Thursday 29 March 2012

Pennine Way Bowes to Tan Hill (and back)

tan hill inn

This is the very last reccy of one of the summer guided walks routes, although I’ll have to reccy all the fifteen walk routes the week before they happen. I’d delayed this one till after the clocks sprung forward last weekend – mainly so I had enough daylight. The walking is quite easy, though, so it would have been OK, really…

Anyway, I’d warned superdawg that this walk was a bit longer than the others, so he’d had a few extra doggybix and a drink of tea, and we’d arrived at the village hall car park in Bowes to discover a couple of chaps from Sunderland and Ivy, one of the regular DCC guided walks customers and veteran rambler extraordinaire. (she’s 78 and doesn’t use those new fangled map things….). Ivy was intent on having a ten mile ramble and set off a few minutes before me and the dawg.

tan hill four and a half miles ivy on the pw

We headed off towards Edale, up past the castle and through the lambing fields where we caught up with Ivy who declared her intention to accompany me for a bit to make sure I didn’t get mugged by a ewe or become lost or attacked by a starving band of disorientated ramblers (such as the ones who live in Crook)


So, we wandered up (or is it down..?) the Pennine Way not looking at maps and only going wrong once. At Sleightholme, where the Way turns off the road to follow Frumming Beck, Ivy turned and headed back towards Bowes, intent on doing “a loop”. She reckoned she’d have done her ten miles for the day. I suspect she was probably right. Interestingly, when you work out the “doggy years” thing, she and Bruno are the same age. Bruno is slowing down a bit, or , at least, calming down a bit, but is still, very much, a daft pup.

cairn by frumming beck

We lunched by the beck and trogged easily up the path over the moors to Tan Hill. This path is notoriously soggy, but not today. Progress was quick and easy over the parched moor and we were soon relaxing in the cool of the Tan Hill bar with a pint of Black Sheep. I copperred up (as my granny used to say) and discovered that I had just enough for a second pint of the same, leaving just twenty one pence for emergencies. Since there were no likely emergencies which would involve spending money between here and Bowes, I opted for the second pint. Had I had more money…..

sleightholme road

A bit later and in a happy mood, I took the Foul Weather Alternative which involves walking down the road and a track back to Sleightholme – just to see what it was like. I may do this anyway on the actual walk just to introduce a bit of variety and the possibility of a fatal accident with a speeding motorbike. Another option is to use a deep gill running North from the road to join up with the PW below the soggy bits.

The return route was just a long plod in warm sunshine – all very pleasant. I got back to Bowes at six o’clock, which was just about eight hours – seven hours walking and one hour nursing a Black Sheep or two. It was 17 miles and 1500 feet of uphill.

Quite good, really….


Tuesday 27 March 2012

North Pennine Fun in the Sun

brian on a cup-marked rock
In view of the fact that there seems to be a fat ole sun in the sky that keeps falling….  I decided that after a day of my plans to be tramping through the heather with my best girl on my arm (ashley, it’s a dog..) had been frustrated by domestic duties and in view of the fact that the clocks had been interfered with for the summertime season, I would, in fact, escape to the Pennines. My afternoon bagging target was Harwood Carrs – a 502 metre heathery flat that had somehow missed out on the delicate caress of the knipe boots and paws. The late afternoon plod up the shooters track to a handy jumping off point for the shy little summit cairn, in , frankly, hot sun, and dressed in shorts and a short-sleeved base layer, was an absolute joy.
one of three curricks
As the evening crept in, my second target was to be Knockshield Moor, a 574 metre flat-topped heather moor just a bit North from Killhope law. I marched along Jacob’s Tea Trail, noting dawn’s bootprints from the other week…. and, as I rounded the hillside, the object of my attentions came into view. From the summit sprouted a huuuuuge cloud of white smoke. There were vehicles moving around and people, apparently jumping up and down on my summit. It was on fire. They were burning the heather. I could come back later… Instead , I visited Three Curricks – that is three or maybve four cairns on the hillside, and, later, watched the sun go down behind The Dodd, the sky colours changing subtly each minute. It was quite remarkable (which is probably why I’m remarking on it)
sunset 1 sunset 2
sunset 3 sunset 4

Summer evening birds were calling (curlew, snipe, oyster catchers, plover, lapwings, skylarks, meadow pipits and grouse). Thats enough of Pink Floyd anyway…
gibsons cave bowlees
So this afternoon, I met Brian at Bowlees and we abandoned the knipemobile in the car park there and drove up to Swinhope Head, at the summit of the road between Teesdale and Weardale. The objective for today was to have a look for some possible rock art, in the form of cup and ring markings at a bouldery outcrop on the side of James Hill, at just around the 2000 foot contour. As we were starting a hundred or so feet higher than this, the walk to the boulders would be downhill, as would the six mile return trip to Bowlees, a cracking plan I’m sure you may agree. I’d heard about a possible hoard of cup and ring marks from one of the walkers on the last DCC guided walk and I determined to go for a look. (He also gave me some interesting hill routes through the Co Durham Pennines which taken together form a chain, so when I get time, I’ll be looking at those, too. Thanks Eddie.
cup stone cup stones 009
big cup (more of a mug, really..) cup stones 004
We strode over the tussocks and sphagnum, noting the wildlife in and around the boggy pools (a lizard, some water boatmen and beetles and a large party of frogs, apparently having a party. We soon came to the boulders and discovered that they were indeed covered in cups, but no rings. In fact, there were more cups than you could shake a walking pole at. It would seem, though, that the gritstone seems to be in two or more layers and the softer, top layer (which is still relatively hard, should you collide with it) is worn into cups by some natural process. It could well be, of course , that some of the cups are natural and others are man-made. But there’s a lot of cups. No, I mean loads of them. Really.. a lot of cups. Some had water in them. Others had stones or a layer of grit. I don’t believe I’ve seen so many of these things in one place before. We thought they were probably natural, or mainly natural, but, to be fair, I have no idea. If anybody has any views about this group of rocks, and whether or not this is the hand of man, I’d be more than interested to hear.
looking for millstones
We also had a look for some millstones which Brian had found hereabout on an earlier visit, but we found none, and, later decided that the outcrop with the milstones was a bit further along the contour.
We returned via Flushmere – which has lots of hushes and holes and bell pits and spoil heaps as it happens, and Broadley Gate farm which doesn’t.
The first trip was about 9 miles and this one was about 6…
Distant bells, new mown grass smells soo  sweet…  (stoppit)
Is this the summer? Will it last till summer, or will winter be back next week?

Monday 26 March 2012

Tunstall Again and FP176 Trubbles

from dowfold hill

There were nineteen of us (nananana nineteen) on Saturday afternoon’s six mile guided walk from Wolsingham to Tunstall and back. It was a nice, warm summer day and there were lots of new lambs in the fields and the curlew’s were curlewing and so on…  And we seem to have managed to attract one or two new walkers, so that was good too..

tunstall lambs

But Kathy, the steward, told me about some problems with a  path at Crook which she intended to use as a Health walk for one of the local villages (I think she said it was West Auckland, though I might be wrong) – and this path was one of my adopt-a-path paths and also one I’d used on a guided walk  a short while ago) – So, on Sunday, I went for a look.

fp176 fp108 008

A stile on Footpath 176 had indeed been barricaded off with barbed wire and the stile removed, AND the signpost altered so it no longer pointed in the direction of the path, and the gate replaced with a smaller one which was padlocked with (wait for it…) a  padlock.

Apparently, Kathy and her group had been approached by a woman from the farm up the field with the well-known phrase “Do you know you’re on private land?” (I don’t think she said “Can I help you?”. What she didn’t know, of course, was that Kathy is a Ranger  and knows all about definitive maps, their legal status, the responsibilities of landowners and the names of several friendly individuals in the rights of way office at County Hall.

So, I wasn’t all that surprised that the barbed wire had been clipped. However, this isn’t really good enough and, whilst the gate is easy to climb over, and the signpost was stroked back into position by me and a big lump of timber, the stile needs to go back.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this one I think. Its a nice walk anyway, finishing as it does over Dowfold Hill which has really good long-distance views and a few of those squiggly brown countoury things.

Friday 23 March 2012

Some maps

There has been some little dissention (but not much strife) over the issue of me putting maps of the walks on the pieblog. I will try to do better, but many of the walks are repeats since , if they’re County Council walks, I do them three times in all if they’re new, or twice if they’ve been done before.

Speaking of which, the Durham County Council programme of walks and other countryside affairs is now published and can be found here:

Here’s the map of the nineteen mile walk from Wolsingham around Waskerley and Collier Law:



And here’s the map of the walk around Drumaldrace and Dodd Fell from Hawes.

dodd fell

And here’s a picture of some special cake.


Tuesday 20 March 2012

Clints Crags and Caermote Hill

view east from caermote hill

I was grazing through the site the other night and it dawned on me that I had only twenty of Alf (where’s me pipe) Wainwright’s Outlying Fells to do, so I determined to go and bag one or two.

And so, this morning, me and superdawg found ourselves parking badly in the apparently deserted Cumbrian village of Blindcrake for an initial three mile trundle through pastures and ashwoods to the carboniferous delights of Clints Crags – Clints (with no apostrophe, so must be plural and nothing to do with cowboys) probably refers to the small limestone crags which identify this small hill as not a Lake District one.  It probably has a really good view of the lake District, but today, just the very edges of Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite Lake could be seen under the heavy cloud base and through the misty haze.

a big twig getting silly now...

Bruno got the chance to run about quite a bit due to the fact that most of the fields were empty of any livestock. This lead to various brutal assaults on fallen branches, sticks and twigs…..

wind blasted hawthorns caermote hill

caermote spring caermote spring

After a slow lunch in the car, we drove off to the nearby village of Bothel, which I judged unsuitable as a parking spot due to the overwhelming odour of manure. So we patrolled around a bit and found a cosy spot for the knipemobile only a few hundred metres from the Caermote Roman fort and, almost by coincidence, but not really, at the foot of Caermote Hill. I couldn’t find much information about the fort, except to say that there are two forts there and a few bits of roman road. The position of the fort is off the main roman highway to Carlisle but, apparently, overlooking the Western approaches to Bassenthwaite and within sight of a newly discovered stone circle on Binsey which, it is suggested, may be the reason for it’s position. It is noticeable that the fort is sited on a bog, however, and there is at least one very copious spring of orange-coloured water and there are other healthily productive springs around too. Not that I know anything about such things, but it strikes me that the siting of the fort could well be slap bang on an aboriginal sacred site although this sort of thing could well irritate the locals two knickers. (this is a measure of annoyance, not the number of pants owned by the locals) I mean ter say, these are heavily mineralised springs which haven’t suddenly just become full of iron or whatever it is turning the rocks orange…

star snot

I had a look around the remains of the ramparts, but there’s not a lot to see. I did find some strange gunge on a rock, however. There were lumps of it round the back….  Frogsnot, probably….

Anyway, we heaved our fat bodies up Caermote Hill – a fine and rocky place with a cracking view of the coast and with a rock which sports four memorial plaques to deceased locals. Wainwright says there are two. But there are four. There’s another top a few hundred metres along the ridge, which we bagged as well. The barbed wire defences noted by Uncle Alf appear to have been replaced by a small gate.

pepper pot the lodge

After this, I noticed a square-looking cairn on top of a hill overlooking the parking spot. We went for a look and found that it was, in fact, a chimney and there was a narrow flue leading from a small quarry which had an iron “thingy” in it. No idea what this is, but a local archaeology project says that a farmer informed the team that there was a shooting lodge or shelter built into the crag and this was the remains of that. Locals apparently call the place “Pepperpot Hill”. Seems reasonable.

Not many miles or contours were consumed today. I’m not even going to say what were the results….  (Not seven) (Or five…) dhuhh…  I’ve only got seventeen Outliers to do now…


Monday 19 March 2012

Drumaldrace and Dodd Fell

is it a bird, is it a plane?

Right – Let’s have no more of this nonsense about pet dogs writing blog posts. Bruno has never mastered the keyboard and in any case, he just drools over internet pictures of beef and lamb all night. Gives him an appetite, apparently.


So the other thing that happened last weekend was that I met the nephew in a sunny car park in Hawes and, together with the literary canine we plodded off up past the cheese factory and through Gayle and up the hill to Drumaldrace, passing my camping spot behind the wall which I used during last summer’s trundle down the Pennines sans any navigational stuff. It was a quite fabulous early spring day with a perishing wind, but bright and warm sunshine and lambs gambling in the fields. One of them bet that Bruno couldn’t write a sensible sentence and another wagered that the bloke with the white beard was even worse.


snaizehole with hang gliders

We progressed along the roman road to Kidhow gate, pausing only briefly for a chicken butty and a banana (thats what I had anyway…) and then, beneath the floating hang gliders, gently drifting about and the eeejit off-road bikers buzzing up the Pennine Way, and the convoy of off-road vehicles containing people even fatter than me, plus the skylarks, curlew, oyster catchers and golden plover and the occasional jet flying over, I was struck by the sense of wilderness and bloody PEACEFUL fecking Yorkshire dales. Look, I mean, is it me? Can’t things just be quiet for a minute?  You’re disturbing the frogs….just calm down a bit, guys….


Anyway, we got to the top after a short campaign of tussock trundling. The view was enormous and famiss hills such as Pendle and Scafell Pike and Great Gable and Wild Boar fell and some unidentifiable North Pennines could be made out very clearly. And Morecambe Bay AND the North Yorkshire Moors, so very nearly a sea-to-sea vista. Not that anybody in a land rover full of obesity with a winch on the front, or the sinister masked riders of the two wheeled lawnmowers buzzing off towards Settle would have seen any of this cos they wuz bouncing up and down too much. I hope that most of their fillings dropped out. I expect that some of them were playing Led Zeppelin on their CD players. At least that would drown out the noisy birdlife.

But the hang-gliders… Bless ‘em. Silent and graceful and, probably, a bit cold…. Not even a cough or a harrumph, or a shout of joy or even a  giggle as they floated over the lovers entwined in the juncus two hundred feet below….

tunstall and dodd fell 020

the nephew, the pooch and the wild boar fell

The walk down back down to Hawes was less noisy.

We did 13 miles altogether. Its a good walk. Its probably better on a Tuesday when all the petrolheads are at work or in the queue at the job centre or something.

Nice to see the nephew again, though. We chewed a fair amount of fat – and not the sort that my cardiac nurse needs to worry about. We’ll be doing something similar once again fairly soon.


Sunday 18 March 2012

Guest Post by Superdawg – Some fields, nice sticks, grass and poo. And various smells.

big stile

I can always tell when wotsizname is about to nick off for a walk coz he does that thing with the flask of coffee and rummages around in piles of socks, swearing a lot. So I stands by the drawer with the lead and the harness in it and make sure that he remembers to let me into the car before he sets off. This morning this went well and after only a short drive we arrived at that car park where we’d been before where all the dogs do their poose and there’s ducks that run away and laugh and smell delicious.

So I haz a little poo by the dog poo bin and wotzizname does some swearing and scoops it up in a polythene bag and hides it in a red bin where nobody will find it.

a little stick

Then he undoes the lead and I jump around and find a stick which he’s not interested in so I breaks it up into tiny little pieces and then there’s another stick. And today I gets to do a lot of running about  and finding sticks.

Then there’s this big ladder stile and I takes a jump at it and fall off. I try again and I fall off again. So i stands at the bottom looking up., Its a very big stile. Thingy pushes me over it and its easy to jump down the other side.

finding a stick

Then there’s some sheep but they’re not frightened and follow us down the field. I haz to have me lead on now.

After a bit he sits on a bench and eats something sweet and crispy that smells of oats and honey and makes me dribble. I get none. He’s a right mean bugger sometimes. I find some crumbs in the grass.

back on the lead

The we’re off again and there’s more sheep so I’m on the lead.

tasty small cow peeping

And there’s a small cow (probably tasty) peeping under a door.

tunstall and dodd fell 011

And little sheeps. Delicious little sheeps. Hmmmmm…

And we go home and I have a nap.

Here’s a map. I think it was about forty miles or something. Anyway, it’s tea time now, so I’m not bothered anyway. I’m not doing this again; he can write his own blog. If I wanted a blog I could get my own…   There’s somebody going past – I’ll just have to go and bark at the window…

He did the pictures by the way as I haznt got a camra.


He’s doing this walk next Saturday  with the County Council. I’m not allowed as there’s the dog catcher on the walk, apparently and I hazn’t got a licence. That’s what he says anyway. Its not fair, really.

Friday 16 March 2012

TGO Challenge Route May 2012

Despite the fact that I did promise never to mention my 2012 TGO Challenge, here’s a map of my route. It’s pretty straight, which is a surprise.

It has loads of fun and frolics, though.

tgo2012 route

Apart from booking trains, I have done no other planning for this. I should get on with it, really….

I should add that this walk will be an attempt. I’ll do me best. I can be fairly determined, though…..

laundry and laundry rock

Here’s a picture of the Burma Road Laundry.