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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Tuesday 6 November 2018

Hiding From Fireworks–Carey Burn Camp-Out

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Eeejits in Crook have been setting off fireworks since the last week in October and each time there’s a bang or, indeed, a whizz, LTD runs about panting  and shaking and looking for somewhere to hide.
Sooooo…  As it was firework night on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I decided that enough was enough and a camp-out miles away from anything explosively noisy would be Just The Thing.
I contacted Dawn and she was up for a relaxed weekend in the hills somewhere (she usually is…) and we eventually decided, in view of some exciting wind-blown weather forecasts that somewhere fairly sheltered would be required. Evenhtually, we lighted on the Harthope Valley in the Cheviot Hills – far away from fireworks and , coincidentally, also away from artillery and machine guns which are quite common in the Cheviot Hills.
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Our first choice was unsuitable, not having easy access to water and not very discreet, so we ended up low down in the little side-dale carrying Carey Burn – behind some gorse and very close to the beck – a sheltered and fairly discreet location.
There was not a bang or whizz to be had. We stayed for two nights and did very little, apart from the odd short ramblette or exploration.
In  early November, the nights are long – roughly between 4:45 pm and 7:15 am and this gives ample time for brewing, meditation, snoozing and general lazing about. This should be boring, but it isn’t. 
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I’d taken my Not-A-Onesie (it’s a caving undersuit), and my cosiest sleeping bag in case it was cold – it wasn’t cold – and LTD had his toasty Woofbag into which he enthusiastically curled up and remained almost without moving for a full 14 hours of darkness, his tea and breakfast both being inserted at the appropriate times and into which he stuck his face unceremoniously, snuffling the meat and crunching the doggybix and finishing with a little doggy burp and sigh as he settled down once again to complete whatever dream he’d been having before he was woken up.
We left mid morning on Monday, to the sound of two cracks of gunfire, which we determined was somebody shooting at rabbits, there being a hefty population of which at Carey Burn. Other than that, the noisiest noises were the pheasants, squawking and hiccuping throughout the night.
All things being equal, and, supposing we all survive till next November, I’m determined to do this again – possibly in the Howgills if it’s not too stormy. Next year’s Gunpowder Plot is more midweek, so it may be less drawn-out. A couple of nights at Blakethwaite Bottom may well be Just The Thing
More info about woofbags and how to get one for your pooch is here clicky