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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Collier Law and North Pennine Snow Conditions

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I’m trying to catch up a bit on all the things I postponed when the weather was against me. It seems to have relented a bit, so me and superdawg rushed off to Stanhope, a few miles up Weardale for this little walk up Collier Law. I shortened the walk a little to take account of rough going underfoot and the fact that I dawdled too long over me porridge this morning.

We parked on a patch of ice next and walked up more, steeper ice through the old limestone quarries and along a bit of Crawleyside Edge to the old incline

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Bruno pensive on Crawleyside Incline

I was struck by how much harder the snow has become in the last couple of days. We’ve had more slow thawing and two frosty nights – around minus one or two last night, for instance – and this has had a significant effect on the snow. Its actually a nice, hard neve in places and steps had to be kicked up a couple of steep bits.

Later, it seemed to be a bit softer and was letting me in an inch or two, and occasionally, at random, up to knee deep, which was irritating – but overall, its pretty hard and can only get harder under current conditions.

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There’s a road under that snow somewhere

We followed the old railway incline to the top of Crawleyside Bank and then along the access road to the wireless station on the top of Collier Law. This was mainly under quite deep snow and visibility was , maybe 50 metres or so, so I was quite glad that they’d put snow poles beside the road to mark out where it was – otherwise, there’d have been no landmarks at all, apart from the dog, who isn’t marked on the map.

We duly arrived at the summit amongst very big drifts and a grouse which had come a bit of a cropper and was now headless, plucked and consumed amongst stained snow.

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Collier Law Wireless Station blockhouses and snowdrift

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Air accident investigation in progress

It was much too exposed a spot for sitting about eating, so I dropped down towards Stanhope on a track not marked on my map and then through a patch of deep and soft snow to an open shooting hut which provided a good shelter for the scoffing of Lancashire Cheese butties and a Boost bar.

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Bruno uses Xray vision to discover whereabouts of cheese butty. Don't look into the eyes!!!!

The track brought us back to Stanhope and the Dales centre cafe for coffee and a scone.

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Stanhope Market Place

We covered about 7 miles and 1200 feet of uphill. This snow’s not going anywhere much at all, but it bodes well for a walk on higher things, which could provide some quite fast and easy walking just now. I’m going to have to see what I can do about this – it seems a shame to waste such an opportunity. The time for quick and easy walking on hard neve is now, folks. Get it while it lasts.

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James Boulter said...

It looks pretty snowy for a low hill, wonder what the conditions are like on Cross fell? Cant make up my mind for the weekend, North Pennines, Lakes or Snowdonia? I have new crampons to play with. May play weather lotto and wait to see what looks the best. It will then rain over my chosen destination.........Are the minor high roads clear your way yet?

mike knipe said...

Judging from conditions at 1000 feet, and at 1600 feet, I would hazard a guess that Cross fell will be covered with deep, hard neve and that the little bouldery scarp which runs around the edges will have some enormous drifts. Axes and crampons probably wouldn't be needed for Cross Fell, but you could have some fun with them.
Minor roads at low levels are clear but a higher level road at Stanhope today would have been "passable". The B road over the moors to Blanchland and Edmundbyers was fully open.
We're having a play with axes and crampons tommorrow all being well - probably in a hush somewhere - but it'll give a better clue as to conditions a bit higher than today.

James Boulter said...

I will be looking forward to the report when I get home from work tomorrow!