Organised Walk Around Shincliffe!

On Saturday 29th December 2018, my sister in law, Alison, who runs the company ‘Journey to Discovery’ had organised a Christmas ‘Bobble hat’ walk in the Durham area.  She told me a few days before that quite a few people had shown interest and she double checked with me if I was still coming because she had almost 16 people told her they were coming, and she wanted my help.


We all met up at Sunderland Bridge which is near Croxdale on the River Wear.  Most had fulfilled the brief and were sporting Christmas Bobble hats, except me, no way was I gonna wear one.  I’m from the old school that head wear is for practical purposes.  I wore my trusty Berghaus ‘Dut’, which once the winter sun got out was swapped for my peak cap.


Ali gave everyone a briefing and forms that needed to be signed and before long we were on the footpath NE under the A 167 then through the woods to Croxdale Hall.  The route is fairly clear and it continued to Croxdale Woods.

At this point the group also consisted of 6 or 7 dogs so the group was pretty lively and at points were stretched out a good few metres, but that’s why Ali wanted me there, ‘Tail End Charlie’ to pick up any stragglers.

The route swang east around Butterby Woods up to High Butterby Farm where a group photo was taken and Ali’s stash of Christmas cake was consumed.  I had a little look at the path we were about to take down into Shincliffe Wood and it was muddy and there were quite a few twigs and branches poking down into unsuspecting eyes, especially for the taller of the group so warnings were given to watch feet and eyes.


The route drops quite quickly as it joins the Wear at the bottom of the slippery path but even though there were a few slips and near misses but all backsides were clear of mud and no eyes had been popped out, bonus!  I must say, this stretch of the route I have walked a million times and I never get bored of it.  The Wear has a good selection of birds using it and this is where the path stays level so you can look about at the scenery instead of staring at the floor in case you end up on your arse.

Ali had explained in the joining instructions a refreshment break would be taken at the garden centre in Shincliffe which I think was a good place, well, that or The Rose Tree pub and I think it was ideally placed for some of the tired legs and feet at the rear of the group.

Sat in the centre’s café it was quite clear that people were in very good spirits and everyone was getting on fine, even the ones who had just met were talking like they’d known each other for years and a good deal of hilarity could be heard.


After a good break, it was time to make a move for the route back, not before Milo the Cocker-Poo helped out the staff at the garden centre by watering a few of the ornamental plants.  Back on the track we walked in on, we took a left turn east up to West Grange then went on to join Strawberry Lane which is a clear route through the farmland and a great view across the area.


We were a good few miles into the walk at this point and we had regained the height lost in Shincliffe Wood on the route in when we took the steep path back up through the woods to West Grange.  The slower of the group, who had struggled on some of the hills were still laughing and joking, even though I know some had a couple of feet problems and tired legs.

Strawberry Lane took us south for a good distance, passed Pigeon Plantation to a 4 way junction in a small copse.  A turn right west, passed High Croxdale all the way back to Croxdale Hall to re-join the first part of the route back to the start.

This walk was really good craic, I made a few friends and actually spoke to people I didn’t know socially, which is not like me.

Ali showed great form on this walk, she has a great ability to make people feel at ease and can control with out being controlling, if that makes sense.

Another great route not too far from my doorstep!



Route recce around Embleton, Co. Durham.

Thought I’d turn over a new leaf and bring my blog back to life, it’s been some time since I posted a walk and had not been motivated enough to write about anything, but after writing a few Trip Advisor reviews I thought I’d show my blog some attention.
My sister in law owns Journey To Discovery, a guided walks venture, and she asked me if I’d recce a route with her in the area, so I said I would have a look out with her on my day off.
We met at the car park on the A689 on the north side near the bridge where the walkway from Hurworth Burn Reservoir crosses. It had been raining the whole journey to the spot but seemed to ease off as I pulled into the ‘free’ car park and met up with Ali.
We had a quick chat as I donned my day sack and I greeted my old mate Bruce, the enormous German Shepherd. As we chatted the rain started again so we made tracks and headed north east along a track towards Low Swainston and walked through the farm , heading north up to Embleton.
There’s a few buildings in Embleton but it is apparently a medieval village, like Swainston we’d just passed. After turning right and checking out the derelict church, the track drops down into a dip that someone has built a great, hidden house in fantastic grounds. The path goes straight up through a gate and across a large field called Embleton Moor. The path goes up to ’11 oclock’ and drops down into a beck and over a wooden foot bridge.
By this time it had been raining horizontal and the waterproofs had been put to the test. We laughed about the first time we went out walking about 8 years ago, the weather was exactly the same and it cost me a mobile phone due to getting so soaked.
The path circumnavigates

a large field and then heads north towards Embleton Old Hall. The path then goes around the house and grounds initially but cuts through the rear of the garden onto the track out of the grounds, west on another track towards the Castle Eden Walkway. We decided we’d stay on the small track running parallel ish with the walkway to Green Lane Cottages. Here we joined the walkway south down to the a car park and 4.9 miles later, back at the car.
A good short range route sorted for future use by Ali’s clients, hopefully the weather will be better next time.

Another look up Roseberry Topping!

I have a few friends from work who like the outdoors, we go on small dog walks and generally get together about once every two months (if we’re lucky) and take Alfie out for a leg stretch.  We have a ‘What’s App’ chat group where we basically chat about anything and take the piss every chance we get too.

During one of these chats my friend Shiv stated she had never been up Roseberry Topping, which is situated in the hills in North Yorkshire, or Cleveland if you want.  So, we decided to meet up and have a walk up the tiny hill.



Seeing as we all work shifts finding a date would be hard but managed to find a day we were all off, and would you believe it, the weather was even nice to us.

I’ve blogged about Roseberry before but it’s always nice to revisit and share different experiences.  We all meet at ours and drive down the A19 and head for the hills.  In the lovely little village of Great Ayton a quick left turn up Dikes Lane and before we knew it we were at the car park putting our boots on.  We started walking up the path which heads north up onto the heather and the awesome views that stretch across for miles and miles.





We walked next the dry-stone wall which is an easy way of knowing you’re going in the right direction as it keeps with you the whole way.  Once we all got our breath back it was time to start taking the micky out of each other.  As anyone who knows

and does the work we do, getting the piss ripped out of you is a sign of affection.  With a mixture of food chat and light hearted insults, the junction in the wall where we turned left was up on us before we knew it.  From here you can see the path up Roseberry, which to be fair looks quite steep from this distance, but at least the drop down to the start of the path gave us a chance to build up the enough steam to march to the top which we did quite quick.

The night before, Kel had knocked up some Millionaire Shortbread and Lemon Drizzle Cake for the top after our sarnies, well to be honest, she had only made the Shortbread but she was guilt tripped into making the Lemon Drizzle by Lou so she knocked one up just for her.  The top was busy and we settled down to stuff our faces and take in the view.

The top is covered in graffiti, or rather ‘etchings’ with ‘art’ stretching back to 1881 which, I can quite imagine the Victorians spending the day on the top taking in the view of the mines and the smog.  After half an hour of munching and being robbed of any remaining lemon Cake by Lou we made our way down the way we came.

The journey back was filled with the workings of a ‘She Wee’ and the appearance of a football on the route which wasn’t there on the way in.  Lou couldn’t get her head round the shape and the ‘fittings’ of the female urination equipment.  Kel didn’t make the conversation any better by saying the last time she used it, “It squirted out the back!”  And the football, well that’s still a mystery, although if it was a youngster who brought it with him and left it there to collect after he’d summited Roseberry, Alfie didn’t help by hiding it in the heather. 

Towards the end of the route the talk turned to a conversation that is well ploughed during any of these walks: my accent!  I’ve lived in the north-east for nearly 20 years now and have known people for the best apart of that, but my accent is still a source of amusement.  I don’t mind to be fair and find it funny!

Back at the cars the talk turned to the pub and where to go, we found a nice little place in the village where of all places we started talking to a chap from Easington who had been in Yorkshire for 30 years.

Great day and lovely weather to boot, back to Casa De La Hyde for Toad in’t Hole!







Little Mell Fell

First walk of the week and with the weather looking very wet, Little Mell Fell looked like a good idea, and not too taxing to warm our legs up for the week planned ahead.IMG_6788

Looking at the map, parking wasn’t in abundance and after consulting Alfred WAINWRIGHT we decided to park at Thackthwaite to the north and have a nice leisurely  stroll (sheep pending) to the summit and hope we didn’t get too wet.  So, we drove west on the back road past Sparket and looked for a parking space.  We looked, and looked and looked again.  There was nowhere to park, well we couldn’t find it if there was, near Thackthwaite.  IMG_6789

We drove anti clockwise around Little Mell Fell and found a nice space on the southern side and parked up.  From this car park we could see the path to the top so donned the boots and got stuck straight into a climb which didn’t level, until we hit the Trig Point at the summit.

IMG_6790Not the highest hill but the views were amazing and we were scratching our heads when the blue sky burst out of the clouds after being promised rain.  Alfie had fun jumping on and off the Trig Point and we took some pics.  IMG_6791

The walk down was a bit slippy at times but we arrived back at the car about an hour after we’d left.

Great little dog walk and a good start to the week.



A Great Day Up Grasmoor!

The previous day we’d had a slow leisurely walk up Great Mell Fell in nice sunny weather, the day we’d planned to venture up Grasmoor the forecast was over cast but the rain was supposed to stay off, it did and we had a cracking day!IMG_5358

We were staying in the Eden Valley, although it’s an amazing place and only 20 minutes outside the National Park, some places in the Lake District take some getting to and can hack a large chunk off your planning to take in a fell or two. After packing the car we headed for Buttermere via Honister, I always like driving the Honister Pass, without sounding too big headed, it reminds me how much better I am at driving than most of the halfwits that find their way onto the road. The weather was improving with every mile and as we negotiated the sheep and cyclists Buttermere glistened in the sun as we skirted passed and joined the banks of Crummcock Water and slipped into a cheeky little parking spot at the foot of Rannerdale Knotts.

IMG_5359 (1)Due to my Aygo’s boot locking itself and not allowing any access, we’ve had to pack and unpack the walking kit via the back seats making things very awkward and testing my patience. Boots on, daysacks checked and on our backs, we headed north the main road to the footpath just past Rannerdale Bridge at the foot of Cinderdale Common. The map is correct, the terrain shows a few different paths littering the base of the Common but the path is on the east side of Cinderdale Beck. It’s disguised by a forest of Fern but it’s there and it takes you straight up Lad Hows as the climb goes up fast revealing more and more Crummock Water. At this point, if you have a dog, beware, as the Ferns are so thick that sheep are hard to see as they hide in the deep undergrowth.IMG_5360

The temperature started to rise as the sun showed more and more through previously thick cloud and we were down to base layers in no time. To the north Grasmoor was like an attentive teacher always watching you but didn’t appear to get closer. On Lad Hows the approach up the 20th highest Wainwright becomes a reality and time to take on some liquid for the big push up its shale spur. A family were taking the same route as us and they looked like ‘THE Borrowers’ as they trudged up our chosen path not more than 200 metres ahead of us. Alfie had his eye on the sheep on the steep ascent to our left and kept edging his way closer to the woolly teasers as we closed in on the summit. It wasn’t long before temptation got the better of him IMG_5361and he went for it! Again, I blame the sheep, he’d come across a lonely sheep on Lad Hows which stood its ground and he just turned his back and didn’t bother it. But when they run he loves the chase, he wouldn’t even bother if they’d stand still. Anyway, he vanished over the edge and all we heard was a shale avalanche and my Spaniel was left in the hands of the mountain gods. I ran over to the last place is saw him take the leap and prayed I wasn’t going to see a lifeless Springer metres below. I couldn’t see him but saw a couple of breathless sheep about 150 metres below. Near the start of our ascent I saw a black and white blob wandering about aimlessly. I whistled and shouted and the blob started the climb all over again as he’d realised where we were and caught up panting his little heart out.IMG_5365 (1)

The summit was a great sight and we walked over to one of two shelters to eat our butties and give Alfie some water. The top reminded me of the summit of Skiddaw, flat and spacious! The family we were following were in the bigger shelter and we could hear them chat and laugh in the breeze as we tucked into our corned beef sarnies. An inspection of Alfie revealed a couple of scrapes on his legs, he’s like a Bairn who goes out to play and comes back in with bloody shins and grazed knees. I had a half laugh and half serious thought, ‘If he’s (Alfie) gonna go, it’s gonna be off a mountain!’

IMG_5369 (1)We packed our daysacks and headed east towards the dip between Grasmoor and Crag Hill and the junction bang on the ‘722m’ on the map. Here we came across a very well-spoken gent who had climbed from Coledale Hause. He enquired in a softly spoken voice about the ‘Honister Rambler’ bus service from Buttermere, unfortunately we had nothing to offer as an answer. I could’ve offered an anecdote about our recent encounter with the Lakes bus service and Dick Turpin driving the number 55 into Grasmere but I don’t think this lad would’ve appreciated it. In fact, I hope he didn’t catch any of our usual repertoire on the fells, a mixture of Yorkshire/Pit yacker that can get colourful when things aren’t going well. Anyway we left him at the junction and headed south towards Wandhope, he did appear to spend a lot of time sorting kit out as I glanced back on a couple of occasions, maybe he had heard us coming off the top of Grasmoor!IMG_5375

The decent down Wandhope Moss and Whiteless Edge was very pleasant and one of those Lakeland moments which you want to treasure. To our right we had Crummock Water reflecting Mellbreak and further on Loweswater shimmering in the sun.

We’d decided that Rannerdale Knotts was optional extra Wainwright for the day and as we walked over Whiteless Pike and dropped off towards the sheepfold above Whiteless Breast we decided we’d save it for another day so we could take in the ‘garden’ along Squat Beck and the area where the Bluebells compliment the view in the Spring. This decent was one of the most pleasant in all the Wainwrights and this was testified by the amount of ‘tourists’ crossing us near the end.

IMG_5381We walked the last few hundred metres back to the car and I felt really relaxed and calm, until I remembered the bloody car boot was broken!! Nice post walk pint in the Bridge Inn and the sunny beer garden.IMG_5383

This was one of my favourite Wainwrights, the view, the weather and not too tedious decent made the day great. Could’ve done without the puppy playing ‘chase the sheep’ off sheer edges but that’s my dog, as mental as me!


A hop up Holme Fell and Black Crag with the hound

1We have a few walking buddies as you’ve probably noticed if you read my blogs enough.  However, apart from my wife Kel, there’s one who’s my favourite but you have to pick your fells carefully when you’re bagging Wainwrights with an eight stone German Shepherd, Bruce!

A good way into our fortnight holiday and the weather was improving.  Blue sky was becoming the norm and if the forecast was to be believed we were in for a good few days.  We’d not been out with Bruce for some time, he isn’t ours, he’s Kel’s sister’s dog and he’s as mad as his mam.  We had planned to take in some smaller Wainwrights over the holiday stay at the lakes so today was ideal to bag a couple of hills and take Bruce and his mam and dad with us.  Holme Fell and Black Crag 5looked ideal and they weren’t that far from where we were staying in Outgate.  The morning was fairly relaxed over breakfast but then it was time to hit the hills after packing 4 humans and a dog into the car, not my car by the way!

We planned to park near Yew Tree Tarn to start our ascent up Holme Fell but we had decided to try and avoid the National Trust car park as they do tend to ‘have your eyes out’ with the charge.  I know NT do a cracking job in the area and I fully support them, but a fortnight of paying for their car parks you might as well join…..hmmmm….there’s a moral to that somewhere!!  Anyway we parked on the main road between Coniston and Skelwith at the side of Yew Tree Tarn and put our kit on.  Bruce also put on his daysack, well it’s more like saddle bags for dogs but he was looking good to hit the fells.

2We walked south to Glen Mary and joined the path heading north to Harry Guards woods seeing Yew Tree Tarn again and realising we could’ve used the permissive path and save a bit of time.  Hey ho, we started to climb up Uskdale Gap and the path started to get narrower which generally isn’t a problem, however Bruce, who like all Shepherds, like to keep an eye on his flock.  That means he constantly runs from back to front of the ‘pack’ making sure he doesn’t lose anyone.  Again, it’s not usually a problem, he’s a big dog but you can generally hear the thunder of paws hitting the floor and you brace yourself before he tears passed you hopefully not knocking you for six into a nearby Gill or over a crag.  But today his width had trebled with his saddle bags and every ‘fly past’ left you kissing the ferns or having to crawl up the nearest tree.  Anyway we managed to get to the top of the gap with only a few collisions with the manic mutt.  At the top we made a quick dash for the cairn to claim our first wainwright of the day, Holme Fell in the bag!  Weather still on our side and the only moisture being sweat, and for me lots of it, niiiice!!3

Our plan was to stay heading north east ish past the unused reservoir and some bogs mixed in with slate from the quarry to the right.  The reservoir was a lovely sight and very quiet, well apart from the thundering paws roaring passed every 10 seconds.  We dropped into the woods to join a well-established footpath but not without a nice juicy obstacle to negotiate first, a fallen tree with only about 3 feet of clearance underneath.  Shorties Kel and Alison just about crawled under, god knows how Stuart did and it was just me to try and bend my 6’3’’ frame and daysack under the mighty felled Oak.  Hands and knees and stooping as low as I could I was doing a reverse Limbo and doing very well.  I thought I was going well and nearly home and dry, nope, I started to hear the thunder of tiny paws getting louder and louder and before I knew it I had a face full of dog snot as Bruce had come to welcome the last of his flock back to the pack.

4After wiping my face of a mixture of sweat and mixture of dog chew and canine saliva we joined the path and walked towards Hodge Close and the magnificent sight of the quarry.  We’d seen the massive hole in the ground a couple of days before just driving up.  It’s a popular spot for divers as the bottom of the quarry is full of clear water with a green tint.  If you ever get a chance have a drive up and have a look, it’s quite impressive.  We carried on to a junction in the path and had a bit of bait and another session of Stuart telling Kel off for feeding Bruce crisps and chocolate, she takes no notice!

Back on the path and east towards high and low Oxen fell and to cross the main road7 for the start of our ascent of Black Crag and more dramas.  We kept Hollin Bank to our right and the start of my worst map reading ever, I blame a combination of sweat and pedigree chum in my eyes still from the fallen tree episode, bad eyesight and the after effects of being barged into cow s**t every time Bruce barged past in an effort to keep everyone within sight.  Anyway, instead of hugging the base of Hollin Bank I made a ‘small’ mistake and took a left into a field with no paths or way out.  We trudged up the boggy field and tried to find a place to cross a drystone wall that had halted our pace.  If you look carefully at OL7 333 024 (ish) there’s a sheep fold, now we should’ve been to the right of that, however we were left of that at the wall to the north.  We looked and saw our best way was to cross the wall 8and head for bridleway east of the sheep fold. We, well Stuart, found a gap in the barbed wire covering the wall, the only thing is that the wall was about 4 feet high on our side, but it stretched to 6 feet on the other side as a small gill ran down the base. Kel and Ali had to get over first to encourage Bruce over.  He eventually jumped off the top of the wall and just me and Stuart to get over.  I took my daysack off and threw it to Alison who nearly collapsed catching it as I carry all the safety equipment and Kel just carries her bait. Me left, I stood on the wall and dived across thinking the probably 100 year plus old wall would collapse under me, I landed in a classic Para roll in the ferns to a loud burst of laughter, even before I’d confirmed id not snapped my ankle or popped my knee, cheers guys, love you too.

We found the bridleway and headed for Low Arnside and a junction of walls to walk north along another wall to a path that isn’t actually there to the top.  The walk to the top was worth the view from the top of Black crag, second Wainwright!IMG_4446

A few photos and we set off down pretty much the same route up down to the iron Keld plantation to the major route up from Tarn Hows.  The plantation had been partially felled so there were loads of big sticks for Bruce.  When I say ‘big’, I mean big! So our nice little steady descent to the picturesque Tarn Hows was made interesting by the massive hound running passed us with branches stretching the width of the path, felling us with every pass.

Safely onto the very well made path around Tarn Hows we were on our homeward stretch and a pint at The Black Bull in Coniston was in my sights.  A quick dip for Bruce and we were heading down the slippery but beautiful Tom Gill falls before re-joining the main road up to the car.

10A really liked this walk even though it isn’t the highest of fells, it has forest, tarn and heather, and what else could you ask for?!  Map reading error number two from me so far these holidays, need to get a grip or get Kel to navigate….I’ll get a grip!!


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