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


Thursday, 31 August 2017

A "testing" walk

Note for newcomer blog readers:
I recently found that a regular reader had never noticed the 'comments" feature which is often more interesting than the blog-post itself. Click on "comments" at the bottom of each post, and feel free to make comments; you will not be intruding.

Thursday 31st August 2017 - Thursday walk with Pete

Since aborting my backpacking a week ago last Sunday I have not been for what one would call a walk except for strolling limping round Lowther Castle and spending this last weekend helping Gimmer lay screed at his house project.

The leg is stiff and weak feeling, but not giving much pain in the day, but in bed at night it is very painful and I have had little sleep. The leg/knee is not functioning naturally and I just know it's not going to get better this time.

I have an appointment with my GP next Friday 8th September which I know will result in a formal referral to the hospital, and as my surgeon told me two years ago the knee x-ray showed surgery was advisable then, so everything I have done for the last two years has been a bonus, so I suppose I can't complain. But, the prospect of the best part of a year getting this sorted including waiting for appointments, surgery, and the long exercise programme required afterwards is not a pleasant prospect.

Recently I have written here about my lack of satisfaction with the Panasonic TZ60 camera. That is probably partly due to my lack of expertise not using it to its full potential but from research I can see it does have its limitations. I have no deep knowledge of photography, but if I am to be partly immobilised I would like to take more time and patience out and about to try and get some better results and to that end I will likely be upgrading to a better camera shortly. I have been reading reviews, looking at websites, dithering, changing my mind, seeking advice and generally going through a sort of guilty process familiar to me when deciding to spend a fair amount of money on something that is not really essential.

Just to satisfy myself completely I went for the routine Thursday walk with Pete today - we walked about three miles on quiet roads around Gressingham, and except for the company there was no pleasure in the walking for me, and I now have no doubts about the need to submit.

I took a few macro photos, and I reckon the TZ60 must have overheard my deliberations and smartened itself up to produce one or two quite good results - these have not been doctored in Photoshop Elements. One difficulty with flora is that it blows about in the wind.


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Lowther Castle

In July 2011 I went with my friend "Gimmer" who is a frequent commenter here to Lowther Castle. Gimmer's business produces specialised stone and wood sealing products and Lowther were starting a huge project to make their asset into a major visitor attraction and were seeking advice relevant to Gimmer's expertise. The place was a building site in its early stages.

The histories of the Lowther family and the now roofless castle are more interesting than many of these aristocratic venues and can be studied on various websites.

Work in progress - 2011

Yesterday, six years later I made a return visit to Lowther with daughter Jill and two of her friends and respective offspring, and granddaughter Katie along with her great friend Lily. Lily has come through traumatic medical treatment including  NHS sponsored treatment in the USA and is now a delightful, impish little girl full of character - her and Katie are inseparable.

The transformation at Lowther has been massive. The roofless castle has been restored and made safe and the surrounding areas landscaped, and there is a good informative museum with interesting family artefacts. There is also a café whic we did not visit. A ten minute walk on good paths through attractive landscape brings you to a newly constructed monster wooden castle in the woods with slides, several different levels and all kinds of nooks and crannies and walkways etc. for the children. Develpment is on-goung, and that encourages future visits to observe and benefit from progress. All in all this was an excellent day out.

Lily and Barney

Lily and Katie

Another of my entries for Photographer of the Year
Baby Sailor - he was a star

Katie and Barney

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Berwick Part 2 - slideshow

Here is a Dropbox link to a slideshow with captions of my walk from Weardale to Hellifield.

I have been disappointed with the Panasonic TZ 60. All my photos seem to lack sharpness. On this walk the weather was often dull, and damp and wet which will have some bearing. Most of these photos have been enhanced using Photoshop Elements.

At £200 the Panasonic was not cheap, but how much more do you have to pay to get better results?

CLICK HERE.        click on first thumbnail then go to "Full Screen" at bottom

Monday, 21 August 2017

Changing times

The first ascent of Everest combined with the Queen's coronation heralded hope of regeneration and a new start after WW2. What does the silencing of Big Ben herald?

Berwick 2, summary

Monday 21st August. - Arnside

In general I have to agree with various commenters about my daily distances over the last five days from Weardale to Hellifield. But, those distances are similar to the mileage I was doing during the seven days from Berwick to Weardale before I had the accident, and I had coped with that without marring enjoyment.

The section I have just walked, down, up and over the various dales was not easy to plan for accommodation, but the distances, as I said above, seemed doable. There were two differences though. Firstly there was a lot of road walking, and secondly a number of serious long ascents. Contrary to many fellow walkers I don't mind road walking, especially on quiet lanes, but on this section there was just too much, and with my preference for wearing trail shoes my feet suffered. Apart from my "other" knee becoming painful on the walk into Hellifield I had a large painful blister under my right foot, and various other painful and sore toes, partly from soreness, and partly from arthritis, but I reckon the excessive road walking was a major factor - I have not had those kind of problems for years, 0k old age is creeping up on me, but if you don't try you don't know.

Another factor is recovery time, and with the less arduous walking on the Berwick to Weardale section recovery was fine by next day after a lengthy previous day's walk, but on this new section the increased amount of strenuous ascent prevented such quick recovery and I think by that last day tiredness had compounded  and from the start I had no energy and on top of the painful ailments I was weary as I hobbled into Hellifield.

I am considering  some lightweight boots combined with Sorbothane insoles and keeping mileages down in future to more ameanable distances. I have no definite plans yet for further walking. As I write, only the day after, the knee is much better, but painful feet still persist.

Back in 2014  the knee surgeon suggested me having my "other" knee done which I eventually agreed to but backed out at the last minute. Apart from many many day walks since then I have walked:

3 days         Completing the Cheshire Ring canal walk with BowlandClimber
10 days      North-east coast of Scotland climbing Marilyns
20 days      Macmillan Way 1     Boston to Abbotsbury
10 days      Canal du Midi           Toulouse to Beziers
18.5 days   Macmillan Way 2     Boston to Barmouth

 Jan to April       Outlying Fells some with Bowland Climber, a dozen or more day
March                 Marilyns with caravan from Ledbury - five days
June                    Witches walk - over several days walks with BowlandClimber
July                     SW Coast - Land’s End to Exmouth, 10 days
September          Torridon, caravan - 5 Marilyns

... and some I may have forgotten about. I shall continue to do whatever I can before signing up for the "other" knee.

Lost control of formatting on that second table.

Berwick 2, 6

Sunday August 20th - Settle to Hellifield

I had negotiated breakfast back from 8:30 to 8:00 with the bristly landlady, so I was off for 8:30 after my ticking off about the hot water machine.

A long and steep road climb out of Settle in now much improved weather got things off to a start, but I felt tired and had developed various semi-blister toe afflictions and an increasing pain in my supposedly good knee. From Scaleber Force, which I never saw, I took the track following Brookill Gill Beck (rather than my gpx route) to its end at SD 861589. From there (Hellifield Moor Top) I varied again taking the southward path marked on the map to  arrive at Haw Lane leading into Hellifield. That "path" proved to be a two kilometre thrash through cow trodden gloop and reeds with no hint of a path despite gpx saying I was on track. When I got to the lane the foot problem had intensified as had the right knee with more pain, and I walked very slowly into Hellifield realising there was no way I could walk the eight miles to Barnoldswick where I had booked in at the Fountain Hotel. So, after life saving tea in the new café I hobbled slowly up to the station and caught the train home. By the way, traffic through Hellifield was non-stop, and with apparently little observance of speed limit - I had to cross the road three times and it was a life threatening experience.

A summary and thoughts about these five days of walking will follow, hopefully providing response to my various commenters.

About halfway up the steep road climb out of Settle

Hellifield, Pendle Hill behind. The last part of the cow trodden quagmire route is shown in red leading to the green field and then Hall Lane - click to enlarge

Berwick 2, 5

Saturday 19th August - Raisgill (Langstrothdale) to Settle.

A good breakfast and rain outside. I could have stayed all day to chat with Hazel. At the last minute our conversation uncovered a remarkable coincidence, bearing in mind the isolated location of Raisgill and distances involved - it transpired that when looking for a property ending up with Raisgill it had been a debate between Raisgill and another property nestled under the northern Pennines not far from Appleby which is the same house that my life long friend "gimmer" (frequent commenter here) bought and is refurbishing after Hazel and her husband had opted out.

A long steep climb direct from the back of Raisgill on a well defined  but wet and muddy path, often rocky took me up to Horse Head Gate. There were showers occurring every fifteen minutes or so  and violent wind driving the rain hard onto my light side, but in between bright sunshine and high white fluffy clouds. Although somewhat tiresome that weather added  more drama to the grand views in these Yorkshire Dales - my favourite general area in the UK.

The descent down to Halton Gill was a contrast in terrain, largely on cropped green turf. At one time a mountain biker glided swiftly past me at some speed over very steep, soaking wet turf, rocks, and mud - how they don't crash off is difficult to comprehend.

At Halton Gill there was the delight of Katie's Cuppas - an old farm building with tea/coffee making facilities and cakes etc. with an honesty box, and of course I couldn't resist a morning coffee.

A short walk up a cul-de-sac Tarmac road took me to Foxup, then another fell side climb to Foxup Moor and a traverse before another steep ascent to Plover Hill - all this in the aforementioned lashing rain and gale force wind, interspersed with sunshine and blue sky.

Plover Hill leads across a quagmire to Pen-y-Ghent summit - there must have been twenty people there. The descent was horrific for me down a long series of steep rocky steps streaming with water, and really difficult with my now inreasingly painful knee problems. I was oh so careful, and it took me ages, but safety was the priority.

At the meeting with the Ribble Way I varied from my gpx route and walked out to the road. It was getting late and still another four miles to my b and b at Settle - it would have been  after seven before I got there. I walked and decided to hitch. After a mile a car stopped, precariously up a very steep hill and gave me a lift down into Settle.

The Oast Guest House was well appointed and comfortable, but I had already had a slighly bristly phone conversation about their cancellation policy when I'd booked. The lady lived up to that, showing irritation when I asked for the wi-fi code when it was available in my bedroom. Then in the morning I was admonished for using a hot water machine for making a cup of tea before she arrived with my breakfast and of course a pot of tea. I think she had four rooms and all booked and trying to do everything on her own.

Hazel outside Raisgill - it is much more spacious than appears on the photo.

Looking down to Raisgill - the highlighted roof amongst the trees. Birdlife was prolific down there. I sat eating breakfast watching a woodpecker have a long feast on the bird table

Foxup caught in patch of sunlight during my descent to Halton Gill. Note the steep path (steeper than it looks) path where the mountain biker went past at speed. My route went up the left hand fell side above Foxup

Foxup - end of the road, but there is yet another farm at Cosh up another mile long track from Foxup - it must qualify as one of the most isolated anywhere 

Pen-y-Ghent summit

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Berwick 2 - finish

Walked from Settle to Hellifield today. The other knee is playing up and I have foot problems making for no enjoyment, so on train home. Further report to follow after I get home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Berwick 2, 4

Friday 18th August - Gunnerside to Raisgill - Langstrothdale

Brief report here. I'm getting behind with my chores: washing, blogging, booking ahead.
Weather showers quite hard every fifteen minutes, sunshine in between. Huge climb out of Wensleydale. Violent winds. Blew rain hood off rucksack twice. Views and Dales ambience superb. Descent near Askrigg, rocky tracks. Difficult path round farm: obscure descent to stream in gorge through nettles. Arrived Hawes, café, all going well. Disastrous ascent of weather fell. Lost path. Had to climb wall, must have taken me ten minutes, then flogging through rough terrain. Arrival at old Roman road saw me behind schedule. Phoned B and B to say late. They had booked meal at George at Hubberholme. At Beckermonds I tried to ring to get them to come and collect me, but no signal. Got within about a Kilometre and Hazel arrived by car to collect me and lift to George just before cut off time.

Back at Raisgill had very good wide ranging conversation with Hazel. Raisgill is a beautifully refurbished farm house and food, lots home cooked was fabulous. A really top notch B and B.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Berwick 2, 3

Offf to 7:45 start after good breakfast at Cotherstone Cottag - that was an excellent b sn d.

My route varied agai from my gpx route. I continued on the Tees Railway path to its end then did some precision navigation through a series of fields and footpaths to pick up the Teeside Way to Barnard Castle. I then followed the long long climb over The Stang in bright sunshine with a welcome wind even though it was blowing against me. Halfway up I stopped for a rest and I saw a large 4x4go past slowly. After a few minutes they returned saying they were concerned if I was alright. I must have looked half dead on the side of the road.

There was a long descent into Arkengathdale where I stopped and asked for a water refil at a house. The lady was very pleasant and in addition to filling my bottle gave me a n unopened bottle of Buxton water.

Another energy sapping climb out of Arkengarthdale WA tough going, but all the heather is in bloom and there were expansive views in all directions The Dales in general are for me the best parto of England for wild unspoilt (depending how you define that) scenery.

I had phoned ahead to Vivienne, my B and B at Gunnerside with a very rough eta. The last two and a half miles were hard going, not for terrain but because of my tiredness and I was so pleased. To fund Vivienne at the end of road waiting to guide me in.

I've just had very good fish and chip etc (skin removed) at the Kings Head. There is a big party going on and this pub in such a remorse area appears to be thriving. - good news.

Countersett cottage departing from the back this am

Looking back down the Strang road - gives some idea of height gained.

Late afternoon sun across Swaledale

Apologies for any typos. It is not easy doing corrections and very time consuming postin including photos.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Berwick 2, day 2

16th August - Westgate to Cotherstone

Lands Farm was an excellent b and and Mrs Reed was a hero looking after me when her husband had had a terrible accident the day before. They went to see him last night and it looks like it's going to be a long road for recovery - I'm so sorry for them.

I had a long road slog to climb out of Weardale up to Swinehope Head compensated for by magnificent views.

The footpath from there over the moors down to Brownlees was non-existent despite gps telling me I was on it. It was rough tussocky grass all the way and hard going.

I had a welcome pot of tea and a scone at the Brownlees visitor centre. From there I diverted from my gpx route and walked pleasantly down the other side of the River Tees. That really is something of a river with hurrying wild brown water and white foam - I'm not sure what the bedrock is.

Walking up the road south of Middleton-in-Teesdale I suddenly recognised the entrance to the camp site where daughter High Horse brought her Palace tent to give me couple of night's comfort on my LEJOG walk.  Further on I deviated again picking up the old railway track to Romaldskirk, and then again to Cotherstone. It is a good attribute of planning your own route - you don't have to stick to it!

I reckon I'd done about 18 miles with a nine and three quarter hour day.

Cotherstone Cottage is an Air b an b and Rachel and Graham couldn't have made me more welcome including provision of a meal - home made Cottage Pie, and veg including delicious cabbage from the allotment. That was finished off with home made gooseberry crumble and cream. Excellent. I am now sat in a very comfortable sitting room ( for my use only) but will now have to back upstairs to try and some photos to this post.


The long haul up out of Weardale- bu splendid views

Crossing the Tees at Brownlees

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Berwick 2 day 1

Tuesday 15th August

2:30 pm

This is the first day of the resumption of my walk from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Castle Cary in Somerset. I fell seven days into the walk and broke my arm.

I am now in Lands Farm b and b at Westgate in Weardale. That was my intended overnight on the day I fell, but I ended up waiting four hours for an ambulance at the Hare and Hounds pub instead. I will be eating there tonight and renewing contact, and then starting the walk proper tomorrow morning.

Daughter Jill (High Horse) drove me up here, but I received a phone call from Lands Farm at 8:00am this morning saying that the farmer had suffered a severe accident with a quad bike and was in hospital undergoing surgery. His wife needed to know what time I would arrive so she could square that with a potential hospital visit. I will conclude this day's report after the pub tonight.

7:00 pm

The Hare and Hounds brew their own beer. I have renewed acquaintance with the landlord Colin, and Alli, one of the two angels who looked after me has turned up - Cathy is expected later. Before leaving home I had a blog exchange with Mike Knipe who I had discovered may be well known at the pub. I was not wrong! Colin had tales to tell! Mike had predicted game pie and I have just demolished a good helping, along with a pint of Wear Wulf (Weardale) get it? And Cath has now arrived. What splendid food and exceptional beer. A great start to my resumed walk. Looking forward to tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Westgate, Weardale

Monday, 14 August 2017

Keepin' t’band in t’nick

Sunday 13th August 2017

I don't believe much in carrying a rucksack full of bricks over twenty miles to train for  epic walks. Some years ago I spent time training in the gym - the only benefit was that I met my old friend Pete there after we had not seen each other for over thirty years; he then accompanied me on thirty or so Munros, and we have been walking together ever-since. I decided that the best training for walking is walking, so for the last couple of years I have tried to walk on a modest, but regular basis, especially through the winters. So today's walk was a matter of continuing that concept to maintain a level of fitness, and avoid lack of stamina when I have longer days which I anticipate on resumption next Wednesday of my earlier backpacking trip. Such walks, I hasten to add, are not just for worshipping the god of fitness, but for pure enjoyment. Brother RR will not be amused by my atavistic use of Yorkshire dialect in the title to this post.

There is a large area north of the A685 Tebay to Kirkby Stephen road including Crosby Garrett Fell and Great Asby Scar (a superb limestone plateau) that I have only occasionally visited. There are many footpaths and tracks and  minor minor roads, and a mixture of moorland and fell providing superb peaceful walking.

I was off from the car at 9:00am tackling a couple of kilometres of road first and even that was enhanced by the now blooming heather which I reckon is my favourite flora. It was then onto mainly green tracks with enticing views into the northern end of the Howgills, and then a re-visit to Nettle Hill last visited 11th February 2010 with Pete during my trig point campaign. This time I was able to spot the house recently bought by a friend nestling under the northern Pennines exactly 9.91 miles away in a straight line.

Return up the valley of Potts Beck was typical of the limestone scenery that I love. I dawdled, stopped for munchies and coffee, and as I was climbing out of the valley I sat on large stone for perhaps ten minutes. I decided to listen intently - there was not a sound except for the odd insect buzzing past me, then I heard a melodious, distant clinking and tracked it down to the scree covered opposite valley side - a group of sheep were disturbing the scree as they tried to munch the lower leaves of some trees.

I was all too soon back to the car.



Just before turning off left onto grassy green tracks - looking into the northern end of the Howgills

Nettle Hill

Zoom to northern Pennines ten miles away

Typical old dales lanes with twisty dry-stone walls - walking at its best

Potts Beck- gurgling, tumbling and sometimes serene clear brown peat water

Looking back down Potts Beck 

Zoom to these guys clinking the limestone - a pleasant and melodious sound


Irritated of Arnside has a new little grumble.

TV commentators often use a phrase which takes the fancy of their colleagues and tout-à-coup they are all using it - the latest:

The commentator observing Mo Farah going for it - "There goes  Mo, doing what he does best"

On top of that every body is "going forward" these days.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Picking the bones out of Winmarleigh

Thursday walk with Pete - 10th August 2017

An earlier start than usual - I had a follow-up appointment with the orthopaedic guy at Lancaster hospital at 10:05am. A little NHS tip here but it's a bit of a gamble: we turned up about twenty minutes early and I was seen almost straightaway and bundled off for an x-ray. All in all we were out and on our way by 10:30. Mr Kumar was satisfied with my progress but has referred me for a nerve test because my little finger is still numb. I asked him if I may take a photo of my x-ray on the screen on his desk, and although not strictly allowable he agreed to look briefly in the other direction, so here is the ghoulish picture which I have never previously had the chance to peruse at length.

I think the break was where the upper multiple screws are, but it's apparent that it was necessary to screw into the ball joint and profile the two plates to follow the bone's contours. I understand that getting absolutely the correct torque on the screws is critical. I notice that in keeping with backpacking practice "ultralight" plates with holes drilled out for lightness were used.

After all that, and our early start we agreed that a bacon butty had been earned so we drove off to Booths supermarket café in Garstang - for foreigners: Booths is the northern version of Waitrose (said he snobbishly).

We had a pleasant circular walk incorporating the unremarkable village of Winmarleigh; well there is Winmarleigh Hall which has set up a sort of English version of the American "summer camp" where you can get rid of the kids for the summer holidays.

On what I predicted would be quiet country lanes, we were passed several times by life threatening tractors pulling fifteen foot high trailers of silage. Two thirds of our triangle was on single track road with grass growing in the middle, and I soon worked out, later confirmed by a friendly farmer at Ford Green, that the tractors were using a circular route to avoid each other coming the other way on the narrow lanes.

Finishing off at Café Ambio I am sad to report that today, and on our visit last week, their flapjack has taken a downturn. Oats are a principal ingredient, but the quantity seems to have increased, so instead of a pleasant sticky conglomeration we now have something that doesn't bind properly and falls apart, and because of the superfluity of oats one has a more stodgy experience contrasting with the original treacly munchiness. Pete has carrot cake so is not concerned about this problem, but I can see some drastic decision looming here.

School holidays? Problem solved (if you can afford it)

Waiting for Godot.
Below - zoom to foliage for identification please

Start/finish at "19 - spot height" top right - anti-clockwise

Monday, 7 August 2017


Sunday 6th August '17

There have been pop-up ads all over the Internet from Banggood featuring various outdoory items including: Unisex Mens Summer Cotton Washed Bucket Hats Mesh Breathable Outdoor Sunshade Cap (1150535) £7.42  

I was sucked in. It looked well designed from a good cotton material with a mesh ventilation feature. Delivery took over two weeks which was not a good omen. Yesterday it went on trial on a ten mile circuit of Semerwater. I'm afraid it will be consigned to my Davy Jone's Locker of "it seemed like a good idea at the time"  items.

The brim is much wider (and very floppy) than any similar chapeau I have ever seen and forward vision is thus restricted. Even if it is pushed well back it just comes forward again. In addition it does not fit properly  leaving one with a sense of insecurity even without any wind for which a chin strap is provided, but one should only need to use that when wind intensity dictates. The fitting is not remedied by the tightening system, it is more a matter of the way the hat is tailored. Pity.

Contrary to forecast Sunday was dismal with dampness in the air and full-on rain for the last hour. I had only walked twenty yards from the car before I had my first encounter - a retired farmer on a quad-bike parked up and taking in the view of Semerwater from on high, and now employed by local farmers as a mole catcher. He was interesting and pleasant to chat to and obviously appreciated the surroundings, but I know little about how much nuisance moles can be, but it seems sad that we should go around exterminating so much wildlife.

This was a splendid walk in classic Yorkshire Dales limestone country that so much feeds my soul. The slog up Bardale seemed longer than three miles shown on a finger post at Marsett, but it is a wonderful wild dale with a lively steam with swirling brown peat water and intermittent waterfalls, all running over sheets of limestone bedrock.

A short trek down the road from Bardale Head brought me onto the old unsurfaced Roman road that runs straight down to Hawes - I will be coming back in the other direction on part of this during my forthcoming long walk in a week or so - note the pink route on the map.

There were many trials bike motor cyclists whizzing up and own and less frequently 4 x 4s. One of the latter was parked up and I spotted something white above the vehicle and I thought it was a radio ham with a white flag on the top of an aerial - I have often seen these guys at high points on walks. But this guy was flying a drone and trying to teach it to follow his Land Rover, and after a brief chat he jumped in and set off followed (I think) by his faithful drone.

It was shortly after this that I deployed the new brolly (see previous post). As predicted by commenters it cannot easily be used in conjunction with walking poles. I found it not so good on the loose and rocky terrain descending quite steeply where I had more need for the poles than the brolly, but when I reached the Tarmac road it was good for those couple of miles back to the car - it will not be consigned to the "locker."  On a long Tarmac stretch, or other easy terrain I would value its advantages  enough to strap the poles to the rucksack and walk without - we shall see - it will be going with me on the a5th August.

The ex-farmer mole catcher on his quad-bike looking over Semerwater.
My route went round the far shore than up into the hills beyond

Stalling Busk ruined church



Bardale beck. The stream ran down into a mini gorge and waterfall (un-photographable) - see next photo


Back down Bardale to Semerwater with Addlebrough above

The drone enthusiast, hopefully with his drone following

Start/finish at Contersett, top right - clockwise