Saturday 30 October 2010

Back to the Border

kielder water from greys pike 

Unusually for me, November looks like it’s going to be rather busy in terms of hillwalking and meetings with hillwalkers and trips away and all that kinda stuff.

It starts tomorrow. For tomorrow, I’m off to Kielder again and I’m going to attempt to walk along the Border fence and, where this isn’t on the highest part of the Border ridge, I’ll try to walk along the ridge.

The plan is to visit Peel Fell, which appears to have an Israeli army observation post on the top, the Kielder Stone, which is off-ridge in some of the tussockiest tussocks you’ve ever tripped over, the Carlin Tooth, Carter Fell, Carter Bar and Hungry Law to Byrness. There will be a camp somewhere around half way and I have a bed booked at the Forest View hostel (seeing as they treated me so nicely last time I was there)

I intend to return to see if my car still has all it’s wheels by using the toll road and some footpaths.

In the meantime, there will be another short intermission and, as it’s halloween, I thought I would post up this short musical video which is vaguely relevant.

Its the Bonzo Dog Doo-dah band. Only it isn’t is it?

Friday 29 October 2010

Beefy Botham Backs Big Bovril Bimbles

Actually, it’s Bovril Rambles, but I like bimbles better.
What’s this all about, I hear you ask…
I got this press release from Claire Hewitt of, who is marketing this joint Bovril/National Trust initiative.  I expect other bloggers may have had a similar approach and, to be fair, I usually bin requests like this except in this case, I quite like a drop of Bovril and this particular project provides money to the National Trust to help restore “special” outdoor areas, so, why not. (Incidentally, Superdawg is still open to offers of doggy bix and/or tins of doggy scoff. He just wanted me to remind marketing execs about that…)
beefy botham
Here’s the text of the press release:
Come and join Sir Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham on the Big Bovril Ramble
6th November
Outdoor enthusiast and walking legend, Sir Ian Beefy Botham is lending his support to the countryside by leading a Big Bovril Ramble encouraging Brits to get up and out during the winter months and learning more about the famous British countryside.
The ramble, held here at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal in North Yorkshire on 6th November 2010, is part of Bovril’s Great Outdoors Revival which is donating £100,000 to the National Trust, helping to restore special outdoor areas across the country with a well deserved makeover. A shortlist of over 70 National Trust sites in need of restoration have been drawn up (listed on, from across the nation and the makers of the beefy-fuelled drink are inviting the public to choose where the money goes.
Sir Ian is inviting Brits across the nation to take part in the Big Bovril Ramble, so if you and your family want to ramble for a few hours and take in the glorious countryside, then email or speak to the warden to secure a place.
To see the full list of National Trust projects up for nomination and cast your vote, visit Voting closes on 31st December and the winning projects will be announced in January 2011.
box hill

There will also  be Rambles/Bimbles at Quarry Bank Mill and Styal estate  SK9 4LA at Wilmslow : phone 01625 445896 or see on 22 November 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
and at Dudmaston Estate, Quatt nr Bridgnorth Shropshire WV156QN. Phone 01746 780866 or see on 22 November 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
and at Box Hill. The Old Fort Road Box Hill Tadworth Surrey KT207LB Phone 01306 885502 or see on 22 November 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
Presumably, Beefy Botham won’t be at all of the locations at the same time…. just the Fountains Abbey walk.
Click all the links, and don’t forget to vote
Gwan, you know you want to…

Tuesday 26 October 2010

What Next?


This morning was one of those mornings where you’re pleased to be able to avoid going out on the A68 and driving to Darlington, which is what I used to do. It was dark and wet and windy and, frankly, ‘orrible.

For some reason, this type of driech autumn morning is traditionally the time when I start to plan whatever it is I’m going to be doing, in terms of hillwalking, over the next twelve months. It is, in fact, the end of my walking year.

The new one will begin shortly.

Not-really-coincidentally, I have also just finished a little project to bag all of the Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops. Spookily enough, this took about twelve months.

The question is: whatever next?

border walk 049

These are the things done so far:

Twelve months in the Howgills (Appears in Doodlecat)

Hadrian’s Wall in Day walks.

Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops.

I also did a couple of TGO challenges, the Peebles-Moffat thing (unfinished business), a walk along the English/Scottish border (more unfinished business) and a walk across Cumbria.

settle to carlisle

I’ve also done walks along the Settle-Carlisle railway line, from Dent to Garsdale and from Garsdale to Kirkby Stephen and I’m considering doing day walks along the whole length of the railway line, thus providing a long distance route, or a bunch of day walks where the train can be used to get to the start and home again.

And I have 48 Hewitts to do, so another couple of trips to Wales and a trip to Dartmoor will be on the list next year.

ben alder cottage

I’ve not applied for the TGO Challenge, but instead, I’ve offered myself as a slave or gopher to the ladies at Tarfside. I’m considering a couple of static camps around Ben Alder for the bagging of various Munros during week one of the TGO and, just before or just after Tarfside, I may be able to bag a few Angus Glens Marilyns. I may consider setting up Mike’s cafe in the akto somewhere up the Uisge Labhair doing specialty tea’s and biscuit’s for Challenger’s. (Note the catering apostrophes) There may be other liquids involved, who knows….

gregareth or somewhere

Lonewalker has suggested the Yorkshire Dales National park trig points. I’ve visited most of these already, but I may visit the ones I haven’t been to…

Then there’s Moffat to Peebles to do, and, maybe a backpack in the Black Mountains..

So, that’s the kind of thinking so far – but I’m open to ideas for some kind of series of walkies like the YD2000 thing, or a long backpack.



Sunday 24 October 2010

Simon Fell and Ingleborough

This is the very last pair of the Yorkshire Dales 2000 foot tops series. It all went approximately to plan, so J_on_ tour can keep his buff.
The bit that went wrong was me getting up a bit late, so it was nearly eleven o’clock when I parked the knipemobile at Clapham. It was OK, though, I just chopped a little bit off the planned walk.
penyghent across limestone pavement
The walking up to join the Three Peaks path on it’s final downhill lurch to Horton was  really very enjoyable. Its very easy walking on short green turf, y’see, and the views towards Penyghent, across a fine karst plateau are, well, very fine. Somewhere along the route, I lost my banana. But I was cheered up from the post-fruitless-mourning by the bright sunshine and blue skies, although the force four “breeze” from higher latitudes was a bit more than chilling.
ingleborough from simon fell
We wandered towards Ingleborough, turning off to follow a wall up to Lord’s Seat – a grand limestone nobble with a cracking view of Upper Ribblesdale. To get there we had to cross “Rawnsley’s Leap”, a monster of a ladder stile which is listed in Yorkshire Limestone Climbing Guides as V-Diff. We crossed it back again a few minutes later and rambled up to the summit.
rawnsleys leap
I wanted to follow the path which runs along the edge of Ingleborough’s magnificent corrie, and to do this me and the dawg had to negotiate a wobbly wall defended by barbed wire. This went without too much of a hitch and Bruno has all his bits, and so have I, apart from the parts which have been removed surgically, in Bruno’s case, the vet in Bishop Auckland, and in my case the Urology Department at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s inebriate ferret “Jason” who is introduced into the tight underpants of those who’s wives consider that they have sufficient children. If you catch my drift.
lords seat
Anyway, the path along the edge of the corrie was icy but good to walk on. Soon we were on the summit, bemoaning the loss of our banana, but enjoying, instead, ginger cake, coffee and chocolate. I talked briefly to a lad who was doing the 3 Peaks and was heading for a ten hour time.  He seemed cheerful enough, so we didn;t tell him any fart or vasectomy jokes, but plunged off over the edge of the Brigantian ramparts to Little Ingleborough, down to Gaping Gill and then back on the lanes and through the tunnels to Clapham.
ingleborough's corrie
This is my last 2000 foot top of this series. I saved the best till the last.
For information of those confused souls out there, this wasn’t my first ascent of Ingleborough. I’ve been there before, many times since my first in October 1971. I’ve been on two fell searches on the hill and helped recover the remains of a scouser who lost an argument with a large boulder. And camped on it a couple of times and been inside it. Its my favourite Yorkshire Dales hill. I’ll likely climb it again.
ingleborough summit
12 Miles and 2250 feet of climbing.
The next question is, though – what shall I do next?

Friday 22 October 2010

A Bit of Pennine Posterity

You may need to forgive me for the next bit.
When I were a lad, the cotton mills in Earby had more looms than there were people in the town. My old mum worked twelve looms and we lived very close by. Next door, in fact.
Spring Mill (now a holiday cottage company)  worked 24 hours a day. It couldn’t have done any more. It worked itself to death. It did try it’s  hardest/ Everybody tried their hardest.
As kids, we knew the hierarchy of the millworkers from the sweepers to the weavers to the tacklers and the boilerman. There were clogs and shawls. And pints of tea and dirty jokes on the loading bay. Its a world that went , maybe forty or fifty years ago.
Me and my brother, sometimes,got to sleep in the big double bed in the back bedroom. From here you could hear the mill working. All night.
And the rhythm of the mill and the white noise that it produced would lull the knipe sprogs off to sleep.
And the rhythm of the mill is preserved in an unlikely rock classic of the 1960’s.
And here it is.

Spring Mill had exactly the same beat and rhythm as this. It was a lot noisier,though! But the percussion track here is Exactly the sound of the mill. Exactly. Enjoy.

Thursday 21 October 2010

A Little Trundle Up the Hush

up the hush
I visited Brian today and we had a little wander up Dowgang Hush at Nenthead. We only did, maybe a mile and a half, but with 400 feet of ascent and lots of poking around.
Roughly at the top of one of the branches of the hush are the remains of an old coal mine.
coal mine building
I noticed that the coal mine shop or, maybe it was an office  or a workshop (it has a fireplace) was covered in bright orange lichen. I’ve not seen this before. Any lichen experts out there?
orange coloured lichen
Secondly, Brian was turning over bits of the spoil heap, which was mainly lumps of shale, when he announced that he’d found a fossil. On closer inspection, the spoil heap was, in fact littered with oval-shaped rocks with ripples down the side. These were fossilised trees. The ripples are, or were the bark and these things were just a bit thicker than sapling size. I took a photo. In fact, I took a fossil.  Its about ten inches long by two or three inches wide and weighs about four kg. That’s the wife’s Christmas present sorted out anyway.
Look, it’s 350 million years old…..
We returned by a different route and only slightly disturbed the couple of kids camped by the pond near the mine.
Aren’t the kids supposed to be at school just now?

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Adopt-a-path walks in North Durham

ice and boot; boot and ice
Readers with really good memories may remember that I’ve done this walk a couple of times before. In fact, it’s two walks – one five or so miles starting at Blanchland and one of about ten miles starting at Edmundbyers. I do this twice a year and the purpose is to provide Durham County Council with a report on the state of a number of public footpaths and bridleways. I do the reporting on-line.
I don’t take superdawg because there are supercows on part of one of the walks and they once mugged me to try to get at the dog. They can be a bit lively sometimes as they’re suckler cattle with young and a bull. I don’t mess with them any more….
path number one hunstanworth
But worra smashing day for doing this kind of thing. There were blue skies all day and the thermometer in the Knipemobile on the way up there was minus one. There were ice patches on the road and some of the ice didn’t melt all day. This, together with the wind blowing off the arctic ice pack from somewhere oop North, meant that I had my cosy stuff on today. It could be described as “refreshing”
lord crewe arms blanchland
Walk number one was along by the river and through some woods to the small township of Townfield and then back over the moors to Blanchland with a small diversion for an off-route path. Everywhere was pretty much unchanged from the last time I did this in May. I took a trowel to try to drain some of the boggy bits in the wood. This was particularly unsuccessful. I’d need a proper spade for this. This is beyond my willingness….
loneley litter picker
At one point, whilst plodding up the road wondering whether or not I had angina, I was passed by a walker going very fast. He kept picking stuff up and putting it in a plastic bag. he was picking litter, bless ‘im. He marched off towards Stanhope with a growing bag of chuckaways.
I also met four walkers, two of whom weren’t where they thought they were and were having a slight whinge about the map. I pointed them in the right direction and we had a good chat.
Not much to report, really.
hawthorn and sheepsies
Walk two was along the lead mine trail from Edmundbyers, past Pedam’s Oak, where they’d locked up the youngsters in a barn If I was them, I would fear for my life, I think. Their mum’s were in the next field having a moo.
stirks in a shed await their fate
I returned by a higher path and met another five walkers and three cyclists. this is remarkable. I never meet anybody up here.
On the way back, I started noticing sweety papers and isotonic drinks bottles. I picked up quite a bit of litter on the way back and deposited in somebody’s wheelie bin in Edmundbyers. I’ve not come across litter before. The evidence was that whoever was responsible , did it very recently. Amongst my finds were some tinfoil containing half a ham and pease pudding butty. This is a North-Eastern food habit. The bread was fairly fresh (possibly frozen overnight)
woods near pedams oak
I might have a rant about this. You’re expecting a rant, aren’t you? Be honest.  You’re expecting me to say that whoever leaves their chocolate wrappers, empty plastic bottles, yoghurt tubs (yoghurt tubs?) and ham and pease pudding butties is a slob and a slut and dirty sleazebag. Aren’t you?
Well, I’m not. I left the food for the local vermin to scoff but removed the packaging. rats need love too, y’know. And the owls eat ‘em.
15 Miles and 1700 feet of up. For some reason, this walk is a mile longer done anti-clockwise…  ?

Monday 18 October 2010

Competition Winner – The last top

ingleborough from crina bottom
We have just the one correct answer to the what-will-be-my-last-Yorksire-Dales-2000-foot-top competition.
The plan is that on the very next Sunday I will park the knipemobile at Clapham and walk over Moughton Scar to Alum Pot. From there I will climb Simon Fell and walk along the ridge to Ingleborough and then back to Clapham using the Gaping Gill path.
So, the answer is “Ingleborough”
And the winner is unknown, but whoever it is lives in North_east England (no, it’s not me or any of my relatives) and works for the NHS and has a blog with the name  Nice blog, though…..
If J would like to email me, using the email address in my profile, and provide a postal address where he would like his spanking new merino wool buff sent, I will put it in the post.
Congrats to J.
If it all goes badly wrong and I don’t make it to the summit of Ingleborough, then I’ll be wanting it back. (Only joking)
Some people got the right walk and suggested that Simon Fell would be the last one, but I’m saving the best till last, see?

Sunday 17 October 2010

Welsh Bagging from Fedwr Gog

inversion on aran fawddwy
Fedwr Gog is the farmstead base of this year’s October Bagfest. We often have an October holiday in Wales cos the accommodation is so much cheaper and the weather is usually still a bit summery.
Its near Corwen. I am trying to bag hills denoted as “Hewitts”
moel fferna to llandrillo top 
Anyway – Bagging day 1 was Moel Fferna to Pen Bwlch Llandrillo including lots and lots of heather and three Deweys. This is grouse country. Its hard work. I saw nobody else at all till I was coming off the hill where a couple of shepherds and their dogs were doing whatever it is shepherds do to sheep at this time of year.
the three amigos

There’s a lot of gathering sheep into sheepfolds going on. I noticed that the field in front of Fedwr Gog was occupied by a number of tups and some dewy-eyed ewes. There was naughtiness. No foreplay was involved. Some of the tups were having disagreements. One sustained a bloody injury….. Three rams of a different breed, however, displayed their superiority by not getting involved in any of this. They were still and quiet and occasionally nuzzled each other as if sharing a secret. They certainly wouldn't be producing any offspring next year. maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned this.
cadair bronwen from cadair berwyn
Three days later, I met Fight Club Hiker and TGO-er Peter and his dog Lily at Llandrillo and we went off to bag yet more Berwyn heather. This time it was Cadair Berwyn to Moel Sych. The ground was waterlogged and there were some short but fierce showers. Lily had a couple of snaps at Superdawg, mainly, we noticed, whenever there was food being consumed. Bruno was submissive. he’s not always like that…..
A good walk, though with another 11 miles and 2700 feet of up.
lily arenig fawr a steep bit
There was some incidental bagging following a trip to Ruthin, but the next major event was Arenig Fawr. Peter and Lily attended once more but a Manchester contingent of Fight Club Hikers failed to arrive. So , a bit late, we set off up the outrageously steep ridge up on to Arenig Fawr. there was dense hillfog and a lively breeze which would have taken your hat off had it not been properly fixed on.
mist clears off arenig fawr
Arening Fawr has two main tops, and the second one suddenly appeared out of the mist as we approached.  the mist cleared completely and quite suddenly and we bog-trotted off to the bwlch (bealach/pass/gap..) below Moel Llynfant. This looked very big from here, it has to be said.
arenig fawr - the way up
Peter decided that as he wasn’t a bagger, he had no need to torture himself with the struggle up to the top, so we parted here and me and Bruno had a wind-assisted ascent to the rocky top where I allowed Bruno to witness the consumption of a Lancashire Cheese and Onion butty.
starting up aran benllyn
Yet another three days later, a frosty and foggy morning saw me parking the knipemobile at Llanuwchllyn at the head of Llyn Tegid for the long Northern ridge of Aran Benllyn (Hill of Cough Medicine). We (me and the dog) soon popped out of the fog into clear blue skies, big views and very warm sun. The long and gentle ridge is an absolute delight, in both directions. After Aran Benllyn there’s the rounded Erw Ddafad-ddu before the final rocky climb up on to Aran Faddwy, at 905 metres, the high point of the fortnight in more ways than the obvious.
aran ridge cadair idris from aran fawddwy
There were other walkers on the top. Away to the South, an island stood out of the valley fog. It was decided that this was Plumlumnon.
This ridge is a sheer joy to walk, particularly in this special kind of weather. I have to say that this kind of thing seems quite common in October.  I came down the same way, slowly, although a downhill romp of the gentle gradients would have been possible. Sometimes, though, things need to be savoured.
With a little time to spare, I took the gated mountain road towards Trawsfynyd and finished off the day with a quick bag of two outlying tops Foel Boeth and Gallt y Darren – with specially cracking views to the West.
west from gallt y darren
An intermediate couple of tops just south of Llangollen in a quick hour and a bit whilst Maggie read a  book in the car was a post-lunch treat. Moel Morfydd and Moel y Gaer (it has a hillfort – i.e. “caer” on the top) A bit foggy and 1300 feet of climbing in just 3 miles.
its not all walking
Every holiday has to have an anti-climax, though, so a couple of days later, I went off to the top of Cwm Hirnant for the bagging of five heathery  tops – Pen y Bencyb Trefeilw, Y Goes Fagl, Cyniau Nod, Cefn Gwyntog, Stac Rhos and Pen y Cerrig Duon. These are served closely by an old landrover track, but there is much heather and tussock-bashing to do. This is almost as rough as Kielder. There is some danger to the integrity of the ankles. Its rough stuff. the weather was grey and cold too. We finished fairly early and repaired to the Co-OP in Y Bala for a bottle of medicine (Chilean as it happens)
the end
48 Hewitts to go, 47 of them in Wales. I might give this an extra effort next year.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Honey I’m Home

superdawg rests on his laurels

This is me back from sunny Wales (It only rained three times…!)  As you can see from the title picture, we are all feeling a bit jaded from all that uphill stuff – I’ll be doing just the one blog post about Wales shortly.

and I’ve been catching up with emails and what the cat did behind the TV whilst we were away – but what about that competition. I had a small flood of entries – and there is one correct answer….. 

But its not quite the time to announce this yet. But nearly

As for Wales, I think it was reasonably successful. There is a score on the door.

a steep bit on the arans

I managed to bag 5 Marilyns, 9 HuMPs, 13 Hewitts, 20 Nuttalls, 6 Deweys and Clwyd’s county top.

I have to say that there is a lot of overlap between each of the categories of hill mentioned.

There were 58 miles and 14000 feet of upwardly mobile struggling  and an equivalent of downhill coasting. I got wet twice (briefly) and had one magnificent temperature inversion and company on two of the seven walks.

I’ll do the post and the competition winner shortly……

I can’t wait….


Friday 1 October 2010

Intermission and Apportionment of Responsibility

Yet another of one of those long gaps is now about to happen during which most of my readers disappear. This time I'm off to Wales to bag Berwyns and other stuff near Y Bala

First of all, I’d just like to remind peeps about the competition. There’s not been many entries. the prize is a merino wool buff. Its very nice. if nobody wins it, I get it.
All you have to do, folks, is send me a message with the name of a Yorkshire Dales 610 metre high hill on it. Its not rocket science. You might win – gwan give it a try.
To win, the hill name must be the one that I intend to do last in my series of Yorkshire Dales hills since October last year. There’s only two left – this is a strong clue – it’s a hill which is close to another one.
And it’s in Yorkshire.
A comment on this post, or the other one, will do nicely.
In the meantime, the video below provides a nice scapegoat for the damage to Alan Sloman’s digits.