Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The Hill That The Nuttals Missed

Boy Lee Knott North Face

When the list of hills categorized as Nutalls (610 metres + with 15 metres of renascent was published, this one probably didn't exist. And, because it developed on the grouse moors just above Rookhope in Weardale, the locals, being a significant population of keepers and beaters determined to keep it a dark secret, so as not to attract hordes of bobble-hatted Nutall Baggers

Boy Lee Knott South Ridge

Geologists will confirm that beneath Rookhope, there is a large bulge or bubble of hot granite which was discovered several years ago by the sinking of a borehole. This was subsequently vandalised by local teddy boys who had just attended an exciting Adam Faith concert in Darlington and, fired up by half a pint of dark mild each, chucked a load of rocks down the hole and bunged it up. This disturbed both the geologist and the geology.  And so, at some point in the 1950's, Boy Lee Knott (610.6 metres), under enormous Earth-based pressure emerged suddenly and steaming from the moorland, obliterating grouse butts numbers 3 to 12 and ruining one of the drives. This was only the latest in a series of volcanic incidents, the previous one being 150 million years ago. So these things are quite regular in geological terms, but a bit of a surprise in Weardale, specially in the Smoke Room of the Rookhope Inn.
LTD Struggle with  Boy Lee Knott screes

Boy Lee Knott summit in summer

The name "Boy Lee Knott" comes from an old local legend about a young lad called Lee who fell in love with t'maister's youngest daughter, Sharon. (T'maister was a Yorkshireman by the way, not that this is really all that relevant.) Such was t'maister's fury that the Boy Lee was instantly dismissed from his post as ore washer and sock darner in the local lead miners' shop. (He was said to have a defective sense of smell)  So, he and Sharon eloped and were never seen again. There are tales that t' maister's men  subsequently committed a dastardly deed, dumping the bodies of the lovers down a shaft and,  shortly afterwards  on 31st March 1886 there was a fire at Grimley Manor in which t'maister was said to have perished; the Boy Lee's dad, Isaac Isembard Moses Lucifer Lee and his mates in the smokeroom at the  Rookhope Inn being a suspect, although, it is said that some of the local miners were quite a bit miffed about having to fettle their own socks. Ever since then , on the night of March 31st/April 1st t'maister's ghost is seen to pursue the Boy Lee and Sharon across the Nookton Edge crying the phrase "Come here yer little git" into the wind. Their ghostly shapes are seen to disappear behind the looming bulk of Boy Lee Knott and not come out of the other side.

I've decided to expose the hill to Ramblers and Baggers everywhere and I submit a couple of pictures of Boy Lee Knott in winter garb. I'm not saying exactly where it is because finding it would be so much fun. Except to say that it's just opposite and a good kilometre away from Flamey Knott and not all that far away from Steamy Knott.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Evening Around (yes, you've guessed it, it's Crook, Innit?)

 Me and LTD set off quite late, taking advantage of the fact that some eejit had been fiddling with all the clocks. Apparently, it was now British Summer Time and, to celebrate this, it had been snowing overnight and, whilst there was no lying snow in Crook (presumably the ground had warmed up a bit) - there was a dusting to be seen on the Weardale Moors from the top of Cold Knott, a lofty height of just 256 metres overlooking Crook roundabout on the A68 and a large part of Upper Weardale.
 This route is about 5.7 miles and with 450 feet up uppity and exactly the same amount in a downhill direction. Its a nice walk although one of the public footpaths ends at a fence where it should cross a fence, but there's an alternative one a bit further along the field. So that was OK, then,

 There were a few doggy walkers about early on, a family group and a man dressed in camo with some binoculars - and lots and lots of ewes with lambs. There's plenty of space to pass far, far apart, though and most people seemed to want to avoid me rather than me avoiding them. Maybe it was the bloodstained PPE and the axe. People can be funny about how you dress around here.
One field has been half ploughed , so this might get difficult when Farmer Brown finishes the ploughing - and the footpath goes right across the middle, so it will be muddy. Some of the other paths, specially in Kitty's Wood are getting muddy with all the extra traffic. On the upside, Crook Ramblers and Groundworks did a litter-pick in Kitty's Wood in the winter, collecting 26 bags of litter, a bike saddle, an estate agents "For Sale sign and a derelict tent with a hole in it and - wait for it.... thee place still looks fairly tidy. There is some extra litter blown-in from neighbouring fields and a few extra crisp packets. And we almost caught a sunset, but it was nithering cold and I hadn't a headlight or any other kit so I'd have had to alter my intended route if it had gone dark (Local woods have a  lot of brambles to trip over)

Anti-clockwise for this one!

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Another Shortish Walk: Holy Well and Bitchburn

Yet another 5 mile walk to prevent the brain from going completely off the rails (it still has 3 out the 4 wheels on the rails). Actually, spending yesterday in the sun in the back garden with LTD snoozing away beside me was no bad thing. I don't have much to worry about, really - I have an NHS pension and an age-related pension, so, provided the government doesn't run out of money actually, that's a bit worrying innit?
This walk was a bit of an exploration - that is to say, I explored paths I'd never explored before. But the route works - it's a bit obscure at one point and I did get seduced into a random exploration of North Bitchburn Woods from Howden le Wear, but that was interesting and I return and explore some more. Bitch Burn (or Beech Burn) is a significant stream with some deep pools, but it flows through Crook and it has, quite obviously, carried large amounts of plastic downstream, much of which is stuck in the flood debris, which also seems to consist principally of the remains of industrial buildings and lumps of coal. But it's potentially a very nice spot and, unmapped by ordnance survey is a huge asset to the people of Howden le Wear who, judging by the wear on the paths, use it quite a bit.

The walk also sports a really really old oak tree and, at the moment, pregnant sheep and newly born lambs. It's really important to keep the dog, if you have a dog, under very very close control amongst the sheep and lambs. Just sayin' - don't let the pooch run about is what I'm saying.

And, in contrast to yesterday's weather, today it was cold and there were  driving sleety showers, which is not LTD's favourite thing. In fact a naughty shower just like this interrupted his rolling in something I couldn't identify. And he ate whatever it was before I could take it off him.
The walk is 5.4 miles and 550 feet of upness, starting from Crook Market Place. I did 7 miles, due to not starting or finishing in Crook Market Place, but from Pietowers and including a perambulation of North Bitchburn Woods and getting lost a bit at one point. Here's a map.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Dog Yoga

 OK, so we had a day off today. It was lovely and warm in the sun in the back garden today. And it was Merlot Friday, so....
Here, Lucky The Dog demonstrates various dogyoga positions which are ideal for the mental health on a warm and sunny spring-like day. I meantersay, it might rain or get cold soon, so you have to take opportunities exactly as they arise. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I would say, though, that after this, LTD was so exhausted that, after tea, he had to retire to his crate and hasn't been seen since. Must be tired out, the poor wee lamb.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Short(ish) Doggy Walks From Pietowers #1 and #2

 There's something about quiet streets and no aircraft that reminds me of the streets of Earby on a Sunday afternoon in July when most of the town had gone off to Morecambe and Blackpool for a week when all the mills closed down for holiday week. There's no actual restriction on walking at the moment, although dark clouds of disapproval may be gathering just over the horizon. But, to stay off the ventilator, it seems a good idea to either retain some lung fitness, or, if you haven't really got lung fitness, you might decide that with all this spare time, you could go out and get some. This might well involve following your pet dog up some steep contours for a while. Having experienced the Foot and Moth crisis in 2001 when all rights of way were closed and an enforced lay-off for several months due to me having a dicky ticker, I understand just how easy it is for an old fart like me to lose fitness. So, you gotta keep it up, innit?

 I know it says two walks in the title of this blogpost, but I actually did three. Its just that I did one twice....  Providing I can keep this up and, bearing in mind that LTD is very keen, I'm hoping to do a different route every day for as long as it takes to run out of routes. The first two are both 5 miles and 500 feet of lovely, brown uphill contours. (Downhill contours are also brown by the way, it's just that they don't count)

 I am commending these trundles to anybody who might like to try them. There's plenty of space to spread out although they're a lot more popular than they were a week ago when people had to go to work and the sprogs were at school. It seems that walking about , usually solo, sometimes in pairs, and sometimes with kids and dogs in tow is now the Thing To Do. As secretary of Crook and Weardale Ramblers, I think this is brilliant.

 Both of these two routes would start at the Health Centre car park on Hope Street and there's maps at the end of this post should anybody want to try to follow them. They're both relatively easy, very low on risk (take care crossing the roads) and have friendly ponies, spring flowers, skylarks, curlews and chiff-chaffs and all that kinda stuff. And they're doggy friendly.

 And on Dowfold Hill , which, be warned, has a short but brutal uphill struggle to the stile at the top rewarded by a fine view of Crook and the North Pennines and North Yorks Moors, PLUS four fabby-whizz new stiles installed quite recently by Groundworks (but it was our idea!)

 Maps below: I went clockwise, but this is not compulsory.