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


Monday, 27 May 2013

"Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?"

Thursday 23rd May 2013

Thursday walks with Pete finish at a café, and we have favourites within our familiar territory.

For some time we favoured Number 17 at Milnthorpe; it is close to home, coffee is 10 out of 10, and  leather armchairs provide comfort. Towards the end of our Lancaster Canal project I indulged in a piece of Rocky Road, a confection I had watched Nigella Lawson make. I was taken unawares when I nearly broke my multi-hundred-pound dental bridgework on a solid chunk which turned out to be a whole hard boiled sweet - I was told this was part of Number 17's recipe - it certainly wasn't part of Nigella's. I was not impressed. At the next visit "background music" was not background but loud pop, damaging to the ears, and impeding conversation. With consideration for my hopefully continued good health we haven 't been to Number 17 since.

Another port of call is Café Ambio at the Lakeland Motor Museum near Newby Bridge at the southern end of Windermere. Ambio also have a branch at Chorley, and puzzlingly they set up at the Le Mans 24 hour race (I must research the reason behind that). More relevant to Pete and myself, Kendal Livestock Auction Mart  recently relocated to palatial new premises close to Jct. 36 on the M6 only a few miles from Arnside, and Café Ambio are part of the deal. Coffee is again tops. There is background music but barely audible. Free wi-fi and leather settees also feature, and they make a flapjack with oats, treacle and fruit that is sticky, wholesome and to die for, and that is where we ended up last Thursday after a six mile walk in Kentmere.  

Down the Kentmere valley

An enlargement of the River Kent which provides good trout fishing available on day tickets

To the head of Kentmere.  Kentmere Pike on right. Ideal walking surface
This business of background music is tiresome in eating and drinking venues, but for sometime now it has become more prevalent and intrusive in television documentaries. I have read and heard from many varying sources about this irritation which leads me to believe that this is a majority objection, yet still these egotistic documentary makers persist. I have seen some excellent productions where this has  been the only fault, but unfortunately almost making them unwatchable.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Backwards or forwards?

I receive a depressing monthly periodical produced on a home computer in black and white from the pensioners amateur organisation of my previous employers. It contains articles from erstwhile colleagues from which I deduce they spend their precious retirement time reminiscing about daily trivia thirty years or so ago within the insular family atmosphere of an old fashioned bank branch. These writings seem to indicate the authors long to be back there in what I suppose was a safe environment There is even a regular feature titled “Looking Back”.

The most exciting anecdote I can remember from this wallowing nostalgia was about the Branch Inspection Team arriving from Head Office and going, by mistake, to a rival bank branch nearby, being admitted, and actually starting with their unpopular task, which by tradition starts with the manager handing over all his keys to the chief inspector. But that belies the more mundane nature of these recollections of temps perdu. Normally they only aspire to the drama of somebody with a name like Roger Murgatroyd arriving for duty on a Saturday morning wearing a sports jacket! What have these people been doing since they retired twenty years ago?

My career was with a more dynamic and competitive sales orientated subsidiary of the bank, most of the time being spent out and about canvassing and negotiating with business people in the big wide world.

I do often find myself “looking back”, but only on the things I have done since retirement over eighteen years ago which have been satisfyingly challenging, and given me enormous pleasure. 

Most of the time I am looking forward to the next adventure, and as I sit here my rucksack is packed and ready to depart a week on Monday for my next backpacking trip.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Try,try again

Cabin fever has been tested to the limit.

The knee has improved recently. It may be too early to attempt backpacking again, but I have decided to have a go and see what happens. I bought a senior railcard, and I have booked a train ticket departing Arnside at 7:01 am Monday 3rd June, arriving Lowestoft at 2:50pm.

The route, starting at Lowestoft and finishing at Poole, which is the start of the South West Coast Path,  was plotted before my knee replacement. At that time I planned to return in a circle to Lowestoft via The New Forest, Salisbury Plain and The Ridgeway etc., but for the moment I would be more than pleased if I could get as far as Poole. If the walking is not viable I could be back home in three days. it would be interesting to see if I could return in stages using my bus pass.

My son has voiced concern about me walking through the eastern suburbs of London which was something I had not considered, but there will be no wild camping there.

The route should be relatively flat, and I will only need to carry food for one meal giving me a pack weight of around 21 lbs or 9.5kg .

Unfinished business could be nailed. Regular readers will remember that I thought I had done all the Marilyns in England south of Cleeve Hill and Bredon Hill near Cheltenham except for Haddington Hill in Buckinghamshire; that was until I discovered an appendix in the book adding nineteen newly discovered tops, four of which were in that southern area. One of those is near Folkestone, and the others are within easy reach of Poole so we will have to see.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Place Fell

Thursday 10th May

I have proved my point. The picture of the school report, (which I lifted from Google Images), has attracted closer examination than recent landscapes.

The most memorable comment on my Bradford Grammar School reports was for the subject of Divinity. Just the one word: "Inert".

Today dawned cloudless blue. An hour later, driving up Shap on the M6 there was total dark cloud and rain. Having gone beyond the point of no return I continued to Martindale targeting Place Fell (NY 405 170) and Hallin Fell (433 170), two more Marilyns. It was not raining when I started to walk, but within ten minutes it was, and never stopped until I was back home.

There was not much to photograph and I was debating whether to concoct an improvised splinted leg or invent a ghost I had seen in the mist which may be apparent on a photo after a bit of clever Photoshopping, but the gale force wind, and driving rain that persisted throughout demanded all my willpower for battling on.

At the summit I was concerned about rain getting at the camera, but I took a rapid point and shoot snap of the trig, which is spectacular standing proudly on the edge of an elevated rocky prominence.

Back at the car I decided to leave Hallin Fell for another day.


Place Fell summit out of view beyond ridge

Summit now in view - it was a lot further back than it appears from the closer ridge
Looking down to my starting point. A steep ascent
You can't see the driving rain and violent wind - I didn't linger long

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

What does it say on your school report?

Let’s face it, repetitive landscape photos, can be boring. My Lancaster Canal walk provided opportunities for more unexpected and interesting subjects, but these were gifted to me, and I probably missed  others that could have made a story.

Most of us settle for pleasing landscape shots rather than a good gash in the leg, or the billy you just upset spilling your anticipated curry into the grass, but to others those last two examples would better grab their attention. 

There are people with a natural instinct to record drama, and they become professional photographers. It is possible to train yourself to some extent, but I have found it difficult.

On Monday I went for a modest walk. It was so modest, that even though I took the camera, I had already persuaded myself there would not be enough content to write an interesting post.

I took about five pretty pictures.

Back home, soaking in a hot bath I thought about the walk, and the short, but harrowing busy main road I couldn’t avoid, and then realised I had missed a chance to try and take some shots of cars, perhaps with speed blur or whatever. Then  I remembered that towards the end of the walk, a track shown on the map, vital to my route had been incorporated into a holiday cottage development and was blocked off by eight foot high, close mesh site fencing. I managed to circumvent all this by climbing two gates and a wall with barbed wire, but again had not grabbed the chance to get some pictures.

What is it that stops me, even when I know the form? It’s like the old school report:

Friday, 3 May 2013

For my Scotland traversing masochist readers

For you Challengers I hope the event fulfils your expectations and that you will all have memorable tales to tell.

The TGO* is for Tough Geezers (or Girls) Only, maybe surviving on Tinned Goods Only, so that let's me out, regrettably on the first count, and thankfully on the second.

I  still find rewarding little walks within a few miles from home that are new to me, even though I have lived here for over twelve years. Here are some pics from today's effort just to keep you calm before you face the grown up stuff in Scotland. St Sunday's Beck was the main attraction starting from Halfpenny, just off the A65 between Crooklands and Kendal.

I saw my first swallows, and also pondered on the nature of solitude. Noticeable silence and peace prevailed throughout this walk, but more than that it was of a friendly nature, whereas there are times when it can be uncomfortable or even menacing. This walk was all unhurried pleasure.
As a Frenchman called out to me from his car window as I was sweating up a steep hill, "Courage!"

Saint Sunday's Beck

Wood anemones carpeting a bit of proper old woodland

Cemellia and a splendid Spring garden

If you peruse the map the walk ends at a stream with no indication
that the footpath goes across. I risked the possibility of having to
wade, but when I arrived there was the bridge and the car waiting
thirty yards up the banking on the right

*TGO = The Great Outdoors Challenge. An annual multi day backpacking trek (not a race) across Scotland organised by the TGO magazine. Entrants are limited in number and have several starting points on the west coast. and set their own routes to arrive at designated finishing points on the east coast.

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Since returning from The South last Friday, I downloaded photos from the iPad and my camera. The iPad pics were renumbered so they would appear chronologically with the camera pics. I edited the photos in Photoshop and added captions, and ended up with a complete slideshow.

I am always pessimistic, apprehensive, and stressed at downloading new software, and I suffer from a total lack of confidence in being able to make it work. It is like masochism for me, but...

...I downloaded Picasa and battled through the learning curve. For a reason unknown the slides I had concocted to indicate the beginning of each day were bunched at the end of the others, and with some difficulty I relocated these chronologically into the slideshow. What a feeling of triumph after all that.

My trip to The South to mop up  Marilyns was a compromise, substituting for my primary desire to walk another long backpacking trip.

In terms of wanting a reasonably active holiday it was successful, but apart from the half day outing to High Willhays on Dartmoor the walks were too short, and motoring in between far too much. I was able to drive to several of the summits.

It was like Readers' Digest. I experienced snapshots of Dartmoor, the Cornish coast, the North and South Downs, Salisbury Plain, The New Forest, The Isle of Wight, and the south of England in general. That was ok in its own way, but I have never been a fan of Readers' Digest.

I suspect that pursuing Ms in the more mountainous regions of Wales and the Scottish borders would find closer grouping, and longer and more rewarding walks compatible with the concept of hillwalking.

CLICK HERE FOR SLIDESHOW  When the page opens I suggest you select the "slideshow" option to see the pics full screen. If you click the pause button then keep clicking outside that little box you will gain manual control of the slideshow.

Yesterday I managed to pick the worst two hours of weather in an otherwise glorious day. I ascended Whitfell (SD 159 930) from Dunnerdale, yes another Marilyn. Having driven all that way in good weather I was not inclined to quit, so I set off in rain and ascended into cloud and more rain. Good weather prevailed of course on the drive home. The only consolation was that I had combined this outing with business I had to attend to in Ulverston which had taken me more than halfway to Dunnerdale.

Marilyn count - 318