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


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Arnside Icebergs


Freezing weather continues. Burst water pipes necessitated moving the washing machine to the other side of the garage, and investing  in an electric heater to put behind the machine.

Christmas presents and a case of good wines from The Wine Society ordered on the Internet many days ago did not arrive until today saving the need for contingency plans.

City Link have been the most tardy. Royal Mail managed better. The wine arrived by the Society's own van.

The photos were taken today and show real mini icebergs. This is part of Morecambe Bay, which is of course salt water.
The crag in the background is Whitbarrow which has been the subject of some previous posts - it  extends a couple of miles or so to the north of this southern edge of its escarpment.
This one is looking west towards the full extent of Morecambe Bay. The railway viaduct leading to Grange over Sands can just be made out.

Once again all the best to everybody.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Photoshop painting - Land Rover

A new picture is underway. This is the embryo stage. I trace the outline from a photo through a semitransparent layer and then return that layer to light grey opaque. The sketch remains visible. Painting proceeds and the photo is only used as a visual reference thereafter (I have a full screen version alongside on my laptop screen). The initial outline is only used for rough orientation and becomes obliterated in the painting process. I have started some painting on the roof.
My photos folder on the computer contains a file called “relics”. On my travels I snap anything that qualifies for that description. The new painting shows an abandoned Land Rover in a farmyard seen on a walk not far from my home.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Photoshop Elements painting

Here is the completed picture (previous posts refer to its subject). The fencing in the bottom righthand corner was a final addition involving exploration of the Line Tool. This facilitates drawing straight lines. The fence includes cross-wires, and after merrily drawing away I found that the creation was not embedded with the original layer so that If I moved that layer the fence stayed put. When I switched on the layers palette I found that the fence had been created by automatic production of 129 new layers! After some experimentation I found that by using the shift key and selecting the first and last of these layers they were all selected and then I was able to "merge layers", and then merge the merged 129 with the original. There is always something new to learn in Photoshop.

The picture will now be taken to my tame printer on a pen drive and he will print it onto good quality  paper at a size a bit larger than A4. The result looks  convincingly like an acrylic painting with discernible brush strokes and much more detail than is apparent on this small reproduction.
The template for my blog does not allow me to use "extra large" format for my photos. I know it is possible to change the template, and it is also possible to save a copy of the blog in case of disaster, but I am still reluctant to try in case I loose the whole thing. Has anybody else out there tried anything similar?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Photoshop painting and Arnside in the snow

Here is another update on the painting. There is still work to do. The tree behind the houses has to be detailed and various other bits of fine tuning.

Arising from my comments on the last post here are two pics taken today from Arnside Knott. Normally we can see the full range of Lake District hills but today it looked as though snow was blowing from that direction.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Photoshop painting

Just a quick update on the picture.

I have been away for a week so have not had a chance to do much more, but you will see that I have now put the walking figure in place and the path he is on.

For any newcomers the picture is part of the refuge complex at Thines in the Cevennes from my walk of the French gorges.  Here is an extract from my journal describing my visit.

The approach to Thines was sensational. On arriving the gîte is located alongside the ancient church with a dividing wall and gate through into the gîte. There is a notice to say the guardienne does not arrive until 7:00pm. No meals are provided but food can be bought and there is a good kitchen. Just below the gîte there is a little gift shop and café so I went and had a cup of tea and some biscuits. The tea turned out to be Earl Gray which I had without milk or sugar, and I found this to be one of the most refreshing drinks I can remember.

I had a good look round the village including the very old church with many grotesque stone carvings and an atmosphere reeking of medieaval church domination.

Above the village is a large carved stone memorial to yet more resistance fighters who died in the war with an information board alongside in the manuscript writing of the sculptor describing his deeply emotional feelings whilst he was creating this work.

It was a long wait until 6:45 when the lady guardienne arrived, and by this time there was a party of three young French lads and another middle aged Dutch couple who had arrived. Whilst I was paying for my lodgings I noticed that the others all seemed to have bottles of wine and realised that they had bought these from the shop below as the guardian did not sell wine. It was now 7:00 and I knew the shop closed then so I asked the guardian if I may be excused before continuing with my food purchase, and I rushed off down the steps to the shop. The door was closed but I knocked and was allowed to go in a purchase a bottle.

On returning the guardian took me down to a lock up room below the gîte which was her food store room with fridge and freezer. I bought some spaghetti, a jar of bolgnese, some cheese, bread, jam and butter and a tin of fruit and some tea bags.

Back in the gîte we prepared our separate meals, but ended up all sat at the same table eating and drinking together and the company with the three mischevious French lads and the good humoured Dutch couple was very agreeable providing a merry evening.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Photoshop painting update

Here is an update on the painting. It may look as though not much has happened, but a lot of time has been spent since the version on my last post.

You will see  I have sketched in the figure in the foreground. The background will be mostly trees, but these are fairly spaciously established on limestone hillsides which should be evident when I develop that part of the picture.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Caravan and Camping Club grid refs. Whitbarrow. Photoshop painting

Here is a copy of the reply from the Caravan and Camping Club relevant to my last post. I hope this may of interest to fellow backpackers.

On Wednesday I had a two hour walk round Whitbarrow, my favourite local locale. It was a jewel of a day weatherwise. Here are a couple of pics confirming this. There was a fair covering of snow on the Lake District hills in the second photo. I think this is  unusual in mid November.

I have gone back to painting again on the computer using Addobe Photoshop Elements.

Here are a couple of my previous efforts followed by the current work in progress.
1. A Yorkshire farmhouse.
2. Ben Alder
3. Part of the refuge complex at Thines in the Cevennes. From my walk of the French gorges.

On the w.i.p  you can see the Photoshop layer behind the painting which is the original photo. The layer with the painting on has a white background, the opacity of which can be reduced so you can see the original photo below. I can then draw the basic outlines of the main features and then bring the white background back again. After that I only use the original photo to look at to help me with the colours etc. The work is done using a Wacom pen tablet. I intend to make further posts as this painting develops. This is a hugely time consuming pastime.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Welsh Walk Preperations

I have plotted onto Memory Map all the Caravan and Camping Club CLs relevant to my proposed walk round the boundaries of Wales which henceforth will be called “WelshWalk”.
All the CLs occurring on each 1:50000 OS numbered map are listed in the club's guide. A six figure OS grid reference is given for each CL prefixed with the number of the OS map. Unfortunately Ordnance Survey have a different set of sheets in their system in addition to the map numbers.These sheets are identified with two letters. To plot an OS grid reference on Memory Map the two letters have to precede the six figure number. There can be parts of more than one of the OS’s two letter  sheets on each numbered map so when plotting from the Club’s guide you have no way of knowing which are the correct letters for the given grid reference for a particular site, and you have to proceed by trial and error. On the example herewith map number 84 includes parts of sheets NX and NY.

It took me a day and a half to plot the sites. If the club had thought to prefix their grid references with the letters instead of the map number I would probably have saved half a day. I have written to them making the appropriate suggestion. The club  don’t seem to have a facility for email  on their website so I had to use snail mail.
The maps have all been printed onto101sheets of A4 which weighed 511g, but after trimming blank areas this was reduced to 361g. I will  post half the maps  to a camp site halfway round the route. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

CC versus C&CC

This post is  a response to BB's comment on my previous post.

The Caravan Club is almost part of the Establishment - see the patron and
 list of officers herewith.

The CC's sites are immaculate and run to almost anal standards by semi-voluntary wardens who are usually very conscientious, or at worst ultra zealous. Whilst this can sometimes be irritating, it is much better than the lackadaisical approach on other sites. Because of  this the CC have gained a reputation for being toffee nosed.
Seizing a marketing opportunity the Camping and Caravan Club now advertise themselves as “the friendly club”. Having said that, their standards are also high, and I think they are now coming close to the CC in that respect.

The CC allow camping on some sites only.  I think this is something to do with licensing. CLs (certificated locations) are small sites run by both organisations permitting no more than 5 caravans. The clubs have been given the authority (by act of Parliament, I think) to grant and monitor licences to private people who wish to have a site on their land. Minimum requirements for caravan CLs are a drinking water supply and a chemical toilet disposal point . With the CC, because their CLs cater mainly for caravaners, who have their own chemical toilet a wc is often absent, and for that reason campers are rarely allowed. The C&CC however cater equally for campers and caravaners, and their CLs usually have a wc and tents are permitted. 

The only way to pinpoint CLs is to join the club and look at their handbook and location system which is supported by an Ordnance Survey grid reference number.

CLs are a godsend to the backpacker being inexpensive, relatively secure and often located in places more likely to be close to a backpacker's route than  conventional campsites. In general CLs offer a higher degree of privacy and tranquility than commercial and club sites. Lack of facilities on CLs may be seen as a disadvantage by non-users and the converse by their devotees. They can often be set in idyllic surroundings, and if you know of a good one you keep that information to yourself.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

New Lulu books. Backpacking for next year

The journals for my 35 day GR5, and my 35 day French gorges walks are now available on Lulu either as a download or a hardback book – see details in red below my profile.

Due to an error in downloading the template from Lulu the size of the GR5 book is smaller: 6 inches x 9inches compared with 8.25inches x 10.75inches, but I was pleasantly surprised with the result.

Plans are afoot for next year’s backpacking trip. The concept is to follow the national boundary of Wales as closely as I can within reason, using footpaths as much as possible, and not being concerend about which side of the border I am on at any one time.
So far I have plotted the route on Memory Map which totals 1561km. The route is plotted in straight lines, and tries to avoid obscuring the printed  footpaths  and roads on the map, and does not follow all the twists and turns. I guess the true distance will exceed the 1561km by at least ten percent.
The next task is to re-join the Camping and Caravan Club and identify and plot onto Memory Map any of their CLs that are near enough the route to be useful. I am a member of the Caravan Club, but most of their CLs do not cater for tents whereas the converse applies to the C&CC. When that is completed I can then print the route  onto sheets of A4. I find I can get ten kilometer squares by six on one sheet which gives some enlargement on the original map.

I have just bought a pair of Inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX boots which I am going to try and save for the Welsh walk, although I will give them a try first. Some kind of review will follow.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Postscript from Banchory

Rain prevailed for the last two days. I spent the time cosy and warm in the caravan reading The Black Echo by Michael Connelly and The Fatherland by Richard Harris.

Needing more to read I downloaded a free Kindle app to my iPhone and downloaded another Michael Connelly: The Black Ice. The going price for these paperbacks is £7.99 and the download is only £3.99. I find reading on the iPhone is a good experience. This comes into its own at breakfast time eradicating the problems of manipulating a paperback and keeping it open at the right page whilst eating toast and marmalade.  Any smears of marmalade can easily be wiped from the iPhone, but not satisfactorily from the paperback  - yes I am a messy eater.

I earlier referred to my attempt at photography with the iPhone on the summit of Morvern, only to produce a brief, impromptu video of "my trousers being ripped in the wind like Bhuddist prayer flags". At the risk of anticlimax I have  mastered putting a video onto YouTube and creating the link here.  Hopefully, if you highlight the whole lot and right click you will be able to "open URL" or something similar and go to the video on youTube - don't get too excited.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

From Banchory 5

Here are some pics from my walk up The Fungle yesterday.
The col I walked to is centre of the first pic.

This one is on the track nearing the col.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

From Banchory 4

Wednesday 20th October

A glorious Autumn day but very cold. I drove to Ballochan at the end of a single track road with coverings of snow here and there. It had snowed during the night and I had to clear the windscreen on the car before setting off, and my water containers were partly frozen.

I walked up an old Scottish drover's road called The Fungle which goes from Aboyne south to Glen Esk; I joined it about halfway and walked to a high col and from there ascended Tampie (723m). I returned by the same route. Much of the track was covered with snow showing quite a variety of animal and bird tracks.

I am writing this the following morning (Thursday) sat in the caravan watching the rain and reading The Fatherland by Robert Harris. It doesn't look like I'm going anywhere today.
Sent from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

From Banchory 3

Monday 18th October

I ticked off Morvern today north of Ballater - another Corbett. I had good weather and good views. It was just like Munroing again. I met a chap coming up as I was coming down. He said he was a professional photographer and was taking photos of proposed windfarm sites for an agency in Glasgow. I asked if these were for the use of protestors against windfarms and he said that the agency would supply photos to both sides. For somebody with a conscience and a strong view either way on this form of alternative energy this assignment would provide an interesting dilemma.

Tuesday 19th October

A bit of an epic today. Weather was poor first thing but I set off and drove to do Brown Cow Hill north of Ballater - another Corbett. When I arrived it was sleeting and then it stopped so I set off. A Land Rover track goes right up to a high col. Next there is a two kilometre pathless trog across really serious peat hags. It started snowing and visibility was down to about a hundred yards. I plodded on and eventually arrived at the first cairn. The true summit is another kilometre on the ridge, albeit only another six meters in height. By now snow was coming horizontally and visibility was down to just a few yards. I could not see my gps or my compass properly due to a combination of wind, snow and my spectacles. I turned round and went back with difficulty trying to walk on a bearing across the peat gags. When I at last got back to the Land Rover track the snow stopped and I had proper visibility again, but it was a miserable walk out. There was a cafe a few hundred yards down the road from where I parked. When i arrived another violent snow storm came from nowhere and I had to make a brave dash from car to cafe.

Sent from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

From Banchory 2

Yesterday (Sunday) I climbed a minor hill south of Banchory - Kerloch (534m).There had been a frost overnight and it was bitterly cold and windy when I started walking at 9:50. I had good views from the top looking across to Clachnaben and the route I had done the day before.

Today (Monday) I did Morvern (871m) north of Ballater. This is not far off Munro height and it is a Corbett which has now set my mind going about the Corbett list. I was given the SMC Corbett Guide last Christmas. I know I am never going to do them all but it would be a good focus for continued Scottish hill climbing- I'll have to look at the list and see how many I have done already!

I attempted to take a photo with the Phone on the summit; it was violently windy and I could see nothing in the screen viewfinder to take the pic. I hate these screen viewfinders. My Cannon Shureshot has the old-fashioned one as well which is much better. On getting back to the car I found that the iPhone had been switched to video and I had captured thirty interesting seconds of my legs and feet with trouser legs being ripped in the wind like Bhuddist prayers flags.
Sent from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 16 October 2010

From Banchory - Saturday

From Banchory
Saturday 16th October

Today I ascended Mount Shade (507m) and Clachnaben (589m). Clachnaben has a substantial granite tor on its summit which I clambered up on greasy wet rock

at great peril.

I met various people and then returned by Hill of Edendocher and the small bothy at Charr. It started to rain five minutes before I got to the bothy. There was already a couple in situ, who although only out for the day, had a stove and were brewing up. I had some coffee left. We had some pleasant chat, and then I was on my way again now in sunshine. This was a pleasant round and about eleven miles with about two thousand eight hundred feet of ascent. All the people I met were Scottish.

The pic is distant Clachnaben.

Sent from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Another book and Escape to Scotland

Book fever continues. I am now working on a book for my 2005 GR5 walk from Lake Geneva to Menton on the Mediterranean. Yes, I know the GR5 finishes at Nice but I elected to take the rewarding alternative finish through the Mercantour Alps. 
Unfortunately I naively  transferred the photos into Powerpoint and deleted the original jpegs. At the time I did not understand that Powerpoint files  are unusable in most other applications (although they do open in Keynote on my iMac). I have been able to re-save the photos from Powerpoint as jpegs, but this causes loss of quality which I will have to put up with. A further problem is that these photos retain the black background used by Powerpoint slideshow, entailing the cropping of more than 200 photos which took most of yesterday. One advantage was that I was able to crop these photos in the normal way to their best advantage at the same time.

Here are some samples: I am still having some problem with black background but have just spent twenty minutes in Photoshop finding out how to sort it - the middle one here was the guinea pig, but it now seems to have lost the r/hand blog frame. 


Before anything else crops up to prevent me getting back to the hills I have booked onto the Caravan Club site at Banchory (inland from Aberdeen) for eight nights from Friday 15th October. Now that I am not pursuing Munros I am looking forward to exploring other hills. I bought the SMC Cairngorms guide and intend to investigate the hills in the Mount Keen, Glen Esk, and Lower Deeside areas. Hopefully I will be able to post from my iPhone, Vodafone and deer stalking permitting.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Nostalgia for The Pyrenees

After my most troublesome computing exercise to date my Atlantic to Mediterranean Pyrenean traverse via the GR10  is now available  as a hardback book or download. The 52 day journal with many colour photos covers 107 pages.
To purchase or download (not: Lulu Publishing), and enter Conrad Walks in the search box. The download costs £7 of which I would donate £5.05 to Motor Neurone Disease Association, and the hardback is £23.71 net. My Lowestoft to Patterdale, and Land’s End to John o’Groats walks are also available (details are shown here in red underneath my profile details).
I walked the GR10 in 2003. Putting the book together brought back many memories. Of all my walks this one provided most interest and the most anecdotes. The GR10 has a unique, pleasurable sort of ambiance in my mind which is associated with the observable change in climate, flora, and landscape as I gradually drew nearer to the Mediterranean.
Walking is the most rewarding way to see new territory, especially if it involves an objective because this seems to heighten the sense of anticipation, which in this case was fulfilled by the final descent into Banyuls-sur-Mer through parched vineyards, and yellow baked dusty roads, culminating in my arrival in the town and an evening meal which I failed to record in detail, all creating an unforgettable essence of everything Mediterranean.         


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Brothers

Two or three times a year I  fraternise with my two brothers at a good food venue, usually combined with an overnight stay.
Last Friday we changed the routine by renting The Lodge at Ardmaddy Castle south of Oban for three nights. The incentive was provided by Younger Brother, requesting help to reduce his stockpile of good wines.
We each enjoy contrasting interests: Older Brother writes and pontificates, Younger Brother sails, and I embrace the outdoors.
We agreed to visit Loch Melfort Hotel for lunch because it had been recommended, and also to explore the inviting windy, single- track road on the north shore of Loch Melfort. After five miles or so the tarmac surface terminates and continues as a “white” road shown on the OS map now running north for three miles over a high pass and traversing  contour lines  predicting challenging ascents and descents, and emerges within a hundred yards of our rented cottage – that three miles contrasts with the fifteen miles or so return journey by our incoming journey on normal roads.
The off-road facility of my new 4WD Skoda Yeti had not yet been tested. I was excited at the prospect of attempting to “take the high road”, but also concerned by the thought of sustaining damage. From experience I know “white” roads on the OS map can be impassable for vehicles.
Older Brother has always had the capacity to provoke others into risky ventures whilst personally remaining in the background. I was easily manipulated into taking up the challenge.
Perhaps at  sometime we three may mature, but for the moment it seems our original agenda of gastronomy and the bonne bouteille may become secondary to more adventurous pursuits?
Older Brother and Younger Brother - the last of tarmac in background.

Yeti in its element.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Coigach - 26th August 2010

Here are some of the pics from my recent Scottish trip. They were all taken on the same day when I traversed the various peaks of the Coigach massif.
This was one of the  most enjoyable mountain days I can recall.

 Looking down Loch Broom towards Ullapool
          The Summer Isles
                      Suilven etc

Me on summit of Coigach

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Book publishing

Both my books are now available from Lulu Publishing.
Both books have a day to day journal and many full colour photos
The prices below return a percentage to me as indicated which I would undertake to donate to Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Land’s End to John o’Groats (77 days)
Journal and pictures
Hardback £30.00 plus postage - nets £5.12 for MND
Download £10.00       nets £7.18 for MND
The Broads to The Lakes (28 dayus)
Journal and pictures
Hardback £21.97 plus postage (net price - nil return to me)
Download £7.28       nets £5.00 for MND
To purchase:
Google: Lulu Self publishing...
Select: “Buy”
Enter in search box: “Land’s End” or “The Broads to The Lakes” - this should then display details for purchase or download of the appropriate book.
I have nearly finished the same exercise for my GR10 walk (traverse of The Pyrenees) - details to follow.

Monday, 30 August 2010

From Brora (Scotland-east coast)

On Friday I moved from Ardmair to Brora on the east coast. The drive took me past  Oykle Bridge Hotel where I had taken refreshment on my Land's End John o' Groats walk, so I stopped and had a nostalgic sandwich and pot of tea.
Yesterday (Saturday) I walked from the Caravan Club site over a moorland path to Loch Brora and then completed the circuit of the loch following a track on the southern shore. I plotted the route on Memory Map which gave a total of 18 miles and I had taken 6 hours and 20 mins. which gives an average speed of approximately 2.9 mph. I stopped once for about 15 mins. to nibble and drink coffee so my walking speed must have been over 3 mph.
Today (Sunday) I walked into Brora on the beach and then back over the links golf course taking half an hour each way. I am heading for home tomorrow
Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 26 August 2010

From Ardmair

Yesterday morning sun was shining at Ardair. At the starting point for Quinag it was raining and the cloud was down. Relying on a favourable forecast I set off following the path up Allt na Bradhan and then up to the summit of Sail Garbh which is the highest part of the Quinag complex. As I hit the summit there was a full clearance and I had wonderful views. I returned to Bealach a Chornaidh and then ascended Spidean Coinich, but the weather closed in again.

Having done all the Munros and having attained the age of seventy I can look back on many fine days in Scotland. Today must count in the top ten. I traversed the whole of the Ben Mor Coigach ridge starting from Culnacraig. It has been glorious sunshine with high puffy white cumulous well above the tops. The peaks were: Garbh Choireachan, Ben Mor Coigach, Beinn Tarsuinn, Sgurr an Fidhier, and Cairn Conmheal. The views were stunning, but most of all I felt really fit which meant that I could fully appreciate the whole experience. This was only a five hour round, but fairly demanding with no feeling of fatigue right to the end . This has been a day of pure enjoyment.

Ben Tarsuinn

View from Ben Tarsuinn

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

From Ardmair

Yesterday I went for a walk on The Postman's Path. The walk started at Blughasary NC 136 021 near Strathcanaird. The path is supposed to be one taken by a postman twice a week to get to Achtilibuie for 2s 3d per trip. The path follows the coast line but very much up and own across the cliffs and has a real mountaineering feel. I followed this to Geodha Mor and then turned inland to follow the stream that skirts the south eastern flanks of Coigach to arrive at Loch Easar dha Bheinn and then by track back to my starting point. From the coast inland my route was pathless over rugged terrain. The whole route was about 9 miles and took 4hrs 45mins. I met one other couple coming the other way.

Today I went for Stac Polaidh. The ridge is a series of rock pinnacles and the last of these guarding the summit pinnacle has a rock climbing move which is not graded. I looked at this and then watched some agile youths scale it, but not without some difficulty. I reckon the hard move was v. Diff verging on severe and I jibbed at it. I seem to have totally lost all appetite for rock climbing, especially if not protected. Perhaps ex rock climbers are wise people? although I used to second with very few problems at HVS until about six years ago I think I always had too good an imagination to be an enthusiastic leader.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Awoke to rain, and cloud at sea level, and had no motivation to go on the hill. By 10:30 am I was stir crazy so set off for Canisp; the rain had all but stopped.
I started walking at 11:30 am - I don't remember setting off so late before on a decent sized hill. The SMC guide gives 2:30hrs for the ascent, and I was mighty pleased to do it in 2:00 hrs. I had walked in a fine drizzle and had no view from the top.
The round trip took 4:40hrs. I am now back at Ardmair and cloud is still at sea level.
I am into the second of a thriller trilogy called The Girl Who Played with Fire by a Swedish author - Stieg Larsson and I highly recommend if anybody is interested.
Here is a pic of the shelter on the top of Canisp just to prove I was there.

Sent from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 21 August 2010

From Ardair - north west Scotland

Yesterday was a fine morning but very windy. I climbed Cul Beag. There were fine views of Stac Polaidh until I got into cloud. There were two brief clearances on the summit giving wonderful combination seascape and mountain views. I got caught in the rain on the way down. My circuit brought me to two kilometers from my car on the road and within ten minutes I was offered a lift which I accepted.
Last night the wind really got up. The caravan was moving violently and I genuinely feared it would go over. This persisted right through the night and I hardly slept.
This morning I saw the caravan next to
me had his awning totally destroyed. The site owner has a weather station and had recorded gusts of 62 mph. The wind has persisted today. I have ascended a small hill from the site but it would have been folly to attempt anything more serious. Wind allowing I may do Canisp tomorrow.

Stac Polaidh

Sent from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Scotland again, at last

From Ardmair Caravan Site - Scotland

I arrived here yesterday (Wed18thAug).

Ardmair is on the far north west coast of Scotland about 4 miles north of Ullapool.

The site is on the sea and my caravan is thirty yards from the water. Last night there was a wonderful sunset looking out to The Summer Isles.
Today I climbed Cul Mor 849m. Time to the summit was 2hrs 40mins.
A young couple who had all the appearance of being serious walkers set off before me and had about eight minutes lead and within fifteen minutes I passed them. I do seem to be walking  quicker than I have done for some time.
The views of Suilven, Canisp, Stac Polaidh and many others were superb.
At the start on the road is a small notice board advertising The Elphin Tea Rooms and that's where I ended up with tea and scone.
Midges are a bit of a nuisance but it's good to be back in Scotland.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A bit of introspection

The file of the Norfolk/Lakes Walk book is now uploaded to Lulu for publication. Parallels Support sent an email detailing fairly complicated procedures which resurrected Windows and all my data. 
I have nearly finished reading A Spirit of Adventure by Colin Mortlock. Colin was a  climber and president of Oxford University Mountaineering Club and later undertook epic kayak sea journeys. He had a career in youth adventure training and seventeen years as a director at Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside. Colin has published two books outlining his well respected and influential theories on youth adventure training
A Spirit of Adventure is an introspective study defining decent human qualities and an ethical and moral way of life. I have found reading philosophy and ethics difficult, partly because the complexity of the subject demands creation of an invented technical language, and, arguably, some of the concepts may be impossible to put into words. Colin is not an academic in these subjects and he writes largely from his own experiences and thoughts with welcome clarity.
My last post referred to my technology struggles. Colin analyses desirable virtues including determination, persistence, and self discipline, providing of course they are directed towards good and not evil. He alludes to positivity and making the most of the large amounts of untapped potential that most of us are unaware of having - such personal development makes a positive contribution to the human condition whereas the opposites lead to its degradation, atrophy and decay.
I recognise that my bouts with technology demonstrate my qualities of determination and persistence, motivated, I think, by a desire to retain my own self esteem, and a dread of seeing myself as a quitter, but could this also be a form of egoism ? I hope I shall continue to search for my huge untapped potential.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


My Lowestoft/St Bees Head walk is renamed Norfolk/Patterdale after I aborted on 9th July.
Since then hours have passed on the computer integrating the journal and photos. 
The cut on my shin has not fully healed.  Apart from short walks with Jill’s dog Jake I am grounded.
Some months ago I converted to Apple but installed Parallels to run a virtual Windows machine on the Mac. To produce a book through Lulu’s website the ms has to be in Microsoft Word. Almost at completion Word crashed, perhaps because I had too big a file - the photos were integrated with the text.
I still had text and photos and started again, adding photos after the text for each day. Today Windows crashed. I  get the screen saying “Windows is closing down” and cannot proceed.  I am now awaiting a reply from  Parallels help team.
Yesterday my iPhone stopped receiving signal and has been sent back.
In some ways I am proud that, at my age, I have dragged myself into the world of tech, but sometimes I wonder how much more I can take. At the moment I feel philosophical about the current problem, and do not see it as a threat to my wellbeing. What is more important is healing of the leg,  and visiting Scotland before BST ends so I can listen to stags from on high rutting in the glens below. 

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 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.


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.

Sent from my iPhone

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