Sunday 30 August 2009

Wet Evening Activity - I'm Only Making Plans (for Nigel Ooooeee!)

So anyway, the plan to visit Dartmoor in a couple of weeks time has been defeated by the British Army. I should have looked at the bloody firing schedule first.

Then I thought, I'll go in November!

Then I thought, bugger that pour un jeu des soldats. Dartmoor? In November? It'll be dark!

So I've replanned stuff. Depending on the 2010 firing schedule, I'm now planning to go in June or July 2010. And in the other June and July 2010, the one where there's a month when I don't go to Dartmoor, I'll nick off to Brecon or somewhere very similar for a week.

Which leaves the problem of what to do with my empty week in September.

You could decorate the dining room, I hear you say. Or at least I hear a voice in the distance, possibly the wilderness.... maybe the kitchen.... No no no! I have to make the best of this glorious summer weather wot they're having somewhere else other than wherever I am...

Section 16 calls. This is not part of the Mental Health act, oh no! It is, in fact, part of Scotland. The bit of Scotland, in fact with the Ochils and Fife and those little hills on the right as you come out of Glasgow up by Loch Lomond. A neglected area for me. So Section 16 it is, then. Five days of relaxed Marilyn bagging. I'll find a campsite in the middle somewhere - probably near Perth, I shouldn't wonder. I'll do some sleeping and read a book. And I'll kill a bottle of Old Lochaber in the process. It'll be fab, and its only just up the road.

And, whilst we're planning things for 2010 - I've had a hankering for a while to walk up the middle of the Isle of Man. So I'm considering this for a pre-TGO Challenge practise wander in April 2010.

Its always good to have a plan B.

For those who offerred help and suggestions for the September Dartmoor trip - I will be in touch. But not just yet. I'm really very grateful, but it just wasn't meant to be. I should have gone last month instead of wherever it was that I went....
Where did I go? Did I enjoy it? Have I returned? Which bits of equipment did I lose on the way?
And have I any physical or mental damage from the experience?

Hopefully we'll get another long, hot summer in 2010 just like this one (koff!)
Sorry about this rambling post, it's just that I'm supposed to be on a bat walk with Darren, but it's chucking it down in Co Durham and we thought the bats might not come out in the rain, so we didn't go.... Y'see - this is my point about making plans....

Friday 28 August 2009

Dartmoor - The Next Big Thing

I've decided to spend my last remaining Good Boy Points on a little trip to Dartmoor.

I haven't planned any of this yet, so there's a chance for any Dartmoor experts or afficianados out there to make suggestions about -well, about anything, really. I will consider just about anything.

The skeleton of my plan so far is this:

Catch a train to Exeter and then a bus to Okehampton (gives me a chance to walk a linear route and its cheaper than driving anyway)

Walk South (ish), bagging Yes Tor on the way.

I can spend about four, maybe five days walking.

Camping after Okehampton wil be wild.

I intend to look at the map fairly soon!

Bruno can't come as he refuses to carry 5 tins of doggy chunks and there's the small matter of the smell. He complains about the smell....

And thats about it, really...

Any contributions to the trip (other than company!) - for example, interesting places, views, tors, tops or whatever to be included - are welcome - lets see if anything transpires.

A pic of Dartmoor isn't included in this posting as I've never been before, but there's a pic of something else. Probably a dog having a think.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Loose Ends

I'm having a bit of a hiatus or gap between activities at the moment (makes me feel like a real outdoor blogger!) - so I just thought I'd reflect on the fact that for anybody who is considering applying for the 2010 TGO Challenge - the October issue of TGO Magazine, with the TGO Challenmge application form comes out in..... September.

And its very nearly September.

I for two are looking forward to the TGO cycle of applications and route submissions and vetters comments and those interesting and fairly predictable rows on the TGO forum when some eejit asks for GPS co-ordinates for Waverley station or any suggestions as to how to get out of Plockton and which way to head after that, with a list of all the best camping spots please and an idea as to whether or not the walking is easy or difficult.

And it'll inevitably snow like buggerry in the Highlands in April and one or two venerable Challengers will breathe their last (hopefully not me as this should be my tenth) and there'll be a cheese and wine party with no cheese and various pre-walk daunders and stuff like that.

Lightweighters kit will work magnificently but yet most of them will fail to arrive in Montrose.

I'll be going lightweight next year. I've got my pack down to just 0.5 kg without the rucksack or any food or underpants. if I stock it up, it goes up to 14 kg, though. I just don't know what to do.... Ive got a spork.... Its lime green. Should I cut my tent pegs in half or discard the inner of the akto and call it a tarp?

But, on your tenth, you get an automatic place on the Chally - unless you really insult somebody or something - so this leads to a certain expectation, and, therefore, pressure, to make sure you take part AND get to Montrose. What if I don't? What if I can't?


Life on the sofa has certain attractions.....

Sunday 23 August 2009

Gaping Gill - Courtesy of Craven Pothole Club

Just after the Hadrians Wall walk, I met TGO Challenger, Blogger (Pennine Ranger) and Pieblog follower Tony Bennet in the New Inn at Clapham for a cuppla small snifters and then for an overnight camp in a nearby farmer’s field. (sort-of pre-arranged)

And on Saturday we walked up to Gaping Gill where Craven Pothole Club were having their annual winch meet. This is a big event and it is one of the two chances in a year that the general non-caving public get to experience being winched down and enormous wet hole – and back out again for small fee (£10).

A small village of tents springs up alongside Fell Beck and, this year, this will stay in place for around a fortnight.

Visitors hurtling down the yawning chasm on a thin bit of wire will experience a hole in which, it is said, you could fit York Minster. The place is awesome in the truest sense of the word. It is enormous and scary and beautiful. The only way to get a real feel for just how big this place is on the inside is to give yourself up to the winch. The other occasion is Bradford Pothole Club's winch meet each May.

Our purpose was for Tony to do a shift or two at the bottom of GG as a guide and for me to join him at the end of the first shift for a wander around the cave system of which GG is but a part.

First, we made our prescence known to the booking tent. Then, we found a camping spot several hundred metres upstream. I had a good old snooze during which Kylie’s bra strap remained unsullied, and Tony went off to make arrangements, returning with a rubber wrist band with my number on it. (153 as it happens)

At about half-one -ish he left to do his shift and about an hour later I paid my fee and waited for my turn, which came just before four.

The victim is sat in a yellow chair suspended over a void on a couple of cables. He/she is instructed to keep the feet tucked under the chair and is then dropped in an accelerating kind of way alongside mossy walls into the flow of a thin waterfall. Rock walls speed by as the darkness swallows the winchee. After about a minute, hands from below grasp the chair and the tyro caver is ejected on to a cobble floor inside the main chamber, a hall of such proportions that without the odd bit of lighting, a lamp beam wil not reach from one wall to another. Dark figures and lights wander about in the gloom.

I joined Tony and his group for the last ten minutes of their tour, then , off duty, I followed Tony up a bouldery climb and along crawling passages and up muddy slides into Sand cavern. After this we had more muddy crawling (lovely stuff!) and a very scary moment passing the yawning black hole of South-West Pot and finally into the chamber beneath Bar Pot. We then reversed the journey, back over the even scarier-in-reverse rockstep down to a traverse about South West Pot (at which point I needed a certain amount of support, otherwise I would have probably slid down into the hole) – at which point another caver arrived, apparently from out of the sky.

Looking upwards, we could see lights, and, soon afterwards, another caver, a young lass called Anna, also arrived by abseil. She seemed to be enjoying herself immensely , and, in fact, it was this wee lassie who was making squeaky or otherwise howling and whooping noises as she was being winched out of GG as I was waiting to be winched in. This group were having a second trip into the system today, and using single rope techniques to get around quickly.

Reversing the rest of the route was a simple matter and we soon joined the queue to be winched out. This took a couple of hours – as it was a long queue. But hot tea and coffee regularly arrived by winch and were distributed amongst us. Finally, just before eight o’clock, I was winched out. This was just as thrilling as being winched in, I have to say.

I should confess at this point that I’ve been in this hole a couple of times before in the 1980’s. I didn’t like crossing SW Pot even then. Now its just too scary and slippery for me. Its an easy scramble, but the consequences of slipping off that mud-caked climb are just too disastrous to contemplate. Brrrrr…. Oooer….

Anyway, shortly afterwards we repaired to the Trenchfoot Arms. (Beer tent) . The evening was congenial, with the tent warmed by paraffin lamps and some kind of trick pipe being handed around. The trick was to blow the pipe to make a little wheel turn around. There was a technique to it, which, if the blower got it wrong, resulted in a large puff of talcum powder being blown into the blower’s face. There were numerous white faces in the bar that night.

This morning, I left at about half eight or so and walked back to Clapham – thence to Ingleton for a “Caver’s Breakfast” at Bernie’s gear shop. And very nice it was too.

Brian lent me the caving suit, lamp, knee pads and neoprene socks. Cheers Brian. I really must buy myself some underground kit.

Thanks also to Craven Pothole Club members for letting me be Tony’s guest and for being so damned friendly, and, of course, thanks to Tony. Even yet another example of TGO social networking paying dividends.
Craven Pothole Club's website, with all the details of the winch meet, and other meets/membership/history (its a very venerable institution) is at
And, as we're doing links, Tony Bennet's new blog is at

Cracking weekend, worra blast… absolute hoot…….

Hadrians Wall Day 4 Housesteads to Birdoswald

Having postponed my walk on Hadrians Wall due to a duff weather forecast, I turned up at Housesteads car park (pay and display £3 for the day) – in heavy rain… well dhuuhhh… Anyway, it soon stopped. Then it started again. Then it stopped..stated ..stopped…. I think you’re probably getting the picture.

I’ve walked this part of the wall many times before, and most of today’s walk coincides with the Pennine Way (wot I’ve also done – see Doodlecat)

There’s a lot of up and down. In fact, it’s up and down like a bride’s nightie – but there is a lorra lorra archaeology, chuck and the actual wall – sometimes as high as eight or nine feet – is followed for closely for most of the way. This includes the absolute classic view of Hadrian’s Wall that appears in all pictures of Hadrian’s Wall. I’ve included one version of the same pic. The cliché bit is about the poor Roman soldiers all lonely in their turrets, gazing out over a brown steppe-like countryside wrapped in their woolly togas, fondling their short swords and thinking of Rome.

I strongly suspect it wasn’t much like this. They were more likely to be thinking of Spain or somewhere else, and there was probably a healthy social life involving celtic beer and naughty ladies. Possibly naughty goats, cos some of the Romans (it is said) were a bit like that. And the countryside was farmed and those to the North weren’t by any means all hostile all of the time.

So it was probably just boring. Doing a stint in a milecastle or a turret would have been deadly dull, cos nothing much happened for ages and ages and ages….

And it’s a little bit like that. Sometimes you can get just a bit too much of the Romans. But it’s The Wall, innit. I mean to say, it’s The Wall.

This is a tough bit, though. I covered a bit less ground than intended. There were attempted muggings by some youthful beef, but I was standing for no nonsense. They soon lost interest and went back to eating the landscape. The ground was also waterlogged with becks in spate. The path isn’t very muddy, though. I think the failure to do the full planned distance was more to do with a late start and all those contours.
Today also crossed the highest point on the wall - Winshiels crag at 345 metres. This categorizes this LDP as a low level walk, (thats what I think anyway) - but walkers, especially thise maybe doing their first LDP, should be aware that this section is harder than anything else. It is the crux of the route, if LDPs have a crux. Take your time on this part, and don't plan it as part of a long day. There's coffee and cakes to be had at Carvoran and Birdoswald and there's a pub just off route near Great Chesters and a pub at greenhead. Take advantage of these. You are on holiday y'know....

I walked for a while with an American with an Osprey rucksack and trail shoes. His opinion was that this was a very beautiful country and , of course, he was right. He knew a lot about the Romans….

At the end, at Bordoswald, I had a coffee and got the AD122 bus back to the Housesteads. This is an excellent service with very helpful and friendly drivers – and it seems to be well used.

Another 12 miles of the wall done – and 1800 feet of up and down.

This is the best section (so far…)

After this I visited Hexham for the supermarket and the petrol and headed off down to Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales for a little bit of caving… more of which in a bit.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Hayberries - The Family Periglacial Moraine

I was supposed to do a bit more of Hadrians Wall today, but the weather forecast had weather warnings for Cumbria and I would now be entering the Western part of the wall. I just didn’t fancy getting wet yet again. So I was quite pleased, really, when, at about half ten or so, on my third coffee, it started raining on Crook.

Later, whilst suffering from Bloggers Finger, I decided to take the dogs for a run around Hamsterley Forest. (The dogs do the running, I just watch…) I put two one pound coins in my pocket, loaded the doggies into the new knipemobile with the clean seat covers and no dog sick down between the seats and set off for Hamsterley.

There was a lad on checkpoint Charlie at the entrance. He was in his little checkpoint hut. He had the look of somebody who had come to work this morning full of hope for yet another interesting and useful day cutting down trees and having interesting chats about yesterday’s defeat of Man United by the Turf Moor lads, only to be told that he was working the toll booth today. He’d been there since half eight. It was now Three o’clock. Nothing had happened all day. His brain had atrophied. His very soul had gone for a fly around the moors somewhere. He was no longer in. Once he'd scoffed his egg and tomato sandwich at half nine this morning, the most interesting things about the day had been the clouds scudding past and a large spindly spider in the corner of the window. Over there. During the afternoon, it had trained him to sit, lie down and beg. Tommorrow, it was going to expand the repertoir to stay, fetch and squash (flies)

“I only have two pounds” says me.


“And it says that the toll is three pounds”

“Hmf. Nyer do pah!”

“I’ll just go, then shall I?” I could see he was struggling to overcome some kind of neurological dormancy. If only I could speak spider.

“Nyer. Shert. Collum. Arrsh”

Bruno growled darkly.

I headed for Mickleton where we could all have a romp on the Teesdale railway path and eat blackberries – and there’s some wild apples. But, we were distracted on the way just by the longest living set of temporary traffic lights in the world, now permanently concreted in…. to Hayberries.

Hayberries is a Durham County Council nature reserve and I’d never been. So we went.

It seems to be some kind of peri-glacial heap of sand and gravel of the kind you would find just around Eggleston. Some mof it has been quarried, and some is grass, and other bits are woodland. And there’s a pond. And lots of wild flowers and thrushes and blackbirds and butterflies. And sticks to chew up.

Bruno had a good leap around and Tammy sort of poddled in a geriatric sort of way.

Hadrian’s wall tomorrow and some speliological stuff after that.

If you’re in Teesdale with nowt much to do – have a look at Hayberries on the Eggleston to Mickleton Road. Its fab! That’s Hayberries. For all your doggy-running-about-daft needs. Hayberries, the family nature reserve. Hayberries, its fucking great, man.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Whats a modality

I received this email just now:

From Miss Rita Damian
Abidjan,Cote d'ivoire
West Africa

Dear,In confidence,I have to introduce myself for I am Miss Rita Damian, the only child of late Chief George Damian, I wish to request for your assistance in my efforts to procure the transfer of my inherited funds for investment ventures Overseas.
I have Seven Million Dollars ($7,000,000.00) here in my name with one of the prime banks here and I will require your assistance in receiving the transfer of the funds in your local account for investment purposes. As it is my desire to come over to your country to further my education while you take care of the investment of the money.I will be glad to give you 15% of the total sum for your co-operation.

I will be very appreciative if you can return to me with urgent dispatch to enable me advise you on the modalities.

I await in anticipation to receive your immediate response.
My Kind Regards!
Miss Rita Damian

I haven't had one of these for a while. you sort of miss 'em, in a similar kind of way to pining for a power cut.

Ah , bless 'er. She's got no chance (If it is a she, that is....)

Irrelevant pic attached.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Across Cumbria day 8 Somewhere to Bowness on Solway

Monday 17 August 2009

I left wherever it was at about half seven. Nobody was up. I marched the lanes towards Wigton. A pig was enjoying her breakfast. Local beef cattle ran about daft in the fields. We all enjoyed ourselves.

After a few miles, I achieved Wigton and rang Brian. We made arrangements. I went into a café and asked for breakfast and tea. Six quid said the man. It was a very very big breakfast.

A few miles later, Brian appeared with a bottle of plonk and a sausage butty. I save most of the butty for later as I was still stuffed.

A few miles yet later and Brian turned up again with his girlfriend Gilda, who’s backdoor key I was presented with and told to help myself to tea and the use of the bath – which I did.

I plodded on through Kirkbride and past various nature reserves and bramble-lined lanes and finally into Bowness on Solway. A group of kids with sulky teachers and an aggressive dog scowled at my greeting. I visited the muddy beach and sat about for a bit amongst hadrians Wall walkers just starting or just finishing.

The King’s arms opened , so I let myself be embraced. After a beer and a couple of whiskies, Brian and Gilda turned up again and I had another paddle.

15 Miles today and 400 feet of uphill.

And that was that. Worra cracking walk. It would have been better with some summer weather. The high level version, carried out all the way, would have been superb. I’m going to have to have another go at it.

In total, the distance was 80 miles with around 15000 feet of uphill. The high level version would be about the same distance but with a lot more climbing.

The rules of the walk are these:

1) Start at Silecroft
2) Finish at Bowness on Solway
3) Walk all the way
4) There shall be no other rules. This is a rule.

And what of the dehydrated food? Once I’ve considered that, and on some rainy day in the near future, I’ll write something about it. But generally, I was impressed. I only ate either commercially available dehydrated or RME food or energy bars for dinner and breakfast and I suffered no ill-effects, windypops, nausea, or anything else. A banana came as a bit of a shock afterwards and much of it tasted failry similar to the rest.

But its OK. You can live on it for a while.

More of this later anyway.

Thanks to Brian for the encouraging noises and post-walk transport around Cumbria. And for the sausage butty.
Thanks also to Gilda for the tea , bath, pizza and instructions as to which café in Wigton to visit.
Thanks to Martin for the visit and the weather forecasts
Thanks to Genjii for the other meteorological stuff and the general interest
Thanks to Maggie for rescuing me from the Miners Arms in Nenthead
Thanks to Mike and Netty for the company and the Beach Boys Greatest Hits
Thanks to the secret location for letting me camp.
Last words – Backpacking types who’ve not tried this one before should seriously consider it. It’s a cracking walk. But take your time. This is no place to rush.

Across Cumbria day 7 Lingy Hut to Somewhere Else

Sunday 16 August 2009

We kind of all got up around half seven-ish and brewed and stuff and we were on our way by just after eight, I think.

The climb up to the top of High Pike was uneventful, but Netty’s (snigger!) rucksack cover disappeared towards Galashiels from the summit. And we descended easily enough – just frightening a few horses with our rucksacks. There was some kind of riding-about event going on.

Ultimately, we turned up at Caldbeck and parted company – they towards the fleshpots of Dalston and me to the only fleshpot in Caldbeck that was open – the tea room and basket shop.

I'd enjoyed the company, though, even perhaps as I wasn't too sociable at night and fell asleep by about nine... But they didn't complain to me, though.

In the teashop, I now considered both a corned beef sandwich and the problem of wild camping the next night on the flat bits of Cumbria that begin near Wigton. I spotted a couple of likely places on the map and marched off to investigate. The sandwhich received fatal damage, I have to report. Strange food. Not dried or anything....

The first had good water but was very wet and boggy and exposed, and it was raining again…. Raining yet again….. it was bloody raining again… AGAIN..

Ahem – and the second was in a pasture with some sheep but was nicely sheltered and had better water than the other place. It was now heaving down.

I will have to be slightly circumspect about where I ended up because the people who let me camp there don’t want anybody else asking about it. But it had a toilet and a tap.

Brian texted me and we spoke on the phone. He’d been in Caldbeck when I was in the tea room. He couldnl;t find me, though. We arranged something for the next morning.

I slept well, apart from some kids whispering outside the tent “There is somebody in the tent” “There’s a man living in the tent” and “Hello? Is there anybody in the tent?” They went away after I explained that I was making coffee. They seemed quite satisfied with this activity.
9 miles, 900 feet, twenty seven thousand gallons.

Across Cumbria day 6 Threlkeld to Lingy Hut

Saturday 15 August.

The LDNP forecast had arrived half a day late and continued in a blustery, spatterry kind of way all night. The little beck by the campsite started raging (something about Chelsea beating man United recently or something. Apparently they wuz robbed…) Anyway, it got very deep and brown.

I determined not to set off anywhere just yet, and brewed and dozed, eventually abandoning all hope of dry socks and packing up and leaving – about elevenish, I think.

The traffic levels on the A66 indicated a general evacuation of Cumbria was going on. It took me ages before I could dash across the road…

I took the path past the Blencathra centre – an old mine road that leads up to the Cumbria Way coming out of Keswick and then to Skiddaw House. I lost the strap of my walking pole at one point.

And then, whilst crossing a footbridge, the clip on my platypus tube caught on something and the mouth-bitey thing fell off into the raging waters and was carried away. I swear I heard it scream in despair. The pressurized contents of the bag formed a beautiful and slightly oirnate fountain, most of which went down the back on my neck. I could tell, somehow, that perhaps it was going to be one of thoise days.

The staff at Skiddaw house were hiding behind the sofas and had locked the doors. They were pretending not to be in, but there was a giveaway smell of woodsmoke.
I could see their boots and there was giggling, I think.

I splashed on, along the Cumbria Way. The becks were surrounding the footbridges. My waterproof socks had each gathered a couple of pints.

I though I might camp at the point where the CW hurtles off up the hill to Lingy Hut but the warning signs said that if I tried that trick (“sunshine”) they’d be sure to call the cops and have me struck off or strung up or otherwise dealt with harshly.

I set off towards Lingy Hut. On the way down, coming towards me, that is (cos I was going up…!) came Mike and Annette who, during the subsequent interrogation, revealed that they had been up on the tops and had suddenly formed an opinion that they weren’t in the right place at all and they’d better give it up for a safer route to Caldbeck around the bottom.

For some reason, they then formed the opinion that I had persuaded them to have another go. So we all struggled off through the squishy bogs and heather and emerged damply on the plateau around about the same time as it stopped raining.

Annette, who turned out to be in charge, then declared that they would have an adventure and spend the night in Lingy Hut.

Which is what we all did.

It was very breezy and my whisky supply evaporated somehow.

Its not a bad spot, but it does have plenty of “ventilation”

I did point out to Mike at one point that his pet name for Annette was also the term for an outside loo in North-east England. Netty, as he called her, and Mike were devastatingly over-equipped. This resulted in a comfier night for this pair than you would normally expect.

Various visitors called during the evening. It got quite busy.

9 Miles and 2200 feet

Across Cumbria day 5 Dunmail to Threlkeld

Friday 14 August.

As I said just now, it did not rain overnight, nor, in the morning did it pour. It was very cloudy, though, and in view of the90% chance of rain, I put on the waterproofs and stomped off over Dunmail Raise and down the paths and forest roads high above Thirlmere, and, later, in increasingly unrainy weather, during which the tops cleared of cloud, along by the lake itself.
I visited a tea garden, the signs of which declared it to be “Open” to walkers and cyclists. Promising arrows lead me through their collection of turkeys, geese and ducks. But it wasn;t open. The place was deserted, except for the turkeys geese and ducks. None of these were in the mood to serve tea, though, so I continued along the rather attractive and enjoyable bridleway leading to the Church at st Johns, but not specialy happy that the LDNP weatherline had caused me to abandon my high-level tramp over Helvellyn and the Dodds. I could have done most of it by now, and with clear views. It wasn;t even windy. The forecast was for 55mph gusts.


Then, at last, at 2:15 pm, it started raining. I had the tent up and was brewing up on a campsite near Threlkeld by 2:45. By 3:00 I was, once again, tussling with Kylie Minogue’s troublesome lingerie. I was happy about the rain. See? I could have got wet, there.

Another 12 miles and 850 feet of climbing done.

The Omens (Genjii, Martin, LDNP, local farmer and the scouse couple in the next tent) were all darkly prophet about the prospects for dry socks for the morrow, though. I went to the pub and had some strange brown and frothy liquid which nevertheless had soothing effects on me till about half past two when I had to step out into the storm for a wee.

Across Cumbria day 4 Three tarns to Dunmail raise

Thursday 13 August.

A sparkling morning with a hint of a cloud inversion saw me standing on top of Bowfell with the rare privilege of having the hill all to myself.
Shortly after I reached the top, though, a Dad on half a day’s leave was spending his GBP’s by having a round of the Crinkles and Bowfell. I left him alone to be the only person on Bowfell
I descended to Angle tarn by Ore Gap and traversed the boggy backside of Rossett Pike to Stake Pass where I had a nice chat with a bloke from Guisborough and his two well trained and friendly collies. Another chap turned up and asked for directions to the Langdale Pikes. We pointed out the top of Pike o’ Stickle and sent him on his way. I followed on and the chap followed me from in front, waiting for me to catch up a bit every now and then.
The last I saw of him, he was spreadeagled on an unnecessarily difficult scramble up the Pike. I stashed my pack in a peat hag and scramble up and down again, getting a text from Martin Banfield on the top.
We met a few minutes later and went over Thunacar Knott and Sergeant man before lunching by a beck above Easedale. Martin fed me somewhat on butties and lasagne.
I have no pictures of this encounter as all of my supply of recharged batteries were useless and they all failed to spark up any response from the camera after that little red battery started flashing.
I bought more batterries, plus whisky and beer in Grasmere.
The forecast both from Martin and the LDNP weatherline and from my cloud-predicting text pal Genjii reported 90% chance of showers the next day, so, after Martin had departed back to the temperate climes of Timperley, I implemented a Foul Weather Alternative plan, which involved visiting the Travellers Rest for another think and some minor boozing, and wandered up the road till I spotted a camping spot just short of the dual carriageway by Raise Beck. A good spot with good water and slightly surprised sheep who were under the impression that this kind of thing wasn’t allowed. It was also a really good camping spot if traffic noise soothes you to sleep. (If this is the case, don’t go in for a career as a coach driver, by the way. Just a tip, there.)
This was just a bit below the big cairn on Dunmail Raise which marks the site of the defeat of King Dunmail (brown mail) at the hands of the naughty Anglians in 5 echty – blob. Just goes to prove that if you let your armour go rusty, you just can’t expect any respect from the Anglians.
The position was exquisitely strategic for an assault on the Hellvellyn ridge if the weather proved fair, or a walk down by Thirlmere if it didn’t.
I was in smug mode, unlike King Dunmail, who wasn’t.

Today, I covered 13 miles and 2500 feet of climbing.

A good day with good company, and, in retrospect, probably the best day of the lot.

Just like the path to Threlkeld, it was mostly downhill from here……

Across Cumbria day 3 Gt Worm to 3 Tarns

Wednesday 12 August.

A drizzle spattered and windy start had me navigating through a complicated landscape of bogs and rocky tors. One of the bigger tors is Green Crag. It looks enormous when its having a bit of a loom out of the mist. I managed to get a strong enough phone signal for intermittent texts and my erstwhile weather forecasters, Martin (the other hobo) Banfield and a chap called Genjii who posts on walkingforum, plus encouragers such as Brian the mudman and people who just wonder where I am sometimes, such as the wife. Anyway, the gist of all of it was that the weather would get better and that I should keep going. These contacts became increasingly useful as the weather began to play a more significant part in the progress of this walk. I also discovered that my phone had the LDNP weatherline number on it. I likes a bit of fiction at night, I does.
I found a way across country to the quaking mire at the foot of Harter Fell, and then on up to the summit. The weather was, as predicted, getting much better all the time.
No it wasn’t. It was drizzling and windy and foggy and a bit cold. It was, in fact, ‘orrible.
I plunged on over the bogs and vicious but lush tussocks to Hard Knott Pass, where there were people and cars that smelled like cars do just before their brakes fail.
I climbed hard Knott Fell very very slowly and surveyed the place where Crinkle Crags ought to be if it weren’t under a swirling grey blanket.
The plan called for a climb up to the Crinkles and a walk along the ridge to Three tarns. I didn’t fancy that driving drizzle again and the tortuous heave up on to the ridge , so I plumped for a walk up by Lincove Beck, meeting my first other hillwalkers of the trip – a chap and his son – off to Great Moss for a camp. Bless ‘em… sniff….. And some National Trust footpath workers and their small dog, descending, presumably for their tea.
The mist lifted as I climbed. I got three litres of beautiful fresh clean water from rest Gill and got myself up to Three Tarns where I put the tent up inside a small shelter out of the wind.
I slept well, completely missing an impressive display of shooting stars, apparently.
It was occasionally, and at random, and sometimes suddenly very windy.

8 Miles and 3700 feet of climbing

The score on zer door would now be 22 miles and 7600 feet of uphill. And just 2 other walkers met.

Across Cumbria Day 2 Black Combe to Gt Worm Crag

Tuesday 11 August.

A warm and foggy morning with no visibility at all saw me, or, rather, assumed I was somewhere climbing up to the summit shelter on Black Combe.
As I came down the other side, the mist started to lift a bit and it all became a bit more green and cheerful.
And so I pressed on over Wainwright Outlier country, and a right boggy do it was, in places. In turn, I passed over Whitecombe Moss ( a boggy lump), a swampy pass at Charity Chair ( a very boggy, unstable, wobbly and damp place) then some rocky Tors at Stoneside Hill, Great paddy Crag and Kinmount Buckbarrow, where the drizzle started again and the mist blanked out any view.
Then on to Whit Fell, just under the cloud base. More bogs to Stainton Pike preceded a soggy boggy semi-descending traverse to the road at Brown Rigg, at which point it really started chucking it down.
I traversed the depressing wet grey slopes of Great Worm Crag till I found a flat spot near a gushing stream of what appeared to be cold tea, put up the akto and retreated inside for a bit of a shiver and to get everything on the inside of the tent as wet as it was on the outside.

But despite the weather, this part of the route is just smashing. I saw no other walkers at all. In fact, apart from a couple of cars on the roads, I saw nobody else all day and, it being very late summer, there was no bird song either. So it was a silent walk. Apart from my renditions of a KT Tunstall album that I couldn’t get out of my head.
There were elements of wildness. It wouldn’t have seemed so wild and empty on a sunny day with skylarks and plover. The weather was, perhaps, just right for this kind of thing.

12 Miles and 2700 feet of climbing. Happiness and some episodes of pleasure.

Big black horse…. And a cherry tree…. Dum de dum…