For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Monday, 13 July 2020

Thumbs up for D of E

Today I was looking for a  photo. All my photos are in Pictures, a 175gb. file. The photos are in separate titled folders so that I can usually find what I want but occasionally I need more detective work and browsing and so it was today. I was seeing all kinds of forgotten happenings and having a good old nostalgia trip when  I came across the photo below.

Often I have met parties of youngsters embarked on their Duke of Edinburgh journeys and they are almost always cheerful and I have a soft spot for them. I suppose for some it will be a once only, never to be forgotten adventure, but for others the spur to set them on a course to provide pleasure and enjoyment for the rest of their lives.

One thing that strikes me is that nobody seems to have shown these adventurers how to pack a rucksack and I have from time to time had something to say about that. The photo below of a party leaving Lodge Hill above Castle Cary sums it all up.  I have noticed improvement by the time they are on their Gold.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

I'd rather be walking

Sunday 12th July 2020 - local bike ride and Geocache - 12 miles

Apart from a local two miler this was my first ride on the nearly new Carrera Vengeance E bike I acquired a couple of weeks ago.

I bought the bike to enable linear walks leaving at one end to cycle back to the car or vice-versa. From today's experience I think that will remain as its principal use.

I guess this is something personal but I have to have no particular reason for a walk, but with the bike I am telling myself I must have an objective. A café halfway round would suffice but in view of Big C that is not an option at the moment.  I was enthusiastic about Geocaching for a while but after finding 334 I let that drop back in 2016. There are new caches in my area since. An easy one hidden behind a mile marker on the way to Crooklands gave me something to go for.

The E bike has three modes of assistance and 8 gears. I have found that on the flat without a headwind the bike is easy to pedal at about 15 mph in the highest of the eight gears without assistance (downhill is of course faster) but I certainly felt the benefit and need of switching-on even for the slightest inclines. Until I returned to Arnside to ascend the steep hill up from The Albion there was no need to use No. 3 maximum assistance, but don't be fooled, pedalling is still a form of serious exercise - I had some preconception that E-biking was really cheating, but not so by a long way. The ascent from Arnside was at my limits even in the lowest gear and maximum assistance.

I found myself whizzing past things without having time to see properly. Yes, I know one could stop to look but if one is walking, in view of the slower speed, one can look without stopping , and if required stopping is easy, but with the bike it seems to be too much of a faff. I find cycling to be much harder work and quite uncomfortable, and I get nothing like the sense of enjoyment I do from walking. Another factor is of course my age and I have to acknowledge that whilst I feel reasonably competent on the bike I am nothing like as tuned into it as I was when I used one extensively climbing the Munros eleven years and more ago.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Holme Knott - SD 646 895

Holme Knott - s.w. of Sedbergh - Thursday 9th July 2020 - (Day 104 of Lockdown)

I am running out of circular walks up the Lune valley north of Kirkby Lonsdale. When I plotted this one I noticed the trig point at Holme Knott and had no hesitation in including the short diversion. Back home I realised I had visited that trig twice before. When I was mopping up the trigs on that OS sheet I had some camera malfunction and failed to get photos of two or three and went back again later.

I must have walked all of today’s route before in one direction or the other but had very little recollection - I suppose that is one debatable plus for having a poor memory?

The approach was up a very narrow lane which only leads to a lonely farm but two or three cars came up behind me then a car towing a big touring caravan. I had nowhere to go and sort of impaled my back to the hawthorn hedge posing as some shaman on a vertical bed of nails and hoping I would not be disembowelled by the extra wide wing mirror.

Once out onto the open fell walking was fine on a good track but on the whole walk there seemed to be a total absence of bird life - eerie.

Thanks to Paul at:

I have downloaded the app "Plant Snap" which identifies flowers by taking a photo - so far it seems to be a worthwhile app - they are tempting me to go for the premium edition which involves payment and I may well do that after trying the free version for a while.

Thanks to Plant App I now know this is Rose Campion after  seeing it everywhere for years.
You can see the narrow lane where I was nearly crucified by a caravan towing car.

Out onto the open fell following this ancient lane and then branching off right to follow...

...this attractive stream

The public footpath on the map continued where the stream ran under this wall but there was no access over the wall. I followed the red line to join the track further up the hill. The approximate line of the path shown on the OS map is shown in blue.

Approaching the trig of Holme Knott

My footpath crossing this lively stream on the way down

The route was plotted anti-clcokwise but walked clockwise

Thursday, 9 July 2020

LEJOG boot repair

Today I had one of those wide ranging conversations with my brother on the phone -  how the subject of my boot repairs on the last  few days of my Land's End John 'O Groats walk in 2008 arose I can't remember. As I thought more about it I realised that the two days covering that event encapsulated much of what is best in a long distance backpacking trip: the welcome hospitality, sense of adventure, overcoming challenges, and walking into previously unseen magnificent landscape, especially in the wilds of the remotest part of Scotland.

The two days described below from my journal were perhaps the best I can remember on any of my long distance trips, but I think with a tinge of sadness knowing that this seventy seven day trip was very nearly at its end.

Wednesday 25th June 2008 - Lairg to The Crask Inn - 13.5 miles

The guide followed forestry roads and “a little used path often difficult to follow”, and missed out The Crask Inn. I didn’t like the sound of this and opted for the twelve mile slog up the road from Lairg to Crask.

The cyclists from the camp site passed me and stopped for a chat in the rain.

A bit further on a motorist offered me a lift which of course I declined. This was one of only two occasions on the whole trip.

When I arrived the cyclists were installed in the inn's bunkhouse on the other side of the road 

The Crask Inn is a classic country pub welcoming walkers, fishermen and travellers in general. Mike the landlord is obviously an educated and gentlemanly type, but he is also a shepherd and keeps some cattle as well as running the inn with his wife. There is no television and Mike told me they thrive on books and music.

When I arrived Mike asked what my priorities were and I said a cup of tea. He said he had to go out to collect his assistant Christine seven miles away, but if I went to my room to leave my sack there would be a pot of tea waiting for me in the bar when I came down.

In the bar I found a cup and milk and a large slice of fruit cake on the table, but had to search for the teapot which I found keeping warm, along with a jug of hot water, on top of a wonderful wood burning stove. On the table Mike had also left a little book of 1920s vintage detailing the amounts of ascent and descent on all the roads of Scotland, a real labour of love from some unidentified author.

Later Mike looked at my maps and gave me valuable information about bothy accommodation on my route (he is an active member of The Mountain Bothies Association).

A group of four men from Lancashire in their sixties arrived in the bar. They had been coming here to fish for over twenty years and had seen a few landlords off, but said that Mike was the best.

We went to dine in the dining room and were joined by the four cyclists. Everybody had a few drinks and conversation flowed between us and we had a merry time. I had smoked haddock scrambled egg as a starter then roast venison with good fresh vegetables and proper gravy, and finished off with rhubarb crumble – this was all excellently prepared.

For me The Crask Inn was everything a good pub should be except for the lack of a good draught beer, but there was a fine selection of quality Scottish bottled beer available which made up for that.

Parked in the garden there was a strange trailer contraption with shafts and a harness, two wheels at the back and a steering wheel at the front, and with a hooped canopy looking like a mini Wild West wagon. I found out that this belonged to Rosie, and below is an explanatory snip from her website:

Rosie's around the world run adventure, Welcome to the website of Rosie Swale-Pope. Nearly home to Tenby, Wales UK, after running four and a half years nonstop around the world by herself.

Who Rosie is, and why she is running around the world.

From Rosie: On the 2nd of October 2003 my 57th birthday, I'm going to set off to run around the world. I shall be solo, self supporting and on a very low budget. My dearest wish anyway, is just to do a complete circle of the earth. The death of my husband Clive from prostate cancer, taught me more than anything about how precious life is; how short it can be, that you HAVE to grab life, do what you can while you can, and try to give something back.

I'll be trying to raise awareness of the following very special charities... 

I took some photos and was told that Rosie was visiting friends and so I did not meet her. I was amused about all this because my brother Rod had suggested to me that perhaps I could pull my stuff behind in a trailer instead of using a rucksack thereby enabling transport of more gear and in particular water, and I had dismissed this idea as too farfetched.

Day 72 - Thursday 26th June 2008.  Crask Inn to Gearnsary bothy (NC 732 321) 16 miles

An excellent breakfast: proper porridge, quality bacon and eggs, mushroom, black pudding and venison sausage, wholemeal toast and marmalade, and lots of tea.

There is a good level path which rises to cross the bealach over to Loch Choire. 

Descending the other side of this pass the sole of my right boot came off from the instep back to the heel. I spent three quarters of an hour making a hole through the edgof the sole and the rubber welt and then inserting a zip tie. I used most of the tools on my Swiss Army Knife.

This was a real quality walk through great Highland scenery. I stopped at a bothy on the edge of Loch Choire which was really an estate worker’s hut containing various materials. I found an old paint can and removed the plastic strap like handle for a further repair to my boot.

The bothy at Gearnsary had been pointed out to me by Mike and was not an official MBA one. It was a single story old cottage being used as a barn. Things were a bit dirty and messy, but I tidied up and arranged two pallets to make a bed raised off the stone cobbled floor. There was a door on trestles forming a table to cook on, and two plastic garden chairs, and a majestic raised stone fireplace. At the back I found a box of kindling wood and newspapers, and outside I found quite a lot of thick dead wood from the odd surrounding trees and I lit a really good fire. Things became quite cosy.

Next I made further repairs to my boot extracting two screws from a bolt still attached to the door/table and fixing the plastic strap I had salvaged from the paint tin under the instep, and then screwed into the sides of the rubber welt.

I cooked a meal and then it started to rain.  I was apprehensive about the next two nights when I would have no option   but to wild camp which could be unpleasant if bad weather prevailed.

Fond memories of the two best days.

Photos from old Powerpoint format with black background - too lazy to crop that out.
Suggest click to enlarge if you want to read the captions

The Crask Inn

The hut where I found the paint can handle is tucked behind hill at the hidden end of loch.
The bothy where I overnighted is much further up the far side of the loch

Boot repair 1 with zip-tie forced through holes made in rubber

The hut where I found the paint can handle

My overnight stay - the loch can be seen beyond

Boot repair 2 with the plastic paint can handle fixed with wood screw into welt

Nice and cosy in the bothy

Friday, 3 July 2020

Footpaths east of Killington Lake

Thursday 3rd July 2020 (Day 98 of Lockdown) - Footpaths east of Killington Lake - 4.5 miles.

The forecast was for 50/50 chance of rain, but dire for the next several days. Since achieving my non-stop days of walking target I have eased off and also been foiled by poor weather. I was now needing a walking fix. The gamble was on. I retrieved my Paramo jacket from hibernation.

It rained all the way up the motorway to Jct. 37 but by the time I was parking in the fisherman's car park on the eastern side of Killington Lake the rain had stopped and never returned until I was driving home a few hours later. I questioned myself as to whether fortune favours the brave. That apparently comes from a Latin proverb and could be a dangerous maxim to pursue if you stop to think about it - we only hear of the few successful macho machos.

I had been irritated to find the car park being half a kilometre from where I wanted to start with no alternative. However it was worth it for a rewarding photo of as handsome a cow as I've seen for some time looking over a wall and questioning my wisdom.

An old iron gate took me onto rough heathland following the edge of a pine wood on my left. A narrow one foot-width path was well defined but splodgy after the overnight heavy rain with wet grass and bracken overhanging shedding water to my socks to soak down into my boots. The terrain with mixed heather, bracken, scattered birch and many variations of heathland grasses was all a little reminiscent of Cannock Chase bringing back fond memories of crossing that special landscape on two occasions in opposite directions. My enjoyment of that large open stretch changed abruptly as I arrived at the A684 which was uncommonly busy with cars speeding unusually quickly and I crossed in peril to climb the stile on the other side.

The change of scenery was also abrupt but enjoyable in a different way as I descended sheep-cropped undulating land to a lively stream and a well constructed footbridge. Here I could hear but could not see a vociferous buzzard somewhere up there in the sky.

I climbed up and over to Ghyll Farm. The farmer passed by sitting high in a monster tractor towing a monster muck-spreader and he gave me a friendly wave. Many fellow walkers abhor walking on tarmac but I have no objection if on quiet lanes, but so much the better if there is not too much of it and now I walked steeply downhill on an interesting narrow twisty lane, but for less then a half a kilometre. A footpath sign, to my surprise and pleasure, informed me that I was now in the Yorkshire Dales. Here I passed the strangely named Shack la Bank Farm where I photographed a quirky caravan like vehicle/holiday home fashioned in the shape of a latter day gipsy caravan but made ingeniously from green painted corrugated iron.

As I now sit writing up this post I was sufficiently interested by the farm name to do an Internet search and was rewarded with the discovery that this was the home of Alison O Neill The Shepherdess who I think has featured in the media for her fortitude in running this farm and exploiting wool from her sheep to make tweed clothing and the like - she has a fascinating website that is well worth a look and I give below a taster from her introduction:

"I live in the The Yorkshire Dales and run a small hill farm which overlooks the majestic Howgill Fells in historic Westmorland. I am blessed with a rare freedom, a life lived in nature amongst such natural beauty. I work quietly in the old way, woven to my landscape, betrothed to the life of a shepherdess. I don’t like sheep, I love them and I always have. I care for my flock and in turn they provide for me. I fashion their wool creating beautiful products, offering provenance and heritage as hallmarks for every item I produce. I enjoy sharing my world. I guide walks, hold talks about my life and welcome you to visit me here at the farm on the hill."

For me this sort of discovery is one of the several enjoyments both for the physical discovery and later research that comes from my walking passion.

Halfway on the contouring high level path to Grassrigg farm a welcome lone bench provided the perfect stop for a munch and a drink with magnificent views across the Lune valley to the Howgills, the Barbon hills and further south Cragg Hill heading up another entrance to the Yorkshire Dales.

At Grassrigg I chatted with the farmer (at a distance) - he told me they had completed their sheep shearing and were now busy with farm maintenance. A steep little climb up an old medieval lane brought me back onto the extensive area of the Cannock-Chase-like scenery. A single deer shot off in front of me with his white rump bobbing up and own and covering the ground at an enviable and faultless speed. The circle was completed and the lone fisherman on the edge of Killington Lake I had seen at my start was long gone and my car stood alone in Kent Angling Club's car park. That was a splendid walk taking four and a half hours for four and a half miles, so really a stroll but the more enjoyable for that.

"Are you looking at me?"

Off into my imagined Cannock Chase. I had to park half a kilomtere back down the road from this, my intended starting point.

Some kind of thistle I think

Looking back. You can just see a bit of the head of Killington Lake - click to enlarge

And looking ahead - pine forest on the left

The open heahtland I lkened to Cannock

The strange construction at  Shack la Bank Farm

These colourful flowers were about tweny yards away and the next two photos were closer and then closer zooms

A slightly hazardous stream crossing

Grassgill Farm. My path went up the old medieval lane at the back of the farm

Another happy farmer's wife after he suggested them having a new bath so he could use the old one

Looking back down the old lane to Grassgill

Sorry - forgot to include this when I posted earlier today

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Lockdown walking and blur-moments

A few days ago I bought a nearly new E-bike - 'twas what our family call a blur-moment. For example visiting the Paramo shop in Braemar a few years ago with no specific intention and coming out twenty minutes later with a new Paramo zip front jacket to replace the smock version that I had never liked and that previous twenty minutes being a blur-moment. Blur-moments are usually associated with severe damage to one's bank balance.

I thought I had packed up with bikes a couple of years ago but retained a brilliant cycle carrier that clips onto a car tow-bar with a scissor like action so I now needed a tow-bar for my car which may also be of other use later.

Last Thursday I drove to my  garage man Ernie on the way to Milnthorpe and left the car and walked the two and a half miles back home - that brings me to the point of this story.

That was my last continuous day's walking since Lockdown a total of 91 days. That beats my previous continuous record with no rest days when I walked from Land's End to John 'o Groats in 2008 taking 77 days. I did miss a day within the above mentioned 91 but I am sure it was well within the first 18 days so I am confident to say I now have a new record. How pointless that is in the light of present day happenings but I'm afraid this sort of thing seems to be in my nature  - when you have just spent three hours bringing your computer back to life after a near fatal crash you've just got to shout with triumph and tell somebody, and on this occasion you are my captive audience (if you have got this far.)

It must be just coincidence that my interruption of continuous walking occurred at the same time that the long wave of good weather ended, and as I look out of the window now a gale is blowing trees in swirling and varying directions and rain is lashing around in and amongst. I won't be going for a walk today.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Around Wyndhammere

Sunday 21st June 2020 - (Day 87 of Lockdown) - paths around Wyndhammere - 6 to 7 miles.

A familiar comment on walking enthusiast's blogs notes the absence of meeting others as a plus; is that really true? I can only speak for myself.

I most enjoy walking on new territory. If that is over remote countryside so much the better. I can kid myself about how wild it is and how few people have been there recently. If I was continually meeting others, either single walkers and more so groups, either coming towards me or more likely these days overtaking me, that self delusion would be spoiled. If I only met one or two fellow walkers that is fine especially if some interesting conversation ensues. Friendly inhabitants are also welcome. Unfriendly locals when one may be perhaps off the public right of way are an enjoyable challenge (usually) - a bit of humble apology then flattering their dog/environment/tractor can most times soon have them talking about their grandchildren and where they holiday.

Today I walked for just under seven miles and apart from one or two cars passing me on a couple of short road sections I genuinely never saw another person, not even in the distance. I never even heard any voices. Whatever people say about not meeting anybody, to walk for seven miles in England with no sight nor sound of other humans is pretty rare. That was no problem for me and I had a thoroughly enjoyable walk.

I was able to park on the grass verge of the B 6254 at the midpoint when I would have preferred to walk the whole of that less attractive section at the beginning, but one is thankful to find any parking near to the start of a route. One thing I try to avoid is driving along part of the route I will subsequently be walking on especially if this is new terrain for me.

Part of this walk was covered years ago but most of it was new. Short sections of tracks, fields, rough country, woods, ascents and descents, and surprise views made for variety and interest. This was everything a country walk should be.

At one point I spotted a curious circular tower in the middle of a field. It was of dry-stone construction and about twenty five feet tall with four, what looked like, ventilation panels high up (see photo below.) There was an unusual prefabricated stile into the field and I diverted the hundred yards to investigate but could come to no conclusion about the tower's purpose - the mystery remains. 

Further on I found a concrete sphere about seven feet in diameter rolled into the undergrowth resting against a tree. Again I diverted to have look. It looked like something from Portmeirion. I thrashed the few yards through nettles and on the other side there were indications that it was some kind of abandoned septic tank. What a let down. But the how and why of its ending up in that location provided today's mystery number two.

My path went over the distant dip in the skyline giving a rewarding view to the strangely named lake Wyndhammere. Internet browsing revealed nothing of interest about the lake but even though it is man made it does enhance views of this countryside.

Distant Barbon hills. The lake can just be seen nestling beyond the trees in the centre

Having walked round the head of the lake this is taken from the other other side.

The tower (below) was a hundred yards off  into the field halfway along the wall.

This unique (to me) cast concrete stile leads into the field for the tower. I guess it  is part of the infrastructure connected with the two boxes (see next photo) on the other side of the wall. All this may or may not be connected with the tower - all remains a mystery.

Surprise view with fleeting sunlight down into the Lune valley with the Barbon hills above

Rigmaden Farm

After walking over the tops and descending into the Lune valley it was time to start climbing back over. My route branched off into the pleasant woods on the left

Just before emerging from the woods, this is the Portmeirion object a few yards off the path.... 

...and round the other side.

All other paths on this walk were fine - this fifty yard section was the exception but  I had sadistic fun thrashing at brambles and nettles with my walking poles.

My route at centre. Ignore others on my cluttered Memory Map