Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Rambling Up Slitt Wood

Warning: Readers are cautioned that they may find that the following post generates some feelings of deja-vu. And I'm not talking Crosby Still Nash or Young, here.

 The reason for a bit of deja-vu, and who doesn't enjoy some deja-vu from time to time. I said who doesn't enjoy a bit of deja-vu from time to time,  is that there was a Wolsingham Wayfarers walk a few weeks back, lead by LTD who was dragging me up the hill out of Slitt Wood. (Now is it two T's or just the one. In all the excitement, I clean forgot to count the number of T's on the OS map...)

However - all was not lost because no sooner had the twenty peeps and a small black dog emerged from Slit(t) Wood and heaved their mortals up the moor to the top of the hill, than Dave, the Leader, left the Wayfarer's route and descended to the Red Road, a rather lovely moorland trod which heads in the general direction of Rookhope. This is much less soggy than the "other" route, has fewer tussocks, and nobody has to be extracted from deep peat, so it's not quite as Good for the Soul as the other one. 0-1 to Wolsingham.

The pics above demonstrate what a nice day it was too, but what they fail to show is the desperately nithering wind blowing from the front door of Santa's Grotto, somewhere up the North Pole. It was truly chilly and much colder than when the Wolsingham peeps did it, and, therefore, Very Good for the soul. So far, it was a 1-1 draw.
There are no further pictures because , just as we embarked on the Weardale Way back towards Westgate, it began to snow and/or sleet and/or rain. And this was combined with the nithering gale mentioned above. Any pics taken had far too much shake on them from the desperate shivering.
This was, of course, Extremely Good for the Soul and, therefore, it was a win for Crook and Weardale Ramblers. 3 - 1 is what I made it. Lucky said I was being over-generous.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

At The TGO Challenge Gathering - Snake Pass Inn

Me and LTD went to the Snake Pass Inn to enjoy the annual TGO Challenge Gathering, organised every year (because it's annual, innit?) by Alan Hardy.

I have only one picture taken in the actual gathering, mainly because I was busy in my quest to rid the world of the evils of strong liquor (mainly whisky) one glass at a time. I'm afraid my quest was futile on this occasion, but this hasn't curbed my enthusiasm for this venture and, despite failure this time, I am determined to have some kind of re-match.

We went on Friday, and on Saturday, me and LTD went off to bag Crook Hill and Bridge End Pasture, two Tumps lurking on an isthmus of Ladybower Reservoir. We did about 7 miles, curtailing the walk quite a bit due to rubbish weather.

It was, in fact, blowing a bit of a hoolie and, embedded in the hooliness ( hmmm.. sounds like a Scottish Pope...) were very frequent and heavy showers of rain, sleet, hail and snow with bits of sunshine in-between. A gale of a breeze made it imperative to shelter in the squalls and, luckily, Crook Hill has summit rocks on both it's summits behind which to hide.

When the sun did shine, and shelter from the nither was sought, it was actually very warm.

Nevertheless, we sought out a hot cuppa at the café, on the way, coming across Sue from TGO/Newtonmore and, at the café, with a cuppa in hand, Alan the Gathering organiser (pic below.

Overnight, Saturday night, the snow returned properly and I thought it best to head for the lowlands of Sheffield, Barnsley and the M1 rather than stick around getting stuck.

The TGO Challenge has a bunch of unsung heroes who organise things, vet things, help out  at Control and so-on, and so-on; jobs which are essential to the event. Alan's done the organising for the English Gathering for quite some time (not sure how long) - it must be like herding kittens.

A few more pics below.... 

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Foggy Sneakiness on James Hill

The empty road to Swinhope
A hasty decision, made the night before and with pack packed and owd fowks bus pass located, me and LTD travelled to Daddry Shield to start on the road up to Swinhope. This was something of an error since the road up to Swinhope doesn't go from Daddry Shield at all, but from Westgate, a place I'd just passed on the bus. Never mind, I needed the miles (Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles)

Swinhope (Pig valley) has a gated road that goes to Newbiggin in Teesdale. Just one car passed in the couple of miles from Westgate to the pass at the top of the road and there was a chap fixing a stone wall, and he had a car, so that was two. And, as I snacked by the cattle grid at the top, an Asda home delivery van went past. Probably lost. I hope the fish fingers weren't thawing out.

Swinhope's main attraction, though is the Weardale Ski Club's tow and, as there was no snow at all, there was nobody there. So the dale was quiet and empty save for Curlews calling. There was no wind and the mist was laying on the hill tops and well down the fellsides beneath. This was Very Good News.

Sometimes it pays to be discreet and on these occasions, a thick blanket of fog is Just The Thing. Me and LTD plodded the squishy bogs to the summit of James Hill, at just over 2200 feet above sea level.

And we handrailed the fence over Outberry Plain, turning North to try to find Ewestone Currick, an obscure and small feature about a mile and a half across the moors, which, in these conditions were almost featureless. Navigation by map and compass would probably have meant handrailing the fence most of the way and trying to find the spot from a corner about 400 metres away. This would have proved quite hard, I think so I used GPS all the way, and, even then, the place was hard to spot.

Ewestone Currick above. A currick is usually a cairn and it often includes a small shelter to allow a shepherd to get out of the weather for a while. Ewestone Currick has seen better days. The next target was the trig point on Snowhope Hill and even this wasn't quite where the GPS thought it was - in fact , it was a good 90 metres away and, since visibility was about 50 metres.....

We had a short break on Snowhope Hill, at The Carrs, a bijoux clump of boulders with a cairn. Lucky decided that this was an ideal spot for a snooze and he went straight off to dreamy sleepy snory land whilst I dealt firmly but  fairly with a banana.

A bit later, with some more GPS'ing,  we hit the Stanhope - Egglestone Road which is shadowed a bit by a so-called Roman Road. This was actually built in 1832, apparently, so the Romans must have been hanging around.
It does lead towards Stanhope, but the road is not much fun and soon, we turned off by some teetering buildings and descended to Stanhope through rabbit pastures and some quiet lanes.

We'd done 15 miles altogether and Lucky had bagged 3 tops - a Nuttall/Hewitt and two deleted Nuttalls, which don't really count, I suppose. This wasn;t bad since the walk had no plan to it at all and was, in fact, more or less made-up on the hoof.  Don't try this at home, folks, it's probably nopt a safe thing to do, but I'm 67, with a dicky ticker and Type 2 diabetes in remission and I have passed on my genes, and some of my genes have passed on their genes, so safety is not my principal concern. I think this is only right. Youngsters are the ones who are gung-ho, and owd fowks like me are cautious in  the extreme. This is the wrong way around, surely. The world would be a lot safer if it was the pensioners wot did the fighting. We'd never hit anything for a start....

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

In The Gutter With Wolsingham Wayfarers

Wolsingham Wsyfarers Waving

Whenever you intend to lead a walk, it's always a good idea to do a reccy first, probably about a week in advance and not very much longer - things change, innit?

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Holwick Scars looking moody
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So, last Thursday, I think it was, me and LTD borrowed the wife's car and went off to Bowlees in Teesdale to do such a reccy. We only got lost twice. And, proof that a reccy is a Good Idea came quite quickly in the pastures above Newbiggin in Teesdale (lovely hamlet by the way) - in the form of a stile that was clearly past it's prime and in dire need of a stile MOT.

After that, and, following some minor acrobatics involving the complete collapse of the far side of the stile  when I tried to cross it and some scrambling over low wall, it all went swimmingly well. We wandered up the Gutter - in this case, Coldberry Gutter, visited the nearby trig pillar and the also nearby dam and then down through the pastures and woods to Middleton to follow the Pennine Way back to the start, where, the wife's car was still parked.

On the day (in this case, Sunday) , 8 people turned up at the car park, plus Hollie The Dog and another two had set off early and were waiting at the top of the Gutter, making eleven of us plus two dogs in all.

Coldberry Gutter is the Gutter mentioned above. This is a double-sided hush meaning that it's gully runs down both sides of the hill. A hush, for those still puzzled by the term, is a man-made feature created by the use of water, often under pressure, to strip off an overburden to reveal a vein of minerals beneath. In this case, it seems that lead was the main target and also, maybe, coincidentally, quite a bit of ironstone.

Thus a deep gully has been formed and this forms a relatively easy passage up the hill and down the other side. In our case, I included a short, steep and grassy scramble in order to rendez-vous with the peeps who had set off early.

All in all the walk is just about ten of the Queen's miles and about 1800 feet of up and involves, in order of appearance, some pastures, a bit of quiet road walking, some snowdrops, pastures, the gull and moorland, some more pastures, Raby Estates woodlands and waterfalls, the outer suburbs of Middleton in Teesdale and yet more pastures along the Pennine Way, some with pregnant sheep and others empty save a few rabbits.

Lucky is specially fond of rabbits by the way and likes to try to get into rabbit holes but, he's too fat.

No idea why one of the pics should be aligned different from all the rest by the way. Blogger is very temperamental when it comes to pictures. I've had a real struggle with this....

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

A Little Desultory Bagging in North Wales

Thinks "what's he doing now?"
 My daughter sent me a little phrase book at Christmas - "Teach Your Dog Welsh". I've managed to reach him to respond to several useful phrases such as "Stedd" (sit) "Shwmae" (Hello), "Paid" (Stop doing that yer lickle bugger) and "Amswer cinio" (scofftime). In truth, he would respond to any language providing you do the correct gestures.

Mwdwl Eithin summit stuff

Mwdwl Eithin Bogs and Tussocks
And so, in order to test out some of these commands/requests In The Field as it were, me and Dawn went to Glan-yr-Afon (also known as Glanrafon) which is just a bit off the A5 on the road to Bala - near the traffic lights, in fact.
This was ideally located for the bagging of some spare Marilyns, and "new" Nutall/Hewitt and various other smaller Tumps in case of bad weather or for longer doggywalks.  It was also quite a good place for Lucky The Dog to practise his Welsh.

We stayed for 5 nights before moving on to more English things.

So, we managed to bag two Marilyns, thus leaving just 19 to go before entering the Marilyn Hall of Fame, for which a total of 600 Marilyns need to be bagged. These bits of moorland were Mynydd Rhy Ddu , a windfarm;  and Mwdwl Eithin, a lovely piece of squishy and heathery moorland with a very Pennine character - adding a couple of nearby Tumps to make up the totals a bit.

Tryfan in the distance
The lurking Nuttall was Foel Cedig  at 666 metres - easily bagged from a handy track leading from a high Bwlch or Bealach (Pass) and to which we added a couple of other Nuttalls which I'd already visited in 2010 but which Lucky demanded that we visit "for the tick"

Mwdwl Eithin
All of these were performed in excellent spring-like, if windy weather. We struggled to find enough snow to eat (for the dog to eat, you understand. I ceased eating snow in 1963. There was far too much snow in 1963.
On the one day of duff , and in driving deizzle of the kind that gets you really really wet, we managed three Tumps - one of which was a very nice hill-fort.

LTD wonders where we are

Everything in the porch/conservatory thingy dripped for a day or two, Lucky's jacket leaving suspiciously brown puddles. I must wash Lucky's jacket.

A Lurve Tree

Topsy and Tim Foggy Day

The only snow in the village

LTD on Stac Rhos (not a stac and not very Rhos)
And then, we retreated to the fleshpots of the Travelodge in Glossop where JJ was due to play with some of his musical pals in the Labour Club. In between we visited Geoff and Chrissie and had a fablious walk with three dogs in warm spring-like sunshine, followed by teasted toecakes and refreshments at Geoff and Chrissie's. Geoff is currently in hospital, having given up an important organ to help a friend who's own kidney's are failing. It seems a heroic thing to do, and not something I personally might volunteer for.  Bless 'im and his spare kidney. As for me, I am very fond of most of my organs. I hope he's OK.

And then, after briefly visiting Mouselaw Castle we complete our  tour by visiting The Lad in Nottingham for the occasion of a Ceilidh intended for the raising of cash for the local scout group's participation in a World Jamboree.


Geoff, Chrissie, Islay and Pebbles
And JJ was playing again. JJ doesn't half get around.

Enthusiastic readers may have noticed a bit of a hiatus in blogposts recently - this has been due almost entirely by some prune giving me a cough/cold/bad back which somewhat removed my mojo. I think the mojo is now back and tonight I ma going to test my lumbar muscles with an hour's yoga at Frosterley Village Hall. This may well be an error of judgement.

somewhere in Nottingham
And , in other news, I also got elected as secretary for Crook and Weardale Ramblers, so readers should expect a lot more Rambling from me and the dog.