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, 28 December 2011

Floods, websites and cameras

Outdoor activity is curtailed awaiting a knee appointment on 9th January.

Daughter Jill ventured out today by car and phoned home to report floods on the road at Storth about a mile and a half from my house.  I motored down and took a few photos. This road often floods with a high wind, high tide combination, but I have never taken pictures before to add to my local photo folder.

The distant hills to the north-east are the Shap fells above the M6 - the water is the Kent Estuary flowing into Morecambe Bay

Back south-east to Arnside Knott - my house nestles under the lefthand end

I was there and back for this shoot within about ten minutes.

The camera used is new and arrived today. I bought this Canon SX150IS for £38 less than Amazon price from a website called Awooza. After ordering I had an unexplainable, uneasy feeling and browsed further to find out the camera was coming from Honk Kong and there were many unfavourable reports about Awooza citing bad service and the unexpected imposition of import duty. I contacted Pay Pal who agreed to refund if delivery time exceeded ten days from their involvement, or if I was asked to pay import duty. The camera arrived today after  being ordered on 16th December - all appears to be satisfactory, and I have cancelled the complaint procedure with Pay Pal.

Hopefully, further observations on this new toy will follow in forthcoming posts.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Views from the house

The knee is  worse than before the recent operation. I have an appointment for 9th January, and I reckon I'll be offered a replacement knee joint. What this bodes for future walking I will have to wait and see. For the last couple of weeks I have literally limped around and have done no recreational walking.

My daughter Jill and  brother William have taken a four bedroom, first and second floor flat in Arnside with extensive, uplifting views over the Kent Estuary, and across to the Lakeland and Shap hills, which are now covered in snow. I have been helping with both moves. William is in residence.  Jill and Katie will follow after Christmas. Within the last few days Jill's furniture etc. has been moved from storage into the flat.

I have a similarly enviable view from my living room window across the M6 corridor to Hutton Roof with Ingleborough and Whernside jutting above the horizon twenty miles away. I never tire of observing the birds, helicopters, aeroplanes, vapour trails and endlessly changing clouds, enhanced by two of the Three Peaks. Unfortunately a neighbour's house sports an obtrusive chimney pot which jars. I vow that when I win the Lottery I will make them an offer they can't refuse then have the house demolished.

Today with intensely white snow the distant horizon is even more dramatic, but it cannot be captured with my inferior camera, so I have driven a few hundred yards up the road from my house and taken a better shot in the last of the afternoon sun, without the necessity to walk any distance.

This is 4 x zoom, hand held - Whernside appears off pic to the left

In case I don't post again before forthcoming festivities I wish everybody compliments of the season.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Photoshop, medical, baby

Final version of the Attermire Scar Photoshop painting.
Click to enlarge

The trees and the sky have been completely reworked, and the foreground colouring strengthened.

The Knee.
It is now a week since the arthroscopy. My impression is one of some improvement, but no miracle. I visit my GP on Monday 5th December for dressing removal and assessment.  
Following hospital advice I should then be able to tackle modest walking (there are differing opinions  interpreting that phrase amongst friends and family in relation to my observed regular activity). I am promised an appointment with the surgeon in 6/8 weeks when a new knee joint will be discussed. In the meantime I perform recommended exercises three times a day, and cabin fever is building.

Katie update

Jill is threatening a sale on Ebay if the recent crying episodes persist - this pic shows a rare moment of peace.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

One thing leads to another

Apple have introduced iCloud.

iCloud "pushes" photos, emails, calendar entries etc. from the iPhone to the Mac desktop and vice versa cutting out  physically syncing the iPhone with the Mac. During  download  I bought extra "cloud" space for approx. £10 which I then found I didn't need. Next I learned that iCloud was not compatible with my Mac operating system, nor was my Version 5 of Parallels compatible, so I had to purchase and download OSX Lion - approx. £21, and Version 7 of Parallels - approx. £50.00. Parallels is the software that allows me to run Windows on the Mac side by side - the virtual Windows PC contains all the files and some software that I couldn't bring over to the Mac when I changed to Apple, and is therefore important to me.

After all this I discovered an iPhone app - Parallells, and for a special offer price of £2.99 (proper price £19.99), I can now access and operate all the files and software on my Mac and virtual Windows PC via my iPhone - this seems a trivial price to pay for such a massive advantage giving my iPhone the attributes of a £1000 desktop.
Yesterday I had the second arthroscopy on my left knee. The surgeon reckons it is worse  than the x-ray indicated and predicts that any improvement will only last a month or two. I have an appointment in 6/8 weeks at which time he says he would have no hesitation in giving me a new knee joint. Looks like walking maybe going on hold for a while.

Katie update - 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Photoshop painting - UK's County Tops - Katie

This is the latest, unfinished version of Attermire Scar. The sky and the trees are not to my liking and will be taken back to a white restart. I have been trying to learn about the Gradient Tool in Photoshop to achieve a graduated deep to light blue colouring for the sky. It was not used in this version, but I think I have now mastered it. The trees have too much colour in them - I want them to appear more skeletal giving the picture an increased lonely and wild-open-space atmosphere.


One of six doctors in our practice is a keen climber and a serious partaker in charity runs and duathlons. Visiting him on Tuesday he told me about a new Cicerone Press guide - The UK's County Tops. Cicerone Press publish a huge range of outdoor pursuits guides covering the UK and many other countries, and they are located  thirty yards across the road from the surgery in Milnthorpe.

Jonny Muir walked and cycled the 91 tops in 92 days. This concept looks interesting, and could be tackled in many different ways - I have my own thoughts, but no positive plan. It would be a good project for Mick and Gayle (click here) with their newly acquired Colin.


Katie update  


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Photoshop painting - Attermire 3 (for my nerdy followers). Katie progress (for real humans)

 Painting update: the trees are still work- in- progress. Blotches on the white (unpainted) part of the sky are my improvised palette where I have been testing different brushes - the blotches will be painted over white before I tackle the sky. I have created another problem in not first completing the sky behind the trees, but this can be sorted, albeit somewhat laboriously.
To post this pic I  "save as" the Photoshop file (psd) as a jpeg, then downsize from 3000 to 600.  I inadvertently reduced size first and continued to save as a jpeg. When I set it back to 3000 as a psd the picture was hopelessly lacking in pixels, and I thought I had lost many hours of work. Fortunately, even after all the aforementioned sequences,  Photoshop's powerful "undo" facility got me back to my original 3000 psd again.


Katie is  gaining weight via breast feeding. During daytime she has some baby crying episodes, and sleeps a lot. At night she has been tuning up around 10:00pm and carrying  on until 3:00 am, but last night, after 12:00 pm, she "slept through". Jill's bedroom is crammed with furniture and baby stuff making it almost soundproof, and contrary to comments received, I have not been worn to a frazzle.

I have joined the ranks of macho males observed over the years who have degenerated into soppy, sentimental adorers of grandchildren, and like them all, I think my granddaughter is the most beautiful.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Granddaughter name

In reply to comments the correct name is Katherine, chosen because Jill likes it, and it is versatile. Katie is appropriate for her as a baby/infant, and Kate may be used as she is older. Katherine is in reserve for when she becomes CEO of a major company, or a celebrated concert pianist, when Katherine Robinson will sound impressive, but William (her uncle) is convinced that she will be a fighter pilot.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Mea Culpa

Correct spelling for my granddaughter is Katie, not Katy - I have used the latter spelling in emails that were sent to friends who may also read this blog.

Sir Hugh (Granddad)

William and I were  awoken by Jill at 3:00 am on Tuesday morning.
Jill's friend Alison came from Manchester, and after taking advice from the hospital we all  arrived there at  6:00 am in my car. Labour was prolonged and not without some anxious drama. We spent a sleepless night and Katy was born at 5:15 am. All is well and Jill with baby are expected home tomorrow or Thursday.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Photoshop Painting - Attermire Scar 2

Here is the latest update.


7:30 - Sunday evening - still no baby news.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Photoshop Painting - Attermire Scar

A new Photoshop painting is underway. The subject is Attermire Scar, a craggy limestone hill in the Yorkshire Dales.
Click pics to enlarge

I start with the original photo in Photoshop, then put a white layer on top of it, and then make the white layer semi-transparent so that I can see the photo through that layer. I then draw the outline of the main features using a thin grey line with the Brush Tool. Next I bring the layer back to solid white showing the outline drawing. From then on I only use the photo for reference.

This post was conceived after I started my painting, otherwise I would like to have shown the sketch before I started applying colour and detail, but a lot of the sketch can still be seen - those lines are generally eliminated as I progress with the painting.

If the motivation continues I will post progressive versions.


It is 3:30 pm on Saturday, and so far there is nothing to report on Jill's imminent delivery - due date was 16th October, so we are on amber/red alert. Son William has moved in and is sleeping the caravan.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Whataloo (part 2)

For those who read John Proud's comment on my last post here is the picture of his "worst loo":

Obviously the work of a highly paid, double degree, "designer".


I am biding my time awaiting the moment when I convey daughter Jill to hospital for her expectancy. The due date is 16th October, but I reckon it could be any time now.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Mick and Gayle (, the couple I met during my  LEJOG walk, are daily posting photos of their furthest east to furthest west trip last year (Lowestoft to Ardnamurchan). On Monday, 3rd October they posted a pic of a "superloo" discovered near Edinburgh.
Permission obtained 

I can't resist boasting about my best loo encounter.  I was introduced to this Aladdin's Cave by my brother Nick on a sailing trip in Sept 2008 starting from Inverkip, rounding the Kyles of Bute, and then to Tarbert (Knapdale) where the loo was proudly presented to me.

Have any other of my readers been there?

Are there any other contenders for best loo accolade?

If you want to see my worst loo encounter go to: worstloo

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Positive Thinking

Last Tuesday I saw Mr. Patel at Kendal Hospital after ongoing knee pain.  A second arthroscopy was proposed. I now await an appointment. Mr Patel’s advice was unbelievably heartening. After explanation of my x-rays expressed with the clarity of a mountain stream I was encouraged to keep walking, and prophet of doom remarks against backpacking were refreshingly absent.

I was told I may later have a replacement knee, but Mr. P continued positively: he said he was “one of the new breed” believing in people exercising and benefiting from the new technology to the full. Apparently design and methods have continually improved, and he placed no restriction on further walking with a new knee joint.
Because of the knee I have recently tried to be modest with walks, but this doesn't seem to work  - whatever I plan becomes more arduous than intended, but with Mr P’s positive attitude I sensed liberation, indicating that maybe part of the problem was psychological?
Yesterday, on account of a brilliant Saturday forecast I shunned the overcrowded Lake District and headed for the Bowland Hills. Walking commenced at 11:00am (SD 544 617), and finished at 6:00pm after the round of Grit Fell and Ward’s Stone returning via Salter Fell.
Mr Patel had banished my negative thoughts - this was a round of 17.3 miles with 2801 ft of ascent. Although the knee niggles it is not enough to spoil the pleasure of a grand walk in remote surroundings. The peat was dry, and a pleasure to walk on and my feet were not wet even though I was only wearing approach shoes.
I felt fit and strong arriving at the finish by no means exhausted.

Click pics to enlarge

Distant Ingleborough from near Grit Fell

On the way to Ward's Stone

The climb up to Salter Fell

The walk followed a large part of the skyline

Friday, 30 September 2011

Nethermost Pike

Thursday 29th September

Today I went back and climbed Nethermost Pike from Wythburne car park at Thirlmere, after omitting to climb it with Grisedale Horseshoe (see recent post).

The parking ticket machine was "not in use" saving me £4.50.
7km (4.3m) - 742m (2434ft) of ascent
I just bought a Canon SX20 on Ebay - this is a bridge camera (in between compact digital and SLR). I took  pictures on Auto setting, then again on  Landscape setting. There was no doubt about  improved results on Landsacape in sharpness and colour. I laso tried the 20 x zoom giving good results even though hand held. This camera would be cumbersome on backpacking trips, but I may be tempted.

Here are some  results - it was hazy and not ideal:



Striding Edge with Catstye Cam behind, Helvellyn far left

Zoom to Striding Edge
20 x zoom from previous pic. (hand held)
Number of people met on the descent: 20 (not counting a party of 12 refurbishing the footpath).

For readers unfamiliar with UK geography:
Helvellyn is one of the trio of Lake District peaks over 3000ft, and therefore one of the most popular ascents, and  Striding Edge leads to its summit involving some mild scrambling and airy situations - the scene of many accidents. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Should Amazon define your reading list?

For some time I have intended to buy The Elements of Style - William Strunk and E.B. White.
Amazon were aware of this ambition and today they informed me  a second hand copy was reduced from £7 something to £4 something, so I girded up my loins and placed the order.
Amazon then obligingly informed me that “Customers who bought this book also bought...”, and then the enigma unfolds.
Reading down the list there is a Robert Harris novel, and then Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr, which are reasonably likely in combo with the Strunk, but then we have Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver.

I can only assume that the person who bought Elements of Style and the Jamie book bought the latter to send as a present to someone they didn’t like.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Grisedale Horseshoe - a story of underestimation

Thursday 15th Sept.
Why I thought this would be a steady walk I do not know.
The start: Patterdale Hotel (parking £4.50) -  I spent my honeymoon there in 1970, and  last year’s Lowestoft, to supposedly, St Bee's Head walk ended there when I hobbled from Nan Bield Pass after cutting a vein in my leg. Today, therefore, the scene was set with mixed emotions. 
The Wainwrights of Arnison Crag, Birk, and St Sunday Crag, were followed by descent to Grisedale Tarn from which rises alone the delightfully situated Seat Sandal. Descending from Seat Sandal I was tired, and both knees were moderately painful. The constructed stone stairway up Dollywagon Pike was sapping in warm sunshine. I abandoned the visit to Nethermost Pike and retraced steps, literally, down Dollywagon.
Nearing the tarn I suddenly experienced excruciating cramp up the inside of my left thigh.  I stopped in agony much to the concern of some passers-by, who I reckon were terrified at the prospect of rendering assistance, without, I suspect having requisite knowledge. One of them helpfully suggested  I was lacking salt, but was unhelpfully unable to provide that commodity, so I bravely assured them I would be alright, although I was not convinced of this in my own mind, and they hurriedly continued on their way, I guess with much relief.
I managed to restart, but cramp recurred several times, and now in both legs. I found that continuing to walk suppressed the pain, but it was like curing a wart with a blow lamp. It seemed a long long way down the rocky Grisedale path, but I arrived, for the second time in recent history at Patterdale Hotel as the wounded hero.
I Googled “cramp” to find it is  a mystery to the medical profession, as are most things I seem to consult them about, but it may be due to “over exercise of muscles”, “dehydration” (I rarely drink much on the hills), and then a list of more disquieting causes including “pregnancy” and “cirrhosis of the liver”, the former I was able to rule out, but the latter was more worrying.
A route plot on Memory Map revealed a distance of 11 miles, and 4156ft of ascent - that would put many Munro days to shame!
Ullswater from Arnison Crag

Grisedale Tarn from St Sunday Crag with Seat Sandal above the tarn. The flanks of Dollywagon can be seen on the right

On Dollywagon - Striding Edge runs behind my back. Twenty minutes later I was in agony, but this pic indicates it had perhaps already started?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lulu self publish - Conrad Walks Wales, (and baby talk)

At last the Lulu self publish book of my Welsh boundary walk this summer  has been uploaded to Lulu.

I wrote the journal and integrated the pictures in a Word document using Lulu's template,  and my daughter Jill* has been helping me to upload the file to Lulu for publishing.

We encountered several problems converting the Word doc to a pdf in a form acceptable to Lulu, and one of these related to text embedding. I must thank Alan Rayner for some useful advice which eventually solved that problem.
This is a drastically pixel-reduced  photo  from Lulu's website - the text in the oval frame reads "Over one thousand miles walking round the boundary of Wales"

Conrad Walks Wales will be the sixth of these books that I have commissioned and I reckon it will be the best (I am still awaiting my copy). This time I have made photos bigger and most have been enhanced and cropped to some extent using Photoshop. This book runs to 237 pages; for anybody interested it can be bought as a hardback at a net cost of £36.29 or as a pdf download for £5.00 by visiting  and entering Conrad Walks in the search box.


* Jill - Some of my readers will know my daughter Jill, and I feel that now is the time to announce the fact that she is expecting, and I will hopefully become a granddad for the first time in October. Further relevant reports will no doubt follow.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cool cool or cool?

Jeremy Clarkson has a "cool wall" on Top Gear depicting supposedly "cool" cars. Only Jeremy understands his definition of "cool" and often makes illogical changes to those parameters.

I have a similar cool wall. I am sure many items are offended by not being included, but the ones that make it do so purely by a periodic, enigmatic whim. Here are some of my "coolies":

  • A photo of my most picturesque wild camp on the sandy remote shore of Loch More on my LEJOG walk.
  • A very poor photo of my old springer spaniel Barney stood in Beacon Tarn looking forlorn taken by "gimmer".
  • A picture of cloudberries, scanned from a book. I found cloudberries on a walk in the Yorkshire Dales - they are rare in our region, and I inexplicably failed to take my own photo on the spot - a regret that niggles whenever I think about regrets.
  • A photo of our Merlin Rocket dinghy (Impala) being sailed by my brother Nick - we raced this on Hollingworth Lake in the Sixties.
  • A cartoon of Toad pondering over a map (my family nickname was "mapman". I also had a reputation for "poop poop" moments).
  • My own photo of Meall Bhuidhe bothy where I passed an atmospheric night alone on my LEJOG walk. I reckon it is nine miles in any direction to a proper road.
  • A Frenchman, Sylvain, posing at the foot of an alpine peak. I met him in a refuge ten years ago and we have corresponded ever since.
  • A birthday card from a painting by Jonathan Trotman showing three figures huddled on a mountain peak. Trotman was commissioned for a special painting in the Joss Naylor biography, and I have a limited edition print.
  • A dreadful hand done panorama photo of Arnside prior to my discovery that this could be done effortlessly, and seamlessly in Photoshop.

"Adventure only happens to adventurers" ... unknown

Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won't drown" ... Arthur Ransome

"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready, and it may be some time before they get off" ... Henry David Thoreau

"If you need a machine and don't buy it, you will ultimately find you have paid for it, but don't have it" ... Henry Ford

Despite my boasts about Photoshop, my attempt to panorama these three pics was a failure