Friday 28 April 2017

Daundering–Going For a Schism Part 2

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Daunderish re-unification took place at some flattened grass overlooking ancient Norse farming settlement of Rosthwaite where, it was noticed by senior daunderers armed with maps, that there was a pub. This was probably going to be significant.
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But, for now, the number of Daunderers was back to it’s original 14. That is to say, no extras had been recruited and, even more significantly, nobody had yet died.
The seeds of Schism Version 2:2 had been sown, though. Some participants in yesterday’s foolish heroics in the wind-blasted crag-girt high summits and over-affectionate groupings of contours were expressing doubts about whether they could do it again today.
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Others, from the more sedate, I should say, sensible, calmer, decrepit senior citizens were already rejecting the dribbling lust for ascent expressed by our more athletic members and were almost openly discussing beer, chips, early pitching of tents and the avoidance of anything remotely resembling a slope.
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At Seatoller, just by the bus-stop, the group once more rent itself asunder in a similar way to which members of the PLP might do every few weeks.  A left-leaning group headed for Glaramara whilst a right-thinking selection headed for the heady pleasures of the Riverside bar at Rosthwaite. Foolishly, me and the Lad, seduced by stirring tales of derring-do and the promise of a walk which would be only marginally harder than our TGO chally Day 1 and about the same as TGO chally Day 2, went for Glaramara option along with five blokes.
Happily, the sun beat down in the way it often hardly ever does in an English April and we slugged and heaved our sweaty way up the long ridge to the final scramble to the very top of Glaramara at an almost nose-bleeding altitude of about 780 metres.
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The walk was a pretty standard tour of Glaramara, although visiting only three of it’s many tops plus Allen Crags, with a descent of the very lovely Langstrath via the very lovely but insidiously filthy Angle Tarn and down to the campsite at Stonethwaite. Additional mileage was added with a little limp along to the Riverside Bar – a bar which accepts dogs, many of whom entered into random barking competitions. Its always handy, I find, to have a loyal companion who is always available and willing to help out with the tidying-up of any dropped chips or wayward splashes of gravy. I meantersay, food waste attracts mice, so this is really a public health service, according to LTD.
Thus, we achieved a daily mileage of some 14 miles with 3500 feet of ascent. More macho estimations of distance and ascent were available at the time, but were wrong.
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And in the morning, Schism 3 occurred after a bit of a ramble along the Cumbria Way. This was caused when one part of the Daunder, heading off at some speed towards Braithwaite, ignored an open tea-room whilst others of a more relaxed attitude had bacon buns and tea. Later, whilst Flash Daunderers similarly ignored a bar, those  with more creaky knees  and who had had hot and salty bacon made to ensure their survival by having a bit of a relax in the sun with a nice, cool beer at the Swinside Inn. Others had lunch too. It makes me choke with pride and emotion to witness such dedication as this. (sniff…)
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Eventually, everybody turned up at Braithwaite and went home.
We’d done (that is to say, me and the Lad had done) 30 miles and 6600 of the Queen’s Imperial Feet of Up. Others had done other things. Hopefully, everybody was happy with whatever they’d done.
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Thanks to Messrs Sloman, Lambert and Butler Williams for the invite and organisation and for clever way that the route was designed to allow for the two styles of approach to TGO chally training [koff] and to all the others for the company, the good-humoured whingeing and for laughing at the joke about the vacuum cleaner. And thanks to LTD for his midnight dog-gas and  3:00 a.m running-about-barking  dream. This was fantastic entertainment in a small tent. No, really….


Tuesday 25 April 2017

Daundering–Going For a Schism Part 1

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Every year, just before a TGO challenge Mr Sloman and Mr Lambert organise a little bijoux ramblette involving walking about with tents, camping, tea rooms and public bars. Usually, or, at least, in the past, these have been very relaxed affairs with little in the way of heroism or, indeed, danger of injury or exhaustion. Last year’s first day from Dufton over Cross Fell to the wilds of Upper Teesdale was a bit hard, though, specially for an old fart like yours truly what with the thighs still flabby from a winter of carousing and general sitting about in warm places away from the driving sleet battering the Knipetowers battlements. Was this a sign of things to come?

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I was very pleased to be invited, though, along with The Lad and, I expected a nice, gentle ramble through sylvan green spring-girt pastures with gambolling lambs and with robins and warblers warbling in the flowery scented hedgerows. This dream would only be broken occasionally by the soft tones of an attractive member of bar staff asking, in sultry tones if I required another foaming pint and some free peanuts and would I mind if some more logs were to be stacked on the fire? This was all despite a “route sheet” which had names of Big Hills on it and unusually high totals of mileage/kilometerage and ascent.

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Planning of this year’s Daunder, had been outsourced to a private provider who had devised an athletic, striving and go-ahead course over several huge mountain ranges, suitable for the athletic, go-ahead, striving yoof-like half of the Daunderers who turned up in technical trousers and and far-away gazes a bit like they used to have in the male underpants section of Kay’s catalogue.  This would become Group 1 after the schism. I should point out that a few of these are even older than me, but have clearly lead a life free from sin and strong spirits, leading to levels of fitness that really shouldn’t be allowed at that age. A lesson for us all, I should say.

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A schism was inevitable since another half (some would say, the other half) held individuals who could be described as being more senior and wizzened, traditional, sensible and, indeed, flabby and it was these who decided to do something else. Something more Daunderish. Something more relaxed and beneath the claggy glaur that was hiding the hills on that fateful morning and which appeared to be in some serious danger of lifting unless we made a swift decision to take an easier course quite soon.

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Schismism was also possible due to the unique qualities of the proposed route which consisted of a couple of loops, a bit like an untensioned reef-knot and so allowed short-cuts to be taken. And it came dangerously close to campsites and pubs which also tempted the temptable to afternoons of debauched carousing and pub lunches involving chips.

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I was in the second group on Day 1. Group 2 shortened the route quite a bit and finished our efforts in mid-afternoon by putting up our tents and having a bit of a snooze in the drizzle of a mid afternoon at a blustery pitch at Dale Head Tarn. Nevertheless, our efforts were  still reasonably respectable at 7 miles and 2300 feet of upness, in contrast to the more athletic 28 miles and 47000 feet of ascent of the other group. We couldn’t help notice, when they passed our camp late that afternoon that several of them were carrying heavily pregnant ewes on their backs just to make their efforts more like a Bad Day on the TGO chally. Indeed, one unfeasibly tall group-member was carrying a shepherd, AND his  senior collie, Jess AND an 18kg bag of sheep-nuts,  but few had seemed to notice the rocks with which we’d loaded their packs earlier in the day. Still, they seemed fairly fresh, although reluctant to join our spartan camp. They carried on for a more sheltered spot about a mile away.

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We met them the very next morning  - of which more will be told later. When I’ve thought about it. I expect that other bloggers will be blogging about this later. Some of what they will say may well be true. [taps nose and winks].

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Bagging Old and New Tops on Muncaster Fell

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Me and LTD took the new knipemobile on a stupidly long journey through FIVE sets of roadworks to the far end of Cumbria where, just by Ravenglass there’s a National Trust property by the name of Muncaster Castle. Muncaster also has a fell – a pleasant nobbly ridge running towards Eskdale and Alf (That Lass Has Nicked My Pipe) Wainwright included Muncaster Fell in his treatise on the outlying fells of Lakeland.

A bit later, Muncaster Fell was recognised as a Marilyn – a hill with 150+ metres of re-ascent all around.

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So, baggers got double bubble – a Wainwright Outlier AND a Marilyn. Muncaster Fell was to prove popular in baggism. (Thats the hill-type baggism, not the Lennon/Ono sort which requires an expensive hotel room in Amsterdam and a white piano.)

I bagged Muncaster Fell on 15 September 2002 in the company of Bruno the Superdawg and Mike the Editor.

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And then, a few months ago (not sure when) – Muncaster Fell got surveyed and it was discovered that the top with the trig on it wasn’t the top at all. There was another top a bit over there -------> and it was a little bit higher.  So a return match was required, and this was it.

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We parked freely (we like parking freely) in Muncaster Castle car park and wandered up Fell Lane to the old top – that is to say, the Wainwright top at 231.4 metres. The new top looked suspiciously lower than the old top from the old top, but nevertheless we wandered over there next. The new top is 232.1 metres high – so, 0.7 metres higher than the old top. The old top looked suspiciously higher than the new top from the new top, so I ate a cornish pasty and a whisper bar (other choccy bars are available).

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And then , having satisfied both the inner man AND the Gods of Baggerdom, we wandered further over just about anything that was sticking up – just in case.

Finally, we bagged the rather lovely Tump, Silver Knott at 176 metres. And this is where me and LTD dozed off in the warm sun for about half an hour. This was quite nice. Napping on a summit is very pleasant. Until  one day, you wake up and it’s gone dark, which is probably not all that nice, really.

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Our return walk was by bridleways which run along the Southern edge of Muncaster Fell. Not many people know this, but there’s a golf course along here and there’s a sign encouraging walkers, cyclists and stamp collectors alike to pop in for a cuppa.

We journeyed back to Knipetowers by a slightly quicker route involving the M6 and only two sets of roadworks, saving 15 minutes which is sufficient time for a nice cup of tea.

This is far too far for this kind of thing.  I meantersay, five hours driving and a seven mile walk. Its madness. Madness….   Madness… They call it Madness..

Monday 17 April 2017

One Down, Two To Go

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Finally, it was time to do the guided walk around Hunstanworth. This is the route that me, Dawn and LTD reccied a few weeks ago and, that I reccied once again last Wednesday.
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I was a bit disappointed to find that the three trees blocking Footpath No1 in the parish of Hunstanworth had not yet had the delicate attentions of a chain saw ( I suppose these things sometimes take a while to resolve) and so, I altered the route to avoid any dignity-defying scrambles through the branches and twigs for a short road-walk from Baybridge to Hunstanworth.
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By way of compensation, we visited the grave of William Snowball wot got his head battered-in on New Years Day 1880 at Belmont farm above Baybridge, an ‘Orrible murder which remains unsolved to this day. Did the housekeeper do it? Or was it the housekeeper’s stalker who’d appeared suspiciously in the area a few days earlier. Or had Snowball upset somebody on his New Year Eve pub-crawl in Blanchland and Baybridge (this is not possible nowadays by the way as there’s only the one pub) Or was there a long-standing feud between Mr Snowball and one of his neighbours? The cops failed to address this particular question. Anyway, somebody landed a fatal blow to the back of Mr Snowball’s skull with a lump-hammer in his own mistle whilst his old dad and the housekeeper waited up for him to return. But how did the housekeeper get his blood on her pinney?
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Some say, that if you were to camp outside the now derelict Belmont Farm on New Years Eve that you might imagine that you hear the words “I’ll get you Snowball” followed by one or two dull thuds and a bit of a squeak…..    I have no evidence at all to support this.
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On the day, just 8 people turned up to enjoy all this effort, plus the stewards Neville and Ann, who did a fine job, specially with the particularly awkward and electrified stiles with big drops down the other side wot happen on this route.
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I have nothing much to report about it, really, except to say that I have three walks on the Durham County Council guided walks programme and that these will likely be my final three. Every now and then I feel the need to change things so that Things don’t get too stale. And Durham County Council are giving me lots of excuses to make the changes. I have Things in the pipeline and Things Planned.
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Sometimes, life really is too short. Far too short. Two more to go. (If they don’t ban me for not having a passport-sized photograph for my identity badge before then)
The walk is ten or eleven miles depending on diversions and options.


Wednesday 12 April 2017

Grey Mare’s Tail Camping

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Following on from the previous post, the whole point of this little trip was to have a night’s camping somewhere in ther Moffat hills. The bagging stuff was just to make the long journey up to Castle Greytowers a bit more productive, hence the diversion via Galloway.
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So, me and the dog eventually turned up somewhere near Carstairs Junction, and, the very next day, were transported off to the visitor car park at the foot of Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall. #1 Daughter then abandoned us to our fate with a promise to return the next day at half past two.
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The path up to Loch Skeen from the car park is both very busy and very steep and the penalties for tripping up over a tourist having an angina attack is a long, tumbling slide to the burn far below. I mean far, far below and, with disappointing results as far as the hope of survival is concerned.
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Ultimately we sweated and heaved our way up to the spectacularly beautiful corrie holding the Very Lovely Loch Skeen and a short exploration of it’s Southern shore produced a wide but slightly soggy grassy platform amongst all the tilted heather and tussocks. Had we explored quite a bit further, we would have found a lovely flat delta with a nice little stream of fresh water at the head of the loch. But we made do with our spot, which was quite nice anyway.
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Crowds flocked to the other side of the loch but only a small family of Belgians explored as far as our camp, apart from hillwalkers who were climbing up and down the rocky ridge of Mid Craig behind us.
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After a brew and a bit of a lounge about, we set off up the same ridge and headed to the top of Mid Craig, followed by a tramp over gentle slopes to Firthope Rig and then to the 821 metre Corbett of  White Combe, descending grass which has too many contours than is reasonable for grassy slopes to have, back to the tents in time for tea.
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It had been a more or less cloudless day of blue skies and a bright, moonlit night followed.
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In the morning, a slow breakfast was followed by a quick bag of the 605 metre Watch Knowe and the long descent back to Car Park central where we had a chat with the National Trust (Scotland) peeps who were keen to find out where we’d been all night.
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And, once #1 daughter had arrived to collect us, it was all over. We’d covered about 10 miles and 3000 feet of up.
I used Dawn’s Hillberg Enan, my own Akto having gone to Nottingham for a holiday. I put extra guys on the ends of the Enan for additional stability. It was quite windy at times and, hence, no condensation at all. The Enan is stable but the mesh door on the inner is a bit draughty round the Trossachs. LTD noticed nothing of this since he was snoring under my down jacket and cuddling up to a sigg bottle full of hot water inside 2 red socks. Soft git.

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Roamin from Dunroamin in Galloway

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Prior to having a brief wild camp with the son-in-law, me and LTD pitched up at Dunroamin campsite, just a bit to the South of Wigtown. And very nice it was too.

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On the way up, we bagged Knockmearns Hill at Creetown which even has a waymarked path – or, at least, a route to the top, and, also a herd of lively but apparently timid Galloway cows and their calves.. and a digger digging up boulders for some reason or other. Together, they made a right old mess of the pasture at the foot of the hill.

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And the next day it was Marilyn bagging time. We struggled to the top of White Top of Culreoch through big tussocks and forest brash, crossing a barbed-wire fence dangerously for the bagging of a small Tump sticking on it’s side – one Craig of Grobdale. Galloway hills are very very tussocky by the way.

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Then, post-lunch we acheived the beetling top of Castramont Hill using a handy but sqquishy track through the heather, bogs and tussocks and then we moved on to Bengray involving another spiky fence and the scaring of a Polish fisherman carrying a dead brown trout. He was clearly of the impression that he was completely alone by Loch Whinyeon – a Loch which seems to have no decent camping spots by it at all.

We ended the day by traversing over the top of Benfadyeon on the way back to the knipemobile.

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Friday was for travelling to Kilncadzow, but first, we bagged Fell Hill. Fell Hill was a fine hill till recently. Now it is covered in hardened roads, ripped-up peat and the makings of a new windfarm.

Today’s excitement was spotting a collie dog heading towards Corsock. I assumed it was a local farm dog on walkabout but, on heading up the track towards our target Marilyn, an Australian chap in a Nissan 4X4 asked if I’d seen a collie dog anywhere. It was his friend’s dog and he was supposed to be looking after it and…..  I sent them towards Corsock – some 3 miles away.

Later, I met the lad again and he’d just been informed that his stray dog was in a cottage at Corsock and was safe.  Never lose your pal’s dog. Just a tip, there…

We’d bagged 3 Marilyns, a Hump and 5 Tumps. And Dunroamin campsite is worth a visit too…

More adventures inabit…

Monday 3 April 2017

Efelent Trees with Dawn and LTD

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On the occasion of me and Mrs Pieman’s 40th wedding anniversary (and they said it wouldn’t last) (they said the same thing about World War 2), we had a bit of a do at Crook Cricket Club, featuring the rather superb ceilidh band “Maximum Pastry”. We also had some pastry and a fair amount of beer and whisky. All the top people attended, including Dawn, JJ and Chrissie and Geoff as well as huge numbers of the Knipe clan and a coterie of South West Durham locals.

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Then , in the morning, we used up an entire half a day having an “all day breakfast” – so-called because the calories produced by the feast lasted all day, despite the efforts of walking 11 miles with some uphill contours included just for fun.

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Me and Dawn and LTD set out from Wolsingham railway station at half-past noon (at least) and wandered up through the meadows and pastures to the Famiss Efelent Trees – which loom largely, and have done so for many years, above Frosterley. Of course, the Elephant Trees have featured regularly in this blog, because they’re only a few miles from knipetowers and Weardalers are remarkably fond of them despite the fact that they’re a bit scraggy and weather-beaten and no-longer look like a herd of elephants from the Dale below.

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We did a little plod of about 11 miles (did I mention this before?) involving Fine Gill  and Bollihope, including the Cowboy Pass, Harehope Quarry where the Frosterley Marble features in Durham cathedral probably came from, and riverside paths back to the train station. We were all, frankly, knackered. LTD is, in fact, still asleep and only wakes briefley to stuff his face with chewsticks, the wrapping paper off the butter, and, of course, his breakfast of meat and kibble and his tea, of the same stuff. He’s a right lazy git, is LTD…

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Nice weekend, and Dawn managed to survive the rumbustuous, noisy and chaotic Knipes and all their children and dogs, some visiting and some temporarily resident. There’s still a fair amount of rubble.