Wednesday 29 April 2015

That Was A Pretty Short Summer (Spring Snow North Pennines)


We drove up past the “No Unauthorised Vehicles Beyond This Point” signs to the car park (!) built for peeps using the Dun Fells bit of the North Pennines Open Access where we met the Bro and then wandered back down the road towards Knock, turning off into a field and then descending even further on a public footpath to almost the foot of the fine and green Tump called Flagdaw.

view west from flagdaw

Flagdaw is well decorated with violets and has a cracking view of the snow-covered Lake District, the snow-covered Pennines and the snow showers battering in off the Solway Firth. Having bagged, we left, following the footpath and then the radar station access road as far as the radar station on the top of Great Dun Fell where a blizzard was just starting.

dun fell access road

gt dun fell

Braving the war dogs, special forces, land mines, man traps, armed drones and rude signs (there were none of these by the way), we huddled down behind the corrugated walls where it was almost warm for a short lunchtime.

Soon, however, blizzard number two started and Lucky tried to dig a nest in the snow and began to shiver miserably.

So we left.

descending to burney hill

pylon thingy

cross fell

We made a long and tussocky descent past the Silverband mines (not much more than spoil heaps and ponds, plus some more modern communications stuff) – and past the recumbent pylons of some kind of winching system, to the over-steepened edge overlooking our last hill – Burney Hill, in fact – named after a geordie comedian with a round face who liked to be chased across the countryside by girls in skimpy bikinis whilst slapping a small bloke around his bald head for no good reason at all.

lucky is a pointer now

burney hill stone

lucky sniffs the view

Burney Hill is steep and green and quite a bit smaller than it looks. But it has another fine view of the snow-capped Lakes and a standing stone with a plaque on it, the meaning of which is a little obscure.

knock ore gill

We returned to the knipemobiles by crossing Knock Ore Gill on a telegraph-pole bridge and a short heave up the tussocks (deleted line from Carry on Hiking) through newly planted rowans and other similar trees.

We did about seven and a half miles.

According to that Interweb thingy, the weather conditions on Gt Dun Fell summit were –2C with 45 mph gusts. That’s quite chilly. But we knew that.

Anyway, this is me off to Dunbar to visit the new baby for a couple of days.Any comments may take some time to be published. But don’t let this put you off.

flagdaw toBurney


Monday 27 April 2015

Lucky’s Progress


Matt sent me a few pics taken on recent unblogged events at Goldsboro (abseiling) and a short and quite wet, in a watery, damp kind of way, camp at Stonethwaite and, as I know that a few Pieblog readers enjoy the odd cute pup pic, I thought I’d reproduce them here. Just cos, really….

As for his progress – he’s a cheeky little bugger and gets more and more playful as he gets confidence. He’s no longer scared of brushes, tins of beans, red peppers, paper bags or crisp packets.

some  crook dog club ramblers

And he specially enjoys Crook Dog Club where he gets to sit, down, wait, WAIT, I SAID WAIT accompanied by bits of cheese, sausage, dried fish,dried liver… you get the idea…  I’m really pleased with his training and he does some things really well – he likes the tunnels but he does anticipate quite a lot of instructions and does whatever it is he’s going to be asked to do, just before I tell him to do it. And he’s very enthusiastic about it all.

But his bestest thing is snoozing. After brekkies, given that nothing else is on the agenda, he retires back to bed, and on sunny days, this means the fleece in the bedroom window which floods with hot sunshine in the mornings.


When camping, his bestest thing is to snooze in a tent. At Stonethwaite, he entered the tent as soon as it was ready, lay on his bed, was covered in an old woolly comforter and remained there all night whilst others enjoyed a relaxing booze-up under a drippy basha.

Quite soon, he’ll be embarking on his first multi-day walkies – the English (Wainwright version) Coast to Coast. We have the kit ready. We have the logistics sorted out (sort of, anyway). We may or may not be sufficiently fit and motivated.

In the meantime, and at the moment, he’s in his usual position in his bed, having a little doggy dream. Like wot they do.



Thursday 23 April 2015

Torver Trundle to White Maiden

lucky the dog relaxes in the sun

Tuesday took us to Torver – me and the Pooch and the Bro. We parked nicely in the chapel car park and took off up paths and lanes to bag the Tump they call “Banks”. This is just above Torver, in fact and has a handsome cairn overlooking the lowlands below and a long, round ridge ending in a slightly higher spot than everywhere else. So far, so good.

white maiden 002

cairn on banks

high pike haw

Target #2 was a Birkett – High Pike Haw – which lay just over there ----> and was a nice, little pointy-topped hillock with a bit of a crag on one side. I couldn’t help noticing several camping spots on the way, and all with water quite nearby. Just seven Birketts remain to complete the list. However, one of these is Pillar Rock and this may well be beyond the Pieman’s nervous abilities, sooo….

baaa. apparently.

easy scrambly bit

scafells from white maiden

Onwards and upwards… we followed a slightly scrambly route up to the summit of White Maiden, noticing even more bijoux camping spots on the way.  And all the time the sun beat down… or, at least it was sunny and fairly warm…

lucky pretends to be chinese

damn dam

From White Maiden, we drifted over to White Pike and then down stupidly steep grass towards the big quarry below, discovering on the way an old slate quarry containing a dam of deep green water of the type you might like to dip in had it been just a bit warmer, or, at least had time to warm up (e.g. in August after a hot summer)

On further descent, the Bro collected Lag Bank, which I failed to do in a moment of Summer Snoozing Lassitude (SSL) during which I waited by the fence and ate flapjack whilst Lucky made a nest in a patch of Juncus and went off to dreamy sleepy snoozyland. Bugger. I’ll have to go back.

grassy dog

Tussocks, brambles and bracken followed which we abandoned at a stile into the forest and soon, by use of  a handy bridleway, we were back on easy ground and, on the further descent towards the valley, I managed to identify and bag the little Tump they call Bracelet Moor, not so much a moor as a sheep field with a summit marked by a polythene feed bag.

old railway line

Down on the main road, we spotted two lambs stuck in the hedge, with Mum having a bit of a ewe-wobbler on the other side. Various manoevres released one lamb back into the field whilst the other escaped onto the main road. Lucky, however, demonstrated his collie genes and helped to send the lamb back towards the gate where it was reunited with it’s mum. Job done.

We descended to the railway track which we managed to follow for a mile or so till we came to a blockage, where a diversion to an old back road brought us back to Torver.

Ten and a half sunny miles. One Birkett and two Tumps for me, Two Birketts, One Nuttall, and two Tumps bagged for Lucky.

white maiden

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Glitteringstone, Cartington and Cragside

cragside aka knipetowers tradesmen's entrance
Lucky noticed a couple of bijoux Tumps just a bit North of Rothbury so, we saddled up the knipemobile, collected Dawn from her new pad by the docks and hurtled off towards the Coquet.
After a bit of a tussle involving a pork pie, a rhubarb and cherry cake thingy and a very steep ginnel or snicket leading from the toon centah up onto the moors, we discovered some rather nice heathery lumps with lots of ancient cairns,  dog walkers and a cracking view of the Simonside hills just to the South.
glitteringstone cist
glitteringstone kissed
First was the heathery Tump Glitteringstone. This has lots of ancient cairns, a trig and what appears to be a stone cist of the kind once used to hold the cremated remains of Somebody Very Important.
cartington hill
dawn approaches...
After a relaxed kind of lunch in a sunny spot we progressed on  newly shorn paths through the heather and along old tracks up the beetling slope to Cartington Hill. This has a long summit ridge with three ancient cairns, the highest being the furthest North. We had relaxed break #2 at the Southerly cairn which also had some comfy bilberries to lay around on. And a nice all-round view. Lucky celebrated by rolling about then having a lovely snooze.
lake in cragside
We headed back towards Rothbury, diverting into the grounds of Cragside, the country seat of the Billy Armstrong who built new types of artillery for the British army, various cruisers and battleships for the Austro-Hungarian fleet  and probably the entire Japanese navy which went on to upset the Russians big time by sinking their fleet.  he was, apparently an all-round good egg too (glossing over the serious weaponry) and Cragside was the first house in Britain to be lit by hydro electricity
hydro electric archimedes screw the face! water powered pump

Delights of the Cragside grounds include lakes, huge (and when I say huge, I do mean Huuuuuge) trees, a modern hydro-electric generator based on an archimedes screw, a closed cafe, tearoom and toilet, an iron bridge, Cragside house, a tree sculpture involving a pagan-type green man sorta thing, woodland walks and a water wheel used for pumping water to the formal gardens.
river coquet
Our wander ended with a short trespass through somebody’s yard to get to the main road which lead in turn to a nice ramble by the River Coquet back to Rothbury.
All good, clean fun and I have to report that the bakery in Rothbury does excellent pies and cakes. Nom nom.
Nine miles altogether. Worra nice walk.
cartington hill

Friday 17 April 2015

Wobbles in Northumberland

lambs sheltering from the drizzle

All kinds of plans to bag all kinds of things on Tuesday were abandoned due to an attack of Lambing Shower Lassitude (LSL). This is where I just can’t be arsed in April.

towards the wobbly bridge

So me and the Pooch set off in determined style in incipient showers on Wednesday morning. We went to Allen Banks, a National Trust patch of rather smashing woodland just a bit to the left of Haydon Bridge. The plan was to walk up the valley by the river, wander over to Catton Beacon and return on various lanes and footpaths whence we came.

lucky has a wobbly moment on the wobbly bridge

Wobble number one was The Wobbly Bridge. This wobbly bridge was built in 2013 to replace a previous wobbly bridge that got so wobbly in a flood that it wobbled off towards Newcastle never to be seen again. We didn’t need to cross it, but, just for fun, we did. Then we crossed it back again. Lucky wasn’t specially happy about this as he doesn’t really enjoy a wobble bridge.

big bridge (not wobbly at all)

We pressed on along the slutchy paths alongside the River Allen till we got to Plankey Mill, where we crossed the river on a huge bridge and continued even more muddily upstream.

wobbly kilns

We passed The Wobbly Limekiln (see pic) This has been fenced off so there’s no danger of any of it collapsing on anybody. If , however, you’d care to view the limekilns, you need to be quick before they fall down.

Finally, after much up and down and yet more sloppiness and in yet another attack of drizzle, we lunched, just before Cupola Bridge, sheltered from the worst by hedges.

catton beacon

A quiet lane took us to the field paths leading to Catton Beacon – a trig on a quarried ridge with fine views towards the Cheviots.

allendale comedy stile

Then we hit The Wobbly Stile. This was a ladder stile which wasn’t properly connected to the ground on either side of the wall. In fact the Northern side flapped hopelessly in the air. Any attempt to use the stile to cross the wall made bits of the wall fall off. A very wobbly crossing of the wobbly wall was achieved. Its  now a bit lower than it was. If there’s any traffic on this path, the wall will soon be low enough to step over and the stile will no longer be needed at all.

Another stile a bit further North was a bit wobbly too – but only 1.5 on the wobbler scale, which is quite low and not too risky if you’re careful.

langley dam

Paths around Langley Dam (a pretty spot) and more quiet lanes brought us back to Plankey Mill and a wander downstream on the East side of the Allen brought us back to The Wobbly Bridge, which we crossed for a third time, much to Lucky’s delight (not!)

The walk’s a bit short of ten miles and has six wobbly bits.  Which is enough for anybody, I would have thought.

catton beacon