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, 29 June 2021

Circuit from Helton

 Monday 28th June 2021 - Helton (NY 510 220) - approximately 6 miles

The central Lake District is becoming a no-go area as far as I am concerned particularly because of parking difficulty and long traffic queues. I prefer to dabble around the perimeter, even so...

...if you look at the map I set off anti-clockwise from Helton and had expected that to be on a quiet country lane. Until I branched off it was perilous with fast cars coming from both directions at least once a minute and that combined with blind bends and no footway had me dodging every so often from one side to the other.

Away south and to my left Knipe Scar dominated. I extended my map to let readers see Ordnance Survey making a thing about stone circles and the like up there . I visited a year or two ago because it is one of Wainwright's Outlying Fells. I was much looking forward to seeing those remains. There was nothing to see, just a figment of archaeologist's imaginations. My friend Bowland Climber also visited on his own and was similarly disappointed and we have had a mutual laugh about this oft encountered feature of OS maps.. I passed a footpath sign for the Ullswater Way and saw its continuation later up on the other side of the valley on my return route.

Even as I turned off onto the quieter lane two heavy road maintenance vehicles followed with me having to dodge smartly. There was also an amateurish sign  displaying the letters LRSOC which I am pretty sure refers to Land Rover Series One Club.

The quiet lane lead enchantingly down to a bridge over Hellondale Beck which flows into Haweswater Beck just below the foot of Knipe Scar. Here the two maintenance vehicles were parked bent on a mission the purpose of which I did not discover. The two hi-viz jackets had an earnest demeanour and were not for stopping for a chat.

From here the road climbed steadily gaining about 500 feet with ever improving views of this Lake District hinterland.

Anticipating quiet lanes I was prepared for the major part of this walk being on tarmac but now I branched off onto a track which found its way round the head of the valley to link up with more tarmac running at an elevated level on the other side of the valley. A group of fell ponies barred  my way at one point but I was able to divert a few yards and avoid them. I made a slight error descending wrongly to the higher reaches of Hellondale Beck and had to retrace, see the short blue route on the map below.

As I entered the farm to rejoin tarmac on the return route a group of girls were tending to some good looking horses and they cheerfully let me negotiate their little corral but I was as bit wary as I passed to the rear of a beast of many hands fearing a possible quick back-heel.

Further down the road I sat on a boulder for my coffee and and pasty and an almond slice bought fresh from my local bakery on my way from home. The mounted horsey girls all came past at a leisurely pace and gave me cheery waves. Further on the road the Ullswater Way crossed heading north towards Load Pot Hill I think. I diverted a little from the road to investigate an uninspiring standing stone.

A steepish descent had me looking down into Helton where I sat for some time on a welcome bench soaking the sunshine and the peaceful surroundings before returning to my car.


Looking back at my parked car as I set off on the busy road

Knipe Scar - scene of the non-doing stone circle

Ullswater Way (must investigate)

Its last home?

Off onto a quieter lane

Dropping down to Hellondale Beck

Hellondale Beck, and below

Looking across to my return route passing through the farm and close to the row of cottages

This was along way off and I thought it was a large bird of prey perched, but the TZ80 zoom disappointed on this occasion

I was able to short cut to follow my route along the wall exiting left beyond the ponies

Hellondale Beck. I was off route and had to retrace

Just an arty photo

The girls and their horses after I had safely passed through

A bit of Lake District ambience

Ullswater Way again

Blencathra - 12 miles straight-line

Once you've seen one standing stone...

A welcome prolonged stay just above Helton village. I know nothing of the duck with its repaired foot

Anti-clockwise from Helton. My slight navigation error is at  furthest west (blue track)


Monday, 21 June 2021

Javelin (cockpit)

After skippering the Severn Class lifeboat through many daring rescues I have now become a Gloster Javelin pilot, an unrealistic ambition in my schoolboy days.

I may be changing my blogonym to Mitty.

The cockpit has been assembled and painted and all the gadgetry highlighted. The seats are finished but not glued in on the photo below. I added some seat belts that are not included in the kit.


Cockpit before seats added. With seats below.
 (for a reason I can't determine this photo does not come into the slideshow when you click to enlarge)

Note my added seat harnesses


Saturday, 19 June 2021

Llangollen Canal Walk

Monday 14th June to Thursday 17th June 2021
Llangollen Canal Walk - 49 miles.

This canal dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s and was used for transporting iron and coal, but is now perhaps the most popular leisure canal in the country. For my overseas readers: the original steel hulled narrow boats have been modified to provide well equipped leisure craft with a sort of cult following amongst the private owners as well as many companies offering craft for holiday hire. The canal's history is complicated with its interconnection with other canals but suffice to say it links  with the main English canal system - there is much interesting background in the Wikipedia article.

After Covid restrictions a flat fifty mile walk of four to five days seemed like a good way of easing back into longer distance, multi-day walking so I could find out if my now octogenarian frame could still take it.

I prevaricated about taking a tent and/or cooking equipment. I decided to ditch the latter, but on reflection even that saving left me with a pack that was uncomfortably heavy. That was partly due to my paranoia at the possibility of going hungry influencing me to stock up with quite lot of heavy victuals from Morrisons in Nantwich which I carried for the whole journey because I was finding alternatives and stupidly preserving the original stuff in case of emergency.  I also carried more than usual water in consideration of the very hot weather throughout.There was much that I carried and not used including my walking poles which remained strapped to my rucksack .

Day 1

I had intended to post daily on the blog using my iPhone (on previous walks I have used my iPad Mini which is hard work but just feasible.) After the first attempt resulting in more typos than correct text I gave it up as bad job and am now writing up from home and below is the translation and edited version of that first attempt.

Monday 14th May 2021

"Not many camping sites up there."

I am so addressed by an elderly gent as I walked up a busy street in Nantwich. I had just arrived on the 9:17 am train. I'm not sure what he meant by up there. I had shopped at Morrisons and marched on to ascend to the aqueduct about a mile from Nantwich centre which marks the start of this forty something mile walk There is a damp fizzle in the air.Tthe canal is busy with boats. I decide to record  quirky boat names. I have chatted with numerous boat people.

Endeavour proved disappointingly to originate from an Inspector Morse novel and not Shackleton. I correctly identified Bright Water with Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Waster of otter fame. Moving on to science I was beaten by Coriolis.The owner was a retired educated engineer who tried to explain the connection with this French mathematician - something to do with not ending up on your travels where you had intended, but like listening to Brian Cox I was lost not far from the start. I have now arrived at the Cotton Arms and campsite at Wrenbury-cum-Frith where I had booked a meal for 7:00. I am now lying uncomfortably in my tent at 3:30 typing this on the iPhone with difficulty.Oh! the sun came out this afternoon. That is a pleasant contrast from the drab weather from this morning.

The standard pub menu in the Cotton Arms left me with the inevitable, hopefully safe choice of fish and chips. I have to say that turned out to be as good as it gets with very crispy light batter with no inner pap and succulent white flakers of fish.

I have a RAB Neutrino sleeping bag (ok RR, I can't help these names and I didn't find myself in two different places at the same time.) The Neutrino is a summer, down filled bag which was not up to this cold early summer night.

Day 2 - Tuesday.

Breakfast - two mini pork pies and shortbread biscuits with a swig of water. Off to a good start at 8:00 am.

I was lazered with hot sunshine and my pack was just that bit too heavy. No matter, the canal runs through the best of green English countryside and with many twists and turns of the canal the scene changed frequently like a slideshow presentation. I logged quirky boat names which can be seen on the slideshow link at the end of this post along with comments and interpretations. A footpath way-mark showed me the point where I had arrived at this canal on my last punishing day of the Sandstone Trail and my final stretch into Whitchurch to catch the train home. That is described at the end of a  long multi-day post: CLICK IF YOU WANT

It seems that my long walks these days inevitably coincide somewhere with previous ones. Later I must have passed a point where I crossed the Llangollen Canal on my Welsh Boundary Walk but I didn't recognise it and my records are not detailed enough. If I had my time over I would keep more detail of my doings.

I had a surprise stop at a Texaco station near Grindley Brook where the canal coincides with the A5. I had a good machine coffee and more impulsive food purchases to add to my burden.

Further on a well populated canal-side café appeared. I din't really feel like food, but tea was the tempter. I had a disgustingly soggy bacon butty and a sickly chocolate brownie, but the tea was as a life saver. Cafés are rare and it is hard not to take advantage when one presents itself.

I had no fixed arrangement for my night stop but learned of a posh, adults only caravan site at Hampton Bank. That turned out to be a well appointed private farm site. I was graciously given permission to camp. I had a triple sandwich pack and some biscuits. After eating  a caravaner from one of only two on the site came across and invited me for beer and an evening's chat along with the farmer - I opted for tea and sat with them having pleasant conversation until dusk.

Next morning I was offered and accepted tea by the farmer's wife before I departed at 8:00am.

Day 3

Another incredibly hot day. At 49 miles I thought the walk would take 4.5 days. By now I had eaten into the average required to achieve that and it was now becoming an intriguing possibility that I may finish within four days thus saving a fourth overnight.

Ellesmere Tunnel was interesting. I plodded through not knowing where my feet were  landing and fearing a  sudden trip into some hole in the concrete path. I was illuminated some of the way by a boat passing through, but not enough to see where my feet were going.

Further on a huge tree had fallen across the towing path and at first it looked almost unsurmountable. A young cyclist arrived and between us we hacked our way through, he encumbered by carrying his lightweight carbon fibre bike. He was on his way to Llangollen and said he would see me again on his return which he did later in the day.

I saw an object at distance bobbing up and down in the canal. It looked like a mini Loch Ness Monster and I wondered if it was a baby otter or an undiscovered species of mammal. I hurriedly and nervously got the camera to bear and struggled to latch on with a long zoom . It turned out to be a floating beer bottle.

I arrived at the pub at Hindford, now much hot and bothered and concerned about finding accommodation. I was allowed to use their WiFi and Identified the Moreton Park Hotel at Weston Rhyn and booked a room. That was another six kilometres which put me well ahead of my average target and I then knew I would be able to finish the walk within the four days.

The hotel was a road house in the style of Travel Lodge but more upmarket. I haggled about the price and secured a £10 reduction on the initial quote. I was given a crazy room on the ground floor with a staircase of about twenty steps leading to a mezzanine bedroom. That seemed like a gimmick to me and I was thankful that I didn't need to get up in the night to plod up and down those stairs. I do stiffen up quite lot these days at the end of a day's walk.

I ate in their attached pub, I asked for a pint ginger beer shandy. "No ginger beer" came the reply from the youth on his first day I think, so I said ok, lemonade. I was brought a half pint of lemonade. I sent that back and then a mature lady arrived and apologised and when we had finished a learned discussion on how to fix a pint of shandy it duly arrived to accompany a lacklustre meal of roasted-to-death-salmon and new potatoes with a pot of mushy cauliflower to accompany - at least I din't go hungry.

Day 4

The paths up till now had been varied with quite a lot of those the width of a single foot in a trough in cropped grass and quite tiresome. Today all the paths were on wide hard surfaces making for fast progress. The Chirk Aqueduct and tunnel and then the magnificent Pontcysyllte aqueduct were highlights of the trip. The latter was designed and supervised and built by Thomas Telford between 1795 and 1805, an achievement beyond belief.

The canal by-passes the town of Llangollen and continues for another couple of miles to finish just before the Horseshoe Falls. That is a man made kind of weir built to provide water for the canal.

There was no apparent transport back from that point and I retraced steps branching off to get into Llangollen town. At a pub I was given taxi details. I phoned and the taxi man said he would be down the road in five minutes. I said I wanted to go to Chirk railway station but he asked me where I was going. Using as mobile stuck to his windscreen he quickly researched train times (which I had not done) and suggested that he could get me onto the next train by going to Ruabon instead of Chirk, and that we did with only minutes to spare - he even directed me to cross the line on the footbridge to save me time  finding out for myself. What a good guy - I gave him a generous tip. Three changes and I was back home in Arnside just after 9:00 pm.

Below is a link to a slideshow in Dropbox.

Click on the first thumbnail photo to open in broader view then go to the bottom and click on two diagonal arrows to view as proper slideshow. Any problems please let me know asap. 

 CLICK for slideshow

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Llangollen Canal summary

Walk finished today, Thursday about2:30. After my last attempt at blogging from the phone i have decded to do a proper report from home. i am typing this from Costa Coffee at Chester station at 5:20 pm in the middle of a complicated journey home. i also hope to do a slideshow. Thanks all for your earlier comments.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Llangollen Canal. 1

Monday 14th May 2021 "Not many camping sites up there." i am do addressed by sn elderly gent as i walk up a busy street in Nantwich. i have just arived on the 9:17 am train. i'm not sure what he meant by "up there." ) have shopped at Mortisons and i march h on to aaacend to the aqwduct about a mile from Natwich centre whuch narks the start of this forty somethjbg mile walk There is a damp fizzle in the air. the canal is busy with boats. I can't post photos here and will do a dlide show later ftom home. i decide to record any wuirky boat names which may form a seperate dlide show. i have chatted to many boat people. "Endeavour" proved to originate from sn Inspector Morse novel and not Shackleton. i correctly idrntified Bright Water with Gavin axwell of otter fame. Moving on to scince i was beaten by Coriolis. the owner was a retired engineer and tried to wxolain the connecion with this French mathematician - something to fo with not ending up on your trsvels where you had intended, but like lustenig to Brian Cox i was lost not far from the start. i have now arrived at the Cotton Arms at Wednenbury-cum-Frith where i had pre booked a meal for 7:00 snd i am now lying uncomfortably in my tent at 3:30 typing this on th iPhone eith difficulty. oh! the sun came out this pm and it us all a pleasnt contrast from the drab wea are ther start this morning

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cowpe Lowe and Warland Reservoir (OS Sheet 103 trigs.)

Tuesday 8th June 2021

Cowpe Lowe,                                               440m  SD 823 206

Warland Reservoir (Little Holder Stones,   420m  SD 969 213 

It takes over an hour to drive to the furthest points on OS sheet 103 to continue with my campaign to visit all 76 trig points on that map - here is a summary of progress so far and an indication of how the campaign has been organised.

Red buoys = unvisited. Red person = visited
Red straight line = the line I am following as closely as possible with Bowland Climber - Lockdown intervened - four more days to be planned to get to the sea on the east coast - red wiggly line is actual route taken, note how many unvisited trigs lay close to that line , oh dear!
Blue straight = limits of Sheet 103
Blue route is approximate route of my Land's End John o'Groats walk residing on my Memory Map

My aim today was to clean up from the south. Over the years, in this central semi-industrialised part of the Pennines I have encountered access problems more than usual - today my impressions were maintained.
At Cowpe Lowe I set off up a public footpath marked on the map. After a hundred yards, with dogs barking in some kennels I was shouted at by a farmer, I was apparently walking through his farmyard although it was not recognisable as such. Even enlarging the 1:25 map on my phone it was difficult to determine where the path went, but arguably it did go slightly to one side of his premises for about thirty yards. After a bit of chat when he realised I wasn't a moron we became friends with him offering advice for my planned route.
Steady climbing in hot weather on a mixed selection of paths intermingling with The Pennine Bridleway and other more local walks had me out onto moorland and up to the trig. I had passed some cows earlier sporting what looked like the chain-wheels from a bicycle threaded through their noses - see photo below - any suggestions? Views steeply back down to Waterfoot and more distant Bacup were rewarding. A middle aged walker arrived with her dog; she looked as though she had done a lot of walking and told me so. The little cocker spaniel, by tradition I was told, was lifted onto the trig. Pleasant chat informed me that her husband was a runner and ascending somewhere behind her but I never saw him on my descent
It was a forty minute drive to get to Warland, south of Todmorden for my second ascent to the trig above Warland Reservoir. A large lay-by that I had researched on Google Earth gave access on the other side of the road to a path and locks on the Rochdale canal. Climbing up a surfaced road was steep and demanding in the hot weather. I came cross an unbelievable anti-farmer notice warning them to stop sheep going onto that land, but more of that later.
Still following the public footpath on my map on this tarmac road the way was blocked by ten foot high security gates leading to a complex residence. I tried the intercom with no response. I entered the area by another gate leading to an adjacent house. I knocked but nobody came. I walked through the garden to the rear of the security defended house and found the owner. I showed him on my map the public right of way running through where we were sanding. He told me the path had been diverted nine years ago and I should have branched off through a gate a couple of hundred yards before his premises. My OS 1:25 is dated 2015* but according to this chap the diversion was made circa 2012 with no alteration on the map. I was told that he had erected signs but "walkers had torn them down." I returned down the road and found the gate where conventional footpath signs were affixed but it was well set back off the road and easy to miss, and in any case I had been following the route marked on my map.
More climbing brought me up to Warland Reservoir and wonderful Pennine scenery. I met a young guy backpacking the Pennine Way which follows the reservoir on the way to Stoodley Pike and north.
After crossing the end of the reservoir I could my trig painted brightly white amidst a cluster of rocks on the horizon, but there was no footpath and I had the best part of a kilometre each way over heather and tussock grass - hard going. The trig was atop one of several huge chunks of millstone grit carrying some strange dimpled weathering (or carving?) - see photo.
I retraced steps and as I was near the final descent to the Rochdale Canal I was amidst a cluster of buildings with more of them off to my right. I chatted with a guy who turned out to be the owner of Warland Farm. He said if I went off to the other buildings to find Julie she would make me a cup of tea and so I did (Gayle take note.) I had been worrying that my reputation for these offers had been dwindling. I had my tea, a full pot with proper leaves and chatted with Julie and then with the owner David. Warland is a twenty acre farm which is being developed on a conservation, eco basis with huge numbers of tree planting, eco land management, and development of craft activities to create a mutual community and a facility to offer support for people with mental health difficulties. The aforementioned anti-farmer notice had been put there by Warland to protect their land; it seems yew trees are poisonous for livestock.
I had planned to take in another trig a bit further north but time had run out but it was worth missing that for this interesting interlude.
I drove back through through Walsden and into Todmorden on my way home. I have watched You Tube videos by model railway enthusiasts and this reminded me. The modellers only have limited space and desperately try to include everything, and so it was through this steep sided, industrial revolution influenced suburbia. Canals, viaducts, old mills and warehouses, aqueducts, rows of terrace houses all seem to have been dropped into these steep sided valleys at varying higgledy piggledy levels crating an identifiable landscape which has been taken to fashionable and residentially desirable development in nearby Hebden Bridge.

* I have just corrected. It is the 1:25 that is dated 2015 that shows the route going through his property. My OS 1:50 is dated 2020 and to be fair it does show the diversion but I was using the 1:25 at the time.

I have tried for ages to make this text the same as that at the start including removing formatting and everything else I can think of to no avail - so be it.

Not really for reading, unless you can by enlarging. Just to show how I am organised. Grey background = trigs visited

Approaching the forbidden farmyard just after the start for Cowpe Lowe

An easier part of the ascent - rougher tracks followed

Other cows sported similar - anybody know what this is about?

Down into Waterfoot. The track is on the Pennine Bridleway

Rochdale canal

Approaching the security gates of the house in the trees

Warland Reservoir. The Pennine Wy skirts that lefthand edge

My trig shining white on the horizon (more white than the photo)

Natural or man-made?

Warland Farm

Red route today. The pink is my original plot for Berwick to Castle Carey but I had no recollection of walking it. I did have variations to fit with accommodation

Blue line is southern limit of Sheet 103