Sunday, 26 January 2020

Backpacking Barbon to Barkin Top and Back

 There's been a bit of a hiatus in the blogging, mainly due, I think, to the busyness of my walking and other activities (Christmas and so-on) But, I'm determined to restart for 2020 because, according to my diary (OK, it's a spreadsheet) - 2020 could be quite busy too.  So.....
I may or may not have mentioned this before (Too busy to look ... can't be arsed looking back over blog posts, me , JJ and Beryl , who is not really called Beryl at all, applied to do the 2020 TGO Challenge which happens in May. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned TGO challenges before in this blog (too busy to check) so regular readers will know what it is and any others who don't know probably do know about Google. Sooooo......  Me and JJ and Beryl (wot's not called Beryl) and Lucky The Dog determined to have a few days backpacking in a kind of practise sort of thing, but not really a practise, but just because we know each other and we all do wild camping etc. and we found an unusual space in our spreadsheets where all of us were available at the same time. Soooooooooooooo......... we went to Devil's Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale which was to be the intended start of our adventure until we decided that Barbon would be quieter and a better place to abandon two cars. It was foggy. It was murky. It was a bit drizzly. And we were a bit late, so we walked from Barbon until we found a nice place to camp, which happened after just two of the Queen's miles - a little platform next to a waterfall at Blind Beck. It went dark. It got mistier. An owl hooted. Lucky The Dog snuggled into his Woofbag, stuck his nose up his bum and didn't move much at all for the next 15 hours, other than to scoff a dentastick, a bonio, two handfuls of kibble and a pouch of Pedigree Vital. He had the same meal at dawn the next morning after snoring and farting the night away in between lively running-about-barking dreams.

 We progressed - up the track to Bullpot Farm and into Easegill, which turned out to be not so Easy. (I done a joke, there.....) We fought our way up Easegill through the mist and out into sunshine and on to the top of Crag Hill where the clag returned. We briefly bagged Great Coum and in looming darkness, stumbling over slippery scree and thickening fog, pitched at the first available flat bit next to a small stream. The night streamed in through the flaps and dampened everything inside the tent. In the meantime, Beryl, wot's not really called Beryl at all , provided a rendition of "Flower of Scotland" as I was waiting for my Beef Stroganoff to rehydrate (15 minutes, don't eat the oxygen eater and don't forget to flare your bottom. (That is to say, the bottom of the food pouch thingy, or you get crunchy bits where no crunchy bits ought to be)

Once again, Lucky The Dog took to his cosy stink pit , following almost exactly the same routine as the night before. The night was warm and damp and mizzly and damp and dark. Very very dark. And long, although, technically, a little bit shorter than the night before, it being after the solstice and everything.

Not really very early next morning (we're on holiday here, this is not a route march, this is supposed to be fun and civilised) - after my third half a tonne of porridge, we set off again - downhill this time, to the Barbon-Dentdale road where it was still foggy. The downhillness didn't last long and after a lunch by a small beck which, along with some cheese and a tot or two of cheap whisky, provided me with a short but unnerving dream, the next night,  about having worms up my nose after JJ pointed out that the water we used for brewing-up had "wrigglies" in it. No more downhill for a bit. Instead, we lurched and heaved ourselves uphill to Barkin Top and Calf Top - also known as Growling Bottom (in-joke can't be arsed explaining  you would struggle to understand. And, as I thought that my GPS was faulty , but in reality, I'd switched it to "battery save " mode where the screen goes blank after a few seconds, I took the opportunity to navigate by compass to descend The Calf, which is the ridge who's top is called Calf Top innit? This went remarkably well and we soon eventually found ourselves at a lovely camping spot beside a beck of clear and clean water of the kind that makes lovely tea and very nice chili con carne in a pouch. Lucky followed his now well established camp routine, only this time, because we didn't have far to go, he enjoyed an extra couple of hours in bed.

 And so, after a brief trespass where we ignored some "get out, clear off, you can't come in here" signs; followed by a little quiet road walking, we stumbled in to the Barbon Inn, where we were all made very welcome and where we had lunch and jinkies. JJ might have mentioned how nice the Timothy Taylor's beer was a few times.....   and that was that. We're all off in different directions, it seems, over the next few months, so it seems most unlikely that we'll be able to get together again before the actual TGO challenge. We're hoping to walk from Oban to Lunan Bay. Our vetter says our route is "interesting".  Below is a pic of Lucky The Dog fully rested after a marathon sleep of almost 15 hours. That's FIFTEEN hours. Without even a break. Remarkable....

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Long Walks - Waskerley and Stuff Like That There

Plan A was to walk around the head of Weardale from Cowshill - a route mainly above 2000 feet. I had a sinking feeling that this was too ambitious for a short winter's day, so, at almost the last minute I decided to repeat the walk we did last Christmas. This provides 21 miles of  easy walking which can be done at some speed, provided the tracks weren't frozen like wot they were last year.
And so, me, LTD, Bailey The Other Dog, Li Yang, and Diane and David, fresh from their trip to Annapurna Base Camp (no, really..) turned up at Wolsingham Train Station Car Park at dawn (roughly 8:00 a.m) Li Yang had brought a prezzie for Lucky; a lovely thermal/padded winter coat, which he changed into in the car park.

 Conditions were somewhat better than last year (probably disastrous global warming, I shouldn't wonder) - and the tracks weren't slippery at all. There was a thin cover of fresh snow and an equally thin and lazy wind which didn't bother going around a body, but insinuated itself through the clothing in a more direct fashion. On the upside, it was nice and sunny.

 So, we walked up through the mud and cowmuck of Thistlewood and onto the more solid moors, having First Lunch in the shelter of the trees in a suntrap by the  broken fences of the WW2 ammo dump near Waskerley.

 The walk up to Park Head was simply a matter of battering on up the gentle incline and battering off down the other side, turning on to the moor at the top of Crawleyside and finding a lovely suntrap in the quarry above Stanhope Dene for Lunch Number Two.
Riverside paths and roads and more pastures took us back to the start, arriving at about five o'clock, which is a bit quick for this group. (It's a bit quick for me too as it happens.) It went dark, of course but we did spot Santa on the Christmas Town Express which passed us going West as we went East. There IS a Santa after all. Those 8 year-olds at New Road Junior School in Earby in 1960 (ish) had lied. I sort of knew this all along, though. There were elves on the train too, so that proves it..... 
21 miles and a tad over 2100 feet of upness.
LTD loves his new coat. Thanks Li Yang...

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Long Walks - Bink Moss and Other Soggy Places


There was just me, LTD and Li Yang this time - Diane and David gone off on an alternative walk in Nepal. The persistent persistence of precipitation (I bet you can't say that with a mouthful of crisps), over the last two months, and , in particular last week, has lead to the fields being a bit more than soggy. Bink Moss is just what is says, it's a moss. In even the driest droughts, it's a bog. So, after weeks and weeks of slashing driven rain, it's Very Very Wet.

 Saturday had been specially drippy, and, with a weather forecast saturated with phrases like "heavy showers", "cold Easterlies" and "don't go out yer big mad bugger and what's wrong with lighting the fire and watching Coronation Street Omnibus with a pot of hot coffee and some toast then eh?, there was a temptation to cancel. And Sunday morning was  cold, grey and dark, just like a November pre-dawn, which is exactly what it was. But we set off to Middleton in Teesdale, splashing the tyres through all the overnight dubs on the back road by Hamsterley Forest. But it wasn't raining.

 So we paddled up the Pennine Way past Kirkcarrion and on up the bridleway to the fences and walls which can be handrailed up into the mists of Bink Moss. The way is relieved in places by duckboarding. In other places there are diversions to avoid deep sloppynesses. But we arrived at the summit wellybobs in reasonable states of dryness, just as it began to rain. Deep peat. Deep joy. A plover expressed it's opinion by going "peep". Just one "peep". A doleful, miserable plover, clearly fed up with life on Bink Moss.
 We progressed to Hagworm Hill, where there were no hagworms. I expect they've all drowned weeks ago. Or they've emigrated somewhere drier. A soggy moor followed which required some navigating. The path is invisible through the heather and mosses and never really appears, although there's one or two posts which are usually seen far away to the left , or, sometimes, to the right. Never straight ahead. The beck at the foot of Green Trod needed paddling. Li Yang found a way somewhere up in the juniper, apparently involving balancing on a rock. I can't do that. I fall off things like that and my camera is too expensive to be dunked, so I removed boots and socks and paddled. It wasn't too cold and it stopped raining.

 Gracie, presumably a young family member at Cronkley Farm is chosen to attend a Jamboree in Poland next year and, as I know from family experience, attendees are expected to raise funds to pay for Jamborees. Gracie (bless 'er) has set up an honesty-based "tuck shop" at a strategic point where the Pennine Way emerges from slippery rocks and sloppy mud on to the Gracie's farm track. She's selling pop and chocolate and deserves to succeed. Just sayin'. (Count this as an advert by the way)
 We crossed to Forest School and followed a well-trodden route to Bowlees, then over Coldberry Gutter where it went dark quite suddenly. I carry two headlights, preferring to swap lights if one goes down instead of faffing with batteries in the dark. And dropping a battery into the grass and not being able to find it without a light. Or even with a light. Both my lights seemed to have duff batteries on this occasion, so I had to feel the way a bit.
At the end we abandoned the intended route through the fields and woods back to Middleton in favour of a plod down the road.  This is quite easy in the dark.
The walk was just 20 miles (more than 19 by the way...) and with 3500 feet of upness. I think this is not too bad for this time of year.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

A Reccy on NIne Standards Rigg

Me and LTD are leading a guided walk for Crook and Weardale Ramblers quite shortly and, according to our Walk Leader Standards, we should be doing a reccy of the route (even if we think we know it pretty well already) - so I allowed LTD to chauffeur us over Stainmore to Kirkby Stephen for a walk on Nine Standards Rigg

 As you'll see from the pictures, it was a nice day. It's unusual this Autumn to have a nice day, but here we had one. It was cold though and some puddles on the hill were frozen and there was snow on Mickle Fell and the Cross Fell hills

 It was worth the effort to reccy, though (it being a nice day like wot I said above) and a route from the summit trig to Rollinson Hags was explored (I've lost a glove up there, so if you find one you can have it. You might need another on the  other side, though. ) And I changed the route to include the summit of Tailbridge Hill which has a fine cairn and a cracking view of the Howgill Fells, for only another 40 metres of ascent.

 Attentive readers, specially thoise from the North of England will have noted that, in the main, it's been chucking it down for weeks and weeks now and this, combined with the attentions of some cattle, who are now, thankfully absent from the route, has made some sections of the walk a right boggy mess. It's inevitable that walkers attending the walk next week will be clarted up to the eyeballs in a mixture of mud and manure. We like to call this mixture "slutch" With a bit of luck it will freeze.

 One section of the walk goes down through the woods by Ladthwaite Beck. Wet tree roots hidden under leaves have made this quite skitey. But it's very beautiful, so we may risk a second interaction with Kirkby Stephen MRT. I meantersay, lightening could stike twice, could it?  On the reccy day it was occupied by people in camouflage with shotguns standing about waiting for grey squirrels to pop up, Apparently they'd been there a while and not seen any.

The walk is on the Crook and Weardale Ramblers Winter Programme and is quite fab. More details of the walks is found here  (Click it, don't just stare at it!)