain. Them as 'ad gloves, put 'em on. (note Yorkshire accent, here) The as 'ad 'ats, ad em on. I were bah't 'at. It were like Ilkla Moor in yonder song...

 Fine - I'll pack it in with the dialect now - I was just showing off.
Anyway, it stopped raining and just got cold and, as we gained height and walked to the edge overlooking the Eden Valley from the radar station on Dun Fell, it was blowing a bit of a hoolie. We were just below the cloud base and there was a glider, just hanging in the air, sometimes appearing out of the cloud and sometimes disappearing into it. You'd have to know what you're doing to be able to do that.


 We progressed - over the breezy top of Little Dun Fell and into the cloud on Cross Fell. The last kilometre to the summit furniture was in thick clag. We didn't stay long but descended through sloppy bogs to Greg's Hut where we had our second lunch (mine was a pork pie and some nuts) (we don't half live it up, innit?) A Pennine-wayfarer from Huddersfield arrived and declared his intent to stay the night. We had a brief discussion about the horrors of the Huddersfield Ring Road and how to get to Holmfirth without accidentally going to Meltham. Or Leeds. Or feckin Manchester...
 As we reappeared from the insides of Greg's Hut, it began to rain again, this time more determinedly and more wettingly. The trek from Gregs Hut down to Garrigill starts out nicely enough but when it hits the newly relaid grouse-shooters track, to be frank, it's a bit of a plod. There is nothing here for the brain to do. It just goes on and on. I might not do this bit again for a long while.

Now considering a route for August -- maybe the Yorkshire Dales....Arncliffe - Litton - Fountains Fell - Malham Tarn - Monk's Road...  Is that 20 miles?

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Lush and Flowery Ettrick

Me and Lucky The Dog turned up at Honey Cottage campsite Sunday evening just after a warm eight mile trundle  around County Durham with the Crook and Weardale Ramblers.

I'd been to this campsite before - the last time a few years ago with a selection of grandchildren and, on previous occasions too. I like the site - it's remote-ish and quiet and very friendly and only a couple of miles from the outrageously beautiful Ettrick valley.



So, Monday morning me and LTD travelled all of two of your Earth miles to the nearby village hall and went off on a bit of a bagathon - collecting four Tumps and a Donald (wot I'd done twice before). The hills were empty of other walkers and the summer walking was just superb. The hills here are just for sheep and, a few hardy cattle sometimes, so there's none of this heather burning nonsense (there's no heather anyway). And the land seems specially fertile (I'm willing to be disabused of this notion by anybody who is an expert on such matters) The result is that the summer Ettrick Hills are lush with deep grass and bright with all kinds of wild flowers, bees, butterflies and moths and skylarks and meadow pipits and even a pair of red kites. This is a model of fabulousness.


On the Monday I met just one person - a shepherd on an ATV out couting the sheep that had escaped a recent gathering - about 40, apparently. They must be specially sneaky sheep I suppose. He seemed to have plenty of time on his hands and we had a long chat ranging from phone signals (there is none despite the 6 phone masts), to the posh Neds from That London and That Manchester who have wild drug parties at the local bothy.


 At the end, I escaped from the hill via the yard of Cossarhill Farm where we avoided a barking frenzy by allowing the farm's senior collie dog to continue with his afternoon snooze in the warm sunshine. LTD didn't even notice him.  Down in the valley there are three stone plaques, each giving a verse of a sad and slightly unnerving poem by one Lady John Scott, simply titled "Ettrick" - reproduced at the foot of this blog post.

Tuesday saw us at Tibbie Shiels - no longer an Inn , it would seem. We wandered by Loch of the Lowes to Riskinhope and bagged Muchra Hill, Peniestone Hill and Peat Hill where it seemed that the  warm weather was breaking down. We met just 2 walkers on Peniestone - English people, not specially interested in a chat and we were dismissed with a "see you later"..  so we went. We didn't see them later. Back at camp. it began to rain and rained in monsoon-like conditions for a couple of hours, flooding the low parts of the campsite and turning the river cloudy. The midgies enjoyed this.

We had to come home on Wednesday, but bagged Bonchester Hill at ..er...Bonchester on the way home - another specially flowery hill with a hillfort on the top and a huuuuge view all around. We also bagged a bacon butty at the border teavan. I must say that this was extraordinarily nice and quite cheap. Maybe it's my none-processed foods diet wot I learned all about on the course on how to be a diabetic I had back in April. This excludes much in the way of bacon other than as an occasional treat. It's a bloody good treat, though.

 
Ettrick
When we first rade down Ettrick,
Our bridles were ringing, our hearts were dancing,
The waters were singing, the sun was glancing,
An’ blithely our hearts rang out thegither,
As we brushed the dew frae the blooming heather,
  When we first rade down Ettrick.
 
When we next rade down Ettrick,
The day was dying, the wild birds calling,
The wind was sighing, the leaves were falling,
An’ silent an’ weary, but closer thegither,
We urged our steeds thro’ the faded heather,
When we next rade down Ettrick.
 
When I last rade down Ettrick,
The winds were shifting, the storm was waking,
The snow was drifting, my heart was breaking,
For we never again were to ride thegither,
In sun or storm on the mountain heather,
When I last rade down Ettrick.
 
 
When you get to my age, this sort of thing starts to prickle a bit.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Guided Walks!


 

Me and Lucky the Dog have been leading some guided walks: In reverse order (I meantersay, why stick with tradition and do first things first?) these were Alston Moor and Ash Gill from Nenthead. This was nine and a half miles for Wolsingham Wayfarers on Sunday. Me and LTD did the reccy on Friday in quite warm and sunny weather. I suspect that this day may have been the summer of 2019....


I have a feeling that I may have been sacked from Wolsingham Wayfarers, though since they published a programme for the summer, but didn't ask me to do anywalks so , after this one, I have no further walks for this group. It might be that I hinted that some (but not all) Crook and Weardale Ramblers walks coincided with Wolsingham Wayfarers walks on some (but not all) last Sundays in the month. Whatever it is, that's it for Wolsingham Wayfarers, I think. Only five people turned up anyway and three of those had been on the other two walks (!)




The walk before this one was the Wednesday and Saturday Walking Group (Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays) was on the previous..er...Wednesday. This was Buckden Pike and me and LYD and Li Yang had done the reccy way back in late spring.


There were nine of us on this one, heading off into the murk on Wednesday (yes, it was Wednesday, I think) up and up into the clouds which eventually cleared just after lunch. This one was eleven of your Earth miles and all the effort was expended in the first two miles of upness. According to my superbly accurate walking log, this was my 26th time up Buckden Pike.

Jinkies were had afterwards at the Buck Inn which has recently been done up and which lets dogs in and seems very friendly.
And then - somewhat previously by a few days was the Crook and Weardale Ramblers toddle to Ravenseat farm from Tan Hill Inn and back again on the Pennine Way.


Ravenseat Farm is on the Coast to Coast route and has appeared several times on the tellybox, being the home of the Yorkshire Shepherdess and where you can get a cuppa and a nice scone which is just the thing if you've just walked over the moor from Kirkby Stephen. or even from Tan Hill, which is somewhat less strenuous.


I suspect we may have been undercharged for our refreshments, though, and I think we owe them about ten quid, which I've resolved to drop in next time.

The walk was ten miles and fifteen people turned up and had jinkies in the Tan Hill Inn.

 So, that's a week of walking, 315 man miles, 30+ dog miles (not accurately measured). Man miles includes me, but excludes the reccies.


There'll be a not-so-subtle change to the style of guided walks quite soon as Crook and Weardale Ramblers launches into an initiative to help participants of Health Walks to walk just a bit further, and be able to join short walks provided by the Ramblers and by other local groups (they know who they are!). It's a bit of a ramble into the dark, but , starting next week, I'll be visiting four Health Walks groups this next week and, subsequently, we'll provide a short programme of short walks in July and early August, which could be extendable if there's a demand.
Next up, though is the Crook and Weardale Ramblers bus trip to Grassington. Didn't we have a loverly time the day we went to Girston...

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Long Walks:: The Cheviot 6


This was yet another walk in our programme of monthly long...er....walks...
At 09:00 on Sunday morning, as the world was apparently still asleep, me, Li Yang, Marie, Lucky The Dog and Bramble The Other Dog gathered at Hartside in the Ingram Valley to have a go at bagging all six of the Cheviots 2000 - foot tops.
 

Our first was Hedgehope Hill - 714m - which, being at the start, involved the longest climb. But, apart from Bramble being a bit distracted by some grouse hiding in the heather, went smoothly and we progressed fairly easily if a bit boggily to Comb Fell 652 m, marked by a big stick on the top.
 

 I made a bit of a mess of route selection on the next bit and, after more bogs, we descended into rough stuff - deep heather and heathery gullies which eventually brought us to the bealach between Comb Fell and The Cheviot. Following the fence might have been easier. Or it might not...

We lunched briefly at Scotsman's Cairn, out of the chilly breeze, before plodding along the Lancashire Mill slabs to the summit of The Cheviot, at 815 metres, our high point. This was occupied by several walkers from Seaham who were keen to talk about attacks by ticks and how far everybody was walking today.



From Scotsman's Cairn it's 4 miles to Windy Gyle and this goes fairly easily on more stone slabs. At the Clennel Street crossing we met a gorgeous/handsome(according to Marie) Scottish lad and we all took pictures of each other before heading to the top of Windy Gyle, our fourth top at 619 metres. Second lunch time.




Onwards and downwards to Uswayford Farm including an attempt on one of Northumberland's comedy rights of way - a bridleway through the corner of some forestry, well blocked with wind-blown trees and impossible to get through without a chain saw. So we went around. It rained a bit at Uswayford but we were soon bashing our way up and out of the valley for...



...our fifth top - Bloodybush Edge at 610 metres. It should really be called Squishybush Edge, although there's not much of an edge, really, it being a very rounded hill and close by... was our final top - Cushat Law at 615 metres. At least this has a cairn in which to shelter and scoff the final few cashew nuts lurking in a pocket with some fluff and some empty poo bags....

We ended by a long downhill plod , mainly on tracks to Alnham Moor farm and then on tarmac to our cars which were exactly where we'd left them and for which I still had a car key (see previous post)

The whole thing was 23 miles and 5065 feet of ascent, taking eleven and a half hours, which may seem slow, but it was mainly fairly rough going and , frankly, we didn't rush and stopped for several chats with other walkers.

We have more jollies like this planned....

Saturday, 8 June 2019

When You Lose Your Car Key - Askham

Me and LTD went to Askham - a bijoux village quite near Lowther Castle with 2 pubs, a shop/café and a swimming pool (!) and, most importantly, a car park where they ask for donations and suggest just one English Pound.


 
The weather was, on the whole, a bit ropey. It was that fine, driving drizzle that gets you really really wet. I put a waterproof jacket on but not the overtrousers. Cos I don't really get on with overtrousers. We bagged Heughscar Hill - a Wainwright Outlier well populated with people with dogs.
We progressed, damply, to the Cockpit - a  stone circle where, nearby, a couple were searching in vain for the Roman Road. GPS said it was 30 metres away. But it wasn't. There was a thin path heading off in the correct direction, but it wasn't very close to High Street. They followed it anyway.


We further progressed, this time a bit more wetly to White Pike and then Arthurs Pike where it was lunchtime. The drizzle here was driving harder and we were now in the hill-fog. We sheltered in my lovely big orange group shelter where it was warm and steamy. The camera lens seamed up. The dog steamed up. I had to take my specs off.

Having done some serious damage to an egg and tomato butty, a banana, some cashew nuts and a piece of 74% cocoa chocolate, we braved the spray and abandoned our plans to head up any higher and, instead, trogged off Eastwards for the bagging of the obscure but lovely 406 metre lump they call "Knotts" . It was here that the day's sunny interval happened. Not for long...

Having now successfully stymied my plan for a lovely long walk in the sunshine, the weather dried up. So I visited various ancient cairns, the cop stone (should be the cop stone key, surely...) and one with a stone cist in it- and returned to the car..where...


My bum bag, where I keep the car key, was very light on the it's usual number of ignition keys, by a factor of one. I emptied it onto the car park. No key. I searched all my pockets and looked around the car park. Keyless.  The shortage of important keys continued unabated. Bugger. The spare was on the sideboard in the Large Buttery back at Pietowers - some seventy miles away. Again - bugger. It occurred to me that the most likely place for me to have lost the key was by some trees up Heughscar Hill - which is where I put my raincoat on. We retraced. Not there. An intermittent phone signal to Mrs K made arrangements for her to bring me the key - she couldn't leave straight away, though and it would be three or four hours wait. There were 2 pubs and a café - so, not so bad. I returned to Askham and enquired at the shop/café , one of the pubs and the swimming pool. Everybody was friendly and helpful but nobody had received a car key. I returned to the knipemobile and, from a distance, noticed something resting on a rear tyre. It was my key. Somebody had found it, probably tested which car it was from, hadn't had it away with the car or stolen my Beatles Rock and Roll cd, and had put it on the car for me to find. I rang Mrs K as soon as I got a proper signal - just by the A6, in fact.

I am now a great fan of the village of Askham and the shop does bacon butties and nice coffee too, so....  The lesson, of course is to use the little clip inside the bum bag which is for putting your keys on. Dhuhhh...