Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sir Hugh RA ?

Previous posts describe my walking the Cumbria Coastal Path in sections. The next stretch is probably the most scenic and I want to have decent weather - I am not inclined to compromise with the current sombre, grey, overcast, drizzly, depressing stuff,  so I have turned my energies to activity more creative and domiciliary.

"Painting" using Photoshop has been an intermittent pastime (well, Hockney does something similar with his iPad - he was a contemporary, albeit a year ahead of me at Bradford Grammar School).

This photo under a canal bridge was taken on a Thursday walk with Pete because the rich and varied colours and texture took my fancy.

I open the photo in Photoshop, then put a blank white layer on top. I reduce the opacity until the photo is just visible below so I can sketch in the main outlines. I then bring back the full white background and continue to paint without further use of the photo, except for looking at a copy for reference.

Here I show two stages of work-in-progress. I am not striving for an exact reproduction of the photo, or the exact colours. I would like to achieve something more loose, free, and artistic, but I don't seem to have that talent, so this will be a sort of halfway-house. The second WIP is nowhere near finished so please don't judge on it - I have just shown it to demonstrate how these creations are tackled.

Hopefully I will in due course up-date with progress or the finished item, unless my temporary wild Gulley Jimson temperament departs me. 

The lines on the outer left-hand side of the bridge and the straight water's edge lines remain (at the moment) from the sketch lines from the partly visible photo before bringing back the white background

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Watch your step

Just received this email from Bowland Climber with the caption,

"No comment"

my reply here:

Friday, 6 January 2017

Tebay Sedbergh road

5th January '17 - Thursday walk with Pete

Still suffering from one of the worst colds I can remember I agreed to my regular walk with Pete, especially as this was forecast as a cloudless, sunny day, albeit very cold, but with the forecast beyond that dire for several days.

The M6 on the way to Tebay was given a landscaping award when it was constructed for the way it sympathetically, if one dare give it that accolade, climbs through the River Lune gorge with the Howgills high on the right, and the railway in between competing for its own engineering achievement.

The river Lune appears to attempt the encirclement of the Howgills, sourcing way up in the north east of those hills, then swinging west, and then south,

Fathers now point out to their children and grandchildren a heart shaped wood on those steep Howgill slopes. It was reputed to be planted by a romantic farmer for his wife, or you can believe other more tragic myths, but the BBC have managed to undermine such heart warming, or heart stopping tales: CLICK FOR BBC  .

Our route today followed the single track road nestling tightly at the foot of the Howgills running underneath the bottom of the heart shaped wood and snaking its way down to Sedbergh. To access the road we parked near its continuation up Borrowdale (the Tebay one) which we walked up a few days ago. The road ducks under the M6, and then immediately under a handsome railway viaduct.

The clear blue sky made visible many vapour trails which I tried to photograph, but my skills in that direction rely on a fluke that occurs one in a hundred to provide an unexpected decent result. With Pete our target is to walk four miles and at the 1.57 miles mark, just short of halfway for our there-and-back trip we dipped and rounded a corner to see a splendid view up Carlin Gill where I had a couple of epic forays in winter many years ago.

Just off the road I spied a small notice on a post and went to investigate. It turned out to be posted by the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) who are the main body for overseeing rock climbing in the UK, and it gave seasonal access restrictions for bird nesting. That usually applies in this context to rock climbing and I was not aware of any worthwhile venues around there, although there are some rocks high up in Carlin Gill where one of my epics occurred. As I went back to the road I slipped on some ice and fell heavily, twisting my knee, and knocking up my thumb very painfully. So much for prudent winter walking on Tarmac. At that point we aborted our four mile target and turned back for the car - total mileage finishing at 3.14 - oh dear!

Back home I had a hot bath, ate half a meal and chucked the rest and went to bed.

This morning I arose at 6:00 to receive granddaughter Katie at 7:00, dropped her off at school at 8:45 and am now back home writing this feeling slightly better, but still a bit sorry for myself.

If you click to enlarge you may better see one of the many vapour trails I tried to photograph, but at least the photo gives some idea of the colours and terrain of the Howgills on this fine day

River Lune looking north

More vapour trails if you enlarge

The heart shaped wood. Its shape is only apparent from the motorway on the other side of the valley

Click to enlarge.
 I never tire of seeing this kind of dales stonework with its skills, patina of moss, and age

Carlin Gill

For my "Signs" collection.
Would you want to?.

Fellow travellers?

Whilst backpacking most people met provide pleasant chat and sometimes much more - I met Mick and Gayle in 2008 on our respective Land's End John 'o Groats walks and we have been friends ever since, but...

...there are others!

"Where are you heading for?"

"Haye-on Wye"

"Oh! It'll be all booked up there, you'll not find any accommodation"

The first b and b I tried had vacancies.


"Where are you heading for?"

"Dunkerley Beacon"

"Which way are you going?"

You tell them.

"Well, you should go..." such and such a way, almost accusingly, inferring you've been stupid with your own plotted route.  If you fall for this you will almost certainly get lost.


On my round Wales walk - from my journal:

"...just before Freshwater West Bay I met the usual dog walking Jonah who told me about the grave severity of the ups and downs on the path between there and Angle. It turned out to be fairly normal up and down coastal path walking. Seascapes and weather were brilliant in the exact meaning of that word."

And just a bit further on, in total contrast:

"...I met a young couple backpacking who had camped on the cliffs with a Terra Nova tent; they had carried water from Angle and seemed to be well organised."

On my Severn Way walk I met a guy south of Hampton Load crossing a new bridge near Highley - my journal says he told me the whole history of coal mining in the area, "and some", and then went on to the record flood heights of the river. Despite all the techniques I reckon to be good at for terminating endless monologues I was stuck with him for twenty minutes.

On the summit of Stob Dearg with my daughter on a bright sunny day a guy arrived at our summit from the Glencoe road direction. Ensuing conversation had him telling us that we were on the summit of Stob Coire Raineach across Lairig Gartsin to the west. We could see the road down Glen Etive (yellow on map) to our right which would have been invisible from Stob Coire Raineach - he told us of his intended route south west along the ridge from the latter. I often wonder what happened to him.

"Where are you going?"
You tell them.

"My brother lives there, you must call in and see him..." followed by endless directions which you both know are not going to be used.

An aggressive dog is having a go at taking a piece out of my ankle.

"It's because you're wearing a hat" 
or " carrying a rucksack" - "he won't hurt you - he's only playing"

"So! I'm supposed to stop wearing a hat just because you can't keep your bloody dog under control?"


And my favourite of all time from my round Wales walk, repeated on several occasions on the walk, and most likely more than once to some of my walking companions since.
"Where are you going?"

"I'm walking round the whole Welsh border"

"Mmm!" - 
(takes a bit of digesting)

"Where did you start?"


"Where will you finish?"




Saturday, 31 December 2016

Cumbria Coastal Way in sections - 3

Friday 30th December '16

Apart from waiting one hour and thirteen minutes for a train at Roose station this was a great improvement on the previous section of the CCW. I had walked 14.03 miles according to Memory Map and the GPX CCW route, setting off at 8:15 am from Ulverston and arriving at 2:15pm Roose - average speed including a stop for coffee and a sandwich - 2.34mph. Stopping after a six hour walk, especially when the temperature has dropped, soon has one chilled and I walked up and down the platform worrying whether I had misread the timetable -  that had taken some time to interpret; my record in that department is not good - no eletronic signage here as at Cark.  Ominously, underlining my worst fears, nobody else turned up to board the 13.28. A bad sign. Anyway the rackety diesel did come at last conveying me back home to a hot bath and watching The Rack Pack on iPlayer.

The film told the story of how Barry Hearn, the snooker promoter, adopted his players and groomed them into marketable personalities, but spurning to take on Alex Higgins (too much of a loose cannon - no pun intended), whose tragic story was intertwined along the way. The characters were depicted in what I would call cartoon fashion, but it was all entertaining stuff with comedy and sadness at the self destruction of Higgins. Star for me was Kevin Bishop as the natural extrovert  businessman Barry Hearn.

Back to the walk. Alighting at Ulverston it was just about light and I had a suburban march back down to near Canal Foot to resume on the CCW. A track and then muddy fields and stiles passing a strange, lone-standing chimney in the middle of a field eventually brought me onto the pebbly, bouldery, beach of Morecambe Bay. The light was still poor but interesting with sun striving to get through, and fairly distant views out to the open bay and across to Chapel Island. Going on the beach varied from softish fine shingle to dodging larger boulders, but not too difficult to cause frustration, and the bewitching light was a bonus only gained from winter walking.

From Newbiggin there was a long section of sea wall down to Rampside with the main road on the right, but the sea on the left - I had been watching the incoming tide all the way and it was now fully in making the familiar modest  crashing of waves on the concave rampart of the sea wall below me. I seem to have an inherent satisfaction from the sound and sight of the sea.

Rampside had a spectacular lighthouse stuck in the middle of the beach - how it has survived since 1875 is remarkable.

I was now following a Tarmac cycle track for the rest of the way with views across Roosecote Sands to the massive buildings where the nuclear submarines ar constructed at Barrow, and to my right the monster chemical plant sporting a bewildering complexity of pipework and gantries where gas is processed from the Morecambe Bay gas fields. How have human beings got themselves to the stage of developing stuff like this?

I left the CCW and as I climbed a field to get me to to the forlorn, cold and inhospitable Roose station, a distant non-stop siren started coming from the direction of the nuclear submarine buildings, and I wondered if I had managed to get myself into the wrong place at the wrong time, and envisaging people bolting from their houses to board the train that I was also now a little more eager to board.

The lone chimney  I later found it had been left over from a demolished brickorks to serve as a guide for ships coming to Canal foot. 

At last, back to the sea, Cartmell and Hampsfell hills in the distance

Out into Morecambe Bay

Chapel Island

The sun never quite made it

Wadhead Point

Zoom to Heysham power station

Note the slightly troublesome walking surface, and below...

...dodging the boulders

Rampside lighthouseFrom Wikipedia:
Rampside Lighthouse, also known as "The Needle", is a leading light (navigation beacon) located in the Rampside area of Barrow-in-FurnessCumbria, England.[2] Built in 1875, it is the only surviving example of 13 such beacons built around Barrow during the late 19th century to aid vessels into the town's port.[3] It stands 20 metres (66 ft) tall and is constructed from red and yellow bricks. Rampside Lighthouse was designated a Grade II listed building by English Heritage in 1991.[2]

The nuclear submarine buildings - Barrow

Gas treatment works on the way to Barrow

Click to enlarge - the blue routes are my start and finish connections to the stations

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas shopping done!

With daughter Jill (High Horse) I bravely managed to battle through the Christmas shop today after coming out the other side of what I thought was Norovirus although I had not suffered the symptomatic vomiting, but I was on the verge. Many of Jill's friends and colleagues have been afflicted and Jill has only just recovered - it seems to get passed on so easily.

I arose yesterday feeling groggy and battled on to have Christmas lunch with Gimmer and then back home to bed where I stayed until 9:00am this morning, but duty called and off we went to Asda, not my favourite venue. 

Here we are on the Asda escape route - six trolleys in front of us and the same down every aisle.

The expedition was brightened by Katie's presence - she was in high spirits and excited but on good behaviour - makes it all worthwhile.

For me, putting all the stuff away when you get back home is more trying than doing the shop, but when done it was a good excuse for Jill and me to have a large G&T made from the remains of a bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

For Christmas we have upped our price limit on the gin and bought a previously untried Caorunn - 41.8% - small batch Scottish gin. I am slightly concerned about this because my father, who was a conservative imbiber of chateau bottled Bordeaux, and bon-vivant in general, and not given to much parental advice or control did offer we three brothers the following words of wisdom:

"Always order something you haven't tried before from the menu, and never drink anything from funny shaped bottles."

Merry Christmas again to all and have a good New Year.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Cumbria Coastal Way in parts - 2

Saturday 17th December '16

Click to enlarge - start and finish in blue - Cumbria Coastal Way pink
This project has not started well.

Following occasional praise here for  increased accuracy of weather forecasts,  I feel I have now been let down. Last Saturday's walk on the CCW was forecast as "cloudy".  In reality I had a non-stop five hour march in drizzle, fizzle, penetrating rain and limited visibility .

Today "early fog clearing to a sunny day" was forecast.  I caught the earlier 7:52am train.

Arriving at Cark station at 8:05am, it had only just become light and fog was all present reducing visibility to a couple of hundred yards, but full of optimism for the promised clearance I pressed on, hands freezing so gloves donned. I walk with two poles with wrist loops. If I want to look at the iPhone map/GPS or otherwise faff I can let the poles dangle and trail behind as I continue to walk. The gloves also have wrist loops - in order to scroll on the iPhone map I need a bare finger, so gloves have to be removed (another faff) often involving pole and glove loops becoming intertwined, so putting on the gloves is a last resort.

Occasionally around eleven the sun made a feeble attempt to break through, but only succeeded in brightening the shroud of fog for a few minutes, otherwise the fog persisted for the rest of the walk, so disappointingly views were out for the whole day; even though I could tell I was walking through attractive countryside I was frustrated, and above all bored, and the aim became to get it finished as soon as possible.

One highlight was going to be Bigland Tarn, a delightful, almost secret gem I have visited before, but this time to be seen from a different angle, but even though I was within thirty yards of the water's edge I couldn't even see the water - just look at the forlorn photo below!

I never stopped for all fourteen miles. At one point I took a wrong turn on a lane for about fifty yards, discovered the error and walked back another hundred yards up the correct route checking with the GPS in my hand before discovering that one of the poles was no longer dangle-trailing behind. I had to go back and up the wrong path before finding it, a victim of the awkward messing with gloves, poles, wrist loops and objects held in the hand.

Shortly after that I arrived at Greenodd on the main A590. The previously ubiquitous CCW sign posts were no longer occurring and the guide just said vaguely "walk down the A590... " That is a very very busy dual carriageway, and I had to walk three kilomtres down the verge, tripping over Lucozade bottles, Macdonald's cartons, discarded pregnancy testing kit wrapping, chunks of plastic moulding fallen off badly maintained vehicles, lengths of double glazing framing and 15mm white plastic piping fallen from cowboy contractors trucks, no doubt on the way to fly-tip the rest.

On the way to Canal Foot the path descended to the edge of the Leven estuary and was barred by a huge sheet of polished, green slime covered limestone. There was no way I was going to walk across, it was more slippery than sheet ice. I toiled back climbing steeply up a wooded banking into fields and then became disorientated spending quarter of an hour finding a way through cow trodden mud to circumvent and get back on track.

I arrived at Ulverston station with 40 minutes to spare before the 15:41 train. As I approached the subway to cross to "southbound" a jobsworth in railway uniform demanded quite rudely, "ticket!"
I said I intended to buy my ticket on the train. "This is a pay before boarding station, you have to get a ticket." My immediate thought was that late on a Saturday afternoon the ticket office would be closed. I had to press this guy to tell me there was a ticket office open, and then he seemed irritated when I asked him where it was and could only elicit vague directions from him.

Arriving at the little window the office behind was unoccupied and I had to wait several minutes for someone to appear.

With time in hand I had just poured coffee from my previously unopened flask when the tannoy announced that the next train on "southbound" was the 15:15 going to Arnside - I had about two minutes to negotiate the sub-way, so collecting flask, stopper and lid, rucksack and walking polesl I managed to stumble-stagger across and board.

The train was an ancient diesel making ear splitting noise on setting off with portents of imminent disaster. At Arnside I was thankful that a local, familiar with this archaic rolling stock, knew how to get us out. You had to wait for a light, high up on the carriage wall, almost out of sight to function, then you could lower the window, and open the door using the huge brass exterior handle. As I stepped down Hillary from my reading group was boarding,  "it's like gong back to the fifties" she said.

I have to say that was not a good day.

Morning fog and cold out of Cark

A blogger's gift.
 A scout's woggle on top of a stone gatepost - he or she was  obviously not prepared.

A brief moment of illumination - a bit of typical Lake District stonework with the old wooden door, at least that was something I could see - click to enlarge

I converted the previous photo to black and white - there's not much difference!

Bigland Tarn - my anticipated highlight, are you having a laugh?
  Although that is the water's edge that is not water but fog

Leven Bridge near Haverthwaite

Footbridge across the Leven to arrive at Greenodd and the A590