Thursday 30 August 2018

Napping on the Buttermere Fell


I seem to have developed a bit of a log-jam of walks over the next few days. If you’re retired like wot I am, it would appear to most sensible peeps that this situation would be unlikely to happen. But….

So, just to start things off, and at a whim, me and LTD went off to Buttermere, having identified an unbagged lump labelled Gale Fell East Top, at 499 of the Queen’s metres and just below Starling Dodd.


Firstly, we climbed Red Pike via the lovely Dodd, a pimple/Nuttall stuck on the side. This has superb views over Crummack Water and Buttermere and is an ideal spot to sit and scoff salted cashew nuts whilst sipping Colombian filter coffee from a really really old thermos. It was here that LTD enjoyed his first nap.


We watched a chap and his son heaving mountain bikes up the steep path to Red Pike, and, indeed, overtook them about ten minutes later. Since I was last up there, Red Pike seems to have developed a deep and loose gully near the top, which those pushing bicycles must have found challenging….


We crossed the moor to Starling Dodd, which we had to ourselves and thence over a sloppy bit to our target Gale Fell East Top. Here, lunchtime was declared and we found a little suntrap out of the cold wind blowing off the Isle of Man and settled down into the heather. Here LTD had his second nap. And I had my first. I woke up an hour later. The sun had gone in and it was quite cold.

I decided that I still had plenty of time, though, despite the snoozathon, and we followed the fence up to Great Borne, which was also uninhabited, and then down the steep grass to join the bridleway back to Buttermere, bagging Floutern Cop, a small Tump, on the way.


It’s very “autumn” at the moment; what my Dad would have called “back-endish”. The wind is cold, the bracken is on the turn and the hedgerows are full of blackberries, crab apples and sloes. I’ve already had one blackberry and apple crumble, having collected half a kilo of brambles on a dog walk at Crook. I’ll leave the crab apples to those who know what to do with crab apples, but I’ll be having some sloes in a few weeks – I think they might be better after a frost, and, if we get a clear night or two in September, a frost seems likely. In the meantime, I’m packing a few extra warm things..

We did 11 miles and 3600 feet of ascent. We have another walk in the Lake District tommorow, then a reccy for a guided walk, then  Ramblers walk in the Dales. It might rain on the Ramblers, apparently.

Some more pics: (click to make them biggerer)


Monday 27 August 2018

Back to Langholm–Tansy, Naze, Mid Hill and Whita

Li Yang decided she wanted to come with me to Langholm, so orf we jolly well went in the knipemobile (showing my age , here…) . The journey had significantly fewer roadworks than my last trip to Langholm and we arrived in just a bit under two hours…. and the day was turning sunny and warm…
We wandered through the park (very lovely) and joined Gaskell’s Walk, a Buccleuch Estate footpath which heads up by Wauchope Water through woodland with blackberries (nom….) and thence by Becks Farm along squishy paths to the Glencorf Burn – a bracken-fest with barbed wire to be crossed and, ultimately to the summit of Tansy Hill 328m
Tansy Hill has only juncus for shelter against the breeze drifting off the Solway Firth, but has cracking views over said Firth to the Lake District Hills, blue in the distance. Here, we lunched.
A contouring route took us around to Naze Hill 331m – a very similar lump to Tansy, in fact. Anybody intending to walk these lovely hills should note that a) they’re very very quiet and those out for a session of  thinking-time, of peace and quiet and some of that “me” time stuff, will find the ideal spot; and b) there are few tracks or paths and the going is quite rough in places.
Some fence-handrailing brought us to Mid Hill 327m which has a trig at 326m, but the summit is on the SW side of the fence. Here, we met a walker (!) – a “senior” lady with a lurcher dog, out for a sort of reccy. We had a long chat. Her dog leapt back and forth over the fence and made friends with LTD. There was much tail-wagging and sniffing of the naughty parts (I’m referring to the dogs here obviously).
There’s an unmapped local path on the trig-point side of the fence; one of those paths that are a complete mystery to walkers who don’t know where they are in the first place and it can be rejoined from the “wrong” side of the fence by following the fence downhill to a gate. From here’ it’s easy to follow back to the fleshpots of Langholm.
As a sweet course, we bagged Whita Hill 355m  on the way home (through Newcastleton to Kielder: a shorter route home which takes a bit longer than driving on the A69/A7)
I’d been up Whita Hill before, though, so only LTD got the tick. Li Yang doesn’t really bother about ticking hills – she’s more interested in the mileage – which, in this case, was eleven miles.
Whita Hill has a memorial to poet Hugh MacDairmid and a huuuuge memorial to Major Sir John Malcolm – a pillar of the British Empire and all-round good egg, according to the inscription on the side of the obelisk.
The hills immediately North of Langholm are very attractive, specially when sunlit and seem from the Mid Hill area – and it seems likely that there will more visits to Langholm for trundles in this area, although how I can fit this in this year is a puzzle at the moment – my diary is full and it’s a bit far for short winter days. Next spring, though, when the larks and pipets are noisy in the sky…….

Monday 20 August 2018

Highlands Campings - Tasting Autumn


It chucked it down for the 270 mile road trip to the little car park at the end of the track to Callater.

Then it chucked it down some more as we (me, Dawn and LTD) walked up the track past the Lodge and Bothy and pitched at a bonny spot at the head of the loch – about a mile or so from the lodge.


It drizzled on and off all night and partially into the next day when the hills became alive with the sound of a grouse shoot up on the hill. Vehicles could be seen high up the track leading to Carn an Tuirc. I was seized by an irresistable desire to stay in bed and read my improving book (The Seal Woman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson – a cracking read by the way and much in contrast to the dire drabness of BBC Radio 4’s output for the day.) Radio 4 used to be quite interesting. Not sure what happened, but whatever it is, or was, was seems to have become an irritatingly dull background drone which I had to switch off in favour of the sound of the sporadic gunfire coming from the knobs of the hill. Yes folks, I was , in fact, suffering from Bell’s Lassitude. This is marginally more expensive than Whyte and Mackay’s Lassitude or, indeed, Famous Grouse Lassitude. I hate taking proper malt whisky to the hills in case I spill it, and I find that single malts evapourate at a higher rate than yer blended stuff, so the Bell#s lasts longer. And I quite like Bell’s.

Couldn’t get Radio 2 on my liddle radio-set. This is just as well since they’ve started playing music with squeaky noises in and I feel I’m probably drifting out of their age-related target audience.


Day 3 and the shooting had stopped. The rain had stopped too, but there was a cold wind gusting from either the West or the East, depending on which way the glen diverted the prevailing South-Westerly. So, I roused LTD from his Winalot Lassitude and we went off and bagged Carn Dubh – an 800-metre flat-topped grouse moor hidden from Callater but in full view of the Glenshee Ski paraphanalia a jaunt of some 7 miles or so, there and back.

On Day 4, we abandoned Callater, as per The Plan and went to Braemar for Fish and Chips and some light shopping, followed by a short drive to Glen Shee and a showery walk up Glen Taitneach (The Glen of the Many Very Small Potatoes). The showers were heavy and we abandoned the walk up the glen after about three or four miles and set up camp quite near some noisy waterfalls. These were almost noisy enough to drown out the whingeing middle-class Londoners droning on about something or other Quite Important on Radio 4, but not, it seems the lively bollix and adverts with people doing a verbal version of small print concerning the application of Terms and Conditions and Only Available to Over 18’s and Not Available in the Channel Islands or feckin Milngavie in between tracks by Abba or the Beautiful South. much more entertaining, in fact. Kingdom FM (Kingdom of Fife, I suspect, not the Jehovah’s Witnesses)


It rained and blew on and off on Day 5. I received an unexpected bout of Porcine Rissotto Lassitude and fought a sudden addiction to honey-roasted peanuts in between putting the tent pegs back in and chasing ants around Page 183 of Sally Magnusson’s novel with an index finger just for fun. I dreamed of sunny days wandering through the sun-kissed fields and pastures of the Kingdom of Fife whilst seeking out the place where All My Gardening Needs could be met and I could have a cuppa and a fruit scone whilst the weans played on the adventure playground. The waterfall hissed away in the background and deer barked somewhere. LTD snored and farted doggy farts in his lovely sleeping bag…. He acheived his all-time record of 17 hours in bed and was keen to set off on Day 6. Well done, Lucky, there should be some kind of award ceremony or something.


On Day 6 Dawn accompanied me part way up the Glen (actually, it translates roughly as “The pleasant glen” – and very nice it is too.) Me and LTD wandered up to Loch nan Eun and bagged some more 800 metre tops Glas Tulaichean North Top, Carn a Charsaich, Creag Easgaidh and it’s East top – and all very nice, but in a strong and nithering wind emerging from Somewhere Very Cold and causing me not to stop for lunch till I found a really nice comfy spot hidden from the autumn-like gale and furnished with some very comfy bilberry plants. We returned to camp after about three or four hours. The hills, it seems are well populated by some pretty beefy mountain hares and grouse of both the black and red kinds.

I finished the book to a background of car dealership adverts, some kind of phone-in competition, more Abba, Beatles and even Herman’s Hermits. This is the stuff (to quote Lenny Henry)


It really chucked it down from the early hours of Day 7 till the time we took up the wet tents and left for home. I liked the hot weather. I’m missing it already. It seems that the summer has gone and has left without leaving a note as to whether or not it’s just gone shopping or has gone to New Zealand till next June. I’m already planning to rewrite the Gospel According to St Luke in the form of a Lancashire Monologue for a Christmas “do” (The bit about the shepherds)

Sunday 12 August 2018

Nidderdale–The Upper Bits

I was somewhat delayed by a cosy, stark but ultimately unmemorable dream (that is to say, that whilst remaining slightly unnerved all day, I can’t remember a thing about it) . Which is why me and LTD didn’t arrive till eleven o’clock.
The objective of today’s assignment was to bag Woodale Moss – on 11 August when the grouse-shooting starts on 12 August, or 13 August cos they don’t generally shoot on Sundays. Woodale Moss is verboten to yer canines, so I left him by the gate…. no, really…….. honest.
We bagged the top in short order and progressed towards How Stean Gorge, which, we were disappointed to learn has a seven quid entrance fee, Seven quid?  Lttle chance of that, so we moved on, pausing only to eat some vergeside blackberries and cock our leg in the general direction of mammon.
We moved on even further to Lofthouse and to the bridleways that skirt the edge of the dale quite beautifully  at a high level back to the car which was parked very prettily and freely at Scar House Reservoir.
Plus things: A red kite – there’s some danger for a red kit up here – this area is absolultely the most notorious area in England for the illegal killing of birds of prey, even though a red kite hardly qualifies. They’re a right set of bastards up here an’ no mistake. They’ll kill anything thats not a grouse, and then they kill the grouse.  And, to make it all nice and everything, they dress up as Edwardian gentlemen to do it. Nice hills, shame about the locals in their clinkered boots, checked shirts and feckin tweeds – I meantersay, who wears feckin tweeds in 2018? They’re right nasty buggers, though, so don’t get caught criticising cos they is violent criminals innit an’ they’ll fuck you up.
Yorkshire Water need to consider their policy towards grouse shooting – the burning, trapping, killing and exclusion – and disregard for the law just to make a few bob is well past it’s time. This is 2018. It’s time to move on.
More plus things: Two mountain cyclists took time to make friends with Lucky The Dog. This is not specially difficult cos he’s a bit of a tart. And we had a nice, long chat with some ramblers doing the same route in the opposote direction.
There’s a cafe at Scar House, just in case anybody requires a cup of tea….
And it was a nice day – almost perfect fro the walking, in fact.
We did 11 miles.
Next – which will be the occasion of a short blogging pause – me and Dawn are off to the Cairngorms to get  wet and eaten by midgies. It could be fun. I’m taking a book in case of rain.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Accessibility Guide to UK’s National Parks

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NRS Healthcare is a company supplying mobility and daily living aids and they’ve produced a PDF which has information  about access to activities in each of the UK’s 15 national Parks about
We (that’s me and the dog by the way) think this is a top-hole idea and I’ve supplied a link to the PDF at the end of this blog post.
Hopefully, this is just the very first public version of this useful information. I say this  because we don’t seem to be doing very well in providing access to activities and each of the fifteen National Parks only lists a couple of Things To Do (if that’s the correct term..)
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Clearly, the function of a National Park is principally as a planning body and most “activities” will necessarily be provided by commercial providers, or by organisations such as the Forestry Commission or utilities companies.
When I say that the National Parks don't seem to be doing very well,  the Lake District, for instance manages only one location, but adds that they also provide 48 miles of footpaths without stiles. Others just have a couple each. Dartmoor does better with a bunch (mathematical term which is higher than a few but less than a lot)
We at the Pieblog (me and the dog, remember…) applaud the publication of the guide and hope that it will be helpful. We (specially the dog) hope that , somehow, National Parks and the businesses embedded there will be encouraged to develop more “stuff” and that there’ll be updates showing increases in the number of entries.
The PDF “Accessibility Guide to the UK’s National Parks can be …er…. accessed by clicking here

Speaking of disability and, in particular, mental illness; following one of my regular visits to St Cuthbert, on the occasion of buying more gas for an up-coming backpacking trip, I am minded (see what I did there?) to relaunch my fundraising efforts for MIND. I am currently thinking about this with my mind. I have asked the dog to come up with ideas and all he can say is something incomprehensible about a pussy cat being seen at the bottom of our garden.
So, readers…  if you have any brill ideas , I’d be very pleased to hear them. The basic philosophy or strategy is to do things where those giving up their hard-earned spondoolies actually get something out of it. This means that there will be NO sponsored events, cos that would just be me getting money for stuff I’d be doing anyway. And I hate collecting the money too, so…
Pic below shows Cafe Akto in operation in Glen Mazeran durung a TGO challenge. This raised lots of cash and was quite good fun too. And peeps got beer, bacon butties, tea, coffee, chocolate cake….

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Once More Unto The Beach, Dear Friends


Englishmen now abed would think themnselves accursed they were not here…So, me and LTD and Dawn went nack to fave spots in Northumberland. The idea is to spend the night in a small tent or bivi on an empty Northumbrian beach, eat beef stew and bacon and drink tea (and, in, my case, a bit of merlot) – have a dip or three in the briny, take any opportunity to top up the tan and then go home again.

These pleasures are simple ones.

But first, there were three small Tumps to bag – each one in a small trio or group a bit to the South-East of Flodden Fleld. (Scots will probably stop reading at this point)

Firstly, White Hill – easily bagged from the road and patrolled only by a small herd of youngish, inquisitive but harmless cattle. LTD stayed in the car with Dawn.


Then there was Goatscrag Hill – a small but perfectly formed sandstone crag a bit to the left of Routin Linn – a waterfall of disappointing dimensions. Goatscrag Hill is a fine spot with a fine view of the Cheviots and is liberally covered in sheep muck. The crag around the foot looks exciting and with not much in the way of grip.

After lunch, we attempted Doddington North Moor, from a place marked on the map as a “Cup and Ring Marked Stone”. We couldn’t find this. A route up the hill presents itself on the map as being obvious – follow the wall alongside the wood till the top which is a trig pillar just over the wall. In practise, there’s  wild woodland spreading over the moor which includes singificant forests of rhodedendrons. Some of these have been grubbed up into huge piles of impassable debris. Dawn waited by the fence. Me and LTD were rejected by the hill, the piles of dead vegetation being impossible to cross,  and retreated a bit before taking a flank attack. This lead into healthy rhodedendrons and deep, deep, I mean really deep, bracken. And blackflies. Hundreds of feckin blackflies. Sheer determination, pigheadedness and a refusal to be beaten eventually lead to the top. The retreat from which was a repreat of the ascent, buit with a much wider route and some even deeper bracken. Two blackflies were accidentally swallowed. LTD’s harness almost got ripped off. My lickle legs got ripped by brambles. Ow.

We repaired to Ross Back Sands where Dawn’s tent/bivi thingy was put up as the tide came in.


Overnight, the Otterburn ranges fired artillery, machine guns and something which made huuuuge bangs and the seals sang to us sweetley and a bit spookily. LTD tucked into his sleeping bag a groaned a bit…..

In the morning we had the place to ourselves till just about lunchtime. The sun came out, the breeze breezed and the sea was chilly but deep and, clear. My first dip was interupted by the appearance, too close by for comfort of a large black head. We met eye to eye. It dipped under and another appeared just over there….  then another and another .. maybe the first one from a different place. I left the water. I mean, do these seal thing bite? Maybe they were just nosy. It was a little uncomforting.

Dawn had several dips too – we tend to take turns – it seems like a sensible health and safety thing…. and the survivor gets the teabags…

I had another two proper swims, being gently lifted by an easy swell and pushed towards the sands. The sea was very calm and shallow.

We left in the late afternoon……..

This sorta thing’s not allowed by the way – but we’re quite discreet and leave absolutely no trace at all, save for some footprints in the sand…

Friday 3 August 2018

High Street Damply

Plan A was to take two of the grandsprogs up Helvellyn, but we did this last Wednesday. Plan B was Fleetwith Pike, the West-facing ridge of which they would have enjoyed – and it could have been followed by various scrambles up the rocky tors between Fleetwith and Haystacks. In view of the sudden hospitalisation of one of the sprogs, (he’s much better now) I decided to put Plan B on the back-burner for future use and, instead, took the tallest sprogling up High Street via the Long Stile ridge – marginally scrambly and with impressive views and so on…..   So we set off, trusting the BBC weather forecast which had a warm 22C for NW England and some cloud, but nothing much to bother the tyro rambler.
When we arrived, though, the hill-fog was at low levels, the becks were in spate and it was drizzling. And it drizzled all day and we saw nothing much at all, apart from a blank wall of cloud and water specs on…specs….
The plan was to climb High Street via the Long Stile ridge, and, when the clouds broke and the sun came out, wander over to Thornthwaite Beacon and return to the start via Nan Bield and Harter Fell – a fairly routine but rather lovely little fellwalk.
We did have a break in the orange greenhouse/aka group shelter half way up Long Stile, in order to allow the weather to clear. But it didn’t. On the upside, due to a rather encouraging HbH1C result a few days earlier. I enjoyed my first Whispa bar for twelve months. I’m hoping to have another in August 2019.
We bashed on up the hill, passing some wet chaps ruining the path to make it awkward and slippery and eventually located the summit trig, where we retired once more into the group shelter for lunch. We spent some time in there as the drizzle sizzled on the cover.
Ultimately, we had to leave and we abandoned our walk by descending Nan Bield Pass back to the car. We’d done six miles. Damply. My advice is not to rely on the Beeb weather forecasts for weather forecasts, but, rather, to consult proper mountain forecasts, which can be a bit over-cautious, but, had I got a forecast containing drizzle and hillfog, I wouldn’t have driven 60 miles to get wet. My mistake. At least the drizzle was warm.