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.