Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Comme une boite de grenouilles….

nice day innit?

Just spent two afternoons doing a spot of rangering around Crook.

Tuesday was a reccy for an evening walk next Tuesday. Everything was OK, except, perhaps, a meeting with a paranoid farmer who said he recognised me as a trouble maker who’d organised an illegal land snatch ten years ago and he had a photo to prove it. His brother said he was off to Crook to buy some cheese. So, next Tuesday evening could be interesting. I guess we’ll try to pass quietly.

Gwylt fel bocs o frogaod…..

ponies near roddymoor 

Wednesday was a reccy for a new walk for the DCC winter walks programme. This will be for Christmas and may involve non-Christmassy cakes and buns and coffee afterwards in St Caths centre for the warming up. Basically, its a circumnavigation of Crook, and its very nice cos I did it today.

At least, I did a circumnavigation, but a bit of the route doesn’t work properly, so I’ll change it a bit. Its eight and a half miles.

billy row open cast on the hillside

Ive got another six rangering type walks  of various kinds over the next ten days and you’ll be relieved to hear that I won’t be doing blog posts for each and every one – cos they’ll all be the same, innit and you’ll get bored and go and read Fatdog instead.

And there’s something special lined up for Sunday. Something very wet. And dark. No, I mean really really wet and very very dark. Oooer….


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Blue Peter

Good news for the people of Salford that the Blue Peter programme is moving there. This will be great for the Coach and Horses - the nearest public house to the new studios.

Here's a little predictive clip.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

King’s Walk Hudeshope Reccy

coldberry mine stables and shop

Another day, another reccy. This was for a proposed Durham County walk – probably in early November when the autumn leaves are very autumny. Like leaves.

This time, Bruno came too, and there was only one field of suckler cows – and they failed to notice us. So that was OK.

whatever it is, its not our fault hudeshope woods

I put the knipemobile in somebody’s parking spot in Middleton in Teesdale and wandered up the Stanhope road, turning off into the Hudeshope woods. This little side valley has public footpaths, but it also has some very nice permissive paths – walks, really, provided by the Raby estate, which is the principal landowning estate in Teesdale on the North side of the river.

wolsingham reccy 012

So, we followed the King’s Walk which does a loop through the woods and ends up at the end of the tarmac road close to some old limekilns.


My proposed route then continues through more woodland and pastures and reaches the main Hudeshope lead mining grounds. This is another one of those areas devastated by mining activity. I had intended for the walk to visit Coldberry mine, which has a restored mine shop (dormitory), offices and stables. But the place has been vandalised and the doors left open for the sheep to get in. This results in the raising of the floor level due to large deposits of sheep shit. There was an abandoned sleeping bag and a lot of litter and graffiti. Too depressing for a DCC walk, which are supposed to be fun  fun fun… Its not even any good as a shelter if its raining, so I’m not going there. Glad I did a reccy.

yellow rattle

The return (downhill) route goes through two flowery meadows of the very special Northern meadows type. One of the key plants in these meadows is the Yellow Rattle. When the Yellow Rattle rattles, its time to make hay. Its not rattling yet, so if you want to see Northern hay meadows in full thrash, best go now.

a hudeshope orchid route ends here

The route returns to the Hudeshope woodlands – lots of orchids today - and follows the river, ending up, in a narrow  and unlikely passageway into Middleton. Bruno had a little paddle in the beck and destroyed some sticks. There are some quite deep pools in the beck – I shouldn’t wonder if there aren’t salmon running upstream at the right time. Today, there were lots of kids in helmets and yellow suits jumping down the waterfalls. What fun, wot?

I did 6.5 miles. The DCC walk will be just 6. Its a good walk and I’m happy with it, so I’ll submit it for the Winter walks programme.  Bruno liked it too, specially the paddling in the beck. 


Friday, 24 June 2011

Wolsingham Weardale

elephant trees

At half ten in the morning on 1 July, I’m leading another Durham County Council guided walk and so, roughly a week before I went out today to see if the route was safe and that I could remember where it went.

aberrant apostrophe load of bullocks

Superdawg stayed home for a bit of howling because I predicted (successfully as it happens..) suckler cattle and some of those bullock animals that bounce around a lot. he wouldn’t have liked any of those. Note the sign – the farmer is showing signs of contact with the catering trade (note the aberrant apostrophe)

wolsingham reccy 001 wolsingham

So, after following the Wolsingham wheelchair walk for a bit (for peeps in wheelchairs..) , I struggled manfully up the steep bank out of Wolsingham, ignoring the two herds of idiot cattle running about daft, through a crop of barley 9I think) and a meadow and on to the bridleway to the Efelant Trees. We all know about the elfelent trees by now coz they iz famiss.

broody gurlz

And, after some messing on and some pratting about during which I had a long telephone conversation with John Jocys, I entered the superb and interesting little valley of Bollihope Burn with it’s lead mines and quarries and kilns and bridges and holes and chickens. yes, folks, chickens. I got followed for a substantial distance by a herd of hungry chickens. these ladies would not take no for an answer and insisted on investigating my socks to see if there was any grain in there. Or a worm, perhaps….  Eventually they came to the edge of chickenland and turned back. I probably won’t mention these in the Health and Safety assessment.

weardale train wolsingham reccy 016

I also met the train from Stanhope (not many people on board) and a man with a red flag and a green flag operating the level crossing. I expect he was a communist mobile car mechanic or something.. and some brown pigs enjoying themselves free-range in a wood.

Then I met the sucklers who looked vaguely interested in me for a while but didn’t make much fuss. It would have been a different matter had superdawg been along.

manky planky

I did eleven miles, which, not really coincidentally is the same distance as next week’s guided walk. There’s a few manky planks on a footbridge. Other than that, the walk is fine.

Bruno can come tomorrow. I’m doing another reccy at Middleton in Teesdale.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Black Mountains Bagging Walk

camp on waun fach

It started quite well on Abergavenny Bus station whilst studying the timetable for the bus to Crickhowell, which, incidentally and a bit worryingly, bore no relation to the information provided on the internet “plan a journey” by public transport site. Anyway, this chap gets off a bus, wanders over to me and gives me his day rover ticket which effectively pays for my journey to Crickhowell. (A bus turned up by the way)

sign in the oak woods

At Crickhowell, I put the tent up and visit the Bridge End pub for an expensive but very nice steak and ale pie and some beer and return to the campsite where I’m invited to drink Guinness with a couple from Kent on a campervanning trip. So, it was a late night…

Wednesday is damp and drizzly but the local bakery does a cracking  Welsh full English and, replete, I set off up the Beacons Way to find the first drizzly mizzly hill of the day. The path climbs up through some very impressive oak woodlands which would pay a much longer visit than this fleeting glimpse from under a caggy hood.

pen allt mawr

I climb wetly up to the cairn on Pen Cerrig-calch and along the hillfog bound path to pen Allt-mawr and see nothing much. But the path is easy to follow and I think there’s a big drop down to the right… 

sugar loaflush welsh countryside

Then, as I descend a bit, the cloud suddenly lifts to reveal a green and lush Welsh border countryside below and a series of flat ridges going off into the distance. The little pen Twyn Glas is bagged and I meet what appears to be two gravestones..? – then Mynnydd Llysiau where I rest and completely redesign my route to take account of the duff forecast predicting gales and persistence in the precipitation precinct for Friday. I can finish all the hills by Thursday afternoon, in fact. And so, I walk past my planned camping spot at a sheepfold just below the ridge and plod on up to the top of Waun Fach, the highest part of the walk at about 810 metres.

boundary stones

A camping spot is found on some comfy bilberry on the edge overlooking a reservoir and I put up the akto and have a brew.

After a snooze, I walk off the 1500 metres South to bag Pen y Gadair Fawr and return to my obscure camping spot by retracing my track on the GPS (If the fog had returned, I could have had a problem finding the tent)

the pack waits

Overnight, it chucked it down and the breeze made the old akto fidget about like a toddler experiencing his first extended bout of bladder control. Luckily, no accidents of any dampish nature occurred and, after breakfast I found a path to the reservoir, crossed the dam and bagged Chwarel y Fan along a long and narrowish ridge in quite a strong gale. I make the pack wait at a cairn. It doesn’t seem too bothered.


Next, there’s a long and wide pony-populated ridge which goes for miles and miles up to the top of Rhos Dion, on the Northern edge of the Black Mountains and the walk from here to Hay Bluff over Lord Hereford’s Knob is a sheer delight. This would be a superb place for a fine set of wind turbines. Its such a shame to let all that windiness go to waste.

twmpa twmpa

So, Twmpa (L. Hereford’s Eminence) came and went and, indeed, I would recommend wearing a Jwmpa on this breezy nobble- and so did Hay Bluff, which turns out not to be a top at all, but a bit of a lump attached to Black Mountain. A walk along the Offa’s dyke path/Wales/England border brings the top of Black Mountain (which is fairly green by the way) underfoot.

Job done – I just missed a couple of borderline Nuttals which, frankly weren’t worth the effort of the miles needed for the bagging. So i didn’t.

underlooking hay bluff

I followed Offa towards Hay on Wye and, after a fierce and wetting rain/hail shower lasting all of six minutes, I put up the akto in a discreet and sheltered spot in a litle gorsey gully underlooking* Hay Bluff.

Another breezy night.

orchid more orchids

And, in the morning, under the threatening clouds I wandered along Offa’s once again through meadows of orchids and  oak woods and cow pastures into Hay on Wye where another proper breakfast was had.

hay castle

I camped on Radnor’s End campsite and ate and drank and shopped in Hay till the rain came at about 3:00 o’clock – very late. And with no note as to where it had been. I retired to the tent at about eight o’clock with a bottle of red, a tin of chicken curry and egg fried rice and a banana. What luxury, wot? Its nice being in a tent in the rain with a bottle of plonk and a loud MP3 player on shuffle. Simple pleasures….

Saturday was for the bus to Hereford and the long train trip home.

The walk was just 30 miles and 5500 feet of uphill contours. The walking, I must say, was joyfully easy going. A real blast, in fact. if it wasn’t so far away from home, I’d be doing a lot of walking around here. In fact, it occurs to me that a walk from Crickhowell, or, possibly Abergavenny, to Hay would be a cracking pre-TGO two or three day romp.

*I reserve the right to invent my own words by the way. I mean, you can overlook something when you’re looking down, so………

Sunday, 12 June 2011

I'm Off to Wales

This is me going to Wales to see if I can traverse the Black Mountains. I have my tickets and I've been looking at bus stops on Google Streetview and all that kinda stuff  - I just need to shop for my in-tent entertainment (cheapo scotch)

In the meantime, this is a bit of rock and roll from J Lennon and Cheap Tricks.  Turn volume up to eleven.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pinhaw and Black Lane Ends and a Teddy


Time for another Earby walk, according to the Bro, so we parked with a view of Ingleborough and threatening thundery-style clouds just below Pinhaw Beacon, which, despite the threat of adders, we bagged briskly.

mill pond 1 mill pond 2

Then we got lost a bit in the rain and ended up roughly on the wrong path to an interesting crossing of a mill dam wall at Lothersdale.

It rained.

We progressed along back paths through the old quarries and back lanes and more soggy paths to the warm and dry oasis that is Black lane Ends pub. A couple of pints of Copper Dragon put the world to rights and, we had a nice chat with Dan and Brenda and The Teddy from Teddy Tea Tours who were on a mission to investigate old Stoops (see for further and better particulars.

harden nick wood

As we came out of the boozah, it started raining again, so we spent no time searching for the Dissenters Well mentioned in Dan’s blog, but hid behind a wall for lunch and then traipsed damply through the heather to the trig point on Kelbrook Moor. I’ve only been here once before – with my pal Neil way back in the mid 1960’s when I were but a sprog and we investigated the nearby group of contours which were much closer together than any other of the local contours. Just to see what it was like, really.  We then got scared by the ducks on the nearby pond – they all rushed towards us, quacking, and then, for some reason, we decided that the world had probably ended whilst we were away from home.


We ended up in the the little wood at what we knew as “Harden Nick” Its still there, and a fine piece of woodland it seems to be from a distance.

No reason for mentioning this, really….

stoney bank well ladies sheltering under a tree

Me and the bro continued over the moor on a thin path that eventually abandoned us to our fate in the deep heather and then along very pleasant paths with occasional showers and occasional cows to Stony Bank where I sampled the water from the little well by the cottages. This is a kind of ritual I had as a kid, every time I passed the place. Its good water. During a drought (?1958??) when water in the town was rationed, I collected a pop bottle full of water form this little well to give to my dad. I carried it carefully all the way down the hill and dropped it just next to the mill dam at Springfield Mill. It smashed all over the road. That kind of thing sticks….

earby from parkers

We finished by a ramble to The Watts and up through Parkers farm back to Pinhaw. These place names don’t appear on OS maps, by the way.

We did 11 miles and 1600 feet of up.

Nice  surprise to meet Dan and Brenda and the Teddy.

dibbles bridge

PS – On my way to Earby, I came by Pateley Bridge and stopped at Dibbles Bridge, partly because something had been nagging me about the accident there in 1975. (I was a clerk in the local casualty department at the time, although I was up Scafell Pike at the time, I dealt with some of the aftermath.

I took a picture but I couldn’t really recognise the place from what I remembered from pictures of it at the time.

And this evening , I did an internet search and discovered that there’d been two coach crashes at Dibbles Bridge – the one in 1975 – and  another one on 10th June 1925. 10th June was today.  Bit spooky, that………

black lane ends walk

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Another Guided Walk – Crook West

who's that in the shadows?

This time three people turned up, which is two better than the first evening walk. David Butler was the steward and Elaine (who’s the boss of the rights of way department) was the Assistant and we had a trainee steward called Freddie.

So we had a small bunch.

This was the walk I did a few days ago as a reccy and so, its becoming quite familiar.


The weather was a bit murky for a short while but the air was clear with views across to the North Yorkshire Moors and, eventually we had some nice, bright sunshine.

Elaine was very proud of all the new stiles and we had a good little trundle round the circuit.

..battle of nevilles cross lecture in progress

Two of the three beef herds got a bit frisky and bounced around and followed us  energetically. David (who is an historian) held them back with a lecture on the failed battle tactics of the Scots army at the battle of Neville’s Cross. Apparently they weren’t ready for the traffic lights and the complicated nature of the road junction. Its just as well that they weren’t Galloways or Highland cattle or they might have got a bit shirty.

Whatever – the cattle became quiet. Another group ran away, started to run towards us but lost their nerve and ran away again.

We finished about a quarter of an hour early.

I’m not doing this walk again for a while!

Good fun, though.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Tune Whilst Waiting

For some reason, when I tried to post this video on a previous occasion, it wouldn't post properly - I got the code but it didn't work.

Now it works (I think)

This is just a brief intermission to allow pieblog readers to nip out to Greggs for pie supplies whilst I await a possible reply from Millets prior to telling you all about the tent they gave me for testing.

Its different for girls, mind....

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Appleby Horse Fair

behave yourselves!

It was Brian’s idea to visit Appleby Fair. I’ve never been before and so, we went.

For those who don’t know about this, its primarily a horse-dealing event. Its also a major social event for gypsies and travellers with thousands of people turning up.

And its a place where there is great spectacle and excitement and a bit of danger. If you are a bit short on male hormones and you long for the whiff  horse, combined with frying bacon and fish and chips, then this is the place to go.

appleby fair 1

We parked in a field out of town for a fiver (proceeds to the Air Ambulance – they must be making a good income from this) – and, as we shuffled through the crowds into Appleby, it seemed that we were on a horse and trap racing circuit. Every few seconds, a horse pulling a small cart would hurtle through the pedestrian traffic to shouts from all concerned. There were many very close misses. Luckily, horses do make quite a noise on a hard road, and they don’t specially like knocking people down.

appleby fair 2

having disappeared into the crowds ahead, they hurtled back again for more shouting and close misses.

In the town, Brian chatted to various members of the Cumbrian constabulary whilst  several youths and a couple of girls swam their ponies in the River Eden. This drew enormous crowds. The water was quite deep at one spot and the horses swam for a few yards before clambering onto the stony beach.

appleby fair 5 appleby fair 6

Later, in another place (I was getting a bit confused by this time) there were caravans and camper vans and Dublin number plates and three or more Gypsy Petrelongos in their caravans reading palms – and burger vans, sausage and mash vans, fish and chip shops, toy stalls for the kiddies, ceramics stalls, soft furnishing and clothing stalls and stalls selling iron kettles and pans and horse equipment. And girls – some very young,  in skimpy and gaudy clothes teetering on skyscraper heels and men in vests and hats sweating testosterone, some talking in that over-fast Irish/English that nobody can understand (many of you will have seen  the Father Ted Eurovision Compere)

appleby fair 4

Its a very macho thing. You’re not supposed to smile too much, but to look a bit hard. You can smile whilst dealing, or you can smile whilst scamming people out of twenty quid notes chasing a playing card but the rest of the time you have to display a manly unconcern about the fact that a tonne of horse has just hurtled by your left ear at 35 mph, sucking all the dandruff out of your hair and removing paper cash from any unzipped pockets.

All around there were displays of extraordinary horsemanship and a particular leaning-back style of riding. Saddles were not used. There was often great speed and hooves sliding on the road. There was kicking and protesting, but I didn’t see any cruel treatment and most of the horses looked fit and groomed, with, maybe just a couple of exceptions.. There was a heavy RSPCA presence.

And there’s lots and lots of ready cash around.

The only things missing were the knurr and spell competition and the bare knuckle fighting. This caused a certain amount of disappointment. Maybe they do the fighting later on…? (I don’t want to join in by the way….)