Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Score on the Door for Two Thousand and Four (teen)

northumberland moors from hope fell

In the end me and the dog decided to go and bag Hope Fell which is a heathery top amidst heavily keepered grouse moors where a pooch is just not welcome at all. (Spaniels are OK, apparently). Based on the theory that all the local keepers would be busy organising chinless wonders to fire shotguns towards equally stupid and pointless pheasants and wouldn’t be venturing onto the higher parts where no ground-nesting birds would be nesting anyway, we thought it safe to have a short but illegal plod through a few hundred metres of heather for this bijoux TuMP. This was correct and I suspect that judging by all the gunfire coming out of local patches of woodland, that the pheasant population is somewhat smaller tonight that it was this morning. This doesn’t include the one that jumped out in front of the knipemobile as I was driving to Blanchland, although that particular one was living on borrowed time. Most of our walk was legally held on public footpaths and bridleways.

And that was it for 2014 (or, maybe 2015 if you read the previous post…  dhuhh).

We managed one tick today – to add to the 96 other ticks ticked in 2014.

And 8 miles to add to the 1146 other miles we did, plus 1200 feet of up, making 181000 in the year.

So, it was a reasonable total for a year in which I didn’t do the TGO Chally and failed to attend either the Ridgeway or the Isle of Man, both of which were on my List Of Fings To Do.

cafe akto glen mazeran

On the upside – The Virgin Money giving account holds £721 – or £828 with tax refunds or whatever they are – and there’s a couple of extras amounting to £60 from before the account was created. £370 of this came from Cafe Akto, which was quite good fun, too, but I didn’t ask for sponsors to keep the kit ON during the NE Skinny Dip. So, I’m relatively chuffed with this – and lots of thanks go to donators and specially Dawn for lots of gear and kit which was auctioned and to Andrew for various random donations and to Old Mortality for a donation, a visit during cafe akto, which cheered me up no end, and for a bit of inspiration when it was all getting a bit drab towards the end of the year. I still hold the contents of the Pietwoers Guardroom swear box in reserve, but I suppose that at some point I’ll have to cough it up. And thanks too to all the other peeps who put money into the account for various reasons.

And me and Bruno managed to finish the Wainwright Outlying fells list on Irton Pike in April. There was supposed to be a celebration but others couldn’t turn up in case they got their tent wet, or something……duhhh…

But attendance at Pieman-lead guided walks numbered 444 – mainly the same people coming back for more, though,  it has to be said. But the best “guided” walk just had me and Mick Catlin on it – a frontal assault on the North Face of Cauldron Snout. I think we were both pretty chuffed  with how this one turned out – you’ll have to read Mick’s Blog for more and better info here - mick's blog

blakethwaite bottom

And me and Dawn managed a successful trip into the Howgills before becoming blizzarded out of the Moffat Hills, almost washed away from the Shap fells (this was really really close, folks!), Influenza’d (me) off the Pennine Way Southwards from Middleton in Teesdale, blown off Cadair Idris – although this was mainly successful and finally, Through The Past Damply on a revisit to the Howgills. My advice is not to have your hols during a Knipe/Linney backpacking expedition.

superdawg in the snow

On the downside – I lost my lovely partner Bruno the Superdawg – just 38 days after he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma following a visit to the vet for an itchy ear. We didn’t manage to complete the bucket list and it all went far too fast – a lesson, perhaps, to get on with stuff while you still can. You may think that you have a tight grip on things, but you haven’t you know – you really haven’t.  You just don’t have time to relax – unless relaxing is high up on your list of Things To Do. (and why not…)

lucky the dog

This was all very lucky for Lucky the Pooch- a small black and white fighting dog who, gets spooked by unusual vegetables but otherwise gets his revenge in first should another dog dare to bark in his presence. Happily, he has a rosy view of humanity and he’s now fit enough for the hillwalks (although he does have a disturbing tendency to shiver with cold when we stop). And he really likes camping – actually, he really likes snuggling down and sleeping. This is A Good Thing. Lucky is an Irish dog, with an Irish passport and adopted in August through the Dog’s Trust. He has fighting scars on his muzzle, but he’s really very friendly. He is, though, a lazy git.

So that was that for 2014 – only the Hootenanny left to watch now.

Hope Fell was a good place to end on and we all look forward to a safe (ish) and happy 2015.

Hopefully (see what I did there) – I’ll see you all next year.

That’s tomorrow by the way……


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas (koff) (snuffle) Walks… (blerghh)

steps up the steep bit - by R Wear

Well that sorta wraps it up for 2014  and I seem to have revealed my plans for 2015 already

Its been quiet on the pieblog, not because I haven’t been walking anywhere but more that I just couldn;t be arsed writing anything  I’ve been really  busy playing with my Christmas prezzies (several bottles of Grannie’s Heeelan’ Hame)

But just to bring you up to date before I start a new jar of Vick’s Vapour Rub (yes folks, we really do know how to enjoy ourselves at Pietowers) and, maybe a sip of Ben-y-llyn (nice touch, that – naming a cough tincture after a small tarn in Snowdonia). 

narrow path by the wear

weardale river and rail 002

We did the Weardale Riverside and Railway walk, me and Compulsory Dave, Auntie Sheila and about 20 or so others, including a Very Small Dog. This was all very nice and it was sunny too although we did manage to lose about 25% of the procession in Willington City Centre (must be the complex one-way system). And, of course, me and the Pooch did a reccy a few days before, without losing either of us.

jo points something out...

And then there was the Wednesday walkers walk on Wednesday…or was it Saturday – I’m losing track due to all this Ben-y-Llyn and Grannies Heelan wotsit….   Anyroadup, this was lead by Jo for another 9 of us, including me, and two dogs, including Lucky.

This was mainly really cold and dry too, although it did have a pretty feeble attempt at snowing at the end whilst large parts of the rest of England had been plastered by the white stuff.

..back over the moors

Jo’s walk was from Blanchland over the moors to Devils Water and back over the moors a different way to Blanchland. It seems quite a long time since I’ve been to Devils Water, so it was quite nice to return there.

weardale river and rail 005

Other plans have been stymied somewhat by the fact that somebody donated a snotty cold and raspy cough – these may well have included an overnight up the top end of Weardale and a final bagging tick involving Hope Fell, back on the Northumberland Moors.  I have one day of 2015 left and so the question remains – will I go and bag Hope Fell tomorrow before it starts raining, or shall I go on the Wednesday Walkers 5.5 mile trundle at Tudhoe. I suspect the Tudhoe walk might be more fun…but a tick would be nice. Or shall I just stay in and cough at the dog?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Things To Do in 2015

superdawg destroys his final football

Yes folks, with Christmas barely starting here at knipetowers, the tree only just up, the lights now twinkling on the battlements and the advent calendar still in the shop, I’ve turned my attention to Things To Do next year. Whether or not I manage to do any, most, some or none of them lies in the lap  of the gods and whether or not the stent doesn’t suddenly unwind and force itself out through my left nipple (although this would provide a handy hook for clipping the dog to whenever I need to use both hands)

cafe akto glen mazeran

Anyway, this is what I thought:

I’m not doing the TGO challenge next year, although I have just sent off a huuuge cheque to Alan Hardy for the meal at the TGO Challenge Spring gathering at the Snake Inn in March. A visit to the far South like this will assist me in my long-term desire to climb Shutlingsloe. And I’ve identified a lovely little TuMP near Penistone for bagging on the way.

And instead of the Chally, I’m intending to introduce Lucky The Dog to long-distance walkies on the English Coast to Coast. We’ll be backpacking. Lucky might be lucky to get some Reuben-type kit for his birthday… whenever that is…

As training for this, I thought I might visit the Isle of Man and walk up it from the feet to the scalp whilst bagging any stray Marilyns, HuMps, Deweys, Sub-Deweys, and whatever else there might be on the way.

descending skelhill pen borders

In terms of general baggering – I’m within 9 ticks of finishing the Birketts, 13 Nutalls to go, 1 Fellranger (whatever that is) and 54 Marilyns to enter the Marilyn Hall of Fame (600 ticks). So its North Wales, Brecon Beacons, Shropshire, Galloway and the hills in the Southern Highlands between Loch Lomond and Loch Tay, plus the Isle of Man…  Some of these will be static camps, some collected whilst backpacking and some whilst on a “family” holiday. The main difficulty here is a gert big rock sticking out of the side of Pillar, which would only be attempted with some significant help and a tight rope. That’s a tight rope, not a tightrope. There’s a difference.

There’s other forces also enticing me back to some of the classic Lakes ridge walks or “horseshoes”. I’m thinking Fairfield, Kentmere, Langdale…..  that kind of thing.

windy on bolts law

And then there’s the Durham County Council rangering – one or two guided walks per month except in May and October – although the North Pennines Walking Festival will be in October, so I’ll likely do one of those, plus a bit of footpath vegetation-bashing. And a new walk to be added to the repertoire will be based on Kitty’s Wood and Crook’s new public footpaths and whatever has emerged from the landscaping of the open cast coalmine just up the road.

some girls in the nip

I’m also keeping the fundraising thing for Mind and have just renewed the virgin money-giving page. I’m not specially looking for donations but will continue with my strategy of “something for something” – I just need to generate some interesting ideas – I have a kind of equivalent of writer’s block about it at the moment….  But I will be doing the Autumn equinoxial  North-East Skinny Dip again at Druridge Bay which is a great laugh and also supports Mind – probably with an overnight bivi the night before, which worked well this year, apart from the fact that the soft sand gets everywhere and there’s still quite a lot inside my sleeping bag liner.

And then there’s general backpacking – I have one ad-hoc trip half planned just now – heading West from Knighton. Probably 3 or 4 days. There’s some rather attractive-looking ridges available apparently – according to the OS maps of Shropshire Lucky just got for Christmas [koff]

And thats it. Will I fit it all in? Will I be carried off from Druridge bay by a randy octopus (we live in hope) (actually, we live in Crook..)

So, that’s it. It’s always better to look forward than to look back. So, with the last few dregs of the first 10 litre box of Black Paw IPA winking at me knowingly from the bottom of a proper pint glass – here’s to the future. I’ll look back later on.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Wolsingham Wayfarers Christmas Weardale Wander

descending to frosterley2

We’ve been on a Wolsingham Wayfarers walk before haven’t we?

On Saturday we met up with 17 other peeps and four other dogs (although Lucky was cunningly disguised as a butterfly) (unfortunately we put his wings on upside-down) in Wolsingham city centre for a quick photo-call.

wols wayfarers award

It seems that Wolsingham Wayfarers have just been awarded  County Durham  Environment Awards for “Voluntary Group Of The Year” for their sterling work on the public rights of way around Wolsingham. And rightly so. This is  proper award,for actual stuff,  not like the ones recently dished out willy-nilly by a certain outdoor magazine.

nearing the efelent trees7

And so, eighteen of us, four dogs and a butterfly with antipodean wings wandered off up the Weardale Way to the Efelent Trees – a Weardale landmark – or, possibly, treemark so well loved, visible from everywhere in Weardale – and up the sides too  and often visited on this very blog.

The day was sunny and cold and things were either frozen or covered in snow or both, including the dog, so my lovely santa hat came was a boon for the scalp.

elephant trees!

Here, at the Elephants,  whilst shivering violently in the nithering breeze coming off a nearby ice cap, we partook of some hot mulled wine and several mince pies. This was good. In fact, normally I’m not usually a great fan of yer mulled wine having been put off it at one of my kid’s school  meet the teacher “do” back in the late  1980’s where it reminded me somewhat of the nasty medicine I once had to have when I was seven years old. Yes, these things go deep, folks. but the Wolsingham Wayfarers brew was really very nice and warming.

mulled wine and mince pie time

Having celebrated briefly, and cheered up no end by the hot booze, we were lead back down the hill to the Black Bull at Frosterley where we allowed ourselves another brief period of celebration.

A couple of miles of field paths later and we were back in Wolsingham with just sufficient time for me to go off to the Black Paw brewery to collect my Christmas beer and to fill up my loyalty card before being collected by Mrs Pieman in her jallopy. This was essential a) to remain within the law and b) to transport 20 litres of Black Paw IPA (which I am gear-testing at this very moment) You may detect a certain theme here….  It is, after all, the season to be merry.

visit the north pennines aonb!

high pennines in the distance

And, talking of awards – may I just draw your attention to Old Mortality’s Blogger awards….The Bloggies.   The man obviously has good taste and not  a fashion tip to be had in any of the blogs mentioned. [koff]click here to read  the bloggies   Its nice to be a bloggy and I’d like to thank my mother,my Aunty Mary, Mr Dolphin the Springfield School (Earby) caretaker in 1958 for his representation of Father Christmas,  the emergency services who do a wonderful job, the nurses and doctors, but specially the nurses, the coastguard, the scouts, the Ramblers and our postman who is not quite brave enough to come into our garden when Lucky is loose. Do I get a badge, I wonder?

Lucky’s not speaking to me at the moment due to the fact that he’s just realised that he’s been dressed up as a fairy or something.

The walk was just a bit less than 11 miles.

wols wayfarers route

Sunday, 14 December 2014

When It Snowed – Ireshopeburn Moor

matt climbs steep deep snow

The problem with my moribund PC is not yet resolved but it’s going to the vet tomorrow for treatment.

In the meantime, I’ve got this ‘ere laptop loaded with my pictures, documents, spreadsheets, livewriter, camera software, cuddly toy, cuddly toy…  but I’m a little bit behind with the blogposts.

the lane up to ireshopeburn moor

the route pt 1

the route pt 2

The snow on the Pennines has melted in a warm Atlantic waft although this may not last till the end of the week. On Saturday, it was still cold and beautifully with blue skies and white hills and a few days before that there was a couple of days of fierce winter weather perishingly cold winds, driving snow showers and lots of ice and it was in just such conditions – probably because there were such conditions, actually, that I left the pooch at home with a kong full of cheese (you’ll have to look up “kong” to fully appreciate this statement) and slithered off up  Weardale to Matt and Rachels mountain hideaway for a brief foray into the wastes of Ireshopeburn Moor.

clints crag gorge

I had to leave the knipemobile by the phone box in the valley bottom since the road up to the eyrie was white and slippery – a good start…  and, I’d left the MOD snowshoes that I’d acquired at home – which turned out to be a mistake.

matt indicates home

shudder brought snowshoes and walking poles and four huskies

Hennyway, we crunched our way up the lane onto the moor, occasionally but brutally peppered by showers of sharp ice. And so, now sporting Propah Goggles (in order to see) – we wandered over by the Clints Crag gorge for coffee and then over the beck and then steeply up through occasionally deep snow to a locked shooting box quite near The Causeway by which we returned to the relative warmth (about –2C) of Upper Weardale.

shooting box

The dog wouldn’t have coped with the snowy squalls – he hated similar conditions on Killhope Law but he might have enjoyed the deep snowdrifts. And I’m looking forward to playing with my snowshoes… and, maybe a sledge for the descents… Ah well, maybe it’ll all come back.

let us in

We did a bit less than 7 miles. Bits of it were outrageously hard work. One advantage to living up here, and not having one of those “job” things, is the ability to take advantage of snowy stuff – or anything else interesting – at very short notice. I only mention this to make you feel really jealous, really…


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Ireshope Moor in the Snow – Testing testing…


I’m having trouble with my PC and I’m using a laptop with not much software on it…innit?

So, this is just a test. If it works, some pics taken today on a very snowy and stupidly cold Ireshope Moor will appear below. (Goggles worn cos of driftiing snow and stinging hail/snow)

If it works, I might just post some of my own pics

If it doesn’t I’m going to sit in a corner and sulk.



Monday, 8 December 2014

Deja Vu - Similar Walks on Killhope Law

snowman and very smal reindeer on killhope law (brrrr)

Last January, during the mildest winter since the ice melted, me and Superdawg (remember him?) walked up Killhope Law via the Carriers Way on a perishing cold day in a dusting of snow – and then we walked down the other side , visited a currick and then walked back along the road to Dirt Pot.

superdawg and the carriers way

lucky and matt set off up the carriers way

Yesterday, me and Lucky, and Matt, walked up Killhope Law  via the Carriers Way on a perishing cold day in a dusting of snow, then walked down the other side and walked back along the road to Dirt Pot.

Neither walk was deeply planned. Deja-Vu, eh? (worra fine album that was by the way)

road conditions on the way to allenheads

Soo, I collected Matt from his moorland hideout and we slithered over to Allenheads, abandoned the car on some ice and tottered off, shivering slightly, to the summit of Killhope Law where the mother or all blizzards started.



me and the pooch at thge currick

Matt made for the trig and the big stick thing that adorns Killhope Law’s top whilst me and Lucky cowered behind the currick as huge lumps of hard ice hurtled by horizontally at some significant speed. After Matt had satisfied himself that he’d bagged everything baggable on the summit, we repaired to the derelict shooting hut a bit down the hill for lunch.

the hut (january)



Lucky shivered and whinged inside the hut as we scoffed and Matt boiled something spicy in a bag. Lucky seemed happier outside in the storm and sat and watched the flakes go by whilst occasionally running about a bit daft.

lucky likes it outside

Our original plan was to walk along the wide and boggy ridge to Middlehope Moor, but sense prevailed and instead, we walked a bearing to Doctor’s Hush and down to the road which we used to get back to the knipemobile which was still there.

back to dirt pot

Luckily, road conditions had improved somewhat and an easier drive back resulted.

We did five miles.


killhope law dec