Thursday 30 October 2014

Kirkcarrion (Never Camp In…)

approaching kirkcarrion
A short while ago me and Lucky decided that a short overnight in Kirkcarrion in Teesdale would be an ideal way to celebrate the autumn equinox. For those not familiar with this familiar landmark, where’ve you been hiding? Its reputed to be the burial site of a Brigantian prince named Caryn. Hence Carreg Caryn - Caryn's stones which when anglicised by Angles eventually becomes Kirkcarrion. It’s also supposed to be badly haunted. We don’t believe rubbish about places being haunted , now do we? Eh?  We don’t, though, do we. I mean, we don’t, though….?
kirkcarrion approach
Autumn equinoxes, of course, are notorious for autumn equinox gales affecting Britain and tonight was to be no exception. In fact it wasn’t just the dog that was windy when we arrived late on a dark and gloomy October afternoon.
settling in...
I clambered over the wall and found a nice sheltered spot for the akto and me and the pooch settled in. It became immediately apparent that the pup wasn’t happy and he shivered nervously all night, refusing to sleep and occasionally trying to escape into the increasingly wild black night outside.
topsy and tim blowy night
The akto shook and the sides blew in and the trees creaked and moaned in the roaring gale. An unpleasant enough night. Neither of us slept much and on several occasions, I had to leave the warm sleeping bag to reset pegs and tighten up guylines a couple of times – all in the dark with a panicking pup on a tight lead to prevent any successful, and, probably disastrous attempt to leave for home.
And then, of course, in the darkness of the night with the inside of the akto dancing around and being only half awake, it was easy to imagine noises outside and someone, something, maybe, prowling around just outside, breaking twigs, rustling grass and leaves and whispering and generally lurking and that the bigger, more violent gusts could be that something pushing or falling against the tent. Lucky’s 3:0 am ten minute barking frenzy and serious attempt to leave through the zipped-up tent door didn’t help to sooth the imagination.
dark whispering wood
In the grey morning, I took the dog for a short constitutional around the wood – a kind of post-breakfast (which he refused to eat by the way)  dog-emptying exercise prior to another brew and, maybe a snooze in the now calmer conditions before packing up and going home.
The wind was still battering the tent and we wandered around the wood in a fairly random and aimless fashion.
And then, Lucky stopped and seemed to be staring at something on the edge of the wood. All I saw was tree stumps, but Lucky saw something else and tried once more to make an escape – only prevented by my firm grip on his lead.
I thought I saw a looming figure, there one second and gone the next.
I thought that above the roaring of the storm there was something whispering.
Then, over the wall and against the direction of the howling wind floated several strange little lights which danced around the trees and the cairn and then left as they’d come.
matts orbs
With the skin crawling and the hackles on both me and the dog stood on end and with a looming shadowy presence stalking the walls and trees not far enough away for comfort I packed up and left, smartish and a bit feverishly, truth be told.
This is the second time I’ve been chased out of this place with all me hair stood on end.
lucky does a michael jackson (thriller)

Happy Halloween, readers. Sleep well. Mwwwwhahahahah….

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Hunstanworth Hobble in which Lucky leaves me for another woman

deborah wood footbridge

Hunstanworth Hobble is the rather silly title I gave to this ten mile Durham County Council guided walk. This was probably the third time we’d done this walk.

Me and Lucky did the reccy last Wednesday in cold, grey autumnal conditions on a day when the seeking wind couldn’t be arsed going around a body but preferred to go straight through.

lucky in The Big Orange Kennel

It was so cold, in fact, that I used the group shelter for the lunch. Lucky demonstrated his usual behaviour when encountering something new – he tried to run away. But once inside the tropical confines of the Big Orange Kennel and fortified with a couple of Bonio biscuits, he soon settled in, enough to doze off for a while.

I saw no-one else on the reccy. Nobody at all. Not even a car on the road to Rookhope.


25 people turned up the the actual walk today, including  stewards Compulsory Dave/David, his partner Ruth and Sheila.

Lucky is not allowed to accompany me on County walks when I’m leading or stewarding and so, acting on an email from Jo, he went with her.

summit of bolts law

jo with lucky

Apparently, he behaved himself reasonably well apart from a little barking and growling competition with two terrier-type dogs (they started it!) – handbags at dawn, in fact. He seemed Ok with it, but was quite stressed on the way home. He has offers for future dog-leading interventions on County walks, which is good, and, maybe he’ll get used to it. And its much better than staying at home watching Mrs Pieman knitting, so he’s lucky. No, I mean he’s Lucky…

sun going down....

We followed the walk with his weekly visit to Crook Dog Club during which an hour of fairly intensive training takes place. His one brief spell of growly stuff  with a fellow student was dealt with by a tiny splash of water on the nose. Her really hates this and hides under a chair but is soon brought back to smiley/waggy dog when a new task starts.

As for the walk- we had sunny weather, which was almost warm at one point, but by three o’clock it started getting quite cold. We’re on the edge of winter, it seems.

The walk is ten miles

Lucky says thanks to Aunty Jo…

hunstanworth hobble



Saturday 25 October 2014

Abseiling at Goldsborough

the big buttress

I left the pooch at home today as he doesn’t seem to be very well and didn’t want to get out of bed – so, after a bit of a dog-emptying walk, I left him there. He’s just starting to recover a bit now. I suspect he’s eaten something he shouldn’t…

DSCN2265 DSCN2268

And so, I had to drive myself to Baldersdale where I met Matt, Rachel and Mollie the Dog and we had an afternoon of abseiling over the overhanging buttresses of Goldsborough Crag

Goldsborough is a cracking place for this kind of thing because it has big metal stakes impaled in the ground at the top for belaying off. They’re bombproof, it seems.

DSCN2271 DSCN2273

Wot fun, and I think we’re getting better at it….

And it rained a bit, so after a couple of hours we abandoned and I returned to my poorly pooch.

Most pics by Rachel – I can’t take pics and belay at the same time, innit?


dark skies and a rainbow


Friday 24 October 2014

Right Through To The Undies – Blake Rigg

blake rigg

Me and Lucky, The Bro and Ria went off to Blea Tarn for the bagging of a couple of wayward Birketts and a climb up Pike O’Blisco, setting off in that kind of driving drizzle that gets you really really wet.

blea tarn

But every now and then, it stopped raining and we progressed, more or less in tact to the Wrynose pass road and up by a little beck towards Pike O’Blisco, turning off across a little corrie to the first top Blake Rigg.

wrynose pass

Uphill progress was generally slow and a bit halting and, what with the long drive to Kendal and everything, by the time we got to Blake Rigg, it was lunchtime, so we lunched – me and the bro and the pooch inside the group shelter with Ria left outside in the rain – which came on more seriously at that point.

Top two was the rocky knobble of Wrynose Fell – Long Crag where the weather took a turn for Even Worse.

brrr - 'orrible...

The fog was thick and the rain  drove along in a lively breeze and so, at this point, a committee meeting was held to determine whether or not we really wanted to go up Pike O’Blisco. Lucky couldn’t decide and abstained. me and Ria voted for the downhill route back to Blea tarn and The Bro said it would probably brighten up quite soon…..

So, downhill we went….. it really wasn’t the day for doing this kind of thing anyway.

A short walk of not more than 4 or 5 miles. But we were Very Wet.

I let Lucky tackle the dark and rainy spray-covered M6 – a wise decision since, as I snoozed in the back, he seems to have called at Kirkby Stephen co-op for supplies of fish, ciabatta rolls and merlot…..

Brrrr… shiver…. I’m not sorry about the failure to top Pike O’Blisco and Kettle Crag – I’ve been up Pike O’Blisco before and Kettle Crag can wait for a warm summer day next…summer when I go to bag Pike de Bield just off Crinkle Crags….

blake rigg


Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Big Orange Kennel


This is Lucky halfway through the process of consuming a Bonio during a lunch stop underneath the bright orange group shelter on a reccy of the “Hunstanworth Hobble” a Durham County Council guided walk which starts next Wednesday 29th October from Baybridge car park and pickernick place and which continues for at least 10 miles over Bolts Law and various bits of delectable moorland and which is lead by Me(!).

It were a bit cold and rainy, see….

Bring your own banana.

More later, but I’m orff to the lakes tomorrow…

Monday 20 October 2014

Yet More of Lucky’s Adventures in Wales (yes , its Part C)

not entirely sure what lucky is doing in this pic. he seems to be licking some plants
Following our short expeditions to Nant-y-Moch and Hengwm, we transferred our attentions a bit further South for the bagging of Waun Claerddu, a Marilyn poised on the very edge of a huge, brown and reasonably empty and beautiful wilderness – a superb and, I'd go as far as to say, smashing area for an undisturbed wander amongst bogs and rough grass and little tarns and knobbly tops which stretch to far distant views of …… wind farms. Excellent practise area for Scotland, in fact.
kites arriving for tea
But first, we watched the kites being fed at Nant yr Arian and in-between climbed Pendinas – a small hill with a Waterloo monument on top just outside Aberystwyth – both in heaving rain and in-between downpours the bagging of Trichrug, a small top hidden away in deepest sheep country.
draws drum ridges
And also at either end of this adventure, a short trip to Howgill-ish ridges of Draws Drum a 573 metre HuMP, accompanied by a pointy Dewey Pen Dihewyd and a final walk to Drybedd, back at Nant-y-Moch, a hill skirted around on one of the Linney/Knipe backpacking forays and which was no less rough the second time around.
So, back to Waun Claerddu.
waun claerddu
It started with a search party – an RAF search dog in a van with a man and a vehicle full of soldiers enquiring as to whether or not I’d met any other soldiers at all…. anywhere…  I hadn’t and neither had Lucky, so we wandered off up through the tussocks to find our first top – the top, in fact, of Waun Claerddu – two cairns half a click apart and the main object or our attentions.
domen milwyn
Smug from my conquest of Waun Claeddu, I wandered towards my second target – a far distant and fairly pointy Dewey called Domen Milwyn. The route took me to the shores of a tarn – one Llyn Fyrddon Fawr and then into a wobbling bog, where GPS track recording my panic-filled teeterings would have spelled the words “aaargh” and “glug”  had I  a GPS with me, which I hadn’t. I trusted on the buoyancy, or at least, naivety in terms of bog-experience of Lucky the dog and was disappointed to learn that he sank almost as quickly as me though he did blunder into some really sloppy bits  - really just floating moss, in fact. Lucky also found this experience disappointing, I believe.
lots of tarns
Eventually, a way through the morass was found and, after ejecting some sheep from a sheltered slab, we settled down exhausted and with wet socks and paws to our lunch out of the wind and in the sun. I cheered myself up with an egg butty and a banana whilst Lucky tucked into the now traditional winalot biccies. He was specially taken by the star-shaped ones which he ate first, I noticed. (fascinating stuff, this, innit?)
It was at this point that four blokes appeared on what sounded like very large lawnmowers, but were actually whining trail bikes. They rode about generally visiting various hilltops quickly and with much noise and fumes,  scattering the sheep and eventually they rode off in a blue haze of what smelled like paraffin into the distance.
claerddu bothy
So we bagged our top and returned through the wobbly bog to Llyn Fyrddon Fawr which presented a few nice tent pitches – and then an attractive grassy ridge overlooking Llyn Fyrddon Fach and by devious ways to the Claerddu bothy and, eventually the road where the knipemobile was parked.
lucky heading for the pools of teifi
But what struck me about the place was the apparently massive area of wild stuff to the immediate East. Miles and miles of it. And there’s a trail from Aberystwyth  almost to the Pools of Teifi which would start off a few days trekking through this lovely stuff…  Its on the “list of things to do”
nant-y-moch from drybedd
The final walk doesn’t have many pictures and I’m not sure why. This was a return to the Nant-y-Moch area for the bagging of Drybedd, a Dewey which me and Dawn had passed near a couple of years ago. In fact, there’s a little byway over it’s shoulder which we struggled over under heavy packs – and me and Lucky struggled over it again. (Its easier on the road, folks…)
drybedd summit
The top was gained by a steep and grassy lurch followed by a couple of rounded lumps and there it was , with it’s own little tarn. A lovely spot, I should imagine, but today was nithering, so we cleared off smartish and located the knipe/linney brewing up spot at the exit/entrance to the forestry. This was lunchtime for me and the pooch – a bit late due to a less than enthusiastic exit from the cosy bed in the caravan.
And then we followed the Linney/Knipe route back throught he forest but returning by road all the way – very quiet and I noted that the farm at Hirnant is in the process of collapsing (it was OK two years ago). There was no traffic on the road.
and rest....!
Three walk maps below:
Draws Drum – just 4 miles!
Drybedd – 9 earth miles
waun claerddu
Waun Claerddu 7 miles

Sunday 19 October 2014

More Lucky’s Adventures in Wales (part B, in fact…)

the new bridge across afon hyddgen

A few days later it was Marilyn-bagging time and, by parking in almost exactly the same spot as on Sunday, I could work a way around the head of the Nant-y-Moch reservoir for the bagging of Drosgl and Banc Lechwedd-Mawr.

afon hyddgen and drosgl

The only worry was that it had been chucking it down for two days and the local streams were likely to be in spate and the last time I was here, with Dawn, we had to paddle the Afon Hyddgen – a serious bit of water when in flood, I should imagine.

hengwm from the afon hyddgen bridge

So, I was more than pleased (and so was Lucky – he’s not specially keen on cold water) to spot a new footbridge and, as the river was in a seriously bad mood, it was A Good Thing. I wouldn’t have got across otherwise and would have had to wander over the dam wall to a far-off parking spot to get a foothold on the outrageously lovely Drosgl. This would have taken some significant time and effort, neither of which I could be arsed with, to be frank….

The bridleway from the footbridge is a maze of huge tussocks. Lucky enjoyed these immensely and spent time leaping from tussock to tussock. I just kept falling off them… And swearing.

bridge with nest

And then, joy of joys, there was another footbridge over another raging beck exactly where it should be for the final struggle up Drosgl – this time over the Very Grumpy to the point of Raging  Afon Llechwedd-Mawr. Strangely, this bridge had a large bird’s nest on it, a testament, perhaps, that not very many people use it. I wouldn’t have got across this stream either if not for the bridge.

top of drosgl

there's a little camping spot by the trees!

Drosgl went easily enough and the grass was shorter but the roaring wind on the top discouraged a stop and I returned to the bridge with the nest  in short order. Drosgl, though , has cracking views of Hengwm and also reveals one or two fine camping spots… just for future reference…

hen gwm

an ariel on banc-llechedd-mawr

Banc Llechwedd-Mawr was climbed directly and a bit steeply from the birds-nest footbridge and went easily enough too and a descent directly to the Afon Hyddgen bridge made a nice, short route – this time just 6 miles and 2000 feet of up. The question we should ask ourselves at this point is “Am I taking this trip to Wales in too relaxed a fashion…?”

The only odd thing about Banc Llechedd-Mawr, by the way, is that it has an ariel stuck into one of the summit cairns… (?)

hafod ithel 

So, two Marilyns bagged – and the next day, in slashing rain, me and the pooch managed the diminutive Marilyn Hafod Ithel in a walk of much less than half a mile whilst driving back from Tregaron. Maggie stayed in the car with Mills and Boon. Three Marilyns bagged.

Easy peasy. I could tell that Lucky was impressed, specially by the sufficiency of the supply of winalot.

The map shows apparently aimless wandering….  The standing stones marked on the map are named “Cerrig Cyfammod Glyndwr” which might mark the site of the 1401 victory of Owain Glyndwr over a large force of English and Flemish troops. Although how they got permission for a battle from the water authority is a bit of a mystery.  I must visit the stones some day. See this for a bit more info…

and rest...again...