Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Long Walks:: The Cheviot 6

This was yet another walk in our programme of monthly
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...

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Pieman and Son's 2019 TGO Challenge - A Mere Overview

Readers have been quite patient and/or drifting away as me and The Lad had our two weeks of  jollies walking across Scotland. I'm not going to write a blow-by-blow account at this stage, but might save that till the time when it might be more useful - when people are considering applying and needing a bit of insight into what it's all about. Instead, a brief overview is offered here with just a dozen pics out of the 238 I took - mainly, and a bit oddly , all a bit on the slant.
 But never mind.
We began well with all trains and planes turning up on time and in the right places. And then we had a nice curry with chapattis in Inverness and stunned the local boozers by winning the Thursday quiz. As we are both English, we weren't allowed to claim any kind of prize. It seems that the locals weren't very up-to-date on current affairs. This is not surprising as they're in the pub all the time and whilst the TV is on, the volume is turned down. It always is turned down in a pub, innit?
 We began at Strathcarron, a little way inland for a coast to coast walk and we wandered Eastwards, meeting Phil Werner and Claire heading Westwards on the Cape Wrath Trail. Oddly enough, he recognised me somehow. During the crossing we met lots of challengers - mainly in the form of Bernie who turned up ahead of us or behind us or, sometimes alongside us.  He's done 23 challenges - I was on my 15th and The Lad was doing his 4th.  That's a lot of miles and several t-shirts.
 So, on the first day we did just 10 miles - I like to start with a shortish day. Our camping spot was occupied by another challenger but we found another spot on a little platform by a burn and settled in for a very cold and frosty night.
We gave up the idea of a high level route due to snow showers and what appeared to be extensive snow high up - other challengers made the same decision. We weren't equipped for snow/ice so we initially took our low-level route which took us through to Cannich where huuuuge amounts of calories were taken in the form of 2 dinners, a breakfast and a fair dose of beer.

The next day we crossed Loch Ness by Gordon Menzies ferry and hit the Monadliath Mountains where we got temporarily lost due to windfarm roads not being on the map. The sun beat down mercilessly. The son walked quickly ahead, equally mercilessly. We got to Kincraig, which appears to be a bit of a desert for wayfarers and had to walk 2 miles to get some food. John Donohue advised on the Gaelic name for a teatowel which was not only wrong but was a potential cause of conflict when expressed to a gaelic speaker enquiring sarcastically about the clan to which our kilts belonged. (I wanted to reply "Glen Teatowel" but had to resort to "Glen Ribblesdale") This sometimes brought a bit of a stunned or puzzled reaction as they tried to work out where Ribblesdale was. (It's between Airedale and Lonsdale!)

 As we pressed Eastwards into the Cairngorms, this issue seemed to become less important. The sun shone till we'd crossed Cairngorm itself and descended by Loch Avon (a spectacularly beautiful spot of which pics will not be published at this point as a bit of a tease). But in the morning, at the Hutchinson Memorial Hut, the weather broke and it rained or showered for the remaining time.

Taking another foul weather alternative put us half a day ahead and we ended up by the Water of Unich (just after spotting an eagle at close quarters). During that night it rained and rained and the waters rose till we eventually had to move and at 4:00 am , dawn broke,  and so did we, arriving at Tarfiside at 9:00 am just in time for breakfast. A close-run thing, we felt.
The remaining was a simple road-walk to Haughs of Benholm where we were treated to a nice cuppa and a chat from a challenger's Mum who lived there.
And that was that - just short of 200 miles and a lovely tan and some very skeggy socks. The wearing of the kilt means that skeggy undies are not an issue. It seems there were some 9 kilted men on the chally this time. This is an increase of 6 from last year and is something to be encouraged, I feel....

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Long Walks - Sharp Haw and Barden Fell 22 Miles

There's been a short hiatus or gap during which I've done three walks - but as I'm setting off on the TGO Challenge quite shortly, there's not time or the will to write anything about the first two - BUT, the series concerning Long Walks (Important Capitals here) -, so, I will leave readers with this one. Note that I will not be blogging or tweeting or otherwise using social media in any way during the next 2 weeks whilst me and The Lad attempt to walk across Scotland though the Bumpy Bit. This is not because I have any deep philosophical objection, it's just that both my so-called smart phone and me are utterly incompetent in this respect. 
This walk kills two birds with one stone in that it participates in the Long Walks thingy (22 miles, see...?) and it's also a reccy for a walk I'm leading on 1 June on the occasion of the Crook and Weardale bus trip to Skipton during which some shopping and some post-walk boozing are quite  likely I shouldn't wonder.

 So me, Li Yang, Diane and David left Cracoe at about half past eight on Sunday and wandered through green pastures to Rylstone and then down the Dales High Way to Flasby, over Sharp Haw and via the golf course and into Skipton, where large crowds had gathered to watch some cyclists cycle past. (It was the Tour de Yorkshire aka Le Tour de Yorkshire. N'est pas...  Mon Oncle est sous la table avec la soeur de ma tante.

We waited for the imminent arrival of the bikes for a whole hour, being passed by multiple police motorbikes - it seems that each cyclist has three police motorbikes. Or, maybe the cops are just having a bit of a jolly hurtling around the Dales for a change. Many were friendly and squirted their nee-nahs at the local kids and/or waved. Anyway, anti-climax having passed, we progressed on to the delights of Barden Moor.

Barden Moor, by it's Western edge has several delights for the walker, but none for the walker with a dog because dogs are not allowed up here, which is why LTD stayed home with a box of bonios and meerkats on the tellybox. to keep him from boredom and tearing up tissues into tiny little pieces.

The first of these is Crookrise Crag  - A long line of rocks and slabs providing lots of gritty fun for rock climbers and cracking views for climbers and walkers. This eventually passes and the walker traverses a bit of moorland liberally decorated with unfeasibly big boulders to emerge above a waterfall, which the Ordnance Survey called "Waterfall Gill" but which, traditionally is actually called "Waterfoot Gill"

 Next is Rylstone Cross - a war memorial for the Parish re-erected in stone in  1995 after the original wooden cross rotted away. Various mindless eejits and brainless prunes, with no respect for their dead and wounded great-grandads have decorated the plaque with felt-tip graffiti. FFS. Had they any appreciation of the massive casualties suffered by the 2 Craven battalions of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and the other units mentioned on the memorials and the aftermath suffered by the survivors and their families, they might not have scribbled their puerile bollix in such a way.
And then, there's Cracoe War Memorial - an obelisk  a mile or so further on with the initials of the local dead carved into the stones and the names and units provided on a plaque. Happily, this is mostly unreachable by scum with felt tips, although they did leave their lucozade bottles and little yoghurt tubs around as memorials to their visits. (Yoghurt is not a medicine by the way - just a tip, there.....)

At last a descent to Thorpe is made and a final killer hill (for twenty-mile legs) through more green pastures and a bit of road took us back to the cars which were exactly where we'd left them.
The Crook Ramblers route is the first half into Skipton. It's very nice, quite pretty and so on....  but the best bit is Barden Fell. Crook Ramblers won't be seeing Barden Fell other than from below.
Further Long Walks will be happening over the summer.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Scrambling and Chocolate - Langdale Pikes

It' the school holidays in the East Midlands, but up in Pieland the lollipop peeps were out this morning. I was a bit relieved about this since it meant that the Lake District wouldn't be quite as busy as it had been during the bank holiday when , by all reports, it went a bit mad.

I was charged with providing some entertainment and exercise for two of the grandchildren currently on temporary lodging at Pietowers and, looking for something mildly scrambly but not specially dangerous, I chose Crinkle Crags and the climbers traverse on Bowfell. This, I thought, would provide a modicum of thrill, a bunch of health-giving and closely arranged contours and a quiet following night when they'd be too tired to fight (like wot brothers do)

However, on entering the National Trust car park, we were faced with a car parking charge of eight (yes, folks that's EIGHT) whole pounds sterling and a limited option of how to pay - cash only, in fact for non-members. So, instead, we went to the New Dungeon Gill car park which was only a fiver, AND the ticket provided a 10% discount off meals in the pub afterwards. This was Much More Like It,

The most striking view from the NDG car park is of the Langdale Pikes and not Crinkle Crags which is a long way over there -------> and in the haze. So, we decided to have a walk around the Langdales.
Our first objective was Angle Tarn where many moons ago, me and daughter #1 spent an entertaining night wild camping, searching for monsters and feeding the little fishes in the tarn on the debris from our dehydrated spag boll. I think #1 daughter was probably 5 or 6 or something.
Next up was an unsuccessful search in the scree beneath Pavey Ark for a howff which I'd found, probably fifty years ago, but could never find again. (A howff is an informal bivi place - this one is underground beneath some large boulders - I suppose that it's possible that the boulders have moved - hopefully not with anybody inside. That would be a really bad dream, innit?

 So, we bashed our way up Pavey Ark, then over to Thunacar Knott, back to Harrison Stickle, some intervening knobbles, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle and Martcrag Moor (the least impressive of our bag)  Any rocky bits on the way were climbed on and we descended Stake Pass for a paddle in Stake Beck.

All those contours and craggy parts took it's toll on the once energetic and enthusiastic sproglings and the last couple of kilometres were marked by enquiries as to how far there was to go. There was a brief period of celebration at the NDG and the childer slept the eighty mile drive back to Pietowers. Happily, neither are permanently broken and would probably do it again.