Monday 28 February 2011

Slitt Vein and a new sub-Hewitt

weardale from sedling rake
This blog post is entirely about having a walk up  Slitt Wood in Weardale to have a look at the Slitt Vein (nothing suicidal, its a mineral vein wot you can ackcherly see cos all the ground around it has been quarried away ) – and the bagging of Black Fell a 604 metre top designated as a sub-Hewitt in, and which I’ve only just noticed…. pause for breath….and nothing at all to do with the launch of, in which there’s a small article about hillbagging from yours truly. In fact I won’t mention ever again.
Appropriate, though, I suppose.
slitt wood
So, being completely unaware of the launch of, me and superdawg parked neatly by the phone box in Westgate and wandered up through the ever lovely Slitt Wood, just as far as the mines.
bargain steads smithy
drill test holes wheelpit
Now these mineworkings have just had a lorra lorra money being excavated and restored, to some extent. For interest, there’s the bargain steads – big containers for each mining team’s production, the excavated smithy with it’s  rock drill holes in the floor – presumably to prove they worked – a deep, deep shaft, fenced off, a wheel pit with a water supply from a dam up the hill and the footings for an Armstrong hydraulic engine, which replaced the wheel in the wheelpit – used for pumping water out of the mine. Plus some interesting and wet culverts.
slitt vein
if you walk up the hill on the newly created permissive path (like wot me and the dog did), you follow the edge of Slitt Vein and, at the top of the hill, there is the vein, stripped bare of it’s surround of ironstone, and with it’s galena mined out from the middle – but big and proud and strong, a damn great lump of quartzy rock. So that’s what a vein looks like…
flourspar stone insciption
After this, we wandered up the road (the beck being too lively to cross today) – and lunched in some forest in a warm and bright spell. The forest has lots of old pits and heaps in it – still being on the line of a lead vein, but this stuff is full of purple flourspar. I borrowed a couple of pieces. I’ll put them back if requested… 
And then we wandered over the moor alongside a wall that’s shown on the map as derelict, but which, according to an inscribed stone at Black Hill summit, was restored by the Golden family in 2001/2. They seem to have done a cracking job.
riverside path having a bark
salmon pool, river wear
As the sun came out, we retreated to the Dale and followed the river downstream to the start. Bruno had a paddle and a bark in a deep salmon pool. We had no idea about, obviously and I’m not going to mention it.
10 miles and 1500 feet and one sub-Hewitt bagged.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Its not fair

More walkies coming soon...

In the meantime, here's a little something for all those readers who always arrive early and/or are obsessed by their own impotence

Thursday 24 February 2011

Blaze Fell and Eycott Hill(s)

eycott hill
Met Office forecasts have been unusually consistent this week in nominating Thursday as the day when it wouldn’t rain. And it didn’t. In fact, it was fairly warm, or at least, relatively warm, so me and superdawg shrugged off a spot of lassitude and navigated our way to the foot of Blaze Fell.
pennines from blaze fell
Blaze Fell is a HuMP (Hundred metre prominence), about ten miles North of Penrith and on the Lake District side of the River Eden. It has, to it’s credit, or , at least, somebody’s credit, a pair of permissive footpaths to the top. The local Nordview Stables are also encouraging walkers along the Northern slopes and, it would appear, that you can walk almost anywhere on the pastures on that side.
spot the lamb
So we trundled off up the Eastern side through, what suddenly appeared to be a lambing field. This was evidenced by two very new lambs and their mother who was putting up a brave show in stamping and snorting at Bruno who was ignoring her. I wouldn’t normally take the dog through a lambing field with sheep in this advanced state of pregnancy, but it was too late and we plundered on as quietly as possible.
top of blaze fell
The top of Blaze Fell has a currently disused quarry of very attractive sparkly red sandstone and a trig point, plus cracking views of the Pennines and the Cumbrian fells.
We returned to lunch in the car by a roundabout route.
northern fells from eycott hill
Next up was a pair of Eycott Hills – Little and , wel just Eycott Hill. These don’t appear as very promising walking country on the map, but the reality is different.
I parked fortunately beside an unmarked permissive path which leads through a sheep field to the open fell. A cracking walk along an occasionally rocky edge with superb views of Blencathra and Carrock Fell and more fells to the South. A couple of kilometres saw both Eycotts bagged.
eycott hill summit rocks and dawg
And that was that.
I drove home at an appropriate speed (!)
We did about six miles altogether.
Can’t be arsed with maps…..

Monday 21 February 2011

Weets and Witchy Places

get a head!
This trundle with the bro has been on the cards for a while. I lived in Earby till I was 16 and, very close to this hill for the next echty blob years, but I never climbed it. I don’t know if i had some superstitious beliefs about Barnoldswick or something (can’t have – I remember at least half of a specially fine New years Eve party there).
Anyway, at roughly n minutes past ten , me and John met in the lovely car park of the delicious Letcliffe Park which probably overlooks Barlick when its not misty and snowing so much.
trig and flower bruno enjoys snow
Yes, readers, it was snowing in great white fluffy lumps, and sticking too. I expect its due to the winter or something.
We found the bridleway that goes up Weets Hill and lost it again, fortuitously, as it happens, because otherwise we wouldn’t have met the garden statue shown in the intro picture. I expect there’s a tale about the statue, and the other one next to it that I didn’t snap.Eventually, through the fog and incipient blizzard, we found the trig point with it’s sad and frozen flower.
We wandered a bit and then decided to stravaig for a while.
gisburn old road
We stravaiged to the Moorcock Inn, which was firmly closed.
Then we rambled along the Pendle Way and up the snowy hill opposite The Weets. And down again.
blacko tower
For speed, we used country lanes to make progress towards Blacko with it’s tower wot you can’t visit cos there’s no right of way (dhuhh), then along pleasant paths through various people’s gardens to Malkin Tower. Malkin Tower appears in the story of the Demdikes – the Pendle witches, who had a dirty hovel here. Its a holiday cottage now, so you can stay, if you dare. Ashley, it doesn’t look very scary. The Demdikes and their coven were transported to Lancaster, tried and hung. Its Ok, its not recent. We have medical care for geriatrics nowadays.
C17 derelcit farm
We progressed up the old Gisburn road, which, of course, goes to Old Gisburn  - and back along a lane to the start.
At some point, Bruno picked some litter – a plastic soft drinks bottle, and carried it for a mile or so, occasionally dropping it to be kicked along so he could catch it. At some other point, he seems to have lost it.
bruno and his bottle
It snowed all day.
We did 12 miles and 2000 feet of up, which was a bit more than planned, but that’s rambling for you, I expect.  You can overplan sometimes.

Saturday 19 February 2011

The advantages resulting from eating fish

I am saying nothing about this, except to say that I am very fond of a kipper in the morning.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Badger Way and Other Trade Routes

arkengarthdale and superdawg
Bruno had been hinting that a longish walk would be just the thing by staring at me accusingly for half an hour or so at a time and loading my lap with doggy toys..
And so, after putting it off for a while due to inclemency in the weather department, Wednesday was to be bright and sunny, so we set off to a very small car park near the summit of The Stang – a road from Barnard Castle to Reeth.
badger way
We didn’t particularly enjoy the clear-felled forest (save our forests!), but we did enjoy the wide open spaces and bounding bridleways of Barningham Moor – one of which, of course, is the Badger way (nowt to do with black and white badgers – but more to do with itinerant tradesmen wearing a badge to avoid arrest as a vagrant and subsequent deportation to the home parish) Thus, the badgers , or tinkers, had routes across the moors to service the needs of the lead-mining population of Arkengarthdale and Swaledale and/or to transport minerals to railheads.
holgate farm
This makes for fab, wide-open, joyous and fairly quick rambling with a purpose. Not the kind of place to have an attack of agorophobia, and just the kind of place that RAF pilots like to hurtle over just before they receive their redundancy notices.
trainee raf pilots
There was a skylark singing up high in the sunshine. And a lapwing was jinking about and calling. And a plover, bored as ever. It felt like spring. Despite the bright white of fresh snow on the high Pennines of Mickle fell, it felt like spring. We know it isn’t , though, eh?
saint andrew's cross
Basically, we just followed bridleway in a big 14 mile circle. It was sunny and it was warm and this is exactly the kind of walking that walkers wish for.
fremington edge
There seems to be a surfeit of baby rabbits by the way. They’re all over the place. Bruno hunted unsuccessfully due, mainly to being on a lead.
14 Miles and 1800 feet of up.
badger way

Sunday 13 February 2011

Bollihope Wet Dogs Club

molly and bruno
Various circumstances lead to this short doggy walk at Bollihope in Weardale starring Molly, Pip, Superdawg and Rachel and Matt.
It was driech (one of the reasons). In fact it drizzled for pretty much all of the walk. We parked at the normally popular pickernicking spot at Bollihope, just left of Frosterley. In summer, there’s often an ice cream van stationed here. Just a tip there for anybody who is fond of a 99 planning a Weardale walk.
no fishing in the frog pond
And we followed the line of an old tramway down by Bollihope Burn, through the old quarry with the cowboy pass, past White Kirkley and the limekilns and down to Harehope Quarry where the carved seat was and the lump of Frosterley Marble. The marble is exactly the stuff that can be seen in Durham cathedral. Its not really marble, but cooked limestone. Its very near the Slitt Vein which runs from here to Cowshill and goes through Slitt Wood at Westgate – a poplier place for this blog.
pieman and superdawg
I had a brief poke into Harehope Gill Lead Mine and found the water too deep for the wellies. The apparently loose entrance arch stood up to a bit of violence to see if it would fall down on me, and it seems reasonably safe just now.
harehope gill mine entrance
Apparently, the mine produced 1165 tons of lead ore from the Slitt vein between 1816 and 1888 and the miners’ privy is part of the archaeology. 72 years of miner poo, eh? Its probably just as well that they shovelled it away.  The there was another three years  of privy visits later on and then it the mine produced fluorspar for a while. How busy the privy was  is not recorded.
bollihope quarry
We returned whence we came. Just under 4 miles. Bruno did a few more as there were no sheep till we got to White Kirkley, so he had a bit of a bounce around.
Then I couldn’t get the wellies off as they were full of water. Its the suction, y’know. One day they’ll stick permanently.
This is an interesting and easy walk with lots of geology and industrial archaeology to gawp at.
We all got fairly damp, specially those with the extra legs.
frosterley marble
close up frosterley marble fossils

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Ushaw Moor Brush Bash Bashes Much Brush

dragging a tree off for trial by fire
I appreciate that those who read this blog after consuming more than  six units of alcohol may be having some difficulty pronouncing the title of this blog post.
Its Ok. Don’t worry. Have a drink.
Anyway, when I looked out of the periscope in the bathosphere twelve feet down under the goldfish at the knipetowers moat on Monday morning it was, as they say in Crook, “Hoyying it down” And it was windy too. So, instead of fabricating a tasty butty and driving off to Barningham, I fabricated a hot coffee and some toast and went back to the bunk. It was only much later, after a spot of power snoozing that I came to realise that the sun had come out.
I made up for this lassitude today, though, by joining in on a Durham County Council Brush Bashing Bash on the Deerness valley walk at Ushaw Moor.
before picture
The “before” picture

There was, in fact, a bijoux bunch of brush bashers bashing the bad brush in a bunch and, in about four hours, we cleared a couple of hundred yards of bramble, whin, hawthorn, alder, birch and empty Carslberg tins. And we had a nice fire and chats with the dozens of dog walkers and their dogs, horse riders and their horses, ramblers, walkers, shoppers, people with kids, and cyclists.
The “after” picture

Its a very busy footpath.
It looks very tidy now. A robin watched some of the proceedings.
Maybe walkies later….but this was fairly hard work, so the exercise quotient is looking healthier, even if I’m not (I have a bramble scratch on the end of my nose)
a nice fire starts
We had a nice fire too. Forgot to bring sausages.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Foul Weather Alternatives

Here's some useful advice concerning some activities which can be undertaken like when its been chucking it down all weekend kindathing.
You may need to switch off your search safeguard thingy.
Don't get carried away.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Path 49 Revisited.

bruno on FP34
After lunch, seeing as the day was fine and warm with yer actual blue skies,  me and superdawg decided that since it was now February (pinch punch..), it was finally time to do our new adopt-a-path route.
FP167 starts here
And so, finding our warm gloves and lead, we headed off up the hill to find FP167 – a pleasant and well used path between two hedges.
We went on to FP49 (which is the one that started it all off in the first place) – FP51 (missing footpath sign.) Come to think of it, missing bus stop sign too. the timetable was there. But not the sign. A driver out before the gritter, most likely…
fp56 start fp56 in a groove
FP56 was next – an ancient path with a section of hollow way at the top. FP176, through the pastures and a muddy cropped field to Annapoorna.
FP108 another pasture and another mudfest – but this one has, in the past, been fertilised with night soil. Its full of ashes, pottery and bits of glass. Homelands Hospital , now closed, is nearby. Homelands was once the main hospital for Crook and Willington, pre-NHS days… I wonder if this is the source of the night soil?
Anyway – onwards to FP106, up to the golf course, and FP34 from the golf course, along the edge overlooking Crook where we were greeted by a gang of small ponies. FP106 and fP34 need some waymarking in the golf course grounds….
gang of ponies
Then down the steep hill to join the Deerness valley Walk that takes us back to town.
I’ll do this again in July. Its a good walk – just under 7 miles and 650 feet of uphill.
I have to report all of this stuff to the County Council on line. Its a clunky system. I’ll do it later.
fp49 aap
Can you spot the Ordnance Survey error on the map?