Tuesday 18 December 2018

Long Walks–Waskerley Wabbits

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Ashley, there’s only one wabbit involved – one with Mixie that LTD grabbed but then let go…

Anyway – this walk is 20 miles, although some GPS readings claimed it was 21. It also has 2250 feet of ascent, which probably isn’t all that much for 20 miles.

We began at Wolsingham Railway Station aka ice rink being well iced following a cold night – and a dawn start, obviously.  “We” being me, LTD, six other peeps plus Captain the dog,  either from previous walks or as a result of info provided on Wolsingham Wayfarers Faceache account..

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It was Very Cold. In fact, the night before had seen freezing rain and just a dusting of snow. This meant that all of the footpaths and tracks were liberally coated with a…coat .. of ice. This made the paths impossible to walk on, specially the steep bits where hands and knees had, sometimes, to be employed.

However, this did not seem to influence our pace, which managed to remain fairly brisk throughout at about 2.5 mph including the stops.

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Our slippery route went through Wolsingham City Centre to Thistlewood, passing County Durham’s #1 dogging spot and WW2 ammo storage facility at Salters Gate  (much too cold/early for any hanky panky today I would have thought), on to the Waskerley Way all the way to Parkhead, Stanhope Dene, the public conveniences at the Dales Centre and road and riverside paths back to Wolsingham, where we arrived just as it went dark. The route would be obvious should any reader care to consult a map – it’s pretty straightforward and has little in the way of actual navigation. The mind is also able to wander at will on several sections, either to warmer places , or trying to remember if one has completed all of the Christmas shopping.

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And, as proof that there really is a Father Christmas, he was seen to be in consultation with some peeps on the Train To Christmas Town as it passed us by as we finished.

We seem to have managed to increase the attendance at these long walks somewhat. There’ll be another Long Walk on 13 January 2019, should anybody feel like it. I’ve not decided the location yet, but, given the lack of daylight etc, it probably won’t be all that far away from Weardale or Teesdale.

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Thursday 13 December 2018

An Outbreak of Inaction and Delay

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It’s not that I’ve not been walking, because I have, but there’s been an outbreak of inertia at Pietowers since the crushing of the knipemobile’s door by the X1 Arriva bus to Tow Law.
This is partly because LTD is Not Allowed in the courtesy car (it’s a bus as it happens), so a few informal trips up the Dale have not happened and trips further afield won’t be taking place till a dog-friendly vehicle is accessed.
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I did go to Kendal without lTD and me and The Bro and June (the lass I went to junior school with) had a wet walk up four minor fells ranged around Tarn Hows. As it chucked it down all day, this was a blessing in disguise for LTD cos he would have been miserable in the rain.
I went on the bus, though, to join the Wolsingham Wayfarers Christmas Special walk at Wolsingham and LTD came too. And, as  neither me nor LTD were driving, we were able to wait for the return bus in the Black Lion in Wolsingham where a reasonable amount of beer was consumed. This was very nice. The Black Lion is a fine bus shelter, and very friendly. A very enjoyable walk, too, with mulled wine and some nice beer at the Black Bull in Frosterley.
On the Sunday, we joined Crook and Weardale Ramblers for a walk from Crook Market Place. This was almost exactly the same route as the walks I’ve previously lead for Durham County Council and for the Wednesday Walkers group but for which there wasn’t a space on this year’s programme. Nice walk which is always muddy at this time of year, unless it’s frozen, of course.
Speaking of inertia – during the week I attended a Ramblers meeting in Darlington on Tuesday where I was surprised (or, maybe, not so surprised) to learn that the North Yorkshire and South Durham Area Committee is “in abeyance” – having no Chairman or officers. There seems also to be a problem with the management of at least some of the local Ramblers groups in that the work of running the groups is falling to fewer and fewer stalwart and committed individuals. There’s a perception, I think that the Ramblers groups locally are a group of walking clubs – because they arrange walks. People who join the Ramblers for the walking are, in fact, funding the real purpose behind the Ramblers, which is Campaigning so the walks are important. But, as there’s no Area group, there seems to be little or no campaigning happening and I’m not aware of much else other than walks and bus trips going on; there’s certainly no actual evidence of much in the way of local efforts to recruit members. (I did see a poster in Durham Market Hall encouraging people to join-up, however). Generally, the profile is low and the campaigning aspects are probably best co-ordinated at least at an Area level, specially for Crook and Weardale since many of the potential recruiting grounds are outside Weardale/Teesdale which only have relatively small populations.
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There’s an urgent need to recruit a younger cohort of members to replace the venerable stalwarts have been supporting the local Ramblers for years, ensuring it’s survival for whatever may come.  One of the responses to this has been to introduce shorter walks, presumably to encourage people who don’t do much walking. There’s links to Health Walks in some areas, which are by necessity very short. But people who like to do long walks are neglected and, I believe there’s a constituency for these people. But if I happen to mention it, I’m told that the Long Distance Walkers Association do long walks, the inference being that it's not in the remit of the Ramblers. This may well be because a majority of RA members are uncomfortable walking more than half a dozen miles.  I don’t think the LDWA have a monopoly on walks over 14 or 15 miles, though. I remember joining Craven Ramblers on a walk many years ago, and, my recollection is that it was quite challenging and fairly long. Some of that energy needs renewal, I think.
But this is what happens in all organisations, specially very old ones like this. Thinking out of the box is required. County Durham’s Ramblers groups are not walking clubs and it would be great if more heed could be paid to the pro-active aspects of The Ramblers social purpose and, of course, it’s distiguished history.
Click for more info ramblers campaigns Pics are from the three walks…

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Teesdale Overnight

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The knipemobile’s little tiff with the X1 Darlington to Tow Law bus last Monday has interfered particularly with Lucky The Dog’s outdoor activities, mainly in view of the fact that he’s Not Allowed to ride in the huge and sinisterly black minibus that they’ve given me as a courtesy car. There was a plan to have a few days in the Western Lake District this week, but that was stymied by an arrangement for an engineer to inspect the damage to my car. Instead, I thought we could fit in an overnight in Teesdale and had a spot in mind. “We” being me and Dawn. LTD has been packed off to Halifax cos he couldn’t come anyway, so he’s in the tender care of Mrs K who is visiting in Yorkshire - and I’ve also got an appointment for walkies near Tarn Hows on Thursday which would have to be dogless too….
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So, me and Dawn went off to Forest-in-Teesdale, erected our tabernacles at sunset and settled down to a freezing cold night which extended from half past four in the afternoon to eight o’clock the next morning. This is a long time in a sleeping bag, staying warm. But I actually enjoy it. I had my little radio, a small but bijoux supply of 40% proof and the ability to stay pretty much catatonic for hours and hours and hours…
Nothing really happened. The quarry nearby was a bit noisy and a fox barked somewhere.
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So, by way of amusement with the marginal possibility of usefulness, I’m going to write about the scoffing.
The main meal was a Bla Band Chicken Stew (aka curry) . This is a dehydrated meal which requires only the addition of boiling water and ten minutes. And it was very nice. I will get some more of this. It’s a bit high in sugar at 28 grammes. This is about four times more than even a vaguely healthy level of sugar and just 2 grammes short of the RDI. It has 625 calories and, I expect that much of this is a quick but brief surge of blood glucose. Just the thing for anybody who needs a short period of happiness followed by a nap. The problem is, that I found it absolutely delicious. Nom nom. If you eat this, a mince pie for afters would be out of the question.
The dessert was to be  a BeWell Custard with Apple – boiling water to be added. This has a picture of Sir Ranuplh Fiennes on the front trying to look tough, but actually looking as if he’s been a bit surprised by a demand for excessive amounts of cash for a milky coffee. The slogan by his picture is “Used by really tough guys like Sir Ranulph Fiennes” Why BeWell should aim their marketing at just half of the population is a mystery; there’s no mention of tough girls at all and why people who aren’t very tough (I count myself in this category) don’t eat Custard with Apple is a puzzle.  The second mystery concerns the ironic use of the name “BeWell”. The pudding weighs 180 grammes dry weight and 87 grammes of this are sugar. This is, more or less, three times the recommended daily intake of sugar for an adult. Basically, it’s a bag of sugar with some bits of apple in it. I couldn’t possibly have eaten it. It was a mistake to carry it in in the first place. Does anybody want to buy an unused Custard With Apple?  Would I buy it again? Not on your sugary nellie I wouldn’t. I have wasted my cash and, as a Yorkshireman, you can imagine how serious this is. Anyhow, the sugar content is probably why this isn’t marketed at children.  You can imagine, I suppose, the trouble this amount of ket (Co Durham dialect word for “sweeties) would cause in a tent. You’d never get the little darlings to sleep.
I filled up on Soreen and cheese and some cheap scotch. Don’t try to lecture me about the fat and alcohol content of this bijoux supper….  Ta.
Eventually, after a long time during which the tent turned white and froze solid and the water in my water bags stiffened up quite a bit, a grey dawn dawned. It was time for breakfast.
For brekkies, I had a Food on the Move Chocolate Granola. This has 468 calories – just add water. It’s hard to say how much of this is sugar since the nutritional information only comments on carbohydrates – 49.5 grammes. I was a little disappointed by this meal. I think their porridges are better. I’m not a big fan of granola. At least I have this confirmed.
We had to return a bit early from our campings due to another inspection of the knipemobile – in the end it only had one, and now they’ve taken it away.
So, the car’s gone; the wife’s gone and the dog’s gone. I really miss the dog.

Thursday 29 November 2018

Meeting With The X1 Darlington to Tow Law

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Apologies for the slight hiatus in blog posts here – I have done two walks (or possibly more) but blogging has been temporarily interrupted by the random meeting between the knipemobile and the Arriva X1 Regular Bus service  between Darlington and Tow Law. This has distracted me somewhat – partially by worrying a bit by the proximity to your’s truly’s more handsome features and the front of the bus. And also the severalteen regular phone calls I’m getting, all of which need to know my postcode and date of birth and, for an individual with two official dates of birth (my Dad (bless ‘im) was a bit dateless at the registrar’s office in Burnley way back in 1951), I have to be a bit careful to be consistent, otherwise they think it’s not me but some fraudster who just needs a new door for a Nissan Note. All the phone calls are really essential;, apparently…
Anyway, I did two guided walks at the weekend – Clay Bank to Lordstones and back for the Wednesday Walkers Walking on Saturdays group ( 14 peeps and 2 dogs) and the Teesdale 12 Lovely Waterfalls Walk (Only 3 plus LTD)  Nobody came close to dying. Here’s some pictures:
By the way, the bus company have provided a car – when I say car, I mean a huuuuge people carrier and by “people” I meantersay, I’m not allowed to smoke in it or take a pet. As LTD doesn’t smoke, I wonder…. 
And this little contre-temps has buggerred up me and Dawn’s plans for a Lake District camp and my trip to Kendal next week which might go ahead but exclude Lucky. He’ll be disappointed cos I said he could drive as far as the motorway at Tebay…..
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Monday 19 November 2018

Long Walks – Balderhead to Great Knipe and the Long Fence

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Last month’s long walk was 20 miles or so in the Cheviot Hills and happily, I was able, with a bit of  cartographic jiggery-pokery to come up with a 20-miler in the North Pennines – a route from Balderhead towards Stainmore on a bridleway, an ascent of Great Knipe, a 515 metre Dewey overlooking the very lovely A66 and a return beside a really long and straight fence which heads towards Cotherstone. The probability of darkness befalling us was catered for by having headlights and torches  and a route which follows the Balderdale road and Pennine Way back to the cars for a few miles. (Probably about four, I think)
LTD was left at home since at least half of the walk is on land prohibited to doggies and, whilst I might have taken the pooch on a less adventurous walk, I didn’t want to be turned back or diverted on this one which might have posed a real problem.
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So, I collected Li Yang from her mountain mansion and we met Diane and David at Balderhead and set off. A phone call half an hour later told us that Ruth was behind us and was catching up – so we waited till she arrived. Happily, this wasn’t a very long wait.
The bridleway to the Cumbria border and beyond is mainly fairly easy walking but gets a bit boggy so we made good time to the intake wall which we crossed by a very slippery and derelict stile into “Troops Training” land and a fine bit of fellwalking overlooking the A66 took us to the summit of Great Knipe. Worra great name for a hill, by the way….
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Here, in the shelter of the summit crag, we took lunch number one. In my case this was a Cooplands chicken pasty and a Cooplands Curd Tart. Cooplands curd tarts are a bit of a treat by the way.
In brightening weather (it had been nithering and foggy up to now) – we sought out the head of The Fence. That is to say, The Long Fence. This is dead straight and goes for miles and miles and miles across heather, tussocks and bog. This is not physically easy walking but is good for the soul. The long hours pass. The mind wanders. Shopping lists are constructed. There’s a nagging worry that somebody might crack and ankle….   We’ve seen nobody else; I could have brouht the dog and feel a bit guilty about that.  In November there are no birds and the only sounds are the passing aircraft and the blasphemy and bad language expleted by those followers who have just gone up to their ankles in a seeping black bog, or suddenly found a deep hole. Somebody behind who’s socks have suddenly become soaked, squeaks a squak of protest. We splosh on. And on.
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After a while, a stony tor appears and this provides relief, a nice view of Shacklesborough and something to think about other than the possible depth of deep sphagnum or the growing pains in the calf muscles. This island of stone and grass and cairns is Crawlaw Currick – the currick being an ancient and well-built drystone obelisk. It strikes me that Crawlaw CDurrick could be an ideal spot for a very peaceful camp-out – there being running water nearby and an extremely small chance of any other walkers passing by – I suspect that nobody comes here for weeks and weeks as it’s well defended by bogs and sheer distance.
A brief interlude of sanity is enjoyed before rejoining The Fence until we reach the Pennine Way at Race Yate. After this we follow a bridleway to the PW Alternative coming up from Bowes and we follow this past some very large and interested moo-cows to Loup’s Hill where, sheltering behind a ruined building, we have Lunch Number Two.
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Lunch Number Two is a Frittata (thats a flan by the way) and a Lidl Apple turnover, washed down with tepid hot filter coffee (strength 4).
It is now officially nithering. A fiercely over-friendly shiver-inducing breeze is blowing in from the approximate direction of Hartlepool, so we move quickly down the hill to Briscoe where we take to the meadows and, as it grows dark, to the road to Clove Lodge where lights are lit.
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The final frenzy is through Hannah’s Meadow and back along the road to Balderhead. This is much, much longer than it was this morning. Clearly there has been some continental drift during the day. It all takes a while.
Diane’s GPS declares that we’ve walked 21 miles. David says this was a harder walk than last week.  Li Yang is talking about the Allendale Challenge.
LTD is not sulking when I get back to Pietowers. LTD doesn’t do sulking and seems to have forgotten his abandonment. He can go on the next one and we have a weekend of guided walks coming up.
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Tuesday 13 November 2018

Fight Club Hikers Peramble Pike O’ Blisco and the Old Dungeon Gill

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It’s been tradition now for the Fight Club Hikers to have an annual meet once a year (otherwise it wouldn’t be an annual meet, innit?). And so far, the meet has taken place in early November – often in quite bad weather – principally a lot of rain, some hefty snow and cold and some other weather that wasn’t either of these.
So, it came as little surprise that as I erected my tabernacle on the National Trust campsite at Langdale that it was chucking it down big time.
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Eventually, after a snack and a snooze to the soothing sound of heavy rain on the flysheet, me and LTD repaired to the pub where, after a very nice chicken curry and severalteen pints of various beers, 5 other FCH members appeared along with 2 dogs. As it continued heaving it down outside, a proper boozing session developed.
So, eventually, on a grey and drippy very next morning where it seemed to have stopped raining, we all went off to climb Pike O’ Blisco. Pete and his pooch Bella dropped out early on but five of us including canines LTD and Pepper the Collie made a ponderous ascent of the rocky path leading to Pike O’Blisco’s summit. On the way, three of us took a detour to bag the Very Lovely Kettle Crag, an insignificant Synge top with a significant view of Langdale.
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Meanwhile, at the top of Pike O’Blisco we discovered that, as well as the caitn and shelter the summit furniture included a Geo-cache in a small plasic box and a huge pile of human poo. By the size of it, this must have come as a considerable relief to it’s previous owner – but what a dirty twat they were to do such a thing. LTD wanted to eat it whereas I would have preferred whoever donated it to be made to eat it. The mind boggles at whatever was going through the defacator’s mind.  Prolly though it was funny.
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Anyway, we located the “down” path and came down as the rain started again, bagging the diminutive Brown Crags on the way down, and slipping on one’s arse on the wet grass and/or on the appallingly slippery “path” that’s been “improved” (i.e. hardened) by the utter eeejits who manage to con the walking world that they’re saving the fells from a terrible fate. I must say that falling over on wet grass is much more fun and less painful than falling over on the tilted skitey boulders of this comedy footpath. I wasn’t the only one to come a cropper, and our speed, which should have been a quickish downhill romp, was reduced to a delicate, careful and awkward crawl – resulting in getting much wetter than was strictly required.
We cheered ourselves up by more food and a substantial increase in the profits of local breweries back in the ODG. (This hasn’t changed in 40+years by the way, and the cobweb on the “pub of the year 1989”  plaque still retains nicotine from the days when this bar would have been full of sweaty climbers and tobacco smoke,)
Note that the Fight Club hardly ever have proper fights except sometimes at chucking-out time and we don’t really talk about those occasions… but it’s really nice to meet up every now and then and have some hilly fun and, occasionally, talk TGO challenge routes….
On Sunday morning it was still slashing down so I went home.
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