Tuesday 29 April 2014

Bruno – Update

addlebrough 004

The bad news is that Bruno has Lymphoma. This is a serious life-ending condition for a dog (in fact, it’s a life-ending condition for most animals).

So, in consultation with the vet, and, in view of Bruno’s senior status in the number-of-years-still-alive department, I decided not to have a referral to an Oncologist and/or to get into chemotherapy which would likely make him very ill and probably wouldn’t extend his life all that much anyway. – I’ve decided to allow a fairly aggressive treatment by steroids which might extend the lad’s life a bit, but only provided that there’s nothing much in the way of seriously unpleasant side-effects and, I’m advised that this treatment is much more comfortable. The only other alternatives were to do nothing at all or to give up the fight now, neither of which I could do.

cross fell 004

Bruno is, as I write,  happy and alert and calm and playful and he seems to be symptom free (although every cough or raspy bark, or period of heavy breathing, or even a twitch, seems suspicious)  and we’ll just continue like this for as long as possible.

But the prospects for much longer than a few months seem unlikely. Its all a bit depressing.

But we’ll do our best to make sure that Bruno’s end of life is as happy and comfortable as possible  and that whenever I have to make the last decision it will be at absolutely the right time(which is sometimes much more than we’re allowed to do for people).

In the meantime, me and the Dawg are of to Santon Bridge tomorrow to bag my final (and Bruno’s final!) Wainwright Outlier and , at the weekend we’ve plans camp near Sedbergh for a little Fight Club Hikering in the Howgills.

I’ll still be doing cafe Akto in the Highlands during the TGO challenge and I’m hoping that he’s still OK for serious walkies immediately after this.

The immediate future is uncertain. Its a bugger, innit? But this is what happens with dogs.

He has his steroids wrapped up in boiled ham by the way. This evening’s tablet fell out onto the kitchen floor. He ate it!

I’m not publishing comments linked to this post by the way – so don’t comment…!

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Bruno’s Health Scare

aap crook 012

I’m a bit distracted at the moment, partly due to an invasion of grandchildren into Knipetowers( how did they get past the specially recruited manic killer guards?) and substantially by a worry about superdawg.

baybridge dvcrs walk 010

The other morning, I noticed him give a yelp whilst scrattin an ear and, when I petted him, he yelped again. Orf to the jolly old vet’s we went…The issue is that the vet (nice lass…) discovered that all or most of Bruno’s lymph glands are swollen and so, did a blood test and a biopsy and I’m waiting nervously for the results.

cross fell 011

He’s OK, though – he’s alert and playful and occasionally noisy and without any symptoms expect for a slight cough.

wales2011 020

I love this dog. But I might have some dangerous and difficult decisions to make quite shortly. I’ve sort of lost concentration on other things just now. There could be a bit of an intermission here….

Friday 18 April 2014

Bruno’s Guest Post – Dunnerdale Baggings

dozing off...
My view is that the illustrations on the front of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother album are probably the scariest thing since the vet’s needle…….  I mean, its got huge cows on it. I tend not to get on with cows…. I mean they’re often a bit frantic….


Anyway, Pieman let me drive to Kendal where I visited the bro’s house for sweet biscuits and to pee on their rockery. Ria turned up a bit later and …  (did you see that cat?!,)_  we all went off to Dunnerdale where we parked near some farm dogs and walked over some lovely squelchy mossy stuff and up a hill which I detect was called “The Pike”. Some sheep ran away. I noticed that.
stamping on the top of bigert
Later, after a chocolate cake break, of which I had absolutely none and had to hide in the grass due to the wind in my ears, we came back down the way we’d went up, in fact, I could pee in exactly the same places and thus renew my scent, just in case it’s …what was that…?
We crossed a fence. Pieman lifted my over. I could probably have jumped over..but he lifted me over…  Very embarrassing and a bit painful…
ignoring hesk fell
  1. We got to the top of another hill – possibly called “Bigot”, or “Bigert”. I have no idea why. There were shepherds out driving the sheep – rabbit! -  off the fell. Some foxes had  passed the night before. One had done a poo. They’d been all over the place. We trogged off up the hill and there was an egg and tomato butty. Pieman let me have a bit of crust with a tiny bit of egg stuck to it. I suppose he thinks this is enough, the bastard.  Zzzzzzzz  huh?
moggling a jacket
There was a “moggling” session where Pieman wore a new jacket and the Bro took pics. I noticed that Pieman kept the jacket on afterwards. He now had three jackets on. Just as well, it was getting cold and we climbed into the fog and some drizzle.

This PHD Minimus dryshell down jacket is on auction over at the walkersforum and, if it's sold, proceeds will go direct to Mind through the virgin money giving page (which has a link at the bottom of this post. The walkersforum auctionny bit is here
holehouse tarn
We pressed on into the howling blustering ear-lifting gale, passing rocky places which we visited briefly and then steeply downhill to some bogs and some cows and some dogs and, finally, back to the car, nearly ten miles later, and all on the mearest tiny crust of bread and an atom of egg, and a few sweet biscuits. I noticed that somebody on the Isle of Man opened a bag of beef and onion crisps and somebody else, down in Workington was grilling cheese. You notice these things on a strong breeze….
devoke water
Luckily, we went back to Kendal where more sweet biscuits were provided and I had a nice long snooze in the back of the knipemobile before we returned, hours later to knipetowers where the head butler’s assistant butler’s helper provided some proper scoff.
I think we did just short of  - rabbit! or squirrel? – ten miles…
There’s a map.
Apparently, Pieman now has only one Wainwright Outlying fell to do. I’m not all that sure why this important, but it is. maybe there are plans to make the last one (Irton Pike) by getting really drunk afterwards and eating steaks.. 
the pike

Tuesday 15 April 2014

High Street – The Riggindale Eagle and Bruno Eats The Last Bits of Snow

driver and navigator, bruno spots a pussycat.
In a casual moment somewhere towards the last dregs of the bottle of Californian merlot wot I got from Crook Boozerama, Bruno casually mentioned that a) It was time for his tea and b) He’d heard on Twitter that there was a still a small patch of snow on Mardale Harter fell and wouldn’t it be a good idea to go and eat it and generally rough it up a bit before it melts.
harter fell from haweswater
And so, the very next morning (That would be Monday), as I snoozed in the back,  Superdawg steered the knipemobile up over Killhope and Hartside to Penrith and down to Mardale to park prettily amongst crowds of youthful (and some not so youthful) backpackers with Very large rucksacks. There wuz fahsands of them and I remarked in these terms to a chap who’d parked next to the knipemobile and who was about to set off on a family wander around the hills with….family. We pontificated that it was probably something to do with the Duke of Edinburgh or some kind of Rucksack Rally.
polite group ahead
So, we set off in the general direction of Riggindale, passing through a polite group of about ten heaving along under their regulated and listed piles of official and heavy-looking gear. One lass thought that my suggestion of loading the lad at the front’s rucksack with extra boulders, since he obviously had some kind of energy-surfeit problem, was a good one. We had a brief discussion as to how this would be achieved and resolved to wait till he’d gone off for a wee, when the dirty deed would be done. Several handy stones were identified as being suitable.
high street from kidsty pike
Me and the Dawg  turned off up the steep path to Kidsty Pike, closely followed, at first, by another two similarly encumbered gangs of yoofs. But they ran out of steam quite soon  and stopped to look at maps and point at things. The first group only arrived at the top of Kidsty Pike as I left, having had lunch. Having still got bits of Man Flu (have I mentioned this?) I was a bit smug about this, what with being an old codger and so on.. but with only a range of weatherproof jackets and a flask of fair trade coffee in the rucksack and not having to navigate all that much, which takes time to do,  I was at some advantage, I suppose.
high street
I bagged Rampsgill head yet again and headed towards High Street, keeping to the edge for the nice view, when I spotted a large bird hurtling – yes, hurtling from the general direction of Rough Crag and , apparently, about to have a serious collision with the middle-level slopes of Kidsty Pike. Then, only a foot or so off the ground, it turned and sped along the contours, putting up several crows and a raven who then proceeded to try to mob it. It was last seen heading towards Haweswater. If this wasn’t an eagle, it was a bloody big buzzard.
kidsty pike
Well chuffed with witnessing these antics, we quickly bagged High Street and continued to Thornthwaite Crag for lunch in the sun and out of the perishing wind.
who will buy this jacket?
I have a PHD Minimus dryshell jacket for auction, compliments of Dawn, and I needed a picture or two for the walkersforum auction section. So I took a selfie. As a marketing picture, though, this was a failure. I will try again later this week. Its a crackin jacket, though….  ideal for the backpacking and generally keeping warm.
ill bell from harter fell
clearing the snow
After lunch we headed for Mardale Ill Bell and Harter Fell where Bruno’s intelligence (I use this word lightly and with only a tinge of sarcasm) proved correct and there was, indeed, a small and scruffy patch of snow, some of which he ate, some of which he dug up, and some of which he had a wee on. I expect that this small patch won’t be there for much longer. On the way, we met the family from the car park, but to my embarrassment, I didn’t remember them and had to ask if we’d met before… (dhuhh) (I’m very bad at names and faces, in fact, on really bad mornings, I wonder who that bloke is in the bathroom mirror…)
Harter fell came and went and we returned to the car park on the Gatescarth path – which seems to have been widened enough for an ATV , or, maybe , an adventurous 4WD. I don’t remember it being this wide.
small water... far away...
We did nine and a bit miles and 3800 feet of up. I was reasonably pleased that I could manage this after my recent decline (I did mention this, didn’t I?) and , maybe the loss of half a stone of wobbly stuff is a blessing as far as battling up contours is concerned. Its an ill wind, as they say in places where there’s not much else to do but trot out daft phrases…
Here’s a map.
high street

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Friday 11 April 2014

My Struggle (With Man Flu) by [Type in Name Here]

dawn over high force
I’ve not been well, y’know. Me and the lovely wife just celebrated our 37th (yes, 37th!) wedding anniversary and as a pressie, she gave me this horrendous chesty bug. She’d been using it for about a fortnight herself and, probably, considered that an act of generosity and a midnight visit to the bearded shaman who resides invisibly in Kirkcarrion would ensure that some other poor bugger could now have it for a fortnight.
bruno in blea beck
And so, it was with heavy chestyness and a car full of dog and snotty tissues, that I arrived at Darlington train station for the arrival of Dawn, a relatively healthy individual who didn’t have anything near as dangerous an illness as this. Even the dog coughed a few times. I’d warned Dawn that I’d be useless at walking very far with a pack and would, therefore only be able to act in a support capacity on this planned walk from Teesdale to the Upper Eden.
Holwick rejected us on canine grounds (I did discover that their lambing field was full not of tents, as marked on the map, but of cute little lambs with which Bruno would probably have liked to play. And eat.
gibsons cave
So we ended up in a sea of mud quite near a recycling site in the outer suburbs of Middleton in Teesdale. We managed a short walk on the next day, visiting the usual Teesdale sights – Low Force, High Force, Bleabeck Force and Summerhill Force, but I was forced (see what I did here…) to admit that after something a bit less than six miles and not many contours, I was, frankly, knackered. So I went to bed for a couple of days.
cafe akto bacon
I did manage to rustle up a bacon butty for the farewell celebrations of Dawn’s departure for the sloppy horrors of the Pennine Way (South), but me and Bruno snoozed the rest of the morning away to the gentle sound of rain sizzling on Cafe Akto’s akto/basha combination.
At Half One, we packed up (really slowly) and left for Tan Hill where I’d planned to camp and meet up with Dawn a day later. Tan Hill was wet and windy and the campsite had at least two piles of human poo (but no toilet paper) so, after a brief and bumpy investigation of the Sleightholme road (ironically only a few yards from where Dawn camped that night), I plumped for Keld.
Keld campsite was muddy, but not as muddy as Middleton. Nevertheless, after all the exertions of driving up the A66, me and Bruno settled in for another long snooze. I mean a really long snooze. Longer than what you’re thinking a long snooze might be, in fact.
dawn heads into the sunset/sunrise/drizzle..
The next day, it was raining again and Dawn should be paddling down the path from Tan Hill sometime in the afternoon, I thought. So, armed with an orange and an umbrella, in the early afternoon we set off up the PW towards Tan Hill. This was hard work.  A couple of times, I considered that I’d found an ideal place to sit and wait and investigate the cosiness of sub-umbrella snoozing in the drizzle, only to be nudged by an impatient and very damp dog to press on up the moor. We pressed on up the moor. Then , out of the corner of a steamed up spectacle lens, I spotted the dark  and rucksacked figure of what could only have been Dawn, marching purposefully along the road on the other side of the little dale. I waved my brolly in a sort of New Avengers kind of way and started the return to Keld. I would get to the tent and put the kettle on.
This is what I did. But Dawn didn’t arrive. I did find her a bit later half a mile up the road in a cosy bunkhouse With No Mud.
In the morning Dawn arrived and asked for a taxi to Birkdale. We drove towards Kirkby Stephen and I dropped her off near the County Boundary on Birkdale Common and went home for a sleep. A long sleep. Another long sleep.
towards the beck...
Then it was Wedensday and Wednesday was the day that I had to lead an eleven mile guided walk over Crosthwaite Common in Teesdale. the weather looked a bit driech. I predicted that nobody would turn up.
crosthwaite common
As it happened, I had two Compulsory Daves and an Eric as stewards and people just kept on turning up – eventually numbering 37 in total. Some commented that I was still as snotty as I had been two weeks earlier, but they were wrong. I was, in fact, snottier. I warned the punters that they were supposed to keep behind the leader, even if the leader was teetering on the brink of collapse in a pile of used tissues.
 awkward stile....
But in the end, it didn’t go so badly. I managed to stay approximately at the front, and we didn’t get lost although I will admit to being ever-so-slightly fragged at the end.
I’ll probably try some more contours at the weekend and my cardiac nurse would  rejoice in the knowledge that my serious dice with what appears to have been The Black Death (or similar) (At least Man Flu) has reduced my status from Morbidly Obese to Fat Bugger in just two weeks. I did get a craving for a night of beer and beef curry (Lucky Rainflower’s best) which I enjoyed on the basis of quite a lot of what you fancy won’t make you live any longer but who wants to live forever and eat lettuce.
All hail to the Lucky Rainflower anyway.
And thanks to Grahame for a pic or two.
The only way now, is up.

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Thursday 3 April 2014

A Cafe Akto- style Intermission

bleabeck force in teesdale

Enthusiastic readers may well have noticed that me and Dawn have a poor record in completing a trip without some kind of excitement putting a stop to it. And the trip that’s about to start tomorrow is no exception, for, indeed, due to an attack of dreaded lurgy involving lots of tissues and cough medicine and some bubbling, moaning , groaning and a fair amount of complaining, including looking up the cheapest deals at various County Durham funeral directors, this time , I’m not walking.

I just can’t do it. I am, not only IN Crook, but , also crook, in the Australian meaning of the word.

not going here, but dawn might

And so, I will be taking part, but in a more cafe akto sort of way. I’ll probably be doing some light rambling, including a reccy of a guided walk which is planned for 9 April and which I couldn’t do before now COS I IS CROOK, INNIT?… 

tan hill inn

I will definitely, though, be practising my bacon frying skills on my new campsite camping stove and I intend to brew tea. I may well camp at Tan Hill for a night and see if they’ll swap some bits of paper for beer and crisps. I bet they will…

Dawn, on the other had, is planning on walking from Teesdale to Kirkby Stephen ower t’tops. The idea is for me to interrupt her route with bacon and hot tea and , generally ensure that she’s not carried off by hungry seagulls.

As I’m not backpacking, I can take much more stuff, so I’m taking the dog. And the basha and a union flag and lots of food.

We’re starting at Holwick  (hmmm..Strathmore Arms….)

I’ll be back before too long….

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Tuesday 1 April 2014

Two Dayer TGO Challenge Training/Shakedown in the Monadhliath Mountains

caochan an thingy
Its quite a long way from Pietowers to Aviemore, specially when you’ve got to visit a couple of train stations on the way to collect travelling bloggers – in this case, Carlisle for Judith and Aviemore for Alan and JJ.
We eventually arrived at the foot of Glen Mazeran  by late lunchtime,  and orf we jolly well went.
The idea for the trip was primarily to have a little gear shakedown for those bloggers involved in this year’s TGO Chally and to have a nice jolly for those of us who weren’t and to check out the cafe akto camping spot in the very lovely Glen Mazeran.
a bit further on - more turbines
We didn’t go too far on the first day – just as far as the new estate tracks at the head of the glen where we found a young ghillie (Gillette?) apparently bulldozing earth and rocks into the burn. He seemed friendly enough.  Here we met the first of the sloppy wet snow, but found a dry and flat patch next to the Allt Feith an Sgianair (burn of the cheap holiday flight) just big enough for four  small tents and just cosy enough to hear the snoring.
camp by pylons
During the night it snowed a bit more and we woke to frozen tents and water bags, and toes, frankly. Getting ready to go was a long and drawn-out business but by ten o’clock (yes, I know...late...) we were bashing our way through the deep and soft white mush of thawing snow pack.
It was hard going, but we headed doggedly (doglessly in my case..) for the swishing turbine blades on the hilltop. Here we found easier going on the huge motorway-width maintenance roads – quite a boon, as it happened and we managed to cover a couple of miles in about half an hour – four times faster than our previous roadless rate. We bashed on through the swishings not bothering now with looking at the map since the whole landscape was nothing like it was supposed to be according to Ordnance Survey. Its remarkable how much this area has changed even since last year.
jj and judith in the snow
The we came across a sign in red print which encouraged us to follow a “right of way” through the maze. A brief conference was held and we decided, on balance to use the maintenance roads, so we headed off in the rough direction of Beinn Acha Braghad, the only Scottish hill to be named after a Mesopotamian city. (you may need to think about this one...)
Then, quite suddenly, a white van shuddered to a halt in a cloud of carboniferous quarry-bottom dust and six or seven burly eye-shaded slapheads – not a scalp hair between them - fell out of the back of the van.
right of way directions
Then , in an East-European accent, we were asked if we needed any help with our navigation. They were quite polite and , indeed, very fair, pointing out where we’d gone wrong and, indeed, where we wanted to go. They were quite assertive about where we wanted to go. I thought they were probably Russians, although Oleg, the apparent captain of our band of helpers, claimed to be from Stornoway.
And so, following a brief search of the contents of our rucksacks as a health and safety measure,  and a name-check to a radio HQ thingy somewhere, we were shown how to find our next camping spot – a lovely, if chilly little corrie alongside the Caochan Mo Chreach, overlooked by a rather handsome line of electricity pylons (not on our maps either, by the way)
mo chrachan pies
Part two tomorrow, in which we reveal the name of this unmapped wind farm and it’s helpful signage and staff. My advice is to use the maintenance roads unless the Russians spot you, then just pretend that you’re lost but one of the problems of passing through these mountains for TGO challengers – and others, too, which lies in it’s wildness and lack of features, has been solved and the new roads will take you right through the middle quickly and without any fuss and none of that navigating nonsense.
Other bloggers may well be writing about this adventure and as soon as they do, links will appear here (alan) and here (judith) and, here (John), or possibly somewhere else...