Sunday 31 August 2014

Cronkley – Scrambles and General Poking Around

me and the pup ooop cronkley scar

This was Matt’s idea – and I discussed it with the Pup and he agreed to come along providing he could have a chew stick and a nip out of the cat when he got home.

approaching cronkley scar

in the gully

And so it was – in a bit of drizzle and a breezy….breeze that we set off from Hanging Shaw, along the riverside path for a bit and then up and over what might be a lateral moraine to the foot of Cronkley Scar – to be climbed by a  steep and shallow gully with huge lumps of dolerite scree and  a little beck in it to an airy sort of perch high above Teesdale. Quite good fun so far.

lucky teeters a bit

Lucky had just the one moment of indecision and was sent out onto the heather at the side to be retrieved from above. The gully is steep but without much difficulty but could be really interesting when the beck is frozen or under deep and hard snow. (Made a note of this!)

on cronkley scar

We crossed the wall and found a comfy spot on a heathery lump sheltered from the wind and spent some considerable time lunching and watching the view.

cronkley fell trig point and windy peeps

But all good things come to an end and eventually we set off to bag the trig point and find the path down to White Force where there’s an interesting waterfall in a fenced-off enclosure in a rocky amphitheatre – the fall is often dry and seems to disappear into a crack, or maybe a suspended pool – and , somewhere in there,there’s a lead mine.

white force

The geology seems complex with a layer of shales and dolerite capped by limestone, some of which seems to have been cooked into a blue kind of marble-like rock. There was a fair amount of water coming over the fall, so explorations were confined to the foot.

lead mine entrance

A root-about in the bracken revealed the mine entrance, right at the head of the spoil heaps (where else would it be?). The entrance is small and has a metal gate a couple of yards inside and, like most other gates of a similar design, it responds to a tug at the top and swings open on a hinge. A wet crawl underneath would give access to the mine level.

a lump of old slag

On the way out, we found some large pieces of iron slag – tipped out of a rabbit hole. There was quite a lot of it. Iron smelting went on in this area in mediaeval times and a pile of stones near the wabbit holes was likely to be the remains of the bloomery, I would have thought. The slag is in large pieces and is quite heavy. I retrieved a couple of small samples as souvenirs

lucky snaffles a dog bed

And so, we left and repaired to Weardale for coffee. Lucky took over a dog bed…..

The walk was about 5 miles altogether.

Its nice to go exploring sometimes – too many walks are overplanned, I think. (Lucky agrees with this by the way and I’ve not bribed him in any way at all to declare his support for my view…)

Many of the pics are Matt’s by the way. I don’t think Lucky took any pictures….



Saturday 30 August 2014

Great Close Scar and Cowside Beck (Littondale/Malham Moor)

Many years ago when men were men and summers were long and hot (I’m specifically referring to 1975 and 1976 here here, folks) we used to have a walking club at Airedale General Hospital that walked walks which had a pub and somewhere to swim. The water was always warm and most of the pubs allowed women (they all allowed dogs and smoking at that time, but one or two wouldn’t have ladies inside). It was during the first of these long, hot summers that we wandered over Fountains Fell, where we discovered that the tarn was too shallow for a swim, and then down by Darnbrook and into the deep, beautiful and secretive gorge of Cowside Beck. here, we discovered a naked man and a really deep and lovely pool of tea-coloured water.
This became the venue for various post-walk, post-work, post-climbing and post anything picnics and swims. Its a wonderful place, in fact. It seems that the villagers of Arncliffe also enjoyed it and often there’d already be a small party of swimmers there when we arrived.
I decided it would be a good idea to revisit.
lucky spots great close hill
And to make a walk out of it, there was Great Close Hill to bag – a 465 metre TuMP overlooking Malham Tarn and the Pennine Way – a hill I’d walked past on countless occasions but I’d never been to the top.
clouds and rain arrive at malham tarn
So, after cajoling the pup into the back seat of the knipemobile, we took the two-hour drive over to Arncliffe and embarked on the Monk’s Road – a popular and , probably ancient  route linking Arncliffe with Malham moor. Fountains Abbey had sheep and cattle ranches in the area before Henry VIII privatised it and it seems likely that this path linked abbey granges in Littondale with those on Malham Moor.  The Monk’s Road winds its way up through the green and lovely karst scenery and heads directly for Great Close Hill which we bagged in short order – just, in fact, as it started raining.
sheltering middle ho ho ho
So, after abandoning our lunch at the cairn/shelter, we  repaired to the porch of Middle House, an abandoned farmstead, once named in TGO magazine as “Middle Ho” (arf  - Ho is the OS abbreviation for “house”. I nearly wrote in. Then I decided that if I did I’d be labelled as a twat and wouldn’t get on the TGO challenge any more. So I didn’t)
lucky spots darnbrook ho(use)
But we couldn’t stay too long and, despite the driving drizzle, we took the path which links Middle Ho Ho Ho with Darnbrook Ho Ho Ho (arf arf). This comes down the hill to Cowside Beck, the second target for today. Cowside Beck has grown a new barbed wire fence since 1976 and so, some delicate manoeuvres were required to get me and the Pup into the bit beside the beck without losing any bits of bodywork.
cowside beck

The path which went alongside the beck has also disappeared and so forward motion became a bit of an adventure through deep vegetation and slippery rocks. But as progress is made into the narrower parts of the gorge, the place becomes a special, beautiful, green, drippy and , best of all, a deep and secret place hidden from the world where it seems best to speak only in whispers despite the noise of the gushing stream.
the pool
And then, after scrambling over a fallen ash tree, I came to The Pool. It’s banks seemed lower than in the 1970’s and the waterfall at it’s head seemed smaller. But the deep, brown water was the same– a good ten feet deep, with a cave in the back which has been dived by cave divers for some considerable length.
DSCN1967 DSCN1968 DSCN1969
Lucky spent some time digging a bed in the grass as the sun came out and the sky cleared to blue. As he snoozed away, I finished my coffee and had a little dip, for old times sake. It was bloody perishing and I got bitten by an ant. Ah yes, the memories of the freezing water (a scientific report says that the water was recorded as 13C one August at Yew Cogar Cave) and the blood-lust of some of the local insects. And I seem to remember a couple of quite big brown trout in that pool….
I crossed the fence at a gate with a “No Access” sign on it and did a rising traverse up the steep hill to the road and back to the car.
The walk was just a bit under ten miles and about 2000 feet of upness. Lucky did well again. He behaves really well on these walks. He has to be lifted over some stiles and we were lucky that the few cattle we met weren’t at all interested in us.
Here’s a map.

Sunday 24 August 2014


'ansome bugger (he's actually watching a goat)

We’re quite fortunate up here in Pieland to have a fine collection of shortish walks suitable for taking one’s pooch on for an afternoon of sniffing at things and chasing wabbits. The dog often enjoys himself too…

Today’s dogdawdle, for instance was a brief exploration of the upper bits of Stanhope Dene.

heathery burn

We parked the knipemobile in the County Council free car park at Park Head and wandered down the old railway incline as far as Heathery Burn (guess what plant grows here…) and thus into Stanhope Dene.

salmon pool

Here, Lucky took the opportunity to fall into the beck – right up to the ears, which remained dry, somehow , and, having a little panic afterwards. He fell into the Stanhope Dene salmon pool. This is a lovely spot, ideal for the scoffing of an egg and tomato butty whilst watching huge salmon jumping up the little waterfalls. This happens, or at least, starts to happen around the end of October/early November should anybody want to get up really close to a jumping fish.

Anyway, Lucky fell in. So, as the sun was hot in this sheltered spot, I ate my banana whilst Lucky luxuriated and dried out in the warm.


I would have gone to the Yorkshire dales, but realised this morning that it was the bank holiday weekend and the Yorkshire Dales aren’t very nice on bank holiday weekends – so I’ll go sometime next week.

Today’s walk finished with a little strollette on the CtoC route – another old railway line, leading back to Park Head.

heathery dog

I wouldn’t normally blog about a routine dog walk, but one of the pics of Lucky is worth sharing, I think….  He’s still doing well, but he seems to have developed a strange phobia about getting into the car. I’m trying to fix this with cheese at the moment – and telling him what a good lad he is for getting into the car.  I haven;t yet mentioned to him that he’s going to be driving the thing quite shortly.


Saturday 23 August 2014

Wednesday Walkers Walk on Wednesday

Leaving Alston Moor

I’m not sure if all Pieblog readers will be familiar with the phenomena of Wednesday Walkers. In brief, Wednesday Walkers (WWs) are members of walking clubs that normally walk at the weekend and so these people – usually fairly “senior” , or, should we say “well-established” often get together on Wednesdays for a walk. And so it almost is with Co Durham’s Wednesday walkers, a group born out of the desire to fill in gaps, once a month – on Wednesdays – in the Durham County Council guided walks programme with a self-arranged trundle somewhere nice by one of it’s members.

On Wednesday, it was my turn to lead a walk.

summit of The Dodd

Wednesday walks are co-ordinated by Eric, who often does stewarding on my County walks and there are fewer and different rules applying – for example, there’s no stewards, no handouts, no charge, it doesn’t have to be in Co Durham, rules about dogs are more liberal and there ought to be access to a pub somewhere close to the end.

Eighteen of us, including me, plus Lucky met in the big car park in Nenthead City Centre. Lucky was well-met by many, if not most of the other seventeen walkers and he enjoyed every minute of the greeting. So – a good start!

west allendale

Our route was up to Whitehall and then over the moor to the summit of The Dodd at 614 metres – an actual Nutall and Hewitt, although, failing to make it as a Marilyn, being a mere outlier of Burnhope Seat. Nevertheless, on such a clear day as Wednesday, in a pure and slightly chilly arctic airstream, the views were magnificent, stretching almost coast-to-coast and well into Scotland.

lucky checks for food residues

We descended by the long and wide ridge of Middle Rigg where, eventually a sheltered spot out of the nithering wind was found for lunch. Lucky also enjoyed the lunch and opportunities to test walkers’ skin for food residues.

We turned South over a soggy and tussocky moor – using ATV tracks in preference to the invisible right of way near the wall.

the dodd again

The bridleways on Carrshield moor proved challenging to locate, although me and Neville (and Lucky) did manage to follow the correct line eventually whilst others followed each other through the rough stuff. There was some dispute about  whether or not the  the post with the waymarks on it at the crossroads of two bridleways was in the right place. It was, although one or two satmappy things disagreed.

alston moor

We blattered on down to Coalcleugh and over Isaac’s tea Trail back to Nenthead and to the Miners Arms where Lucky eventually succumbed to exhaustion after twelve miles – his longest walk yet.

I was quite chuffed with Lucky’s behaviour. He enjoyed hunting mice in the grass and had a little bark at a cow and a big bark at some frisky ponies – and another bark at the geese around the back of Brian’s house. I was quite pleased he could walk this far so soon although I was prepared to have to carry him if necessary – his tail was up right to the end. So, we’re in business and we’ll be doing some beefy walks quite soon.

lucky celebrates at the miners arms - with a nap

More Wednesday walks will be taking place on Wednesdays during the rest of the year….

Thanks to Grahame Rose for some of the pics (see – I eventually get the name right…dhuhh…)


Incidentally – only two Pieblog T-Shirts now remain to be sold – both medium, both ten of your Queen’s quids. An email to confirm availability and a payment direct into the virgin money giving account will secure one of these fablious fashion accessories.

More incidentally and by the way – I would order some more of these if there was a proven demand – so if you want one but can’t buy one cos there’s none left, let me know and if there’s enough demand, I’ll get some more.  They did go quite fast (half an hour!)


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Thursday 21 August 2014

Malham – Scrambles, Ice Cream and Falling In The Beck

don;t worry, Mrs Knipe, these aren't your children

Me and Lucky took two of my son’s sprogs to Malham Tarn, where we abandoned the knipemobile in a car park and marched off down the Pennine Way towards Malham.

some rucksacks were too big

Some of our rucksacks were much too big for us. But nevertheless, whist me and the pooch sauntered sedately and with dignity, other, younger Knipes scrambled about on rocks and altered the words of songs so that they included mentions of girl’s lingerie, in particular, bras, which for some reason are really funny at the moment.

don;t step back...

And so, we came to the top of Malham Cove. I felt forced to implement a strict regime of not-running-about in case somebody fell down a crack in the limestone pavement (is that a clint or a grike?) – or worse – there being a huge drop onto some tourists below.

malham cove

We descended to the foot of the Cove where a nice and sunny picnic place was chosen on the far side of the beck. This gave us our first opportunity to get our socks and paws wet. Several climbers disported themselves as we scoffed cheese butties, bananas, bits of mango and chocolate. Lucky to the opportunity for a snooze.

lucky settles down for a doze

A little light scrambling was had on various handy boulders.

lucky watches the attempt on janets foss cave

Next on the itinerary was the ice cream shop, where we had ice cream lollies and then, it was off up the road to Gordale Scar, stopping only briefly at Janet’s Foss where a determined attempt was made to enter the cave behind the waterfall. Water levels were too high, though and the crucial footholds were covered with gushing water and so the attempt failed. The eldest took the opportunity to slide into a deepish part of the beck, though, up to around waist-deep, so it wasn’t a complete washout. Actually that’s , more or less, what it was.

gordale scar

But it’s an ill-wind , which is what they say in places where it’s hardly ever windy, and the deep parts of the beck at Gordale Scar could be waded with impunity in the rush to get to grips with the crux scramble of the day – the Gordale Scar waterfall.

The kids disappeared upwards in short order and I was left with Lucky, who made a brave start but then got stuck. There was some serious danger of the pooch falling off, so progress was slow and careful and with many orders to the dog to “stay” – an instruction, by the way, of which he knows absolutely nothing. But with upwards progress in a series of short lurches and stops, the angle eased and the dog could make his own scrabbly progress with little danger.

gordale scar upper waterfall

DSCN1930final scramble

There was a brief playtime around the foot of the upper waterfall, which appears dramatically from a rock window, then more easy scrambling where the weight of water in the sprog’s trousers finally overcame the ability of his belt to keep his trousers up. The other sprog thought that this was Very Funny. And it was.

visiting each limestone outcrop

Once on the  beautiful and green plateau above, progress slowed as the sprogs decided to stand on each and every bit of limestone pavement. In the meantime, Lucky eyed up the sheep. And the sheep eyed up Lucky.

lucky and the sheep

Eventually, after several hours, we made it back to the car and went home.

Despite all protestations from the kids that the walk was at least 12 miles, it was , in fact, just six. Its a classic little outing , though, and adults may prefer to visit one of Malham’s two pubs at half time and, maybe, take the footpath to Janet’s Foss – we did the road just for speed. Not all kids, dogs or adults may be happy about climbing the waterfall by the way – so my advice is to have a Plan B!

malham cove gordale scar