Wednesday 29 September 2010

Peebles-Moffat Second Full day

camp sheepgrapes 07:00 hrs
Camp Sheepgrapes was a miserable place at 6:30 am on Monday morning. The wind was a bit windy and the drizzle was a bit drizzly. Nothing dramatic, except for the fact that there was no visibility.
We left at about 8:30, I think and we crossed the beck (burn) and slogged the enormous slog up onto Molls Cleuch Dodd. We were handrailing again, which is extremely effective and quick in this kind of clag.
handrailing again
After Molls Cleuch Dodd, the walking is incredibly easy for a long way and so we easily took in Firthybrig Head and Firthhope Rig and then down to Rotten Bottom for a bit of shelter. It was here, I’m afraid to say, that the very last of Humphrey’s pies was furtively scoffed whilst the others tended to their brews and chatted about the relative weights of various rucksack designs.
Rotten Bottom was interesting in a Pennine kind of way, but it’s reputation is exaggerated when compared with most North Pennine mosses.  Its a bit boggy for a few yards.
hart fell summit
We contoured out most of Cape Law and fought bravely to get the team up on to Hart Fell where it was even foggier.
Falcon Craig and Swatte fell were quickly swatted, disappointingly without any view at all, for this is a very fine place in the hills.
falcon craig
We descended tiredly over Blue cairn and on to Greygill  Head where there was a decision to be made. two alternatives were available – the first consisting of a very steep plunge through deep bracken to the track – a route taken by me, the other Mike and Piglet, or a crossing of a barbed wire fence for an easier descent in a sheep pasture. It was this fence that did for Alan’s hand.
piglet detects alan's screams
It was, apparently, very nasty indeed and I’m really quite pleased that I was sitting beside the track scoffing an energy bar  and playing with Piglet when it happened.
Shirley (Peewiglet) did a particularly fine job in bandaging up the gory mess and Martin, John and Tony rushed off to organise some transport, Martin jogging/running into Moffat to  bring back John’s car.
alan and his hand
And so, Alan, Shirley and Andrew were whisked off to Carlisle for urgent treatment to Alan’s poorly digits whilst the remainder finished the walk.
Ian Shiel met us in Moffat and we had a brief and ever so slightly boozy session in the Black Bull.
Tony and Christine left for a lay by in Ribblesdale and Ian took me, Mike and Martin back to Peebles in his campervan after breakfast the next morning, having postponed the Moffat-Peebles leg due to a duff weather forecast and general battle weariness.
Today was about 14 miles and another 3000 feet of up.
molls cleuch dodd
hart fell
But what of Peebles-Moffat. this is a really cracking 35 (or so) mile walk. Its not a pushover by any means, though and deserves a bit of respect. You really have to keep plugging away. But its fab, no mistake.
And what of the team?
I think we had fun (Others may confirm or deny this) but I thought it was a jolly jape. And this was a great team. At some points there was real concern for the progress and welfare of each other. Several people had low points and the team was patient and supportive. 
Alan’s unfortunate accident brought out the best in people and its heartening to know that if my stent had failed or something, that, before scoffing my precious pies, they would have all Done Their Best. (Note the capitals, Alan)
At the moment Alan is festering in the RVI in Newcastle with his poorly fingers. We all hope that there will be a full recovery and that once again, Sloman will recapture the well-deserved position of  Cambridgeshire’s nose-picking champion.
Fuller and more gory details of Alan’s specially nasty injury appear on Peewiglet’s Plog, with links on this very blog.

Peebles-Moffat First Full Day

uphill handrailing broad law
After a cold and frosty but beautiful moonlit night, Camp Alpha awoke slowly, brewed and cooked and all that kinda stuff and stumbled off up through the heather to a little col just South of Dun Rig.
The party waited whilst Martin and Jungle bagged Dun Rig. There was, for a while, bog and heather and tussocky stuff, but gradually the underfootings improved.
a small party sets off to bag dun rig
After bagging Black law, we lunched in slightly brightening weather at Foulbrig Head. Some trail riders, expecting me to open the gate for them were disappointed and had to dismount. I expect there was bad language and sulking inside those helmets and face disguises.
At this point, John J decided to establish The Jocys Alternative – specially for those with dodgy knees. This consists of the track South to Megget Reservoir and a hop up the road to the Megget Stone. John would establish the site of Camp Sheepgrapes.
The remainder had a bit more tussock bashing to do before a track took us more easily up on to the main Manor Hills ridge. Martin dashed off to bag Dollar Law whilst the less energised took a shortcut onto the ridge and headed off for Cramalt Craig.
peewiglet enjoys a short break
Broad Law, which is very broad and has a radio station thingy and an alien spaceship on the top, was our first Corbett and the high point of the walk. It was apparent at this point that many members of the team were getting a bit fragged, so it was heartening to spot John J’s akto pitched beside the beck in the valley bottom. A short and steep descent was enjoyed by some. Piglet enjoyed searching for a mountain hare that had rushed off in another direction.
after broad law
Camp  was established on short sheep shit and piles of grass. A small cache of medicinal supplies was produced and this was used to wash down Peewiglet’s cheese and sausage. I am afraid that at least two of the pies intended for this party had been used to counteract a couple of episodes of Handrailers Lassitude. As I pointed out, it is important that the navigator retains full access to all of his intellectual faculties and one good way of ensuring this is a constant supply of finely slaughtered pigs in pastry.
Handrailing was used as a navigational strategy all day. For those puzzled by the expression, it means following something. In this case, there seems to be a fence pretty much all the way from Peebles to Moffat.
There was a short but well focussed boozing and chatting session before it got too cold and the beer and wine supplies dried up.
Another moonlit night followed before a mid night arrival of some cloud and drizzle.
We’d done about 14 miles with 3100 feet of uphill – so, a good, beefy kind of hillwalking day. And it was becoming apparent that this little group was quite good at supporting and encouraging it’s members in their various periods of despondency and that spirits were high – a very good sign indeed.
black law
day two part one showing variations
jocys variation
day two part two. Loops at the top by Martin Banfield, Southern Loop is the Jocys variation. Squiggly line is what the rest of us did (Piglet did a lot more…)

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Peebles-Moffat Round Two Day 0.5

glen sax and moffateers
After a brief foregathering in the drinking dens and pizza bars of Moffat the night before a bunch of nine Moffateers gathered once again on Saturday morning in Moffat high Street. Two cars were sufficient to take the hopefuls to Peebles where a short rest was called in the Bridge Inn.
Revd Albon and Big Jugs Monthly Bossman and Pie provider Humphrey Weightman joined the mildly excited throng for a pint. Humphrey donated some quality pies to the team’s resources. I regret to admit that I did, in fact, eat all the pies……   I am, of course, distraught and so is my cardiac nurse.
alan with undamaged digits
And then, after a brief press call in the car park during which Mr Sloman tempted fate by miming his fence climbing skills, nine of us plus Dave Albon invaded Glen Sax. Dave had to leave us after a mile or two as he had work to do. 
a lassitude sufferers meeting
We’d taken the lower route this time to ensure that we actually got somewhere before it went dark.
This seemed to work and ultimately, as the walls of Upper Glen sax closed in, we spotted the ideal site for Camp Alpha, on a little  possibly natural grassy shelf amongst all the heather.
high up glen sax
The night was moonlit (to such an extent that I thought it was dawn at about half one) and frosty.
Spirits were vaguely optimistic if a bit nervous. There were  early nights and snoring.
camp alpha
Today’s walkers were me, Alan Sloman and Shirley (Peewiglet) Worral plus Piglet the Doglet, Mike (no not that Mike, the other Mike) Pope and his dad Martin (Phreerunner) Banfield, Tony (Pennine Ranger) Bennet and  his handler Christine, Andrew (I can’t decide which decision to decide on) Walker and his miraculous underpants and and John (I wish I had Mike Harding’s Money) Jocys. I think that was it.
Anyway, I think we did six and a half miles and 1400 feet of uphill.
We were still OK.  But much more excitements later…..
glen sax

Thursday 23 September 2010

Peebles – Moffat Earwiggo Again

moffpeeb 008
There will now be another one of those long gaps. I’m just about to nick off to the Crook Co-OP for the shopping for the second attempt on this walk. Part of the shopping will include a bottle of vino-collapso for Martin (Phreerunner) Banfield for secretion at a certain strategic spot.  I may pre-place other essential medical logistical items as well, who knows?  [If anybody wants anything pre-placed for entertainment purposes for the second night, best let me know before I get to Moffat on Friday!]
There seems to be eleven starters for the walk, plus a small crowd to see us off (Dave Albon and, possibly, Humphrey Weightman if he can drag himself away from putting together the Christmas edition of Big Jugs Monthly, the scramblers fanzine.)
There has been a little staff wastage in the last few days, and there are people who retain an interest in this walk but couldn’t make it this time. So, I’m wondering about staging it yet again in September 2011. I suspect there are blogger/backpacker types out there who might also enjoy this kind of thing. So, if this one goes reasonably well and not too many people are lost or fatally struck down by something or other, that there’ll be invites going out next summer.
I think a dozen walkers is about right.
We have seven, I think who have declared an intention to try to walk back to Peebles from Moffat.
The silence from this blog is likely to be broken by just the one post-Meefatt posting, next Friday, and then I’m off to Wales for a fortnight. So the quietness will continue.
However, there are some notable bloggers involved in this walk – notably Alan Sloman, Peewiglet, Martin (Phreerunner)  Banfield and Tony (Pennine Ranger) Bennett, so there should be no shortage of finely crafted reports for your edification.
Me and the dawg have lots of jolly japes planned for whatever will remain of October, though, watch this space.
Shall we have some post-walk entertainments?

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Calf Top Not 2000 Feet High

a cairn on calf top
Just thought I’d mention this as I’m re-bagging the Yorkshire dales 2000 foot tops.
Those hill-bagging height surveyors who recently measured Tryfan and Glyder Fach and so on, have just published some results concerning the height of Calf Top.
calf Top is just to the left of Barbon and, whilst it isn’t technically in the Yorkshire Dales, it is in the Pennines next to Great Coum and not far from the Howgills, so if it turned out to be 2000 feet high, then I’d have to bag it.
As it happens, i bagged it earlier this year, but never mind that – stop being so pedantic.
Anyway, following the resurvey, the OS have accepted the results and , in future, calf Top will appear on new OS maps with a height of 610 metres.
Justaminnit – I hear you exclaim…  610 metres is 2000 feet!
Yes it is. But it’s been rounded up. Apparently, they take averages and use horrible things like probabilities and statistics and things with Numbers. And calf Top is probably just under 2000 feet by a couple of millimetres. 13/16ths of an inch, to be probably fairly precise.
So its not a Nuttall/Hewitt.
And I don’t have to bag it again. I don’t have to, but its rather a nice hill, so I might anyway.
Just so that when you see the new height on your new map, you won’t do anything rash.
The results and survey report are in

Monday 20 September 2010

More Birkett Bagging Beyond Buttermere

bruno sneaks up.....
Actually, it was quite near Ennerdale.
But anyway – I’d set off to bag Swainson Knott and it’s two little satellite hills Ponsonby Fell and Stone Pike, when, as I was driving towards the starting point, I noticed Flat fell.
I didn’t have the map for Flat Fell, but it was an easy bag from the road – half an hour did it.  It was about 2km and 140 metres of up – mainly the crossing of a deep peri-glacial channel. I noticed, though, that due to the sogginess of the ground today, both of my feet were soaked after this short jaunt.
I then bagged Cold Fell – another small Wainwright outlier during which I got a really good view of Sellafield Nuclear Power Station and Armageddon Repository, and that my tootsies were now even wetter.
Bruno suggested lunch in the car. So that’s what we did. I had Lancashire Cheese and Tomato and Bruno had Dog Dribble. Is that cruel?  I just dont care mwwwwwuhahahah…
hut circle
After this we paddled off to outflank Ponsonby Fell. This involved a long outward leg on some bridleways, one of which crossed Worm Gill. Worm Gill, it turned out was in a bit of a bad mood and was having a rage. The crossing point was flowing fast at just over knee-deep. This would have been disastrous for keeping everything else other than the wet socks dry. Upstream, though, the beck is braided into four smaller streams and only one of these was almost knee deep. The others were shallow. Nevertheless, the feet could not, now get any wetter.
crossing point worm beck
At Scalperskew Farm, they were bringing in the gimmers and one of the dogs, I noticed only had three legs. Not only that but the scruffy little pooch wasn’t even a “proper” sheep dog – it was some kind of poodle/terrier/collie/alsation/greyhound/sheep cross. QAnd it was barking and biting the tyres of the shepherd’s ATV.
When the shepherd drove across a cattle grid, the poor tripod couldn’t get across and had aa bark at the gate at the side. I let him through and he dashed off after the ATV with remarkable efficiency.
Ponsonby Fell was quickly bagged, followed by a barbed-wire defended Stone Pike, which has a sheepfold on top for the sheltering behind whilst drinking coffee and scoffing ginger cake. And then it was Swainson Knott, with it’s cairn made of what appears to be cow bones.
The sun came out for the return up by the River Calder (?Calderdale!) and, it has to be said, that this little dale is remarkably beautiful and a bit wild.
calder dale
When i got back to the car, two constables from BNF’s Sellafield Police Force were posted next to my car. They check out all badly parked cars, apparently. They were very friendly, though and allowed me to attack their boots with my groin before driving off laughing. (Actually, that last bit didn’t happen…)
worm gill and river calder junction
Today was 11 miles and 2200 feet of upness. I’ve only put up a map of the Swainson Knott bit of the route. Anybody intent on following this route should note that the descent from Swainson Knott to Calderdale was a trespass and was defended by particularly6 spiky barbed wire fences. Nothing stops The Pie and his Superdawg, though.
Three Birketts and Three Wainwright Outliers ticked. (some overlap exists)
swainson knott

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Winter Draws on – A Competition

its not this one
On 26th October 2009 I began a NorthernPies series of walks for the bagging of all of the 2000 foot tops in the Yorkshire Dales – That is, everything of 610 metres and over between the A65 and the A66 – the Aire Gap and Stainmore Pass.
An account of each of the walks appears in this very blog – well, where else would it be?
I’ve done them all except two. These last two will be done in one final walk.
The question is: Which hill will be the last one?
The prize is worth about twenty of your English pounds, is still in its original packaging and is something which will help to keep you warm during the forthcoming hardest-winter- since-the-last-one. In fact it’s so good, I might get one myself. This is a unisex piece of kit.
Entries to the competition can be made either by a comment to this thread or by email (see my profile). Emails are more discreet, obviously. Some comments won’t be published straight away, though as I’ll be on my hols for some of the time.
The closing date is midnight on 17 October 2010.
Its likely that there will be more than one correct entry and, if so, a random draw will be made.
Only one entry per reader and as I am de judge, my decisions on all matters concerning this competition will be final and there is no appeals mechanism.
The hill will not have been climbed by me or superdawg since 26 October 2009
Which hill will be the last in the series?

Sunday 12 September 2010

Swinner Gill and Rogans Seat

Just to say that the trap that this bird has been unlucky enough to come a cropper in, is a trap meant for stoats and rats. By reducing the number of stoats and rats, the numbers of red grouse and other ground nesting birds (but lets be honest, we’re really only interested in red grouse)… can be protected and increased, The bird in the trap is, of course, a red grouse. Its not funny. Well, its not funny for the grouse….
ivelet bridge foot of swinner gill
Anyway, moving right along – Today it was time to bag yet another of those Yorkshire dales 2000 foot tops. In fact – two – these being Rogan’s Seat and Water Crag. Rogan’s Seat’s main claim to interest is that it was once voted the most boring hill in England. I don;t think it is, and on this walk, I’ve set out to prove it.
I had to leave superdawg at home again, to protect the red grouse (snicker snicker……) and so, I was all on mysef when I parked the knipemobile by the bridge at Gunnerside.
crackpot hall swinner gill
A rather pleasant riverside path through meadows populated by this years lambs being fattened up – and a horde of Coast-to-Coasters on a low-level alternative coming the other way, all big packs and blisters. Its a nice path. Not exciting, but very nice.
east grain - ctoc path
Soon, I arrived at the foot of Swinner Gill and a steep track took me up to Crackpot Hall – a farmhouse devastated by subsidence caused by lead mining. From here, it starts to get a bit more exiting. A thin path takes the slightly more excited walker back into Swinner Gill. Normally, the route to Rogan’s Seat climbs steeply Eastwards on the Coast to Coast path and then takes an estate track across heathery moors to the little cairn on the top. The route is a bit dull, it has to be admitted.
swinner gill kirk
But this wasn’t for us (i.e. me). Oh no.  We (i.e. me) followed Swinner Gill upstream into a deep gorge with overhanging limestone walls. This is Swinner Gill Kirk. there’s a Yorkshire tradition of calling deep limestone gorges “Kirk” – which, of course, means “church”. There’s no church or kirk, never has been. Its the gorge.
deep in swinner gill kirk swinner gill kirk waterfall
Its quite narrow and has knee-deep pools and small waterfalls and a dipper or two. It ends at a waterfall. No further progress beyond the waterfall can be made without a risky scramble, so I retraced and scrambled up the left hand rocky wing of the Kirk. This was quite good fun, and quite easy (otherwise it wouldn’t have been fun, innit..) – and a short traverse on steep bracken brought me back into the gill. More pools and waterfalls and short scrambly bits followed. It was all good clean fun. (It occurs to me that this would be an excellent scramble on a hot sunny day)
upper swinner gill
I did discover an old level next to one waterfall. I braved the drippy entrance but the way on was low and wet and muddy and I wasn’t equipped for mining, so I retreated. I noticed a boot print in the mud, though, so maybe it goes somewhere.
old mine level
Even more waterfalls and pools and little steps followed till I was high up on the moor (where I found the unlucky grouse)
This is much better than the other way. But I joined the estate track  about half a click from the summit.
rogans seat summit
The summit has a small cairn on a peat hag. There’s quite a good view – south to Ingleborough and, even Pendle Hill, and North to Mickle Fell.
A fence is followed to Water Crag and the walking is mainly very easy with just a few soggy bits. Water Crag’s view Northwards is even better, being on the edge of the Stainmore Gap. its a great place to watch the A66….
water crag currick
Water Crag has a currick, a trig point and a circular stone shelter, which I rebuilt a bit. Its a cosy spot, out of the wind…
The next bit was rough. Gwan, ask me how rough it was…. Gwan.   It was rough – heathery then peat-haggy with no path at first, though, by handrailing the little beck, a few short sections of path did appear.
gunnerside gill

The beck leads into Gunnerside Gill which has good paths, a couple of nice limestone gorges but it’s main interest lies in the mineworkings. the place is completely devastated – absolutely ruined. It will only recover after its been iced over for a million years or so in the next ice age. But its quite fascinating. Its not pretty, but it is interesting.
I was soon in the bar of the Kings Head in Gunnerside with a pint of bitter shandy. The King’s head, by the way, has a sign outside which announces that kids, muddy boots and dogs are all welcome. Which is good.
On the way home, I broke the clutch in the knipemobile and managed to drive home from Barnard Castle without actually changing gear at all….  But its OK. It’ll be fixed in time for Peebles and my forthcoming Welsh hols.  It could have happened on the A5! When I told the dog, he said it served me right…..
Today was 13 miles and 1800 feet.
The question is – what will be the last Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot top. I am about to announce that there will be a Pie Blog competition with an actual prize. You’ll have to wait a couple of days. I have to get me clutch fixed first.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Walking the Border – Unfinished business

like a dog (piglet) with a bone

There’s something really unsettling about leaving something not quite finished. There are stones unturned on the Borders walking project.

The particular unstoned terns are these:

1) What about the route from Gretna to Canonbie, specially the Scots Dyke bit?

2) And what about the route up by the English and Scots Kershopes to Keilder? (Could be dull, its all forest…)

3) And (most irritating uninjured seagull) worrabout the Border ridge from Kielder to Hungry Law – including the Keilder Stone and the Carter Bar battle site and tea-van-with-bacon-butties?

Its this last one that I intend to have a look at next (although, maybe a day visit to the Scots Dyke on my way to Moffat in a couple of weeks could be worked in)

So, I have a tentative plan to walk the Border ridge bit at the very end of October start of November. As there’s not much daylight just then, I’ll take two days over the twenty-one miles or so between Kielder and Byrness and walk back to Kielder using the toll road. Its too far for me in that kind of rufty-tufty countryside anyway, so lack of daylight is a fine excuse. In the middle, I understand there’s a bed for me at the Forest view hostel. (I have asked).

This seems to be getting obsessive……

The pic is Peewiglet’s doglet (dog with a bone, see? – Actually , it’s a stick….. dhuhh)


Thursday 9 September 2010

Bounding around Boredale Bagging Birketts

descending place fell
All of this Yorkshire Dales stuff and idiotic jaunts up the Borders with toddlers AND wandering about on that fence line between Scotland and England has distracted me from my list of target hills wot I wrote up last November and which is almost untouched. So I determined to go and bag Angletarn Pike (South). A quick look on revealed a bunch of unbagged Birketts in the close vicinity and so, it was with a chicken sandwhich, some rhubarb pie and a banana – and an enthusiastic dog, that the knipemobile screeched to a stop at the little car park at the foot of Hallin Fell.
The legs weren’t too happy today, prolly cos of all the beta blockers and the damn great lumps of wobbly fat around the pieman’s gut – but we struggled manfully up the outrageously steep slopes of Sleet Fell till we go to the top.
Fine views were to be had. Sleet Fell was unbagged Birkett #1 – a 378 metre lump on the side of Place Fell.
low birk fell
The next one was to be Low Birk Fell – 373 metres and hiding in some bracken across the other side of a bit of a corrie. the bracken, I ought to point out, is turning brown and dying back. This is a good sign if you like winter, but a crap sign if you don’t. Low Birk Fell has a cairn and a specially fine view of Ullswater and the Helvellyn range. We lunched here in the sun. I lunched, Bruno just watched and tidied up any debris afterwards.
helvellyn range from birk fell
blaeberry knott
On to Birk Fell aka Bleaberry Knott 512 metres This is painfully steep at the bottom but gets easier. (maybe the beta blockers were wearing off….) This also has a specially fine view of Ullswater and the Helvellyn range. We tarried a bit.
dog cairn cairn dog cairn

After tarrying we lurched and stumbled up to Place Fell.(657 metres)  This wasn’t too bad as far as steepness is concerned and it’s rocky top provides shelter from the cold wind. Its a popular spot. A couple I’d met earlier who I’d passed, managed to arrive before me (I blamed the dog’s faulty navigation) – had a little celebration. They seemed quite pleased to have climbed it. Place fell has a cracking view… know where…
view of brothers water
Down to Boredale Hause and then up to Angletarn Pike (South) at 565 metres. This is almost, but not quite scrambly. It has a fine view…..  
angle tarn
After all of these fine views and with legs decreasingly less heavy, we positively danced along the Beda fell ridge. The path along this lumpy ridge changes sides from time to time, and, therefore, the (fine) views are occasionally varied.
an occasionally varied view
Its bloody brill….   Worra nice ridge. I ended my traverse at a little rocky top just North of Beda fell. Just a bit beyond here, a path goes down through the dying bracken to Winter Crag farm and the Boredale road takes the rambler and his faithful pooch back to his car at the bealach.
final rocky top
Nice walk, that…..
10 Miles (only just… rounded up a bit..) and 2900 feet of uphill.