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


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Round the Bay (2017)

Friday 24th February '17

Rock climbers and to a lesser extent walkers are always looking for a route (in rock climbing language a "good line")  that satisfies the aesthetic.

My home town of Arnside lies on the edge of the bay designated Milnthorpe Sands on the map where the river Leven flows out into the larger Morecambe Bay. Who wouldn't one want to walk round that bay from Arnside to Grange-over-Sands? No clever answers please.

Fortunately we are blessed with a railway viaduct connecting the stations at Arnside and Grange so the return journey is easily accommodated. I have walked and cycled this route before and it was time yesterday for a repeat.

An early 7:15 am start rewarded me with the morning sun rising to light up the distant snow covered hills of the Lake District, and casting a magic glow across the low-tide sands of our bay. Apart from a few cyclists on the Tarmac sections, over the whole seventeen miles, I only met one pedestrian, a dog walker at the start just out of Arnside providing a brief chat; remarkable.

On a previous "Round the Bay" I was chasing Geocaches and discovered a perfect little bay on the north-west shoreline just before the path leaves the shore to go inland (SD 461 808). There is a gate on the left just before the shore path enters a little cutting, and you descend and veer right to find the bay. There was a cache hidden high up on a mini rockface involving a couple of moves - all very satisfying. That bay is perfectly distanced for a lunch stop on this walk, sheltered and with views back across to your outward journey, and Arnside and the viaduct, and there I passed a pleasant twenty minutes with a sandwich and coffee.

I arrived at Grange station at 2:50 for a train at 3:05 - perfect.

Back home I was able to round off this classic walk with my customary hot bath, now thanks to the new boiler (see  previous post for much discussion about that "Gone toEarth" ) I was able to turn the hot tap on at full and luxuriate, with endless hot water at a proper temperature.

Combi boilers are ok providing you over specify.

Just out of Arnside - old railway embankment - sun has not quite got to work yet

Snow on Lake District hills

Back to Arnside and the viaduct

Following the old railway.
 There is a Geocache high up on one of these walls a bit further on that I didn't have the bottle to climb up to a couple of years ago. I'm waiting for Bowland Climber to be tempted.


Zoom across the bay to Whitbarrow - one of my favourite haunts

River Leven from the A6 near Levens Hall

My perfect lunch-stop bay

Meathop Hall

My Round the Bay coincides with the Cumbria Coastal Way depicted by the red line

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A game changer

Some small thing can happen which you hardly notice, but later proves to have a profound effect, and may even be the turning point for some aspect of your behaviour.

On 19th September 2014, walking across Dartmoor and Exmoor, I stopped for a break.There was a large boulder on the roadside carved out like a seat. Well rested I continued on a track into a mature deciduous wood. A couple of hundred yards in I met the nemesis which later changed my approach to walking, I think forever. It was an innocent branch, nay, ’twas really only a large twig, let’s say eighteen inches long with a three quarter inch diameter. It caught between my two ankles causing a wound about an inch long on my shin. I stuck a plaster on and thought no more about it, and that incident, apart from the aforementioned rest, doesn’t even get a mention in my journal.

That wound took six months to heal with endless visits to my GP with specialist dressings, antibiotics, and then a recurrence of an unpleasant skin affliction on my legs, debatably cellulitis, but none of the medics were sure. I ended up at the hospital seeing the vascular consultant and was informed about the “incompetent” non-return valves in my veins necessitating me daubing my legs with an emollient daily and wearing knee high support stockings for the rest of my life.

Since then I have thankfully been able to continue with ambitious walking, but there are changes. I have lost a lot of confidence on rough ground, and balance and coordination on anything bouldery has deteriorated, and I have accepted, after perilous adventures in Torridon last summer, that such terrain is now out of bounds. But, the main point I want to make is that my more benign general walking has changed. Even on twigless Tarmac roads I am ever vigilant and looking down to ensure there is nothing I am going to trip over, and I have taken to crepe bandaging my shins to give some protection in case anything strikes. I am constantly aware that I just cannot afford to get another injury to a shin.

It may be that all this would have happened without the twig incident because of the veinous degeneration and my advancing years, but in my mind that twig was the game-changing culprit and I can’t get away from it.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Ranticles, with thanks to Two Blondes

Two Blondes posted on this subject today - "The Ranticle":

Okay, it's a new word they've invented with an obvious meaning. Here is the ranticle I made on their blog:

Last night I watched SS-GB because it is based on a Len Deighton book and I am a great fan but had not read that book. I gave it nearly a full hour and then switched off. I had only the vaguest idea of what was going on, and had only been able to understand about forty percent of the dialogue which was mostly whispered, and as for that elderly Scottish guy…. There seems to be a fine line here between acting in this method style and at the same time making the words comprehensible.
“Frustrated”, from Arnside.

Clougha Pike - SD 544 594

Sunday 19th February '17

I have a vague way of mentally categorising walks which is too airy-fairy to detail now, but yesterday I had a gung-ho attitude to the dismal forecast and wanted one that would be medium  distance, medium challenging, and with no emphasis on views which I knew would be restricted. So what about a bit of masochistic moorland yomping?

Some easy footpaths and then two kilometres of road brought me to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Tower* from where I launched off onto the squelchy moorland, in the half light, and cloudy drizzle, supposedly following a path along a fence line.

All of this walk had visibility between a hundred and two hundred metres accompanied by on-and-off rain, and a long middle period of quite heavy stuff. I used the word yomping which I understand to mean walking over rough, footpathless terrain, probably carrying a heavy pack. The path (in name only) didn’t follow the fence line as indicated on the map and for much of the way it was so far off, that worryingly, I couldn’t see the fence through the gloom and kept using the compass and the GPS, and so I squelched on to reach a corner of fence and wall to turn north-west for Clougha Pike. The weather was pretty hostile now and most unwelcoming at the summit where I jibbed at taking photos, my priority being self preservation. Again the map indicated a path following a wall line but this strayed away and then petered out; a better navigator would have picked up the track to the east. The path by the wall was non existent. I was descending perilously on the worst deep heather, tussock grass ever. Every single step had to be tested for thigh depth holes. Going was literally, painfully slow. It became so steep, which wasn’t apparent on the map, that I had to take a long detour. Well, I was getting what I came for, and as so often, managed to turn a benign walk into a minor epic - always good fun to overcome such challenges?

The remaining trek along the road coincided with the walk I did with Pete last Thursday and I arrived back at the car with my top half totally dry thanks to my Paramo jacket, but the Paramo Cascada trousers were not so good. I think they let in water through the long side zips.

Carefully measured and timed:  8.12 miles and 5.33hrs = 1.51 mph reflecting the difficulty of much of the terrain.

I am still using Impressive Art setting

The snowdrops were much more apparent than the green saturation indicates

Jubilee Tower where I peeled off left onto the moor

On map as "Shooters Cairn"
I lost interest in taking photos after this - the cynical may ponder that I turned back from here. Fancy doing Everest and forgetting to take a photo on the summit

Anti-clockwise. Start and finish at blue waymark, bottom of blue triangle - that was my walk with Pete last Thursday

Friday, 17 February 2017


Thursday 17th February '17 (Thursday walk with Pete)

Only just over three miles for this one and I wondered if there would be sufficient material for a post. One kilometre from the start I voiced my concern to Pete as we were passing St Peter's Church which in itself was a dull Victorian gothic revival nonentity, 1860 I think. We both started fantasising. I suggested there may have been a murder there. Pete thought somebody might be locked up in the tower.  My only further resort was to Google on my return. Despite chasing various links, and even being prepared to be inventive, I could find nothing of interest.

On the straight south-west to north-east leg of our triangle we had the ridge of Clougha Pike up on our right which is an extensive unatural jumble of millstone grit boulders; left over evidence of quarrying for quern stones (those used for grinding grain), hence the adjacent village of Quernmore. If that's all the quarrying was used for there must have been a lot of mills or the stones must have worn out quickly?

Next I spotted an unusually coloured, large bird just off the road about a hundred yards away. All of a dither I fumbled my camera from its belt pouch guessing that as always the damn thing would fly off before I could focus (don't laugh fellow blogger Mark). * I got a zoom shot, and we both went into stealth mode walking closer. The bird never moved. I took another zoom. Eventually we were about ten feet from the bird standing on the other side of a wall. It was motionless and I was convinced now that it was an artificial decoy or some kind of model. I shouted and it still didn't move, and then I saw the briefest twitch as it turned its head about three degrees and then back - I wondered if somebody was remote controlling - all very strange - reminds me, the RE teacher (Divinity at Bradford Grammar) put one word on my annual report: "inert."

Back at Café Ambio they seem to increase the size of my flapjack and Pete's apple crumble each time we go, and I would now define my more substantial flapjack as a challenge.
I used the Impressive Art setting on the Panasonic TZ60 again.

*Mark's blog: Beating the Bounds CLICK HERE/    His bird, wildlife and scenery photos are superb.

St Peter's Church Quernmore: plagiarised architecture, no murders and nobody locked up in the tower

The motionless one - those feet don't look a natural colour

This well-to-do farmhouse trashed with solar panels on the roof. The sight gave me a gut-wrenching feel - am I over reacting?
There was a perfect sloping field to the right between the house and the wall where these things could have been located.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Gone to Earth?

Over the last few months my posts have been frequent, but I see my last was on 27th January. I am now getting withdrawal symptoms.

Poor weather has coincided with the days when I had the opportunity to roam, but also, my central heating boiler takes some blame. I had it installed when I bought the house seventeen years ago, and on-and-off it has never been satisfactory. I have spent time researching the pros and cons of a replacement, and dithering about the cost.

One of my mandatory pleasures is to have a soak in a hot bath when I return from the exertions of day’s walking. This wretched boiler only heats water to arguably the required temperature, but only when the flow from the tap is reduced by half. Consequently it takes so long to fill the bath, water has cooled before the bath is filled. I have servicing and repairs covered and over the years had many visits from various heating engineers sent by the insurance company and the boiler is now like the hammer with a new head and a new handle, but still with its incurable, inherent failing. It reminds me of the vascular consultant who looked at my legs and told me the non-return valves in my veins were not living up to their purpose and in his written report to my GP used what is apparently the accepted medical description for this affliction: the valves being “incompetent.”

A new boiler was delivered over a week ago. I have a local plumber who has agreed to install, and it should have been done by now, but I have been waiting unable to cherry pick the good days for a walk.
Phil is an excellent plumber, and a good guy (he did not install the previous boiler) but he has had his own problems with a bad foot (plumbing is a ruinous occupation for the human body, bending, squatting, crawling and stretching in confined and often unpleasant places.) On top of that both his parents are seriously ill and he is having to tend to his father whilst mother is in hospital. Phil did come on Tuesday and fitted a new large radiator in the bathroom and put some wonder chemical into the heating system to dislodge and amalgamate all the gunge prior to draining and flushing. and he hopes to be back on Monday.

So I hope the old fox will be out again soon. It is only seven weeks now to the 10th April when I will be off on a self plotted backpacking trip in England lasting about a month (if all goes well.)