Thursday 29 April 2010

Walk Towards the Light!

towards the light

I went underground again today. I won’t trouble you with what I was doing – just more of the same. Read previous blog posts about lead mines and you may well get the picture.

But as I was paddling out, for the first time this year I could smell pollen. I could smell a warm and friendly world from about, maybe, fifty metres inside the mine. Its a good, wholesome smell. Its a loving motherly smell, like coming home from school and your mum's been making scones and eccles cakes.

I always think that coming out of a hole is a bit like being born. I wouldn’t really know about this as I’m no expert on being born as I’ve only done it the once and it was quite a long time ago – and – I never could remember it anyway.

Its a pity that such a deeply moving moment should be spoiled by bad language. I banged me head on the roof….

Anyway, it was all very symbolic.

Next time I feel I might write about something deep, I’ll mention Lake Windermere.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Mallerstang on Superdog Beef and Gravy

cairn on sails

This is another of the Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops walks and also another walk using the Settle-Carlisle Line to enable a linear walk to take place.

Its also the first walk where Superdawg was fuelled by Superdog doggie scran – If you have a dog and you’re interested in dog food see this link

You can also look at the link if you don’t have a dog but still hold an interest in dog food, although that might strike some people as a bit odd. still, each to their own, eh? In order to get a bag of the dog food (its a huge bag by the way) I had to promise to review it, which I will do in due course and with due honesty. I have to say that even though Bruno is not noted for his delicate feeding habits or any kind of discernment at all, his first reaction to this scoff was to raid the bin in which we’ve hidden it. So its a good start as far as he’s concerned.

garsdale viaduct line at south lunds

wild boar fell

But on with the walk. We caught the 9:48 train from Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale for the princely sum of £3.20. The journey was too quick for a trolley coffee although it did smell nice…. anyway, we got off at Garsdale and made our way via a rather good path over drumlins to railway cottages at South Lunds and then by a tussocky path up to the ruins of High Dyke. This lies on the High Way track – an ancient route and was once, I believe, a tavern or an Inn for drovers and packmen. Its a ruin now and won’t be long before its just a pile of stones. It’s mullioned windows testify to its age.

high dyke hugh seat

We continued upwards on a footpath till it was time to turn North to bag our first hill – Sails at 667 metres. Normally, this hill is a right boggy mess, but just now the hills are parched and dry if a bit bouncy in places.

bruno thinks of a joke about cats

A bog trot and a bit of fence following lead to Hugh Seat 689 metres and more , similar stuff went on to Archy Styrigg 695metres and High Seat 709 metres. The ridge is the Cumbria/North Yorkshire County boundary and is marked by a variety of tall, small, fat and thin cairns, sticks and small shelters. The walking gradually gets easier and drier as progress Northwards is made. It is, in fact, a romp. And the views are BIIIIIG. This is no place for an attack of agrophobia.

wind getting up fells end

The ridge ends suddenly at Fells End (oddly enough….) and we headed off North- Westwards to descend by a wide and grassy ridge and then through fields to Nateby where the pub was shut. (dhuhhh). More field paths lead back to the station where the knipemobile was still parked…..

pill box

I passed an old WW2 pill box on the way. Inside (which stinks of sheep pee by the way), it becomes obvious that the placing of this defence is a bit clever. It seems there were six mountings for armaments and these would cover the railway station, the main road from Tebay, Kirkby Stephen and the road South to Wensleydale – a complete circle, in fact. Its a shame to see it falling to bits. It needs some TLC, after all it is an historic building.

Altogether this walk is 14.7 miles with 2200 feet of climbing. Its a fab walk, specially when its not soaked. The walking is generally pretty easy going although navigation might be tricky in some places.

mstang south mstang north

Sunday 25 April 2010

Dribblings of a Doddering Daunderer

daunderers consider their options

I must say that I was very pleased about receiving an invite to the Sloman/Lambert annual pre-TGO Daunder. There’ll be more about daundering on Alan Sloman’s blog imminently, I should have thought – so in the meantime (unless he posts before I finish writing this) – here’s my take on this interesting event.

First of all, let me say that daundering a la Sloman/Lambert is not a quick affair. None of this “fast and light” nonsense, no.

This is a slow cooker of a walk. A fine casserole. A savoured stew. It is

In fact



We met at the NT campsite in Langdale and paid for a couple of days parking and, after initial celebrations in the pub, we left bright and early the next morning… for a relaxed coffee at the ODG.

The Daunderers were (in no special order) – Me, Alan Sloman, Phil Lambert, Humphrey Weightman, Shirley Worrall and Piglet, Gerry Harber, John Jocys and Peter Shepherd – all ready for a pre-TGO Challenge walk.

Eventually somebody decided that we really orta walk, so we ambled up Mickleden for a rest at the foot of Stake Pass.

foot of stake pass

Some brief but brutal upwardsness followed till we found a nice spot near the top of Stake Pass for lunch. This took a while.

another rest

A bit later, we sallied slowly over the remaining drumlins and descended steeply to Langstrath for a bit of a lie down by the river. Some sheep rushed past. The fools.

daunderers descend

It was still Friday when we arrived at Stonethwaite campsite in time for tea. A visit to the pub was enjoyed. Some serious damage was done to the contents of some whisky supplies afterwards. A veil will be drawn discretely over a brief spell of harmless violence that happened next.

stonethwaite camp

On Saturday, we attempted to get more coffee at Stonethwaite but they were too busy for profits, so we crossed the river and made a brief and vicious assault on an unfeasibly steep path up to Dock Tarn. A rest was had en route, but Dock tarn itself was found to be unsuitable for an extended stay, so we bog-trotted over to a small but friendly crag at the far end of some heather where eating and snoozing could be enjoyed at length. Several decisions were put off to await a full consensus. There was lassitude.

climbing to dock tarn

Further physically taxing plodding was done to the top of Ullscarf and subsequently to the top of High Raise – the Daunder High Point. Only a few rests were had. Our average time crept dangerously close to breaking the 1 mph limit at one point, but we managed to control ourselves with some dignity. On High Raise,we allowed ourselves a brief episode of celebration and used the time to work out how to get to Codale Tarn. This, we eventually located and found to be already occupied by campers, so we found spots under the crags of Belles Knott, just by the beck. There was a fine view of Grasmere. People generally slept well. The forecast was for 22 degrees the next day and the sun would be beating down from early in the day into our Eastwards-facing corrie.

high raise

Sometime in the early hours, something was beating down on to my tent. It wasn’t the sun. It was wet, in fact. And mizzly and drizzly and so it continued for a while. Another fine Met Office forecast.

sun beating down

We plunged uphill and over the ridge to Stickle tarn and steeply down a badly engineered path to Langdale. Three of the eight daunderers came to grief on the path. Blood was shed. There were bruises. The path is a mess. The stones are tilted and slippery.

daunder finds langdale

But eventually we found ourselves back in the tender care of the Old Dungeon Gill. Lunch was had. We went home.

Eight daunderers and Piglet the dog covered about 19 miles and a lorra lorra uphill and had a grand time. Thanks to Alan and Phil for the organisation and the ethos and, most of all for the invite. Our average speed was a bit less than 1 mph. More time was spent not walking than walking. This takes some skill.

Late edit: Alan's version of this jaunt is now posted here

tgo challengers for the feshie - braemar - tarfside thing

Monday 19 April 2010

Some more pictures from Goldscope Mine

Brian sent me a few of his pictures and I’m putting them up here for your delactation, apols, delectation and delight, along with a few more of mine.

I had a rest day today as me little legs is knackered. I may make it to the library tomorrow – but there’s a long pre-TGO walk coming up before the end of the week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it all the way around….

Anyway – More troglodite pictures.

An insider’s view of the bin :-

Inside the bin

The remains of the Elizabethan Leat

the leat

At the wheel pit :-

The Oracle

Splashing a way out of the second level

Goldscope97 Passing a pit at the end of the coffin level

goldscope 026

CMRU Team members being lowered down the inclined shaft

inclined shaft

And that’s shallott (As we say on the allotments)

Sunday 18 April 2010

Underneath Scope End

entrance shaft

A little underground adventuring took place today beneath the beautiful Cumbrian Fells where its very dark.

I picked Brian up from Nenthead and transported him to a CMRU training event in the mines at Newlands.  As I’m not a member of CMRU, a small hole was excavated for me in some scree and I was pointed into a dustbin for a solo exploration of a bit of mine which linked into the bit of mine that CMRU were doing their training in.


Their entry was via an evil slit at the foot of a crag which you really wouldn’t go anywhere near if you knew where it lead.

Where it lead was a shaft, inclined at a steep angle which descends a very long way indeed. Its unlikely that if you slipped down here that you’d be all in one piece when you stopped, and, it would appear that there is indeed nothing to stop you from a quick descent should you decide to have a bit of a poke around at the bottom of this particular crag.

dustbin entrance

But my way in was much easier. I plopped through the dustbin which had been inserted into the scree and found myself in a “coffin level”. This is a passage chipped by hand which is wider at the shoulders than at the feet. Coffin-shaped, y’see…hence…

Anyway, this lead through a bit of mud and some paddling, past a pit and into a tilted passage which lead to a spot some way down the inclined shaft mentioned above.

coffin level

coffin dodger

Voices came from above. I waited for a photo opportunity , then got fed up and went back to the surface for a butty, then back in again. People appeared and we made our way out again. I ate my banana, had some coffee and then explored the Elizabethan water leat which brought water from a dam high up the Dale to my dustbin (it wasn’t a dustbin at the time) Later, I revisited the coffin level one more time before the team emerged for their lunch. I explored up the dale once more, finding two more short levels to explore.

inclined shaft

Afterwards, me and Brian walked around the hillside and explored the levels on the other side of the hill, which connect to this mine. This was a walk-in level which eventually came to a large chamber with much old timber staging in the roof and a pit which was apparently for a water wheel (same water from the leat – see above – try to pay attention)

lower levels

And then we all went home.  Don’t bother trying to find the dustbin by the way. Its impossible to find unless you know exactly where to look and there is a lot of scree.  Anyway, its quite dangerous to go in old mines, so don’t do it.

Saturday 17 April 2010

A walk past the Cow’s Tail

dcc bill gallon walk 003

I noticed this walk advertised on the Durham County Council website. The attractions were that it started at Stanley Crook – just a mile and a couple of hops from Chez Knipe, so I could walk to it, and it was 12 miles long, which is what you want at this stage of TGO-ness and it was lead by Bill Gallon , and I always find Bill’s walks interesting and, well, quite fun.

So I walked up to the start which was a small car park on the Deerness Valley line – much too small for the number of cars that turned up, in fact.

deerness valley walk

It was nice to meet some old acquaintances amongst the walkers, and, not least amongst the three stewards, Doug, Neville and Clare and so it was in high dudgeon that we set off Northwards along the Deerness valley walk in warm spring sunshine and not a flake of volcanic debris in sight.

open casted landscape nr tow law

I won’t bother you with the fine details of the walk but will just recount what a nice day it was and how it was that nobody got killed or lost or anything and that we visited some bits of woodland, some old railway lines,some new nature reserves, some very old coke ovens (remains of…), more lambing fields and woods and vast areas of the over-smoothed local countryside.

viewpoint over weaardale another open casted path

I should explain that the countryside around Crook has been substantially dug up, turned over and replaced with something else in the search for Black Diamonds which lie just under the surface and go down a couple of hundred feet in a series of well-known and named seams. Drift mines and shafts were replaced by open castings, hundreds of feet deep and occupied by what appeared to be Tonka toys.

Everything was coal. They filled in the holes and planted strips of trees, and now,we’re left with smooth green undulating hills – not unpleasant in themselves, but not the rough moorland that it once was. Its easy walking country. There is space and big views and deep woods and bits of industrial archeology based on coal, coke and iron.

open countryside near crook

And the spring is just springing with just the startings of patches of new flowers and the greening of the fields.

We had a cracking walk. The company was good. (There were 27 of us in total) The weather was perfect and I only had to walk a bit extra – so I did just over 15 miles and 1600 feet of climbing.

But what of the Cow’s Tail? Its a pub. Actually, its an ex-pub. It was The Dun Cow aka The Cow’s Tail aka “Dode’s”. It was very small. The publican, at one time , was the oldest landlord in Britain and if you stood too long at the bar, your legs got burned from the coal fire. I used to visit on my bike. Its downhill all the way to Knipe Towers from there.

Bill Gallon is Chairman of the Pennine Way Association and had an excellent website of North-East walks at Have a look – its fab – specially if you live in NE England.

dcc tow law

Friday 16 April 2010

Heavy Handed Gent Ran Amok in Kent



Little old lady got mutilated late last night.

Werewolves of London again


Thursday 15 April 2010

Things discovered on a little local trundle

Bravely ignoring the enormous cloud of volcanic dust blotting out the warmth of the early summer sun, I sallied forth from Knipe Towers for a little afternoon perambulation.

And these are the things I discovered:

A nice handwritten notice on an unpublicised nature reserve on the hill between Crook and the Deerness valley.

no guns

I’m not sure if there’s anything special about the reserve. Its a wood and the only grazing appears to be the local deer, although there was evidence of other wildlife around. Its a nice, quiet, secluded spot, ideal for snoozing in to the background of willow warblers, chiff-chaffs and robins. (There seems to be a lot of robins about at the moment…)

One side of the reserve is a small stream which emanates from this culvert.

culvert deerness valley line

One day, I’ll crawl through here…. The culvert carries the stream under a large embankment on the Deerness Valley line. It must have been built around 1858.

After this there was a bit of a jungly thrash through some spiky gorse, brambles, raspberries and wild roses and then into lambing fields for this type of thing:

lambs and wind generators

and this:

family group

Ah, bless! – Cute and delicious at the same time. What could be better?

Home for a nice hot cup of tea and an afternoon nap. Its a hard life. I really don’t know how I cope.

6 miles and 800 feet by the way. It were cold. To be honest, I didn’t notice any volcanic dust, that were just to build up some tension.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Howgill Fells – Carlin Gill and Fell Head

viv completes a steep bit

This was even yet another walk in the series of Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops, and, yet another that’s not in the (administrative) county of Yorkshire, although once in the West Riding, always in the West Riding.

We all met by the playground in Tebay. The population of this walk grew in the preceding few days and, as well as me and Bruno, there was Our Kid, John Jocys and Viv, Rick, Stuart and Pedro. Pedro was the black and white collie-cross which appears in a few of the pictures. Pedro was specially interested in Bruno’s bottom for some reason and regularly got into bother for it. But that’s just dogs y’see. they like that kind of thing….

along the intake wall

Anyway, after a short tussle with the kissing stile at the Church (tip: Use the gate…), and a brief introduction to Tebay’s Industrial periphery, we embarked on a route which follows a roughish course along the intake wall with a grand view of the M6 and , after a bit of contouring, drops into Carlin Gill, which we followed upstream to a notice board.

in carlin gill

The notice board said that the BMC and English nature had agreed that people would not climb Black Force or the grassy arete alongside it between March and June 2009 so as not to upset some raptors which may be nesting in the vicinity.

carlin gill

We decided that if the raptors nested there last year, they might try to do so this year and so, opted instead for the steep and grassy ridge up on to Fell Head in front of us. This was not a specially easy option. There were bits of it which were unfeasibly steep. Steep? Don’t talk to me about steep…. Anyway, after a while we reached a path which we followed to the left for a while. This was just putting off the moment when we would have to resume the steep grass – which we did. But it soon relented and not too much later we were all stood in the nithering wind at the little summit cairn on Fell Head. Job done.

fell head summit party

As it was much too draughty here for comfortable sitting around , we dropped down into a cosy nook for lunch and then down beside a gill to Blakethwaite Bottom. (Have I ever mentioned what a grand wild camping spot this would be, by the way?)

great ulgill

Another short but steep climb took us up on to Uldale Head and some moors, tussocks and wild sphagnum brought us eventually back to the start.

What happened to the spring? Personally, I was freezing most of today.

But the walk was a fine little expedition in good company and we didn’t get lost.

We did 12 miles and 2200 (ish) feet of climbing – some of it at an acute angle. There were a lot of people out today, including several dozens in high vis jackets, poking around or just gazing at the slope failures in Carlin Gill, and a large rambling group who chased us up the first bit of Fell head, then disappeared and re-appeared somewhere else as we came down. One or two looked a bit puzzled by the fact that we were descending towards them from an unexpected angle.

fell head