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!


Friday, 16 February 2018

Leck in the rain

Wednesday 14th February 2018

Nine-thirty - post breakfast - still raining - rain forecast all day -  shall I shan't I?

Not having walked much in bad weather this winter after knee replacement on 29th November I awoke my Paramo waterproof/windproof/all-in-one trousers from hibernation. The jacket has been in use all winter.

Providing I have effective waterproof gear and have set my mind to making a good job of it I quite enjoy an occasional masochistic excursion in the rain, perhaps to prove to myself, smugly of course, how my experience has been honed to mastering such drama - what modesty !

Half an hour's drive from home took me to Leck, a village I have never before visited. Welcome was provided by the church: they have a huge almost empty car park with an honesty box suggesting a minimum one pound donation. I donated a bit more. I  hope they're not supporting Oxfam.

It was still raining sparsely. I was reluctant to get out of the snugly warm car, and had brought my little flask of coffee to give me a pre-walk boost, so I dallied a while.

A public footpath ran out of the back of the car park and right through the middle of the primary school which seemed a bit odd in these days when  nobody without MI5 clearance is allowed to mingle with children. Anyway it was half term and the school was closed. In the light of many recent events I have to agree that precautions need to be taken, but as with all of Health and Safety it gets out of hand sometimes.

After a section of Tarmac there was a short link footpath back onto the very minor cul-de-sac road that leads to a track which finishes on the slopes of Gragareth, but I wasn't going right up there today, just a little three mile circular.  Just before embarking on the short footpath a farming sort of guy came out of his cottage and we had a chat. He had lived there for five years, but he said he had previously lived in Gayle near Hawes, suggesting that I might not have heard of it. Well, I walked through there last April on my way to the Roman road and then over and down into upper Wharfedale, and we both reeled off the names of Oughtershaw, where he had gone to school, and then Beckermonds, and Raisgill where I had bed and breakfast - he certainly knew that wider remote area well - quite a satisfying little conversation.

It may be interesting for students of countryside navigation to look at the map below. I thought I had followed the path on the map steeply up a cow trodden hillside to a gateway and then down to another decorative iron gate bordering the road which would have convinced most that they were on the continuation of a typical parochial countryside right of way, but the gate was barred and padlocked! Looking more closely at the map (Memory Map GPS on iPhone) I saw I was about 50 yards south of my footpath, and when I marched back onto track there was proper access to the Tarmac road. Countryside navigation is often more tricky than it is in the mountains.

The road deteriorated with many serious potholes and the odd patches of ice. Fellside Barn marked on the map was undergoing extensive renovation, and the wokrmen's Radio One was blaring away from inside. The weather was certainly not viable for outside working with intermittent squalls and strong biting cold wind. After the barn I  turned off south on a muddy but sound track. Halfway along, descending through  woodland a buzzard flew up from the path fifty yards ahead, and when I arrived at its point of departure there was just shredded remains of a member of the crow family with feathers scattered all around.

When my track re-joined Tarmac I met a lady on the road trundling a wheelbarrow full of logs - she had been to raid her wood store to keep her woodburner going, and as I battled on, head bent into the rain and wind I imagined, with some slight envy, her cosy wood-fire living room, but no bother, I knew I was not far from the car now, and then back home to a hot bath.


Back to gate Number 2

The padlocked gate

I can't resist heather.
 And my contribution to  the ubiquitous snowdrop photos at this time of year

An illustration of  the trickiness of countryside footpath navigation. Note this is all much more apparent when enlarged like this, therefore more difficult if using the paper map.
From  gate Number I could see the gate at No. 2 and so was immediately distracted from the green path on the map; there was a path on the ground leading to Number 2.
 Shortly after Number 2 I was able to see Number 3 a prominent decorative iron gate leading onto the road confirming my belief that I was on the correct path, but it proved to be barred and padlocked.
From Number 2 back to the proper path is less than 50m - fortunately there was a gate in the wall to give me access back onto the path, and then another onto the road.


Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Tender Trap

Friday 9th February 2018

Old Blue Eyes sings, 

"You hurry to a spot, that's just a dot on the map
You're hooked, you're crooked, your caught in the tender trap...

...and soon there's music in the breeze"

Writer(s): Sammy Cahn, Jimmy van Heusen

I spend a lot of time browsing the map. There are many locations I have earmarked to visit some day, usually because of some building or  feature set in unexpectedly remote, or out of character terrain. I am a born nosy parker.

Although I have walked the ridges to the north-east and south-west of Bannisdale (see map below) one of my earmarks for many years has been to walk up the track to see the isolated farmstead of Bannisdale Head nestling tightly under the steep head of this wild valley.

This was not a romantic encounter like the song, but it was similarly uplifting, and that phrase "dot on the map" has always fired my imagination. 

When ticking off Wainwright's Outlying Fells with Bowland Climber (9th may 2016) we parked near Dryhowe Bridge to ascend Whiteside Pike, and walk the Bannisdale horseshoe. There was just enough room against piles of road stone at the end of the public road. Today those piles had increased and I couldn't find room, nor anywhere else within reason. Looking at the map I saw footpaths came in from Thorn Cottage further north back up the A6, so I drove to set off from there.

At the start a sign indicated I was initially on part of The Millers Way, a long distance path I had not previously heard of running from Kendal to Carlisle named after Mr Carr the biscuit man who moved his business from Kendal to Carlisle in 1831, supposedly using an approximation of this route - looks interesting - could it be dome in bits using public transport?

A boggy climb and traverse got me back over into Bannisdale to emerge only a couple of hundred yards from where I had been unable to park. I immediately realised that if I had continued from the end of the public road there would have been plenty of room to park through the gate just the other side of Dryhowe Bridge - ah well.

All was silence up Bannisdale with intense blue sky, a nippy wind to walk into (...and soon there's music in the breeze")  and providing welcome assistance on the return.  High valley sides with craggy outcrops and intriguing, mysterious gorges gave a sense of enclosure, and just peaking above the skyline at the end of the valley toppings of snow on higher, distant Lake District hills.

The farm house at Bannisdale Head was apparently unoccupied but well maintained, as was the Land Rover track I was walking on. It looks as though the farm and its buildings are used more for storage or an advanced base for farming management on the hills. I found a convenient stone to sit on and had my sandwich and flask of coffee and quarter of an hour of quiet contemplation.

The round trip was 5.5 miles - average speed including the food stop 1.2 mph. That is the longest so far since my knee replacement eleven weeks ago - I was in no hurry.


Red dots indicate my route over into Bannisdale

Halfway to Bannisdale Head up the Land Rover track - nb snow covered hills beyond

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

A Grandpa walk

Sunday 4th February 2018

For some time I have shunned the idea of repeating previous walks on the grounds that every opportunity, at my age, of discovering things new must be taken. Occasionally there are exceptions, and I would happily repeat all parts of the Dalesway which I have previously walked in sections  (I have yet to fill in the five miles from the start in Ilkley up to Bolton Bridge.) Every section of that walk is shear delight, on old tracks, cropped turf, accompanied by lively streams and seventeenth century farms and barns, skilfully blended into the landscape. One can let the imagine wander on tracks along ancient hawthorn and holly hedgerows where pack horses would have trudged.

Sunday gave us intense blue sky with a nip in the air and ice on puddles as I set off with daughter Jill and granddaughter Katie on a typical section not far from the finish of the Dalesway at Bowness-on-Windermere.

I particularly enjoy this fringe of the Lake District terrain where sheep graze in fields of mini undulating fells, mainly untrodden by cows, and topped with enticing  outcrops of the kind of  solid rock so redolent of the classic climbing crags remembered from my erstwhile rock climbing days.

With my recovering knee the distance of 2.21 miles was just about enough: the discomfort seems to fluctuate, from almost normal walking to quite unpleasant pain and stiffness, but I am pretty sure I am not overdoing it. We meandered and stopped for half an hour on the high contour above Crag House and munched biscuits with cheese tomato and basil. We could just glimpse a bit of Lake Windermere to the south-west vividly reflecting the sun. Katie had brought a book; she has all at once started reading properly - I am not saying Katie is exceptional, but seeing young children acquiring language then reading ability is a fascinating business. I am gruntled to see her enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment of books.

All along Katie was way out in front, in cowboy language "riding point", but I'm not sure about "heading them off at the pass." She was summiting rocks, playing King of the Castle, and poking at icy puddles with her stout driftwood staff gleaned from the beach at Arnside a few days ago, and it was a joy to see her imagination running wild.

Including our long brunchy stop we managed a relaxing 0.83mph - that's the way to do it.


Friday, 2 February 2018

If the bough breaks...

1st February - Thursday walk with Pete

Borrowdale (the one near Tebay) is now managed by Friends of the Lake District, after having been included within the extended boundaries of the Lake District national park. There is a pleasing website detailing improvements they have made enhancing wildlife, conservation and bio-diversity. This valley is for me one of the most attractive locations I know. I found it for myself many years ago without any prior knowledge (much better than being told about it by someone else) and have visited it many times since. The traverse of the southern ridge and return via the valley bottom is a fine outing. As far as I know the old farm, now restored is not inhabited but the valley is managed for sheep. The steep hillsides have a mixture of rocky outcrops and scattered trees and the fast flowing Borrow Beck is a lively presence throughout.

Our route started at the eastern end - there is Tarmac with tricky potholes for just over a kilometre ascending quite steeply through attractive woodland, and we drove up there to the start of the Land Rover track which is not suitable for normal motor cars, and leads to the farm at Low Borrowdale.  There is a friendly sign now suggesting caution, but there is no way I would want to take my low-slung Kia any further. There are paths and tracks after the farm which eventually meet with the A6 at the western end, but there is no realistically viable route for vehicles which keeps this secret valley as a place for peace and food for the sole.

We walked up the rough undulating track for just over a mile, and then back again, and for the moment that is as much as my convalescing knee wants to do, but all was bright and sunny, but there was a perishingly cold wind and the track had patches of ice which were not always obvious to the eye and I was in great fear of slipping. On the return my walking had slowed somewhat, and bearing in mind Pete is five years older than me at 83 this was the first time I can remember him being out in front and waiting every so often for me to catch up. But, to breath that air and soak up those surroundings was welcome after weeks of confinement.

Back at Café Ambio most of the farmers had gone and we were able to get our usual comfortable seating on the only two leather settees in the corner away from most of the standard café tables and chairs. As we were well into our tea drinking and flapjack and carrot cake munching, a couple of young mums arrived with pram and baby and a four or five year old boy and plonked down on the table next to us - there were other empty tables all over. Then another two arrived with a couple more young kids. The baby was crying and the kids were what I would describe as active and vocal. We have not had this kind of intrusion before during the two or three years we have been coming here, and whilst I, now as a veteran grandpa, tend to be laid-back Pete was disgruntled (he is not very tolerant) and mutterings were made that we may have to change our venue if this persists - oh dear!

Recently I was watching a TV programme about volunteers going through the SAS training; they were subjected to over fourteen hours of sleep deprivation, interrogation and softening up, part of which involved being forced to adopt uncomfortable positions whilst being prodded with sticks, along with intermittent loud noises, and high pitched recordings of babies crying, so if the military regard that noise as the ultimate...

Apart from housing the new livestock auction mart this large recently purpose built complex incorporates Café Ambio and also a normal household/antique type auction house. As we depart we can see into the auction room and at the front was an antique petrol pump complete with the Esso glass bowl topping piece. As I was pondering what the guide price may be one of the auction guys appeared and told us it was set at  £1500/2000. Pete said to him "If I bought that and took it home my wife would divorce me." The auction man jauntily replied "perhaps cheap at the price."



Friday, 26 January 2018

A modest return

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'

Today I went for what I would call my first proper walk since the knee replacement op. 57 days ago.

In the seventeen years I have lived in Arnside I can only remember one occasion driving up to Sizergh Castle and having a brew in the café. Today I set off from their car park on the most perfect little walk I have done for some time. Starting up an ancient lane I then doubled  back to climb gently on perfect cropped grass to reach a 126m spot height with expansive views to the Lake District hills covered in snow. A steady descent, again down old lanes brought me back to the car park and the café for a pot of tea and a jam scone. That was a round of 1.92 miles - I walked very steadily using my poles and took 1.83 hrs - average speed: 1.05mph, but I did stop for quite a few photos, and I certainly wasn't rushing, rather trying to prolong the overwhelming enjoyment of getting out again, especially with discovering such attractive new terrain so close to home.

A pleasing example of some crude blacksmith's work - pity about the Philips screws.

On parkland estates one chances to find such bespoke gates 

Steady climb on pleasant short grass to high point and Lake District views

Sadly I will be attending brother Nick's funeral on Monday next. We did have a few good walks together over the years, but Nick was a passionate sailing man. Here are two blurry photos from a good day we had in Wensleydale on 30th March 2004 - note the wellies rather than boots

Conny Tammy Currack summit

Addlebrough summit. The trig point had been removed

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Jazz in Arnside!

Long time no post.

Knee progress has been slow, or is it just me being impatient?

Last Wednesday I saw Mr. P for my nominal six week check up. He was pleased with the amount of bend and straightening I have achieved, and he assured me that the pain I am having at night is still to be expected - in that respect over the last week I have at last been sleeping for decent chunks of the night. The only excursions to the world outside have been those of necessity, for shopping etc., and my life has been a matter of even more routine than normal. But on Friday, and yesterday I actually went out to walk for the sake of it, albeit using the crutches. Friday saw me walk a total of about half a mile, up to the chapel from my house and round the cemetery and back. Yesterday I drove down to the village and walked about a mile there and back along the front to investigate Moochin' About, a new jazz themed café that has opened opposite the railway station. I find that my leg is operating in normal walking mode, rather than stiff and peg-legging, and back at the car I ditched the crutches and had a go just using my walking poles, and I reckon that will now be the way forwarded with gradual increments in distance.

Moochin' About is tiny, sporting one long communal table, and a couple of other minor seating arrangements. I had a good Americano, and an enjoyable ricotta and roasted red pepper toasted panini sandwich. Jazz plays via a hifi system, iPad and Spotify. On entering I said jokingly to the Iranian girl in charge "I've come to hear some Sonny Rollins". Although she was not familiar with that name she was keen to search Spotify and play one of his albums. I mentioned SR's album (vinyl l.p. in my case) Way Out West, and in particular a favourite track of mine: I'm an Old Cowhand, and she obliged by finding it on Spotify. Rollins' style is effortless and on this track he improvises fairly close to the melody. I chatted with the girl and said I would like to be able to play like that. Wisely she said, "Ah, but if you were playing you wouldn't be listening as you are now" which is an interesting point. I have often wondered how much, and what kind of enjoyment professional orchestra players get from the music they are part of creating.

Click to see Moochin's website
Click for youTube link to I'm and Old Cowhand

Friday, 12 January 2018

Nick's funeral.

I am not sure if anybody reading this blog would want to know about funeral arrangements for my brother Nicholas Robinson. I often get more than a hundred page hits per day, but I have no idea where most of them come from, as comments seem to get ever sparser.

The funeral is on 29th January at 2:20 pm at Stonefall Crematorium, Harrogate - HG3 1DE