Thursday 28 July 2016

Coledale–Was That The Summer Then?

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The night before last, on a toilet ramble up the Deerness Valley Way (wot’s quite near Knipetowers as it happens) LTD announced that he never gets to choose which walks to do and wouldn’t it be nice to go and park in the school yard at Braithwaite and do a couple of proper hills plus whatever small lump I might like to add to a route. Since there was to be one fine day between two wet ones, I thought this was a good idea. Well done LTD.
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Since I compleated (sic) the Wainwrights (even sicker) in 1991 or something, and most of the Birketts except Pillar Rock and that other still-to-bag one with the Viet-Cong in occupation, and so reduced to bagging Synges with 5 metres of reascent on all sides I discovered that there was one unbagged at the top of Coledale – one Force Crag and I determined to include this in the walk.
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It’s OK to park in the school yard at Braithwaite by the way providing it’s a weekend or a holiday and you post three quid through the school letterbox. Three quid is a proper amount for parking, so I did this without rant or complaint and me and LTD wandered up the track to Force Crag Mine, a closed leadmine with lots of interesting buildings, holes and heaps.
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Lots of other people were also wandering up Coledale with dogs and children and babies and there was some bunching, I noticed where the path crosses the beck. This was due to the fact that it had rained all of the previous night and the beck was in a lively mood, although not really in spate. One chap in the kind of trekking shoes that some TGO challengers get all evangelistic about complained that it was “supposed to be a ford” and the beck was too deep and the stones too slippery.
After crossing the beck, me and LTD crossed it again higher up and went off to bag Force Crag. This turned out to be a superb viewpoint for Coledale and a top-hole spot for the scoffing of an egg and tomato butty.
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We continued higher to the little bealach or pass between Sand Hill, Crag Hill and Grasmoor. I remembered a marginally scrambly route up the North ridge of Crag Hill which ought to deliver me and some aching thighs and a small dog to the summit in reasonably short order. And this is what happened, except to say that the marginal scramble had eroded quite a lot since I last climbed it – probably thirty years ago, and was now marginally too exciting. My leg lump didn;t enjoy one of the high steps either, but the view across to Grisedale Pike was impressive. The scramble is now a deep groove at a reasonable- enough angle and anywhere else would look like a slab. It’s a good idea to use the hands on this, I think.  High up it appears as a rock wall and provides a moment of quiet and slightly shaky contemplation as to whether or not to proceed,or to abandon the groove for the even more tricky-looking grassy ledges to the side, or to slither back down again and pretend that I didn’t really want to go that way anyway, having done it once before. But on inspection, the groove continues and snakes away up to a flat bit where the Ledge Route comes in from the left. After that it’s just a grassy ridge.
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Once on the top, LTD cocked his leg on the trig and it fell over ( LTD: this is not true, it was already prone and I always get the blame for minor damage. Like chewing up the paper that had had the butter in it.)
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It was nitheringy Autumn on the top of Crag Hill, it has to be said, and no place to sit and scoff a banana, so we sailed over Sail and got into a sheltered spot at the foot of those huge and ugly zig-zags wot Fix The Fells built some years ago. They were supposed to mellow into the hillside but they didn’t and now the surface is loose in parts and stones will rumble away under the feet of any hikers not concentrating properly. It seems that many people aren’t zig-zagging at all but are prefering to romp straight down through the heather. And much safer that would be, I would expect.
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LTD decided not to bag Barrow and Outerside but to go straight back to the schoolyard so that I could get in the car and drive back through Alston, stopping only to buy a couple of bottles at Alston Co-OP on the way back. (LTD: Actually, this was your idea, I would have liked to have bagged Outerside and Barrow and……cat!!!  There’s a cat on telly….)
9 miles and 3400 feet of up.
I once had a dog called “Jenny” Jenny was a bit of a runner and one day, when taken off the lead on the summit of Crag Hill, she chased a meadow-pipit and leapt over the edge into the steep corrie on the side of the hill – and into hill fog. I could hear her barking, but she’d disappeared from view. The corrie wall was too steep for me so I investigated one of the wings. I could see nothing so returned to the top. The barking had stopped. I got the first 9 into the phone  for mountain rescue and the dog arrived back at the top, battered and scraped with no skin on her chin or her pads. I carried her all the way back down to the car. Don’t ask how much it cost at the vet!

Monday 25 July 2016

A Tan Hill to Swaledale Circuit by WSWG

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WSWG is, of course, the Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays Group.

And 12 walkers turned up at Tan Hill Inn, plus two dogs, Bailey and LTD.

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I’d reccied the route a few days earlier along with LTD in humid and oddly-sunny-with-hillfog sorta conditions. The route  initially follows a path over Robert Seat which was also used on me and Dawn’s Beer-Trekkin Trek. This leads fairly easily over the moor to Ravenseat where me and Dawn, or was it Dawn and me(?)  had sheltered from the rain in the barn with cups of tea and scones and cream back in May.

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On the reccy I didn’t stop but batterred on towards Keld, catching up with an Australian with a sore toe and some seashells hanging off his pack, a Yorkshire Australian with a retained Yorkshire accent after 20 years abroad,  and his partner who kept pretty quiet and we all walked to Keld where I allowed myself to be exploited to the tune of a cup of tea and a fruit slice at the Rukins tearoom there. (This was also the destination of a small team of DofE kids who actually spoke to us. I have noted in the past that DofE groups are usually pretty diffident about actually replying to a greeting or a question) We met them twice, in fact. They must have been doing our route, but the other way around.

And then back to Tan Hill for a pint of shandy and an hour’s drive home.

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On yer actual guided walk, we stopped at Ravenseat for cuppas – some had scones and we missed Keld altogether by rejoinging the Coast to Coast path after lunch by the swimming hole at Wainwath Force where a few swimmers were swimming and leaping into the deep water and other risky stuff.

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And we followed the Pennine Way back to Tan Hill – noting the most pointless gate in Yorkshire. Well done to the Yorkshire dales National Park Authority for transporting a gate, concrete, and men to Lad Gill where there’s a little footbridge over a very small and shallow beck. Here, they have installed a gate complete with a sign saying “Please Close The Gate”. There is nothing, however, to prevent stock, or anything else from passing either side of this gate. Whoever planned it, authorised it and built it and wasted all that money in times of austerity, needs their heads seeing to and really, if there was any justice at all, should now be reprting to their local job centre to be sanctioned. The feckers.

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Anyway, I think people generally enjoyed the walk. I enjoyed both walks, and so did LTD. There’s a map below for anybody inclined to give it a go. This shows the route not going to Keld. But if you want to, you can.

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Friday 22 July 2016

Druridge Bay–Barely Surviving

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Having visited various Northumbrian sandy beaches last year, it became seriously apparent that the erection of a tarp or tent would be compromised by the stupidly soft sand that they have around here. Dawn had put her not incosiderable skills and experience into solving this problem and had come up with a collection of huge wooden stakes and a huge wooden lump with which to bash them into the sand. The only issue remaining was a location to test out this system. We would have liked to visit Ross Back Sands, but due to the prescence of some rare and guarded terns nesting there, we terned (sic) our attention to Druridge Bay.

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Eventually, after driving about a lot and seeking water supplies, we terned up at Druridge Bay, plodded Northwards for a while and then erected Dawn’s stake-based tabernacle in a sheltered corrie in the dunes, on the edge of the main beach.

I should add  here (look away those of a delicate disposition) that both me and Dawn are booked in to the North-East skinny-dip in September and, in order to do do justice to the ten quid layout, it’s essential to acclimatise one’s body to cold water, so some dips into the North Sea (currently around 11C) are essential. Dipping into cold water does work as an acclimatisaion strategy and ensures that a longer dip later on, in marginally warmer water might actually be enjoyable. So, we dipped, although, not necessarily in a skinny-fashion. It was OK, actually.

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This provided a fabby-whiz camping spot and we mooched around for the evening, collecting wood, seeing off a local prevert and, in the case of ltd, doing poos for collection in the poo bags wot I’d bought that very morning in Tow Law. We drank tea and scoffed some Peggoties Pasties ( from Peggoties bakery in Wolsingham) and I had a tin of IPA.

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We lit a small fire. Then it went dark(ish), somewhat mitigated by a full moon rising over the sea and we drifted off into sleepy snoozy snory dreamy land. LTD cuddled on a blanket and deep underneath a down jacket snuggled up close to my bivi bag.  I stroked his tummy under the warmth and we floated peacefully away far upstream, dog and prat in sleepy harmony. Neither moved for hours and hours.

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Then, maybe five hours later, the sky lightened and turned a bit orange and, slowly, the sun appeared over the sea. We brewed, marvelled at the scene and had photo-calls for a bit and then returned to cosy sleeping bags for another four hours.

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In the day, we dipped and snoozed and lazed about and scoffed the deli meats and cheeses Dawn had brought. The sea was cold  and mischevious but friendly and the sun was hot and skin-drying.

We should do this more often.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Leg News

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Me and the Leg went for an ultrasound scan today at Bishop Auckland General Hospital and the consultant wot did it showed me some grey and blurry pictures on a screen and said something to the effect that the muscle at the top of the thigh has been damaged and is now appearing, in a starring role as a wobbly lump and that there’s a bit of a space where it really ought to be. It looked like a joint of beef to me.


But, as the muscle is working (see 12 mile walk with 4100 feet of ascent in a previous uncorrupted posting on this very blog), there’s nothing to be done about it although I might consider having it tattooed in the form of a side view of the South face of Ben Nevis with the tourist route etched out in red dots. This would be useful since OS maps can blow away, whereas legs…

In the meantime the lovely nurse in attendance was dribbling, moaning and banging her head on the wall whilst my rather lovely, naked and now very slippery leg was being examined. Nothing much has changed in the NHS since I left it.

I have been advised to a) go back to my GP to hear him tell me that its a permanent injury and as the muscle is working that there’s nothing to be done about it. There’s always a chance that if it’s explained to me again, though, I might actually understand what’s being said although my ability to comprehend complex facts (e.g. bus timetables) has been rather limited recently. By recently, I mean the last ten years. And my attention span has..  Twin Peaks. Now they should bring that back. Lovely music..


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b) I need to consume much more in the way of muscle-relaxing fluids in order to prevent a similar accident happening again. Basically, I’m just not drinking enough beer. In fact, the consultant was astounded that I’d not injured myself falling over before now and that the consumption of safe levels of beer, wine or whisky would make the muscles floppy enough to cushion any sudden impacts. Its only sensible, really. Mrs Pieman doesn’t think any of this is likely but she’s been out of nursing for quite a while now and is clearly not up to speed with modern health prevention strategies.


c) I should forget Strictly Come Dancing.

I’m trying to think up a name for the lump. Best suggestion wins a photo of a a tattoo of the South Face of Ben Nevis with the tourist route pecked out in red.

Should anything else happen, I’ll write about it here….


Monday 18 July 2016

Luss Hills again (old post got corrupted somehow)

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I’ve had my bagging sensors twitching for the hills just to the left of Loch Lomond for some time now so, having booked a pitch on the Luss campsite, I collected Dawn and we hurtled up the M74 in low dudgeon and arrived a bit early due to missing a key motorway junction which would have provided a half-way Tump bag. If you know what I mean.
Wednesday dawned brightly and so we set off for what I expected would be a reasonably short and easy hillwalk around the Scriddle Horseshoe – not so much a horseshoe as half a banana, but famous walks never refer to bananas, so they. I meantersay, the Fairfield Banana wouldn’t really cut it, would it?
The first hill, Beinn Dubh has lots of closely-packed and tightly knit contours – knitted, in fact, into the shape of a huge green hill which is odd since the hill’s name translates as “Black Hill”. However, in July, it is covered in luciously sweet summer grass; a beautiful prospect. It was poiled somewhat by an early but short shower which we avoided by a ten-minute break under my group shelter thingy. The next shower got us wet, though, as did the one after that and the next one and so on…
After Beinn Dubh, we passed fairly easily over Mid Hill and descended by it’s East-facing ridge, pointing directly at Loch Lomond’s islands. 8 miles, according to walkhighlands route-planning doinz.
Thursday was to be a better day for the weather and we returned to Glen Luss to climb Beinn Eich – a similarly grassy upturned-boat-shaped lump with heavingly closely packed contours, but finishing with a little grassy cone and followed by a delightful romp down a long and narrow(ish) grassy ridge. This kind of thing is much more suited to Cumbria where it would get much more attention from hillwalkers and would have it’s very own chapter in a Wainwright guidebook. As would Doune Hill – the next one on the ridge.
Doune Hill has a steep descent to a bealach where Dawn was left to set up Camp 1 with the rucksacks whilst me and LTD struggled up the slopes of Doune Hill East Top.
LTD  remarkably showed off his tracking skills by locating Dawn’s temporary camp using only his nose and we all set iff down the steep slopes to Glen Mollochan which leads soggily back to Glen Luss and Luss village. We did about 12 miles.
Friday had a bad forecast and so I made no hard plans, but thought we could maybe have a half day or an hour or two bagging something a bit easier on the legs and it was with some relief, after a bit of a lie-in, that the first spatters of rain hit the tent at about ten o’clock. Then it proceeded to chuck it down all day. There was a hint that it was slacking off a bit in the afternoon so we set off hopefully for Balmaha for a little expedition up Conic Hill. But the weather was terrible, so whilct Dawn stocked up on whatever she stocked up on, I bought dentasticks for the pooch and Australian merlot for me.
And that was that.
The Luss Hills are very fine hills, though and we only bagged three of the eight Marilyns available there. And we spotted multiple fine wild camping spots. And there was just the one other party behid us on the first walk and nobody else on the hill on the second walk, so we had the place to ourselves. And, the campsite is much too expensive for it’s own good, and occupied and/or visited by criminals one of whom was carted off by a huge gang of youthful policemen and another who pinched the campsite’s bikes and an honesty box. Then there’s the constant noise of the main road which roars away all night, the screeching gulls, the german tourists chattering late into the night and the disco from the hotel next door, plus wandering Glaswegian drunks…..  Am I going on too much? At least nobody complained about my snoring. It’s cos they couldn’t hear it above the din. Innit?  Not going back to the campsite anyway.
But the hills are worth it. I’ll have to return for the hills.


Monday 11 July 2016

Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays - Mallerstang Edge Guest Post By Kathy

You’ll have seen the pics from the reccy, which, if you have, is just as well becasue on the day it chucked it down and we could see bugger-all along the tops.
But enough of this; it has become traditional that on a Wednesday Walkers Walking On Saturdays group, that somebody writes a report. This often, if not usually, falls to Kathy. And Kathy wrote a write-up on this occasion too, and this is copied using the magic of CTRL-C and CTRL-V below.
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As for me, I’m off to Loch Lomond with Dawn to get eaten by midgies.
Enjoy:  (All thanks to Kathy for the write-up by the way… maybe I should have asked permission except to say that we’re having a wake here at Knipetowers for Trex The Cat who passed away peacefully during last night after 18 years of murder, mayhem and pillage (he never mastered rape) on the small birds and insects of Foundry Fields in Crook. And I’ve been celebrating his life and his easy passing with a glass or two of Australian plonk.)
Here goes:
Driving westbound along the A66 yesterday it was a dry, cloudy morning. However, as we reached Cumbria we could see heavy, dark clouds over the hills - it looked ominous. We knew we were in for a soaking, but being the intrepid "gang" we are, it did not faze us one jot!
10 walkers and "Bailey", the Terrier met Mike Knipe, the walk Leader at Kirby Stephen railway station for a 13.5 mile "hard" walk and waited for the 10.17 train to Garsdale Head Station (see photo below.) Once boarded, there was banter and laughs as some of the walkers enjoyed the company of others walkers who were returning from a walking holiday. Garsdale is not a village, but a valley through which runs the A684 road from Sedbergh to Hawes and is situated within the Yorkshire Dales.
There was only a slight drizzle and a temperature of approximately 14 degrees C as we left the station and headed towards the 12-span Garsdale Viaduct (see photo below.) We climbed up to the Pennine Bridleway, also known as Lady Anne's "Highway." (See photo below.) Lady Anne's "Highway" takes it's name from Lady Anne Clifford who was born in Skipton Castle in 1590. It is a 100 mile long distance path from Skipton Castle to Broughton Castle at Penrith (a high route over the fells from Wensleydale into Mallerstang.)
We enjoyed lunch by Elmgill and some walkers removed their waterproofs as the drizzle had stopped. Following lunch we walked on to Hell Gill Bridge where we found a waterfall with a deep drop into a rocky ravine.
From here we climbed steeply to proceed along Hangingstone Scar, which is part of the Mallerstone Edge. The Guidebooks state "ruggedly beautiful." However, by this time, heavy and blustery rain and fog arrived. Sadly, some walkers did not have time to put on their waterproof clothing and got soaked!
We continued along the pathless fell side with streams and brooks, between the many short grassy ridges to High Seat. Despite it being below 2000 feet, it is the highest point for about 5 miles in any direction. By the time we reached High Peak (658 metres high) the rain had become heavier and the fog this time, even the most garrulous of walkers were subdued!
As we started to descend, most of the walkers recognised the area through the fog - we had visited this area before when we visited the 9 Standards (another tale well known by the DCC Walkers!) last year with Mike. We continued to descend quite quickly, looking forward to reaching Nateby village. However, disaster struck when we saw the bridge we should have crossed had been wrecked by a land-slip. So, we had to "slither" down the soaking wet river bank (no DCC Stewards to assist us) and everyone for themselves! (see photo below.)
Eventually, we arrived back to Kirby Stephen railway station at approximately 17.15. Not
surprisingly, none of the walkers enjoyed the usual refreshments and "debriefing". Everyone headed for their cars and home!
Thank you so much to Mike for organising yet another challenging WSWG walk - everyone agreed that it would have been a fantastic walk........just a pity about the awful weather and it will take days for our boots to dry out!

Friday 8 July 2016

The Dirty Thirty Thirds

I should have done this earlier. …. I have in my possesion, a book called Craven’s part in the great war – issued to John William Knipe in 1920 in memory of his part in what we now call World War 1.
I have two grandads – (many people will claim the same number) – John William Knipe from Skipton – my Dad’s dad and Herbert Turner, my Mum’s dad from Earby. I only ever met my mum’s dad and all he would say about the Great War was “nivver get thisell involved in owt like this, lad”, whilst suddenly withdrawing the pictures of a ruined Ypres which he’d started to show me. This puzzled me a bit at the time…
The book “Craven’s Part” etc was passed to me via my Nana when she died and it’s only now that I thought to look at it in more detail.
So, for the last few hours, I’ve retraced both grandads’ movements from Skipton to Lincolnshire to Doncaster to Bulogne to Flanders in the summer of 1915. And then to the villages just North of Ypres, to Amiens and to attacks on Thieval woods in the battle of the Somme to a reduction in available manpower from 2000 to 200 men. To the slaughter of almost all of the officer corps and the gas attacks and all that digging under fire.
And this is not even the half of it. Not yet. This is just 1916 – they continued for another 3 years.
And I can look at all the villages and roads and the digging-in by a canal on Google Earth and think that both my grandads were there – except that, maybe they were not – but got injured. Herbert got shot twice, it seems. The first time  he had a steel mirror in a chest pocket that took the force of a bullet and the second time he was hit in a hip – although he did recount enduring a gas attack which seems to have taken place at Ypres.  Grandad John Willy got hit in the hip and spent the rest of the war in hospital in Leeds, but I’m not sure, at this stage when this happened.
The bottom line, for a walking blog, is that I have a strong urge to revisit; to do some of the long marches and to visit some of the woods they invested.
The memories of Grandad Herbert Turner were probably quite stark. I think, maybe I can now understand why he snatched those pictures away so suddenly. It wasn’t the thing to show to a child. We were just post World War 2 and people had high expectations that this kind of thing should never ever happen again – an even stronger emotion held in the heart of my old Grandad given shock of gentle country lads encountering the stinking hell and  brutality and the random whistling death of the Flanders trenches. Bless ‘im.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Bowden Doors and St Cuthberts Cave

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Me and Dawn and LTD had a nice little trundle around a bit of the Kyloe Hills very recently – a small group of fairly low but rocky and interesting lumps – or that should be Tumps just to the left of Lindisfarne and to the right of the Cheviot hills.
There’s a small National Trust car park, signposted “St Cutthroats Cuthbert’s Cave” just by Holburn Grange farm which we used as a starting point just because it was a good place to start a walk.
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First up was the cave. Apparently, this is reputed to be where St Cuthbert’s body was rested overnight on it’s way to Durham Cathedral. Those familiar with the story of St Cuthbert will appreciate that he didn’t go straing to Durham but was paraded around the North of England for quite a while before actually being installed in a shrine there. People in Durham are specially fond of St Cuthbert it seems. The people who’s last bivied there and left litter and the remains of a campfire were less fond, apparently.
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Our first Tump was Greensheen Hill – a heathery lump with a fine view of Lindisfarne to the left and the Cheviot Hills to the right (depending on which way you are facing, obviously) This pleasant spot has a little rocky and unnamed top which provides a similar view, the opportunity for some mild scrambling and a chance for one’s pooch to lick the face and ears of a complete stranger having a snooze in the heather. She accepted my apologies with good grace, I’m happy to say. Still, it’s better to have a dog who does things like that rather than one who likes to take a nip out of strangers.
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Onwards and backwards (we retraced a bit) for the bagging of Cockenheugh. Cockenheugh’s top is at the junction of derelict walls deep in the woods. This provided a bit of a challenge, as did the location of a key bridleway which lay deep in vegetation well guarded by hordes of blackfly.
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We wandered further and accidentally found the right path which goes through to Colour Heugh aka Back Bowden Doors. This is a fabulously beautiful sandstone crag some forty feet high containing overhangs, slabs and corners of all shapes and sizes and facing West into the sun. The picture immediately above appears to be “Holly Tree Corner” mild vs 4b and th fluings to the left of the deep corner contain the finishes to “The Arches”  Very Severe 5a and “Hard Reign” 5c.  They’re all too hard for me anyway.
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And so, after a little wander across Dancing Green Hill, we traversed the top of Bowden Doors in a shower. We didn’t see much of the crag, but my Northumberland climbers guide  - and it’s a fairly old guide, runs to ten pages plus crag diagrams. Maybe we should have explored this a bit more…
St Cuthbert’s Way brought us back to the car park.
Just about 7 miles for 3 Tumps. It felt further, for some reason…
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