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!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

50. Christmas snow at Arnside

On Sunday I breakfasted around 7:30 am with no sign of snow. By 10:30 there was a covering of three inches.

It is now Tuesday and more snow has fallen on and off and travel has been difficult, but with my daughter Jill we have managed so far. When Jill arrived at Arnside on Sunday afternoon she could not get up the hill to my house and had to park here car several hundred yards away. We then made several trips from car to house using the wheelybin to ferry all her Christmas impedimenta. We plan one more shopping trip tomorrow and there is till doubt depending on what happens during the night.

The following pictures, which were all taken within half a mile of my house tell the story.






Saturday, 19 December 2009

49. Walking influences and kit list

I replied to Crow’s comment by email, but thought some details may be of interest elsewhere

I suppose I was influenced by my elder rock climbing brother when I was about thirteen. My mother took me and my younger brother on youth hostel cycling trips around the same time, and I joined the Boy Scouts leading to camping and meeting others interested in rock climbing. Rock climbing remained as my main interest until I was married in 1970 then family matters took over. I returned to rock climbing in my fifties. My wife died from Motor Neurone disease in 1997. I was still climbing and continued to do so for another five years or so with a good friend with whom I shared other interests. Tony died from cancer about five years ago. I did not want to climb with anyone else after that and returned to more walking mainly on my own, resulting in most of the achievements listed in my profile.

Crow asked “what do you take with you?”

On a day walk I take my mobile, map, compass, whistle, GPS and camera. A spare item of warm clothing, gloves in winter, and if it is a walk of more than six miles or so probably a couple of energy bars and a flask of coffee.

On Grande Randonnée walks I have usually stayed in mountain refuges and gîtes d’étape and therefore not carried camping equipment. See below the kit list from my GR5 trip.

My Lands End to John o’Groats walk included carrying a lightweight tent, inflateable mat and sleeping bag, and cooking equipment. That rucksack weighs about eighteen pounds, not including water and food which often takes the weight to 20 pounds plus.

Next summer I plan to walk in France traversing The Languedoc and The Cevennes and because of the depreciated exchange rate between the Euro and the Pound I will take the tent and camp wherever possible.

Sheet sleeping bag
Gloves (for sun protection when walking with poles)
Hat (anti sun)
2prs underpants (one being worn)
2prs socks (one being worn)
1 pr v. lightweight running shorts
Waterproof jacket )
Waterproof overstrousers ) both lightweight
Pertex v light cagoule
3 x thin base layer shirts (one being worn – washed and swapped daily -clean one can be worn in hut at night)
Lightweight fleece
Water bottle
Camera and spare memory cards and spare batteries
Camera download lead, tripod
Sun cream
Compass & whistle
Phone charger with two pin adaptor
Spare specs
Sun specs
French dictionary (V. small)
Elastoplast (I metre length) )
Constipation pills (Senokot) )
Immodium (anti DeliBelly) ) separate plastic bag
Eyedrops )
Ibuprofen and Paracetemol )
Germolene )
Toilet paper
Swiss Army Knife )
Gas lighter )
Fuse wire )
Zip ties )
Torch + 3 x AAA bateries ) separate plastic bag )
Needle & thread )
Tin opener )
Hihlighter for maps )
Nail clippers )
Velcro )
Adhesive tape )
Toothbrush/toothpaste/flannel/ 4 x Bic razors/ Shaving oil/Soap
Travel towel in lieu of normal towel
6 x clothes pegs
Books to read
Map case
4x spare plastic food bags with Lakeland snappy closures
2 x handkerchiefs
1 pr lightweight sandals
Passport/flight docs./Travel Insurance docs (done through BMC)
Cheque book(s)
Address list and labels
Mobile phone
Walking poles
2 x pens and 1 pencil
Water bottle: (1.5litre Lucozade)
To be worn at outset: one of the thin base layers.
Long trousers with zip off legs to make into shorts, this being the usual dress during the walk; the long trousers are ok for the hut at night and also for flights and other conventional travelling.
Underpants, socks and boots.
Also waist bag with wallet, GR5 guide and current map, specs and other bits and bats needed whilst walking to save taking off rucksack with resultant frustrating foraging.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

48. More trig point visits

Wednesday 9th December 2009
Great Knipe                         515m
South of
Great Stainmore                 290m
Polly Moss                           522m

The three trigs visited are situated to the north and south of the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner.

At last some decent weather but still a bit broody. Great Knipe is north of A66 on a dual carrigeway and I was unsure where to set off from. In retropsect the B road to Banks Gate would have been better, or the transport cafe car park. As it was I took a shortcut across some fields from North Stainmore to pick up the lane from Banks Gate, and I was accosted by the farmer. Of course I was very humble, and eventually he became friendly and gave me good instructions for the ascent. There was an unpleasant section of reedy marsh and Jake the dog was not happy; he seems to be having some breathing problems when the going is strenuous, but he is thirteen years old.

The views of the A66 and the transport cafe below were impressive. I was able to get back to the south side of the A66 on my return at Banks Gate and then back to the road on a farm track.

Above: Great Knipe

Approaching Gt. Knipe

Arrow shows transport cafe on A66

The second trig south of North Stainmore was visible from the road and only about fifty yards away, nevertheless I had to climb walls twice to get there and back.

The main interest was the plaque stating that this trig point was the final one used in the 1962 triangulation epic.

Trig no. 2. The arrow points to Gt. Knipe (prev. trig)

By the time I got to the third trig the light was going and although very close to the road it is a wild and isolated spot - quite atmospheric.

Polly Moss trig
As promised in the comments on the last post - the explanation for "the blue coat"
Here it is - Jake's slightly in advance Christmas present.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

47 A quality walk?

It has been suggested that I describe my meaning of a “quality walk”. Well I see no alternative but to provide lists of desirable and undesirable features. The parameters below would apply to a day walk – long distance multi-day walks may be another subject.


Varied scenery
Circular or linear route
Distant views and cameo views
A good section of ridge walking and maybe some rock scrambling
Tarns, lochs, lakes, streams, burns and rivers
Some sort of shelter around the midpoint, if only the ubiquitous dry stone construction found on many summits, or perhaps a café
A feeling of remoteness with only the odd chance of meeting others
New territory not previously explored


Farmer’s cattle trodden fields
Farmyards and their dogs
Gates and styles
Walls and fences without gates (in particular deer fences in Scotland)
Proliferation of notices
Litter and discarded dog bags
Returning by outward route
Total tree cover - no views

Good weather is welcome, but I have no objection to bad weather when I have appropriate apparel. I enjoy the challenge of trekking across wild pathless terrain.

I relish winter mornings with cloudless deep blue sky and a touch of frost and total stillness - in the appropriate environment there is mostly uncanny silence, but any sound, hopefully of nature, seems to carry and ring more brightly then usual, even one’s footsteps produce a kind of echo.

Offhand I can’t think of a walk that satisfies all the criteria and if I could I would probably want to keep it secret.

One section of my Lands End/John o’Groats walk that was especially enjoyable considering that it was not in classic mountain country was the long ridge walk from Pandy to Hay-on-Wye. I had not been on that ridge before and it really took me by surprise.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

46 - Nine Standards Rigg: 3 of 49 (see Post no. 42 Oct 09 for rationale)

Thursday, 27th November 2009
Nine Standards Rigg 662m (2172 ft)
9 miles
326 m (1070ft)  of ascent

The ascent was from Ravenseat via Whitsundale and back via Coldbergh Edge.

The previous week had seen rainfall in the Lake District thirty miles to the west exceeding all previous records, washing away bridges and making hundreds of people homeless. Similar conditions had prevailed in the region of Nine Standards, so this was one of the muddiest walks I can remember.

It was bitterly cold on the tops. I was wearing a pair of Outdoor Research “Verglas” mitts purchased from Rock and Run the day before which made life bearable. The rain held off and this was a quality walk; it was nostalgic for me as most of the walk followed the route of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk which I did in April 1990. The views from Nine Standards are incredibly extensive.

The highlight was the sight of the mysterious Nine Standards cairns a few hundred yards to the north of the trig point, and I unashamedly enclose herewith Wainwright’s description which I am sure will be more pleasing than my own ramblings.



Thursday, 19 November 2009

45 Photoshop painting

Awful weather has driven me to indoor pursuits although I have managed to walk Jake the dog every day locally.

About nine months ago I started painting pictures in Photoshop Elements 3. I was given a Wacom pen tablet as a present and this revolutionised things. My interest was rekindled by a post on my brother’s blog, and now I am off again.

Regular readers may notice that I have redesigned my blog header using three photos, a mask layer and a text layer. I am currently working on a landscape picture that may or may not appear here later.

Painting is quite different from manipulating photos and it can be very much like the real thing layering colours to obtain tonal and texture effects along with most other techniques involved in painting. The overwhelming thing about this activity is the rapid passage of huge hunks of time.

Here are some of my previous efforts.

Friday, 6 November 2009

44 – Green Bell – No. 2 of 49 - for Jack

Tuesday 3rd Nov
5.5 miles – north edge of Howgills and south of Ravenstonedale
360 m of ascent
2 hours 20mins

This was a straightforward there and back route starting from Ravenstonedale.

Heavy showers and hailstorms were interspersed with sunny intervals. The ground was very wet and I was wearing lightweight fabric boots recently bought and they were not up to the job. I will have to buy some new leather boots.

As I write this on Friday 6th November I have sad news which may be relevant to some readers. On Wednesday 4th November I attended Jack Isaac’s funeral in Bradford. Jack was one of the informal group, mainly from the Bradford area, that went off climbing in The Lakes in the sixties basing ourselves on Langdale and later Keswick where The Yorkshire Mountaineering Club had a cottage – most of us were members of the YMC. Jack was a couple of years older than me, He was a woolsorter by trade. He had an irascible nature and was given to frequent argument and strong opinions but was a staunch member of the group and well liked by all. The most abiding memories of Jack were his oversize Primus stove accompanied by a full size chip pan, his home rolled liquorice paper cigarettes, and his phenomenal knowledge of jazz.

Amongst a total of about thirty at the funeral there were present from our old group: myself, John Ellis, Peter Mansridge, Brian and Jean Lancaster, Terry Saunders, Douglas (Freddie) Milnes, Chris and Joan Durkin, and Pete and Linda Hindle. Malcolm (Sol) Lomas had a previous engagement impossible to cancel and sent his apologies and condolences.

Monday, 2 November 2009

43 The Dog Lead

The “49 campaign” outlined in my last post started on Thursday 29th October with the ascent of Middleton on the northern edge of The Howgills south of the A 685 and near Tebay.

Height - 486m (1594ft)

Distance - 9.5 miles – 5 hours

Total Ascent – 781m (2562ft)

I intended to include Green Bell trig to the east, but aborted this plan for lack of time, but its part completion added much descent and ascent that would have been avoided with a simple there and back route to Middleton. This was the longest, and most strenuous walk I have done since my leg infection.

Three hundred yards from the start I thought I had left my waterproof in the car. I left my rucksack trackside and trekked back to the car but the waterproof was not there. Of course I found it back at the rucksack. I then missed Jake’s dog lead which I remembered setting off with round my neck. Jake is now thirteen and acquired this lead when Jill got him as a pup; it is a ragged much used item that claims a good dose of sentimental attachment for Jill, so I felt obliged to track it down. I went all the way back to the car again and found it in the boot. Are “senior moments” just a cliché or have I been doing this sort of thing all my life?


Monday, 26 October 2009

42 The 49 of 91

Previously I have visited and photographed the triangulation points on sheets 97 and 98 of the Ordnance Survey 1:50000 maps. I am now planning the same for sheet 91, and have identified the forty-nine trigs on this map. This tedious job is made easier using Memory Map software enabling magnification, but careful scrutiny of each kilometre square on the map is still required.

Sheet 91 includes the northern edge of The Howgills in the south, and up to Cross Fell in the northern Pennines in the north.

There are many remote hills here, often without footpaths, so it could make for some quite demanding walks, especially if more than one trig is bagged on particular outings. In contrast some of the trigs are within a few meters of a road.

This concept provides a framework for comprehensively covering an area and often leads to interesting places which would not otherwise have been found. One area of uncertainty on this map involves two trigs which are on the Warcop military training area with restricted access. Research will be needed to prevent this exercise going off with a bang!

After comments from a certain source here is a more typical trig.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

41 The Calf (Howgills)

On Saturday, with Jill, and dog Jake, we ascended The Calf in The Howgills.

This was my second ascent, the first was on 26th March 2004 whilst visiting and photographing all forty seven trig points on sheet 98 of the OS 1:50000 map (not all on the same day). The view west from The Calf is exceptional looking over the coastal plain to Morecambe Bay and then The Lake District. Arnside Knott is prominent over eighteen miles away and I reckon with a telescope you could pick out my house nestling under its eastern flanks. I vowed that if I visited The Calf again it would be on a bright day to get the best of this view, and the forecast seemed in favour, but cloud and a dull haze persisted, and although views were reasonable they were not sharp enough to pick out detail.

On the previous visit I commented on the number of people about and it was the same again, even more so with rambling parties of “greys” and mountain bikers. Although I admit I am old and grey and also prone to rambling, I can’t admit to being a “grey” or a rambler.

I prefer to climb new hills, and this should now be the aim. Having visited all the trigs on sheets 98 and 97 delineating the area within modest driving distance of home, I have covered all the main tops and it is getting difficult to find something new within reasonable distance.

An area a bit further afield that looks wild, and I would guess not much visited, and worth exploration is The Tweedsmuir Hills south-east of Glasgow. Now that The Munros are out of the way a few days there with the caravan in early spring sounds like a good idea.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

40 My life and cameras (contd from Post 39)

Following the waterfall adventure I went to Fort William and was only able to replace the superior Cannon A590 IS with a Cannon Powershot A580. The replacement had no image stabiliser, which has niggled me ever since.

Last Sunday I was taking pictures locally when the camera demanded new batteries. Cannon Powershots use AA batteries which means that if spare batteries are carried recharging problems are overcome and I have found I can take over 500 photos at highest quality on one set, albeit using the more expensive lithium batteries.

I replaced the batteries, but not with lithium and the camera still demanded new batteries. I tried two other sets without success. I assumed the camera was faulty then discovered the guarantee was out by about a week. I searched the internet and identified the Cannon Powershot A 1100 IS which is an update of the previous two models having 12 instead of 8 mega pixels and including the image stabiliser together with a redesigned slim line body, and other additional features. I decided to buy.

On Monday I rang the original supplier in Fort William and was told the camera really needs lithium or high performance alkaline AA batteries. I tried with lithium and found it worked perfectly. I am sure that had I persisted I would have found this out before buying another camera, but I think the subconscious was at work knowing I had never been satisfied with accepting the inferior specification of the A 580.

It is interesting to note that the A580 cost £130 a year ago and the new, superior A 1100 cost £127.

I have advertised the A 580 for £50.

Friday, 16 October 2009

39 My life and cameras (to be contd.)

In Glen Etive, last year, I was crossing a mountain stream raging steeply down a mountain side. It was in spate. I slipped and shot off at speed down a polished rock slab water slide for about fifty feet. I was heading for a thirty foot vertical thunderous waterfall I had seen on my way up. The waterfall terminated in a heaving pulsating pool of wild yellow foam with steep rock walls all the way round and the outlet leading to rapids and further minor waterfalls.

The only thought I can remember was saying to myself “well, I suppose this is it”. The force of water had created a deep rock bowl just before the waterfall and I found myself looking over the rim of this bowl and straight down the waterfall. This would have made a good photo from an angle not many people could have achieved, but unfortunately my camera had not taken kindly to this adventure.

The photo was taken as I set off for this Munro by a fellow Munroist who then went off into the hills. It seems somewhat prescient that
I elected to make this pose next to the mountain rescue vehicle. It was the last photo taken by the inundated camera; furtunately the memory card survived.

I have posted this story because there is a sequel to the bit about the camera so watch this space.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

38 “All is fair to the eye on Whitbarrow.” A Wainwright – circa 1973

My recent revisiting of Whitbarrow intended to capture photographically the essence of this limestone plateau. I was reasonably satisfied with the results, but then decided to see what Wainwright had to say in his final volume of Lake District guides “The Outlying Fells of Lakeland”.

AW defines his aims on the front cover of Outlying Fells.

This was apparently written when AW was feeling his advancing years which he seemed to accept stoically and with laconic humour. Outlying Fells is my favourite of his Lake District series containing more of his characteristic witticisms than the others, and it can be treated as a read rather than a guide.

As for my own attempts to encapsulate the merits of Whitbarrow, AW’s drawings and writings demonstrate that his tools more than compete with photography, although he did later successfully collaborate with Derry Brabbs the photographer and in particular with the excellent Wainwright in Scotland.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

37 More on Whitbarrow - the missing pics

Following comments from BB and my own sense of mea culpa a return visit was made today to Beck Head (erroneously referred to as Beckside in my last post).

Here are photos of the café.

My visit was with Jill, my daughter. We had a mug of Earl Gray apiece and I had a cream and jam scone. Whilst posting payment at cottage number two next door we met the proprietor. He came from The South over twenty years ago and has lived at this cottage for around ten years - he is head chef at a local school and  before moving to the cottage kept The Wheatsheaf at Brigsteer.

This is a welcome and thoughtful facility. One comment in the visting-book from a runner stated his intention of doing his Whitbarrow run the other way round so he could take best advantage of the café.