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!

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Monday, 19 July 2010

Book publishing

The leg progresses after two visits to my GP's nurse and another due on Thursday. It is still painful but getting less so.
I am currently working on the photos and text of my Norfolk/Lakes trip. I intend to produce this as book on the Lulu website. Last Christmas, unknown to me my daughter hijacked the photos and the separate journal for my Lands End/John o'Groats walk from my computer and completed the monumental job of integrating the photos into the text (all chronologically correct) and presented me with a beautifully prepared hard back version of my adventure.
You download a page template from Lulu which you must work within, and it must be in Microsoft Word. Help is available with designing the hardcover and other features. When your file is complete you send it to Lulu and they make up the book for you. There is no initial charge. Our single copy book cost about £38, but the price can be less for volume purchases. It is also possible to download a book at less cost. My LEJOG was in our own private domain at Lulu but I have now made it publicly available. A hard copy would cost £30 of which I would receive £5.12, and the download £10 of which I would receive £7.18. I would donate any proceeds I receive to The Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND was the illness my wife Ann succumbed to in 1997).
If anybody wishes to obtain a copy of the LEJOG book go to http://www.lulu.com/ and type: Conrad Walks into the find box - n.b. two separate words.
When the Norfolk/Lakes thing is ready I will post with the info.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Retrospective thoughts on Languedoc and Lowestoft walks

Contrast in photos taken was the striking feature  between The Languedoc and the Lowestoft to St Bees Head walks.
The French photos have a dreary khaki cast coupled with  boring uniformity. The English photos are rich in colour, with noticeable diversity of interest. This is partly because The Languedoc is a huge area similar in nature throughout, but in England one can walk through small contrasting areas quickly, and in particular I noticed  changes in what artists call “light” in different regions of England. Another fascination was the gradual change in regional accents.
The Languedoc covered mainly upland areas, and England was mainly a country walk.


I have tried below to illustrate the differences, but not really to my satisfaction. Perhaps it is something that is just in my head.


FRANCE



The route I devised in England could not avoid a fair amount of Tarmac, but this was largely on minor roads. Public footpaths are nearly all indicated by signposts where they depart from roads, and are usually well defined and easy to follow, although sometimes overgrown, especially sections of The Teesside Way.
For shear variation of scenery and quality of walking I think one would be hard pressed to find a better route in England.
Understandably farmers grumble when walkers wander off footpaths in fields and farmyards, but why don’t they put up a few marker signs? This would save much irritation for all.
Blogging on the move was not too onerous. I found enough opportunities to charge Mili. Mili is a battery that iPhone slots into and charges from. Two advantages with this unit are : you retain the iPhone to use whilst charging progresses, and you are not leaving the iPhone as a theft temptation, and a greater loss for you if it went missing.
I could not be bothered taking separate photos on iPhone and camera, and posting photos was time consuming and fraught with complication. It is a marvel that we can blog on the move at all, but even with iPhone it is fiddly. The finger unintentionally touches the screen and things vanish and there is rarely a “back” facility. Typing is wonderfully easy, but correcting is not so. Getting the insertion point where you want it can be frustrating. Using BlogPress led to annoying losses, and I learnt to type posts in email, then copy and paste into BlogPress.
Vodafone coverage is generally poor. I think you can only use Internet with a 3G signal; when strong it is indicated in the bars area on the screen. I think you can be receiving some 3G signal without it being indicated. I posted for every day (but not necessarily on that day) which implies operation is viable, but I had to work hard to achieve this. There are many and large areas where there is no signal, and considering the cost of Vodafone’s package I reckon Vodafone are getting money under false pretenses.
Thanks to everyone who commented and showed interest in my exploits, this makes a huge difference when you are out there. I appreciate also no criticism (so far) about making oneself vulnerable by injury through walking alone!
Thanks also to the many interesting and kind, and some times not so kind, people I met along the way - these encounters are a large part of what makes these journeys worthwhile.
   
We are blessed with a rich and varied country, and of course I mean the whole of the UK, but you have to go out there and find it, preferably over sustained periods - most people have the ability to do this one way or another and I thoroughly recommend it.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Day 28 - Orton to Patterdale

Day 29 - Orton to Patterdale

Stayed In b and b last night - Mostyn House. Ate in The George i think, not sure of name.

Off at 8.15. long road walk to just south of Shap. Halfway rain started. Wets on. Up into Wet Sleddale which lived up to its name. Driving rain all the way to Mosedale Cottage. This is a bothy in the middle of nowhere. Arrived about 1.15. Thought I would stay the night In view of conditions so got cooking stuff out and made cup a soup etc and stayed about an hour and a half, then the weather improved and after some deliberation I decided to go for Patterdale. This involved a trek to Gatesgarth Pass, climbing to it's summit then continuing the ascent to Harter Fell. From Harter Fell I was descending Nan Bield Pass, a sort of rocky, notchy coll, and I fell. I cut a vein in my shin. A rapidly applied Elastoplast failed to stem the flow and blood was pouring into my sock and boot. I had a bandage and applied this which seemed to stop the bleeding. I have to say that I was cross. I have never felt so fit in my life and was going so well. It was still a long way to top out of Nan Bield and trek accross to Thornthwaite Beacon, from where i descended via Threshthwaite Cove. I had not been down there before and it was a treacherous descent and then a long walk out to the Patterdale road. I passed three b and bs with no vacancies and eventually got to The Patterdale Hotel At about 7.45 so I had been on the go for near twelve hours but I did not feel particularly tired, just annoyed about the leg. I managed to negotiate a double room down from £104 to £67 b and b. It was too late to get food there so I went accross the road to The White Lion, but suddenly found I could hardly walk even though I had marched hard for five miles or so over hard mountain terrain with hardly any pain.
At this poiint I knew for certain that I would not be able to continue. The distance between where I am staying and where I ate is only about fifty yards and on the way back I found a Vodaphone sweet spot and was able to phone good friends Pete and Liz who are coming to pick me up in the morning. I reckon I was only about two days short of finishing.

The Patterdale Hotel where I am staying is where I spent my honeymoon in 1970. I seem to remember the bill for four nights dinner b and b was £36.

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Day 27 - Brough to Orton

Last night in The Castle at Brough I was struggling trying to post and the landlord said I could use his wi fi for free. I had turned wi fi off for some reason suggested by Vodafone. I switched back on and was able to post.

I had a good meal - the latest pub cliche: turf and surf, ie rump steak with battered scampi.

After the meal I chatted with three middle aged rock climbers who had been climbing locally and we had some good reminiscing. One of them had done all the well known sea stacks and had some good tales to tell. These guys departed and then I got into conversation with an elderly local farmer. He wanted to be retired but said he had to keep on doing a bit because he could not live on the £90 pw pension. He was a genuinely decent guy with a tolerant attitude to access on farm land. He told me of some wealthy business people who had bought land localy and were paranoid about people trespassing - he didn't like these people.

Pleasant walking today still with decent weather; a mixture of field paths, and very minor roads. This was only about a twelve mile day and I took it fairly easy. There were no stopping places. The route took me over Aisalby Scar, a limestone plateau with great views of The Howgills, and back to to the Cross Fell part of The Pennines.

There are no camp sites at Orton so I am in a b and b. The pub was closed when I arrived but should be open for an evening meal. There is a post office where I was able to get some cash and stock up on a few items for my entry into The Lake District tomorrow.

Orton has some nostalgia for me. I did quite a number of mountain bike rides from here a while ago, and there was a cafe, which has now closed, run by a motherly lady who baked all the goodies herself; she was known with affection by many cyclists and walkers. Another point about this pleasant little village is that i believe it is the nearest I will be to my home on this walk.

Stile count. Sorry folks, I have now lost count but it stands at somewhere around 75.
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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Day 26 - Barnard Castle to Brough

The food at The Old Well in Barnard Castle was above average for normal pub grub. I had so called pate de fois gras, fish pie, and a praline caramel cheese cake. No wine was offered which seems to be common with the run of the mill pubs I gave visited on this trip. I suppose it would be available if asked for, but then it would be unlikely to be offering a well considered list so why bother to ask?

I think I said I was staying at The Golden Lion - it was actually The Coach and Horses, which had nothing much to recommend it. I actually walked into the other one and backed out very quickly.

The walk today has been enjoyable. Despite a rain forecast I had good weather except for a five minute shower which made me don my waterproof jacket for the first time in twenty four days. As it turned out I wouldn't have bothered but kept it on in consideration of the strong wind. Initial walking was through parkland following the river. A road section lead past reservoirs and chats with fishermen. Next came a six mile trek accross wild Stainmore Common moorland and not a soul to be seen - all wild and wonderful with curlews and oyster catchers in abundance.

It turned out to be a long day with arrival in Brough at about 5.30 but thankfully The Castle had accomodation, and despite first impressions has turned out to be comfortable, and the rump steak I asked for at medium rare was cooked to perfection. I seem to be having a run of destinations without camp sites and I'm not sure if I am engineering this on purpose.

Stile count has gone a bit astray, by it has now rocketed to 70 plus.
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Day 25 - Darlington to Barnard Castle

Last night Blackwell Grange Hotel was on the face of it quite luxurious, but it was full of Americans and Japanese on what appeared to be two different organised parties. I had a conversation with an ex US colonel who seemed to have been everywhere and done everything "...I love my country, but..." and "I served my country for 32 years, but..." the follow on from buts being criticism of Bush and various others and the strictures put on the military by presidents etc. He said he had met both Prince Charles and Margaret That her. Everything he said came accross as an oft repeated monologue which qdidn't, seem 'to relate to real conversation.

I had a sirloin steak which was tough.

Breakfast was a shambles. A huge dining room, self service for everything except beverages and toast. I had my breakfast on mg table then had to wander off and find a waitress to get some tea by which tome the breakfast wasnearly cold - all a bit dreary considering the price I was paying.

Walking wAs easy to start with following The Teesdale Way, but developed into another nettle fest for some time, then I missed a sign and ended up in more trouble. I was accosted by a farmer, in a reasonably friendly manner. I knew where I was but he was convinced I was totally lost. I got back on track and slogged on. In between the easy and the hard bits I hit gold in Gainsford at The Laurels Cafe; I just spotted it down at the end of an alley about thirty yards off the main road. It was run by the lady proprietor and her assistant and they were very kind to me. I had a bacon and egg butty, two pots of tea and piece of Yorkshire Curd Tart. Everything was home made. This was a pleasant stop.

I eventually got to Barnard Castle about 4.30 and decided on hotel accommodation. There are quite a lot of hotels in BC but most of them cater for disco, karioke, or very large screen very loud football ( yes I know I have used "very" twice but it was intentional).

Eventually I have a basic room at The Golden Lilon which does not do evening meal, and I intend to eat at The Old Well where I would have preferred to stay but it was full.




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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Day 25 - Darlington to Barnard Castle




ELast night Blackwell Grange Hotel was on the face of it quite luxurious, but it was full of Americans and Japanese on what appeared to be two different organised parties. I had a conversation with an ex US colonel who seemed to have been everywhere and done everything "...I love my country, but..." and "I served my country for 32 years, but..." the follow on from buts being criticism of Bush and various others and the strictures put on the military by presidents etc. He said he had met both Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher. Everything he said came accross as an oft repeated monologue which didn't seem 'to relate to real conversation.

I had a sirloin steak which was tough.

Breakfast was a shambles. A huge dining room, self service for everything except beverages and toast. I had my breakfast on my table then had to wander off and find a waitress to get some tea by which time the breakfast was nearly cold - all a bit dreary considering the price I was paying.

Walking was easy to start with following The Teesdale Way, but developed into another nettle fest for some time, then I missed a sign and ended up in more trouble. I was accosted by a farmer, in a reasonably friendly manner. I knew where I was but he was convinced I was totally lost. I got back on track and slogged on. In between the easy and the hard bits I hit gold in Gainsford at The Laurels Cafe; I just spotted it down at the end of an alley about thirty yards off the main road. It was run by the lady proprietor and her assistant and they were very kind to me. I had a bacon and egg butty, two pots of tea and piece of Yorkshire Curd Tart. Everything was home made. This was a pleasant stop.

I eventually got to Barnard Castle about 4.30 and decided on hotel accommodation. There are quite a lot of hotels in BC but most of them cater for disco, karioke, or very large screen very loud football ( yes I know I have used "very" twice but it was intentional).

Eventually I have a basic room at The Golden Lilon which does not do evening meal, and I intend to eat at The Old Well where I would have preferred to stay but it was full.


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Monday, 5 July 2010

Day 24 - Yarm to Darlington



Yesterday Mick and Gayle picked me up on the outskirts of Yarm and took me back to the Caravan Club site at Stockton.

They had brought me a set of titanium tent pegs that look very much like surgical instruments, but very welcome.

We had a meal in the pub next door and never stopped talking - it was good to see them again - they are so enthusiastic and full of plans ideas and knowledge, and above all they are doers

This morning I was presented with a bacon and egg breakfast by M and G, and we were off for about 8.0 back to my finishing point of yesterday. Gayle drove off to park the car in Yarm then meet us after we had walked up the road. M and G walked with me to Hurworth from where they would get a bus back to Yarm and their car.

The walking, following The Teesdale Way was easy at first but then there was a long section of difficult going through very long grass and along the edge of crop fields. Much of the time the growth was above our heads and there was a good distribution of nettles. There were also dire notices about Giant Hogweeds and I hope none of us sccumb to their dangers. Brave Mick was the trail blazer and I followed (unfortunately wearing shorts) and Gayle came on behind. I had been boasting that I had encountered hardly any nettles so far on this trip after reading Gayle's woeful account of her experiences nearer home. At one stage we met a gang of youths and their supervisors all armed with petrol driven strimmers - pity we didn't come a day later after they had done the bit we had walked on.

I left M and G at the bus stop and carried on to Stapleton where there is a pub marked on the OS map, but it had no accomodation and did not even open until 5.30. I tried two or three people for camping but had no luck and it was now about 4.00 pm. I walked another couple of miles nearly into Darlington and found The Blackwell Grange Hotel.

Unfortunately for M and G the walking today was not of best quality but it was great to have their company- thanks for everything M and G.



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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Day 23 - Geeat Ayton to Yarm

Last night The King's Head was very comfortable. I had a reasonable meal but not really up to the price charged. Mackrel fillets were served with skin left on. In the bar there were two girls in succession who had no idea of how to pull a pint. There were two guest beers. The first was called Kickers I think, anyway it was something to do with football, and against my better judgement I tried it. ABV was 4 p.cent which is too strong for my liking, and it had a very bitter taste. The other was a dark mild at just over 3p.cent. I would never drink dark mild by choice so there was really nothing for the regular fan of real ale.

On the menu was an item of "hors d'oeuvres ", but it was spelt "au douvres".

Today, after getting under way I started getting. decent signal. And received an email from Mick and Gayle, and we arranged to meet in Yarm, motor to the CarVan Club site at Stockton, and eat out, then they will walk with me tomorrow, starting of course from where I left off today.

Walking has been a bit mundane today with Tarmac and crop fields - I am back on the flat plains again now. I passed through nowhere in the day to buy anything which is a bit rare on this trip.

We are now encamped at Stockton and looking forward to the evening meal.

M and G have also brought me some proper titanium tent pegs - thanks.

I got a call from My friend Pete who is 76 today and had a good chat. Many happy returns Pete.



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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Day 22 - Danby to Great Ayton


Day 22- Danby to Great Ayton

I have had virtually no signal for the last two days, and making the last post was difficult and time consuming, and I am apprehensive about this one. I am now typing the post initially as an email then copying and pasting into Blogpress so that I still have a copy if it gets lost.

Today has been the best walking of the trip so far.

Breakfast was taken at a superb bakery shop in Danby. This is a family business with two or three other shops and also acting as suppliers to hotels etc. Many different kinds of bread and cakes of the highest quality were on offer. I had a freshly made cheese tomato and onion sandwich, two cups of coffee and a chocolate brownie. I also bought a Hiker's Bar for later.

Blus sky with rolling puffy white clouds and a fresh wind made ideal walking conditions - there was also a remarkable atmosphere of clarity. Quiet roads and tracks with endless courful views of this special part of Yorkshire prevailed. The colours are homologated with the very light brown sandstone used for building, and the characteristic bricky red pan tile roofs.

A mile or two brought me to Commondale and a tea room. Earl gray tea and buttered scone was taken here along with a chat with a "local charachter" farmer who had the usual anecdotes and pearls of wisdom. I also chatted with the lady whose son has just passed out as a soldier and will be joining the Pioneers - she was of course worried about him being posted to one of the trouble spots. Her daughter is doing pharmacy and hopes to do medicine and she is just on her way back from the usual students Thailand trip.

From Commondale it was gently up onto the moors. There really is a feeling in these parts that you are on top of the World all the time. I met a Landrovet coming the other way which did not amuse me and I was not overjoyed when it stopped and the guy wanted to talk. I asked him if he was just an offroader or did he have some official capcity. There was something about this guy that I didn't like. He was wearing a military style khaki shirt and there was a belt of 12 bore cartridges draped accross the passenger seat, his reply was evasive but eventually he said that he was a gamekeeper; well I suppose there are some good and some bad but they are not a fraternity that I take to, so I cut the conversation as short as possible and carried on my way.

The day finished off with my second ascent of Roseberry Topping, a strangely pointed sharp little peak (320m) outj of context with it's surroundings All this and the ease of ascent which takes about fifteen minutes makes it a target for all and sundry, and it being Saturday there were plenty of them about, but it is still fun and the views, especially today, of Teesside, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York are splendid.

I had received a text from Gayle to inform me the camp site I was aiming for at Great Ayton was closed down so I have now booked in at The King's Head just outside Ayton and I have had my first bath of the whole trip.

This has been a magnificent day




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Friday, 2 July 2010

Day 21 - Whitby to Danby

When I arrived at The Board in Whitby last night I was a bit hot and bothered, and I got the wrong impression. I thought it was a sort of gourmet sea food pub, but it turned out to be fairly ordinary, except for the price of the room.

This morning I wanted to take a photo of the pub and just before I could a huge delivery van pulled up outside and totally obliterated the whole building.

Last night I had to tend to both my feet which due to my stupidity had blisters because I had not stopped early enough to remove grit from my boots. So far I have used the same pair of socks from France right through to now and washed them out almost every night. They are Brasher special wool socks and have been very good, but they are now about done. This morning I put on the spare pair of Wynnster socks for the first time. My feet have been reasonably ok today.

I went down by the Whitby harbour side and asked about a cafe - it was about 7.30 am. I was directed to Vardis (I think that was the name) "...where the fishermen go..." I had a picture of salt lined faces in half doffed oilskins and all the signs of hardship at sea. On arrival there were about a dozen of them in pristine, ironed short sleeved shirts, and it looked like an IBM executive breakfast meeting. I had my usual bacon and egg butty and tea and then toddled off to the cash machine. As I returned I saw one of the "fishermen"emerge from the cafe and climb into his new £46k Merc.

From Whitby I followed the prom and then the beach to Sandsend and the Sandside cafe (tea and shortbread - very good). Here I said goodbye to The North Sea and turned left to head inland.

It was a grand walk through the Mulgrave Estate woods with Mulgrave castle, then to Ugthorpe where I gad a large pot of tea and a cheese sandwich in the pub. From here it was up onto the moors. A long gentle climb, with the heather just starting to bloom leading me up to Beacon Hill above Danby - as good a view from here as anywhere in the country. There was a camper van parked there which mildly irritated me until a child came accross and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. They were Australians with a hired campavan and we had some good and amusing conversation.

In Danby the pub was full. They have a wedding on and three other pubs in surrounding villages also proved to be full when the landlord obligingly phoned round for me. He then told me of a farmer about four hundred yards down the road who occasionally lets people camp, and that's where I am now. I am certainly going back to the pub to eat. This has been an excellent day.

Stile count bow 21
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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Day 20 - Scalby to Whitby

I had left my iPhone Mili charger in the site office for charging overnight and the office did not open until 9.0am. My target destination needed to be Whitby because of lack of camp sites, and I had persuaded myself that a pub or B and B in Whitby would be th solution, but over twenty miles with a late 9.0am start would be a tall order.

In the morning I was up early and there was one of the staff in the toilet block and I asked him if he could get my charger so he did and I was able to get away by 8.0 am.

The first port of call wAs the village shop in Scalby for breakfast and provisions. From Scalby there is yet another old railway cycle/footpath. This gives fast walking but is monotonous. I followed it as far as Ravenscar. Ravenscar is the finish of The Lyke Wake Walk which I have done twice over fifty years ago, I think (when was it Tom?)

I had my bacon sandwich and jam and cream scone and a pot of tea at the famous tea rooms. I had very little recollection of this venue from my previous visits.

From here I went back onto the Cleveland Way through the strangely named Boggle Hole where there is a YHA hostel where I once stayed with my mother and brother on a cycling holiday circa 1953. Here I stopped at the cafe and had a quick drink, then onwards to Robin Hood's Bay. Here I joined the old railway track again and force marched myself the remaining miles into Whitby. This is a nostalgic town for me both from childhood holidays and later rather boozy visits with the same group of friends who I went climbing with during the Sixties.

On the last half mile I seemed to have stones in both boots which I neglected for too long and ended up sitting on a kerbside in the middle of Whitby taking off my boots and socks and applying Elastoplast.

After some searching I have ended up at what I believe is The well known Board Inn at the bottom of the steps leading up to The Abbey and the quick glance at the menu as I came in gave me the impression I am going to eat well tonight but at some expense this will only be my second non camping night and I have done over twenty miles today, but who do I have to justify this to and why do I have a guilty conscience?



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Day 19 - Reighton to Scalby

I have written this post once and lost it in the ether for which I am very cross.

Two more beach walks during the day. The first was Humanby beach leading to Filey. I was on this beach within twenty minutes and in another fifteen minutes there was a super little beach cafe at Hunanby Gap perched perilously eighty feet up the cliff. I had breakfast. The two ladies were listening avidly to Yorkshire Radio because they had a spot about a protest they had made. Contractors doing pipework had done damage to the cliff edge potentially speeding up the rampant erosion

Since being back on the coast erosion has been abundantly evident, but so it was over fifty years Ago when I spent my childhood holidays on this coast.

Beach walking is great, but you have to walk in the right place, that is where the tide had just been. I had also checked the tide table.

Filey isn't a bad little place and much more to my taste than it's seaside neighbours. From here out to Filey Brig, quite dramatic, then good cliff top walking unfortunately there was a sea fret most of the day, but there were occasional sun bursts revealing spectacular cliff scenery and birds. At my lunch stop I heard strange noises from the rocks far below which I reckon were seals.

Further on I was forced down to the beach again by a road closure (more erosion). I had to literally rock climb over massive boulders round a headland for a long way, and then less seriously round another to get onto the vast Scarborough Beach.

Scarborough was buzzing and I buzzed off as quickly as possible following the cliff path again- this is actually The Cleveland way which I will follow as far as Sandsend when I turn left and inland. I have walked large parts of the Cleveland Way and I reckon it is a very worthwhile LDP.

At Scalby the site turned out to be another excellent Camping and Caravan Club site. I think they are starting to rival the CC for quality.



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