Thursday 6 January 2022

Socially Distant and Well Ventilated in the North Pennines

Me and my shadow

I'm slightly ashamed to say that I made this walk up on the hoof, as it were. I was supposed to be having a hill-bagging day around some diminutive Tumps (look it up!) around Roadhead, at the English/Scottish border just a bit to the right of Carlisle. However, circumstances conspired against this:

Firstly, it was a nithering sort of morning and, with LTD gently snoring and farting next to me on the bed, we lounged a bit late.

Then, Mrs Pieman's car handbrake decided to declare independence and set itself to an "on" position, rendering the vehicle fairly useless as a vehicle. So this introduced some delay.

I was also suffering from Procrastination Lethargy, a lesser known/identified but common syndrome notorious for inducing indecision, faffing and a desire for  yet another cup of tea.

But it was a lovely winter's day of blue skies a frost, so, eventually....
LTD spots something interesting in the distance
LTD also does this on carpets in banks, shops and hotels
LTD leads the way

... we rolled up at Stanhope with a vague intention of wandering as far as Bolt's Law, with an approach via the North bank of the River Wear and on paths to Rookhope and then up the old railway incline which now serves as part of the coast to coast cycle route. I expect that, on a bike, this would be tortuous...  

This plan soon fell to bits and I found myself on a minor road heading uphill in the general direction of Rookhope. Just two cars passed in the same number of miles. Soon, I was invited on to the open moor, which I knew lead up to the summit of Crow Coal Hill. The invitation, of course, came from the hill itself. There was no stock around and, for wildlife, I spotted a rabbit some distance away, so LTD came off the lead and immediately turned into his "puppy" mode - rolling about and bouncing around like a puppy. I followed him up the hill. The snow wasn't too deep and had been scoured away by strong winds, leaving small drifts behind each tussock. Nevertheless, in "winter fitness" mode, I thought it was hard work.
LTD finds some deeper snow
Tussocks and driftlets towards Rookhope

To get to the railway line/ctoc route means following the wide ridge over Long Hill and Long Law in a generally Northerly direction. The snow was deeper here and ground beneath it rougher and heatherier and boggier. So this took some time. A shepherd passed on his ATV. I suspect that the sun was in his eyes, so he didn't seem to see me. A long plod followed, sometimes made easier by the tracks of ATV's and, eventually, we arrived at the railway line, which was bordered by big snowdrifts. All this had taken some time, and I had to collect Mrs Pieman in Crook since her car was now in the garage and , time being shortened and , there being an ideal excuse not to bash through the deep snow and tussocks up Bolt's Law we just walked past Bolts Law and followed the line to Park Head and then down to Stanhope through Ashes Quarry.

Lunching spot by a random cairn

Tussocks all point South
Cairn at Longlaw End
Details of those met on the walk (12 miles) - hill-walkers = 0, shepherds on ATV's with dogs =2, keeper on a JCB = 1  Dog walkers near Stanhope = 2 Other walkers near Stanhope = 1. If the above, encounters within 4 metres = 5 of which 3 waved and 2 had a chat. One dog barked at LTD.

Site of the Rookhope Incline engine house/winch... and a snowdrift
A pile of white stuff

Then it went dark. 

Not a bad start to the year, although, technically speaking, this was the third walk of the tear, the previous two being a long doggy walk from home and a pleasant, if muddy,  but easy trundle beside the Wear at Durham with Crook and Weardale Ramblers

LTD on the railway line (icy!)

Then it went dark

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