Friday 30 September 2011


There will now be another intermission of about two weeks whilst I go off to Harlech to bag Hewitts. I’ve got thirty three left. 

In the meantime, over on the forum at, htere’s a thread about what was the Beatles best song.

I think this one is high up on the list.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Whats This then?

Never did like this place. There light coming through a hole in the roof showing up as an odd shape in one of the windows. I’ve cut it out and blown it up a bit. 

window1 window reflection

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……….  Who fancies spending all hallows eve here?

Monday 26 September 2011

Galloway Tour of Tussocks, Bogs and Forests

round loch of glenhead rig of jarkness

The Awful Hand trip being ill-fated and causing pains, strains, disease and discomfort across the United Kingdom (these things hardly ever work out on the first attempt) I determined to go camping and bag a few Marilyns that had been on my list-of-Marilyns-to-bag-in-Galloway list for a while.

The first victim to the ticking pencil was on Friday afternoon – one Hightown Hill, an 820 foot lump of grass with cows on it somewhere slightly to the left of Dumfries. I was going to bag a hill next to it but didn’t because a) I couldn’t remember where it was and b) I didn’t have the map with it on and c) I couldn’t think of a third excuse. This went well and a walk of just under two miles set me up for a celebratory pint of Black Sheep in the Ken Bridge Hotel where I was camping.

loch trool craig lee summit

The KB Hotel was occupied mainly by hunters and fishers, the hunters being in camouflage and (whisper this) I noticed that over the three days, whilst I wetted out two pairs of boots and covered them in muck, their shoes were always shiny. I took this to mean that, despite all pretence, they actually hadn’t been anywhere at all…..

battle of glen trool

And so, soon afterwards, it was Saturday. I took the knipemobile over to Glen Trool and parked near the old Caldons campsite where the caldons used to camp. I followed the Southern Upland Way and a cycle route in a roughly Easterly direction, passing through the battlesite of Glentrool where, after watching a spider for a bit, Robert de Brus and 300 rock-hurling Ayrshirites and a few cavalry trounced a force of 1500 English troops under de Clifford – the Lord of Skipton castle no less.

summit to loch trool

rig of the jarkness

dungeon hill peeping over a tarn

lamachans and curleywee

I continued to the watershed and turned off over grassless cow-churned mud and, higher, to heather and tussocks, and higher to beautiful slabs of granite to the summit of Craig Lee, perched on a little tor. Then followed what can only be described as a joyful romp over the twists and rocky turns of the Rig of the Jarkness. What is a Jarkness, and how much do they eat…? This ridge is pure delight, with rocky tors and slabs and little tarns and ends with an unpleasant steep pile of tussocks to a ford and a sloppy path down to Bruce’s Stone. I completed with a road walk back to the start, although there seems to be shoreline alternatives.

glen trool

On returning to the Ken Bridge Hotel, I celebrated with a little guinness and some scotch and drifted off into Kylieland in short order.

Soon, it was Sunday and the two cock robins who I’d been feeding each time they whistled finally had me trained to showfield standard. I left them a snack on a tree stump and went off in search of a parking spot close enough to Craignell to make a short day, for I heard that rain was on its way for the afternoon and would “set in”.

it'll never fly

I parked by the Black Loch, between a wild goat park and a deer range and, not finding the “stepping stones” marked on my map, took a turn around the Loch with it’s strange conical sculpture thingy. I had to cross the burn to get to the “Old Edinburgh Road” which used to go to Old Edinburgh and I followed this to an obscure turn-off into the deep forest. This went further than it said on my map, which is what I wanted. At it’s end, I could see open hillside some way above, but I chose the wrong forest ride and ended up floundering in huge tussocks with deep water in between and, eventually, after an hour or so of toil, came to a dead-end of impenetrable sitka spruce. I decided to call the whole thing off in favour of a paddle and a picnic next to a waterfall I’d spotted. I retraced awkwardly and a bit grumpily through the same floundering-ground.

Then, I thought I’d just investigate the other ride. This was steep, but easy under foot and I was soon out on the hillside, albeit onto outrageously steep heather. I battled up this, grateful that I’d forgotten to take my beta-blockers and wondering how the air ambulance would find me.

galloway 028

Craignell is steep and rough but the top is a great place to be providing it hasn’t just started raining. So I bailed out for a celebratory pint back at Ken Bridge. Some sheepfarmers were in tonight. No idea what they were talking about, though I did catch the word “Gimmer”…

Then the hunters came in. Boots still shiny. What had they been doing all day?

Today I came home. I had soaked two pairs of boots and three pairs of socks so there was little motivation to put them on again. And I’d eaten all the bacon and the robins are resting smug, feet up, little robin slippers on, being too fat to fly just now.

Cracking hills, though.

As far as the leaky boots are concerned – I can feel something in the air which will sort out the problem – hopefuly before the weekend cos I’m off to Wales.


Thursday 22 September 2011

Winter Guided Walks Programme

Durham County Council's winter guided walks programme was published today.
I've got eleven walks in there altogether, including several "Saturday Specials" for people who don;t like shopping.

I'm off to Galloway now for a few days...  Anybody talking or misbehaving will have their names written on the board by Sandra Metcalfe

Hello? What was that?  (Nearly that time of year folks)

Sunday 18 September 2011

Jinkie’s Challenge

bell heather

I’ve been out rangering today up at Blanchland and Edmundbyers. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again, so I expect that you may be bored with this kind of thing. So instead, I’ll explain the concept of Jinkie’s Challenge, something wot I thought of whilst marching through the heather without a map again. I’ll illustrate this with pics from today’s walking.

The other thing is that I’ve applied for the TGO Challenge next year and there’s always a chance that I won’t make the cut, so a Plan B is always a good idea. (Mr Manning should not read this blog post as I wouldn’t want him getting the idea that a person with a Plan B would be a choice candidate for the stand-by list…)

aap walk start fallen tree

So the Jinkie Challenge is to visit the three highest public bars in England. These are (as far as I know, but I’m willing to be disabused) The Cat and Fiddle, The Tan Hill Inn and the Kirkstone Pass Inn. This should normally take about two weeks, I would have thought. And a route not completely up the Pennine Way could be made from the Cat to Tan Hill – and, it’s a long-established long distance walk, and a high level route to Kirkstone Pass could be made from tan Hill over Nine Standards, The Howgill Fells and the Shap Fells. I

I considered calling this walk the Three Pubs Challenge, but it seems to me that its more than likely that a lot more than three pubs could be visited between the three targets . So, why not go the whole hog and visit as many as possible? I thought up some rules:

blanchland deli

1) The route is not fixed and using the Pennine Way all the way up the Pennines would lose the walker Jinkie Points.

2) The start can be any of the three pubs.

3) A proper boozing session should be had at all three of the three highest pubs.

4) Extra Jinkie Points can be earned by visiting as many pubs as possible in between the other two although there’s no requirement to go mad on the beer at each one. On a rough route I thought up, there are a minimum of twenty other pubs. There could be more since I haven’t looked at a map.

5) Even more extra Jinkie points can be earned for each summit over 400 metres bagged on the way.

This could be the hardest pub crawl in England.

Or not.

In any case, this is my Plan B for TGO challenge time, or I may just do it anyway.

near edmundbyers

On the rangering, I did 15 miles, got wet twice, found two fallen trees and a bit of duff shoring and they’ve mended a stile that’s been rejecting me. I also found that the Blanchland village deli does a nice cornish pasty.

moors and sheeps

Jinkie, by the way is a childish word that I use to get Bruno to have a drink from a stream on a hot day – in case there’s no more water for a long way ahead, and may also be an exclamation on spotting a distant pub on a warm and thirsty day.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Competition Time

This is a reminder to all would-be writists to write a blog post of up to 1000 words , possibly with some pretty pictures in order to win this fantastic rucksack.


This fab bit of kit is a Gelert Nimbus 35 litre rucksack and is supplied by Outdoor Look  - See more outdoor clothing and all kinds of gear at


Your blog post can be about anything at all linked to the outdoors. Have a rant. Pontificate about something… Tell us about your latest adventure in the hills….  Whatever you want.

As I seem to be on holiday at the original closing date (there’s planning for you…) _ I’ve extended the cut-off for entries to 20 October 2011.

Get writing - Its nearly Christmas…..

Thursday 15 September 2011

Bruno’s Interesting Day

plenty of space
I got the idea for thee title of this blog post from a Topsy and Tim book. I’m working towards being able to read Wuthering Heights, but I realise its a long way off yet.
After an extended severalteen days of writing stuff, none of which is finished, I decided to go for a walk and, it would seem, picked the sunniest day for months either side of today. me and Bruno went to Wet Sleddale, principally to bag the little Birkett Glede How wot I’d failed to do the other day due to a footwear emergency.
We Sleddale is Very Wet. And squishy.
resting on glede how pennines from glede how
We wandered up a permissive path and across a bridge and up to a farm where Builders Bum was being practised by some builders. We heaved up the hill (I heaved, Bruno pulled). At a stile with a high wire, Bruno did his usual superdawg leap but, (and maybe this is a first sign of age) – his trailing leg caught on the wire and he went down in a big and very snotty heap. He didn’t yelp or whine, but he tried to stand up and couldn’t. I got myself psyched up for carrying 20 kg of wriggly dog the two miles back to the car.
After some massage and kind words and, maybe a mention of next door’s cat, Bruno suddenly recovered and continued up the hill in much the way he’d been doing a few minutes earlier. I kept an eye on him all day and worried a bit at fence-jumping time, but he seems fine.
seat robert trig station seat robert
We plodged upwards and on to a knobby plateau and, after a bit of light navigating involving map-to-ground guesswork and the tossing of a coin, we duly arrived at Glede How. Glede how has a little rocky outcrop and a fine view of the Pennines. We lunched. ….. I lunched, Bruno dribbled. I did let him have a small piece of egg butty as a kind of reward for being a brave little doggy.
We snoozed in the sun for quite a while.
Afterwards, we climbed Seat Robert which has a cairn and a shelter and a little concrete ring for the Ordnance Survey people to dance around in one of their magic contour rituals where they call on the gods to make magnetic North nearer to true North….
Then we wandered over the Shap fells for a long time in a kind of aimless-roughly-back-to-the-car park kind of way. At a rest stop, I heard a deer bark. It barked several times. Bruno noticed. I could make out a small herd of, maybe fifteen red deer about 400 metres away. they were drifting off slowly and letting out the occasional warning bark.
hunting mode
We continued and, on crossing Tonguerigg Gill, we disturbed a herd of sixty or seventy red deer. They made off at speed from about 300 metres away. Bruno went into hunting mode and had to be put on the lead. Bruno’s recall is actually quite good, and I’ve managed to call him off chasing at least one deer in full flight. He’ll even come back to a hand signal, providing he’s looking in your direction, but sixty red deer in full flight, and, probably stinking of mating hormones (its about that time of year, folks) would probably have been too much for his canine self-control.
The herd disappeared over the hill, but Bruno had their scent and he followed with his ears up. I followed at the other end of the lead, just to see what would happen. After a while, we disturbed the same herd again. they’d moved about half a kilometre and had sentries, it would seem. In places even I could make out the scent. I called off the chase. We returned to the car.
deer making off at a distance
We did about 8 miles and 1400 feet but I can’t be exact about our route, so I’m not doing a map. Apart from anything else, when I did the track, it spelled a rude word.
The Shap fells were empty today aprt from me and the dawg and the deer and, somewhere, a shepherd doing some shouting and whistling, and, right at the end, a fisherman on a bike who went off to see the deer after I’d spoken to him. saved a few fish, there, so I’m a piscatorial hero. The Shap fells are not a place for lonely agoraphobics or people who like a lot of noise.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Potery In Motion

jules knocking one out up the slitt

After a bit of a lay-off from the walking due to various family stuff and some writing stuff, Superdawg pointed out, whilst taking a break from chewing the cat, that we hadn’t been doing a vast amount of nice walkies recently.

So, pausing only to pick up essentials, such as butties, coffee, a banana and a poet, we set off for Westgate for a brief encounter with all of the interesting stuff in Slitt Wood.

jpc and superdawg

Most of these interesting things will be well known to regular pieblog readers, but just to repeat information given in previous postings from my apparent obsession with the Slitt Vein, the main things are these:

An old mill/fortified house with wheel pit

Lots of nice waterfalls and pools

Wild flowers

A lead mine with Bargain steads, wheel pit, mountings for an Armstrong Hydraulic Engine, an excavated smithy with rock drill testing/proving holes, a damn great shaft, the Slitt vein itself

rock drill holes

A tramway

A bench with in memorium leather boots with wooden soles

A wet level

Spoil heaps

A reservoir

Some meadows

Nice views.

superdawg taunts cattle from a distance

All in all, quite a lot squeezed in to a couple of miles.

It rained a bit. Jules the pote pointed at things whilst having his photo taken, and wrote at least one poem (he knocks them out like a Birmingham car factory). We paddled up the wet level till we got scared, wearing the Bareskin booties (not wanting to get wet socks). Bruno stuck his tongue out and made rude signs at a small herd or gang of cattle doing some cud-chewing on the other side of the beck (they didn;t seem too bothered) and we collected a few pretty stones.

into the hole slitt 020 slitt 023

Later, we crossed the beck and slithered up a lane trashed into deep ruts by 4WD drivers.

And then we went home.

I think we did about four miles.