Thursday 28 November 2013

Digital Denbighshire

Something baggable in Denbighshire

Is it all right if I use the word gruntled again? (see previous posts for a definition.)(but for lazy pieblog readers (if there ever was such a thing!) it's the opposite of "disgruntled") (lots of brackets here again by the way) (must try to stop doing this) and the reason for this gruntleness is that I get to put a bit of a plug on the pieblog about Things To Do In Denbighshire. Denbighshire, of course, is where I stop off to bag a Marilyn something on my way to our annual holiday in the far, far West of Wales. It's around about Denbighshire when I get sick of the driving and the dog needs a wee and the wife needs a coffee and a wee. So we stop and me and superdawg wander off for the ticking of something green and lumpy, usually in some beautiful limestone hill country. So I like Denbighshire in particular and Bruno is specially fond of it as well and the wife likes tea shops.
I'll explain more later why I'm even more gruntled than usual about this - but in the meantime, here's an infographic (I learned a new word this week) about Denbighshire with a link to the main website.
The Digital Denbighshire website provides information on attractions and activities in Denbighshire and is pretty easy to use and is self-explanatory...
Enjoy. (I'll shuttup now) (and stop using all those irritating brackets) (brackets are for shelves anyway) 
Click the link at the bottom!

Welcome To Denbighshire - An infographic by the team at

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Being Lost

aap blanchland 007
A few blogposts ago, I mentioned that I intended to raise charity money for Mind. I think it’s coming together. There’ll likely be a blogpost fairly soon which answers the bloggers dilemma about reviews and honesty and personal gain and what you can do with a blog when interfacing with marketing bods and all that sorta stuff…. and I have plans and plans for Cafe Akto – although I may need some help – anybody available Easter Sunday, armed with cakes, ready for a high (ish) level overnight and the ability to carry volumes of fresh water….?
In the meantime, in support of Mind and trying to understand mental health – here’s a pome from my pal who’s a pote. Its not easy, is it…? I’ve not asked for permission. he might like to comment….  or p’raps not….
Where Am I?
It’s boiling hot and stuffy
I cannot open the windows in Summer
Midges would bite me to death
I lie on my bed
I see two flashing red lights
Is it the tail lights of an aeroplane?
I occasionally see a helicopter outside
Are they coming to take me away?
Am I ill?
I’m supposed to be a member of the community
Living in the community
With the community
But four walls hem me in
Periodically alarms go off
I get woken up at 8 o’clock
Told to go to bed at 12 midnight
I share a kitchen and washing facilities
There’s a shared television room
A shared pool car
I know where I am
I wish I wasn’t here
I wish I was in a normal situation
I wish I was in control
I wish I was in control of where I was

Jules Clare famiss Pote.

Monday 25 November 2013

Synge and Birkett Duet

pieman and superdawg up skiddaw

This has nothing at all to do with a couple of transvestite musical comedians. Many pieblog readers will be familiar with yer Birketts – lots of Lake District tops, some of which are obscure and some of which are famous. Not many will be aware of Synge’s list of Lake District tops and the reason for this is probably because they’ve only just appeared in as a tickable list. I won’t be collecting these avidly, although, where they coincide with a Birkett – and the two lists have a big overlap, then I’ll be smug enough to claim two ticks instead of just the one.


And so, me and superdawg parked the knipemobile in the little car park in the outer suburbs of Threlkeld. We should have parked by the old sanatorium, up the road, but in a moment of doubt, and not wanting to drive up the lane to find the car park full, only to lose the spot I’d just spotted in Threlkeld (outer suburbs), I parked up. This added roughly two miles to the walk and also, incidentally, allowed Bruno to do a huge poo just outside somebody’s cottage as they were gazing out of the window. I bagged it up, obviously and toted it up the road like a trophy, to be hidden in some pallets for later collection, as I would be returning this way later.

path above glenderatarra beck

We plodded up the track overlooking Glenderatarra beck – a track which seems to have had some refurbishment since I was last here – I guess it’d be for the vehicles of the builders of the little hydro scheme which is being formed at the head of the dale.

lonscale fell from burnt horse

After a short banana and coffee feast on a handy boulder, me and the dawg heaved our way up the hill on to the first top – the newly-listed Synge “Burnt Horse”. I wasn’t too disappointed not to find and singed ponies, but carried on steeply up on to the first proper top, Lonscale Pike. This had a bit of ice for Bruno to eat. And it was, frankly, nithering up here on a freezing wind which sought out any costume chinks or gaps. We batterred on into the hillfog, joining the path to Skiddaw which by-passes Little Man and just goes up into the snow and even more persihing conditions on the top.

path towards skiddaw

little man

The top of Skiddaw was busy and Bruno soon made friends with some walkers who may have had open lunchboxes. I got the bothy bag out and pulled Bruno inside for him to serve his proper function of being a furry radiator whilst I scoffed the cheese butty and more coffee. We didn;lt stay long. One of the walkers took our picture and we left Nothwards to find the corner in the fence which would mark our launch point for the navigation down to Hare Crag. We found it, took the bearing and hurtled off down the slippery hill, emerging at about 650 metres through the bottom of the hillfog, apparently on a good course for our target.

cumbrian dingo spotted again 

I joined a path/atv track and splodged down to Hare Crag – our Birkett target for today. It’s a heathery lump – not unpleasant and quite a nice place for a comfy snooze on a warmer day, but today was not the day for hanging around.

track to skiddaw house

We splodged yet further downhill, crossed the boggier bit at the bottom and joined the track to Skiddaw House. This provided easy going, which was just as well because the light was just starting to fade by now.

skiddaw house is private, see..?

Skiddaw House is PRIVATE, apparently. The YHA don;t want any casual visitors, even though they could probably sell loads of tea and buns and chocolate and stuff to the walkers on the Cumbria Way and the dozens of cyclists who pass this way in a constant dribble. The path is diverted away from any such temptations and so, following this, we were soon back at banana boulder.


It took a while to go properly dark and I sat and watched the hillsides of Lonscale fell for some reason. I could see a little black blob, which I supposed was a walker, although it didn’t move. I imagined that it was a bit stuck on the steep hillside and signalled to it with my Petzl, but got no response. Rocks don’t usually carry Petzl’s, I suppose.

We met a couple with a black crossbred labrador-type dog who was carrying a tennis ball. This chap was delighted to meet Bruno, who growled a bit and was presented with the ball in response. His owner declared him to be “not the brightest dog” she’d had. They had a little play.

This walk was 13 miles and 3800 feet up ascent, and a bit more than I’d planned, so it took me a bit longer than I intended. And yes, I did collect the bag of poo and put it in the bin back in the outer suburbs of Threlkeld. Here’s a map. This shows the intended start point not the actual one. And it’s otherwise 90%+ correct. (We did a few extra squiggles)

hare crag


Saturday 23 November 2013

Bruno Bags Borrowdale Birkett

bruno says he's not seen my cheese butty anywhere

Having not quite finished the huuge bottle of gin used for soaking the sloe berries wot I got from Wolsingham and The Lleyn, I got up a bit late. I blame the dog for this, since he didn’t have his usual early morning wee in the back yard, preferring to lay on his back with all his legs in the air next to the radiator. So we turned up a bit late in Borrowdale and parked for three of your Queen’s pounds in the car park of the Scafell (Country) Hotel (They like to add the word “country” to hotels and inns in Cumbria since this doubles the value of a bed night)

a sunny bit of borrowdale

It was a sunny and frosty morning, except in Borrowdale where, at this time of year, the sun never touches large areas of the valley floor, thus ensuring a permanent white and glassy sheen to anything that doesn’t move for half an hour.

lining crag

We plodded up the dale, taking a gentle right-hand path alongside Greenup Gill which will be very familiar to Coast-to-Coast walkers. This path goes to Grasmere and hits bright sunshine once out of the shadow of the beetling Eagle Crag (where I once lost a pipe – if anybody finds it, you can have it as I’ve given up smoking)

Eventually, we turn up at the foot of Lining Crag – the target for today. This looks enormous from the bottom, but turns out to be a pussy-cat. Bruno likes pussy cats by the way, specially the ones that run away.

top of lining crag

Aaaanyway – the path to Lining Crag is steep and icy and a bit slippery, but we’re soon on the top where there’s a bit of a view. We scoff my lunch, during which most of my Lancashire Cheese butty has disappeared. Bruno looks a bit guilty for a short moment, avoiding my accusing gaze. he’s obviously in cahoots with my cardiac nurse. I resort to my banana. Bruno resorts to trying to look cute.

on the way up

We continue up to Greenup Edge where all is frozen ,except the bogs and head South up to High Raise. Most of High Raise has a thin cover of snow and a fair amount of ice and the grass is feathered with blades of rime. After skidding about a couple of times, I use the khatoola spikes, mainly for dignity. Bruno has his own spikes. One or two people descending don’t have any spikes and are proceeding gingerly.

summit area high raise

high raise

down to stake pass

The top of High Raise has another cracking view of snow-covered tops and a bit of hill-mist floating around. But it’s late and the sun is determined to hide behind Bow Fell, so we head down to Stake Pass, out of the snow and into the shadow and the biting cold of Langstrath.

It goes dark.

We defrost the car and go home.

We’re both glad we got up!

10 miles and 2800 feet of upnessity. And we bagged a Birkett – only 33 to go. (One of these is Pillar Rock – this may mean that I probably won’t complete the Birketts, being a scaredy cat when it comes to falling off Pillar Rock) (I probably need a patient friend with a strong rope and some tranquillisers)


Saturday 16 November 2013

Bernie, The Bolt! (Bolt’s Law)

walk leader gruntled by wind on bolts law
This was yet another Durham County Council guided walk lead by me (!)
Me and superdawg did the reccy last weekend – just before going to Wales, in fact. Bruno was chuffed when he realised that he was coming across bits of snow on the path, and he got even more chuffter (made up word) when we got to the bit where there was a general, but thin cover of the white stuff.
x wood and snow beyond
bruno chuffed (gruntled)
bolts law summit
The reccy discovered nothing of any dangerous note, except the path from Bolts Law to Ramshaw was in it’s usual disgraceful state – the stiles seem to be in the wrong places, are either decrepit or missing completely and, there’s a general unwelcoming air about a mile or so of the route. All off this will be reported to the authorities and, whilst I don’t like to criticise, whoever put a waymark on a barbed wire fence without seeing to it that a stile was installed and then leaving the problem for posterity and the Alf Wainwright Pennine Journey route needs a career review (in my ‘umble). Anyway, we’ll try to get it fixed.
bolts law flue
On the day (today), twenty people and a small dog turned up – including stewards Steven and Janet and steward-in-training Malcolm. So I was gruntled by this turnout (if you can be disgruntled when you’re grumpy, then surely, when you’re happy, you must be gruntled. Ungruntled people have never been gruntled and somebody who has a natural ability to cheer people up is a gruntler. If somebody interferes negatively with your gruntle quotient, then they’re a degruntler  Innit?)
rob hangs on to bolts law currick
Today, the weather was kind and it wasn’t too cold. All the snow has gone for now and it was windy to the point of being fun and not dangerous on the top of Bolts Law and we managed to find a small area of reasonable shelter for lunch a little way off the top. And the autumn colours around Ramshaw and in Deborah Plantation were specially gruntling. (….what?….)
For additional excitement, we ventured discreetly over the border into Northumberland, some walkers practising their Northumberland accents in case we were challenged by the border guards or we set off an alarm or something. But it all went without serious incident.
8 miles and 1350 feet of up.

Map shows faulty footpath - West side of the loop is the line of the right of way, East side of the loop shows the actual route which links to a) the crossing of an old leat which is otherwise uncrossable - with footbridge under water and an animal trap on the footbridge plus a derelict stile, b) an electric fence with masonary placed to allow crossing, but insulation on the fence in a different place(!)[but the fence isn't live!] and c) a barbed wire fence with an official waymark but no stile. Area around "shaft" has been landscaped and the map is no longer accurate. DCC definitive map link not currently working, so I don't know the path number at the moment. For ease of location, the top of Bolt's law is just a bit to the South.  What IS a grid reference anyway?

Friday 15 November 2013

Return to Mallwyd

bruno scratches his back on the precipice walk

Following Dawn’s recent adventures with the medical profession in That London, it was judged that we might have some tentative steps at resuming some camping and walking operations   (apologies, probably not the best choice of word) – activities.

And so, me and the dawg collected Dawn from the train station in Welshpool and hurtled off into the Welsh hills to turn up at the technically closed, but gently negotiatedly open campsite at Mallwyd. Here we pitched in the campervan area due to the general sogginess of the ground and the fact that taking the knipemobile onto the grass, would probably destroy quite a lot of grass. So the car was on hard standing, see…?

We camped prettily, causing only minor muddiness.

cwm cywarch

In the morning, we launched ourselves fairly enthusiastically up Cwm Cywarch, a specially beautiful dale within easy reach and the  potential starting point for many hillwalking adventures into the Arans.  The Cwm was extra specially beautiful today in it’s autumn colours and with a bit of sunshine trending almost into “warm”.

head of cwm cywarch

We did a little circular route of just over six miles and retired back to the tents for sausages and mash.

There may have been a bit of frost overnight, but me and Bruno had planned well and whereas I had a golight down bag with a fleecy liner inside a RAB bivi bag and a full-size hot water bottle plus a generous supply of cheap whisky, Bruno had only his thick dog bed with the pictures of bones on it (thick bed, not thick dog!) plus a fleecy blanket wot I bought in Skipton twenty five years ago, plus a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to prevent the scalding of a doggy bum and fortified with winalot, kibble and a dentastick; we had a cosy night.

precipice walk

more precipice walk

In the morning we all went to Dolgellau to walk around the Precipice Walk. This is a fab little walk with cracking views and a mountaineering feel due to a big drop on one side. But it pretty much sticks to one contour and circles a hill, thus providing a fine walking experience for not much effort. Its a grand walk. Everybody should do it.

even more precipice walk

After this we went to Barmouth for a paddle. Bruno found and lost a plastic ball. It had somehow slightly damaged his gum at the front. Maybe he chucked it away.

A wet and windy night followed during which it was found that my venerable two man/one-man-one-dog Wild Country tent which had been on two TGO challenges and many other adventures, was as waterproof as a bath sponge. So, not only was it raining outside the tent, but also….

barmouth from the precipice walk

We left for Welshpool a bit early (!) and had plenty of time for a huge Full English at a small cafe before pointing the knipemobile back towards England, leaving Dawn to get the train back to That London.

Quite a good trip. I need to reproof / seamseal that tent. Or, maybe some tent manufacturer needs a review? Eh?  Any chance?  Is that a “no”, then…?


Friday 8 November 2013

Loadsa Work for Charrriddeeee – Don’t Like to Talk About It

A couple or three themes have come together recently which have prompted me to set myself a brand new bloggy-type hillwalking target.
Thing #1 Relates to St Cuthbert. This may seem unlikely, but for a while now I’ve been nagged and even haunted, if these are the right words, by the prayer which is written before the shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral. I find this odd in a couple of ways, one of which is the fact that I can’t, or, rather, don’t claim to be a Christian, mainly because, to be frank, I just don’t “get it”. Anyway, be that as it may, one of the aspects of St Cuthbert’s prayer, is to “…care for those who are lost….”  I don’t think this has anything to do with navigational difficulties, or the fact that the prayer relates to sheep. (St Cuthbert may have originally been a shepherd) The prayer is more complex than this, but the rest of it refers to bringing those who are lost back to the fold and so  on, and , I’m not really sure if there is a fold at all…
Thing #2 Is the fact that quite recently, as dedicated blog readers will testify, several people threw money at me for taking my clothes off and tiptoeing carefully into the North Sea at dawn on the autumn equinox (i.e. just before it froze over for the winter) Donators raised £370 and I was, as I reported recently, quite chuffed about this. Notice that I didn’t say that I ran into the sea and any plunging or diving was right out.
pinhaw 003
Thing #3 Is the pieblog. Now the pieblog attracts a series of commercial offers, often based around people who want to give me hillwalking kit “for review” and the reward for this is a link to a retail website and some key words. Others are just a bit more vague about what they’re offering. A certain shop selling strangely industrial walking kit recently asked me to write a piece about what gear walkers should have and, looking at their website, a number of well-known bloggers have already made contributions.
geltsdale 020
Basically, pulling these three things together, the target that comes out is to raise charity money through hillwalking and blogging activities, or activities which may have some vague link between the two. I’ve chosen Mind as the charity, although a phone call immediately prior to writing this post coincidentally (although I’m starting not to believe in coincidences where this subject is concerned) pointed me toward the Samaritans. Both of these charities seem to fulfil the definition of “caring for those who are lost”
addlebrough 011
The first attempt at this was to reply to the shop who asked me to write a piece about whatever hiking gear they would need to go hiking without dying and I replied in terms which said that I would indeed write a nice piece including a pic of superdawg looking specially cute if they bunged me fifty quid. After an initial interchange whereby they claimed not to have a budget and in any case they supported Help For Heroes, they went quiet. Very quiet, in fact.  To save their embarrassment and, in the hope that they’re still thinking about it, I won’t mention their name. But the principal is established. I will use any free gear offers or requests for support for marketing efforts (cheeky buggers!) as a tool for raising charity cash.
aap and harehope 021
But I need other ideas. I’m short of ideas. I don’t specially like sponsorship, although I could do one sponsored event during 2014 I suppose. What I’m really after is something where I either get paid for doing something (e.g.writing something) on a commercial basis , or something where people actually receive some kind of service or benefit.
fell beck camp
An example might be Cafe Akto, whereby I set up the tent on a popular TGO challenge route and provide some refreshments for a small contribution. Its unlikely that this would raise any significant cash, but you get the idea. Cafe akto will probably be operating in Glen Mazeran for a few days in May 2014. Basically, I’ll do pretty much anything overground, underground, wet, dry, warm or shivery….
My target for 2014 is £1000 for MIND. It’s modest, yes, I know, but its three times more than I managed this year!
Thinking caps on, readers! Retailers can have a link or a plug for a spot of cash. Tight-arsed retailers who think that bloggers are so up their own bottoms that they’ll do anything for the fame of getting their drivel printed on a shopkeeper’s website need to reconsider the true nature of commerce which is not just to make money by any means possible, but by their activities, contribute in some small, or, preferably, significant way to the sum of human happiness.

Anyway, I’m off to Wales for a few days after the weekend, so there’s plenty of time for thinks..  I think..


Tuesday 5 November 2013

A Reccy at Holwick

wiggly fell dyke
I have a guided walk planned for March next year which goes up the path from Holwick and back to Bowlees on the Pennine Way and, as I’ve not done this route since Bruno were a pup (in fact, I believe it was his first walk) – I thought it best to go and have a look.
So the pictures on this blogpost are Wot I Saw On My Walk.  As you can see from the introductory pic, which is of the fell Dyke, an ancient and fairly wiggly dry stone wall, it was a bit murky.
wynch bridge
Bruno’s not keen on crossing the Wynch Bridge, remembering the accident he had in a previous life when he was off on a haymaking job and the chain broke and he drowned. Its more robust nowadays, I tell him, so he looks around pretending to be brave about it. After the pic, he crawls across to the other side
Like wot I said, it was murky. Here’s a bit of a moraine. Bruno remembers this from a previous life too, apparently. Around here , we saw six or seven cock blackcocks and a couple of black hens in a group. Some of them went up a tree. others just flew off. the picture I took only shows some black dots in a field. I’m not David Attenborough y’know…
holwick scar
Holwick Scar with a juniper hanging on to the crag. Bruno remembers when the juniper first arrived. So he says…
As you can plainly see, there’s a little bit of a dusting of fresh snow on the Green Trod. I expect it was a bit sloppy.
...and you're back in the room....
Bruno claims to remember a time when I was much more generous about sharing my Gala pie and is attempting his trick of willing this lump of porkanegg into his greedy face, even with the clingfilm still on it. After the incident with the Taylor’s pork pie the other day, he’s getting bugger all apart from the crumbs on the grass. Readers will be relieved to know that I removed the clingfilm before scoffing this pie. I also had two pickles in a  plastic bag. Nom. Nom.
high force
This is the view from the top of High Force, just before you plummet to an exciting but quite cold death.
near low force. quite pretty trees...
Nearly back to the start. We both think the leaves are quite pretty. Bruno has forgotten to sulk about the pie, probably because the pastry suddenly fell off as I was distracted for a sec……..
wynch bridge again
Bruno crosses Wynch bridge again. Note that his tail is UP. This means that he’s not bothered about the drop beneath his paws any more.
The walk is 7 [koff…] as you were… 8 miles. here’s a map. Its quite easy, really. The beck crossings are deeper than I would have liked.
holwick walk