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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Saturday, 26 March 2022

Swindale from Keld

Friday 25th March 2022

How welcome to be setting off north again after months of combing the non-industrial parts of Lancashire rewarding as that has been.

Narrow lanes lead from Shap village to the small village of Keld. Tarmac extends for another one and a half kilometres from where one can climb a little and then descend into Swindale on a faint path that is easy to loose all the way to the road and farm at Swindale Head. Keld has a 16th century chapel but I parked beyond that and did not visit. There is a space by the side of the stream for several cars just at the far end of the village.

This visit to Swindale should have been  a great pleasure - this dale being one of my favourite Lake District venues and much of the day was just that but also marred by some frustration. 

As I arrived at tarmac's end and Tailbert farm I found my newly acquired OS mapping was not showing  on my iPhone. I spent ages trying to bring back the mapping and the route I had plotted and at one stage hit a button saying "download maps." I think that process may have continued unabated until I arrived at Swindale Head. Fortunately I had been  able to switch to Memory Map which is still on my phone. At Swindale Head I now found the iPhone was on low battery. The OS mapping had worked perfectly on my previous trip a week ago, and my iPhone easily lasts for a day's walk with capacity to spare. I couldn't find out if the maps were still "downloading" so I just deleted the OS app. I plugged in a battery pack I carry and restored some charge. At this point I found that my camera was displaying a blue hue over the photos when in the "P" for Programme mode and again much frustration and time was wasted trying to correct what must be some accidentally selected setting. Eventually I reverted to "Intelligent Auto" where photos were as they should be so that looks like yet another tech problem to solve.  By the time I had climbed out of Swindale up the side of Gowther crag I found my iPhone was again dead. I  had a paper copy of the map but in this featureless landscape  navigation was challenging and I spent a lot of time finding and loosing tracks.  I had intended to return by the path above Wet Sleddale which would have brought me back to Keld avoiding the repeat trek back down the road, but the track I followed was a safer option without having GPS. Paths shown on the OS map in this wilderness are not always discernible on the ground.

I thought I had discovered a seamless system with the OS mapping but I now have my doubts and it looks as though it may need as lot of unravelling if I want to continue using it. On-line response to another queryI had has had me waiting several days for a reply and one that was not satisfactory. The plotting and using of routes is fussy and seems to force one into using attributes that I don't want. I just have better things to do with my life than trying to sort all this and will probably now revert to my clunky but reliable old Memory Map. That is a pity because I think there is the basis for a good system with the OS mapping and others who are more savvy with  tech may find it fine but I am just not that interested in spending time trying to sort it*.

Ready for off at Keld

From hereon blue hue on photos until mode switch later

Zoom to Kidsty Pike

End of tarmac. Path down into Swindale goes from just beyond the farm

Swindale. Pity about the blue but the general setting and ambience of this pick-of-the-bunch Lake District dale still comes through I think

Some years ago this elaborate provision of a fish ladder for Swindale Beck was undertaken  producing a grim scar on the landscape. To some extent that has now been ameliorated. See also photo from on high below the post office van photo.

Down to the fish ladder which has to some extent moulded into the landscape especially as all the surrounding growth has regenerated

* maybe I will when I have calmed down a bit.


  1. A lovely day out Conrad and after reading about your difficulties with OS mapping, you can ignore my email. I’ll stick with MM!

  2. afoot - do you use MM on your computer in Windows PC - I think you do because I seem to remember you warning me against the MAC version. I have Windows partitioned on my Mac and apart from some ancient files from my pre-Mac days its only use is to run the MM software. Having to struggle with Windows 10 for that reason only is tiresome, especially if it gets closed down and has to re-boot but I will battle on.

  3. Sir Hugh - I just use the Mac version and transfer routes to the phone. The Mac version’s features are poor but for my purposes I suppose it’s acceptable - just. I had hoped the OS version would be better but apparently not!

  4. i do wonder why you don't carry what used to be considered a 'normal' map - I suspect that these screen mapping systems do tend to narrow the perspective and so one loses the ability to grasp the shape of the wider prospect by there only showing a tiny area. The same as satnavs of course - with those , one never gets a wider sense of the general locality and whether the route it dictates for you is the most sensible - in my experience, very often very definitely not.
    Of course I know that maps can be a faff in the wind and rain, but there are ways round that - and I'm not thinking of the transparent plastic cases one sees, which I have neither ever had nor used.
    How can you sit down and understand the whole of a new panorama without a proper map ? Not possible. Nor is the memory of a walk retained in sufficient drama to enjoy the post-walk study with tankard in hand (or in your case, in the bath !)
    so I'm agin them
    (ps whether this also applies to using them to pinpoint ones position I cannot say as I've never done that - except that one ought to know that anyway from looking at the map and knowing where one has come from - thick mist or whiteouts excepted, of course !)

  5. their - damned auto-correct

  6. I've all but given up using the OS app in the field, especially for recording routes - it just stops recording for no reason.

    For plotting / planning routes I use 'WalkLakes' on my laptop and then save the resulting GPX. The file is saved to my Etrex GPS, and also to OS - in the vain hope that it's unreliability issues are sorted sooner rather than later.

    Where is Viewranger when you need it?!

  7. gimmer - I did indicate that I also had a photo copy paper map covering about 5 x 5 kms. encased in a plastic filing wallet. OS mapping on my iPhone PLUS (including Memory Map) shows both scales: 1:50 and 1:25. The picture can be enlarged or reduced as one desires. At 1:50 you can see for practical purposes the lie of the land over an area of 5 x 3 kms. You can also go to the OS 250k Road Atlas that shows the main hills contour shaded certainly giving one a very wide view of the area. Of course the biggest advantage is the GPS positioning to an accuracy of several feet, but as you say one should know within reason where one is on the map and also have a compass. Armed with that information one can set a compass course to march in the direction of your nearest desired feature which more than often would be a road and one would get there in the end. In my situation I was trying to pick up a track that was so indistinct that every so often was not visible on the ground, and as you know you can be within only a few feet without being able to see it. I knew which direction to walk in but wanted to have the comfort of the path and avoid as much as possible walking over rough moorland.

  8. JJ - That is an interesting comment and firms up my decision to revert to my trusty Memory Map and to continue to print off a paper copy before I depart.

  9. Afterthought from me - In real life all that theory I outlined above does not illustrate the real life situation at the time. You find the phone has gone dead. Your are cross. You are sweating profusely in the heat of the sun and the steepness of the climb.You are probably getting tired if it is later in the day. Your glasses are covered in sweat as are your eyes and it is difficult to focus on the mapping as your sweat drips onto its surface, and you look at the expanse of rough terrain that you still have to cover. I have said before that the best thing to do is sit down for a while and chill-out and re-group before determining your next navigational moves. Sadly I am usually too impatient to take my own advice.

  10. I wonder out of interest how the DofE adventurers are taught to navigate. Assuming map and compass initially but do they use electronics in the field. I shall ask them next time I bump into a group.
    I've only used the OS mapping device to pinpoint my exact location especially approaching farmyards. Instead of downloading a route I have my little photocopied map with the route marked.
    Even with that I came unstuck when sweat through my shirt dissolved the map. Hence, the plastic bag.

  11. - so - maps still live: we often get walkers trying to go up High Cup Gill using a phone and ending up in our jungles - we've stopped offering to show the way on the map - as the saying goes, to avoid offence: but arm waving works well.
    I was always impressed by your trust in map, compass and pace counting in scottish mist (ie impenetrable low cloud) - Fisherfield Forest comes to mind - whereas I was always too wary of local magnetic field variations (and the effect of one's kit) affecting the reading to have such faith, and preferred to trust the map's topography. This works well enough with OS maps but can be most time wasting and energy sapping with even French mapping and very definitely not to be trusted in other places.
    It is still remarkable how much and how often experience from being in the Scouts is of lifelong value - the same with the DoE awards, I expect.

  12. Lovely walk that one. I've never had any problems with OS mapping. I think it's great.

  13. Alan R - I suppose it is a matter of familiarising oneself with a particular product and if you don't get off to a good start you loose faith.

    I emailed Memory Map to find out what limitations their Mac version has and received this interesting reply:

    Hi Conrad,

    The differences between the Mac and PC versions are discussed in the link below. A new version of Memory-Map is in beta testing at this time and will be released in the next few months. While this will look different than the current PC and Mac versions, it will make all platforms (PC/Mac/Android/iOS) nearly identical in look and function.

    Memory-Map Inc.

  14. BC - If that is your only use I suppose it is ok for you. Have you never had the map fail to populate for you? By the way, how do you transcribe your routes onto the map on your blog posts?

  15. It'always loaded up for me on Android.
    I use to plot my routes for posting and for printing out.

  16. Conrad - Here's a link to the new version of the app for Mac, but you need MacOS 10.14 or later. This looks much better but I haven't got 10.14.

  17. Sounds as if you could simulate a stimulating walk without stirring from your dining room table. I was going to say "virtual walk" but had second thoughts. You quote Shackleton or some other tough-nutted buff on adventure being the inevitable result of inadequate planning and these sweaty electronic moments are simply the 21st century equivalent of getting stuck among the ice-floes. Being unable to control the phone is, I suppose, a modern-day form of inadequate planning.

    I worry about gimmer's complaint that satnav denies him the wider picture when driving his car. Surely that's exactly what one doesn't want, especially when, say, entering the Paris périphérique. I for one demand an awareness that's measured in centimeters on those terrifying occasions. For a wider picture, wait until one's humming across the Massif Central; there the satnav may be turned off.

  18. RR - I reckon I do something similar to your suggestion almost on a daily basis. I am given to browsing the OS map and considering all kinds of forays often based on recollection of more strenuous efforts in the past and likely unrealistic as age advances and ability declines.

    As for your questioning of gimmer I will leave that for him to consider and reply.

  19. Huum - it's the lack of easily grasped alternatives in urban areas when the s/n leads one along its programmed but usually busy routes that requires the wider view: i'm not referring to sightseeing here !
    For instructions on exiting eg the périphérique, again, one needs to know whether the route it is taking is strategically sensible, not just the common way, before making that fateful 'á la prochaine . . . á droite', down some tunnel into the darkness - as often as not ending in a 'route barré': as the saying goes 'been there, done that'.
    The same, perhaps more, applies on deep rural journeys : the programmed routes , despite some improvement over the years, still take one along either the main roads or, paradoxically, into impenetrable byways, where impertinent disobedience can be punished with long retreats and deviations, when a bit of map reading gives a short and easy alternative.
    On one occasion, i had to get out of the car and use the sun as a compass as the s/n was hopelessly lost and taking me south rather than north.
    Funnily, I have never found that mythical idyllic auberge or restaurant hiding along one of those forced corrections. Next time, perhaps.
    Overall, one cannot deny their usefulness, but . . .