Wednesday 29 January 2014

Money for Mind – How is it going?

don't touch the face, anything but the face

I’m just off up the Borders for a couple of days for a family booze-up  small but bijoux celebration and, in view of a projected lack of pieblogposting over the next couple of days,  I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a little bit of feedback on how things are going so far with the money-raising project for Mind.

I couldn’t help noticing that Gayle has a certain affection for the Excel spreadsheet and so, I thought I’d have a go at one of these too. You may consider the chart below as useful as a waterproof teabag, but readers, I’ve struggled with this for hours and hours. In fact, I didn’t have a beard when I started and look at me now.

While I’m away, I may well get to bag the odd Marilyn and, maybe, a Hump or a Tump or even a very steep but reasonably friendly Law.

Anyway, here’s the chart:


piedosh jan 14

I think this is quite good so far and I’d like to thank everybody who has koffed up some spondoolies in some way or other – in fact , the spondooly koffing sources are approximately as follows:

Donation for Digital Denbighshire £ 50. 00

Personal donations including gift aid £40.00

Gear auctions/sales as donations £136.25

This is pretty much on target so far. So, I’m chuffed and gruntled and even a bit consolate.

In the meantime, a sojourn by the briny just a bit South of the Forth is at the seafront of my mind.

dunbar harbour

Link to virgin money giving site is here    just in case anybody has the urge to top up the total or, maybe, round it up a bit!





Sunday 26 January 2014

Over the Tops to Rookhope and a Message for Alfie

upper bit of middlehope burn
Me and the Dawg did the reccy for this DCC guided walk the other day and found some footpath issues detailed in the previous blog post. The County Council Rights of Way peeps replied to my email saying that they’re monitoring the path and that they’re planning some works. This is good.
superdawg on slit wood tramway
The reccy was done in windy sunshine which was quite nice if you got behind a wall out of the wind to eat the Lancashire cheese and pickled red cabbage butty wot I had to eat in a suntrap out of the wind at the top of Scarsike Head.
towards slit wood
On the day (yesterday), there were fourteen of us including me and the two stewards Janet and Steven – no compulsory Dave today, but instead, we had a small collie pup who liked sticks and trying to bite puddles.
highest point on the walk
We started from Westgate in fast improving weather and soon had blue skies and shelter from the howling gale inside Slit Wood. The collapsing footpath posed no problems and it wasn’t till we started climbing over the moor that the wind made itself felt – luckily, it was more or less behind us and so, a wind-assisted, slightly staggery ascent was made.
nearly at rookhope
And then it started raining a bit. By the time we’d squeezed as many people as possible into the bus shelter in Rookhope for lunch, the conditions were getting quite lively. And these got livelier as we passed High Bishop Seat and battered on towards Westgate. The driving rain turned to driving sleet and, basically, we got  very wet and quite muddy. The dog seemed to enjoy it, though.
high bishop seat
And so, a slightly ruffled and soggy fourteen-and-a-dog staggered back into Westgate.
Its not a bad walk – the pub at Rookhope seems to be closed – hopefully on a temporary basis. It’s nine miles and here’s a map for anybody who fancies it for a stroll.
and then we came to a fork in the road..
I’ll be giving this one a bit of a rest as far as Durham County guided walks is concerned – I’ve done it three or four times now – which means six or eight times with reccies – and that’s enough of that for a while.
Message for ?”Alfie” – We found your boots where you’d reversed your car over them. They should be at Northumbria House by now. If not – send me an email and I’ll investigate their whereabouts. They are safe, though! And if it’s any comfort, you’re not the only one to accidentally abandon kit on that same day. Prolly just a phase of the moon… I do this sort of thing all the time, in fact.
rookhope walk

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Footpath No.10 Westgate (Slit Wood)

slit wood
Yesterday, me and superpooch walked the route of next Saturday’s Durham County Council guided walk which is a 9 mile route from Westgate – over the tops and to Rookhope and back along the Weardale Way. And part of this route goes through the very lovely and quite interesting Slit Wood.
Now Slit Wood has the remains of at least two lead mines – one of which has had a bunch of money spent on restoration and preservation quite recently and so, footpath 10 is quite important for this alone, apart from the fact that it’s very popular for Weardalers and their children and doggies and it’s quite well know further afield.
fp 10 succumbs to middlehope burn
And I found that some footpath 10 is either falling into the beck or is being covered by a landslip.
So I took these pictures of some of the industrial archaeology in the wood and some of the difficulties that the path is now experiencing.
I told the rights of way peeps at County Hall, obviously and they’ve replied saying that they’re monitoring the path and are planning some works. Which is good.
Hopefully, key bits of FP10 will still be there on Saturday.
A lump of FP10 about to dive into Middlehope Burn
Evidence of the testing of rock drills in the smithy doorway at Slit Mine
Remains of the smithy
This culvert defies gravity. The dog defies all attempts to get him to walk to heel
Maybe something to do with the hydraulic engine?
Footings for Armstrong hydraulic engine
Wheel pit and dog uninterested in wheel pits
Main shaft – capped with concrete. Shaft has shuttered in at 95 feet depth. Don’t jump up and down here…
Slit Vein Hush
Stile incorporates tramway rails
Gloopy landslip
Wet level Middlehope mine
Dam and tramways Middlehope Mine
Plants in the stream emanating from the Middlehope mine level

More about this route after Saturday’s walk! (Starts at 10:00 at the layby with the phone box on the A689 Crook to Alston road at Westgate – bring butties and a camera)

Sunday 19 January 2014

Whinlatter Birkett Baggings

Bruno recently pointed out that I had somehow missed a couple of Birketts in the Whinlatter area – one Graystones – the Birkett top, not the Wainwright top (there’s a difference) and Seat How. I think I remember trying to find Seat How once and failing in deep, deep heather, midgies, blackfly, horseflies, bog and trees…..
graystones (birkett not wainwright)
So, it was with a determined and jutting chin, that we turned up at Spout Force car park with lots of pretty light s flashing on the knipemobile (due for a service – the one about the brake linings was a bit worrying, what with the speeds on the A66 an all that…). I liked the one which says “Service!” .It  was probably a catering van in a previous life, I expect.
grisedale fells
Anyway, the route up to Graystones (Birkett not Wainwright top) is a huge heave from the beck . It took me ages. Bruno was first to the summit cairn… Thigh muscles ached and burned at the same time…
broom fell
And then we had a nice, if sloppy in parts, wander over Broom Fell and to the top of Lord’s Seat. Everything going well so far, and the ragged undersides of today’s clouds made everything look a bit bigger than it actually is. But nice – everything was nice -note clever use of a dash there – I’m just trying out dashes on recommendation – see the comments on the previous blog post – the one about raising spondoolies by blagging extra stuff from gear companies – but I digress – as I say [I’m getting a bit fed up of dashes, now by the way] – as I say, everything was good till this point.
I seem to remember, one sultry August day some years ago, trying to find Seat How from here. I seem to remember a debacle of insect bites, dripping skin and sweaty pants and failure to identify anything that looked vaguely like it might be Seat How. This time there was a new path heading in roughly the right direction. Bruno was confident. We embarked.
lords seat
After a while, it seemed that the path had abandoned it’s quest to lead us to Seat How and was now heading in the approximate direction of Glasgow. We abandoned the path for a more basic, muddier one, heading in the rough direction of Penrith – a more Seat-Howish direction, in point of fact.
seat how. it is!
Suddenly, it started going downhill quite steeply. This was wrong. We contoured on a made path and found a line of muddy footprints heading back uphill. Baggers prints. All a we needed was some bagger spoor as evidence that we were on to something. We reached a kind of top hidden behind a tree. There was a small cairn. The excitement was almost detectable.  This was Seat How. No, really, it was. Honest. I’m having the bloody tick anyway.
bruno teaches a lesson to a stick
We made our way towards the Whinlatter Visitor Centre, only going wrong twice and, ultimately, attracted by the sound of kids playing, dogs barking and traffic…  er……? trafficking (?)
Anyway, we got there eventually and followed National Cycle Route 71 and the main road back to the start.
It was about 9 miles, depending on exactly where we went, which is a bit vague at the moment…


Friday 17 January 2014

Bloggers Unite – Reviews and Plugs

For no good reason at all, I will illustrate today’s talk with pictures from today’s walk up Teesdale wot me and the Dawg did for the bagging of a “Four” known as Millstone Grits in which I broke the bagging duck of 2014 (although its not a proper tick, really…)
Since about Christmas, you may have noticed that I’ve adopted a new policy with regards the gentle but constant stream of emails I get from SEO’s and marketing companies and, occasionally, shops or manufacturers, to plug their bit of kit or their on-line shop or whatever. Most of these have nothing at all to do with hillwalking or the consumption of delicious pork-based products encased in fine pastry (often served with peas and gravy) (you catch my drift) (there it is with the brackets again) But some do….
This new strategy was intended to raise money for charity and basically it is this: Simply, I ask for a fee – usually fifty quid. If they plead poverty of budget and it’s a review, I ask for as much stuff as I can cheekily get away with and then sell the surplus – I’ve used which has an auction facility to effect some of this.
People who pay a fee, pay it direct into Mind (by ringing them up) or by using my page on the virgin giving site. This, I hope, will avoid any issues with income tax. People who buy stuff also pay direct into the virgin giving site, the advantages of which are that virgin moneygiving send me an email whenever anybody pays in, they add it up for me, payers can increase their donation by clicking the gift aid box  and payers can’t get their money back once they’ve paid. And once they have paid, I send the stuff. My contribution is the postage, of course (too complicated to work a way around this…)
Sooo, my plea to Outdoor bloggers who also get gear for review or get asked to plug stuff is – ask for more. These peeps are getting us on the cheap. Don’t be satisfied with just the baselayer top – ask for the long-johns as well, in fact, ask for two full sets. Or ask for a fee. I mean what’s fifty quid to yer average gear manufacturer.
What you do with the money is between yourself and your conscience.
And if you think whatever it is you’re reviewing is rubbish, then say so.
I meanter say, are we doing outdoor blogging to get free kit? I don’t think so. (I’m not sure exactly why I do it, but whatever it is, its not for the kit) (I probably just like to show off and see how many page views I can get) (specially if I get more than Mr Sloman) (which doesn’t happen very often) (they should take brackets off these keyboards)
It does need outdoor bloggers to form some kind of critical mass on this approach, though – otherwise, cheapskate SEO’s will soon get the drift and go off to find bloggers who will roll over for a pair of thermal undies.
Just to remind folks, though, that you don’t have to give me a pair of socks in order to qualify for the honour of donating on my virgin money giving page . Oh no… you can sooth your conscience for eating all that hidden chocolate supply, unreasonably insulting the postman, frightening a lollipop lady or whatever it is by clicking here and then clicking “donate now”  Insulting remarks, banter, personal messages or  excuses etc can all be left in a comments box as well, so even an insult might be worth a couple of quid.  And don’t forget gift aid!
Bloggers Unite! Ask for more and raise cash for your favourite charity. Don’t just do it for nowt! And lets raise the price of a gear review and do something useful with the proceeds. Even if you don;t really want to review the workpants or the fabby new hikers knife from New England – ask for the money. If you don’t want to do it, ask for a lot of money (I asked for £250 one and they quickly went away)  They’ll soon get the message that this advertising/marketing stream is no longer free.
Since November, I’ve raised just over £200 for Mind using this approach. OK, it might not be a stunning sum, but its money they wouldn’t otherwise have had. And I feel just a little bit smug about it anyway (it doesn’t take much…)


Thursday 16 January 2014

Guided Walk Cowshill Upper Weardale

on the reccy...

When I thought up this walk – a couple of years ago, the idea was for easy walking across deep and hard neve under blue skies….  and the nearest we got to it was last January when it was a bit snowy and frozen, but not quite there…. One day, though…  Yesterday, it was just driech. The forecast, in fact, was a damp one so I was a bit surprised when 25 people turned up at Cowshill, including the stewards, Compulsory Daves (x2) and Jane.

gloomy start...

So we set off – me in my new Brasher Hillmaster GTX boots that I won (yes, folks, i got lucky) in a spot the obscure ford in the Howgills competition in Lakeland Walker. A fine magazine , specially when It supplies me with new boots. I was in desperate need of these, as it happens, since everything else I have for hillwalking footwear leaks like a….leaky boot…..

DSCN1008 DSCN1009

Me and the Dawg had done a reccy a week before in actual sunshine and, since the sheep were all having a meeting down at the bottom of the hill about the financial crisis and whether or not bankers should get 100%+ bonuses, Bruno had a good old run about….. 

DSCN1043 P1120930

Anyway, both walks went reasonably well, I thought, and on the reccy, there was an unusual sight of half a dozen deer grazing in a field at Wearhead. They saw me and the dawg and noted our presence and just kept right on eating the pasture. I took four pictures of them, all of which are blurred – it was going a bit dark at the time. Anyway, they’re not worth publishing here, so I haven’t.  If anybody wants a blurred picture, contact me at Pietowers. There’s a discount for the full set. We can haggle.

there's fahsands of 'em, sarge

There’s a map below for anybody determined to have a go at this walk – its got nice views down into Upper Weardale and you can practise your map reading and pacing on the little traverse across the moorland. Baggers can bag Middlehope Moor as well, if they want. Its a bit boggy in just a few parts. I’ll probably retain this walk in the winter programme, if there is a winter programme! The walk is just under 9 miles..

Thanks to Graeme Ferguson for a couple of the pics (and for the odd nip of sloe gin – don’t dilute it, Graeme, it’s fine as it is….)

And I had dry feet at the end, which was nice.

burtree fell