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


Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Trumpet blowing

Wednesday 27th January 2021

Brother RR recently posted about “blowing his own trumpet” in relation to his erstwhile journalistic career and identified his winning ways in the business of conducting interviews. Those skills majored on wheedling  information, hopefully beyond that achieved by his competitors.

I was motivated to blow my own trumpet  in similar fashion. However my objectives lay more in  negotiating and selling and maintaining strong customer relationships, so here are two anecdotes.

Along with one of my trainee reps we are sat in the office of a prosperous managing director signing documents for us to finance the purchase of his new Rolls Royce. I produce the agreement for signing which Mr Director studies.

"That isn’t the interest rate you quoted on the phone.”

I know dam well it is and from experience I know he is playing a game.

“I am sure it is.”

I say no more.

 I fire a meaningful glance at my young rep and hope he keeps silent.

The customer stands up and goes down the office and brews us a cup of coffee. He brings it back to us and I reckon at least five minutes has passed in silence - that is a long time, but he who speaks first is generally lost. Mr Director signs the document passing it back to me and pleasantries continue.

I took a  good customer/ managing director and his attractive wife to a splendid old world pub renowned for its good food, comfortable atmosphere enhanced by its long standing reputation. The lunch went well. We did the whole thing, I think finishing up with a drop of Cognac and good coffee. We came outside afterwards and as Mr Director and his wife were getting into their car he said to her

"I’ve got to  go back to the office Dear to sort a couple of things.”

"You’re not. You’re coming home with me.”

That must have been the most successful business lunch I ever conducted. 

Friday, 22 January 2021

Middlebarrow bottom

Friday 22nd January 2021 - Middlebarrow Quarry bottom

As promised I was eager to get back to Middlebarrow Quarry and descend to its floor to explore after my visit on Monday looking down from on high and perilously skirting its rim. Breakfast saw me looking out at one of those days when you would have been cross with yourself if you had not taken advantage: blue sky and comfortable temperature. The only worry I had was the possibility of coming across the Masked Raider hinted at by BC in his comment on Monday's post.

On Monday I negotiated two sections of flooded footpath alongside the railway but after countrywide flooding over the last forty eight hours I decided to avoid that section. I was able to look down and across to that path and the railway from the road today and it was just a large lake. There is no way I could have got through without a dinghy.

I skirted the open front of the quarry with its off-putting security fencing and climbed up the path which follows the southern edge of the quarry. I met a walker coming down the other way - she looked even older and less steady than me and had some teetering moments as she passed below while I stood and watched until she was safely down.

I entered the quarry by a long ramp right down to the base. The floor is totally flat. Many silver birch and other thorny species have been planted and have grown up to a couple of feet. I reckon in a few years the quarry floor will be an impenetrable jungle so in that respect I think my visit was timely.

The rock appears to be friable and in climbing terms chossy and I don't think It would be suitable for climbing.  The walls are steep and dramatic when you are close by and higher than the photos convey. Many corvids were circling and chattering high above the rim. It felt like what one would expect for the First Day of Spring.

I came across two beer cans but no other litter. But I then saw what appeared to be an orangey yellow fungus. When I poked it with my stick each one seemed to have been resting on a piece of silver paper, the kind you would see wrapping up a Kit Kat. Has the fungus grown from some strange chemical reaction with the paper, 'twas all a bit odd?

Away in the distance from whence I had walked some kids were having fun on mountain bikes, but by the time I got back there they had gone.

Oh! By the way, I nearly forgot to mention that when I looked up from viewing the "fungus" I was startled by a figure descending the wall nearby - the Masked Raider. Terrified as I was I girded up my loins long enough to take a quick photo but then I was out of there like a rocket blasting off to the moon.

Three in one:Arnside Tower, Arnside Tower Farm, Arnside Knott

Looking through the trees to the path alongside the railway that I walked on Monday, now a lake

The ramp I walked down to get to the quarry bottom

Furthest in to the quarry. The rim left and centre is where I walked triumphantly on Monday

Strange "fungus" with silver paper underneath

Zoom from Silverdale Road to the footpath and the railway line I walked on Monday - the path is on this side of the fencing below the railway

Red - my route on Monday. Blue (there and back) - today. Photo of Mondays path from road was taken from where left red arrow is on the road straight across east to the railway and footpath


What's getting at me these days - here are a few even though I am laying myself open to criticism from others perceiving some of my stuff as their own aberrations. 

Winter wonderland - hopefully for not much longer

emotional rollercoaster - everybody seems to have been on one, especially celebrities 

robust plan - Every politician and all those ostensibly in charge of anything have one

different to - this is now 99.999% universal, in fact I think there is some subversive competition organised to see how many times it can be used in one report - EVEN LAURA KUENSSBURG IS GUILTY

woke - used by Lisa Nandy to prove how "woke" she is, but in disguise attributing it to Biden

staycation - This just puts an image in my mind of hoards of people who previously spent their holidays in Benidorm spreading litter at and invading all the special places I know of and keep quiet about. 

feeding frenzy - Not sure about this one but it seems to be used far too often; perhaps it's just personal but it irritates me

Tuesday, 19 January 2021


You have spent an hour retrieving a long complex piece of writing that you thought had vanished from your computer into the ether, now you have got it back. Or perhaps, against the odds, you have managed to repair a washing machine: I did once!

What is your first impulse?

To rush out and tell somebody.

I have just read this article and have that same urge - you few are my captive audience, but please pass the news on.

My wife Ann was diagnosed with MND in 1994 and died on Boxing Day 1997.

Without going into details I can only say that MND must be just about the most cruel illness in the world.

Amongst all the doom and gloom of Covid and man's suicidal headlong materialistic endeavour to trash the planet there are still good people out there striving to make the world a better place.

Middlebarrow Quarry conquered

 Monday 18th January 2021 - Middlebarrow Quarry

During First Lockdown I found a path partly following the northern rim of this disused quarry, but it then veered off to lead me back to Arnside Tower. I did try to get back to the northern quarry edge but this steep limestone scrub area was impenetrable.

From the railway level crossing near Waterslack the extent of this massive u-shaped bite out of the landscape is apparent. Imbued with my rock-climbing background I am always looking for "a good line." The southern edge sweeps upwards and then round to the back of the U-shape to join  the northern ridge. There is a path which follows that southern ridge but not closely and I have wondered if I could find a way nearer to the edge to follow a more aesthetically pleasing line.

The extract below comes from:

the website which invites people to record individual Ordnance Survey grid squares and in view of the copywrite note I've included that acknowledgement. The entry is from eleven years ago.

Middlebarrow Quarry
This stopped working in 2000 when permission to continue tearing the heart (and most other internal organs) out of Middlebarrow ended. There had been a plan to deepen the floor which may then have extended below sea level and possibly affected local watertables. More recently there have been plans put forward to "develop and promote a wide range of high quality leisure and tourism facilities" (God help us). As it stands the floor of the quarry has been planted with lots of spindly trees and even some buddleias - the local AONB team would have preferred it to re-generate spontaneously from natural seeding. It will take centuries for this hole to blend in!
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Karl and Ali and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Only a few hundred yards from home a dramatic view across the valley opens up with the entry of the river Kent into Morecambe Bay away in the distance. That view is always like a new little surprise to me and much appreciated, it is accentuated by the steep drop immediately in front of the camera looking down Swinnate Road.
Further on I have recently noticed enviously a little red campervan made even more attractive by its pleasing shade of red and curvy outlines.
I am soon following a public footpath alongside and below the railway. I knew it would be sploshy but it was more so than I have seen before and some ingenuity and care was needed to traverse a couple of mini lakes restricted on the left by barbed wire fence and on the right by an electric fence (I didn't test to see if it was live.) I think next time I am out and about locally I will try my welllies. Local walking here does not lend itself too easily to minor quiet lanes and one is compelled to use footpaths more.
After crossing the front opening of the quarry I ascended steeply roughly in line with the southern quarry ridge, but the path then veers off further south through Eaves Wood. I pressed on taking any minor paths to the right sometimes having to retreat  until there was no path but following limestone pavement interspersed with yew, bramble, thorns and all the other indigenous limestone tress and the like. After twenty minutes I suddenly found myself back at a previous point, having walked in an elongated circle. A wire fence barricades the edge of the quarry. I could see a narrow path on the the other side  avoiding all the trees, shrubs and limestone pavement and it was several feet wide and well safe enough, but there was the excitement of  perhaps a two hundred foot drop not far away. I was able to follow that all the way round the bottom rim of the u-shape and then eventually join the northern ridge on the other side. My mission had been accomplished.
Rough going across and down more typical limestone pavement and arboreal terrain had me back on a well established but rocky path skirting round the northern extremities of Holgates caravan park and down to Arnside Tower and then back home on the road.
That was a satisfactory outcome of a local exploration that has been on my list for a while. It would have been an unlikely denouement but for Lockdown Two.

Looking down Swinnate across to where the River Kent enters the bay

A new gate since my last outing here

I walked on the semi-submerged iron gate then did a sort of via ferrata series of moves holding onto the wire fence below the barbed wire and traversing with feet on the less gloopy grass 

I heard the familiar hoot long before. There are about four locations between Silverdale and Arnside stations where they are obliged to sound off

Another demand for invention. I managed without getting my feet wet, but only just

From halfway up the southern ridge of the quarry. You can see the extensive area of floods and reed beds further right recently acquired by RSPB to try and provide more reed bed habitat for bitterns

This and below on the airy path round the bottom of the u-shspe of the quarry:

Always something new. I have never seen this footpath sign before in my area despite me having combed 99.9% of local footpaths (I think.)

The blue dots show the path on the northern edge of the quarry I have previously explored, but it veers away from the edge. There is a good steep path not shown on the map from where it says Waterslack Wood up to where my wanderings are shown, but it then veers off to the south

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Willceal Ice cleats (Ice spikes for shoes)

DO NOT BUY - (they are on Amazon)

willceal Ice Cleats, Ice Grippers Traction Cleats Shoes and Boots Rubber Snow Shoe Spikes Crampons with 10 Steel Studs Cleats Prevent Outdoor Activities from Wrestling (Extra 10 Studs)

Brand: willceal
I wore them once and within quarter of a mile one came off partly. I put it back hoping that was just a blip. I wore them again today for the second time. Three-quarters of the way round my 1.4mile daily exercise route I discovered they had both vanished. I had not the time to go back and search for something that is practically worthless.
Complete waste of money.

When they are in situ they work very well and they come with a complete set of replacement studs which would be fine if they lasted long enough for you to need them.

Below there is 4.5 star review symbol which Blogger will not let me delete and I have no time to spend trying to solve that, suffice to say that is not my opinion.

4.3 out of 5 

Saturday, 9 January 2021

1.4 miles under the microscope

Back in Lockdown again. A daily walk from home may alleviate? Even if  it is only my shorty 1.4 mile circular. Today snow still lies.  Some newly bought grippy things for my feet have me eager like a kid with a new toy to give them a try.  A few yards up my drive and  a glance back reminds me of the gates I made for my neighbour back in the summer. 'Twas an absorbing and pleasurable project and a little smile comes on my face.

Another twenty yards and I am looking down my road at the grand old tree that overhangs; a couple of years ago a large vehicle was unable to pass and had a bad time reversing out of its predicament. Branches have been lopped since.

Only another thirty yards and a large boulder on the lefthand verge forms the end of a raised flower bed. Again, several years ago, my door bell rang and Denise from down the road had inexplicably managed to hit the boulder and ended up with her whole car perched on the flower bed two feet above the height of the road - could I help was the question. How the car was recovered remained a mystery to me but it would have needed some heavy lifting gear combined with much ingenuity. 

My road drops gently for another hundred yards then a steeper short drop to a T-junction gives me a minor panic when there is ice and I worry about going straight on into the wall on the other side. That wall bounds the house of a retired electrician who grudgingly came to do some work for me twenty years ago when I moved in. He was disparaging about the wiring in my house and when I asked him about doing a re-wire he said he wasn't interested. I wouldn't want to be involved with him and an insurance claim for his demolished wall.

A left turn and crossing the road has me looking down the top of the wall which granddaughter Katie has so often walked along even from a very young age - happy days. Katie is nine now!

A few hundred yards further on at the next T-junction our telephone exchange sits with a sort of abandoned atmosphere and a promising contender for worst architecture in Arnside. Across the road red and white safety barriers shroud the box from whence comes my Broadband - that is not unusual, but this time it has been extended to include temporary traffic lights. We have had our problems with Broadband but all has been tranquil for a month or two - perhaps we are in for another period of disruption as they try to identify gremlins in the system?

A right turn and I am passing the playing field where I so often approached from the other side two years ago, or is it more, after picking up Katie from school and I would sit around while she played with her chums. When Katie emerged from the school with her friends there was that great sense of release as they all charged off across to that field for uninhibited play. 

Next we have our modest war memorial and a British Legion flagpole which flies a Union Jack at half mast at approximately monthly intervals. Today, although painted white itself, it contrasts against the background of snow.

Across the road is the private dentist who removed a root for me then telephoned an hour later to tell me they had removed the wrong one. I was invited to go back and have the proper one removed - they generously agreed not to charge me the second time.

A left turn then another left has me climbing steeply up High Knott Road. At the top I look across to the nursing home where my next door neighbour visited her husband daily for a year or so before he died  - I'm not sure how many years ago that was but I bet if I research it will be more than I think.

High Knott Road is open on the left with extensive views across the Kent estuary intermittently obscured by shrubs and trees. The massive enviable houses on the right are elevated higher and must have the advantage of those views uninterrupted - they are the kind of houses you could go for a walk in. 

High Knott Road ends and becomes a track through Redhill Woods managed by National Trust. I notice they have been at it again with their strange obsession for felling trees.

Dog walkers abound. They tend to stop and talk to each other blocking the path - their space extended by dogs held out on leads and I have to creep round the outside "off-road" to get past.

The track exits onto Silverdale Road and straight across is the cemetery with its little chapel now used by Arnside Parish Council as a meeting place. The substantial ornate cast iron gates and railings remind me of a community minded local couple spending much time last summer refurbishing and painting them to pleasing effect, and still pleasing today but now decorated with snow.

There is one more personal resonance as I look down Silverdale Road towards home but that remains a secret. 

The boulder and raised flower bed where that car ended up

Looking across the road Into the electrician's property

Katie's wall

Our lovely telephone exchange, and across the road... Broadband box getting its periodic fix

Katie's playground

War memorial and British Legion flagpole

The incompetent dentists

A bit of rare winter colour

Our local shop. long may they survive

Climbing up High Knott Road towards...

...the nursing home where my neighbour's husband spent his final days

This and next two - enviable houses you could go for a walk in - High Knott Road

Into Redhills Wood - National Trust - the phantom tree fellers

Dog walkers block the path and hinder social distancing

Friday, 8 January 2021



Two women have described how they were surrounded by police, read their rights and fined £200 each after driving five miles to take a walk.

The women were also told the hot drinks they had brought along were not allowed as they were "classed as a picnic".

Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise as long as it is in their "local area".

The police force involved, Derbyshire Police, said driving for exercise was "not in the spirit" of lockdown.

One of the would-be walkers, Jessica Allen, assumed "someone had been murdered" when she arrived at Foremark Reservoir on Wednesday afternoon.

Saturday, 2 January 2021


Lockdown and other circumstances have kept me more at home and I have rediscovered my enjoyment of model making - I did all kinds when I was a teenager but scorned plastic in those days rather shaping and crafting everything myself mainly from balsa wood.

The quality of present day injection moulded plastic kits and the development of highly compatible glues has revolutionised this hobby and it is now big business. You Tube abounds with videos showing how to do in every department in great detail.

I started with the Land Rover for nostalgic reasons but I have always had an affinity and fascination with WW2 aircraft. My second attempt was the De Havilland Mosquito (photos below.) My enjoyment comes from the making and striving to do my best. One of the video experts I watched for beginners told me "the first five models you make will be rubbish" and went on to advise against being tempted by more complicated and expensive kits at the start. 

I am now well on the way to finishing a Mk1 Spitfire. When I look down into the now completed cockpit of the Spitfire it is abundantly clear how starkly functional were  these aircraft, not a shred of comfort anywhere, and I am sure I can detect that mechanical smell: a mixture of oil, aviation fuel, and leather. With both the Mosquito and the Spitfire there is the added attraction of knowing these machines were powered by the legendary Rolls Royce Merlin engine. I am aware that it is not good to romanticise about war and I don't think I do - I have too much respect for all those guys and the horrific attrition rate of the bomber crews. I must do a Lancaster.

There is one particular frustration with plastic modelling. The parts are attached to a plastic framework called a sprue and they have to be severed with a scalpel. With the tiny pieces, if you don't take proper precautions the affect is akin to playing tiddlywinks - a quick click/snap and the piece flies off into orbit rarely to be seen again and much time can be spent searching far and wide possibly on hands and knees and with the aid of a torch so there is a certain amount of physical activity involved.

Photos look better if you click to enlarge especially to see the kind of detail that is now achieved in these kits and the intricacy of painting required

Undercarriage and wings of the Mosquito. All the parts are washed in soapy water to remove injection moulding release agents. The parts are then primed (grey here) using a rattle can. Subsequent painting of the main parts I am doing using an air-brush - that has taken some mastering but I reckon I can now handle it pretty well at the basic level.