Tuesday 29 March 2016

More Beer Trekkin Stuff

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A bit more news about the beer trekkin trek.

We have a start date: 10 May 2016

We don;t have an end date, but its very likely to be 15 days later…

We have a 320 km  route which is this:

Buxton to Flash by bus, walk back to Buxton via The Cat and Fiddle. Technically, this bit visits three of the highest pubs in England. Practically, they’re all likely to be closed unless the Cat and Fiddle gets a new landlord smartish. (or a manager….) This really does reflect the state of England’s pub trade, I think. But I expect that there’ll be a pub in Buxton somewhere..

Then Buxton to Peak Forest area

Peak Forest to The Snake Pass Inn via Edale

Snale Pass Inn to Standedge

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Standedge to Todmorden / Bridestones area

Toddy to Cowling or Stanbury

Stanbury or Cowling to Skipton via Black Lane Ends and Earby

Skipton to Malham Cove

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Malham Cove to Cray via Kettlewell and Buckden Pike

Cray to Hardraw

Hardraw to Tan Hill Inn

Tan Hill Inn to Kirkby Stephen

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Kirkby Stephen to Shap via Orton

Shap to Kirkstone Pass via Mosedale and various fells

Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside via Golden Rule.

Dawn’s decided to come with me to make sure I don’t walk off in the wrong direction or otherwise get myself into any bother.

Lucky is also coming with me but I’ve not yet mentioned this to him. He’ll have to carry his food and poo bags.

Mrs Pieman will be busy on a restoration project at Pietowers – new patio doors,  repointing the two barrel towers over the main gateway, restocking the goldfish in the moat and spraying WD40 on the drawbridge chains..

The train to Buxton is booked….  so….


Prior to this, there’s a shake-down few days in the Lowther Hills starting from Sanquhar.

I have a Senior Railcard. What I really need is a Senior Beer Card


Thursday 24 March 2016

A Little Guided Walk In Teesdale

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This is mainly a set of pictures taken on the reccy for yesterday’s guided walk wot I…yesterday. Plus a few taken on the actual walk.

Lucky came on the reccy but wasn’t allowed on the the day becasue I’m not allowed a dog when I’m leading a walk. Instead, I had 24 people and Bailey the half-dog-half-hot-cross-bun and including Eric the steward and David (not Compulsory Dave, but David) the other steward.

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The walk is about 13 miles from Mickleton station to Middleton in Teesdale and using huge lumps of the Teesdale Way, to Cotherstone Bridge and Romaldkirk. There’s a map at the end of this blogpost. Part of the route is currently diverted due to landslips at Fairy Cupboards.

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Spring is springing too – Primroses, dandelions, coltsfoot, marsh matigolds,  hellebore, lapwings, curlew, woodpecker, cheese and mustard butties… and the grouse-shooting people were sending up enormous columns of grey smoke on the moors.

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teesdale way etc

Sunday 20 March 2016

Spring Is Springing at Hartsop

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Dawn sufferred significant brain-ache in trying to book something, anything in the Lake District at a reasonable price. I am under no illusions that this must have been a difficult job since they generally want far too much money for not much which does take the gloss off the post-flood sympathy bids a bit. I know they have to make a living, but £150 squids for a couple of nights in a stone hut with no power, water, bedding, heating, or, indeed, anything really is taking the mickey. So I was more than grateful to Dawn for the hard work in finding the accomodation for this little trip. And so is LTD.

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And so, it was with some relief that she managed to get us into a closet  room in the bunkhouse at Brotherswater. It was warm and cosy, had a loo and beds and was next to the pub.

Hoping to meet Tarzan we bagged a small Tump at Greystoke Forest on the way, but baulked at a field full of pregnant sheep and a sign denying access to our canine friends on Greystoke’s permissive footpaths.

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After a quiet night in, the morning dawned sharp, blue and frosty. Ideal conditions, in fact for a trundle over some higher fells. So we went to Hartsop and heaved our aged forms up the Very Steep end of Hartsop Dodd. This ascent goes on for ever and ever and is ideal for hikers who enjoy painful thighs after a winter of soft, low and muddy hills. The sun continued to shine and shone all day, blazing off the patches of hard snow and revealing better and better views.

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A little way up Stony Cove Pike, me and LTD branched off to bag the small but bijoux top of Raven Crag. I expect that not all that many people visit this little lump which looms over Pasture Bottom in a looming kind of way. (How do you know how deep the beck is….? When it’s Pasture Bottom…arf…)

We rejoined Dawn at the summit cairn on Stony Cove Pike.

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The journey over to Thornthwaite Beacon was painful and slow, there being a steep downhill bit, followed by a similarly steep and slightly longer uphill bit. On a rainy or foggy day or in poor weather, ramblers following this particular part of the route may start to question their sanity. But on a nice day like this, the throbbing of the thigh muscles can be interupted by many short stops to gaze at the wonderful views. We stayed at the beacon for a while, then plodded off through intermittent snowfields to the top of High Street who’s trig pillar sported a small and melting snowman.

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The descent to Hayeswater is horribly steep. Me and LTD bagged The Knott on the way – for knott much extra effort and we were soon back at the knipemobile which was exactly where we’d left it.

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I reckon this was 8 miles and 3400 feet of up. Dawn’s fitbit thingy says it was a bit further.

On the next day we rested by wandering the 8 miles to Patterdale and back for some milk. The sun came out after a bit and got quite warm.

And, apart from a little light cattle herding and the bagging of Murrah Hill on the way home, that was that.

Is this finally spring? Or will the lambing showers of April catch us out with another bite of winter?

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Monday 14 March 2016

Through The Post Doggly

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Me and LTD went to the North Yorkshire Moors. Now, it seems that I don’t often got to the North Yorkshire Moors for two reasons: Firstly, I get lost in Middlesbrough on the way and secondly, the moors are a bit dull. In fact, they’re really really dull. The best bits are the dales in between the moors, but these are busy with motorbikes and thieves from Middlesbrough. But the moors are a bit  flat and shapeless and they go on and on and on….

But yesterday, we made an exception, the reason being that LTD had been looking at maps and had found a place called “Barker Ridge” and was determined to go and have a bark look to see what it was like. Coincidentally, I also found two little Tumps wot I’d never done which just happened to be in the same place.

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So we went. It was a very nice day too – lots of sunshine. Not warm sunshine, really, but sunshine and this made a nice change from the wet and windy stuff we’ve been having since October and the bits of cold, grey, icy, nithering, shivering goose-pimply episodes in between the gales.


We went to Chop Gate, where there’s a village hall car park with a nice and cheap parking fee of just the one English pound (United Utilities take note that the Chop Gate car park was full and the verges were empty, which is the exact opposite of what happens in the Lake District. In fact, recently, we’ve found that despite the floods and the appeal for economic sympathy from the punters, the Lake District business community remains a greedy set of money-grubbing chancers who wont take single night B&B bookings and/or attempt to charge £150 for a couple of nights in a feckin hut with no heating, no water and no bed linen.)

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I digress , rantingly.

So , we climbed up the steep hill through the dead bracken onto the moor top where we found a couple of old cairns, one of which was quite close to the summit of Noon Hill. Barker Ridge followed, where no barking was allowed and then on to Wath Hill, a bijoux greeen grassy hill with a view and some pregnant sheep, which we tiptoed through with a tight lead so as not to cause and bother.


We returned to the start by the tarmacced lanes, thus avoiding any further lambing fields, most of the sheep with green or orange bottoms being about to give birth and going in there with a dog being likely to cause apoplexy amongst shepherds and farmers and, possibly not be all that good for a podding ewe either.

We only did seven miles, but since I had to do a 13 mile reccy of a guided walk today, and still carrying the extra 4 kg of wobbly winter fat, I was reasonably happy with this. Must determine to lose a bit of wobbly fat before the cardiac nurse calls me in to tell me I’m too fat and should consider a Mediterranean diet for my annual review.

And we didn’t get lost in Middlesbrough on the way home.

Monday 7 March 2016

TGO Chally Reunion Walkies With Chrissie and Geoff and Pooches

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I booked a room at The Snake Pass Inn for me and LTD many weeks ago when winter was just a succession of named Atlantic wind and rain storms. So when we set off we (me and LTD) were a bit surprised by the list of snow-closed roads in and around the Peak District and South Pennines, causing me to delay our departure to give time for the weather to warm up a bit and for the County Councils to get their snowploughs out. Winter had waited till the very end of it’s alloted season to do something wintery.

This was largely unsuccessful. When I arrived at Ladybower, the Snake Pass was closed and it was still snowing. Contact with Chrissie over the hill at Hayfield confirmed it was closed, but the Radio 2 weathergirl said it was open in an Easterly direction only. This was no good. I waited and drank coffee.

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Eventually, after witnessing several cars head up towards Glossop, I set off and arrived at The Snake Pass Inn ten or fifteen minutes later having driven on a completely clear , but still technically closed, main road.

A biblious night followed.

In the morning, I allowed LTD to make the drive over to Hayfield. The road wasn’t icy or snowy and was just a little narrow for a hundred metres or so on the very top of the pass. It was, in fact, quite safe. but still closed.

After coffee and one of Geoff’s chocolate chip browny thingies (very nice) , we – that is to say, me, LTD, Chrissie, Geoff, Pebbles the boxer pup and Islay the labrador pup set off up the thawing streets of Hayfield heading for the dead-end village of Rowarth. Then, in a brief but wetting shower, to the nursery slopes of Cown Edge. Here, the snow was deep and wet and slippery and soft and quite hard work. We bashed on over fields and moors to the top. It seemed a long way, but the views and the bright and sunny weather were recompense.

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Lucky and Pebbles did a bit of squabbling but were better when let off their leads and seemed to be playing but still competing for whoever was to be The Boss. Islay, sensibly, kept out of the issue. I think that Lucky’s older head probably started to gain the day. But I also suspect that this is probably unfinished business. It was noticeable that Lucky’s snarly attacks weren’t actually connecting with any skin or fur, so that’s a good sign.

In any case, the sun was now shining on the snow and so the views were that bit more special. So we headed for Knarrs, a small hill with a fine view from the top and a farm steading once farmed by Chrissie’s family.

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And then, more deep snow lead to Lantern Pike with another fine and snowy view over Hayfield and across to Kinder.

Once we’d returned  to Castle Crowther , we tucked into steaming pints of hot tea, flapjack and more chocolate chip thingies. After a tough-ish walk, involving some running about on the part of the pooches, all this was incredibly welcome. The walk was 9 miles, although the conditions underfoot would justify exaggerating this a bit (?12 miles…)

LTD drove back  to The Snake Pass Inn on the very same road as before, now in even better condition, but yet still officially closed.

More carousing and over-eating took place that night and in the morning, the road was still closed, now having cones across the road at the Ladybower junction. All the traffic, which was now getting quite heavy, was driving around this hazard – which appeared, in fact, to be the only hazard between there and Glossop.

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On the way, me and LTD bagged Lodge Moor in the deepest, crustiest and most difficult snow yet.

Thanks to Geoff and Chrissie for thinking up the route, which was excellent, and specially for arranging all that snow, and for the cakes and drinks and so on, and specially for the good company (one does get lonely!).

And to Pebbles for not eating Lucky, and to Islay just for being a pup.

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I would also thank Alan Hardy who organises the TGO Challenge reunion every year AND leads a walk (which I don’t go on, but still, eh?). Alan is what you might call a “stalwart” and deserves a medal for his efforts.

And to the peeps at the Snake Pass Inn, who do it for the money. The Snake Pass Inn is very doggy-friendly, though, and LTD was allowed in all the same places as me. He specially enjoyed JJ’s gravy-soaked chips at the dinner and meeting several TGO challengers who are also, on the whole, quite doggy-friendly. So, he enjoyed all the fuss. And the crisps.

And  thanks also to Derbyshire County Council who closed the Snake Pass for 3 days when a bloke with a spade could have had the whole thing cleared in half an hour. Or maybe they just forgot about it.  It was the weekend after all.

It looks like there might be a Knipeish prescence on the 2017 TGO Challenge. We’ll have to see what transpires. I’m more in the mood for it now.

My cheapo camera didn’t like the bright sun on the snow by the way – so not many pictures. It’ll probably be abck to dark and windy next week, so that’ll be all right, then.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Lakeland Walking With Wildlife : A Review

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And now for something completely different: The Pieblog does a book review. This will fill in the time whilst I attempt to get to the Snake Pass Inn on the snowiest weekend of the winter for the TGO chally spring reunion.

Here goes…

Lakeland  Walking With Wildlife by Alan Gane published by Austin Macauley UK price £8.99.

Over an eighteen years, Alan Gane led a local walking group known (locally) as The Mockerkin Mob and wrote a series of articles to The Link the magazine of the United Benefice of Lorton and Loweswater with Buttermere and this work is a reproduction of those articles. This explains it’s structure, which is a large number (I couldn’t count them all) of articles or chapters detailing walks and the flowers, birds and animals likely to be encountered during different seasons, plus articles specific to the habits of particular birds, animals or, indeed, flowers. Or, rather, plants.

The articles are necessarily short – two or three pages each and this is ideal for those with a short attention span, reading late at night, having consumed toast and cocoa and being lulled off to sleep by “Sailing By” on Radio 4 just before the shipping forecast signals dreamy snoozy sleepy time for me and LTD. (LTD is usually fast asleep by this time anyway). A chapter or two per night is just enough.

Alan Gane is a highly qualified biologist who worked in agricultural research, mainly, apparently, concerning peas and his main strength, and where his knowledge and affection for the subject shines through is when he’s writing about  plants, their germination and reproduction and so on.  And he tells the reader whereabouts in Lakeland and when some of those plants might be found.

He’s also interesting and engaging when he writes about birdlife and seems to have a particular affinity to raptors and ravens (no bad thing!) and, similarly there’s good intelligence for the walker about how one might go about witnessing the behaviours of badgers, foxes, deer and, even , frogs. His discourse on why dock leaves might be full of holes was a revelation to me to such an extent that I may well start examining dock leaves in great detail in future. This is just the kind of subject that Gane is really good at. Superb stuff.

And he’s a walker too. Readers who are seasoned Lake District walkers will be armed with some new routes to try – sometimes a bit scrambly, sometimes not. And there’s old favourites in there too.

There’s a lot of articles here – 364 pages including a bibliography. Gane’s love for his local area, which seems to be mainly the North-West of the Lake Dstrict shines through and often, the writing is highly evocative.

The North-West, though is a limited area, though, and so , given the original role of the articles and the fact that they were written over several years, there’s quite a bit of repetition. Some of the routes are the subject of more than one article and so too are some of the birds in particular. I found this a bit irritating, to be fair.

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Those new to hillwalking and, walking in the Lake District in particular, might be taken by surprise by some of the scrambly routes. Sharp Edge, in particular has two recomendations for a descent and the difficulties of the route aren’t, in my opinion, given sufficient weight. Given that this is one of the two or three most prolific accident blackspots in Cumbria which has killed or maimed at least 100 people over the years – and where those people tumbling into the “usual gully” are mainly climbing up, I worry a bit about the recomendation to climb down it. Experienced walkers will be aware of it’s reputation and will be able to make objective judgements about it, but novices may well have to rely on luck.

I found that some of the writing was a bit awkward and that Gane was struggling at times to express himself but given the timeframe and the purpose of the articles, it may well be that Gane’s writing skills developed over a considerable length of time and that sometimes, perhaps often, he had different levels of pressure , or, indeed, ideas, about his subjects for The Link. My impression was that there was a significant variance in the quality of the writing, some of which is quite naive and some seems more sophisticated. I glossed over the poetry. I always gloss over poetry. This is no reflection on the poet. I just don’t do poetry, it makes my eyes glaze over.

I think the work could have been improved significantly by culling a large number of the chapters and replacing these with some illustrations. Readers who have little idea about plants etc could be better informed with the addition of some pictures, rather than just a bare list of whatever might be seen at a certain spot. And the walks have some detailed directions which might be better served by a simple map. Experienced walkers can be instructed to follow a ridge or a rake, or whatever and will do the research and find their way without being told to turn right at the third stile. Inexperienced walkers need a proper guidebook.

Gane does write  proudly about his photography and we’d like to see it. I’d like to have seen it. There’s just a few pictures in the middle of the book. It’s a shame. Much more could have been done, but then, maybe, it wouldn’t be what it is.

As it is, it’s a series of articles covering a small part of the Lakes in detail and which could well be useful, informative and , perhaps, even, inspirational as a reference work. You’d have to supplement the information with literature on flora and fauna, and with an OS map, maybe a relevant guidebook too, which may well be not such a bad thing and (given that I got it for nothing!) it will serve such a purpose in my own library. But I think it could have been much better – maybe two or three books, in fact.

Lakeland Walking With Wildlife by Alan Gane.  Austin Macauley  ISBN 978-1785548086


Tuesday 1 March 2016

Tumping in Calderdale (and Bradford) (and Derbyshire)

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It was time for a jaunt down to the badlands of Halifax, so, on the way, me and the dog bagged Steeton Moor. Given the fact that I lived within a couple of miles of Steeton Moor and drove past it on my way to work each day for a couple of years it’s hard to know why I’d never been there before.  Steeton Moor is on the high road between Crosshills/Sutton and Keighley and is part on an ancient Knipe commuting route to Bradford and Halifax. I forgot the camera which was still in the car… dhuhh..
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And then we were in Halifax. So, the next day me and LTD bagged Gallows Pole Hill which is the least interesting bit of Norland Moor, Pike Law, an ex-quarry, now filled in, and Turner Wood Hill, a steep little lump of tussock and crag in the outer suburbs of Ripponded. We did no more than 4 miles in all. I forgot the camera which was now on the table in High Road Well….  dhuhh again. Some pics were taken on my phone, though.
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Halifax is a lumpy, Victorian industrial town and is, many will not know, the hometown of Mrs Pieman. Indeed. the very street where she first lived is in the first picture on this blogpost. Note that it has a fine view of Calderdale , including, the Very Lovely Norland Moor.
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Lots of motorway miles followed for a visit to Long Eaton, where yet more Knipes have a small motte and bailey fortress overlooking the ancient village of Nottingham. We went to the pub for lunch. On the way, I was let out of the car for the bagging of No Man’s Lane. Unfortunately, the camera was still in Halifax. So there are no pics of the Hermit’s Cave wot we visited after lunch.
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Back to Halifax, then and , yesterday, home via the Very Lovely Baildon Moor. Baildon Moor looms unthreateningly above Baildon, Shipley and Bradford and is a popular spot for walking dogs. So I walked the dog. I remembered the camera this time and celebrated this event with a chicken and leek pie and chips at Dick Hudson’s pub, which isn’t too far away. Mrs P had the sausage and mash. LTD waited in the car since they’ve added the word “Country”, as in “Country Inn” to the title of Dick Hudson’s and now, as well as adding a premium percentage to their prices for the use of the word “Country” they don’t let scruffy mongrels in unless they have a beard, a wayward hairdo and a fully charged debit or credit card.
Not many miles done, but six Tumps bagged, which, for me, is good.