Tuesday 25 September 2018

Full Moon at Druridge Bay–The North-East Skinny Dip Again

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Policemen, Paramedics, A&E staff and Pub Landlords will all testify to the strange effect that a full moon has on people’s behaviour. ‘Course, there’s no scientific evidence for this, but, people do demonstrate unusual and/or bizarre behaviour when it’s a full moon. That’s what I think anyway (As a lad I worked in a casualty department for three years) (Whilst I may have grown up a bit during these three years by the way, I did develop a view that if you had a good idea to do something, you’d best get on with it before something disastrous happens to you and the moment passes – this didn’t acrually prevent many such moments passing by the way…) (Full moons were often much busier nights than the other times and people often had more interesting accidents)

The moon was full (ish) for me and Dawn’s bivi on a certain Northumbrian beach where camping is strictly prohibited (so, we didn’t camp, we just had a long nap under one of Dawn’s many shelters.)

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It was the weekend of the North-East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay on Sunday morning, bright and sharp. But we put up our shelter in a brief rain shower on Friday afternoon – the idea being to have a relaxed time (this is a very good place for relaxed times), and, maybe a dip in the briny by way of emergency climatisation.

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The climatisation part didn’t work too well, the weather being  breezy and chilly till Saturday afternoon and the sea being in a bad mood with strong, confused currents and some big and scary waves. We tried, nevertheless and, ultimately repaired to Druridge Bay on Saturday afternoon to put up a tent and have a test-dip. This went better than the other place, the sea feeling warmer and friendlier but still with some beefy waves.

At dip time, Brian appeared from his mountain-top fortress in the sky, together with about 600 other people, several looking cold and nervous and several others just looking cold. It was the middle of the night, aka 06:30 in the morning and the sea was a long way out. A long way to run. More evidence of the lunar effect on unlikely and slightly silly behaviour in the huming bean.

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Had it not been a full(ish) moon and/or not in a really good cause (proceeds to MIND), or had it not all been quite good, if chilly, fun on the several previous occasions when we’ve attended this event (it’s annual, around the time of the equinox) – I might have stayed cosy in my steaming stink-pit, dreaming of another tussle with Kylie’s awkward bra strap whilst listening to “I should be so lucky” whilst LTD twitched and gruffed a doggy-dream in his doggy bed… 

It was, in fact, perishing cold. But, there was no surprise here,  we knew that before we began. It’s the North Sea. It’s late September. It’s the autumn equinox.  Nenthead had had a frost and I was using my toastie winter sleeping bag and my Not A Onesie and long socks….

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We just joined in – after a long wait whilst people gathered and waited for the dawn, people suddenly became naked and there was a brief count-down before a wave of flesh dashed across the wide beach to meet powerful watery waves coming in the opposite direction. There were crashes and splashes and screams and many sharp intakes of breath and some naughty words. Some people’s dips were short whilst others managed a good half an hour or so. I have no idea how they do this. I can manage abot ten minutes at the most, although I have a tactic of going in, coming out again, then going back in. The second time is a lot less uncomfortable. Afterwards, there is a really good feeling -  bit of a “high”, in fact, and it lasts for quite a while.

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There are some people there who keep their clothes on. These consist mainly of the Coastguard, a coterie of press photographers, some dog-walkers (not sure what they make of this) and a few people forming a small audience and some supporters and others who just don’t want to take their kit off (cos it’s not compulsory)

Afterward the dip, we had bacon and hot tea followed by a second breakfast at Cresswell, just a bit down the coast, and a longish stroll up Druridge Bay, amongst the dog walkers and kite-flyers and joggers. One lady was in the sea having a swim. Brave soul. Only one, though….

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I also collected quite a bit of sea-coal which is, basically, just lying about in bands (?seams) on the beach.  I can confirm that this stuff burns really well, if a bit quickly. There’s less actual sand than on previous years. It seems to have been stripped off by storms, leaving areas of sandstone slabs and some tree-stumps, which I assume to be specially ancient.

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If a thought should ever enjoy the merest suggestion or hint of flashing briefly through your mind what a brill idea it would be to gather on a North-Sea beach at dawn at the atumn equinox, take off all your clothes on command and then run shivering and screaming into some very very cold and salty water which has waves and power which might easily carry you off towards Fife (see a previous blog post) – or, even Denmark, for that matter and you immediately reject the idea because you’re a bit overweight or too skinny, or too short, or hairy, or not hairy, or bits of you are missing or scarred due to having a life, or your idea is that you’re far too shy, or your Mum won’t like it, or anything else that might prevent you actually doing it – then reject all this, get organised and go and do it. It doesn’t last long – only a few minutes for the unclimatised, but it might, just might, change your life for the better. Temporary euphoria is also available due to the release of endorphins, apparently.

I hope there’s repeat next autumn. If there is, and I survive the intervening 12 months, I will be there. Depends of the phase of the moon, obviously…

NESD’s facebook page is here - click the link

Tuesday 18 September 2018

First Foray to Fife and Firth of Forth

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Fife - land of golf courses and pubs and streets with golf names and VW golfs. I’ve never been to the Fife coast and neither has LTD, so it was high time for a visit. And it was on my List of Things To Do.  Dawn has written about this in her blog and a link appears at the end of this post for those who like to read more sensible stuff than this.
I thought that as a contrast to recent trips involving bivvying with Lots of Sand getting everywhere and camping on noisy and occasionally wet campsites, we should have a bit of luxury and hire some self-catering shelter. LTD was all in favour of this as he has a fondness for carpets, rugs and radiators, all of which were available at our cottage near Anstruther.
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The idea was to bag a few hills and explore the coast a bit, all of which we managed to do in the four days we were there – Largo Law, which I bagged by myself since we obeyed a notice prohibiting dogs during the “summer”, due to cattle being present (there were no cattle) ,  Kellie Law, a vaguely pointy tump not near anywhere, Drumcarrow Craig which has archeology, mainly in the form of a broch, Lucklaw Hill, a very steep little bugger to the North and Kincraig Hill, a coastal lump with a World War 2 coastal battery which would have dismantled any any unauthorised shipping wandering up the Firth of Forth in short order and quite violently with some Big Guns.
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We poked around Tentsmuir forest and beach, identifying possible wild camping spots, just in case a walk around the Fife Coastal Path might be undertaken. This is a massive beach with nobody on it and great fun for a dog, as LTD pointed out.
KIncraig Hill has a nice bit of coast which we explored from Earlsferry. Dawn had a swim but I didn’t. I’d like, at this point , to introduve you to the Airedale dialect word “caffle”. The meaning is approximate to the proper English word “careful”. If a person declined to take part in an activity which appeared to be a bit risky, or, indeed, cold and, specially, wet, giving some unlikely excuse, then that person could be said to have “caffled”. As it was my Auntie’s birthday, I caffled the swimming at this point in favour of sitting out of the wind and finishing my hot coffee.
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We also walked up, and back down, the coast to Crail, a small town with a harbour which smells of sulphur and sells lobsters cooked to order. This was a cracking walk with caves to explore and a fossil tree which we may or may not have identified.
Unfortunately, due to me trying to be in two places at once, we had to leave a day early so that I could lead a Wednesday Walkers Walking on Satuurdays Walk on Fiend’s Fell – the walk wot me and Li Yang reccied last week. I might do a blog post about this if I can fit it in – there’s a busy few days coming up involving a visit to God’s Own Halifax and the North-east skinny dip. For this last event, it would probably have helped for the climatisation had I not caffled the sea swimming last Thursday. Anyway, the point is, I wont be writing anything till at least next Monday, and that depends on survival of a dawn dip in the chilly briny with 400+ other screaming eejits. If it stays windy, the waves could be “interesting”, I think. LTD won’t be attending the skinny dip because he’s far too friendly and has sharp claws, should he decide to jump up to greet anybody. He can also be a bit embarrasing with the sniffing, if you catch my drift…..  I don't really like to use the word “drift”, in the same post as one containing sea swimming, it occurs to me just now…  tempting fate… there’s a strong Northerly current sometimes at Druridge Bay – roughly in the direction of Fife, as it happens.
Dawn’s account is here - click this
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Friday 7 September 2018

Wenselydale With Crook and Weardale Ramblers


We did about ten or eleven miles. 

Let’s not forget that walking, at the bottom line, is a form of entertainment. Here’s Kath, the leader, swinging about on a rope swing we came across.

The Pieblog is firmly in favour of this kind of stuff….


AS well as the lovely, green mileage and the good company there was also quite a lot of very sweet and ripe blackberries, probably as a result of the hot weather in June/July

I think there were ten of us humings, plus Lucky The Dog, who got a bit beside himself in the company of some pheasants.

It was all very enjoyable.


Join the Ramblers for access to  wide selection of fablious walks!!  (Although, the general purpose of the Ramblers isn’t really as a federation of walking clubs, innit – more of the political stuff later, perhaps…..)

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Saturday–A Reccy–Fiend’s Fell

It really really irritates me when peeps on the telly begin their explanations of stuff with the word “So…”
So…., I collected Li Yang from her cottage in the sky and we departed for Melmerby – a small Scarp-foot village just over the hill from Alston and the proud location of a pub, a bakery/tea-room and a Very Strong Wind. This, of course, was the second of the three walks over the last weekend. The next one will have even more mistakes because I’ll write it on Merlot Friday.
The occasion was a reconnaisance of a walk wot I’m leading for the Wednesday/Saturdays Walking Group aka the Wednesday Walkers Walking On Saturdays. Reccies have to be done to eliminate surprises and this was the second of this route – the first being completed on a very hot day on the first of July. The result of that reccy was that I altered the route a bit around the burned-out cafe at the summit of Hartside in favour of a direct approach on a waymarked but thin trod straight up to the summit, a bit short of the cafe.

A few pics from the first reccy:

I also found a way through the necklace of clitter which covers the Western side of the Pennine ridge at this point and forms a significant barrier to comfy progress.
Se, me and LTD and Li Yang set off along the lane that heads towards Gamlesby – easy  and flatish walking for a mile or so, then, turning gently up hill to join a rough byway that goes all the way up to the cafe at Hartside (but we turned off before that – see above and try to pay attention in class or you’ll get a slap on the legs)

A thin trod – look, I’ve mentioned this thin trod before. And sit up. And have your hair cut before coming into my class. You look like that Bingo Starr.
The top of Fiend’s Fell has a trig, a large cairn and a view of the Lake District. It’s not a place for sitting about when the wind is nithering, as it was when me and LTD and Li Yang were there, so we progressed along the ridge – heathery and squishy at first, but slowly forming into a fine hill-walk on short, dry turf with ever-better views of the Eden Valley and the Lakes.
We lunched at Knapside Hill, which has a large cairn and a shelter which appears to be the remains of a building with a small enclosure attached. It’s a cracking viewpoint too, though, a bit chilly on the day.
The highest point on the walk is just a bit less than half a mile away and only 20 metres higher – Melmerby Fell at 709 metres. It has a small cairn to which we added a couple of extra stones.
The descent comes after a short walk along the top of the band of stones mentioned above (clitter) and heads through a wide gap to descend to a track which leads all the way back to Melmerby with some huuuuuge views thrown in for interest.
The walk is on 15 September 2018, costs just £1 for the insurance (surpluses are donated to charity) – and begins at 10:00 am.
Those taking part should park prettily in order not to annoy anybody.
It’s a bit under 11 miles with 2000 feet of climbing, most of which starts after about a mile and continues, not too steeply, for another couple of miles. (So, it’s all in one lump, see?)

Monday 3 September 2018

Red Dell, Wetherlam and Red Gill Head


Somehow, there was a traffic-jam of walks this past weekend. On Friday, LTD negotiated the A66 and M6 over to Kendal and, on instruction or request to have a walk which would include the Synge top called “Ladstones”, or, possibly “Top Above Ladstones”, or even, “Red Gill Head”, perhaps, the Bro and us trundled off to Coniston and climbed up past the Coppermines Valley into Red Dell.


Red Dell is probably so-called due to the colour of the rock in the spoilheaps. There’s a lot of mining low down in the valley, including a hugely deep wheelpit, which once killed it’s operator, according to the info board nearby.

We puffed and panted our way sweatily up Red Dell and on to the summit of Wetherlam on a thin path which shows just how quiet is this route. Those in a sulk, or otherwise of an unsociable bent might well enjoy climbing Wetherlam by the Red Dell route. Just sayin’.




It was quite chilly at lunch on Wetherlam and our route, rounded to the nearest ten miles, was to descend Wetherlam’s South ridge, lighting on Lad Stomes aka whatever it might be called from above, thus taking it completely by surprise. The name Ladstones appears in and, I suppose, in Synge’s list. The name, though, seems to locate some rocks in the small but beautifully formed corry or cwm just below. Otherwise the top is unnamed. Innominate Top, at 640 metres and a bit is a small outcrop near a small tarn, but with a big view. We enjoyed it briefly.

We finished our rounded-up walk by continuing down the ridge to Coniston.

It wasn’t very far, really… but a beautiful walk with a view of Coniston Old Man, specially for Li Yang, who is hoping to climb it shortly, I’m lead to believe.

More walks on the same weekend ought to follow very shortly providing my blogging mojo stands up to the challenge.


Coniston Old Man…