Saturday 31 August 2013

With The Splinterers On Pen Hill

it's not what it looks like, Bruno..

This was the Splinterers third walk, but only the second for me since for various reasons I didn’t go on the last one.  (I’m not sure if this group has a proper name, yet by the way – so, in the meantime, I’ll use “splinterers” cos they splintered from the Durham County Council guided walks and, I understand, there are splinters of the splinterers too – what my granny would have called a “spell”…)

waterfall - its a bit tilted.  sorry...whoops..

heading off up the dale

It was Sheila’s turn to lead and so, armed with a map and walk description out of the Northern Echo (I think..) seven of us and a small Dot of a dog. (Bruno was too knackered from the walk around Dunnerdale the day before – he’s showing his age a bit…)After visiting West Burton’s waterfall, – see pic with flowers – its not what it seems… we hurtled off from up the dale for the bridleway that goes to Carlton in Coverdale. Another group seemed to be following the same navigational strategy but kept going the wrong way, so despite being ahead of us, they occasionally turned up behind us. I would say that the walk descriptions in newspapers are quite often fairly hard to follow…

north face of penhill

So we crossed the pass between Pen Hill and Harland Hill to Carlton where lunch was declared in the grounds of the little chapel there.

jackies 2


After a bit more moorland walking over to the local gallops, a short committee meeting was held and the Northern Echo route was abandoned for an assault on the North face of Pen Hill where a break was had by the beacon, which seems to be collapsing a bit. Never climb on the beacon is my advice, even though you might find a bunch of flowers up there.  Avid readers with Very Long Memories might remember that we’ve been here before…. Here we met a family group having a bit of a ramble with their many dogs, one of which was a Dandy Dimble or something (Dandy Dimnont- just googled it…) – a sort of very furry sausage dog…

walking the edge of penhill

We followed the scarp edge of Penhill for a bit – a fine high-level trundle and then steeply down an old sledway to the Morpeth Gate road – best known for the fact that it doesn’t go anyway near Morpeth – and probably a drove road to and from the market at West Burton.

never climb on the beacon

A short diversion brought us to a high viewpoint on a crag overlooking Bishopdale. It was here that Dot the dog (not much bigger than a punctuation mark) viciously attacked a passing rambler who defended herself bravely with a stick. Her partner joined in by jumping up and down and whingeing. I’ve included several pictures of Dot the dog, just to demonstrate just how scary an approach from such a beast could be. Shortly afterwards, Dot had to be restrained and told off for being a naughty girl and running about daft whilst ignoring all instructions to come and get her lead on.

We finished the walk steeply back to the waterfalls and the pub at West Burton for jinkies.

It was about 11 miles and 2500 feet.

Several of the pics included in this blog post were provided by Jackie Ritchie, Dot’s boss…

i'll take that as a no, then

carlton moor

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Dunnerdale – Eventually

Bagging The Knott

We all agreed that it must be Tractor Tuesday. And then there were the roadworks…. and the navigational challenges of the Broughton-In-Furness City Centre traffic system that squirted the knipemobile out on to the wrong road. And the meeting of wing-mirrors up the narrow lane to Kiln Bank. Such were the delays that we started a bit late. We parked at Kiln Bank and quickly bagged Fox Haw – a big and rocky nobble on Brown Haw – a playground, frankly, teetering above Dunnerdale. “We” were me, the bro, the Dawg and Ria and the plan was to bag the three tops on the Brown Haw ridge going South, work a  way around to do White Pike and White Maiden and collect Pikes, Caw and Brock Barrow on the way back to the car. Some of this went quite well.

caw from fox haw

We took our time to bag various nobbles and lumps which might be the summit of Raven Crag and descended a bit for the better defined but less enjoyable “The Knott”. This does have a cairn and a fine view of the tide coming into the Duddon estuary. We’d spent two hours doing two and a bit miles.  So we lunched.

white pikes

The next part was probably fairly easy – a series of bridleways , some with a rocky surface with deeply indented and ancient ruts made by narrow carts by Jackson Ground and up by the River Lickle towards White Pike, which dominates the skyline and looks really really big. No, I mean, really big….   I was having some trouble getting my legs to work* and time was a-wasting, so a short committee meeting was held during which it was agreed that maybe we could go straight to Pikes and Caw and boycott White Pike and White Maiden altogether. So we did. or, rather, we didn’t.

glaur descends on coniston fells

summit of caw

Pikes and Caw, though, provided more rocky fun and specially good views of , well, everywhere… and the mist descended onto the Coniston fells and a cold wind started up and summer hiccupped and stuttered for a moment or two. Pikes and Caw’s lack of popularity probably only lies in their lack of altitude. It’s probably best for everybody if it stays this way. I probably shouldn’t mention them at all, really.

bruno considers dunnerdale

decending to brock barrow

The descent from Caw is quite steep and involves a short rockstep which is breeched by little gullies. Nothing too technical, but the gully I picked was quite narrow – too narrow for both me and the dawg, in fact, Bruno being enthusiastic about getting down ended up on my head as I slithered down through the juniper. This is probably not the safest way to descend a steep and scree-girt bouldery gully, I would have to say.

caw from brock barrow

Finally , we scrambled steeply up to Brock Barrow. Brock Barrow has a choice of two rocky tors which compete with each other for the priviledge of being the top.

And so, the final bag was bagged. We’d covered two new Wainwright Outliers, two more that I’d done before (Pikes and Caw) and a couple of Birketts. I now have just three Wainwright Outlying Fells to collect (I keep them in a locked shed in the Lower bailey at Knipetowers – just behind the kennels near the North Lodge….  )

We did about 8 miles and 2400 feet.


* I’m blaming the statins for the failure of the main leg and bum muscles to work properly. I’m giving them an unauthorised rest to see what happens…


Tuesday 20 August 2013

Pennine Way Middleton to Forest in teesdale (and back)

on a bridge....

Sunday’s walk up the Pennine Way from Middleton in Teesdale to Forest in Teesdale – and back again was the fourth out of five Durham County Council walks aimed at completing the bit of the Pennine Way that traverses County Durham.

low force   high force

I did the reccy on Friday. This is a figure eight route of just a bit over fifteen miles with the crossing point quite near to Bowlees.  Wanderers up Teesdale  might care to note that the cafe at Bowlees has re-opened after having been “done up” to a high standard. So – on the reccy, I allowed myself to be exploited to the tune of a cup of rosy lee and some chocolate cake – and on the Sunday, our small party of five (including Anne as steward once again) had a brief period of celebration in the sunshine with pots of tea, cakes, coffee, hot water, etc etc…

boot cleaning high force

So, our small and select band – almost lost in the car park in the sea of Richmond and Barnard Castle Ramblers who were off on a jaunt in a different direction (There wuz fahsands of ‘em Sarge…)

bleabeck force

The route is described by the map wot I put at the bottom of this post. Its not hard to follow and provides no difficulties for the alert navigator and his trusting followers. There are no dangers, apart from the occasional frisky cow and the huge drop off the path into the foaming and roaring Tees some sixty or seventy feet below at High Force and the organ donors motor bikers roaring up and down the B6277 on Sundays who may appear suddenly in the same manner as the Edinburgh train does at that railway crossing at Belford – only these are a bit quicker….

farmer seems to have let things get on top of him...

And – we found a source of sloes. I’m not going to reveal where these are, but there’s a significant supply – and, despite my moans about there being another shortage of sloes this year – I found yet more in Weardale whilst walking the dawg and our temporary foster-dog Freya just a couple of hours ago.

pw mton to forest

The autumn winds were blowing a bit on Sunday, so it’s a reminder that it’ll soon be sloe time, inevitably followed by sloe gin time. Yay!   Where’s me old Slade singles…?

I stuck a video in here as well – Bleabeck force in spate. Thanks to Graeme for some of the pics.


Saturday 17 August 2013

Teesdale Water Videos

Just testing me camera and how to post videos. No need for Terrybnd to lose any sleep...!

Hmmm - seemed to work quite well.  Here's another from yesterday's reccy walk up by the Tees. As you can see, the River is almost in spate

AS you can see, the video recording starts before I'm ready for it.


I ought to use more short videos on the blog, really - and the only reason I haven't done so far is that my computer was full and didn't have enough space to get the video file out of my camera and on to the computer. But my son's just built me a new computer with lots of space and speed and it's fan isn't full of ten years of dust....

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Penyghent Rites of Passage Again

penyghent 013

Last year, me and #1 grandson climbed Penyghent by the shortest route from Dalehead. This is a Knipe rite of passage started in 1958 when my Uncle Eric climbed Penyghent with my brother and didn’t take me. So I took each of my three kids up there, and now it’s time for grandchildren. There’s no compulsion – they want to do it. I get asked “Am I old enough to go up Penyghent yet?” A six year old is “allowed”. Elder children can also accompany their younger siblings for the provision of good hillwalking advice, mainly consisting of confirming that they have to do as they’re told and which rocks are the best for the scrambling.

lunch #1

And so, it came about that it was time for grandson#2 to climb Penyghent. He was bustin’ to go. So today, we went.


The day went well, I thought. Its just about a mile and a half from the verge parking at Dalehead to the summit of Penyghent. Lunch can be taken after about half a mile. This is followed by pushing the limits of traction on the limestone band, some energetic scrambling on the grritstone boulders and a bit of self-discipline on the gritstone band. A second lunch can be taken on the top. Today, grandkids spent some time chatting to a chap from East Yorks ( who seemed suitably impressed) and breaking stones “to make dust”.

the descent begins -- in a hurry... 

more scrambly bits

The descent was, more or less, a reverse of the ascent. More scrambling on the gritstone boulders was had. Holes were investigated and rocks containing small fossils or lumps of quartz were collected. Juncus was declared ideal for hiding in and the damp properties of sphagnum moss had a desultory investigation.

juncus contains two sprogs - but where...?

The next grandchild qualifies by age to ascend Penyghent in three years time. In the meantime, we might do Ingleborough or Wild Boar fell or, perhaps, Helvellyn…..although I did notice, and so did the childer, that I had some significant difficulty in keeping up with their rate of climb. They obviously don’t watch enough telly.

Monday 12 August 2013

Pennine Way Middleton to Baldersdale and back

hury reservoir

This is the second time that this walk has appeared on the Durham County Council guided walks programme, as part of a series of rambles aimed at completing the part of the Pennine Way that lies in County Durham.

I did the reccy about a week ago – just before I went off to Wales, in fact, and, on the day – yesterday – just six people turned up at the Outdoor Centre in Middleton in Teesdale and these, plus the steward David (who shall be this walk’s Compulsory Dave), made up the eight-strong party for the walk.


This is quite a good number for a walk, as it happens since it’s easy to notice if somebody’s gone missing, or has been attacked by a bull or has otherwise gone down with Trekkers Trots, Rambler’s Rash or, indeed, the more unusual LDP Limp.


I’ll just post a few pics. Both days were reasonable weather for walking, although the Sunday had a couple of breezy showers. Other than that, noit much really happened. On the reccy I had a long, long chat with a farmer who clearly needed to talk to somebody who didn’t moo or bark and we covered such common interest subjects as the dry spell, how the hay had suddenly shot up, the plague of horseflies and their effect on anybody who had a horse, the water levels in the reservoir, the vulnerability of Todmordon and Skipton to sudden summer floods and how much the dry-stone waller working up the fields a way might be getting paid.

near grassholme

romaldkirk moor

The most exciting thing on the actual walk was the bull that had tried and failed to face us down last year, was now romantically and fairly energetically engaged with a “friend” to show much interest in us.  Any photographs of this activity would have had to have some kind of adult guidance, so none were taken. He must be a very proud bull, though.

returning to teesdale

There’s a map below for anybody who feels like wandering around the route. Its fairly easy to follow and just a bit rough and boggy over Romaldkirk Moor. Go now for a fine crop of raspberries on the Teesdale railway line, or a bit later if you’re a fan of brambles (as I am, and since there seems to be no sloes this year, I think I might try some blackberry gin. I mean, what could go wrong…?


Incidentally, if you’re thinking of parking badly in Middleton in Teesdale, watch out for this traffic warden. He’s a nightmare, apparently…. no tickets, though, just extermination…. Happily, he’s not too bright. he asked me if I knew where the doctor lived. I think that’s what he said, anyway…

Its 13 and a bit miles and 1800 feet of up.

pw mton to baldersdale


Friday 9 August 2013

Quick bags and Duff Navigation – More Hewitts Ticked

tarrenhendre from tarren y gesail

I was quite pleased to rescue this trip from the doldrums. It was all my fault. The knipemobile needed an MOT certificate and I left it a bit late… then it rained a lot and some long-standing family stuff squeezed the far end of this particular tube so that just a couple, or , perhaps, a few days were available.

So, with a new MOT cert, a new coil spring and some  new roll-bar linkage thingies, I pointed the refurbished knipemobile across the A66 and down the M6 to Wales, turning up, eventually, after heading around in a small circle at one point , at the Erwbarfe campsite  a bit North of Devil’s bridge. I slung up the akto, inflated my blown Thermarest (I’m not getting another one of these!) and rushed off to a car park with an arch a little bit South-Eastish of Devil’s Bridge.

tarrens 005

Pen y Garn is just a simple trek on forest roads and a very very short heave up a few desultory contours on the edge of a huge wind factory (not one of the thirty-five turbines I counted was –a –turning today). Pen y Garn’s top has a trig pillar and a stone shelter built on the foundations of a huge and probably ancient cairn, most of which seems to have disappeared. There’s also a strange surfeit of fenced-off bits of moorland here, and, what appears to be a selection of scientific experiments involving plastic spikes on posts, ladders, and plastic markers of at least two different colours. There’s also some rather nice bilberries; small but juicy and quite sweet…

Pen y Garn’s main attraction, it seems to me , is it’s position on the edge of a rather interesting bit of wilderness. This is a huge and knipeless void, waiting to be filled with the sound of Ktarrens 003 nipe snoring in his akto late at night. It must be done…  not this year, though..

Its other attraction is really only for those who really like to see a lot of wind turbines. There’s a lot. No, I mean, really, loads… Swish swish…

The return to the knipemobile was a simple matter of following the outward journey – not very adventurous, but I’d had a long drive…

7 miles and 1800 feet of uphill…

That was Tuesday, I think…

On Wednesday, I went to Abergynolwyn and parked prettily in the Community centre car park. The immediate environs of Abergynolwyn, it turns out, is a paradise for anybody interested in industrial archeology. I wandered up the steep road to the slate mines/quarries and immediately got lost in the complex of holes and woodland. Most of the area is a new nature reserve with relatively newly planted woodland with lots of footpaths, and it is quite beautiful. The rights of way are spectacularly unmarked, difficult to find and hard to follow, distracted, as you are, by signs which want you to follow some kind of trail around the more interesting bits of the slate industry. After a few dislocations and teeterings over huge craters, I found a path, unwaymarked at it’s start and not really sticking very close to the line on the map. But it did go uphill, so I followed it. My aim was to emerge from the forest on the South-West side of a little Dewey (actually, quite a big Dewey), bag Tarrenhendre and then wander along the ridge to Tarren y Gesail. It soon became apparent that This Was Not To Be. My path emerged on the North-east side of the hill and, after consulting with a few of the hundred and sixteen blackflies who were fighting for the privilege of licking at my dripping forehead, a new plan was formed. I headed for Tarren y Gesail first, followed by what appeared to be a DofE expedition, complete with tinny musical accompaniment.

the wrong side of the hill

cadair idris

Eventually,m and with much pain, swearing, blasphemy , oaths, sweat, blackflies and melted bounty bars, I emerged at the trig/cairn which isn’t quite the summit of Tarren y Gesail. this has a lovely view of Cadair Idris and Tarrenhendre, which looks huge and forbidding from this point, specially to the veteran and ever-so-slightly worn out leg end with a floppy bounty bar.

the ridge

I retraced, back to the place where I’d emerged from the forest and considered that I could probably complete this walk tomorrow….  but, after  a bit of a rest, considered that I could probably bag the Dewey Mynydd Rhydd Galed – only fifty of your earth metres to the top anyway. I heaved myself up there.

The ridge up to Tarrenhendre didn’t look too bad…so I plodded on, meeting a load of kids running and, outrageously having a good time, on their way down – attended by just the one adult. One of the sprogs they must have been about twelve-ish, I suppose) explained how he’d almost broken his leg thirteen times by running down the hillside like that and that each time he’d put his hands down into the heather he’d been stung by a bee. I suspected that some of this may not have been entirely true.  They went on their way noisily and happily down the hill, as I plodded ever upwards.

the way down

I got there eventually, obviously, and followed a line of posts down the hill to the forest roads. this would be a good route excet that it does start to get into bother once it meets the trees. Hair is combed. Entanglements are had. Bare skin is scratched.

nant gwernol

Returning to the start is a simple matter on the forest roads. Quite low down, I opted for a wander along the old tramway that used to transport the slates to the main railway. This is a cracking walk and the river and woodlands are beautiful. It ends at a steep incline which must have taken some engineering brains to design, and the little railway station at Nant Gwernol. A short riverside path leads back to the knipemobile.

12 miles and 3600 feet of up. I’m not showing a map cos I’m not specially proud of the route. This could be done with a lot less effort, I think.

I camped that night at Minffordd and came home the next morning.

Thats another three Hewitts (and two Deweys) There’s just two Hewitts left to do. Oooer….   Nearly there..


Monday 5 August 2013

At Last! An Intermission!

It seems that over the last few days, I wasn't fated to go off to Wales for the bagging of Hewitts. But it appears that finally, at last, Things have Come Together and I can set off.  The "Things" were mainly the knipemobile who's MOT expired and, following an inspection, needed a bit of work . Unfortunately, this Bit of Work took from Friday till Monday AND, on top of all this, it's been chucking it down in Wales to the extent of several inches, so even if I could have set off, it wouldn't have been a lot of fun.

But now, the knipemobile is all packed up and so, early in the morning I'm setting off hopefully for Devil's Bridge for the bagging of Pen y Garn.

I ought to be back Thursday. or Friday if the spirit is willing...

In the meantime, here's the usual Intermission video. This is specially for lost sheep.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Going Forward

crosthwaite 018

In my position as Pieman Productions Director of Walks Planning and Kanine Kompanion Komptroller, it falls to me to decide which walking adventures I’m likely to get involved in going forward. (Incidentally, have you noticed the new Executive craze for saying the words “Going forward” – seems specially popular with NHS Chief Execs. I just thought I’d get a “going forward” into the pieblog just to make me appear that I have a vague idea what I’m going on about.)

bentley beetham 009

Anyway – Going forward, I’ve recently been asked by Durham County Council to put in plans for the winter 2013-14 guided walks programme and so, I’ve got  twelve walks for the Council between October 2013 and the end of March 2014. Five of these are new ones! (Obviously, this means that seven of them are old ones…….)  The brochure is at the printers! Clearly, whatever I do in the winter will have to fit around the dates of these walks. Going forward, I usually plan my year in November, which always seems like the end of the year to me for some reason, so I’ll be planning my main 2014 stuff around those dark and windy times…..

But I have a couple of ideas (going forward…) (doing quite well with the “going forwards” – I expect it’s starting to become just a bit irritating….)

d9 lochcallater lodge sign

Idea number one is not to do the TGO Challenge. I have stuff to do, but I understand that 2014 will be the 30th anniversary of the jollities and hospitalities mounted at Callater Lodge. I intend to be there. I may well take some extra supplies….  (This is a notification to anybody who would prefer to avoid meeting me in May, giving them a chance to design their route accordingly.)

So, I’ll be mooching around the Heelands during the TGO – mainly on a bagging quest (Marylin Munros) I may open cafe akto somewhere on a poplier route.

moffpeeb2 013

And, recent discussions amongst pals about a backpacking event in the Borders has prompted me to reserve a week or so for a wander around the area between the Tweed and Annandale.  So, that’s May and , probably June 2014 taken care of.

This year’s objectives are to complete the Hewitts – 2000 foot tops in Englandandwales with 30 metres of drop – I have only five of these left to do. On Sunday, I’m off to Wales again to bag three of these. September is for Dartmoor, leaving just the one top in North Wales for October.

gowbarrow 015

Another objective for 2013 was to complete Alf (Isn’t that ewe pretty..?) Wainwright’s Outlying fells. I have just five of these left as well. One should fall to the ticking pencil in August. The other four are in a lump around the foot of Wasdale. A weekend should see to these…

In between all this, I have four more Durham County Council guided walks to do in August and September and one walk (Tan Hill to Baldersdale) to do for the North Pennines AONB as part of the celebration of Alf (which one is Binsey again?) Wainwright's Pennine Journey.

Soooo…. going forward …(arf) I ought to be fairly busy. In the meantime, I’m off to Wales as soon as the knipemobile has had the work done to get it through it’s MOT.