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Monday, 9 July 2018

Tangling With Tussocks on Caldbeck Fells


After having a trundle in the Borders significantly delayed and shortened by the eight sets of roadworks between Knipe Towers and Langholm – thats a set of traffic lights every ten miles with very little evidence of anything much going on (the Longtown delay was the longest), I decided to have another bash at walkies in short order and drove off in a bit of a huff to Mosedale, which is just a bit to the right of Penrith.


And so, on a summer’s day which wasn’t really too hot, me and LTD tripped the light wotsit up  the little dale past Swinside to the Cumbria Way whoch follows Grainsgill Beck past the old tungsten mines (all tungsten is quite old, apparently) to Lingy Hut.

Lingy Hut has been dunnup by the Mountain Bothies Association since I was last there which was some significant time ago. I spent a draughty night with two peeps who’d got a bit lost in the hillfog and who opted to stay there instead of their planned B&B in Caldbeck. We had a nice night. They played Beach Boys tracks on a sort of boombox thingy and I shared a bit of whisky…

Anyway, it’s been dunnup and draught-proofed. You could spend a night there and it would probably be quite nice, but you’d have to carry up some water from Grainsgill.


The objective of today’s expedition, though, was to add eight new tops to LTD’s bag. This involved wandering about quite a lot, doing some contouring, tangling with tussocks, blundering through deep heather and snoozing on soft bilberries, or in LTD’s case, on some rocks.


The tops in order were these:

Great Lingy Hill 616 metres

Miller Moss 609 metres

Little Lingy Hill 600 metres

Coomb Height about 620 metres

Won’t tell you the name of the next one – Pike (dhuhh) 590 metres and a bit

Knott 710 metres

Little Calva 642 metres

Great Calva 690 metres.


As for me, I’d never been to Pike before. It was very nice. It has a cairn and a nice view.

We snoozed in the sun for a long time on Great Calva before plunging the 1000 feet down to the path back to Mosedale through the Very Deep Heather.

Its a bit of a plod back to Mosedale, so I was more than gruntled to discover that The Friend’s Meeting House has a pop-up tearoom, staffed, presumably, by volunteers and serving pots of tea and dangerous-looking cake and they let me take the dog in.

We did 15 miles and 2880 feet of ascent.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Fiends Fell and Melmerby Fell–A Reconnaissance

On the 15th of September I’ll be leading a guided walk for the Wednesday and Saturdays Walking Group (Wednesday Walkers Walkihng on Saturdays) and I’d said that the walk would be on Fiend’s Fell; Fiend’s Fell being just a bit North of Cross Fell for those who’ve never heard of it and it’s also in exactly the same place for those who have heard of it….
Before any guided walk can take place, of course, it’s usually quite a good idea to work out the actual route and doing a reccy is reccymended (see what I did there?)
There’ll be another reccy about a week before – that is to say, at the end of August, but in the meantime, me and LTD went off to a sultry Melmerby village, between Penrith and Alston to explore a route.
The now finalised route will go on quiet rough lanes towards Gamblesby, then follow an old road which leads up the steep Pennine scarp towards Hartside Pass. After this it visits Fiend’s Fell and Melmerby Fell before descending by a lane back to Melmerby.
At the top of Hartside Pass there was once a cafe, once well supported by bikers and the occasional hiker but now in ruins having unfortunately been destroyed by fire this past winter. The route was originally intended to go this way, but a little way before the cafe, LTD noticed a new footbridge across the ditch beside the track and a waymarker post pointing uphill with a thin trod heading straight for the summit of Fiend’s Fell.
We did go to the cafe to have a look and found a way through grouseland (tracks, burned heather, grouse butts, traps)  on some quite rough ground which eventually produced an ATV track which also went to the top of Fiend’s Fell. But the other way is better, and, frankly, there’s not much point in visiting the ruined cafe unless it’s for an ice-cream, there being an ice cream van there. Under pressure, I would lead the walk to the cafe should there be sufficient demand for cornets or, indeed, lollies.
Additionally, September 4th is at the height of the grouse-shooting season, so avoiding the butts is probably  wise. I may need a Plan B in case they’re shooting on the day – this would likely be an approach to Fiend’s Fell directly from the West, as opposed to the North, or even avoiding that hill and  going straight for the next hill to the South.
Fiend’s Fell is at 614 metres and sports a trig point and a cairn and some comfy bilberry plants on which to lounge about. In September, there may well be bilberries and, it seems likely that the approach lanes will be abundant with brambles, so when we do the walk, an ample supply of vitamin C will be provided free of charge to all participants.
The route then heads South towards Cross Fell and climbs gradually to Little Knapside Hill and then to Knapside Hill which has a currick – that is to say, a large cairn with a shelter and a cracking view of the Eden valley and the Lake District, and more bilberry and short, springy turf on which to laze or snooze whilst soaking up the sun. The going gets easier with altitude and it’s only a short and easy hop to the top of the walk at 709 metres and the cairn on Melmerby Fell
So far, we’d avoided much in the way of intense heat, having set off just before it got very hot, and, at midday we were up on the high tops where there was a lovely, cooling breeze, and it would have been nice to stay high and, perhaps, wander over to Cross Fell on the easy and gentle ground and benign, not to say superb conditions, but we had to follow the route and so, we headed towards Blencathra and found, after some exploration, a gap in the extensive scree slopes marking the edge and this gap lead to a sheepfold and a track which lead all the way back to Melmerby, where it was shimmering hot. Too hot for the dog’s paws on the road, in fact and, despite LTD’s hatred of water, I made him have a short paddle and dip in the two becks which are crossed. LTD walked mainly on the grassy verges and , somehow, we collected a small tribe of sheep which lead the way all the way back to the village, eventually invading a farmyard and causing farm staff to rush about shouting and waving their arms.
The walk is just about ten miles with 2100 feet of ascent and seems to work quite well. The fellwalking part, in good conditions, is superb and easy and the views are huge. In wet, windy and misty times, it might well be a bit of a challenge.
Come back in September to see what actually happened!

fiends fell reccy

Monday, 2 July 2018

2018 Northumbrian Beach Bivi #1

Really really attentive readers will recall a multipicity of beach bivis in 2017 and, possibly 2016 too…
The idea is simple – go for a walk involving bagging something, head to Ross Farm and carry huge amounts of water, teabags, food, dog biscuits and a towel for a mile or so  and then eat, sleep, brew and dip for a day, or, possibly two if the weather and the sea conditions allow.
Now camping is Not Allowed on Ross Back Sands on account of it being disturbing to the snoozing of the local seals and the sand gets all churned up and in the wrong order. And, I expect, that some campers may light fires and leave litter and general poo all over the place. We’ve always been much tidier than this, leaving no trace at all of our short residencies, apart from a bit of flattened grass and sand and some footprints. It’s a big and spectacularly beautiful place and only gets busy in a small area and, after hours, there’s nobody else at all. Apart from the wardens guarding the terns and the fishermen chugging about just offshore. And the seals who like to watch people from a distance. And a fox and a lizard and some birds.
On this occasion we didn’t bother with a pre-bivi hill-bagging but proceeded direct to the beach where Dawn put up a small tabernacle or shelter into which we retired for a snooze due to the fact that it was cloudy, misty and a bit chilly. In the late afternoon, the sun broke through suddenly just a short while before it set, but the next day was hot and sunny and the sea was relatively friendly, apart from the odd wayward current which, if ignored, would probably carry off the dipper towards Aberdeen. And some random and lively waves mixed in with the more gentle stuff just for added excitement.
In the evening, we were visited by a “warden” – a chap unbothered by our bivi but what excited him was the prospect of us , and LTD, of course, disturbing the terns wot are nesting half a mile to the North, guarded, it has to be said, by  some notices, fencing and a permanent staff guards in a hut. Anybody approaching the area during the nesting period, which seems to end at the end of July, is approached by a warden and diverted politely whence they came. There is legal force to all this, so trespassing is a bad idea. In any case, the terns will have soon done their stuff, so if anybody does want to wander around the nearby point, a postponement till August would seem to be just the thing.
We managed several dips in the sea, which had warm waves and cold waves, till it was time to leave on Saturday afternoon.
We may well be back. We left no trace at all, not even LTD’s squishy poo. You wouldn’t know we’d been there had the wardn not chanced on our camp.