Wednesday 31 August 2011

On Test – Bareskins Booties

bare skin boots

I tell you what – these things are revolutionary. They’ll change the face of walking. Designed by Big G of Emperor’s New Boots, they’re Brilliant for British Bogs. They dry instantly, are extreeeeeeemly lightweight (I defy anybody to find lighter footwear) – they have some kind self-mending mechanism which repairs any small nicks or itches, they’re really cheap and they’re so simple a toddler could quickly learn to use them.

On the downside, they’re absolutely useless on steep grass or small pebbles or scree. Or thistles.

Bogs present no problem, though and there’s none of this fannying around trying to find firm ground – no, you just plunge on through.  Warm cow pats are a joy.  Peaty stains just fall off.

dog think, think dog think

All this was because I turned up at the little concrete car park at the foot of Swindale with two proper boots. Unfortunately, these were from different pairs of boots and both were left feet. I started off walking in trainers, so. This was fine on the road, but the first squishy bit of bog  after joining the corpse road to Mardale was unpleasant and, as with the nudieboots, they were lethal on steep grass. So I took ‘em off. I walked about four miles over the grassy moors just left of Swindale. Its pretty much all grass and bog, so I managed to get a fair pace on once I’d got used to the tickling. The squishy bits were refreshing. I collected rare sedges between my toes. A Fully Equipped family with a dog did a double-take. It was quite good, really.

high street from rowantree howe

high stile

I did 8 miles and 1400 feet of upness and bagged the Birkett Brown Howe. I was also going to go for another one on the South side of Swindale but I’d have never got there in one piece. Brown Howe was nice, though and has a fine view of Haweswater and High Stile and stuff like that.

Never mind.

It was the dog’s fault. he makes such a fuss when the rucksack comes out, I tend to forget stuff in all….   thing……


Monday 29 August 2011

A Wet Weekend at Hardraw

edge above sedbusk
I was supposed to join the Over the Hill Club “do” at Hardraw on Friday, but it was chucking it down in lumps, and I do mean lumps, so I delayed till around lunchtime on Saturday.
The campsite behind the George and Dragon was a sea of mud and had been abandoned by most for a splodge up Dodd Fell, so there was only Bernie and Pauline cooking rice and peeling onions and stuff in their tent. After a decent but brief period, I went to the pub, returning only after a decent but less brief interlude of light boozing which put me to sleep back at the tent, thus missing the brief but damply wet barbeque. The roaring of the beck, spatefully gushing in a very loud kind of way after all that rain, soothed me to sleep, untroubled by the thought that it might, just might, overflow and wash me and my free tent away towards Kingston Upon Hull.
In the morning, it was announced that Big Dave was to lead a walk up Great Shunner Fell and back down again.  By the same route.
It was news of this that prompted me to set off towards Askrigg, being drawn up a lane above Sedbusk and sucked along on a random stravaig that eventually brought me to the top of Lovely Seat, which was Lovely and has a Seat.
low grindstones
lovely seat seat
I almost fell into the trap of making an active decision about what to do next, but soon found myself tussling with the tussocks on the other side of Buttertubs pass and on up to the top of Great Shunner Fell where the Big Dave party wasn’t. I did chat to some walkers about the view, though and the warming qualities of various kinds of gloves. It was a bit chilly up there to say the least.
hearne valley
I decided not to follow the Pennine Way back to Hardraw, but to investigate the old collieries of the Hearne valley. I found a few spoil heaps and some stonework by the beck, but nothing much to write a blog about. I expect that whoever was funding these mines was soon out of pocket once the railway started bringing in high quality South Durham coal by the truckload to Hawes station.  I was soon back at the tent, covered in peat and sipping a bit of French plonk I’d brought from the Crook Co-op.
Afterwards, there was the OTHC dinner in the pub, followed by some more light boozing and some heavy snoozing.
Bernie and Pauline did a good job organising this “do”. Shame about the rain, but at least it made the waterfall more impressive than it usually is. It must be something to do with TGO Challengers that attracts precipitation.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Write a Pie Blog Post – Win a Rucksack

gelert nimbus
Here’s a chance for Pieblog readers to win this Gelert Nimbus 35 litre rucksack currently selling for around £42.

Its very noticeable that many outdoor blogger types are receiving tonnes of free kit from various outdoor gear retailers on the pretext of doing a review. I too, must admit to having received a couple of tents recently. Unfortunately, I broke one of them.
But this is all old hat (note to retailers – most of my hats are pretty old as it happens…) but with the pieblog, I’ve decided that the readers should get the chance for some free kit too and they don’t have to write a review for it.
Oh no they don’t.
I just put this pic in to break up the text to be honest
What they do have to do, though, is write a blog post, with some pictures.  The subject can be anything related to walking about in the countryside – a trip report, a rant, or maybe a bit of useful info about
I have some independent judges who, as ex-grammar school-types, will mark you down for duff grammar unless its deliberate and maybe a bit ironic , or a pun or something. I should OF known will get you disqualified, though. This may seem to be elitist, but,really, we just have standards innit? (see- that kind of duff grammar is OK!)
There’s no minimum length of blogpost  but 1000 words should be the maximum number.
This is in conjunction with outdoor clothing pals at  Outdoors Look – so Click on for an indoors look at the good value deals outdoors gear they’ve got going.
Remember, we’re doing this for you.
Good blogposts will be published on the pieblog.
You have till 30 September to enter your entries, which should be emailed to
Better, less fuzzy pictures and more information about the rucksack is available here:
If this competition is successful, we may well do a Christmas one.
Get writing. Get a Gelert rucksack for nowt.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Eat More Fruit

This ditty is for all, or at least, any, of my friends who are currently suffering from the Shingles. Eat More Fruit! You know it makes sense.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Hen Stent in a Tent

y berwyn
Alert readers will remember that just after posting the stuff about the folkworks, I went to Wales.
Now I’m back and this is what happened:
I used the Primavera 3 tent that was sent to be by Millets for review and which I broke in Scotland whilst showing off to some DofE kids how to put up a tent in a hurricane. Anyway, I mended the over-pronated pole with some sticky-tape stuff and took it to Wales. I also took the little Karrimor tent as well, just in case……
hen stent tent
I stayed at Hen Stent, strictly, Coed Hen Stent, which is an old Welsh medical term for an old wooden heart spring thingy. My stent is nearly five years old now, but, not made of wood. (I almost played an Elvis song here...)
Coed Hen Stent is just outside the small village of Llangynog which has two pubs but no shop. Lets get our priorities right, eh?  All of this is pretty much at the head of Dyffryn Tanat aka the Tanat valley, who’s major town seems to be Oswestry, which is in a different country. 
lake district?

But never mind – it’s very beautiful and looks not unlike the Lake District with lead mines and old slate workings and everything.
My mission was to bag stuff, and I started with a little Marilyn – one Mynydd-y-briw, a right steep little beggar with a chapel at the bottom. Its just about half a mile from the chapel to the summit.
view from cyrniau

Tuesday was a horribly wet morning, so I stayed in bed quite late and eventually dragged myself out for Cyrniau, a hill looming over the campsite in a steep and looming kind of way, and occupied by a nervous herd of sucklers who ran away, followed me and ran away again. I followed this up by a Fford Gefn, where a gang of fencers were fencing in the top. They’d left a gap for me to bag the summit which is a fifteen –foot high sitka spruce in the midst of lots of closely packed sitka spruce. On the up side, I got my hair combed. A path returning to Llangynog proved to be a jungle of high bracken and fallen trees. I cheered myself up from this with some of my Sainsbury’s whisky. In fact I was a lot happier for quite a long time.
snowdonia from foel cwm sian llwyd
Wednesday was the day for Hewitts – Post Gwyn and Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd – all very heathery and a bit sloppy in a friendly Pennine kind of way. On Wednesday, I was sustained a little by the enormous crops of sweet bilberries which I had by the handful.  The best of these hills is, I’m afraid, the views of other places….   Unless you like sloppy slutch and bilberries. It was a very hot and sweaty job with lots of big black flies with red legs. They swarmed around but showed no inclination to bite or sting. One was accidentally transported back to the tent. I let it go. I hope its OK…  A few drams of Sainsbury’s whisky were allowed afterwards by way of a victory celebration.
More Hewitts  fell to the knipe ticking pencil on Thursday. A long drive on stupidly narrow roads, happily without any traffic, brought me into Cwm Maen Gwynedd – an outrageously beautiful green dale which ends in the steep black wall of Y Berwyn.
It is said that the word “Gwynedd” may derive from Gwyr Y Goggledd – the men of the North –warriors from Goddodin who rode to save Wales from he naughty barbarians. The Goddodin were the Votadini of the Cheviot Yeavering and the Tweed. So there’s a Northumbrian link here, it would seem. Mynyd Tarw translates as “wha’rs me whippet ya bugga….?” or so I’m told.
The forecast was for rain, but it just got a bit dull and cold – so I managed to bag Mynydd Tarw, Foel Wen and it’s South top, and Tomle before rambling back down the dale to the waiting knipemobile. On drive back , the Cwm Maen Gwynedd rush hour started and I met four cars coming the other way. each one was driven by an old lady (different old ladies, it wasn’t quite that strange). All of these old dears had several things in common:
1) Other old lady passengers
2) A big and powerful car
3) A frightened look.
4) An unwillingness to stop, reverse, pull into the side or indeed to do anything to avoid a collision. I spent quite a bit of time travelling backwards.
5) A Sat Nav set to “pre-menstrual” commentary.
After returning to the Primavera, I managed to console myself with the odd dram of Sainsbury’s whisky and a bottle of plonk wot I’d bought in the Spar shop at Llanrheadr-ym-Mochnant. I also soothed my nervousness about not being able to pronounce the place of the Spar shop (I worried in case I broke down and had to call the RAC) – with some more of the Sainsbury’s whisky.  By ten o’clock, I was pretty well soothed, I can tell you.
harvest time
Friday was for Foel Goch and Foel y Geifr – a couple of heathery, bilberry, tussocky, sloppy lumps just off the road to Bala from some reservoir or other. Hard work. But short. And, as a final fling, on the way back to the Primavera, I bagged Rhialgwm, a Marilyn with lots of trees at the bottom, many of which were in the process of being harvested, so the place was a mess. I was so upset by the state of this hill that I had to console myself once again with the last few drops of Sainsbury’s whisky. Rhialgwm is just next to Pretendgwm, but is bigger. Obviously.
I’m home now.
I did 33 miles and 7000 feet of up.
And a litre of scotch.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Awful Hand Invites Handled Awfully

cairnsmore of fleet fr pibble hill

Just sent out details of the Awful hand walk, based on expressions of interest. If you are reading this and you think you should have got an email, or you’d like to walk the Awful Hand ridge in Galloway in September, let me know before we set off…

The details are here:

23 September – campsite at New Galloway

24 to 26 September – Glen Trool – Rigg of the Jarkness – Dungeon Hill range  - Mullwharcher – Camp – Awful hand with a camp part way – Glen Trool.

27 September optional camp New Galloway for drinkies and pies.

The landscape involved is wild and rough and beautiful – a bit like me, really….

Transport for Southrons travelling by train or other public transport will be available for a few/couple from Penrith on the 23rd.


Saturday 13 August 2011

Folkworks vid.....

This is from last year, but it gives you an idea.... I'l post a video of the 2011 folkworks "do" as soon as it appears.....
Fab stuff, though....

No Need to be Alone

I went to Durham today and witnessed the folkworks free concert in the Market Place. The bands were really good, specially the yoof band (damn them hoodies) - whooda thowt they'd be able to play fiddles after all that looting?  The standard of playing of the kids is scarily high. It shouldn't be allowed, really. It would seem that there's lots and lots of high quality music to come from this generation.  We're not jealous, obviously, but I was pleased to see that in the middle of some more elderly hippies stripping the willow (its a dance) just by the statue of neptune, a blind bloke with his black dog walked right through the middle, comepletely unaware that he was in the centre of a dance with hundreds of people looking on.
Anyway, I'm off to Wales again. For about a week.
Here's a song. Things that should have been No need to be alone, though.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Green Gable and Great Gable

superdawg tries to ignore cheese butty

All this messing about in the lower reaches of the Pennines with the rangering stuff had me pining for the rocky bits, so early this morning, I had the dog saddled up and orf we jolly well went to the Lake district, parking very prettily down the lane at Seathwaite.

climbing by sour milk gill

We climbed very slowly and laboriously through all those closely drawn contours up by Sour Milk Gill into the beautiful corrie of Gillercombe. This is a very fine place for a camp, I have to say. And the beck is deep enough for a very cold swim.


But no swimming was done. Onwards and upwards through the corrie to bag the outlying top of Base Brown, followed by the green and rocky lump of Green Gable, where we rested not but pushed on through down to Wind Gap and up through the scrambly bit for a lazy lunch on the top of Great Gable, which was Great.

styhead and sprinkling tarns

a scrambly bit

We managed to find a place behind a boulder overlooking Wasdale and with a fine view of Scafell and Scafell Pike and over there, on the far horizon, way out over the Irish Sea, a thin blue line of hills that could only be the North Wales coast.  We got behind the boulder, by the way, because it was perishing cold. It was sunny, but there was a nithering wind creeping down from somewhere just left of Bergen. Brrr…… autumn…….


And so, after a cheese and pickle butty and some ginger cake, coffee and chocolate, none of which was enjoyed or shared with Bruno, by the way, oh yes, and a bit of a snooze…  we descended the long slope down to the stretcher box at Sty Head, where it was a bit warmer, so another snooze was had here. This is a long way down on an uncomfortable pitched path. In fact, its more than 1500 feet, for anybody foolishly considering slugging their way up by this route. The views are good, though.

piers gill, scafell pike

scafells, superdawg

Bruno had a paddle and a bark… bark.. bark (echo) and retrieved a burnt stick a few times but it was soon time to leave and we descended by the Stockley Bridge route back to the knipemobile which was still there with all it’s tyres still on and the headlights off. This was good news, so we went home.

bruno, styhead tarn, great end

Great Gable was a busy hill today. I guess there’s a lot of people having their holidays. Good day for this sort of thing, though.

We managed just the seven of your Earth miles and 3180 of your Earth feet of upness. I’ve put more pics in the blog post than normal, cos it was such a nice day. 


Saturday 6 August 2011

What’s this then?

Loads of this stuff around the knipetowers parkland, mainly near the moat and some on the south-facing banks of the Ah ha! I wonder what it is…. Here it is in the dog’s play quarry.

is it an orchid or what?

Friday 5 August 2011

Best of Teesdale – The Walk

not sheila king and the cross fell range
This will be a fairly brief blogpost, just to record the walk that was the subject of another blogpost called roughly the same as this blogpost and which has got the same walk in it as the other blogpost. I’m sure you get the gist. The point is that I keep doing the same walk.
There’s only a few pics in this one due to my policy of not posting photos of DCC walk participants in which individuals can be recognised, unless they’re the stewards – so it’s back views and scenery only.
neville sheila and a punter's back
But the walk went well, Ray York was the main steward and his assistants were Doug Moffat and Sheila Pinkney, who’s name I got wrong in another blogpost a while back. Wupps Sorry Sheila.,, dhuhh…. I have a terrible memory for er..em…
..bit spread out...

Anyway, the route was the same and the weather was a bit cooler than before and the views were better than previously due to clearer, more arctic air.
moking hurth caves

I think people generally enjoyed themselves, and a few were brave or maybe daft enough to have a poke around in Moking Hurth caves – just the entrances, obviously, we don’t want anybody from Durham County Council having caving elf and safety wobblers. Nothing dangerous was done and roughly the same number of people emerged that went in.
Good walk, I thought. 21 People altogether including me and the stewards.
Lots of flowers……..nice people.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Best of Teesdale Walk – Reccy

wynch bridge

This is another reccy for another Durham CC walk, which happens on Friday, so I was a bit late with this. This was due to many things including a funeral and the car not passing (I hate to use the “fail” word) its MOT. But its all fixed now, so this morning off I jolly well went up to Bowlees, just a bit to the left of Middleton in Teesdale.

upper teesdale summer  upper teesdale winter

The last time I did this walk was on a really perishing cold day in the winter, when the Tees was partly frozen and the snowdrifts were touching places where cold snow should never be allowed. And it was minus echty blob as well.  I’ve put  a picture or two of that in this post, to contrast to the warm and sweaty day it was. The Dale is still busy with haymaking and the place has that fresh hay perfume that you have when    Its the Sweet vernal Grass, y’know…

teesdale summer teesdale winter

Its called the Best of Teesdale because you have to have a title for the walks brochure, and this has Bowlees, Wynch Bridge, The Juniper woodland, Lots of wild flowers, High Force, some iron age hut circles, The Green Trod, sugar limestone, mediaeval iron workings, the River Tees again, a Victorian pencil factory/quarry, some limestone caves which had bones or sumfink inside and the old road down the dale before they built the current one (as a work creation scheme in a Victorian economic slump) It misses Cronkley Snout but that’s because its too far upstream on the wrong side of the River. Whoever put it on the wrong side of the River needs telling.

moking hurth

So, its full of stuff and its 13 miles and 1700 feet long and up.

best of teesdale reccy bull

Not much happened. I met a bull, who seemed to be asleep, probably just as well – and just a few walkers and some lapwings. Teesdale is lapwing central. They’ll be off to Redcar soon, I shouldn’t wonder. I had a scramble in the cave, but I had no headtorch so it was a bit limited.

I’ll be back on Friday.

dvcrs walk 3


Monday 1 August 2011

Get Cycling! (But not when its drizzly)

Well, so much for the Get Active! Get Cycling campaign. I turned up at the right time this morning, but the “instructor” said it was drizzling and he couldn’t go out due to “Health And Safety” – those three little words that help people being paid to do stuff excuse themselves from doing anything at all.

So I left. It stopped drizzling, so I returned. He’d gone, along with his expensive van full of unused expensive bikes, all depreciating in a capital depreciation kind of way.

I rang his HQ in Peterlee, managed fairly loosely, it would seem by the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. (Staff at the HQ in Peterlee couldn’t remember the name of The University Hospital of North Durham, naming it as “Dryburn?” (the question mark is important here)… or “That hospital in Darlington?”

He said the ride had started at 10:00 and I’d missed it. I said the van had gone. He said then in that case, it must be that nobody had turned up. I said that somebody had turned up, but instructorman wouldn’t go out because of Health and Safety on account of the fact that it was drizzling.

The Peterlee chap said that rain wouldn’t normally stop the ride going out.

I told him it wasn’t raining now and, in fact, it was sunny.  He didn’t seem to know that the “instructor” wasn’t there any more. Where had he gone, I wonder? Was he having a jolly on a cycle path somewhere? Was he drinking tea somewhere else?  Had he gone to visit a friend now that he’d got the day off? Maybe he’s taken annual leave….

There were apologies.

There’s a lot of staff salary and equipment and office costs going into this. Get Active by the Physical Activity Health Improvement But Not When The Instructor Can’t Be Arsed Scheme. 

They’re about to close the Leisure centre/Gym/Swimming pool in Crook in order to save money by the way.

Joined-up thinking.