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


Friday, 25 October 2013

Flirting with an old favourite

We have many named long distance paths appearing like the scribbling of infants on our OS maps. For me the best have been those I devised for myself. In particular the Welsh Border and Lowestoft to The Lakes - the coastal part of the former has since been formalized to become the Wales Coast Path and I reckon that has scenery as good as anywhere else in the UK spread consistently over more than 800 miles.

The worst are those devised by local authorities, presumably to enhance the status of their region, often with names like The Ruckmanshire Centenary Trail or the Oroxford Jubilee Way (fict.), where a number of existing public footpaths have been thoughtlessly strung together with no apparent theme, traipsing round cropfield boundaries and through endless featureless countryside, rarely walked and often overgrown.

Yesterday our walk coincided with one of the best LDPs in England.

The 80 mile Dalesway from IIkley to Bowness-on-Windermere follows the River Wharfe to Buckden then swings west to  traverse some of the very best of the Yorkshire Dales. The route is well thought out, has plenty of accommodation and camping, but above all it follows stunning territory through its whole length. For a long time I wouldn’t walk parts of The Dalesway to avoid spoiling my intention of tackling its entirety someday, but I have now covered so many small sections I feel qualified to express these opinions. Our section yesterday following the River Lune was a delightful sample.

The last part of our walk on the footpath from the A road to the finish was marred by a series of five or so gates which had been fastened by the farmer with that awful, ubiquitous orange, hairy string tied tightly with several knots, one on top of the other making it almost impossible to undo.

Any other opinions about the best LDP in England? Please give reasons.

The Howgills

Farmer rounding up sheep on a quad bike, bottom right - click to enlarge

Crossing the R. Lune

The bridge over the Lune at Beck Foot

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Bits and pieces

At a 12 month, (actually 17 months) knee follow, a new surgeon ordered a blood test, scan and x-ray.
Results demanded a fluid sample from the knee. A quick appointment was promised.

After two weeks I telephoned about the appointment. After an hour I had used eleven telephone numbers. The appointment system had blundered.

The new surgeon had re-referred me to my original surgeon, Mr P, who said last week that the scan and the fluid sample were pointless, and surgeon number two didn’t know what he was doing - his actual words!

Mr P ordered an x-ray because he did not have the previous test results, only surgeon number two’s letter.

After the x-ray I was outspoken, which prompted Mr. P to spend half an hour analysing the x-ray and detailing his reasoning, concluding: the joint placement is sound, my pain and discomfort is not unusual, there is no infection present, and as I am able to walk six miles* the operation has been a reasonable success. He saw no point in further investigations. Mr P assured me that if anything needed doing it would be done and I could come back anytime if I had further concerns, and he put me on another twelve month follow up.

I was worrying about further surgery, but I’m now prepared to make the best of it, and already I believe I am benefiting psychologically.

* I was walking fifteen miles backpacking during the summer, albeit with continual discomfort.

Three recent outings:

Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell ten days ago (two Marilyns west of Ullswater). The weather was so bad no photos were taken.

Thursday 17th October - a walk in the Lune valley with Pete and another Pete.

Friday 18th October - Hallin Fell, (one Marilyn, eastern shore of Ullswater).

One for my "signs" collection. All that work in stone before checking the spelling, unless of course there is a sight on the site

Clay being transported from the hillside to Claughton Manor Brickworks in the valley

Quarry House Farm - under renovation -a remote and windswept place to live


Ullswater north from Hallin Fell

Ullswater south from Hallin Fell

Boredale and Boredale Hause from Hallin Fell

Katie update:

from a visit to Wray Castle at the north west end of Winderemere. National Trust have opened all the rooms to include very informal activities for kids - well worth a visit if you are stuck for something to do with the offspring.

With Uncle Will

Moi - Katie was allowed free range with the camera - this is arguably a better effort than the ones of ceilings and floors

K. showing signs of following Mum's footsteps as a teacher

Monday, 14 October 2013

Walking and talking

What possessed the Neolithics (4500 to 2000 BC) to build a stone circle in this desolate location?

What decided farmhouse builders on the location of the slate quarry we explored?

Isn’t it late in the year to find thriving butterfly caterpillars?

Can we remember ever having driven on this remote stretch of single track, unfenced tarmac?

Why don’t farmers put footpath signs through their property?

These and other questions we pose and try to answer as Gimmer and I take a leisurely six mile footpath walk round the lower flanks of Black Coombe.

Other topics:

Defining differences between, concoctions, decoctions and tinctures.

The writings of Thomas Hardie, Elmore Leonard, and Joseph Conrad.

American gun culture and violence portrayed in old Walt Disney cartoons, leading to Gimmer’s chilling account of The Collector by John Fowles. We anticipated defenders of sadistic material saying that it only influenced  "a very small minority" to perpetrate copy-cat actions; well, in a city of say 300,000 one in a thousand that would be 300!

The ability to walk across previously impossible marshy ground now drier through chemical pollution and climate change.

Post war milk deliveries and purchasing of groceries.

Duck and turkey breeding at a remote farm.

The various definitions of the word dike or dyke.

Gimmer’s comparison of planning convoluted circular country walks with our erstwhile pursuit of mountain climbing which only involved deciding which mountain to climb.

Our good fortune at still being able to do even these walks at our advanced years - speculation of a tabloid story of two 70 odd year old men lost on the hills - conclusion:  silly old buffers.

Such is the substance of  walks with a companion interspersed with frequent stops to appreciate views, identify  peaks, take photos, and convivially munch sandwiches and drink hot coffee warding off the now seasonally colder weather.

Stickle Pike, Caw, Old Man of Coniston, Dow Crag and Grey Friar

Traditional sheepfold and the Duddon estuary

Neolithic circle - Swinside - (SD 172 882)

Gimmer christened this The Leaning Lean-to

Friday, 11 October 2013

Gone fishing.

Wednesday evening, I am watching North West Tonight. After the weather forecast I phone Pete to finalise arrangements for our Thursday walk. Neither of us remember canceling because of weather going back to mid 2012 when we walked the Lancaster Canal in sections.

A dramatic drop in temperature is predicted. I advise Pete to remember gloves.

Our walk takes us through the village of Killington - most readers will relate to the euponymous motorway services, but I reckon few will have visited the village?

I enjoy looking for oddities on the OS map, or along the way, for later Internet research. Today we find a padlocked gate with a small, amateur sign saying “p.a.a.s” access only”. A car is parked inside. As we are only a few hundred metres from the river Lune, previous experience, and a personal interest trick me into thinking of "angling association". These are  normally  named from their geographical location, but we can't think of anywhere in the locale relating to “a.a.”. Our best, but not associated guesses are: from me, “public address”, and from Pete, Pierre Allain (famous climber lending name to seminal rock climbing shoe).

 Later research provided the following:

...back in 1954 a group of a dozen or so friends and match anglers regularly met at the Prince Albert Pub in Newton Street Macclesfield, Cheshire...

...from those humble beginnings the Prince Albert Angling Society* has grown to be the largest and most successful fishing club in Europe today boasting a portfolio of over 230 waters, a membership of over 8,500 and a waiting list approaching 2500

Click for more info.

* my underlining.

What will we turn up next?

Worth clicking to enlarge pics

Wakebarrow Scar looks worth a visit sometime

 Potential climbing here for lazy climbers? Right on edge of road with parking included

Calf Top, above Barbon

Sun on the Howgills

The Lakes

Monday, 7 October 2013

A salute to D of E

A group of Duke of Edinburgh’s Award teenagers on their Silver or Gold Expedition backpacking trip is a heartening sight in the hills. I enjoy passing the time of day, but do wonder why nobody has helped them to organise a rucksack.

Packs are suspended midway down the back, straps dangle capable of lacerating the face in a wind, and the ubiquitous foam bedroll flops about loosely attached. Various other items dangle, and the weight looks badly distributed and formidable

Youngsters may not be able to afford lightweight gear, but I am sure more could be done to inculcate the ethos of non-essentials and balanced  packing. For me, about twenty three pounds (approx. 10kg) is passably comfortable. Beyond that, relative comfort becomes toil -  not a good way to encourage youngsters.

Newcomers to many activities face the false economy of “entry level” gear featuring poor design and more likelihood of early failure just when lack of experience dictates that you need as much help as you can get. Imagine trying to enter a half serious road race with a budget price bike from Argos - Bradley Wiggins may stand a chance, but a novice would be disillusioned.

Don't think that D of E expeditions are so tame that good equipment may not be essential. One group I met at The Heights of Kinlochewe were on their way to camp in the high, remote northern corrie of Ben Tarsuinn in the Fisherfield Forest - an ambitious plan that would demand serious thought from any gnarly, long experienced backpacker.

I wish all those D of Eers  well.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A family journey

In my garage I switch on the light - the fuse for all downstairs lights trips. I am already mildly stressed preparing a meal for my visiting elder brother (RR) and his wife after an epic, but enjoyable drive round The Lakes. We have arrived home late. After a temporary solution lights are restored, and we enjoy our meal and the evening passes with wide ranging conversation. RR being my senior and equipped with astonishing memory always, at these meetings, seems able to recount previously unheard memories of our childhood, sometimes, painful, sometimes amusing, but consolidating and linking enigmatic gaps in my own memory.

RR completed a four week Outward Bound course at Eskdale in the late fifties.  Our tour was jointly nostalgic,  and provided the catalyst for many anecdotes, particularly about RR’s OB course which I had not heard before. 

Finding the location of a river bridge the Outward Bounders leaped from each morning proved to be as challenging, after more than fifty years, as RR’s determination to make that leap. I would likely not have done that voluntarily, but in a group situation you are pushed beyond your comfort zone. How tough is OB nowadays? Back then it was a seriously demanding experience.

Next day we drive separately to Harrogate to visit our junior brother who is sadly not well. Circumstances have contrived to see we three living almost as far apart as possible: Hereford, South Cumbria and Harrogate.

We have a jolly lunch at The Fat Badger. RR and wife carry on to York to celebrate their fifty somethingth wedding anniversary, and I drive back to Arnside to solve the problem of my downstairs electricals with a mixture of family reflections and sadness at junior brother’s situation.


The Lakes drive Itinerary:
Lyth (Damson) Valley

Windermere, ferry crossing

New to me, exciting, partly unsurfaced road up western shore of Windermere


Dunmail Raise

Back road round Thirlmere. Hills above provided wettest walk ever with my old climbing partner Tony. Splendid view across to St John’s in the Vale and Castle Rock

Passing Dalebottom where Yorkshire Mountaineering Club had a cottage - scene of many a wild weekend climbing and carousing with the naivety of youth

Keswick, Borrowdale - proliferating with climbing memories. Our ascent of The Bowderstone

Honister Pass - part of a multi-pass hiking test to the limits for RR on his OB course

Buttermere and Crummockwater - recent, incident filled Buttermere Horseshoe round for me. Lunch at The Fish Inn

Drive to the end of Ennerdale - memories of several Ennerdale Horseshoe rounds, (the best walk in The Lakes ?)

Wastwater Screes. Scene of a desperate gully climb in the sixties with my commenter "gimmer". We finished in the dark

Eskdale Green etc - Plenty here for RR, especially the bridge (NY 172 004)

Hardknotts Pass

Dunnerdale - more climbing nostalgia - especially Wallowbarrow Crag.

Booths at Milnthorpe to replenish certain supplies consumed the previous evening.

On Windermere ferry - any ideas about "authentic walking" definition?

The Bowderstone

Ennerdale Lake

Distant nuclear Sellafield and the sea

Wastwater Screes

RR wondering how he dared to leap off this bridge over fifty years ago

RR, NR and CR

At The Fat Badger