Thursday 25 April 2019

Scrambling and Chocolate - Langdale Pikes

It' the school holidays in the East Midlands, but up in Pieland the lollipop peeps were out this morning. I was a bit relieved about this since it meant that the Lake District wouldn't be quite as busy as it had been during the bank holiday when , by all reports, it went a bit mad.

I was charged with providing some entertainment and exercise for two of the grandchildren currently on temporary lodging at Pietowers and, looking for something mildly scrambly but not specially dangerous, I chose Crinkle Crags and the climbers traverse on Bowfell. This, I thought, would provide a modicum of thrill, a bunch of health-giving and closely arranged contours and a quiet following night when they'd be too tired to fight (like wot brothers do)

However, on entering the National Trust car park, we were faced with a car parking charge of eight (yes, folks that's EIGHT) whole pounds sterling and a limited option of how to pay - cash only, in fact for non-members. So, instead, we went to the New Dungeon Gill car park which was only a fiver, AND the ticket provided a 10% discount off meals in the pub afterwards. This was Much More Like It,

The most striking view from the NDG car park is of the Langdale Pikes and not Crinkle Crags which is a long way over there -------> and in the haze. So, we decided to have a walk around the Langdales.
Our first objective was Angle Tarn where many moons ago, me and daughter #1 spent an entertaining night wild camping, searching for monsters and feeding the little fishes in the tarn on the debris from our dehydrated spag boll. I think #1 daughter was probably 5 or 6 or something.
Next up was an unsuccessful search in the scree beneath Pavey Ark for a howff which I'd found, probably fifty years ago, but could never find again. (A howff is an informal bivi place - this one is underground beneath some large boulders - I suppose that it's possible that the boulders have moved - hopefully not with anybody inside. That would be a really bad dream, innit?

 So, we bashed our way up Pavey Ark, then over to Thunacar Knott, back to Harrison Stickle, some intervening knobbles, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle and Martcrag Moor (the least impressive of our bag)  Any rocky bits on the way were climbed on and we descended Stake Pass for a paddle in Stake Beck.

All those contours and craggy parts took it's toll on the once energetic and enthusiastic sproglings and the last couple of kilometres were marked by enquiries as to how far there was to go. There was a brief period of celebration at the NDG and the childer slept the eighty mile drive back to Pietowers. Happily, neither are permanently broken and would probably do it again.

Friday 19 April 2019

Short Walks - Bewick Hill

Because the distance of the walk is not important - it's what you do with the walk. This one was necessarily fairly short - about 4 miles, in fact, and took roughly the same number of hours. A substantial amount of this time was spent lazing in the sun having lunch and chatting. This, I submit, is a Useful Thing To dD. LTD spent much of the same time in dreamy snoozy snory land. This is also a useful thing to do. This is time well spent. This is not a competition. There are no prizes. These hills, on a benign day like this,  allow you to breathe and think and empty the niggles from the mind.

Having neglected Dawn for some time in favour of some pre-TGO backpacking trips and some stupidly long walks (all very enjoyable - I'm not complaining) - it was time to catch up, not only because  I've bought a tent off Dawn for my next TGO challenge and I owed her some spondoolies, but also, that, well, it was just time to catch up. So we caught up a bit and made some tentative plans.

 The route choice was mine - a couple of Tumps to bag and 700 feet or so of contours. The hills turned out to be rather lovely - Harehope Hill - easy with short grass and a view and Bewick Hill with heather and a very large and impressive hill-fort plus some World War 2 pill-boxes in very good condition. On the way up, Dawn noticed some cup and ring markings and we investigated these further on the way down. Cup ad ring carvings are very very old and quite mysterious - that is to say that nobody knows why people made such an effort to make the circles and cups - and that the rock is quite hard so these would have taken some effort.

In the middle bit, we just laid in the heather in the warm sunshine with a skylark larking about nearby and a bumble bee or too and, on close inspection, some ladybirds.

This is all enjoyable stuff. It's all very well hurtling about the countryside in a bid to complete a huuuuuuge route before Something Happens, but sometimes, often, it's a really good idea to relax a bit and soak up whatever there is to be soaked up. You have to, just, chill, man.....  catch some rays, watch a ladybird wander about on your left Scarpa, have a chat, eat cheese and snooze...... and make some plans. And then go home and tell your Mum all about what happened.

More fax an info about Old Bewick hillfort is here (click the word "here") (over there, not here)

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Long Walks - Yorkshire Three Peaks

This walk was yet another of Li Yang's ideas. The date for this has chopped and changed due to snowstorms, bad colds, diphtheria, measles,  the election of comedy heads of state in various countries and has been juggled with another Long walk intended as part of a reccy for Crook and Weardale Ramblers at Skipton, but extended over some rather cracking moorland edges so as to get back to where the cars are parked.

All of this is highly irrelevant, obviously and, to quote said comedy politicians when avoiding a difficult (i.e. embarrassing) question - ".... what is important..."  is that as well as the usual Diane and David, we also had Marie and Michael, but no LTD cos I thought  this was too far for him.

 Everybody in this group walks faster than me and is more cheerful, better looking, has more money and a enjoys wider selection of friends than even me or  Lucky The Dog. This is a tragedy, obviously.

I have some history with this particular walk, though,  having done it half a dozen times before, failed at least twice and, taken individually, according to my walks log, the total number of ascents of the three hills adds up to 101 times, not including searches in the 1980's which didn't quite get to the top of anything.

I expect that this not only shows a lack of imagination concerning which hill to climb, but also indicates that by now, I ought to know my way around the area, and it seems likely that this is the reason why the rest of the group seemed to think I was the leader, even though I was miles at the back most of the time. Maybe they just wanted somebody to blame if at some point we'd been forced to resort to a taxi. 

 I should point out, though, that navigating the Three Peaks route is very very easy, apart, maybe, from finding the right way off the top of Ingleborough in the fog, which, historically, is where many people go wrong. It's not surprising, really, because it is a bit confusing.

We had no problems at all , apart from some minor trips. The group battered their way around the route, braving fierce winds and stupidly low wind-chill factors, specially on Whernside, finishing in 10 hours and 40 minutes which is not a record of any kind, but is the quickest I could have done it anyway. I suspect that some of my companions could have been quite a bit quicker.

My last visit to this route was in July 1982, so it's a long time ago and, I have to say, that since then the walk has been Pennine-Way-I-fied. That is to say that it has been diverted around boggy bits, sloppy bits, and bits where the path turned into a deep and scary gully and it has also been signposted at most crucial points and, best, or worst of all, has been provided with a hard surface, mainly Lancashire mill slabs or made into a road, just a bit under width for a land rover. This is fairly hard on the feet and would have ruined LTD's delicate paws. (As I explained to him on my return to Pietowers. Luckily I was already covered for tetanus...)

Thus, it has been civilised and , as far as brainwork is concerned, it's easy. It's still a long way, though, and the contours add up to a lot of ascent, and descents, parts of which are tricky having been "improved" with boulders or cobbles in an apparent random and uneven distribution.
There's a tea van and a pub at Ribblehead, a barn selling tea and all kinds of scoff at Philpin Farm, quite close to the pub at Chapel-le-Dale.  My advice is that success may well depend on staying out of the pubs... 
Coming up in the Long Walks series, in early May, is a little trundle starting at Cracoe, heading into Skipton on the Dales High Way and returning via the moorland edges of Crookrise, Rylstone Fell and Cracoe Fell.  Just 20 miles, unless we get lost, in which case it might be 15 .... or.. er  25...  Lucky is not allowed on this one either because it's the Duke of Devonshire's open access land.

Saturday 13 April 2019

A Bijoux Backpack from Borrowdale to Buttermere and Back

There was supposed to be three huming beans and a dog on this trip but towards the last minute JJ hurt himself somehow and had a small disaster concerning a caravan, so he couldn't come. However, Margaret did turn up and so did LTD and me and we spent a chilly night at Chapel Farm campsite where The Boss agreed our plan to leave a car and a small tent for a few days whilst we had a wander.

For this trip, I had no navigation, negotiation or responsibilities, which was fab. Margaret had a route and so, that's what we did. Attentive readers may notice that on all the photos, she's in front, followed by Lucky The Dog with me bringing up the rear, making sure we weren't ambushed from behind or anything untoward  like that.

Very attentive readers, and those who just look at the pictures, will also notice that the weather on almost all of the pics is bright and sunny. This is because the weather was bright and sunny, except at night when it was dark and very starry and specially cold, covering the tents with a layer of ice.

Our route was specially fablious too - wandering up Honister Pass (for a cuppa), down the other side to Gatesgarth and beside the lake to Buttermere (for drinkies) We found a slightly tilted camping spot below Addacombe Hole. The moon rose. The tents froze. All was quiet.

In the morning, and in the shade of nearby Knott Rigg and Ard Crags, we rambled over the pass or bealach (or, indeed, bwlch) into Newlands and along the Cumbria Way into Keswick where, I was, I'm afraid to say, tempted by a lamb and mint pasty at the pasty shop AND an dutch apple and cinnamon pasty, thus completing the planning of my evening meal which, I intended,  would be rounded off with a significant amount of dark rum and a huge and lengthy snooze till the next dawn dawned.  LTD was to have Winalot, kibble a bonio and a dentastick, as usual.

In mid-afternoon, on our way up to Walla Crag, we noticed some flattish platforms beside a derelict wall near a small beck . This provided a bit of a suntrap for the tents (it may have been sunny, but it wasn't all that warm in the wind). The beck provided a large supply of good water and a warm and lazy few hours was spent being warm and lazy with a nice view of Skiddaw and Blencathra.

However, the pasty I bought in Keswick proved to be significantly more substantial than I'd thought and the result of stuffing this down my throat as quickly as feasible was that I couldn't face all of the apple pasty.  So Margaret accepted half (apple isn't really very good for dogs was my excuse to LTD... and he'd already had his tea anyway and he didn't want to get fat eh?)

On the final walking day, we walked by Walla Crag and in and out of the heathery tors to Dock Tarn via the Caffle Café at Watendlath. Now, in the dialect used at Airedale Hospital, when I worked there many years ago, to "caffle", was to chicken out of something. Caffling was sometimes accompanied by the excuse that it was one's aunty's birthday and so it would be impossible to do whatever it was that one didn't want to do. In this case, though, "Caffle" is the name of the nearby beck. However, it may be possible, I suppose, that the odd deep pool in Caffle Beck holds really really cold water; cold enough to make the tyro swimmer or dipper to caffle and declare that it is, in fact, his Dad's sister's birthday and he'd better be away to attend the party. Who knows?

An impossibly steep descent brought us back to Borrowdale for a last night on Chapel Farm campsite. Attempts to contact JJ failed due to shaky and/or non-existent phone signals, so we have no news as to what kind of break he was having.

And that was that. Three days walking on a superb route in cracking weather and some starry nights and NO RAIN AT ALL (which is remarkable actually.)  We'll probably be doing a rematch or two, I expect.  because it was all quite good fun.  Thanks to Margaret for doing all the hard work and helping out with the Dutch apple and cinnamon pasty. Next is an attempt on the Three Peaks of Yorkshire. Doomed.... doomed I tell you......