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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Using a Dog For Navigation Part 1 - Cross Fell

bruno heads off on a bearing

This blog post is only to be read by those for whom the carrying of a map and compass is a mere foppish pecadillo. I didn’t do it on purpose, oh no – it was the dog’s fault and it was up to the dog to resolve the issue once the problem had been identified.

This blog post also contains a novel and innovative er.. innovation… in the field of interactiveness. There will be, at some point, a gross over use of the word “Utter”. readers will be able to choose how many “Utter”s to read by sending the word “Utter” and the number of “utter”s required in a sealed envelope with a cash, cheque or postal order payment to the “Mike Knipe Support British Breweries” campaign. A worthy cause, I’m sure you will agree.

bruno checks for rivals before eating this snowpatch

Y’see, getting ready for a day walk can be a fairly long drawn- out process involving coffee, porridge, toast, breakfast TV, cheese butties, selecting maps, finding car keys and falling over the dog. Once Bruno gets wind that a long walk is in the offing he starts runign around in circles making yippy puppy noises and blocking the way out of the front door whilst drawing attention to his lead and harness which are in the “Bruno’s Lead and Harness” drawer. This often makes me forget things – mainly cameras, lunchboxes, car keys and boots. On this occasion it was the Outdoor Leisure map of the North Pennines containing the fine details of  how to get up Cross fell and back down again. I discovered the loss about halfway up the Pennine Way out of Garrigill.

the day was clear, though and it’s not as if I’d never been up Cross fell before. So I plodded on. It started raining. I plodded on. The cloud base lowered and it became ever so gloomy. I formed a plan.

The plan consisted of two elements.

Element One (Or “A” if you prefer) – My old GPS. This would be used to record waypoints (not much battery life in it). I could retrace to one of these uisng the “GOto” function. It doesn;t have maps. This was invented before maps.

Element Two (or B) The dog has an amazing and proven ability to retrace his own steps exactly – and I do mean exactly – over several miles.

Plan B – I could just go home. It was raining after all. I had an excuse. I could blame the dog.

Soon, we were damply entering the refrigeratorish innards of Greg’s Hut. Greg’s hut was occupied by some ladies (or girls if you prefer) listening to a walkie-talkie device which was producing the noises made by somebody with a severe speech defect giving instructions in Welsh on how to bake shortbread using a faulty microphone. It was some kind of radio-ham’s thing and the voices were coming from Cross fell, apparently. They left soon after our soggy arrival, announcing that they were on Wainwright’s Not the Pennine Way route.

cross fell summit

Their place was taken by a young (well, younger than me anyway) and very damp lad who said his Dad was close behind. His Dad joined me in the main room whilst Son scoffed in the annex. Dad said only one word during half an hour and kept his concentration on his map. He appeared to consider that the living room of Greg’s Hut was just like a London Tube train where any human contact could be seen as a threat or an offer of very expensive sex. His only word was utterred as me and Bruno abandoned the oasis of calm for the slashing storm outside. And the word was “Bye”. I thanked him for the interesting and enjoyable chat.

utter #1

Me and the Dawg pressed on. AS we climbed the hill, the cloud lifted with us and by the time we were at the summit furniture, the sun was peeking shyly through the glower.

utter #2

I could see the tall, thin cairn at the other end of the plateau and me and the dawg romped off towards it. All around, the mist was ripping itself from the fells and areas of distant fellsides lit up with an orange glow.

utter #3 

(wait for it… wait for it…)

Its difficult to put into words the utter, utter, utter joy of that short walk over the flat top of Cross Fell (is that too many utters? Have I overdone the utters ? Am I a nutter for the utter?) You know what to do. A fiver should be enough. Hurry up, though – TGO coming up next week and this involves many bars.

river tees

I could see the length of the infant River Tees from here heading off towards Cow Green and decided to follow that. This, dear readers, is what’s known in yer navigating world as “handrailing”. Handrailing is my favourite thing. the trick is to handrail the correct handrail and not something that you thought was the right one but wasn’t. There is only one River Tees, so I followed it.

tees/troutbeck bridge

This is quite nice, really. Its a bit rough in places, and there’s an inconvenient fence which gets in the way a bit, but there’s some cracking camping spots and if you keep following it (its best to transfer to the South bank at some point), it ends up at a bridge at the meeting of the River Tees with Trout Beck and puts the now completely knackered rambler on a good, hard road that will take him and his still annoyingly energetic pooch back to the fleshpots of Garrigill and all he has to do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other for miles and miles and miles…..

We did 18 miles and 2500 feet of upness. Bruno did roughly double that and ate quite a lot of snow, there' being a bunch of glacier-like lumps of the stuff in shakeholes and becks and other sheltered places.

cross fell



FellBound said...

Hey you is utter fit man. And so is dawg.

Sorry about that. Just read some twitter comments re us oldies getting down wi di youth.

Alan R said...

Thanks Mike. That woke me up to a good start to the day. And the sun is shining although frost looks like its killed the bedding plants. An utter disgrace. I wonder what Bruno smells to know exactly where he’s been before, or where to go if he hasn’t. Utterly fantastic.

Laura said...

Bruno - you're my hero! Pity he can't come on the Challenge.......

Mike Knipe said...

Fellbound - They don't really have yoofs on the chally as they're all doing their exams. Anybody under age 60 is either jobless or feckless!
Alan - bruno can't reliably go forwards intoi new territory. he can only go back. I've noticed he cocks his leg quite a lot. I suspect thats got something to do with it.
Laura - My big problem will be getting out of the door with a pack. I'm sure he'd enjoy the walk and raiding challengers lunches etc.

Alan Sloman said...

There is such a thing as being "over-trained" you know and peaking too soon...

Have you tried tying tractor tyres with ropes to your waist and dragging them about the countryside?

Then there's the trips to the gym to consider and a personal trainer.

Half an hour of yoga before breakfast?

I'll have you know under my new "Get Fit Quick" regime, I was up at 5:30 this morning. Having met my targets for the day, I slipped back to bed at 6:30 until 10:30. I can already see the difference...

It'll all go fine, I'm sure.

Could we borrow Bruno for the walk? If I have to rely on Phil & Andy to navigate we'll end up going west. Oh. Hang on...

Louise said...

Care in the community in the extreme...

Dawn said...

Nice one Mike.It is quite a pleasant walk following that beck down.

markswalkingblog said...

That's some miles covered in a day Mike. You are right about the fridge like qualities of Greg's Hut even in the summer!