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, 24 February 2020

Wanta wallet?

I was browsing Amazon for a new wallet and found these questions and answers - just couldn't resist posting.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Trouble with our planet

There are six of us that have met now for many years on a monthly basis to discuss and talk about a monthly book we set ourselves. Our last book was a huge anthology of poetry.* I balk at poetry because it is often impossibly obscure, or if not needs hard work and application to fully appreciate, but of course that is not always the caee. If anybody out there has any inclination whatsoever to look at poetry I would recommend this volume because it has a huge eclectic range and also it is divided into interesting vaguely related subjects which provides an opportunity to read contrasting views on a particular theme.

All this lead me to become more enthusiastic to the point where I thought I would have a go. I didn't want to have the difficulty of conforming to some specific poetic form or rhyming so favoured what might loosely be called Free Verse to satiate my enthusiasm to "get something down."

The first one relates partly to a recent TV mini series documentary on BBC 2 where an artist walks and talks - see my recent post, Taking a Break.

The second, just in case anybody from the other side of the world is not aware relates to our recent named storm Ciara which wreaked havoc all over the UK. This is a distillation of my most recent post: Following the Coast (6)

*Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times. Neil Astley

Global warming, species extinction,
Health threats and News conspire to depress.
Antidotes by donation and responsibility
Fail to assuage for not doing more.

Maybe the luxury of temporary denial?
An artist follows News at Ten
Carrying a friendly camera through limestone sublime.
No music, just footsteps crunching... and birdsong,
And the varying shush of the wind.

Occasional solicited greetings from passers by
And sparingly our artist's artist's thoughts.
And in between, silence…
Silence almost whispers so we absorb white stone,
Green pasture, blue sky and that river now rumbling
Then slowing, seducing like good brown ale
But still letting us see down down deep.


Ciara had me grounded?
No! Ciara forced offspring (both) to rule.
Not for me faint heart, but from respect
I postpone for a day.
Not fields to Cockersand but lakes,
Imposing a furtive stealthy farmyard sneak.
To the coast, a banking track exposed to Ciara’s anger,
I bend and head and waver blown on erratic course. A car.
Again another intrudes upon my will.
I’m forced to teater from the edge,
Unstable with the wind to steep and slippery grass.

Now a concrete path only a foot above the lashing tide,
Driven spray and I am drenched.
No sneak now but blatant retreat.
A benign deserted road, another squelchy plod.
The abbey of Cockersand more bedraggled than I - how long
I ask has it here endured?
A modest red stone cube tortured by nine hundred years
Of violent storm. The camera is too unsteady in the gale.
There is a kind of thrill, but this is no place to linger
As I turn to complete this rebellious forbidden day,
And refelct on those of stronger heart who here spent harder days
And many harder months and years.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Following the coast (6)

Wednesday 12th February 2020 - Cockerham to Knott End-on-Sea - 10 miles+

Looking at the map beforehand I anticipated quiet and not particularly interesting country lanes and a tad of disappointment at not being able to be nearer the sea without tramping down a main A road.

Diversification from traditional farming proved me wrong.

After a quick look at Cockerham church outside the village I followed a short stretch with a walk-way down the A588 then turned off down those lanes.

At recent visits to my friend "Gimmer" who comments here I have learned of his predilection for goat's milk. Well I was not far down the lane before I came accross The Cockerham Herd, a farm established for twenty years selling goat's meat. They have an interesting website which is worth a look and it is also quite persuasive about their product. I have no vested interest in this enterprise - I just found it notable and thought others may also. I will be interested to find what is served up for supper next time I visit Gimmer.

Sharon & Chris Peacock
or 07947026849

I hadn't gone much further before a lane branched off with a sign directing one to The Bay Flying Club - well one never knows when one may need a clandestine departure from the country.

Another mile further on and yet another new development by a five generations farming family:

Farm Yard Ales and a jolly website worth a look:

That brings me to an interesting point. I have speculated about the profusion of littered Lucozade bottles on the roadside recently, but all the way along these lanes were not Lucozade plastic but jettisoned Carlsberg Special Brew cans.  There were so many and at such relatively short intervals I could only deduce that there must be a regular alcoholic traveller along this road - that stuff is the go-to drink for dipsos. But if that was the case I would have expected the odd one of the cans to have landed in the same place as one of its predecessors?  Then again if the perpetrator was walking with a rucksack full of Special Brew an accomplished binge drinker may have discarded each one at those kind of intervals. But it could also have been a passing coach of hooligans all ditching their cans randomly? I hope there is no connection between all that and the enterprising Farm Yard Ales.

North of Pilling, and after taking a wrong turn putting on half a mile for the there and back I was onto the sea banking all the way to Knott-end-on-Sea. Storm Criac was  still going strong. I battled snugly through a high cross-wind with hat tightly jammed covered by my fully zipped up hood on my Paramo jacket and clad in my Rohan Barricade trousers. I enjoy being in harsh conditions when I have good gear. A hundred yards ahead of me several hundred Oystercatchers suddenly rose from the banking taking flight en-masse upwind over the sea in a massive cloud, then wheeling back to settle again on the banking another hundred yards down. That cycle was repeated half a dozen times as I continued in their direction. That was a magnificent sight and coupled with the earlier attractions this walk had produced much of interest and delight.

At Knott End I joined up with the Wyre Way walk I did in November 2016 which took me across the ferry to Fleetwood and round the Fylde to Rossall School where I hope to resume shortly.

I waited half an hour for a bus back to Cockerham and my car.

Worth clicking first photo to see rest as a slideshow, especially the oystercatchers
Cockerham church. It is isolated on a footpath outside the village which conveniently lead me to the A588

The goat farm - Photoshop struggled with the colour and lighting

No. I didn't have time to stop off and sample

Another "one for the road"

First sight of the sea - onto the banking all the way to Knott End

Zoom to Heysham power station. Six miles in a straight line

Oystercatchers ahead just about to take off and...

...there they go

Wild water as the bay opens out

Looking back towards Pilling

Knott End-on-Sea

East to west. The little blue route is where I took a wrong turning

Taking a break

Global warming, flora and fauna extinctions, the political news, and  health threats are just a few of the depressing  things we face on a daily basis and that doesn’t include domestic and personal worries that most of us have to a lesser or greater extent. I try to take a responsible attitude and keep myself informed and make some contribution wherever I can but still feel guilty because I know I could do more.

But every so often one needs to switch off. Benign but quality tele is rare but it can provide some constructive escapism from time to time - The Repair Shop on BBC was a recent such avenue but more recently I have been watching Yorkshire Walks, BBC2.

Artist Shanaz Gulzar films herself walking in the Yorkshire Dales. That region is for me the most attractive countryside I know of anywhere. Shanaz carries a three hundred and sixty degree camera on a pole to film her surroundings - enhancing shots are made presumably from a drone. There is no background music but all the sounds of wind, water, birdsong, crunching feet on footpaths, and occasional conversation with passers-by are there instead and in between those sounds and Shanaz’s occasional commentary a peaceful silence prevails that underlines the beauty of this white limestone, green grass, blue sky terrain along with that seductive brown river water that despite its colouration enables you to see down deep.

Shunaz speaks simply without flowery language about what she feels and sees, and as an artist shows us oddball tree roots and moss and the like which when viewed as a self contained entity provide interest and pleasant contemplation when all too often we pass by without seeing.

One might criticise for an absence of dire warnings of planet trashing, and lack of mention of species under threat, but I welcome an occasional break from the gloom and doom. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Following the coast (5)

Monday 10th February 2020 - Cockerham to Cockersands Abbey and back - 8miles (ish)

Daughter and son both sent me messages on Sunday saying "you are grounded" because of Storm Ciara. I don't like being grounded.

Without investigating too much I gave myself to understand that Storm Ciara was only officially nominated for Sunday.

On Monday I thought there's no harm in going to have a look so I was off walking from Cockerham at 11:15. After this little circular I will be on less familiar territory for a while and also with the advantage of using public transport so that I will be able to walk eight miles or so actually on the route.

The wind didn't seem strong in Cockerham but once out into open fields I was blown about all over as I splodged through waterlogged pasture. I was then barred by a huge lake of flood water and had to make a clandestine diversion through a farmyard. There were some people around but I had no encounter - I am always prepared to be humble and apologetic in such circumstances and I think I have a pretty good ability to calm most irrate landowners. I did meet my match a while ago when I was shouted down and told in expleteive terms to depart - I since removed the post but kept a copy- here is an extract:

The farm had a complex number of tracks and gates, and to be fair the right of way was well marked with yellow paint, but despite that I got off track by about twenty yards. There was a shout from a farm building. The guy came out and demanded aggressively where I had come from and where was I going. He was large powerful and threatening. He shouted telling me not to come on his property and then shouting again frenziedly, directed me through a gate onto the public footpath - I tried to communicate with him, but yet again he shouted out "And don't start telling me to calm down," and then he finished off screaming out "f*** off!"

Along a tarmac road there were about fifty swans in one of the fields. After a couple of kilometres tarmac gave way to unsurfaced track leading on a high exposed banking to Bank End Farm. A couple of times vehicles came past and I had to step down onto very steep banking, and with the howling wind 'twas all a bit perilous.

From the farm I followed the footpath edging onto the sea. Eventually that became a concrete path about two feet wide with the sea only abut a foot below - large waves were crashing and spray flying. Before I was totally drenched I aborted and followed the road to Cockersand Abbey. More squelchy field walking brought me back to tarmac. Here an approaching car stopped and I was grilled almost aggressively as to whether I had seen THE Bewick's Swans as though I ought to have known that such an exciting, supposed anomaly had recently been broadcast - I mumbled about seeing my aforementioned swans but I had no idea if they were Bewick's or Buicks. Consulting my bird book now back at home I still can't see what is the didffernce. I joined the A588 for an uncomfortable two and half kilometres dodging the traffic back to Cockerham.

Just out of Cockerham - it elicits the wonderful word "ramshackle"

One for my Relics - not sure what it is - any ideas Alan?

Out into the wild wind

That banking was a bit dodgy combined with the high wind when I had to step aside for a couple of vehicles

Almost a toy tractor - not rare I suppose but new to me

A bit further on the path was being lashed by breaking waves and driven spray - I retreated to the road

Are these Bewick's swans?

Cockersand Abbey - not a place to linger in the cold and windchill

Another unfamiliar tractor for me

Start/finish at Cockerham - clockwise

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Following the coast (4)

Tuesday 4th February 2020 - Overton to Lancaster Lune railway bridge

I thought this would be mostly on a busy B road with no walkway and was not particularly enthusiastic. One and a half kilometres from Overton a track lead to Heaton Hall Farm not shown on the OS 1:50 map. I looked at the 1:25 and the track was marked and shown as going past the farm but then terminating before continuing after a couple of hundred yards on the way to Richmond Farm where the track continued back to the B road further north. That looked more pleasant, but this was not marked as a public footpath and there was the question of the gap in the road which from experience I knew more than likely would indicate some impassable obstruction. This is a dilemma one is faced with from time to time on such walks - if you proceed and access is forbidden or the obstacle appears you have to eat humble-pie and retrace your steps - it is just a gamble. I gambled.

I met a friendly girl as I walked into the farmyard and she told me that the tarmac road continued all the way. I'm pretty sure that was the case at the date of my OS map from what I saw so they are not always perfect.

That tarmac lane with its views and no traffic made this walk into something much more enjoyable than I had hoped for, especially as I had won my bet.

A little used road took me past the Golden Ball Inn nicknamed Snatchems. The navy in the 1700s sent the press gangs here to forcibly recruit sailors. Just imagine having a quiet pint on a sunny afternoon when some bully boys turn up, bundle you into a van and you spend the rest of your short life working on a cocaine farm in Peru.

Just before arriving at the inn there was a disgusting pile of fly-tipping on the road. It can't be just a matter of dumping the stuff - it could just as easily have been put on the grass verge but I reckon there is some kind of demonstration or act of defiance here as well - one wonders who these people are - I have my own ideas but not to be published here.

Earlier I had been nearly mown down by  a two horse trotting trap.

Another track lead off alongside the River Lune and this again turned out to be tarmac but closed to traffic. A massive landfill site on the left was being added to by a continuous relay of wagons and there were signs warning of "inflammable gas" on the fencing - good job I hadn't taken my stove for a brew - headlines:  "Arnside pensioner blown to bits on Lancaster cycleway."

More and more as I walk I criss-cross with previous adventures. I had a distant view of the Ashton Memorial above Kendal where I passed through with BC on the Lancashire Witches Walk - the witches were hanged there. Looking across the River Lune I could see the new housing developments I walked past recently with Pete on our way to Glasson Dock, another venue where I have walked around often. I passed under the pylons made oversize to take the electricity from Heysham Power Station over the river which reminded me of the similar arrangement over the River Wyre when I walked the Wyre Way. - I will be connecting up with that route later with this project I hope. Whilst all that is pleasurable I am looking forward to getting onto less familiar ground. Seeing "what is round the next corner" satisfies my nosy-parker instinct -  one of my main motivations for walking.

Ever since that walk with Pete along the other side of the Lune I have been itching to cross the walkway on the bridge taking the main line railway over the river Lune. The steps up and down at each end came as a shock after all the level walking.

I sat on a bench after that and had my refreshments and then retraced my way back to Overton.

Ashton Memorial above Lancaster (zoom)

Why are these swans playing in in the fields? They should be on the water - for some reason I found this quite irritating


Upstream on the R. Lune. My objective railway bridge is a bit beyond the furthest you can see here

The Golden Ball Inn - "Snatchems"

One for my "signs" collection

New housing across the Lune

The Lune railway bridge

Looking back after I had crossed

Giant pylons taking the power over the wide river

Ignore other than green route - south to north and back

Track from road to Richmond Farm peters out after farm. It was actually a continuous tarmac road

Monday, 3 February 2020

Following the coast (3)

Sunday 2nd February 2020 - Pott's Corner to Overton and Pott's (Circular)

Am I the only one with a list of unfinished projects? I still have left a final section of the OS straight line route I am doing with Bowland Climber. I also need to do the first part of the Dalesway from Ilkley to Bolton Bridge (only about five miles) and there is still the rest of the Cumbria Coastal Route from Drigg to Carlisle. Way back I never finished the Cumbria Way when my old Springer Barney went on strike when we made it to Borrowdale and we had to get the bus home. There have probably been others unfinished. But, the beauty of this coastal infill is knowing that I will never complete it - I am just using it as a tool for day walks (at the moment...) so there is no pressure.

Having said that I still want to walk the sections as reasonably close to the coastline as I can but I am finding that quite big diversions inland cannot be avoided. It seems there is a plan afoot for an England Coast Path  being organised by Natural England:

My first impression from the voluminous website is that efforts (as so often) are being concentrated in the south. For instance the only section from the Scottish border to the Welsh border on the west coast to be designated "English Coast Path and associated access rights now open" is a comparatively short stretch of about thirty miles from Silecroft to Whitehaven.  Linking up a credibly integrated total coast path is going to be a massive undertaking. I have not yet had time to look at the other regions but will shortly study them in more detail.

Of course there is a large amount of the coast furnished with paths, tracks and roads already and one can always make one's own way but it is hoped that more of the sections where access is presently denied will be negotiated for and more links made.

After my previous less than inspiring section today's was better. A good but very muddy path wandered across the saltmarsh with that lonely and mysterious atmosphere reminiscent of Magwitch's first appearance, and emphasised by dark clouds, strong wind, and the moody threat of rain - I was in my element. 

Sambo's grave now seems to be enclosed by a fine stone built wall that I don't remember from my previous visit.
Sambo's grave is a memorial to a young, black slave who is thought to have arrived in 1736 at the port with his master.
He was born in Africa and taken first to the West Indies as a slave before being brought to Lancaster by his master.
He was taken ill and died near a local inn at Sunderland Point.
He was buried in an unmarked grave but in 1795 a schoolteacher - Rev Watson - raised money to erect a memorial to Sambo and penned the elegy on the grave.

The epitaph reads:

Full sixty years the angry winter's wave
Has thundering dashed this bleak and barren shore
Since Sambo's head laid in this lonely grave
Lies still and ne'er will hear their turmoil more.
Full many a sandbird chirps upon the sod,
And many a moonlight elfin round him trips
Full many a summer's sunbeam warms the clod
And many a teeming cloud upon him drips.
But still he sleeps - till the awakening sounds,
Of the Archangel's trump new life impart,
Then the Great Judge his approbation founds,
Not on man's colour but his worth of heart.
After that visit my route crossed to Sunderland Point which was a thriving slave port back in the 1700s. The scattering of dwellings reflects that period and it remains as a windswept, tidal abode for a few - there is much history if you care to search the Internet.
Sunderland Point is serviced by a public road from Overton. That road is subject to total tidal immersion and that was of some concern. I had looked at the tide tables and was pretty sure I would be safe and so I was, but it was quite evident that my concerns were well founded as I used the easy going to quicken my pace.

I followed the coast south of Overton to Bazil Point and then back to Overton and more waterlogged fields back to my car at Pott's Corner. Although only about half of this eight mile circular made progress on my coastal infill it had been a pleasant and interesting outing.

Click first photo to see rest enlarged
Setting off from Pott's Corner into the windswept saltmarsh 
Sambo's grave now enclosed by a handsome stone wall

Connecting across to Sunderland Point

See below - I think there are plans to develop it as some sort of information centre. I reckon it must be one of the ugliest churches seen on my travels

From what I could glean it looks as though the above mentioned plans may have floundered?
I was not sure if I was on an "alternate Sunday" or not but it was only about 13:00 hours, so a bit early if there was a service. 

In Sunderland Point - this and next two

The tide-prone road from Sunderland Point to Overton

Bazil Point

As always I had just lunched sitting on a large stone before coming across this seat

Exiting from Bazil Point to head back to Overton. There was a ridiculous arrangement of  projecting stone to scale the wall at the top of the steps involving gymnastics and not a pretty sight if anybody had been watching.

Start: Pott's corner, top west coast - anti-clockwise