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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Trig points OS Sheet 91 - Meldon Hill

Tuesday 18th June 2019 - Meldon Hill - NY 772 291 - 767 m. (2516 ft.)

A  ritual has developed for visiting these, the most northerly of hills, on Sheet 91. I arise at six and follow a  chronologically strict routine of bathroom and breakfasting, the latter much reminiscent of the Morecambe and Wise sketch where they prepare a choreographed breakfast to the music of The Stripper ( I don't play the music.)

My aim is to be away for seven so that I can be back home for a meal at a sensible time followed by the  the relaxation that only comes from my smug moral high ground achieved by masochistic exertion.

Brough to Middleton-in-Teesdale provides one of the best driver's roads in the country. Climbing high onto moorland, the undulating road, endless bends, all unfenced, enabling clear sight ahead encourages one to imagine being Stirling Moss winning the Mille Miglia.

Cow Green Reservoir was built in the late Sixties and was the subject of much controversy* - so much so that I remember taking my mother, who had expressed uncharacteristic interest, to view the terrain whilst construction was underway, but before the area was inundated.

For me this was a day of saturated nostalgia. I followed part of the most iconic section of the Pennine Way: the section that runs from Middleton-in-Teesdale to Hadrian's Wall. The PW was my first proper backpacking trip in 1987, twenty years after that visit with Mother.

After Middleton-in-Teesdale the PW ascends Cauldron Spout, a fierce waterfall gorging through  a steep narrow rock cleft fed from the outflow of Cow Green Reservoir only a few hundred yards upstream. The torrent is artificially controlled by the outflow so not necessarily dependent on recent rainfall.  I diverted a hundred yards back down the track to look and it was in full pomp.

I had walked down the tarmac road from my car parking passing the Cow Green Weather station which is surrounded by high barbed wire security fencing and built in 1968 - I wonder how often someone comes to this remote spot to take readings. Further on the OS map notes "pile of stones." Well they often indicate "cairn" and in this locale "currick" which is the local name for the same thing, so why not use one of those words here? "Pile of Stones" has a jarring abruptness - I was reminded of a photo of a café in Yorkshire I took on the Bronte walk with BC a while ago where the  sign on the door read "Shut."

Here is the entry from my PW journal:

8th day. Tuesday 28th. April 1987

Up to Cauldron Snout - very impressive - lots of water coming down. I think this must be released from Cow Green. It certainly hasn't been the result of any recent rain. There hasn't been any since before I set off!
On to the farm at Birkdale - refreshments- hurrah - had some orange - farmer's wife showed me thermometer which when put in direct sun registered 30c. She says this is 90f. I'll have to check this, but it was dreadfully hot. 



Today there was no refreshment at Birkdale Farm, just a Japanese 4 x 4 with outrageously knobbly tyres and nobody about.

A few hundred yards further on I diverted from the now Land Rover track of the PW and headed up another LR track to arrive at a well built shooter's hut with steel panels barricading all windows and the doors - they obviously don't want desperate unkempt Pennine Wayfarers dossing down in their little palace. From here I followed a line of grouse butts across pathless terrain of tussocky grass and heather until the butts terminated and I made the final climb up the slopes of Meldon Hill. The trig had been demolished leaving a pile of concrete rubble and the theodolite mounting lying forlornly by the side. I wonder why, and how, the pillar had succumbed to this - they are so well built it would need some kind of jack-hammer to reduce it to rubble. Views of endless moorland in all directions and Cow Green Reservoir were extensive with blue sky and rolling white clouds - I had been accompanied again by curlews and lapwings, and today many oystercatchers.

I walked back to the rim and looked down for the line of grouse butts to aid my navigation but they were totally camouflaged. I took a bearing from my GPS position to the shooter's hut and ploughed downwards until I eventually found the butts, but only when I was quite close to them.

It is traditional to have one's snack at the summit, but today I preferred to cover the remaining rough ground first then have my sandwich as a reward. As always there are few places to sit comfortably, but back at the shooter's hut there was a convenient roll of that terrain matting I have recently carped about and I hypocritically used it as a perfect settee.

Back on the PW track I met a few day walkers but nobody doing the full backpacking thing and I'm glad that it doesn't seem to have become highly populated which would spoil its attributes of wilderness and isolation. It remains a splendid classic walk, best done as a nonstop venture - I'm almost tempted to give it a second go!


WORTH CLICKING PHOTOS TO ENLARGE FOR SLIDESHOW

Cow Green reservoir - looking north...

....and south. It was early morning and drizzly hazy - weather brightened later


Cow Green weather station - well protected

"Pile of stones"

North from dam wall
Cauldron Spout

Here is a YouTube link to my little video of Cauldron Spout:


River Tees from the dam outflow.
The river winds its way beyond the reservoir to source between Little Dun Fell and Cross Fell, marked "Tees Head" on the map

On the way to the shooter's hut

The demolished trig on Meldon Hill


Cow Green reservoir from Meldon Hill


The shooter's hut
My perfect settee


*
From Wikipedia
...the plan to construct this reservoir had been strongly opposed by local conservationists, professional botanists and geologists. Their main concern was the protection of the rich flora and fauna of the district and especially rare alpine plants like the unique Teesdale violet.[3] In the end, about a tenth of this plant's habitat was destroyed by the completion of the reservoir. The remaining area was designated the Moor House-Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve in 1969, from what was previously two separate nature reserves and is England's largest terrestrial such reserve.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Garrigill revisited


Monday 10th June 2019 - Rotherhope Fell - NY 712 394 - 596 metres
Maughanby Farm, - NY 571 380 - 179 metres

BBC's Springwatch regretted the decline in curlew numbers last night. Earlier that day I had been walking south up the Pennine Way track from Garrigill. In April 1987 I had approached from the opposite direction during my first proper backpacking trip completing the Pennine Way in twelve days. Nothing seemed familiar after thirty three years -  such thoughts were being interrupted by the varied calls of curlews wheeling and swooping not far above my head. I was not complaining, these birds are a delight to see and hear and they are an integral part of this edge of the moorland terrain ( there were still a few on the moorland  I was traversing an hour later.)

Springwatch  partly blames the decline on the modern method of cutting silage two or three times per year which doesn't give these birds time to lay, brood and then fledge the young. The old bridleway is generously wide with ample uncultivated deep grass verges on either side where I think the curlews had nested. - I guessed they had young hidden there and their calls were aimed at me as a potential predator. In April 1987 I had been more concerned with the logistics of my ambitious twenty mile a day target rather than musing on the habitat of curlews. I even had the name of the village misspelled in notes from my journal:

"From here it was a well defined track all the way to Carrigill which I knocked off fairly smartly, arriving well exhausted at The George and Dragon about 7:30 p.m. All this was not too bad because such good time had been made in the morning I was only one mile outside my twenty mile a day target."

"Two pints in the pub, then phoned home for a long chat with all the family, then to the camp site at the other end of the village, which turned out to be just a rough public field on the riverbank - nobody else there. No official drinking water so I had to use the river. This river comes direct off the hills, but had by now flowed through the village, so I took the precaution of only using boiled water here. Had a good nosh finishing in the dark - still not sleeping well."

"Whilst packing up I met a lady with dog who was a personal friend of Tom Stevenson, one of the founders of The Pennine Way."

 Higher up the track had been re-surfaced with bright yellowish new stone which seemed to clash with this ancient  bridleway.

When the boundary wall finished I took a beeline across heather moorland for Rotherhope Fell trig point. The going was rough with peat hags again. About a kilometre from the trig I crossed a  plastic terrain matting track and noted this for my return. The trig is perched,  wild, isolated and silent with an ambiance of space and freedom - views across wilderness in all directions - were those some old lead working ruins nestling in a deep cut valley far below? It was all breathtaking and worth  the effort of my toils across the rough moorland.

I was able to pick up the plastic track on the return  All the moorland I have walked across in the last few years has had new Land Rover tracks carved out, often  highly visible  from miles away, and now this plastic stuff is  prevalent, but at least it is not as highly visible as the stony tracks. I was back on the Pennine  Way track much sooner, but now further south than where I had veered off on the outward journey. At the side of the track there was s mini quarry, now with two ponds of water, this apparently the source of the new yellow stone excavated to "enhance" the grouse shooter's road.

________________

Variation is a feature of trigpointing.  I had planned to visit the next two most northerly on my OS Sheet 91 on the way home - they were both only a couple of hundred yards from where I could park the car. At Maughanby Farm a public minor road ennded at the farmyard with various other buildings scattered. A gent working on one of thr houses assured me I could go and find my trig which was only s couple of hundred yards along a track. At first all I could find was a pile of stones from a tumble down old wall surrounded by trees and undergrowth. I felt much disappointed concluding that this must be one of those trigs  that had been removed. I walked round the back and then saw the trig almost covered in shrubbery and long grass - my mood lightened. Then I looked up and saw a perfectly framed view of Blencathra, my favourite Lake District  hill. The resulting zoom photo later showed this off well, although the first non-zoom effort failed to capture any existence whatsoever of the hill on the horizon despite my efforts  with Photoshop.

I drove to Jardine's Farm where the next trig was only about two hundred yards from the farmhouse  I went to ask permission but there was nobody about, and as this is obviously  private land within full view of the farm I left this one for another day.

Garrigill

The start of the Pennine Way bridleway out of Garrigill going south

Back to Garrigill - up to here the track is still on old stone -  rough underfoot

Just beyond where the track bends right it had been "enhanced" with new stone

This, and the next are peat hags. I know I have viewers from abroad who may not be familiar with UK moorland so this gives some indication of its nature

Shooting butt. Here the grouse shooters await the unfortunate grouse that fly overhead after being flushed out by beaters from behind

Zoom seven kilometres away to the "communications" equipment on Great Dun Fell

Plastic matting to convey the shooters in more comfort I suspect - they will have paid plenty for the privilege

The source of the new stone and its showing on the track. I wonder if it will weather in time to a more  sympathetic appearance with the environment?

Near Maughhanby Farm. I took a more general photo showing the distant horizon and Blencathra but the hill was not even visible - the zoom below recorded my pleasure in seeing my favourite Lake District hill to such advantage


The purple shading is The Pennine Bridleway which coincides with the Pennine Way here. The straight blue is the northern limit of OS Sheet 91

All three trigs here mentioned shown in general context. Note how close Maughanby Farm is to the western boundary of Sheet 91


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Arnside circular

Wednesday 5th June 2019

Arnside/Silverdale circular

When I had my springer spaniel Barney during the first five or so years after moving to Arnside, and later with my daughter's springer, Jake, I walked extensively on local footpaths. After that local walks became less regular.

My friend Bowland Climber called me on Tuesday evening and said he would like to renew his acquaintance with Arnside and Silverdale where he also walked with his family years ago.

There were new gates, trees felled and footpaths which were definitely non-existent when I first came to Arnside, especially in the environs of Arnside Knott. I actually got lost exiting New Barns caravan site on paths that I frequented several times a week years ago. I can't believe that I have lived here for twenty years now.

The forecast was unusually wrong. Walking round the coast to Far Arnside we had quite unpleasant penetrating rain for half an hour or so.

We noted the contrast between New Barns and Holgate's Far Arnside caravan sites - the former with its badly surfaced roads and tracks and generally untidy appearance, and the latter with everything to the highest standard - perhaps the best presented static caravan site in the UK?

Weather improved as we crossed The Lotts, a pleasant cropped pasture leading into Silverdale. Eaves Wood saw us climbing up to The Pepper-pot, a large well built cairn celebrating Queen Victoria's jubilee. I have only been there a couple of times before and despite its size and elevated position on a prominent clearance of limestone you don't see it until you pop up from behind only about thirty yards from this popular landmark.

Our return passed Arnside tower and then back over Arnside Knott. The best view is from the seat on the summit plateau overlooking the Kent estuary and across to The Lakes. There is no view from the trig point and I normally give that a miss, but we diverted the extra hundred yards to find that the trig has been painted in eggshell blue and white in a strange, inexplicable pattern - I wonder why?

That was an enjoyable eight miler with non stop conversation. In particular BC updated me on his recent impressive traverse of the new coastal path from Helmsdasle to John o' Groats. It is currently being furnished with infrastructure and for the moment it is pretty tough going according to BC, but he predicts it will become one of the best long distance paths in the UK when volunteers have put stiles and bridges and whatever in place - all very interesting.

Exiting Arnside - we walked round the beach to New Barns

The coastguard station, and further on the sailing club

Round the corner to New Barns

Holgate's recycling - looks like Heinz Beans are popular on their menu

The Cove at Silverdale

The elusive Pepper-pot - distant Bowland Hills on horizon

Arnside Tower

Ignore green route and red and blue straight lines - my Memory Map is scattered with prospective, previous, and daydream routes 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Trig points OS 1:50000 Sheet 91

Monday 3rd June 2019 - Carr Brow Moor 503m -  NY 889 394
                                           Great Stony Hill 708m -  NY 829 399

I was going to post a map showing all the trigs on this Sheet 91 and then I found I have missed some off the printed list I made. And, I know I visited some of these on a visit to Appleby with the caravan with Pete a few years ago when I first started this campaign, but my records are not good enough and I may have to re-visit some - it is all going to take a bit of sorting and it seems I have much more left to do than I thought. Another problem is that there are still some within the Warcop army firing range - am I starting to get a bit disenchanted with this project? I hate giving up on something but I suppose I will carry on for the moment. The actual walking is fine in wonderful wild country and perhaps I will just enjoy that rather than getting wound up about the list ticking.

These two hills were visited with gale force winds blowing most of the time and poor light for photos.

Carr Brow was an hour there and back with good views down into Weardale.

A short drive took me to the start of Great Stony. I parked at a gate just before the tarmac ended and then had a long climb on the track with lapwings and curlews in abundance. A short trog across pathless moorland took me to the trig. It was only then that I decided to cross country and return by tracks further west. It was rough going and I regretted wearing trail shoes rather than boots.

I was able to return on a new forest road alongside the southern shore of Burnhope reservoir, the woods shown on the map having been recently felled.



Looking down to St. John's Chapel on the way to Carr Brow

A most uncomfortable stony track before branching off up the grassy hillside

Carr Brow trig is just out of sight

Carr Brow looking down Weardale to Westgate - that is where I ended up in the pub after breaking my arm on the Berwick trip (pun unintended)

Burnhope reservoir

Great Stony Hill. The cairn is shown as a "currick" on the OS map - the local name for cairn

Another rough, loose stone track on the return - hard going on the feet

That path continued afterwards for a long way on this plastic matting

Burnhope Burn - it descends over a series of natural steps making for pretty little waterfalls

Greylag geese - full zoom

I was struck by the splendid location of the house facing up Burnhope reservoir - see zoom in next photo





Just to show the two trigs in context