Monday 30 November 2009

Monkeying Around Swaledale

I set off for Fountains Fell this morning. I was a little biut late due to having to rescue Bruno and Tammy from the claws of Tommy, next door’s cat, whom they’d somehow manage to corner in the back yard (not a good idea..) – then the petrol pump at the petrol station wasn;t working, then the roads were a bit flooded and all the local farmers had decided to drive around slowly with horseboxes – so by the time I got to Richmond, it was getting late.

I dredged up a plan B and went to Reeth where it was snowing.

apedale 001

Not a specially good start

But me and superdawg had a nice little trundle through the floods at Grinton (two feet deep) and over the moor to Harkerside, which has some kind of iron age defensive work on the top.

apedale 005 Harkerside earthwork

The path from Harkerside runs along the hillside for a couple of miles and has cracking views of Upper Swaledale. Eventually, after a draughty lunch of yesterday’s cheese butty and banana in a shooting butt, we crossed over the moor into Apedale. I really should have saved the banana for this bit.

apedale 007 Bruno killing some snow

Anyway, from the foot of Apedale we completed the circle (13 miles and 2000 feet of climbing).

It snowed soft, wet snow in short but fierce squalls on and off pretty much all day, but not much was sticking around. The only thing it really achieved was numbing one half of my face. Higher tops to the West and South were bright white under the hillfog, though – I expect FF had a nice white cover. (bugger!). Bruno likes to attack snow, and he did manage one short game of bite the snow I think it was beginning to freeze as we came down the road into Grinton.

apedale 018

Bruno, bell pit, Apedale beyond

Not Fountains Fell, though. Will FF turn out to be another Shelf (?Ledge) route? I won’t be having another go at it till at least February, cos I iz so bizzi, innit? I have a Christmas Tree to put up and dress tomorrow – its sitting in the back yard just now.

apedale 019

Apedale shooters huts

Anyway, if you’re ever in Reeth and at a loose end, this walk is a blast – easy walking, gentle gradients, easy navigation, nice views, no pub. Pity about the flooded path at the start.


The route on the map is anti-clockwise (doesn’t do arrows….)

Sunday 29 November 2009

A Foul Weather Alternative

wet day in crook

Crook (aka Blogtown) Darren must be at home – all the flags are flying

Last night, I packed a cheese and tomato butty and a banana and all kinds of lovely things with the intention of carrying out my threat to go and bag Fountains Fell

The local MET office girl on The Beeb said that it would rain towards the Southern part of the Dales (ie not on Fountains Fell) and that it would be cold and windy and cloudy up here in the North Pennines.

The National weather forecast, however, given out just a few minutes earlier said that it would probably be wet and windy but that the heaviest rain would be elsewhere in the Pennines and on the North Yorks Moors and that it would snow on high ground later on.

Whilst, it would be really great if the MET office could give out the same weather forecasts, even if they’re wrong , on balance, its was probably what you might expect for late November, probably not too bad and I resolved to go.

But at seven this morning it was chucking it down. Poking the head through the door revealed icy rain. I spotted a gritter moving along the road up at Stanley Crook. Bruno looked at me with that kind of “you must be joking.. kind of look. The cat refused to go out. Breakfast for me and then see what happens. Would it brighten up a bit? Would it at least stop raining?


So, I was fairly pleased by elevenish, over yet another hot coffee, with a warm and semi-comatose canine next to me on the sofa, that it was still raining. In fact it was heaving it down. There were splatters of sleet on the window.

An exploration of Crook in the early afternoon with an ever-so-slightly reluctant superdawg confirmed that the rain was on the point of not being liquid anymore and it was, frankly, quite ‘orrible. Brian rang and told me about the wet snow they’d had up at Nenthead.

I may go to Fountains Fell tommorrow.

I still have the cheese butty and the banana.

Or I may put up the Christmas tree.

In the meantime, I’m building up motivation to nip down to the Crook Boozerama for a bottle of vino collapso to cheer meself up.

Of there’s anybody out there reading this from The Maldives – I hope you’re bloody warm enough. You really wouldn’t like it here just now. (Its Tony from Sheffield by the way)


Friday 27 November 2009

Elephant Trees Again

It was last December when I did this walk before. I make no apologies for posting about it again, cos its a favourite trip. Its easy walking, not far from home and , basically, I don;t have to make much of an effort. And the views are quite nice too.

track to the elephant trees

Bridleway to the Elephant Trees

The last time I did it was in me new Christmas undies, and, I have to say, that I had the same long johns on today and, yes, they have been washed.

The route goes up the Hamsterley road out of Wolsingham, along a bridleway which runs close to the scarp edge, down in to White Kirkley and along the riverside back to Wolsingham. Simple, really and , its possible to add or subtract little bits for interest or in the case of boredom or if you can’t remember turning off your headlights this morning.

munch bunch

Munch Bunch by the Intake Wall

The Elephant Trees themselves haven’t changed since the last time I was here – but then they haven’t really changed much since I first saw them in 1986. They’ve probably lost a few branches I suppose.

elephant trees carvings Elephant Trees carvings

The only different thing was the new bunkhouse which has opened just above Wolsingham at Carrs farm. If anybody wants a bunkhouse whilst bagging North Pennines or something then the website is I had a look, it looks OK to me, if a bit near our house….

I allowed superdawg to witness the demolition of a cheese and tomato sandwich in the shelter of the intake wall on the other side from the Trees. I’m not sure he was impressed. . I did let him hoover up the crumbs from my blueberry muffin before we pressed on, down to Frosterley and along the riverside.

It was noticeably colder today. It felt more like winter, and it was a dark sort of morning but it got sunnier and a bit colder later. There’s snow in the air (according to the MET anyway…..)

Just a note for anybody who’s never seen a kingfisher by the way – the place to go is the Kingfisher caravan site, just East of Frosterley. Funny coincidence that, eh? The name of the caravan the .… bird thing. I didn’t see one today.

I watched the salmon jumping at the bridge to the site. There were some really big fish in there, most of whom tried several times to get up a small cascade, but the river is running very fast and they were washed downstream again and again. One very skinny-looking fish wriggled upstream. I wonder if a kingfisher could manage one of these beasts…

running with eyes closed

For the extra thrill, run with your eyes closed

We collected wood, mainly ash, to light the fire. Bruno helped by running about with various sticks then destroying them. He had a nice charge around in the townfields which always seem to be empty of stock at this time of year.

This is a very easy ten mile trundle, which takes about four hours if you ramble and three if you don’t stop.

elephant trees

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Fountains fell and other plans


elephant trees

Its probably a good idea just to go over current walking plans, so that anybody who’s interested can do whatever it is you do when you’re interested in something.

There’s a theme running about climbing all of the Yorkshire dales 2000 foot tops. This is going well just now and the next victims to the Knipe boots and paws are Fountains fell and Darnbrook Fell this coming Sunday (29th)

I’ve also just decided a new theme for the winter, which will be local County Durham walks. this is my contribution to saving petro-chemicals and also my own petrol money at the same time. Walks will either be very doggy friendly or , at least, discrete. the dog is coming with me anyway. They’ll be easy for me to get to if it snows a lot, too….

There’s a couple of additional walks in there too, as special Christmas offers….

So, here’s the programme for the rest of November and for December:

27 November Elephant Trees from Wolsingham

29 November Fountains and Darnbrook Fells from Arnclife

6 December Slit Vein, Rookhope from Westgate

8 December Crookrise and Cracoe Fells from Embsay with Martin Banfield

13 December Dodd Fell Hill from Hawes

22 December Winter solstice Dead Stones howff from Killhope Cross (time tba)

24 December Drumaldrace from Semer Water

27 December Fell Head from Tebay

31 December Middlehope Moor from Cowshill

Everything starts at 09:30. If it snows a lot, or the roads are very icy or something, it may be a bit later.

Some of the walking will be after dark, so lights will be needed

Monday 23 November 2009

TGO Challenge Route Planning


Frosty morning in Glen Lyon 2007

Just spent pretty much the whole morning, a part of the lunchtime and some of the afternoon drawing lines on electronic maps and measuring distances and I think I’ve finally cracked it – a joined up route across Scotland.

This year, unusually for me, and, possibly living in cloud cuckoo land cos the weather will probably spoil it – I’ve managed to work in a static camp in Knoydart for the relaxed bagging of Sgurr na Ciche and other delights – so my tent on Day 2 will move precisely nil miles and nil contours of ascent. (Although, hopefully, I’ll be doing a bit more)

A day or so later, however, does include lots of tarmac beside Loch Arkaig, so that’s the price.

I’ll then be moving South ish for Ben Alder Lodge (never been), Ben Bheoil (missed that one somehow) and then through the bumpy it in the middle with a couple more Munros and the odd Corbett for a boozerama at Braemar.

I’m also determined to do the ridge next to Glen Prosen which ends at Cat Law.

The finishing end is at Scurdie Ness.


Landing at Inverie

The total distance excluding the day’s static Munro bagging thing is 313 km, or about 196 miles. The longest day is 30 km and the shortest is 15 and the average is 24km or about 15 miles. I orta be able to do that….

Sunday 22 November 2009

A Wet Weekend in Borrowdale


Anybody who’s been watching the TV News or even read a paper recently couldn’t have failed to notice that there’s been a touch of flooding in Cumbria in the last few days.

yha waterfall Waterfall behind Derwentwater YHA

But, despite police warnings not to travel and, based on Cumbrian contacts saying that it was OK, really, I travelled hopefully over a windy A66 down to a big lake just outside Penrith that I don;t remember being there previously and which isn’t on my map.

The A6 was barricaded off. The sign said that the A66 was closed “after Keswick” I wanted to go to Keswick and then down Borrowdale for a bit. I could walk from Keswick, there’s a high level route above the lake….

I passed through a “road closed “ sign at the entrance to Keswick and parked in the deserted main car park. Roads out of the town were barricaded off too, including the Borrowdale road. But nevertheless, cars were going around the barrier and heading up… and not coming back. I walked up the road for a mile or so and saw nothing more than a few dubs of water. Derwentwater, however, was substantially bigger than it normally is, and the path by the shore was well under water.

stile underwater Lakeside Path (!)

I went back to the car and drove it to Derwentwater YHA without much splashing at all.

A convivial night was had by those who’d made it.

More people arrived the next morning and went for walks. I’d been informed by the loved one that the dog was asleep on my Paramo and my map was on the floor – so I had no map not waterproof jacket  and had to opt for a paddle up to Lodore – just for a look – and a plodge down to Keswick and back for coffee and a look around before the predicted rain started again – which it did, unusually, around about the time it was supposed to.

boat park Lodore Hotel car park

I spent the rest of the day drinking tea and snoozing.

The Over the Hill Club Dinner and general party-thingy was a fine and fairly civilised affair, but much beer drinking was done. The YHA staff did a fine job. there was a slide show about a trip to Stubai and one about Waggy’s trip to somewhere else I couldn’t make out for the noise…

take to high ground

In the morning (this morning) the AGM was held and there were contributions for Hamish Brown – and, well, general AGM type stuff, including my ratification as a member.

And , after a group photocall, mainly for the benefit of 101 year old OTHC President Jack Griffiths, who couldn’t be there (!) – we all slipped away home.

over the hill club Over the Hill Club Incomplete Group

Its wasn’t possible to go West of Keswick and an attempt to circumnavigate the Lake by some members entailed a very long retracing of steps. The Borrowdale road is covered in debris – mainly stones and bits of trees and the lake is lapping at the edges of the road. Its a mess, to be fair. It will take quite a while to recover.

It was still raining as I left for the East.

Friday 20 November 2009

A Meeting in Cumbria


I’ve just spoken to Barbara Dawes who is the organiser of the Over the Hill Club AGM and paddling weekend at Derwentwater YHA which starts this evening.

P1090025 One of last year’s Weardale floods

TGO Challengers may well remember Barbara as the Voice of Reason on TGO Challenge Control. I think I last spoke to her several years ago from a phone box near Kirkmichael. She doesn’t do Challenge Control any more but the soothing tones are still there….

Anyway, its likely that most people will be aware that Cumbria has just had its biggest rain storm since the last one, with at least a couple of feet of rain falling not to far away from Derwentwater YHA over the last 24 hours – and the place is, generally, a bit of a disaster area.

But the Over the Hill Club AGM is still “on”. So, I’m going to try to get there. As the subject of my prospective membership is on the agenda, and I’ve paid money for meals and stuff, I think I should…    I’ll wait for a few hours for the water to recede a bit, though. A66, probably since the bridge at Langwathby is, apparently well under water

But, there’s  another 40cm of rain is forecast for Saturday. So I may not be back soon……

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Three Birketts and a HuMP

After a fairly relaxed morning with a kipper and some shredded wheat, me and Superdawg packed a banana and a cheese butty (Lancashire by the way) and hurtled off over the A66 to Cumbria and the back door of Whinfell Center Parcs – or, as we know it in England, Centre Park. This looks remarkably like a very comfy prisoner of war camp from the back, what with the security fencing and the guards in high-vis jackets and so on.

green meldrum 005 Stalag Center Parc pooch on peripheral path partially parallel to private part

A footpath leads through very soggy woodland (perhaps its not always soggy, but its been raining a lot recently…) and up to the front entrance where there is a bus stop and a border post, and a sign, on the track I wanted to take up the HuMP, saying “Private Road No Public Access” So I sneaked around the back.

green meldrum 003

Bruno at the summit of Quarrystone Bank (This is proper bagging!)

The summit was well forested. I had bagged Quarrystone Bank. I returned from whence…. – about 4km altogether.

green meldrum 008 Warning! These vicious commie squirrels will nibble on your nuts, specially if you’re a capitalist running dog

The, after scoffing the cheese butty, I drove off and got fairly lost on the Cumbrian back lanes, eventually turning up at a place called Underwood, on the minor road from Watermillock to somewhere else.

Another very soggy and, this time muddy path, signposted for Aira Force, took me along an attractive fellside and through woodland to open fell, where a group of children in red waterproofs were doing something noisy, but, probably, harmless. I gained the fell top and headed North to bag Great Meldrum, a little, round, grassy thing with a great view and a cold wind.

green meldrum 010 Furry, ferny tree on the path to Aira Force

Little Meldrum followed but with a bit more difficulty. Its in a forest, y’see – but the summit is open fell and its a bit rockier than the Green Meldrum.

We struggled uphill to find a gate giving access to our final target for the afternoon – Watermillock Fell – another, slightly rock lump with a cracking view.

This is like Fell Walking, but without all the hard work. It would be a nice little trundle for a rest day, or a wet day when the high fells are splatterred and misty. And there’s a pub just down the road for shelter.

green meldrum 016 Great Mell Fell

A bit of a downhill road walk brought us back to the knipemobile.

Three Birketts bagged.

Impressive stuff, eh?

Total mileage was about 8 miles and 1200 feet of uphill.

Must set the camera to do higher quality pictures….

green meldrum

Monday 16 November 2009

ASDA bargain camera


Readers of this and Martin Banfield’s blog ( he won’t be blogging about this by the way) may be aware that my camera has been poorly  and, well, basically, just not itself recently.

Then, last night, on the telly, I saw an advert which said that ASDA are selling digital cameras for Fifty Three of your Queen’s pounds.

So, today, I went and got one, plus a 4 mega elephant memory card thingy (sorry to be so technical by the way) for a total price of sixty quids. I also got a kipper for 86pence, but the wife paid for that.

Tomorrow, I intend to eat the kipper and then drive off to the sunny Lake District to bag a few little Birketts, and, maybe a HuMP and take some pics with my new camera.

The technical details of the camera are:  ……………..  

Well, , honestly, you’re not really interested, and neither am I.  Look, its a disposable camera. Its guaranteed for a year. It will last just over a year, unless it drowns in a cave, or gets eaten by an Ork or something -  and then I will get another one. Its disposable, see?

I took this with it earlier


Bruno really shouldn’t be in that armchair. He’ll be in bother.


Sunday 8 November 2009

Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops – Buckden Pike

The forecast for today was for a frosty morning and a sunny day with light winds.

As I poked my head through the curtains, I could see a rain-lashed Crook. I let the cat in. He was soaked and was muttering something darkly about the Met Office. The TV this morning announced weather warnings for heavy rain in NE England. I drove to Wharfedale through several deep dubs of water. It was till chucking it down as I set off on the walk.

buckden gill Buckden Gill

The intitial probings went badly. It soon became apparent that any bare rock was as slippery as buggery. Only those deeply involved in buggery will appreciate just how slippery this can be – or so I’ve been told.

The route goes up to an impasse at a waterfall, backtracks a bit and then leaps up a little gully and along an exposed ledge for a bit. It does this twice.


The scramble that rejected me

Me and Superdawg got to the gully, which Bruno attacked with gusto and , promptly slithered off and almost tumbled down the hill. A second attempt went bravely wrong in a similar way. A third attempt, with me halfway up the gully for a push up the bum nearly had me off as well. A retreat was called.

We climbed Buckden Pike by an old trackway – then a path up to Buckden Gavel Mine – a hole I’d been in a couple of times many years ago and involving such fun as igniting snowdrifts with carbide and demanding three pints of bitter in the Buck Inn two minutes before closing time, whilst covered from head to toe in orange mud. (This wasn’t me by the way)

buckden gavel mine Buckden Gavel Mine entrance

We achieved the summit of Buckden Pike. It were right foggy on the top and quite sloppy. The old path from the top used to cross the wall and head South for a War memorial. This has now been diverted and a new path with new stiles handrails the West side of the wall which, despite being pretty boggy is much easier than it is on the other side of the wall.

buckden pime summit furniture

Buckden Pike sloppy summit

the bog on the other side of the wallLooking over the wall

We got to the Polish War memorial. The tale of how this came about is given here Its well worth a read, but , basically a WW2 bomber crewed by Polish airmen came to grief at this spot in a blizzard. There were initially two survivors, one of whom crawled through the blizzard with a broken leg and a head injury to the inn at Cray, following the footprints of a fox. The second survivor succumbed to the blizzard. The memorial was built by the survivor and a service is held there by Keighley ATC and scouts and cubs and so on from Airedale. A bronze fox is mounted to commemorate the role of that animal. Read the website, though – its very moving stuff.

polish war memorial

War Memorial

the fox

The Fox

The memorial and the help and funding from local people and the annual service reflect well on local people and local yoof in particular.

After a short visit to the memorial (missed the service by about an hour) – I wanted to bag the subsidiary top called Tor Mere Top (appears in the Bridge list) and also go down to Starbotton by the bridleway over Knuckle Pasture. With a bit of navigational shenanigans, I managed both. The path contours around the head of a great corrie and has been engineered long ago to service lead mines on the hillside. the mining here is very old and there are lines of bell pits as well as the usual spoil heaps and levels.

bell pits Bell Pits

On the way, I came to Tor Dyke – an ancient Brigantian anti-Roman defence, and on top of a mound which is probably artificial (being a qualified archeologist – I’ve see many episodes of Timeteam and quite a lot of Blackadder) – I found a large stone with some carvings on it. These were what appeared to be a number 8, and cross and a circle with a dot in the middle. I wonder what they mean?

rock with marks

Carved Rock

From Starbotton, we just followed the Dales Way back to Buckden.

12 miles and 2000 feet of climbing and, it eventually brightened up. I only actually fell over once, but in a fairly spectacular and very muddy kind of way. Some owd yows (translation = sheep), held up cards with numbers on. I got 9.6 for style, but only 3.2 for dignified recovery due to blasphemy and the use of horrible but unusual swear words, some of whoch are probably physically impossible for all except skilled ballet dancers. Bruno just laughed.

It was my birthday today as well. I got two cards. This is one more than last year, so I'm obviously starting to become more popular. The last time the wife sent me one was three years ago. I suspect that the magic has gone.....

Saturday 7 November 2009

Border Marches March develops a bit

Some alert readers may remember me going on about a route along the English/Scottish Border.

208 auchope cairn day 18 Auchope Cairn Cheviot Hills

Well, as its been chucking it down in Crook yet again, and I’ve been at a bit of a loose-end, I’ve been playing with the maps and I’ve come up with a first draft – or , as it’s November – a first draught, possibly, of a route.

And this is it:

Start at The Sands Centre in Carlisle. I’d been lead to consider starting at Gretna, which may be more logical, but its easier to get to Carlisle and you don’t have to get married. Its quite a bit longer, starting at Carlisle, but the paths are better.

So – we start at Carlisle and follow the Cumbria Coastal path northwards as far as it goes, to a place called “Metal Bridge”. Lanes take us into Longtown. End of first day. Its about 23km and should be fairly easy walking. Good start, I think.

Day 2 Goes alongside the River Esk for a bit then uses quiet lanes to get into the forest and forest tracks and paths to Newcastleton aka Copsawholme, which is a much better name. 27 km. This day starts well and deteriorates a bit on the lanes and forest roads. But it gets a bit further East, which is what we want.

192 byrness day 18

Near Byreness

Day 3 Takes an old drovers road to Bloodybush and, very roughly over Larriston Fell for more forest roads into Kielder. 22km

There’s a campsite and a pub at Kielder, so thats OK then. Larriston Fell could be a shock after all that easy walking – but training for more rough stuff is required. Think of this as a granny-stopper.

Day 4/5 Goes up Peel Fell, down to the Kielder Stone, and, basically, follows the border fence over Carlin Tooth to Carter Bar and a bit further till a track down to Byreness is taken. This is a long way - 33+km. Some people may consider that two days with a big pack over vicious tussocks may be the thing. There’s usually a tea van at Carter Bar. The independent hostel Forest View at Byrness will probably turn out to be an oasis in a desert of brown grass. This may save your sanity. Onwards!

Day 5/6/7 - After an initial walk back up to the border fence, follows the Pennine Way from Chew Green to Kirk Yetholm. 40+km. Probably two days. There are multiple wild camping spots, specially on the Scottish side of the border, and two garden huts, sorry, refuge huts, and B&B off route at Uswayford.

Day 6/7/8 Goes to Town Yetholm and by lanes to the River Tweed, which is the border, which is followed on footpaths and lanes to Cornhill on Tweed 27km.

Day 7/8/9 More riverside paths and lanes to Berwick on Tweed for Fish and Chips, Beer and the train home. 29km

marches march

Hows that for a walk, then? _ I think I’ll have a crack at this next year….

Thursday 5 November 2009

Weardale Salmon Run and a Cave

stanhope dene woods

Stanhope Dene

Brian called to swap wellies the other day and mentioned that on his way home he was going to watch the salmon jumping at Stanhope. This gave me the idea for this little trundle.

Every year, just about now, the salmon queue up in the weir at Durham and wait for rain. When it does rain (note its been raining a fair amount just recently) – and there’s enough water in the River Wear, they make their way upstream and into the little tributaries to mate, spawn and die.

To get up the Wear, and, specially up the little tributaries, they must jump over various obstacles to meet their ultimate fate. This can be quite a sight – some of these fish are quite big.

A good place to watch this is a pool with a small waterfall on the beck in Stanhope Dene. Here is a comfy spot to sit and the fish are often no more than a couple of feet away. If you were a brown bear – you might be able to nab a few…

stanhope dene salmon pool

Salmon pool

And so, me and superdawg journeyed to Stanhope and walked up through the woods to sit and drink coffee by the pool and fall, and, straight away, it became clear from the thrashing of fins and one or two plops and leaps that the pool was chock full of salmon.

I tried my best to photograph the buggers jumping up the fall and failed every time. Then they stopped jumping, except whilst I was pouring myself another coffee – then there was mayhem till I picked the camera up and it all stopped again.

The best I could do is on the short video – at approximately 19 seconds, a fish appears in the nearest of the flows of white water, has a look and decides not to bother. You have to be quick to see it. Just after this two very large fish were seen slipping quietly downstream. I thought I heard some fishy sniggerring. I swear I heard a little squeaky voice say "That's it, I'm gonna jump!" followed by a fishy chorus of "Don't do it, Kevin". You have to be tuned in to nature, y'know, like wot I iz.

After an hour or so, I gathered up the dog, who was busy collecting stones a bit upstream, and we clambered off over the moor to the Crawleyside incline – an ex-railway line to Sunderland – and along the very pleasant Crawley Edge and down the unpleasantly named Shittlehope Burn to have a look for the cave – which we found.

the incline

The Incline

This is in a deep limestone gorge which would be fun to explore sometime. Brian would enjoy this place.

shittlehope cave

Shittlehope cave

We finished off with a little riverside ramble and back home for a coffee

8 miles and 850 feet of uphill.

stanhope dene and shittlehope

Tuesday 3 November 2009

TGO Smug Mode

bridge in glen feshie

This bridge has now withdrawn from the TGO Challenge (washed away)

Just got an email from Roger Smith confirming my place on the 2010 TGO Challenge. Yes, I know I already had a place as it will be my tenth, but still, eh? Nice to have confirmation.

And now – designing a route. I hardly ever have much trouble doing this – it usually takes me a couple of hours, to be honest. I can’t understand why some people agonise over it so much. The only trouble I have is that I mangle the gaelic names so much,, the vetters can’t vet for laughing/crying/fuming….

Anyway, the news is that they’re going back to the old system of start points and there’s 330 people out of 440 who have places. The rest will go on a standby list and quite a lot of these wil get a place as some of the 330 wilkl die, break their legs, get married and move to Australia, get a sinking feeling that they shouldn’t have applied…..

back to the earwig song….

Monday 2 November 2009

Birks Fell and Horsehead

buckden and buckden pike Buckden and Buckden Pike

This was the second walk in the Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops project.

Birks Fell is the highest part of a long ridge that runs from Knipe Scar (thats right, worra cracking place!) near Kettlewell – to Cosh Knott , some mnhmmnnnn miles (can’t be arsed to measure it) – bit its a long ridge anyway.

Birks Fell is 2001 feet above sea level. It was ever thus, except that fairly recently, the Ordnance Survey published a map saying that the top was 609 metres. This is less than 2000 feet…..a bit. And then somebody else said that the highest part of the ridge was somewhere else. A survey reinstated Birks Fell as a 2000 footer and the top of the ridge, so let there be no further dissention or even discussion about it. Its probably important.

birks fell tarn Birks Fell Tarn

I was supposed to go up here on Sunday, but a fierce gale with lots of rain got in the way and me and superdawg turned up at the Buckden car park a bit late (11:00 am) this morning.

It appears that all of the leaves have now left their trees and it is now winter. It was quite cold (7.5 degrees according to the car thermometer – and just 3.5 degrees at the top of Kidstones Pass on the way home. And the wind-chill in the mornin g was nithering to say the least, although it calmed down a bit in the afternoon. UpperWharfedale seems to be having a rest. There’s very few people about, the pub at Hubberholme was closed, and there were only one or two cottages in Buckden with lights on in the evening.

birks fell summit cairn Birks fell Summit Cairn

The walk went well enough – it was a bit windy, and there were showers, and the wind chill was perishing… but we got to the top without much in the way of excitement. The summit cairn appears to be a newish one and is in the top of what appears to be a man-made lump of the local peat. No wonder its the highest point – some bugger’s been building up the top.

We lunched. I ate willie cake (very nice) and PEK and tomato butties, Bruno dribbled a bit – and we scooted off. The walking is very easy if you stay next to the wall – its level and mainly dry – it does get very boggy in a few limited spots – but we were soon loping off over the moors and bagging the very fine top of Horsehead – fine for its view of Penyghent and Ingleborough.

horsehead trig and dog Horsehead and Dog Sitting As Instructed

Soon, we dropped down to Langstrothdale, where is went a bit dark and started chucking it down.

river wharfe langstrothdale River Wharfe Langstrothdale

We followed the Dales Way back to Hubberholme, where the pub was shut, and took the road back to Buckden.

This is a good old bash along the tops – easy walking, easy navigation, easy women.

No, not the easy women , actually.

13 miles and 1700 feet of climbing.

Camera still taking pictures….

I saw no other walkers at all today, and when I finished, mine was the only car in the car park.

If you want peace and quiet – go on a damp Monday in November.

birks fell map

Next walk in this series (although, not necessarily my next walk) is Buckden Pike on 8 November 2009 (my birthday!) 9:30 am Buckden Car Park start - some mild scrambling is involved...