Thursday 22 December 2016

Winner! Britain’s Best Walks Christmas Raffle

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I have been informed by The Powers That Be (The wife) that the raffle for the copy of Times Britain’s Best Walks by Christopher Sommerville was drawn yesterday evening by our next door neighbour and that the winner is one Debbie (Joan’s) daughter a customer/visitor to St Catherine’s Community Centre and that the book has been delivered, probably to her Mum within the last hour or so.

Congratulations to Debbie and I hope and trust that it will provide hours and, indeed, miles of happiness.

Thanks also to everybody else who bought tickets. The raffle made £32, which is just £2 more than the retail price. It’s a small sum, but a lot better than a smack around the head with a wet fish.

If anybody would like to buy a copy of this crackin tome, then clickhere . Prolly too late for Christmas now, but in plenty of time for action on those New Year’s resolutions, specially the ones about getting more exercise, getting out more, losing weight and doing more things together.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Yule Wander At Barbon

In Alf (whats that girl doing in my soup?) Wanwright’s Walks in Limestone Country, there’s a little ramble over Casterton Fell and Easedale and so on and all very nice, too. Apparently, on 28 August 1975 ( probably quite a warm day), I bagged the Barbon Low Fell top and went on to visit various holes in Easedale, but failed to get to the top of it’s neighbour Hogg’s Hill, probably because Uncle Alf’s route didn’t go there and there’s a wall with wire on the top in-between.
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So me and LTD met the bro in the outer suburbs of Barbon and climbed Hogg’s Hill, followed by a clamber over the wall and a re-visit to Barbon Low Fell’s 438 metre top. It was nithering in the wind even though the sun had come out and, by just after lunch, it was starting to go dark again.
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We returned to Barbon via Fell Lane and some parkland, which was all very nice and quite a lot warmer than on the tops. We did notice several stone “boxes” along the sides of Fell Lane, each one having access only by a stone stile and each one containing a large boulder and nothing much else. Suggestions that they might be sheefolds are countered by the fact that they’re much too small, have no access available to sheep unless they leap over the wall and, are mainly occupied by big stones. Does anybody know what they are?
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Back in Kendal, LTD amused himself by barking at himself on the telly.
We did 9 miles.
Happy, and, indeed, Merry Yule to all Piebog readers. I do mean everybody by the way. No, really….

Monday 19 December 2016

Trespass Blog Awards

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Katie from Trespass marketing dept emailed me the other day about this. I’m uncertain as to who made the nomination (it wasn’t me, the wife or the dog) and ever since the TGO Magazine blogger of the year fiasco a couple of years ago, I’ve generally been a bit cynical about these things – at least till being nominated by Old Mortality himself with his tongue stuck firmly in his cheek, bless him (how he managed to order a pint with his tongue in his cheek, I’ll never know). Then I thought – well, its harmless, innit and, maybe I could use and fallout for my loadsa work for charriddeeees (don’t like to talk about it).

Click on the logo below to vote, or on the link below.


vote for pies!

Friday 16 December 2016

Driech But Relaxed Days in Borrowdale

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The idea was to try Dawn’s idea of putting a lightweight tarp thingy (sorry to be so technical here) in front of her tent to stop it raining in when cooking or coming and going when the tent is being used with a full inner and not the normal half-inner which is used when camping solo. Me and Dawn and LTD were involved. JJ had been invited too but he was busy having a “see how long you can wait” competition with BT.

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So we went to the Chapel Farm campsite in Borrowdale where the weather was warm for December but with a broken but very low cloud-base. My hope was for a walk along Knitting Haws – High Spy ridge, but a driech morning of low and fast-moving cloud indicated that the fine views offered by this ridge would not be very fine at all. So we had a little trundle up Castle Crag by way of consolation.

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Castle Crag, for it’s size offers a small adventure, lots of nooks and crannies and a smashing view of Borrowdale. We poked around quite a lot, had lunch in a sun-trap in the quarry, well furnished with propped-up bits of slate when the sun briefly appeared. And almost crushed LTD under two huge boulders which slipped as we descended and stopped only inches from his recently vetenaried legs.

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After this, we wandered along to Holm Crag – a small knobbly top just by Grange campsite. Holm Crag doesn’t have much of a view as it’s heavily wooded, but for entertainment, it sports a number of moss-covered slabby rocks which provide hours of fun, twisted ankles, broken limbs, interesting blasphemy and graceful uncontrolled but short slides.

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We survived this and went to the pub.

It rained a bit. Then it rained on and off all night and got quite windy. The tarp experiment was successful. I must say that the best thing about camping in December is the opportunity it provides for outrageously long snoozes. Mine and LTD’s record on this trip was 16 hours. I’ve no idea what Dawn was doing during this time as I was mosty in dreamy snoozy snory land… It was mainly dark most of the time.


The walk was about 6 miles… 

Sunday 11 December 2016

More Notes From The Standby List

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So, me and The Lad moved 17 places up the standby list. Should the 2017 TGO Chally be postponed till next September, it’s likely that we’ll get a place. But in fact, the email sent to The Lad about this (I didn’t get a copy!) has encouraging words in it, so, maybe all is not lost.
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I think we’d better get on and design a route. This used to take me an evening but all my relevant maps are out of date and/or falling to bits, so Task #1 will be to get a new set. We intend to start at Dornie (should we get a place) and we’d like to travel via Braemar, Callater Lodge and the Lambert and Sloman Cheese and Wine party.  I missed all the previous ones, having already produced a route when the invitations came out, so such an encouter will be interesting. I did get fairly close to one but it was at the end of a long day involving at least two public bars and instead of partying, I erected my tabenacle and went to bed. I was probably three or four miles short.
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In the meantime, we’ve been renewing a floor here at Pietowers, plus other works and LTD has had a foot infection and has been on beanbag rest, hence a lack of walkies.
In the other meantime, many (I mean a lot of) successful participants on the 2017 TGO challenge may well have the pleasure of encountering the first-timer who’s blocked them all on Twitter for expressing views which run in the opposite direction to those which said Blockette deems appropriate, whilst at the same time crying “Troll!” and “Bully” and so-on. That should prove interesting. Running in the opposite direction would be my first idea, but , as I’m on the standby list, the opportunity may not arise and I’m not all that good at running anyway. I am blocked, though. Not to be blocked would be a slight on my TGO chally kudos. Comments mentioning names will not, of course, be published.
I’m off to Borrowdale tomorrow, though with Dawn and, possibly, JJ, so , if the weather is kind, the missing mileage may be rectified. I’m not taking spikes.  I am taking a couple of pies, though.
Pics show LTD generally getting in the way during flooring operations.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Around Grayrigg

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The only instruction given to The Bro was that Dillicar Knott needed bagging and that a walk should include that. Afterwards, there would be sweet biscuits for a demonstration of “snarly snarly” for LTD. Snarly snarly is LTD’s habit of threatening titbits if he’s not given them straight away. Its quite funny, really.

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So, we met in “The Layby”, just South of Dillicar Knott and climbed it in short order. Dillicar Knott has some masts on the top and a fine view of the Lune Gorge, complete with the M6 and the West Coast railway line. Unfortunately, there’s no easy direct way through to the start of the Grayrigg Forest ridge , so we had to back track a bit.

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After, we climbed Grayrigg Pike, which has an even better view of the M6, followed by Grayrigg Forest, a Marilyn which I’d previously bagged on 16 November 1975, but which was a new tick for LTD. I must say, that despite me leading him around all these fine hills, he’s showing very little interest in his tally of ticks and hasn’t even got his own pencil. He’s going to have to go to baggerdog classes…

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Anyway, we used the access road to the repeating stations stations stations to leave the hill and work our way back on a complex route through farmland and bits of soggy moor to the Old Scotch Road which eventually brought us back to our cars.

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The sun came out, it got a bit warm and we saw three or four deer and a flock of white geese in a scrapyard…

LTD then went to Kendal for sweet biccies and episodes of the snarly snarly game.

10 miles and 2100 feet up up and there’s a map just a bit below this sentence..


Wednesday 30 November 2016

Britain’s Best Walks : 200 Classic Walks - Review

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Readers with reasonable attantion spans may remember that Harper Collins sent me a couple of copies of this newly published book of walks for review and to see if I could raise a spot of charity cash too…  very nice of them , I thought, and so did LTD.

Soooo  we went off to Huddersfield to test out a couple of the walks and also to keep Dawn company in her role as house-sitter.

We did one and a half walks: The first, at Hardcastle Crags at Hebden Bridge, where we were distracted by a stray dog which required recovery to it’s owner and a one at Meltham which we completed without any interuptions of difficulty.

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Britain’s Best Walks is a compilation of Christopher Somerville’s contributions to The Times newspaper in his regular and popular column “A Good Walk” It is priced at £30. £30 for 200 walks seems like a reasonable deal to me…

We tried just two walks. You may consider this to be insufficient to form any kind of opinion, but, I have to point out that I have been wandering about the hills of Britain since I was eleven years old and I am now G^(*&’’0”  (sorry, something happened to my keyboard there..)  but anyway, its a long time. And during this long time, I’ve been all over the place and it seems that I am really quite familiar with a large number of the routes included in the book, specially those in the Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and the Lake District, but also with several others in other places. A couple of them coincide remarkably well with guided walks I lead for Durham County Council, so I am qualified to make judgements.

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But first, what do you get in the book?  I pinched the following bullet points from Harper Collins website (sheer laziness and it’s so easy to copy and paste)

Each of the featured walks contains:
• Detailed description as featured in The Times column
• Postcode and OS grid reference start point
• Instructions on how to get there
• Distance and grade so readers can suit walks to their ability, fitness and mood
• Simple step-by-step walk instructions
• Beautiful colour photograph for each walk
• Full colour, clear and up-to-date map
• Food and accommodation details for the hungry traveller

All of this is true, the writing is, as you would expect from The Times, quite inspiring and necessarilly brief, so , if you have a short attention span….

And the photography is superb too.

And the extra information about starting points and refreshment opportunities is useful.

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The book is a big book, though, and much too big to carry around a route – and you’d damage it anyway in doing so. So you need to record the route somewhere – I drew it on an OS map using the map in the book for reference and just navigated my way around without reference to the route description other than remembering something about posts with red markers. This was sufficient for me and quite simple to do and the only difficulty we had was on the Hebden Water walk at the top of a steep slope where the actual path on the ground doesn’t follow the line of the right of way very well and an impasse was reached on tricky ground (with a large and reluctant captured dog!) but close attention to the OS map sorted it out.

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However, the book is rather beautiful and the walks are high quality expeditions. Give it as a present. Take it on holiday but don’t take it on walks!

If you want to try to win a copy, it’s being raffled in aid of St Catherine’s Community Association in Crook Co Durham: Donations received will have the appropriate number of raffle tickets allocated to the draw

Money/cheques etc.( minimum £1)  should be made out to St Catherine’s Community Association and sent to St Catherine’s Community Centre, South Street, Crook, DL15 8NE. We’d need your name and address to send it to you if you won (!) We’ll pay the P&P

For a more reliable method of acquiring the book click this:Buy Britains Best Walks

Monday 28 November 2016

On Encountering a Loose Dog

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Me and LTD returned to Almondbury to keep Dawn company for a few days and to have a look at a couple of walks in the Britains Best Walks book wot they sent me the other day, the better to write some kind of review – more of which in another blog post in a couple of days…
So, we went off to Hebden Bridge to have a go at a shortish walk entitled “Hebden Water” – we felt a bit lazy and wanted an easy start to the proceedings.
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And the proceedings went well enough, after we’d paid the outrageous five quid parking fee. Five quid? I meantersay – five quid…
Hennyway, we progressed through the rather lovely autumn woodland on the bonny banks of Hebden Beck. I’d last been here ar Christmas, some 31 years ago, just after moving up from West Yorkshire to County Durham. I couldn’t remember any of it, really… Odd, that, because in the 1980’s I used to haunt the place, it being a through route from the valley to the moors beyond.
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We lunched briefly in a sun trap at Gibson Mill – the cafe being closed – and crossed the bridge to wander further up the little glen. It was here that we were first approached by the dog – a golden retriever-type of pooch wearing a Ruffwear harness just like LTD’s. The dog approached then retreated, as if waiting, perhaps, for an owner.
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A little later it ran past us and then returned, looking quite stressed and confused as to where to go. I decided that it was lost and removed the climbing sling that I use to hold LTD’s lead, and clipped it on to the stray’s harness with a krab. Dawn took LTD and me and the retriever headed back towards Gibson Mill. After half a mile, the dog sat down, anchored it’s paws into the ground and refused to move anywhere but upstream. So we went back and continued with the walk, but now with two dogs instead of one.
We lurched up the steep bit to Walshaw farm, where the new dog seemed to know the way through the farmyard, although the route description in the Times book was less than helpful..  and the dog pulled off the walk route and back towards Gibson Mill – so that where we went.
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Back at the mill, we approached two rangers – who turned out to be friendly volunteers who quickly took charge of the dog and made us a cup of tea. This was nice. We tried the various phone numbers on the dog’s tag and made contact with the owner’s wife who was on a journey between Preston and Liverpool at the time. Another mobile number failed due to lack of a signal in the deep valley. So we left the dog in the custody of the rangers and headed off back to the start, meeting the owner on his way to collect the dog – the “employed” ranger having met him in the car park. The dog had just run off , apparently. Some dogs do that…
So that was that. We failed to follow the route due to the dog emergency.
We would try again at Meltham the following day.
In the meantime, Dawn having found a debit card by the toilets, we tried and failed to find a cop shop in Hebden Bridge. My phone said that the nearest coppery was in Halifax and then took us on a mystery tour of the narrow, cobbly lanes above Calderdale to eventually turn up at Halifax police station.


Sunday 20 November 2016

Pieblog’s Christmas Raffle -The Times–Britain’s Best Walks

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Harper Collins, publishers have sent me a couple of copies of this new walking guide – The Times – Britain’s Best Walks – 200 Classic Walks, written by one Christopher Somerville and, as a first impression, I’m really quite impressed with it. The walks are based on Somerville’s contributions to The Times Weekend section and are accompanied by am OS-based map and directions, including where to have lunch (bonus!)

I’m due to re-visit Dawn in her temporary winter quarters in Huddersfield quite shortly and, it seems, that three of the walks detailed in the book are quite handy for Almondsbury, so , I’m hoping that the weather is kind so I can go and check out the guide on the ground as it were and, subsequently, write a proper review. But, I have to say, that it does look rather nice. There’s a link to Harper Collins marketing blurb thingy at the end of this post so you can have a look. (and you should have a look)

Regular and attentive Pieblog readers will remember that my charity dosh-rasing activities often centre around Things Sent For Review and thats what I’m doing with this.

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The book will be in the Christmas raffle for the St Catherine’s Community Association in Crook. St Caths operate a community cafe and host a wide range of events in support of peeps in Crook and their County Council grants have been slashed considerably, so they need the dosh, see?

If pieblog readers would like to have a go at winning a copy of this book, I will accept donations by cheque. The raffle tickets will be one English pound (or Clydesdale Bank, or other Scottish bank) for five tickets, so, if you were to send a fiver, you’d get 25 virtual tickets in the draw. Or if you live in Co Durham, and/or will be attending am 8 mile guided walk leaving at 10:00 from St Caths in Crook on 3 December lead by your’s truly and wearing a festive hat (all welcome – and it’s free and doggy-friendly) you could buy a ticket or two at the counter in the cafe. Your pooch may even get a complimentary chewstick.

The book is priced at £30, so winning it for a quid would be a significant bargain and I’d send it to you in time for you to wrap it in Christmassy paper and give it to one of your hiking friends, or you could just keep it all for yourself. The raffle will be drawn at the winter solstice on 21 December and all cheques cleared by then will have numbers entered.

Cheques should be made out to St Catherine’s Community Association and sent to St Catherine’s Community Centre, South Street, Crook, DL15 8NE. We’d need your name and address to send it to you if you won (!) We’ll pay the P&P

Here’s a link to click for more and better info: britains best walks

I’ll do a proper review once I’ve had chance to do a couple or three of the walks… and, I have to say, I’m looking forward to the test.


Saturday 19 November 2016

Rejected by Chapel Fell

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Me and LTD were intending to go from St John’s Chapel to Chapel Fell Top, across to Fendrith Hill and then down by the Weardale Ski Club’s installations at Swinhope back to the start.

We began in an incipient snow shower and plodded up the lane towards Green Laws Vein where the snowing stopped and the sun came out.

However, it had been quite hard work so far. I was having one of those “unfit” days and, wearing winter gear for the first time which I find restrictive and heavy.

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Up by Green Laws, the snow was suddenly deeper. It was heavy, wet stuff too, with greasy mud underneath and deep vegetation.

Higher up, by the steeper bits, even LTD began to struggle, now ignoring the rabbit scent and footprints for a series of short leaps and, at times,  he was almost swimming through the white stuff.

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We reached a flatter bit. The snow was less deep here and there was even  a bit of spindrift but we were now in the cloud and it started snowing again. It drifted past, freezing one side of my face and covering my specs. I blundered on a bit on a compass bearing, trying to ignore the feeling that this was all about to go badly wrong.

So, we turned around and followed our footprints easily back down the hill.

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Lower down, the sun came out and the tops appeared out of the mist. But it was too late. I didn’t have the motivation to have another go and, instead, repaired to the Chatterbox Cafe in St John’s Chapel where the dog is allowed in to witness me supping hot coffee and scoffing a jammy scone whilst chatting to the lad at the counter, who told me about running his 4x4 into the ditch just a bit up the Chapel Fell road.

I’ll have another go on another day. Chapel Fell’s been there a while and it’s unlikely to be disappearing soon. What we need is for the snow to build up a bit more and to freeze into some lovely neve. This is not all that uncommon up the Weardale Fells.

Or I could just dig out the snowshoes and goggles. (dhuhh) 


Tuesday 15 November 2016

Desultory Bagging–North Pennines–Viewing Hill

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There will now be a short series of North Pennine tops walks, the point about which is that dogs are pretty much banned from most of the taller North Pennine hills due to the “protection of ground-nesting birds”. They mean grouse, of course. But it occurred to me that in the winter, there’s not much nesting going on and not much keepering is likely to be taking place in those high places where the weather nithers at the bones.

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Anyway, there’s a bunch of 2000- foot tops in the North Pennines that LTD hasn’t visited, so, over the next month or two, specially when the weather is particularly challenging, me and LTD intend to bag a few of these and, in order to be a bit challenging to anybody attempting to predict where we’re going to go, and what routes we might take, we aren’t going to follow a plan. Instead, we’re going to go wherever we decide to go at the time. This is desultory bagging.

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The other point is that you can over-plan stuff y’know. Sometimes its nice to set off without an exact plan of where you’re going to go and what you’re going to do. Thus, new discoveries are made. It’s nice to poke around but it doesn’t get you fit…

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Today’s desultory bag was Viewing Hill. The weather was quite nice – sunny and not really cold and we bimbled up to Green Hurth Mineworkings from Cow Green car park and climbed up to the high point from there. A lovely cairn has appeared since the last time I was there (4 August 2007, apparently)

And, without a firm plan or route in mind, we wandered roughly Eastwards for a mile or so, joining the path from Cow Green to Harwood to return to the start. We didn’t do a straight line, but veered North for a bit to seek shelter for the comfy scoffing of an egg and tomato butty and some apple pie.

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And then East again, not really looking much at the map, but heading, instead towards the lump of Cronkley Fell until we hit the ruins of a mine shop which is a landmark on one of the Durham County Council guided walks. At this point we knew where we were.

Once away from Cow Green car park, we saw nobody. We did see a few grouse, but not many. And we found a shotgun cartridge at a grouse butt. Careless loss, I expect.

It was 6 miles and only 700 feet of ascent, but a bit rough, but that’s the Pennines for you, innit?

Where shall we go next?

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