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, 6 January 2017

Tebay Sedbergh road

5th January '17 - Thursday walk with Pete

Still suffering from one of the worst colds I can remember I agreed to my regular walk with Pete, especially as this was forecast as a cloudless, sunny day, albeit very cold, but with the forecast beyond that dire for several days.

The M6 on the way to Tebay was given a landscaping award when it was constructed for the way it sympathetically, if one dare give it that accolade, climbs through the River Lune gorge with the Howgills high on the right, and the railway in between competing for its own engineering achievement.

The river Lune appears to attempt the encirclement of the Howgills, sourcing way up in the north east of those hills, then swinging west, and then south,

Fathers now point out to their children and grandchildren a heart shaped wood on those steep Howgill slopes. It was reputed to be planted by a romantic farmer for his wife, or you can believe other more tragic myths, but the BBC have managed to undermine such heart warming, or heart stopping tales: CLICK FOR BBC  .

Our route today followed the single track road nestling tightly at the foot of the Howgills running underneath the bottom of the heart shaped wood and snaking its way down to Sedbergh. To access the road we parked near its continuation up Borrowdale (the Tebay one) which we walked up a few days ago. The road ducks under the M6, and then immediately under a handsome railway viaduct.

The clear blue sky made visible many vapour trails which I tried to photograph, but my skills in that direction rely on a fluke that occurs one in a hundred to provide an unexpected decent result. With Pete our target is to walk four miles and at the 1.57 miles mark, just short of halfway for our there-and-back trip we dipped and rounded a corner to see a splendid view up Carlin Gill where I had a couple of epic forays in winter many years ago.

Just off the road I spied a small notice on a post and went to investigate. It turned out to be posted by the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) who are the main body for overseeing rock climbing in the UK, and it gave seasonal access restrictions for bird nesting. That usually applies in this context to rock climbing and I was not aware of any worthwhile venues around there, although there are some rocks high up in Carlin Gill where one of my epics occurred. As I went back to the road I slipped on some ice and fell heavily, twisting my knee, and knocking up my thumb very painfully. So much for prudent winter walking on Tarmac. At that point we aborted our four mile target and turned back for the car - total mileage finishing at 3.14 - oh dear!

Back home I had a hot bath, ate half a meal and chucked the rest and went to bed.

This morning I arose at 6:00 to receive granddaughter Katie at 7:00, dropped her off at school at 8:45 and am now back home writing this feeling slightly better, but still a bit sorry for myself.

If you click to enlarge you may better see one of the many vapour trails I tried to photograph, but at least the photo gives some idea of the colours and terrain of the Howgills on this fine day

River Lune looking north

More vapour trails if you enlarge

The heart shaped wood. Its shape is only apparent from the motorway on the other side of the valley

Click to enlarge.
 I never tire of seeing this kind of dales stonework with its skills, patina of moss, and age

Carlin Gill

For my "Signs" collection.
Would you want to?.


  1. This morning I arose a 6.00!!! Was the house on fire?
    Sorry to read about your mishap, hope it's a minor nuisance.

  2. Alan R - On Fridays I take granddaughter to school. My daughter teaches at a school in Barrow and needs to leave Arnside at 7:00 to get to school for 8. Unless I have a civilised, peaceful breakfast I become an even grumpier old man than normal, so I prefer to suffer the earlier rising to have that before K arrives at 7, but it is still hard to bear in winter and the dark.

  3. Sorry to hear about your slip and consequent injuries Conrad and best wishes for a quick recovery. 'Easy' terrain and all that. Perhaps your cold made you slightly less alert than usual?

  4. Afoot - that sounds like a good excuse. Bright sunshine made contrastngly very dark shadow where the small patch of ice had formed.

  5. Hope your Kamikaze slip hasn't left you debilitated.
    Glorious weather.
    Saw the forecast and headed off for one of my two day trips...

  6. BC - LEJOG fill-in? The knee is painful and stiff - time will tell.

  7. LEJOG - No that is too far away, watch post to come.
    You will pull through I'm sure,

  8. Oh dear, Conrad. Hope you're feeling better soon and recover from the fall. As my hubby says, it's not the ice you can see that will get you, but the ice you don't. The weather forecast looked glorious in Cumbria for a couple of days this week. I was planning a short trip to restart my coastal walk, but was bitten by a dog wile out on a local walk, and had to cancel.Best wishes x

  9. Excellent. To the point where I wondered whether you slipped on purpose in an attempt to add physical pizazz to what you considered an eventless day. But it wasn't necessary; during bland times you can always burrow down into your consciousness and come up with unbland stuff.

    Please don't tell me that the slip was an accident. Far better to leave your customers wanting more, as with "and chucked the rest". Immediately I wanted to know what "the rest" consisted of. Again, don't tell me. The sentence is better left unresolved.

    All that remains is to make the prose tauter. Remove the unnecessary ("I can remember", "turned out to be"), re-shape the ponderous ("competing for its own engineering achievement", "but my skills in that direction rely on a fluke that occurs one in a hundred to provide an unexpected decent result." - as well as uncertainties about verb tense, "That usually applies in this context"), question the cliché ("road ducks", "handsome railway viaduct", "splendid view", "epic forays", "spied a small notice", "nestling").

    "Sourcing" makes me shudder. Is it walker-talk?

    This will be the last of these tutorials. All the above is mere detail and might well have been applied on a third read-through. Far more important, you've grasped that a short shuffle through unexceptional territory contains as much potential as anything else. And that speculation is not fibbing and is therefore valid.

    Watched Das Rheingold last night, which is the sort of pretentious, self-regarding PS you'd expect from me. Watched it eagerly having been denied earlier when I discovered The Ring box-set I'd acquired months ago was Blue-Ray and wouldn't play. Abergavenny Music changed it (for normal DVDs) without charge. Tanked up with working-class champagne cocktails (cava not champagne, Tesco brandy instead of cognac) I was vulnerable to revelation and found it in the Rhinemaidens' opening bars. This was simply beautiful music, no question, and I regretted, on behalf of humanity at large, the prejudice that Wagner's music attracts and which I was prone to when younger. A year or so ago I'd watched Die Walküre from the same Ring cycle, by the Met, and for the first time Wagner (assisted by Bryn Terfel as Wotan and Debra Voigt as Brunhilde) moved me. Another revelation. Musical revelations may be a function of age and I hope they happen for you when the knees are hard to bear.

    Not necessarily with Wagner, of course. Driving back from Abergavenny I pressed the wrong touchpad on the new radio and discovered I had DAB. Since BBC Radio 3 was conveniently playing Brahms' Academic Festival Overture, a piece of music I've known since mono-LP days, I sang along to rock-solid sound. Except that when I reached the famous bit at the end, my throat tightened up and stopped my voice. Where would I be without music? I wondered. Happy New Year.

  10. I remember reading Bernard Levin's memorable piece in the Times long ago about 'perfection': settling into his stalls seat at Covent Garden, feeling the warm glow of anticipation of nine or ten hours of the Ring as the trombones announced the Rhine Maidens . . .

    Never a fan of his, but on another occasion, years before the events of '89, he wrote that one day the whole appalling structure of the Soviet system would collapse overnight, as the people realised it had no centre - rotting from within. I believed him and hoped he was right but few others in private or public life did.

  11. Ruth L - Sorry to hear of your dog misfortune. At the risk of being flippant (see my previous post), were you accused of annoying the dog by wearing a rucksack or a hat?


    RR - Some of this has arisen after a period where I was using observations and material on captions under the related photos, but I have now realised that with appropriate effort they can be used more effectively in the continuous narrative of the main text. Certainly on this walk I was conscious that material may be sparse and that was in my mind for much of that walk making mental notes for later use. Your other comments are gratefully noted and I will keep striving to avoid what you almost nit-pickingly regard as clichés - adjectives are a "bloody" nuisance, but sometimes unavoidable and often still unsatisfactory even after serious searching for the most relevant. I often wonder if E.B.White and the like write their stuff effortlessly because of course that's how it comes across when reading.

    Glad you found DAB. I only discovered Cruise Control on the Yeti after three years. I receive DAB on my home system and it seems better quality than most of my CDs. I listened to Gilel's Hammerklavier last night - it's the spaces in between...


    Gimmer - I read your comment before reading RR's and wondered what obscure meanings you had read into my prosaic post. Levin was from "the other side"by your definition I suspect, but even if you are reading, hearing, or seeing top quality, even if it is not to your taste, that quality always shines through, and, if you are honest, has to be appreciated to some extent.

  12. RR - I meant to add that using "sourcing" was a deliberate piece of bait. On my blog a while back there was a fair amount of discussion about Olympic commentators using the word "medal" as a verb giving rise to many similar examples. I wondered if anybody would pick up on it, and sure enough...

  13. Hope the damage from your slip is repairing fast and the cold abating. I nearly went flying off a pavement when I hit a patch of black ice whilst stretching my legs around the village earlier this week, but fortunately managed to do a bit of arm waving to recover myself.

    Regarding your comment above about putting deliberate bait in your blog post, I often include 'and moreover' in my draft posts, just for Mick's reaction upon proof-reading (in Mick's book 'and moreover' is *never* acceptable).

  14. Gayle - Yesterday (one day after the slip) I was concerned about the knee, but today there is fair improvement which I reckon is a sign that nothing has been severely damaged - should be walking again next week if the weather permits. Time to break out the Kahtoola spikes?

    We'll have to start a new game: Spot the Bait.

  15. I think it may be a slip of the pen and I may be wrong, but it's unlikely Bernard Levin was sitting down to hear the whole of The Ring; he was a Wagner enthusiast but that would have been too much of a good thing. I used to read Levin, first as Taper in The Spectator, then in The Times. I wouldn't have said he was a leftie although his coverage of the MacMillan government was both hilarious and savage. He had a talent for nicknames which frequently stuck; one of Mac's cabinet ministers had a tendency to bounce up and down at the Dispatch Box. Levin christened him Springheel Jack and now I can only remember the nickname not the fellow's real name. Later Levin became concerned (with good reason) about the Trots who were running the NUJ - his and my trade union - and he ran a very effective campaign against them.

    I remember a valid point he made about Wagner. The Times had given him what he must have thought was a dream job, to review the major music festivals of Europe. He was sitting outdoors waiting to enter the opera house at Bayreuth and admitted - with great honesty, I thought - to a certain reluctance. The seats at Bayreuth are notoriously hard but it wasn't that; the intellectual prospect wasn't filling him with gaiety, unlike his joyous mood when waiting to see one of the Big Four at Salzburg. He knew, he said, that once the music started all would be OK. For several years that view summarised mine. The fact (see above) that I awaited Rheingold "eagerly" was because I could still remember my comparatively recent reaction to Die Walküre and was expecting - and got - more of the same. The clarity and force of the Met version were irresistible but there are no guarantees; Wagner can be difficult and doesn't always get the direction he needs.

    As to E. B. White, he lived to be 86. I suspect for the first eighty years he worked hard to refine his style; for the final six years he was able to coast, fairly sure the words would come naturally. I have every hope...

  16. RR - may I camp on this blog in response - not a slip of the pen but précis perhaps - better than saying: the four sublime evenings ahead spent immersed in the operas making up the Ring cycle, between eight and ten hours in all, depending on how you measure it: prolix, even for me. To the acolytia, to whose membership I gather you are now admitting, those first bars sum (and summon) up the whole experience.
    I have often felt that extreme brevity can lead to a slightly smug impression of the owning of privileged information: I admit the error.
    Even more than LvB, he needs commitment and artistic insight from the conductor and 'bands' for the most rewarding experience, otherwise one can flounder (and founder).
    I often disagreed with BL but always respected his clarity of mind and generosity of both spirit and wit. One could argue with him passionately but without rancour on either side. Few of his ilk.

  17. Gimmer: Perhaps we should pay Sir Hugh ground rent. I thought it was something like that, hence the qualification in my first sentence, so uncharacteristic of someone who spent his final twenty salaried years as editor, riding rough-shod over other journalists.

    Becoming part of the Wagnerian acolytia has something in common with watching a very slow-growing blossom eventually reach maturity on a cactus. In the seventies my musical guru, Richard Ruffe, (now dead, alas, from hideous motor neurone disease) succeeded in converting me to Richard Strauss operas, then to the Takacs Quartet (vs. the Alban Berg Qt) then to Janacek. But I remained solidly anti-Wagner; didn't like myths for one thing. Then insidiously the worm wriggled its way in. Parsifal caused me to take a backwards step but was compensated for by The Dutchman which was so unbelievably short. Meistersinger was I think the longest of all and not helped by being in a concert version, but by then I was on the slippery slope. All the while The Ring was waiting. As I mention the knot was finally tied last year during a streamed performance of Die Walküre from the Met with Wotan punishing Brunhilde for disobedience and she demurely telling him that the result of her disobedience was what he had secretly wanted. For me it was the sharpest moment ever in any opera: filial and parental obligations tangled into a moral dilemma with the need to be godlike chucked in for good measure. Opera I decided could do anything as well as rend my heart via definitive performances from Terfel and Voigt. Buying the boxed set was a mere bagatelle and absolutely essential.

    It's good to hear from someone who frequently disagreed with BL (as I did) yet continued to read him

  18. Sorry to hear about your misadventure - I hope that you have fully recovered.

    I've done a deal of walking in the dark of late - utilitarian outings aimed at improving my fitness, although I find that I enjoy them - and on frosty mornings I've found that it's on tarmac where the most care is needed.

    The comments on this post have diverged enormously, but are entertaining and informative. I am largely ignorant of Wagner, aside from the most famous passages, but clearly need to put that right. I only know Bernard Levin from his book 'Hannibal's Footsteps', because I will read any book about walking, but this one is superior to most - I would recommend it.

  19. Mark - Me too about the Wagner. As RR has said many people including me have been repelled by the Nazi connection - shame.

    I didn't know about the Levin book - I will track it down - thanks.