Monday 31 May 2010

TGO Challenge – First day Piccies

thats sgurr na ciche that is
These are some of the saved pictures from the first day of my TGO Challenge (Did I mention that this was my tenth and that I’m a Leg End now and that you need permission  to even gaze upon my beautiful shadow?
I feel sick just looking at this
Anyway – I went on the boat from Mallaig to Inverie, had a brief pint and a temporary carrot soup and wandered along for a bit with Laura who has that blog that mainly comes from France.
Then she got fed up of the fart jokes and went off towards Barrisdale shaking her head and muttering something about finding a way of getting away from this set of nutters….
Laura leaving for Barrisdale
Then I went up a big pass, meeting Gordon Green going the other way in search of beer (he wasn’t on the Challenge) and down the other side which was very squiggly and had views of scary places.
some knoydart
Then  over a wobbly bridge (my kids would have been interested in this at one point in their careers as apprentice Knipes.)
wobbly bridge notice
bridge in use
Then me and another lad and his partner who was scoffing pear drops got a bit damp in the trousers in a bog. You have to think very light thoughts in a bog.
And then I had a brew at Sourlies and went up the Bealach a Mhaim pass, meeting Cameron McNeish on the way. It grew late. Everybody else was camping by this time.
a camp near sourlies
Eventually, as the rain started, I put up the akto, had a wee and settled down for “dinner” (important inverted commas here…)
Then I ate some rehydrated gunge which was reasonably tasty, drank some scotch and dozed off for about 14 hours.
This was a typical TGO day for me. I won’t go on about it in future blog posts.
Failed to re-engineer Kylie’s lingerie during the night but I did meet Yasser Arafat who was playing base guitar to my strident power chords. Was it The scotch or the Thai Green Curry?
Attentive readers will have noticed that I put the pictures in between the text in a fairly random and illogical manner.
More later – probably tomorrow if it rains. If it doesn’t rain, I’m going to destroy the big elderberry bush in my Mum’s back yard. (Note that the preceding sentence isn’t any kind of code or cipher, I am really going to cut up a bush.  However you say that, though, it will always sound bad, I suppose.)

TGO Photies Recovered!

Me and Dave Albon have a cuddle

I put my faith in sunshine on a windowsill and I have just recovered 86 photos that I took on this year’s TGO Challenge.

So I have a record up to the final couple of miles of day 7, after which there aren’t any anyway.

I’m just off to do some landlording and then up to Stanhope with some stuff for the wife’s market stall and then …… I’ll post some more.

The camera’s still not up and about but I’m trying a bit more sunshine then its the Philip Werner Freezer Therapy.

Yipee and hurrah anyway…..

Sunday 30 May 2010

Meanwhile (Tall TGO Tale)

oil seed rape for rounding up
Meanwhile in the kitchen of the bungalow at the Mains of Inversquirty, Mrs Primula Brown was watching a chocolate digestive slowly disintegrate in her mid morning cup of hot, sweet tea and pondered over the fact that had her dear old mother not had an early pregnancy craving for cheese triangles she could have had a completely different christian name.
This, though was of no note compared with the drama being played out on the road at the front where a tall and well-tanned and substantial figure of a man exactly of the kind our Prim had been having fantasies about only the other night had been click-clacking his way towards the pebbly beach at Scurvy Zawn and being completely incapable of getting a song about his old man being a council refuse collector out of his head had not noticed the treacherously intent approach of the Mains of Inversquirty’s Main farm sheepdogs sneaking up towards his juicy sweat-glistening calf muscles.
more oil seed rape
Why a farm specialising in the growing of peas and oil seed rape should have two sheepdogs and not a sheep for many miles is a question which could only be accurately answered by the Farm Manager who had a soft spot for yer canines. The lack of anything much to round up (apart from two long-suffering cats and an old goose) lead to Rover and Charmer being a bit wayward with the boredom of it all.
A shiny, unsuspecting leg was, in fact, just the thing to cheer our doggy pals up no end, as it happens.
And so, as Primula’s biscuit finally fell to bits and floated around in the cooling beverage, the opportunity to tend to the several neat holes in our hero’s legs was completely missed. This was such a great pity in many ways.
Primula did, however , get the opportunity to sooth the perforated pooches hind quarters with various  antiseptic unguents.
east coast view
This does demonstrate just how quick even a tired TGO challenger can be with the sharp end of a walking pole.
The moral of the story is that a retreat should be just as well planned, and quickly executed as a sneak attack.
The other moral is to keep a close eye on your biscuit and the road at the front.
The next opportunity will likely be next May. It wont be me, though as I’m intent on a year off.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Last minute TGO stuff

wild laundry

My TGO Challenge starts tomorrow evening with the 9:30 train to Edinburgh.

I have a few last minute things to do, but apart from these, I’m all set.

The main thing to do is shopping:

Beer (for the train)

Whisky (For the camping, till I get to Spean Bridge)

 red bothy  blue skies and challenge tents

Squirty Cheese (till Spean Bridge)

Sausage (TSB)

Lighter (In case my stove lighter stops working)


I’ve packed my pack. It feels fairly heavy. This is as scientific as I’m going to get. Its got three days food and one extra dinner in case something goes wrong.

If I finish this Challenge, it will be my tenth.

I get to snog this man

Elements of Clan Knipe are having a holiday in Johnshaven for some post-Challenge celebrations

 stan and bill

No pressure, then

Sunday 9 May 2010

Last Pennine Snow on Cross Fell

bruno pounces on some snow.
I was supposed to do this walk a few days ago, but the weather was duff and me lickle legs wuz tired….
So I did it today instead.
george and dragon garrigill
Me and superdawg started by the sad spectacle of a boarded up George and Dragon in Garrigill . There’s a save the George and Dragon meeting in Alston on 14 May when the villagers will decide if they can form a co-operative to buy and run the place. I hope they can – there’s been shenanigans, apparently.
shepherding south tynedale
Anyway, for speed, we romped off up the tarmac towards the South Tyne, eventually pitching up by Troutbeck (which had a trout in it) for lunch.
We followed the bridleway up to meet the Pennine Way and followed this northwards over various Dun fells till we got to Cross Fell.
pennine way junction a dun fell
another dun fell dun fells retrospect
There, we met a lad with a lump of iron. This particular lump of iron (ore, actually…) had some speckles in it which I thought were pyrites and a strange dark blue mineral in regular squares. I had no idea what it was, but , as there’s a good phone signal on the top of Cross Fell, I phoned Brian.
cross fell summit
Gilda said that the last she’d heard of Brian, he had stripped his son, covered him in marmite and had dangled him over a fifty foot drop over a bridge near Bangor. Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor? Eh?
Apparently, its his son’s stag do today. Otherwise it would have to be the social workers again.
snow patch cross fell
So, we have no idea what it was. We parted our separate ways and Bruno found a large patch of snow to have a play on. Then another…. then another….
We visited Greg’s Hut. It was warm inside (it was perishing cold outside by the way) – the fire in the stove was still smouldering and the stove was hot.
gregs hut
The Pennine Way back to Garrigill is a long and fairly dull plod which we did at speed as it was downhill.
Today, we did 20 miles with 2500 feet of uphillness. This is a long way. But  some of my TGO Challenge walks are only a bit shorter, so there’s a reason for the madness.
I won;t do any more walking before the TGO Challenge, which starts on Friday.
The boots done well, by the way – very comfy, good grip and the water beads off them nicely. Despite all this, we are both, frankly, quite knackered.

There’s a short vodeo dough below in the snow. (beneath the map)

Have a look anyway. I’m for a nap….

cross fell

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Gearfest for TGO

santa brings bags of gear

It would seem that there’s some kind of gear buying virus going around. It was probably something in the water at the Old Dungeon Gill. Mr Sloman and Miss Peewiglet may well have succumbed. Lord Elpus was seen with a new mattress.

Based on the liquidation of a really old Building Society account that was receiving a risible interest rate, I bought some boots. Various advice was given in the comments of a previous post. I did take notice, but in the end, the boots mentioned were mainly not available in Durham city, or much more expensive than I wanted to pay. And I was in a rush – so no time for much shopping around….

So I got some Mammut Impact thingies. they’ve got temporary goretex linings. They only have to stay Very Waterproof for two weeks. I’m expecting just a bit longer….

Here they are

I got them for £85 with my 15% backpackers Club discount. If I’d used all my possible discounts, they would have owed me twenty quid….

I also bought Map 42 and two gas canisters.

And a Manx Kipper.

I was going to walk on Cross Fell tomorrow but backpackinlight has promised a delivery of the other gear I’ve been acquiring. These are:

A RAB bivi bag to keep me just a bit warmer and to defend my down bag against morning Akto drips.

A Primus windshield. (Everybody and his dog has a primus windshield) – and feet.

A primus kettle thing with a lid for the boiling of water.

A neo air mattress like wot Lord Elpus got. This will be lighter and bouncier than my thermarest

And in the last few days, I got these:

My TGO Challenge RAB polartech fleece, which is the same colour as Alan’s famous green jacket. Luminescent.

MY TGO buff.

Its ridiculous – I don’t do gear….


Monday 3 May 2010

A Little Light Lone Rangering

hilleberg wendy

Every year, just before the TGO Challenge, in fact, I do a little walk starting at Blanchland and another starting at Edmundbyers, both on the same day. The purpose is to check the paths, waymarks stiles and signposts for any problems and report these to Durham County Council. I do the same walk in October and similar walks at Crook in January and July. I could do more, really.

footpath 24

But today was Blanchland’s turn. On the first walk – about five miles, I discovered nothing much amiss that I hadn’t already discovered last October. The paths are slowly getting better used. One stile was still pivoting and is hazardous, in my view , and another path, up a steep bank is slowly slipping away. I also found a loose wendy house, which I returned to a garden. I assume it was the correct garden.


The first half was sunshine, hail showers and a perishing wind coming from somewhere in the general direction of Norway. The second half was sunny, but even colder. I even had me warmest hat on.

One of the attractions of the first walk is the riot of colour provided by the bluebells. Unfortunately these always flower the week when the TGO Challenge starts, so I always miss it.

mines buildings hunstanworth

After lunch, I did the 9 mile circuit of the lead-mine trail which involves an outward bridleway over the moor and a return on a footpath through suckler cows and lambs. it is these suckler cows who once mugged me and are the main reason for Bruno’s absence on this walk.

stile with style

There was nothing much amiss with the paths. I met half a dozen cyclists who were all friendly, a sullen farmer at Pedams Oak with his butties in a tupperware box (although his dog was very friendly) – and the black cattle.


black cattle lambs

Blanchland is named after the white monks who’s monastery was on this site before the Scots and Henry VII trashed the place (pre-menstrual or somethink…) and Pedam’s oak is the Oak in which one local thief, bandit and cattle riever called Pedam used to hide out. I believe they strung him up eventually.

near pedams oak

There was also a sign on a farm gate which said that there wasn’t a right of way through the gate. Its true, there is no right of way through the gate. I guess that the waymarks are a bit obscure just there. there’s one on a telegraph pole, but there’s a choice of two lanes at that point. I expect that some people are choosing the wrong lane. I’ll make a suggestion to DCC.

no right of way

And that was that.

14 miles and 1850 feet of uphill.

I’ll be back in October. The reports will be done on-line tomorrow evening.

Wot fun. Wot? Tonto?

Sunday 2 May 2010

Hiking hiking hiking – a load o’ men walking up a hill


The question I am asking myself at the moment is – shall I make a cup of tea, or shall I do a blog thing about how I have to buy some boots with little clue as to what to buy…..

I have a number of pairs of boots. None of these I consider suitable for the TGO challenge which I am about to launch myself on in about a week.

And, as they say in certain classic plays wot I ritt….Therein lies the rub. If I get this wrong, therein will definitely lie the rub. And the rub is not what I want.

I do want waterproof, though and I want immediate comfiness and I want warm feet. And I don’t want the things to dump me at random in a big snotty heap like with the last pair of boots used to do.

I will buy some on Tuesday.

I must admit……                   I have no idea what I’m doing……

I think I’d best make some tea….


Saturday 1 May 2010

Yokenthwaite Moor

semer water below

Due to an episode of pre-breakfast lassitude, I didn’t arrive at the Semer Water car park till lunchtime. I paid the two quid parking fee to Mrs Metcalfe at Low Blean Farm and me and superdawg romped off up the road for the bagging of Yokenthwaite Moor. This hill is also known as Middle Tongue and is another of the Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops walks. (getting close to the end of this by the way…)

We followed the byway towards Cray. This could well be a roman road. If it isn’t it doesn’t really matter. The point is, it gets you up high quickly and easily.

middle tongue cragdale

We turned off on the high limestone plateau and followed a wall for a bit. And then a fence. I was kind of hoping for some really duff weather – it was forecast. But it was just a bit cold and there was some spots of rain/sleet in the wind. We could see our breath and that was about as bad as it got.

a bit rough

Once off the limestone, though, the going was rough and peaty. On a wet day, this could be quite bad. As it was, it hasn’t really rained much up here since the snow melted , so the bogs are dried up and only occasionally a bit squishy. But its still rough. Rough? Don’ talk to me about rough…. this is the roughest 2000 foot top in Yorkshire.

middle tongue trig point

After the trig point, the way turns sharp left, at which point it gets much easier. There are animal traps. Some contain dead animals. A larsen trap – meant to catch crows had , apparently, trapped a sheep. There was just a sad skeleton.

trap larsen trap with sheep skeleton

Navigation along this ridge is pretty easy. You just follow the fence, which at some points is a wall. The trick is to follow it in the correct direction. At one point, where there’s the only gate on the ridge, this is counter-intuitive. Turn Left. Honestly – turn left and just keep following the wall.

After the peculiar limestone corrie of Jeffrey Pot, we made a beeline for a place where Baydale beck and the footpath to Marsett meet. This went well despite not using a compass ( I used a wrinkle on the hill above Marsett which I’d spotted and headed for that)


Alongside the beck, spring was springing (and about time too…) There were primroses and violets and various daisy-related flowers – and blackthorn blossoming sweetly.

blackthorn blossom

A bit of road walking and a lambing field and we were back at the start.

There’s nothing really complex about this walk. Its a boggy slog. But there are curlews and larks and the usual moorland stuff to entertain. The views aren’t remarkable, really, to be honest….. But there’s a lot of space and much hopping between heathery tussocks. After wet weather, there may be drownings…..

Me and the dog did about 14 miles and 1700 feet of up.

Yokenthwaite Moor, be warned, is a rough bugger. Expect hard work and soppy socks.

middle tongue