Friday 31 October 2008

A hankering

I've decided to go camping for a couple of days. So I'm off to the Howgills early next week. Its been niggling at me for a week or so now. I hope it rains and blows all night. It'll be fab. I'm really looking forward to this.... I'll be taking a book and some extra lighting for the long, dark night. I'm quite buzzing with anticipation....

The pic shows my intended camping spot.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Holes are for looking into

Anybody who read this blog’s post about the footpath stuff I do for County Durham may well have noticed , in one of the pictures, a footbridge with a tunnel next to it. Or maybe not, eh?

I’ve walked over and passed this tunnel many times and wondered where it went. I thought it might be just a culvert.

Today, me and two other peri-geriatrics (Brian and Charlie) put on our wellies, found our torches and went for a look.

It turns out to be a stone-lined and arched tunnel carrying just a small trickle of water which goes towards some lead mine spoil heaps for , maybe just over 100 metres.
Inside, there’s a few little side passages, more like drains, really, and one which appears to have a door at the end, but which was too tight and wet to get very far into. Beyond the door, obviously, is a secret world where everybody wears green clothes and the King sits on a throne of robins, holding the Book of Moons in his right hand and a Bill Bryson book about Australia in the other - and is surrounded by maidens in floaty white frocks singing songs about the elf king’s daughter and wondering where Thomas the Rhymer has got to….. Or it could just be another wet and muddy passage.

After we’d come out, much muddier than when we went in, we paddled up the beck and found an old dam with some reconstruction going on and a leat, a wheel pit, some clinker, another culvert some bits of a Victorian teapot and a stalactite from deep underground.

Then we went for a cup of tea.

Its grand to poke around, looking into holes.

Its at Boltshope Burn near Blanchland – a very productive mine, bits of which were producing fluorspar in to the 1980’s. Which is quite remarkable.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Border HuMPing

I meant to do much more than this, but, in the end, an icy road up past Kielder, some slow traffic and pausing too long over the porridge meant I could only bag two of these fine little HuMPs just South of Hawick.

But, as Kevin Shakespeare once wrote in his brotehr's English homework book "There's many a man in England still at work who would think himself accursed that he was not here" Kevin;'s brother Eric used some of the phrase in his book about something or other. Or was it Bill?
Anyway, it were a fine and frosty day and just a bit icy on the tops.
First bag was Pike Fell, 400 metres - which sported a really cracking surprise view of the middle bit of Scotland when breasting the ridge. Some hills in the distance ? Lowthers possibly??) had snow on their tops.
Bag two was Penchrise Pen, a, with a hill fort on top, in the shape of a motte and bailey, and two fortified settlements at the bottom, which stood out really well in the low sunshine.... and two lads banging fence posts in with a big fence-post banger-inner. A small version of this would be useful for tent pegs...
Me and superdawg lunched on the North side, out of the nithering gale wot was blowing straight out of the Reykyavick Asda Freezer section and right up me buffalo (yes, it was that cold)

As the sun set, we scooted off home to tell our mum all about what had happened.
Note for anybody stuck in traffic jams today - The A7 was completely empty as for miles and miles and miles today.... what fun....what a fab group of hills.
A HuMP, by the way, is a hill with 100 metre prominence.

Sunday 26 October 2008

I got a place!

Roger Smith, the TGO Challenge co-ordinator and all-round good egg just emailed me to say that I've got a place on the 2009 TGO Challenge - and, as it will be my ninth, I also get a place on the 2010 TGO Challenge.]

Smug mode.

This has cheered me up no end from the dark time of year and the, frankly, crap news from other bloggers who are being specially unlucky with their personal lives at the moment. All I need to do now is not to have any major illnesses before the end of May 2010, and , of course, to complete two TGO Challenges.

Glenelg for me in May, with an early start on Skye....
Pic of adminfairy waiting for her tea


Suddenly, overnight, we’ve been time-shifted into winter. Its at times like these when I really appreciate not having a job. No longer do I have to battle through the dark and sleet to get home for me tea. Unless I’ve been on a walk, obviously. Or to the shops… anyway, the point is, this really isn’t my favourite time of year. I suppose I could spend the dark nights writing me novel or something. In reality, I’m such a lazy git, I’ll probably just doze the winter through. Bottles of red, good book (a good book, not THE good book, Radio 4 on the radio, dog snoring legs in the air by the radiator….)

This also feels like the end of the year (Yes, I know it isn’t). It’s the time when I usually cheer meself up by planning whatever I might do next year. This depends, somewhat as to whether or not I get to do the TGO Challenge. Just waiting for the envelope… In the meantime,I’ll likely make a list of hills I might want to bag.

And, as for hillwalking, well, it all starts to become a bit more rushed to try to get off any tricky bits of hill before it gets too dark to find the headlight. The rush is necessary cos I've got up late due to the fact that it was dark outside when I was supposed to get up and now I havn't got time to do what I intended to do.
I noticed that the wires on my Petzl are wearing through. It would likely have let me down at some crucial point. I’ll have to get a new one.


Thursday 23 October 2008

Bloody Bush Edge

Me and superdawg decided that as the weather forecasts for the rest of the week are for gales and wind and sleet and wind, that on the one promised nice day, we'd have a proper walk.
The purpose of this one was to bag two sloppy Deweys in the Cheviot Hills.
Dewey Number One has the rather odd name of Lint Lands. There's no lint on it at all. There is a lot of very tough heather and its very flat and unnasuming, but has a fine view of The Cheviot itself.

In the woods on the way, we had a bit of a staring competition with a Roe deer. Went on for ten minutes. In the end the deer got bored and wandered off. Bruno didnt seem too interested (we'd watched Dog Borstal the night before and I think he was a bit wary. I told him to "leave" anyway and he sort of shrugged and tutted.
We followed the victory on Lint Lands with a plodge through the deep mud and floods caused by eejits on trail bikes riding up salters Road bridleway. (dhuhhh) - and then a climb up to the trig on Bloodybush Edge - the top of our walk at just 2000 feet.
Yarnspath law was our second Dewey - some nice, dry, comfy heather on that one - and we got back to the car just as the light was fading.
Good name, innit - Boodybush? There's also a Murder Cleugh on this walk. Dire deeds in the past, I think. Its all within a couple of miles of the Border.
fab walk in cold, sunny weather - bit sloppy - 12 miles and 2200 feet of climbing.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

G'bye, old friend (sob)

Last week, on the windy summit of Moel-yr-Hydd (pronounced "Moel-yr-Hydd"), my old friend and walking companion of thirty-one years sadly (sniff) and suddenly (whimper) passed away. (quiver) This is a horrible thing to happen in the middle of a walk, as I'm sure you will agree.

I had to carry my friend down off the hill, put him into the boot of the car and bring him home to County Durham.

In the end, it was just old age. he'd had a rusty bottom for a few years now. But I ignored it, as you do. Thought it might heal up, somehow. It didn't seem to bother him, and he managed to keep warm even through the worst winter weather. But suddenly, and disastrously, last week the glass interior had become detached from the plastic neck due to severe corrosion and the final moments were a haemorrhage of warm green tea all over my new caggy. I'm only now able to talk about it without... but I'm choking up as I type....

I've had him since 1977. Now he's gone. There's a big space in my to the tupperware box.....

Still, I could probbly get a new one for a cuppla quid at the Shell Station,,,

Sunday 19 October 2008

I wandered lonely as a crowd

Anyway, I’ve been doing lots and lots and lots of bagging of Welsh hills, but it struck me as I wandered lonely one day, (a bit like a cloud, as it happens**) that you can tell when a family has had one of those “fresh start” discussions when the TV has been turned off and “Dad” says a few words about what he and “Mum” have decided….

It was just like this as I wandered lonely down the track from the summit of Moel Famau – an, apparently extremely well known and popular hilltop in the Cwydian Hills.

On the way down, we (that is, me and superdawg) were met with lots of people coming up. This had been exactly the same as I had climbed up the hill, except in the fact that most of the people on that occasion had been coming down.

It appeared to me that several things were happening here.

1) The entire lower middle class population of Merseyside and places with local accents which could be mistaken for Merseyside (eg Chester) containing families of two more people and a dog were either going up or coming down Moel Famau, apart from the few who were sitting around on the top trying to stop their dogs barking at the view.
2) Several of these families had recently had a family meeting (see above) during which the subject of (The Dad’s) increasing beer belly and how the likelihood of his having a serious cardiac incident were going to be delayed somewhat by the entire family taking part in regular and enjoyable group exercise also designed at getting the family “to do stuff together” instead of sitting around all Sunday not doing their homework.
3) Some of the family members weren;t really enjoying this to be honest, inparticular the Mums and the kids
4) Some members of the family, though would be having a fab time if it weren’t for the other family members having a right old whinge or trying to stop them barking at the view, eating sheep poo and protecting the family from other dogs.
5) Despite the announcement that they’d better get used to it because this was what they would be doing every Sunday from now on, this, in fact would be the very last time that this sort of thing would happen on a Sunday. Next Sunday, the weather would be just too iffy and it would be much cosier and cheaper in front of the telly and Mum’s headache wouldn’t travel too well down the A55. The dog, however, would be disappointed.
I walked about a bit
By Myself
And saw lots of Yellow Flowers.
I fink they were daffidils or somefing.

W Wordsworth 3C

(Wordsworth – A poor effort. See me at 4 o’clock – Mr Teech)
A couple of Welsh holiday pics are shown above. It were great. I’d do it again.

Thursday 2 October 2008

North Pennine Footpath Stuff

Just been out doing a very pleasurable duty. I do a spot of light rangering for Durham County Council, part of which is walking around on some footpaths that I’ve adopted and reporting any issues – blockages, duff stiles, that kind of thing.

Today’s task was to do two little walks with lots of paths on them. The first was at Blanchland and is about six miles of woodland, pastures and moor, and the second is at Edmundbyers– about nine miles of high, sweeping moor on easy paths.

This is great countryside for marching manfully, or gracefully girly, or, should you so wish – just doing a bit of mincing. It doesn’t matter – nobody will see you. You can sing entire albums at the top of your voice if you want. Nobody will complain.

Cos there’s nobody there…

So, today was fabulous quick, easy walking in lots and lots of lovely space and big views – right up to the Cheviots , thanks to a bit of an arctic blast. These always bring clear, crisp air – and so it was today.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed myself so much since the siege of Pontefract.

Actually,, no I wasn’t there was I? Anyway, it were grand. Didn’t see a soul, broke off some overhanging branches and kicked a bit of a drain to clear a boggy bit. Nothing much at all to report to DCC, though in the past we’ve had new bridges, extra waymarks, people with chainsaws…..

Anyway, me and your mum and superdawg are off on our hols for two weeks now. . Try not to get into any bother. Any damage will come out of your spending money. Please do the washing up at least once during the fortnight, and don’t have loads of kids in. No parties. Are you listening? As I say, I will find out. Your drawer is full of clean pants and socks. Feed the cat and let him out if its not raining…

Oh, and could you pay the Rington’s man, I’ll leave the money behind the clock. Get some of those chocolate teacakes……..look, don’t sigh……