Thursday, 17 August 2017

Berwick 2, 3

Offf to 7:45 start after good breakfast at Cotherstone Cottag - that was an excellent b sn d.

My route varied agai from my gpx route. I continued on the Tees Railway path to its end then did some precision navigation through a series of fields and footpaths to pick up the Teeside Way to Barnard Castle. I then followed the long long climb over The Stang in bright sunshine with a welcome wind even though it was blowing against me. Halfway up I stopped for a rest and I saw a large 4x4go past slowly. After a few minutes they returned saying they were concerned if I was alright. I must have looked half dead on the side of the road.

There was a long descent into Arkengathdale where I stopped and asked for a water refil at a house. The lady was very pleasant and in addition to filling my bottle gave me a n unopened bottle of Buxton water.

Another energy sapping climb out of Arkengarthdale WA tough going, but all the heather is in bloom and there were expansive views in all directions The Dales in general are for me the best parto of England for wild unspoilt (depending how you define that) scenery.

I had phoned ahead to Vivienne, my B and B at Gunnerside with a very rough eta. The last two and a half miles were hard going, not for terrain but because of my tiredness and I was so pleased. To fund Vivienne at the end of road waiting to guide me in.

I've just had very good fish and chip etc (skin removed) at the Kings Head. There is a big party going on and this pub in such a remorse area appears to be thriving. - good news.

Countersett cottage departing from the back this am

Looking back down the Strang road - gives some idea of height gained.

Late afternoon sun across Swaledale

Apologies for any typos. It is not easy doing corrections and very time consuming postin including photos.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Berwick 2, day 2

16th August - Westgate to Cotherstone

Lands Farm was an excellent b and and Mrs Reed was a hero looking after me when her husband had had a terrible accident the day before. They went to see him last night and it looks like it's going to be a long road for recovery - I'm so sorry for them.

I had a long road slog to climb out of Weardale up to Swinehope Head compensated for by magnificent views.

The footpath from there over the moors down to Brownlees was non-existent despite gps telling me I was on it. It was rough tussocky grass all the way and hard going.

I had a welcome pot of tea and a scone at the Brownlees visitor centre. From there I diverted from my gpx route and walked pleasantly down the other side of the River Tees. That really is something of a river with hurrying wild brown water and white foam - I'm not sure what the bedrock is.

Walking up the road south of Middleton-in-Teesdale I suddenly recognised the entrance to the camp site where daughter High Horse brought her Palace tent to give me couple of night's comfort on my LEJOG walk.  Further on I deviated again picking up the old railway track to Romaldskirk, and then again to Cotherstone. It is a good attribute of planning your own route - you don't have to stick to it!

I reckon I'd done about 18 miles with a nine and three quarter hour day.

Cotherstone Cottage is an Air b an b and Rachel and Graham couldn't have made me more welcome including provision of a meal - home made Cottage Pie, and veg including delicious cabbage from the allotment. That was finished off with home made gooseberry crumble and cream. Excellent. I am now sat in a very comfortable sitting room ( for my use only) but will now have to back upstairs to try and some photos to this post.


The long haul up out of Weardale- bu splendid views

Crossing the Tees at Brownlees

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Berwick 2 day 1

Tuesday 15th August

2:30 pm

This is the first day of the resumption of my walk from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Castle Cary in Somerset. I fell seven days into the walk and broke my arm.

I am now in Lands Farm b and b at Westgate in Weardale. That was my intended overnight on the day I fell, but I ended up waiting four hours for an ambulance at the Hare and Hounds pub instead. I will be eating there tonight and renewing contact, and then starting the walk proper tomorrow morning.

Daughter Jill (High Horse) drove me up here, but I received a phone call from Lands Farm at 8:00am this morning saying that the farmer had suffered a severe accident with a quad bike and was in hospital undergoing surgery. His wife needed to know what time I would arrive so she could square that with a potential hospital visit. I will conclude this day's report after the pub tonight.

7:00 pm

The Hare and Hounds brew their own beer. I have renewed acquaintance with the landlord Colin, and Alli, one of the two angels who looked after me has turned up - Cathy is expected later. Before leaving home I had a blog exchange with Mike Knipe who I had discovered may be well known at the pub. I was not wrong! Colin had tales to tell! Mike had predicted game pie and I have just demolished a good helping, along with a pint of Wear Wulf (Weardale) get it? And Cath has now arrived. What splendid food and exceptional beer. A great start to my resumed walk. Looking forward to tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Westgate, Weardale

Monday, 14 August 2017

Keepin' t’band in t’nick

Sunday 13th August 2017

I don't believe much in carrying a rucksack full of bricks over twenty miles to train for  epic walks. Some years ago I spent time training in the gym - the only benefit was that I met my old friend Pete there after we had not seen each other for over thirty years; he then accompanied me on thirty or so Munros, and we have been walking together ever-since. I decided that the best training for walking is walking, so for the last couple of years I have tried to walk on a modest, but regular basis, especially through the winters. So today's walk was a matter of continuing that concept to maintain a level of fitness, and avoid lack of stamina when I have longer days which I anticipate on resumption next Wednesday of my earlier backpacking trip. Such walks, I hasten to add, are not just for worshipping the god of fitness, but for pure enjoyment. Brother RR will not be amused by my atavistic use of Yorkshire dialect in the title to this post.

There is a large area north of the A685 Tebay to Kirkby Stephen road including Crosby Garrett Fell and Great Asby Scar (a superb limestone plateau) that I have only occasionally visited. There are many footpaths and tracks and  minor minor roads, and a mixture of moorland and fell providing superb peaceful walking.

I was off from the car at 9:00am tackling a couple of kilometres of road first and even that was enhanced by the now blooming heather which I reckon is my favourite flora. It was then onto mainly green tracks with enticing views into the northern end of the Howgills, and then a re-visit to Nettle Hill last visited 11th February 2010 with Pete during my trig point campaign. This time I was able to spot the house recently bought by a friend nestling under the northern Pennines exactly 9.91 miles away in a straight line.

Return up the valley of Potts Beck was typical of the limestone scenery that I love. I dawdled, stopped for munchies and coffee, and as I was climbing out of the valley I sat on large stone for perhaps ten minutes. I decided to listen intently - there was not a sound except for the odd insect buzzing past me, then I heard a melodious, distant clinking and tracked it down to the scree covered opposite valley side - a group of sheep were disturbing the scree as they tried to munch the lower leaves of some trees.

I was all too soon back to the car.



Just before turning off left onto grassy green tracks - looking into the northern end of the Howgills

Nettle Hill

Zoom to northern Pennines ten miles away

Typical old dales lanes with twisty dry-stone walls - walking at its best

Potts Beck- gurgling, tumbling and sometimes serene clear brown peat water

Looking back down Potts Beck 

Zoom to these guys clinking the limestone - a pleasant and melodious sound


Irritated of Arnside has a new little grumble.

TV commentators often use a phrase which takes the fancy of their colleagues and tout-à-coup they are all using it - the latest:

The commentator observing Mo Farah going for it - "There goes  Mo, doing what he does best"

On top of that every body is "going forward" these days.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Picking the bones out of Winmarleigh

Thursday walk with Pete - 10th August 2017

An earlier start than usual - I had a follow-up appointment with the orthopaedic guy at Lancaster hospital at 10:05am. A little NHS tip here but it's a bit of a gamble: we turned up about twenty minutes early and I was seen almost straightaway and bundled off for an x-ray. All in all we were out and on our way by 10:30. Mr Kumar was satisfied with my progress but has referred me for a nerve test because my little finger is still numb. I asked him if I may take a photo of my x-ray on the screen on his desk, and although not strictly allowable he agreed to look briefly in the other direction, so here is the ghoulish picture which I have never previously had the chance to peruse at length.

I think the break was where the upper multiple screws are, but it's apparent that it was necessary to screw into the ball joint and profile the two plates to follow the bone's contours. I understand that getting absolutely the correct torque on the screws is critical. I notice that in keeping with backpacking practice "ultralight" plates with holes drilled out for lightness were used.

After all that, and our early start we agreed that a bacon butty had been earned so we drove off to Booths supermarket café in Garstang - for foreigners: Booths is the northern version of Waitrose (said he snobbishly).

We had a pleasant circular walk incorporating the unremarkable village of Winmarleigh; well there is Winmarleigh Hall which has set up a sort of English version of the American "summer camp" where you can get rid of the kids for the summer holidays.

On what I predicted would be quiet country lanes, we were passed several times by life threatening tractors pulling fifteen foot high trailers of silage. Two thirds of our triangle was on single track road with grass growing in the middle, and I soon worked out, later confirmed by a friendly farmer at Ford Green, that the tractors were using a circular route to avoid each other coming the other way on the narrow lanes.

Finishing off at Café Ambio I am sad to report that today, and on our visit last week, their flapjack has taken a downturn. Oats are a principal ingredient, but the quantity seems to have increased, so instead of a pleasant sticky conglomeration we now have something that doesn't bind properly and falls apart, and because of the superfluity of oats one has a more stodgy experience contrasting with the original treacly munchiness. Pete has carrot cake so is not concerned about this problem, but I can see some drastic decision looming here.

School holidays? Problem solved (if you can afford it)

Waiting for Godot.
Below - zoom to foliage for identification please

Start/finish at "19 - spot height" top right - anti-clockwise

Monday, 7 August 2017


Sunday 6th August '17

There have been pop-up ads all over the Internet from Banggood featuring various outdoory items including: Unisex Mens Summer Cotton Washed Bucket Hats Mesh Breathable Outdoor Sunshade Cap (1150535) £7.42  

I was sucked in. It looked well designed from a good cotton material with a mesh ventilation feature. Delivery took over two weeks which was not a good omen. Yesterday it went on trial on a ten mile circuit of Semerwater. I'm afraid it will be consigned to my Davy Jone's Locker of "it seemed like a good idea at the time"  items.

The brim is much wider (and very floppy) than any similar chapeau I have ever seen and forward vision is thus restricted. Even if it is pushed well back it just comes forward again. In addition it does not fit properly  leaving one with a sense of insecurity even without any wind for which a chin strap is provided, but one should only need to use that when wind intensity dictates. The fitting is not remedied by the tightening system, it is more a matter of the way the hat is tailored. Pity.

Contrary to forecast Sunday was dismal with dampness in the air and full-on rain for the last hour. I had only walked twenty yards from the car before I had my first encounter - a retired farmer on a quad-bike parked up and taking in the view of Semerwater from on high, and now employed by local farmers as a mole catcher. He was interesting and pleasant to chat to and obviously appreciated the surroundings, but I know little about how much nuisance moles can be, but it seems sad that we should go around exterminating so much wildlife.

This was a splendid walk in classic Yorkshire Dales limestone country that so much feeds my soul. The slog up Bardale seemed longer than three miles shown on a finger post at Marsett, but it is a wonderful wild dale with a lively steam with swirling brown peat water and intermittent waterfalls, all running over sheets of limestone bedrock.

A short trek down the road from Bardale Head brought me onto the old unsurfaced Roman road that runs straight down to Hawes - I will be coming back in the other direction on part of this during my forthcoming long walk in a week or so - note the pink route on the map.

There were many trials bike motor cyclists whizzing up and own and less frequently 4 x 4s. One of the latter was parked up and I spotted something white above the vehicle and I thought it was a radio ham with a white flag on the top of an aerial - I have often seen these guys at high points on walks. But this guy was flying a drone and trying to teach it to follow his Land Rover, and after a brief chat he jumped in and set off followed (I think) by his faithful drone.

It was shortly after this that I deployed the new brolly (see previous post). As predicted by commenters it cannot easily be used in conjunction with walking poles. I found it not so good on the loose and rocky terrain descending quite steeply where I had more need for the poles than the brolly, but when I reached the Tarmac road it was good for those couple of miles back to the car - it will not be consigned to the "locker."  On a long Tarmac stretch, or other easy terrain I would value its advantages  enough to strap the poles to the rucksack and walk without - we shall see - it will be going with me on the a5th August.

The ex-farmer mole catcher on his quad-bike looking over Semerwater.
My route went round the far shore than up into the hills beyond

Stalling Busk ruined church



Bardale beck. The stream ran down into a mini gorge and waterfall (un-photographable) - see next photo


Back down Bardale to Semerwater with Addlebrough above

The drone enthusiast, hopefully with his drone following

Start/finish at Contersett, top right - clockwise

Friday, 4 August 2017

You can't always tell from the map

Thursday walk with Pete 3rd August 2017

These Thursday outings are limited to four miles, preferably without too much ascent, and on surfaced roads in consideration of Pete's advancing years (83) and his arthritis. I have run out of circular walks within acceptable driving distance of home that qualify and am now settling for linear there and back routes.

Because we elect to stay on roads I do try to select quiet lanes where we will not be too bothered by traffic, and yesterday I thought I had found one that satisfied all parameters - a two mile cul-de-sac ending with a lonely farm. Have a look at the map below- what would you have deduced?

Within seconds of putting feet to Tarmac we had cars whizzing past us in both direction almost non-stop on this single track road. We had started walking at 11:45am in consideration of a forecast implying improvement from rain thereafter. Well, we guessed the only explanation could be a caravan or camping site - I observed none of the cars had tow bars so a static site would be most likely.

Old Park Wood, marked on the map is an up-market static site run by Holker Hall Estate. We reckoned the visitors had all decided, like us, to await the improving weather  before setting off for the day. Once past the site entrance we had peace and quiet with the odd shower enabling me to test my new acquisition:  EuroSchirm Light Trek Umbrella bought from Ultralight Outdoors. I plan to take this on the resumption of my forthcoming backpacking walk - so far it seems to be a worthwhile addition considering weight is no longer critical having decided to  forego tent and sleeping bag etc. and rely entirely on accommodation. Anyway, it is much lighter than the beast Nick Crane carries; I have the greatest respect for his achievements (and his writing). On the other hand the EuroSchirm may end up in that Davy Jones' locker of discarded rucksacks, gaiters, waist pouches, belts,  et al that "seemed like a good idea at the time."

Start/finish at junction with B5278

Identification of any of the flora here and below would be welcome,
nothing unusual I am sure, but it is a blank area for me, much as I enjoy seeing it

Note the walking poles holding the flowers steady against the strong wind

A rare moment without traffic

Beyond the caravan site it was tranquil. Just look at those huge blocks of stone used for this imposing limekiln - click to enlarge.

Looking south to Morecambe Bay and the Leven  railway viaduct 


Friday, 28 July 2017

Circuit of Widdale Fell

Tuesday 25th July 2017

Mixed up border country for this walk. I drove on the A684 to Garsdale and turned expectantly right up the minor road past the station for the first time ever (as far as I can remember). Garsdale is geographically in Cumbria but in the parliamentary constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale. Sadly Westmorland no longer exists as a county. I parked at Galloway Gate, still in Cumbria, but my route soon took me over the border into Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

After swigging hot coffee in the car I was off into murky cloud and much reduced visibility at 8:25 am.

The track shown on the map leading to the fenceline following the county boundary did not exist. I was into heather, and tussock-yomping for the next four kilometres before I dropped down into Widdale.

In the dim distance I spotted an unusual sized and shaped bird perched on a fence post and managed to get a quick zoom shot. The bird took off and came straight towards me, gliding superbly completing a detailed examination of this rare human - I must have been as strange to this Short Eared owl as the bird was to me. That kind of sighting is the sort of thing that makes a particular walk memorable  - not a bad start to the day eh?

My route circumnavigated Widdale Fell which includes the trig point summit of Great Knoutberry. I went to that summit in much colder conditions on 19th November 2005.

My rationale for this walk hinged partly on visiting the two Widdale tarns (Little and Great) marked on the map that I had not previously seen. A bit of careful compass work was needed until Little appeared, eerily through the mist. How atmospheric:  a stone causeway led out into the lake with a circular stone building at the end. Romantic thoughts of crannogs, then perhaps bloody sacrifices were running through my mind as I tiptoed along the stone steps to the middle of the tarn to arrive at... a grouse butt.

I wondered what were the qualifications needed for the particular shooter who was allotted this location.  His spaniels would have to swim for the downed birds, but from my personal knowledge of that breed, for them that would be a bonus. 

The descent into Widdale was steep, still pathless and I found myself in ultra cautious mode arising I suppose from my experience a few weeks ago and the aftermath.

The rest of the walk was on tracks and roads, and enjoyable, but at nearly fifteen miles I was a little weary at the end, but home to a hot bath, a magnificent Melton Mowbray pork pie dinner, a drop of red and another couple of episodes of House of Cards on Netflix completed a day of well used time, but that is personal, others may disagree.


The quality may not be good, but I was well pleased with this

Marked as "pot-hole" on  the map. I didn't clamber down to investigate

The crannog,  grouse butt - Little Widdale tarn

Great Widdale tarn

Looking back at the steep, treacherous descent into Widdale
(click to enlarge)

Across to Dodd Fell on the descent into Widdale

The distant hills to the north of Wensleydale

Looking back down Widdale. I think the hump is Wold Fell


Mossdale Head

Start - Galloway Gate - left middle - anti-clockwise