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


Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Sunset on the Knott.

Monday 27th April 2020 (Day 34 of Lockdown)

First of all a bit of a rant.

New guidance from the Government to the College of Policing suggests it may be ok to drive for exercise if the driving takes less time than the exercise. We all know with common sense what that means but the loose way it is worded could lead to misinterpretation. Some may take advantage: "Well, I'm going to drive to John 'o Groats and walk to Land's End." Apart from"intelligent idiots" flouting the spirit of the advice others, even more idiotic, will take it literally as has happened in the USA with people believing Trump that drinking disinfectant may eliminate C.

Responsible administrators should be able to express themselves more explicitly to avoid this kind of misunderstanding and we should expect better from them than this.

Here is a no-nonsense article from the British Mountaineering Council written with the kind of clarity that seems to be lacking from other sources.

New guidance from the College of Policing, which was widely reported last week, seemed to suggest that it was possible to drive for a short time in order to exercise for a longer time. With no definition of what this exercise means, does this now mean that driving for 20 mins (for example) to go bouldering (for instance) is lawful? We think this is not necessarily the case.
This new guidance does not change the regulations: it appears to only apply to England and is aimed at advising police forces on how police officers should be enforcing the law on the ground.  Ultimately, it will be down to police officers and the courts on what they deem to be a ‘reasonable excuse to not be at home’, as stated in the regulations. As with any new laws, until tested at a court, and case law is established, the nuances of interpretation are unclear.


On a recent post my commenter Gimmer set us a puzzle and I have been asked by one or two people if we can have the answer. It seems that I and my friends and acquaintances here do not move in the same esoteric milieu as the members of the Round Britain Quiz team back in 1952.

Here's a question from an edition of Round Britain Quiz from 1952: what has one of the best views of Rum not got to do with the night sleeper to Inverness ?(NB Sir Hugh is disbarred from answering)

Can we have the answer please Gimmer?


I keep trying to find variations on the daily routine that I have now established, so instead of signing off to TV from the Six 'o Clock News onwards I checked the time of sunset and set off up the Knott. I arrived at the best viewpoint about five minutes before the sun disappeared behind the ridge of hills across the bay. I was surprised at how quickly the disappearance happened but I did get one or two shots first then to more surprise I realised that there was still interesting light for more worthwhile shots. I only have a point and shoot compact and wasn't using a tripod so I had no great expectations but was modestly pleased with the results. One thing I noticed when looking at the photos back home was the fact that I had not been holding the camera level which is much more obvious when you have extensive shoreline in a photo and I have had to spend some time "free rotating" with Photoshop Elements to prevent all the our local water running back out into Morecambe Bay.

Click first photo to enlarge for slideshow

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Poem - Exploration (2)

After a few suggestions from a couple of friends I have rewritten the poem and there is a Dropbox link at the bottom if you want to hear me reading it.


My road from home stretches,
Like an airstrip long abandoned from their war
And now unpeopled until,
Way ahead man and dog approach,
And switch kerbs with marked intention:
Two ships avoiding collision on the sea.
Just a manoeuvre avoiding the unseen,
“Social Distancing” it is called.

We pass at regulation distance
Swapping our pleasantries, a sort of code,
To say,
“We are all in this together” 
And must obey.

The cemetery gates are locked,
Joe wouldn’t have approved.
Sadly he recently passed that way.

Right at the Cemetery onto the limestone path.
Climb towards the Knott.
Years away on distant tracks
Kept me from this home terrain.
New paths abound, and now I can pretend
I am exploring happily again.

Listen. A new kind of silence, 
Then exuberant birdsong interrupts, 
And squirrels scamper tamely under trees,
As unaccustomed peace and sunshine’s warmth
Nurture the springtime urge.

The path is steeper, breath comes harder, 
As I  push to gain some form.
This now becomes my war as I reach the Knott,
But am I really going to get the chance
To explore again without pretence 
Far away from home?

Wednesday, 22 April 2020


Afootinthehills who comments here asked me to publish details of the Hamish McInnes/Ian Clough snow and ice course I attended in Glencoe back in 1969 after I had alluded to that event after watching a fascinating documentary last night on BBC Scotland - First Ascent. The programme was a self narration by Hamish McInnes detailing his life. I highly recommend it - I think it should still be available on iPlayer or whatever.

Hamish is a renowned Scottish rock climber and was also a pivotal member on several very serious Himalayan expeditions. He is a seminal equipment designer re-defining the design of ice climbing equipment and laying the foundations of modern day Mountain Rescue including the design of the standard stretcher which I think is still being used today. 

Ian Clough was known to me slightly as a fellow member of the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club back in the 60s snd his younger brother Peter was in my form at Bradford Grammar School. Ian was another professional climber who teamed up with Hamish in Glencoe and they did many first ascents together. Ian was, and I don't say this lightly, one of the nicest people I have met during my life. Unfortunately Ian was killed on the last day of the Bonnington Annapurna expedition (1970) by a collapsing ice serac.

The doings of these two and their contemporaries in British rock climbing, and alpine and Himalayan epics are legendary to a monumental degree - just have look at Wikipedia.

So, by chance, years ago I started writing up details of my own modest doings and have been able to lift the relevant stuff about my 1969 few days in Glencoe with these two legends.


I suppose most people would choose their heroes from the ranks of the famous, and they would never know them personally, and it may well be a great disappointment if that were to happen, but I include one or two here, I hope with sufficient justification. First of all I want to recall an event in 1969 which produced a clear hero for me, and taught me something else I have never forgotten.

The event was a snow and ice climbing course in Glencoe run by Hamish McInnes and Ian Clough which ran over a period of a few days. There were about eight of us on the course, and I now only remember three in particular. We all assembled at, and stayed in a bunkhouse in Glencoe. At that time I was twenty nine years old. I drove to this event in my Volkswagen 1300 Beetle, and picked up a hitchhiker on the side of Loch Lomond, who turned out to be heading for the same course. This guy was a few years younger than me. Although it is not relevant to this story, coming round a bend in the road we came across an accident. An elderly lady had been driving from the opposite direction, and her car was upside down on the side of the road. Other people were already in attendance and help had been called, and the lady was not injured, but I was amused because she kept saying repeatedly,
“I wasn’t going too fast was I?”

My hitchhiker was a trifle arrogant, and I did not particularly take to him, but he did convey that he was an experienced climber of some ability. At the bunkhouse the next person who remains in the memory was another even younger lad who seemed to be clumsy and inept, but always willing to do more than his share of work, and make brews for everybody. I don’t think he did this to curry favour – he was just a decent sort of guy. The third person was a small fiftyish guy who turned out to be a bank manger and had no previous climbing experience at all - my immediate thoughts were that hewas too old and would prove to be a liability on the hill.*

There was not really enough snow and ice for the purposes of the course, and on the first day we were sent off on a navigation exercise across some wilderness in foul weather.

The second day we were taken up into The Lost Valley in Glencoe to do a mixed snow and rock climb which Hamish said was a second ascent. We ascended a steep snow gully, then broke out onto the righthand rock wall which was sparsely snow adorned. Halfway up this wall the young inept one lost one of his crampons, arising,I suppose, from not having properly strapped them which was predictable from previous observation of this character. We watched as the crampon fell down our previously climbed snow gully for about a hundred feet. We all knew that somebody would have to retrieve it, and everybody seemed to hesitate, and nobody wanted to volunteer, but unnoticed at first, the fiftyish “old” inexperienced bank manager had unroped and set off - he retrieved the item in a competent and modest manner, and I think we all felt a bit ashamed that we had held back and let this chap do the business.

At the end of this day my hitchhiker was muttering that the course was not hard enough. The next morning we assembled to meet Hamish and Ian. I saw Ian beckon to the hitchhiker and they went off together, and the rest of us went off up Bidean nam Bian with Hamish. I suspect Ian took that guy up some desperate climb and scared the hell out of him. All I know is that he was very quiet and subdued for the rest of the time.

My hero of course was the bank manager. The lesson I learnt, which I know is a cliché, is never to judge people on first acquaintance, and I have tried to abide by this ever-since. I am not saying that first impressions are always wrong or right, but it is always worth taking a step back and observing before making radical judgements.

* Pereception of age I now realise is proportional to one's own age at the time!

Monday, 20 April 2020



My road from home stretches,
An airstrip long abandoned from the war.
But no!
Way ahead man and dog approach, 
They switch kerbs, declared intention
Before I get the chance - like two boats
Ensuring no collision.
But no impending danger here,
Just  a manoeuvre, avoiding the unseen.
“Social distancing"  it’s called. 

We pass at regulation measure but
Swap our pleasantries, a sort of code
To say we know  "we are all in this together." 

The Cemetery Gates are locked - Joe wouldn't have approved,
Sadly, he recently passed that way.

Right at the Cemetry onto the limestone path.
Climb towards the Knott.
Recent years on other tracks kept me from this home terrain.
New paths abound, and now I can pretend
Exploration replaces this well known trail.

Listen! A new kind of silence, 
But more than normal birdsong interrupts, and
Squirrels scamper tamely under trees,
As unaccustomed peace and sunshine’s warmth
Nurture the springtime urge.

The path is steeper, breath comes harder, 
I  push to gain some form.
But am I really going to get the chance
To explore for real again far away from home?

Sunday, 19 April 2020

How to Climb a Mountain and The Raistricks

The media is full of people inventing bizarre ways at home to combat  lockdown. I seem to have a routine that occupies most of  my day and often find myself running out of time at the end of the day to achieve my quasi OCD requirement to have my evening meal ready exactly in time to watch the Six 'o Clock News.

As soon as I realised I would not be going for long walks for a long time I decided to walk a modest local distance every day from home and also to do a ten times repetition up and down my stairs and I have now done that since 25th March.

The stairs were my own idea from the start, but I now find other outdoories have also adopted the staircase challenge and converted it into virtual ascent of their favourite mountain and I now have commenters here suggesting I do the same.

I'm not sure if I have a favourite mountain but I reckon Ladhar Bheinne by Mirror dinghy with outboard from Kinlochhourn to Barrisdale Bay and then the ascent from sea level must be the most likely qualifier, especially as the measured ascent from sea level is unequivocal.


Ladhar Bheinn - 1010 metres  = 3314 ft. rounded up

My stairs: 8ins. rise x 10 = 800 ins. = 67ft rounded up

3314/67 = 50 days rounded up.

I prefer to work in feet, I suppose because that is how I first started looking seriously at OS maps back in the 1950s, and then of course it is the basis for defining Munros.

The revelation that it would take me 50 days to do what we probably did in five or six hours has done little to allay the possible onset of Lockdown Lassitude - ah! a potential new acronym: LL.


If you are still full of optimism and planning new projects for The Resumption have look at a new book/list I  discovered:

Raistricks and Other Hills Over 1000ft. in the Yorkshire Dales by Bernard Peel.

This is a self published  monumental labour of love. Bernard is a retired civil servant and he has identified 242 hills that match his parameters as indicated by the title. The amount of work involved must have been huge with a result to be proud of. There are comprehensive tables, photographs, suggested routes and much more. Even if you do not intend to take on the challenge the book is well worth ever penny of its £10. I obtained it by emailing Bernard direct and doing a bank transfer.


Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Round the Knott, April 2020

13th April 2020 - Tour of Arnside Knott

This is another photo journey of one of the few local walks I can do from home - the idea being to give a continuous impression of the walk with a photo every few hundred yards. The photos are therefore primarily for that purpose rather than attempts to win Photographer of the Year, but I have tried as best I can.

The tour of Arnside Knott, which at 159 metres is the lowest Marilyn is a little classic. Many people who visit Arnside target this summit, not particularly because of its M status, rather for the extensive views over Morecambe Bay to the west across to Grange-over-Sands and the Lake District, and to the south to Morecambe and Heysham Power Station, and the picturesque railway viaduct across the Leven estuary to the north-east.

I have walked to Arnside cemetery and chapel from home.  We are leaving Silverdale Road opposite the chapel into Red Hills Woods. The path to the Knott branches off left where the person is walking. My previous Arnside circular carries straight on from there.

We are now on that left turn

Branching left the path climbs steeply and is a bit loose and rocky - it is a good workout from here  all the way to the Knott if you push hard

This is still steep and emergence from the trees is in sight

Another left fork to take us to double gates, again still steep

Through this gate and immediately right through another to continue climbing on a more open field

Take the upper path here and keep climbing

Up to a gate in the wall just to the right of the lefthand tree

Through the gate and turn right - then on the level

Looking back down this steep field from the gate - a splendid sledging route when we get the occasional suitable snow

A couple of hundred yards up here takes us to the bench and the view.
Today I have not visited the trig point off to the left. There is surprisingly no worthwhile view from there considering its raison d'être

This is the sort of unofficial summit where you can sit and look across to Grange-over-Sands and down to the railway viaduct to the right

Grange and Lake District hills behind

Railway viaduct. I think the trees have gown up here - it was a better view when I first came here twenty years ago

A few yards on from the bench - the lover's tree. One of those legends: two lovers, family disapprove, lovers entwine saplings to proclaim their love. I am amazed that this has survived without vandalism during my twenty years sojourn.

From now we can look south over  the bay to Morecambe. Our route takes a left just past the righthand tree to drop steeply down a narrow rocky path

At this T junction we go left descending towards Silverdale Road after about quarter of a mile. Right goes to the top of Heathwaites
A couple of hundred yards before Silverdale Road we fork left up steep little climb left of gate

We dodge under this magnificent old Yew tree, now with the very steep scree slopes of the Knott on our left.

At the foot of the scree there is this spring, where both my Springers used to stop for a drink, Today it happens to be almost dry. It flows into this perfect polished bowl of limestone, AS WAS, BUT the National Trust in their wisdom put a collar of concrete round the bottom edge to carry a pipe for water to some debatable water tank some distance away. I complained; If you want to read about it including the comments:

I have copied the NT reply at the end of this post.

Here one can bail out onto Silverdale Road but our path continues through the trees to arrive back at the exit opposite the chapel and my start. In the distance reed beds created over the last few years by the RSPB hopefully to attract more nesting Bitterns from nearby Leighton Moss

Another road access but we carry straight on to the finish

Hi Conrad

I’m Ross, one of the NT rangers responsible for managing Arnside Knott.  The mini dam you’ve spotted we constructed last August when the spring was virtually dry in order to create a small reservoir of water.  We’ve then managed to put a 20mm alkathene pipe at the base of the dam and dig that in under the path and away down the slope.  If you’ve spotted the mini dam then I’m guessing you’ve certainly spotted the new water trough just up the slope from the vehicle gate on the bridle path.  The natural spring now feeds this trough.  

Before the installation of this trough grazing was restricted to the far side of the site (i.e. the cattle didn’t want to stray too far from the water supply) but now they can explore this end.  You’ve probably noticed we’ve thinned out some sycamores on the scree slope and beyond had some contractors in thinning out the trees near where it becomes grassier.  This does a few things: it enables the sun to shine on the stone warming it for a variety of invertebrates including the southern wood ant, it exposes bare soil to the warmth allowing pioneer species such as wild strawberry and violets to establish and it links the grassy areas to the water supply, which will hopefully encourage the cattle to roam at this end of the site.

There are some Shetland cattle on as we speak and they’ll be there for a couple of weeks before being moved onto Heathwaite.  They’re a conservation species with the ability to survive on poor forage and, as I’m sure you know, are an essential tool in managing the site for the rare grasses, wildflowers, orchids and associated species that make the Knott so special.

Any other questions feel free to email directly rather than using the Morecambe Bay email as we only check that every week or so.

Kind regards


Thursday, 9 April 2020

High tide at Arnside

Thursday 9th April 2020

A high tide (10.4 metres) was scheduled today at around 2:00pm.

This is not  unusual. We often have a flooded road between Arnside and Milnthorpe at Storth when there is a full moon high tide.

A few years ago our local authority tried to remove our fire engine and share with Milnthorpe - fortunately the potentially flooded road was a factor in saving the day. Today a fire engine would have had little problem, but I have seen times when it may have been a different story.

I did drive about a mile from home and parked on a quiet lane near Storth to walk about another mile to the flood area. I think that is permissible under the current advice and as the car has been stood for over two weeks it needed an airing, but I will not use the car again other than to drive it round the block every couple of weeks. So far since lockdown my only excursions from home have been my daily 1.5 mile walks.

There was noticeably much more traffic on the roads even from yesterday and many cyclists - one gets the feeling that people are erroneously sensing some relaxation of restrictions. That seems to be fuelled by media saying that it is doubtful if that will happen within the next two weeks, whereas it is my perception that there is no likelihood whatsoever of that happening so soon and it shouldn't even be speculated about at the moment.

From Dallam Bridge looking towards the Lake District Kentmere hills. I had meant to get photos of  our Kent estuary with the backdrop of other hills, but it was too hazy to do that justice. I had walked up here from the parked car then walked back down to Storth to see the floods

The road is under water. The ramp to the left goes up to a house

It only occurred to me afterwards that I had PHOTOGRAPHED CHILDREN! 

Oh how I wanted him to fall off in the middle, well, not really?

Different styles - this one was gung-ho, others took the gentle approach - everybody I saw got through okay and only one turned back at the beginning

That is the road up to Storth, the main road alongside the water is off to the right. The kids were having a ball

That is a waterside footpath
I have never taken well to manipulating my iPhone for taking photos but my son W. took this dawn break a couple of mornings ago with his iPhone. Ok, it's not professional but the iPhone has handled this difficult lighting scene remarkably well. It puts to shame my dismal attempts to photograph the pink moon last night with my Panasonic. W. said that he waited for the sun to appear and almost instantaneously the dawn chorus began.