Daysack Upgrade!

What are we calling it, Daysack, Daypack or Rucksack?!

I think mainly ex military call them Daysacks as we used to use ‘Daysacks’ for range days or carrying a small amount of kit for day exercises etc.  The serious stuff went in our Bergans when we were out for days at a time.

But for my days out in the hills I have been using my trusty North Face 30 litre Daysack.  I’ve had this for at least 8 years now and it was starting to get a bit tired.  When I say tired, I mean bloody exhausted!  It has the old fashioned stretchy mesh compartments on each side, which I used to store my Sig bottles.  But over the years the mesh has become a bit ‘saggy’ and for the last couple of years my bottles have started to fall out when crossing stiles and when taking the Daysack off for whatever reason.  Which usually resulted in me decorating whatever landscape I was in with a deep colour of blue with my language.

20181123_171118

Also I was finding the amount of kit I have been carrying has been increasing, especially in the winter, and my old 30 litre was starting to burst at the seams.  I prefer to have a bit of spare space rather than buckle straps at their maximum.  Plus, and I’m gonna get some stick for this, my pet hate out and about, is kit strapped to the outside of a Daysack.  You see them out there, hikers who set of with way too much clothing on and decide to strip off halfway up a fell, but instead of storing it away, they strap it to the outside resulting in bits of kit flapping about in the wind.  I understand hikers who are out for days on end having kit strapped to the outside, like roll mats etc.  I’ve even seen hikers with what appears to be a nearly empty Daysack, still with kit strapped to the outside!

Anyway, rant over, I’ve gone for the Osprey Kestrel 48!  My walking pal has been using an Osprey for some time and I have seen them in action.  He’s a DofE assessor and runs a troop of Explorers and gets the most out of his kit.  I’ve been saving specifically for a new Daysack and decided to take a trip to Go Outdoors in Stockton to have a look.  I saw the one I liked the look of, green of course.  I asked one of the blokes about the one I’d spotted and what’d ya know.  He fitted it for me, measured my back and altered all the straps, showed me how to pack it, the works,  I was waiting for a rub down and a Shiatsu, but apparently the service doesn’t include this!  Bless the bloke, didn’t have the heart to tell him I’ve been packing Daysacks for over 30 years, I let him have his moment.

20181123_173103

This choice is no reflection on North Face kit, my old Daysack hasn’t gone to the great kit heaven in the sky, nope it’s been given a part time job as my course attendance bag.  Carrying much lighter kit like books, folders and pens!

New Start…

Like some blogs I’ve noticed they seem to dry up, sometimes for a couple of months and some for years.  I know mine hasn’t been on full steam for some time and this I can only put down to a mixture of uncertain times in my career and my mental health not being as it should be.  If you have read my previous log about mental health that will give you a bit of a heads up on that matter.

Anyway, I am soon to retire from my career as a Police Officer and even though I’m still fairly still young (51) I will have a little bit extra time to concentrate on this blog.  I still have to work but I’ve decided after 30 years of military and police work, I’m going to look after myself a bit better and take my foot off the confrontation pedal.

With this in mind I am going to make the most of the countryside and get back out hiking more, with or without the missus but as always with Alfie my Spaniel who has more mental health issues than me!

 

IMG_2248

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolton Castle and a sheep dip with a difference…

We were holidaying at Westholme Estate yet again so we decided to plan walks from the door as it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of such a great base camp and the walks it offered without driving.  We had purchased a great ‘Dales Pack’ from  walking-books.com and chose a walk up to Bolton Castle from the pack, taking in a quick look at Aysgarth Falls on route.IMG_6299

We walked from our lodge towards the impressive St. Andrew’s Church which looks over High Force Aysgarth Falls.  Crossing the road over the River Ure gave a photo opportunity of the Higher Falls.  Once over the bridge, there’s an area to the left where you can either go to have a closer look at the falls or turn right up IMG_6300a path into the National Park visitors centre.  We walked across the car park and crossed the main road into Freeholders Wood.  We had decided at planning stage to do the route backwards, not a reflection on the route card, just the way the weather looked we wanted to get onto the high ground sooner rather than later.

The track through the woods is well worn and simple to follow, exiting the woods and through the fields heading north towards Carperby.  The fields are open and give you a great view of the surrounding moorland and high ground.  We entered Carperby, a lovely village that looks like a great place to which I could retire, from the village we turned up an incline to Ponderledge Scar.  Then there’s a IMG_6301path bearing right following a fence/wall up onto moorland where it levels out nicely.  I know I do bang on about sheep and yeah, yeah they have equal rights to the hills, but as we reached the top, I saw something which made me think our woolly friends are sometimes just taking the piss out of me.  We saw a line of obviously pregnant sheep making their way into a gate.  I put Alfie on his lead and waited for the Ewes to make to complete their journey.  We waited, and waited, and waited as sheep after sheep trooped into this field in single file.  Initially in a rush IMG_6302but as the merry little bunch grew in confidence the procession became slower and slower, and the gap between them got wider.  So for about 5 minutes we stood staring at this slow moving queue of mutton filing their way through this gate, I’m sure some were laughing and if they had fingers, they’d have given me one.

When the flow of sheep had subsided we carried on the route turning east and a chance to get dive bombed by Lapwings protecting their nesting site.  I quickly glanced back to the field where the sheep had dawdled IMG_6303into, looked like bloody New Zealand!  From here you can see the dale, which I’m guessing the River Ure has carved out over the years.  The route is clear and with the added bonus of yellow spots dotted on the occasional fence post or wall which some kind soul has placed on for our benefit, for ease of navigation.

The path goes through probably the scruffiest set of farm barns (no house) I’ve seen in many a mile.  However, Alfie found the sheep manure which was spread across the path very exciting.  He found the IMG_6305freshest pile and probably the deepest, and proceeded to roll around in it ensuring a nice thick coat of sheep s@@t to accompany us for the rest of the journey.  My attempts to stop my naughty Springer were met with a scowl from the farmer as he sped past on his quad.  Mind you the air was a bit blue!

We walked through the grounds of IMG_6307Bolton Castle with a definite ‘air’ about us, god knows what all the visitors to the 14th century castle thought when we strolled through with what sort of looked like a dog, but bared more resemblance to a walking sheep pat.  The castle itself is in really good nick considering, a must for a nice cultured visit if you get the chance.

Just after the castle is the little village Castle Bolton, again looks very ‘retirable’ but maybe a bit out of our price range, but who knows.  The route takes the road down back over the main road and through another field, but this one graced us with not Ewes, but four hard looking Rams IMG_6309who didn’t appreciate the interruption to their sleep.  Down to the farm at Low Thoresbay and along Thoresbay Lane and through Hollins House and back to the sounds of Aysgarth Falls, this time the Lower Falls.  Back in Freeholders Wood and a look at one of the carved seats one of our twitter friends had told us about.

We ended the walk in Aysgarth Falls Hotel for a cider or two.  I shouldn’t laugh but whilst relaxing in the pub two or three people walked passed Aflie, who was still crusty and smelly, and they gave him a good old stroke before we had chance to warn them.  Hope they enjoyed their meals.IMG_6312

All in all, this is a great route, well-worn and marked, amazing views and wildlife plentiful.  Hats off to the author they have captured some good features along the way.

Alfie however, got a well-deserved bath in the beck back at the Estate!

A tough day out up Seat Sandel and Helvellyn!

As usual, the words “I’ve planned a route!” coming from Kel’s mouth usually meant a good thrashing with plenty of thick orange chunks of contour lines to start with. I looked at the map and the Smörgåsbord of summits my beloved wife had set out for me and Alfie the Spaniel. “The weather is meant to be OK and we don’t even have to get up early cos it doesn’t go dark till late!” she stood with a smile on her face. Looking at OL5 I grinned and thought “Not too orange then!?”IMG_5209

“All we need to do is catch a bus from the end where we’ll park the car and get off at the start then finish at the Kings Head, simples!” she carried on excitedly.

“Bus!!?? Bus!!??” I said in amazement. I hadn’t been on a bus for about 20 years and the thought of having to depend on ‘others’ for a route plan made me cringe a bit (I’m weird like that). We had a look at the timings and decided to give it a shot and the route was sorted. Mill Bridge, Grasmere to the King’s Head via Seat Sandal, Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn and White Side. A full day!

Sunshine greeted us as we packed the car and headed for Grasmere and grabbed a parking space at the King’s Head. They have an agreement that walkers can park in their car park if you pay £5 for an initial ticket which gets you that amount of drinks if you have a post walk pint at the end of your route. Canny!

IMG_5210So there we were, stood at a bus stop with our daysacks waiting for a bus to Grasmere, which was approx 5-6 miles down a straight road. The sun was blazing down on us and we had a giggle about the fact we’d not researched if dogs were allowed on the bus and thinking of a plan B if the driver wouldn’t let Alfie on. 3 minutes after the due time the bus came rolling from St. John’s in the Vale and things were looking good. I put my hand out, just like 1979 when I used to catch the bus to school, and just like 1979 it stopped and I stepped onto the bus while Kel and Alfie sat down on the closest seat to the front.IMG_5212

“Two adults and a dog please mate” I said searching in my pocket for some change expecting a couple of quid each and half a nicker for the hound.

“£10.60 please!” Dick Turpin replied without even looking at me! You know that feeling where the ‘bus’ spins and you’re grinning to yourself but actually paying. There was some thought that Alfie had cost me even more money the little tinker. I paid up and the driver stopped pointing his musket in my face. Kel budged up so we could all fit on the two seater and I awaited the hostess with the Champers and Caviar which were obviously on route for the fee.

IMG_5219Grasmere came and we grabbed our kit and shuffled off the bus with our daysacks, puppy and a massive hole in my pocket. We’d travelled less than the distance we were about to walk (without the accent)! I sorted my cam and we made our way up through the little cottages at Mill Bridge feeling violated, but at least I felt a bit lighter. We’d decided to take the route up Little Tongue, west of Great Tongue through herds of sheep and the sun burning down on us. Hause Riggs was a short but welcome break as we sat for 5 minutes to absorb the stunning view of Grasmere and the surrounding fells. The going was quite steep but significant height was gained quite quickly before we levelled out at Hause Moss and a small pile of stones with ‘Julian’s’ black baseball cap secured on the top.IMG_5221

The hiking/hill walking community are a canny bunch, if any lost kit is found in the fells it’s put on social media to find the owner. Hence my tweet with the a picture of the afore mentioned cap!

With Grisedale Tarn in view we turned left up a shaily accent up Seat Sandal and the mother of all thigh burners. Slate Shale doesn’t have the ‘gripability’ of any other shale, its one step forward and 4 steps back. The descent was decent and bait welcome looking over Grisedale Tarn and a chance for Kel to do her usual ‘Peak assessment’ of our surrounding view.

IMG_5225We saw people coming down the wall south side of Dollywaggon Pike but we opted to take the Zig Zag route up the South East side of the peak which brought much amusement as we were about to see. We skirted the Tarn and slung a left in and up the windy route up to the summit. About two thirds of the way up we made space for a group of mountain bikers who were making their way down. The first section stopped because they were finding the going too dangerous to stay on their machines. One had gone face first into the stone of ‘Dolly’ and was playing it safe. Further up we bumped into the rear echelon of the daring mountain bikers, one who had a thick ‘Pit Yacker’ accent who stated he’d never seen such a “Mental” descent and had decided to ‘push’ his bike down, putting the blame on videos on YouTube for not fully showing the scale of the best part of a 300m decent in the space of 500m, which to me works out at…… well a canny drop in anyone’s money! Probably the reason why the path is Zig Zagged up the side. Anyway in the 5 minutes we had with the mountain bikers two fell off, I’ll stick to walking!IMG_5226

At the top the sun was beating down and the wind had dropped making the going pleasant, plus a lack of sheep making way for a clear run for Alfie.

Looking west the Wythburn Fells were clear and we worked out exactly where we’d ‘lunched’ with the Dicko’s days before on in slightly less windier weather. From here the path was set and Nethermost Pike looking slightly higher but with Helvellyn peaking over its right shoulder we knew the highest peak in our quest, was in sight.

The top of Dollywaggon was a welcome sight as we’d passed the ‘post’ taking the right to the cairns. The view east was breath taking with a clear view of St. Sunday Crag making a good view stop. We headed north down slightly and then back up onto top of High Crag and sheep. Alfie did well heading up Nethermost Pike to keep his eye off the ‘Herdies’, while I spotted Striding Edge and thoughts went back to that blistering hot April day in 2011 when we’d foolishly climbed Helvellyn after a crate of Fosters and a meat only BBQ the night before, took me ages to get the smell of lager out of my ‘Buff’.

IMG_5228I digress, I liked the sight of the top of Helvellyn as I, as always, like being one of the highest in England at a particularly time, even for a few minutes. As we make our way up to the summit and the robustly built ‘X’ shelter and the ‘dump’ left that was used to build it, we spotted the memorial Stone placed to point out the spot where the first plane ever to land on a mountain was. There was a steady but not too chaotic stream off people coming up the different routes to take in one of the greatest views in the area. I love the sights, the feel and the sense of achievement when we hit a high peak, the feeling of another well planned trek. What I don’t like is idiots that are stood taking selfies dressed in high tops, ¾ length trousers and no safety equipment. Ok it was a sunny day, but it’s cretins like them that call MRT when they get cold, get lost, feel tired or just can’t be bothered to walk down. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I pride myself that I carry enough kit to survive at least one night on a fell if ever we need to. Plus I plan even the simplest of routes over a certain height and ALWAYS carry safety kit, if not for me, for others.

Rant over and back to one of the best views in the district and my quest to find the snow we saw from Ullswater a couple of IMG_5230days before. Bingo, just passed Water Crag I find a patch of crusty musky snow about ten metre’s north east off the path. A couple of pics later of a 48 year old kid playing in snow for his 9 year old son then we’re back on track down onto Lower Man and a long decent down. If you look east into the valley you can see the dam at Brown Cove, it’s an unusual sight and it looks like it was built to store water for the mining in the area. My feet were aching and the balls of my feet were sore, feeling like I’d trekked 50 mile not the measly few we had. As we dropped down to the ‘pile of stones’ to take the left North West onto White Side, I could see down the valley to Thirlmere, but even though the it was downhill, the going was painful skirting the side of Whiteside Bank leaving me wishing we’d gone up to the cairn and straight down, instead of side footing down the side negotiating rabbit warrens and land slips kicking the s**t out of my knee and Kel’s ankle, God we’re getting old. Eventually we joined the path that ran down Brund Gill and down the North East side of Brown crag and a cracking view of the ultra-green grass around Dalehead Hall on the banks of Thirlmere. I hate descents like this, I’d rather climb miles up and a gradual way down, the new plantation was quite steep, or seemed like it and the crossing at the un-named gill near the back of Thirlspot Farm was such a relief to hit level ground. Alfie drank about half the water content of Brown Crag and we entered the grounds of the farm, passed the sheep and a Lama, or Alpaca, I was too goosed to care.

The cider at The Kings Head bit into the throat like a welcome friend and the £10.60 bus fare into Grasmere 7 hours earlier was a distant memory, but next time I’ll order a taxi!

IMG_5235IMG_5233

 

Cleveland Way -Ravenscar to Scarborough

IMG_5129It’s been sometime since I blogged about walking a ‘Way’, and mainly due to ‘this and that’ and I haven’t been bothered, the literary juices haven’t been flowing like they should. After I managed to scrape together Sheffield Pike blog out I’ve decided to give our next leg of the Cleveland Way a bash and see how it flows.

It seems like ages since we started our quest at Helmsley, well it is really, but I feel the miles have been many but the end is in sight. Not as though I want it to end but the feeling of ending a ‘Way’ is quite fulfilling and the planning of another route is just as exciting as completing.

IMG_5130As usual a quick game of musical cars starts a linear route with Dicko and Sue leading the way to Scarborough and the search for a car parking space on a Bank holiday Monday. Luckily we found a recently vacated spot near the North Bay and we all piled into Dicko’s mean machine with all our kit and dog. A small fortune in parking fees later and we were on route back to Ravenscar to pick up the end of the last leg of the Cleveland Way.IMG_5131

The Bank Holiday traffic was in full swing and the East coast of Yorkshire (is there another coast of Yorkshire??) was buzzing with holiday makers and games arcade seekers but we managed to find a space at OL27 981015 opposite the public toilets on the main road to Raven Hall Hotel. Boots on, daysack checked and we were off. Testing my body cam for the second time, this time tightly strapped to my shoulder strap and turned on. The first few hundred metres were the usual genres of banter. Sue complaining about why she has to carry a daysack and Kel doesn’t (Kel had put all her food and waterproofs into mine before we set off) and Kel and Sue discussing the usual earth shattering stuff.IMG_5131

We took a quick right onto Station Rd then an even quicker left toward the beach banks and a view of the North Sea. The path went right onto the beach banks and the start of our rollercoaster route to Scarborough. These coastal walks are a real treat when the weathers clear, which is was today, looking at the map it’s easy to work the twists and turns out and you can see your goal getting closer. What you can’t see are the drops in the path when a Bay cuts into the route, these I have named as ‘Sue Moaners’! Reason being is you can’t see these little gems until you’re right on top of them if you’ve not got a map, which invariably Sue never does. IMG_5132Dicko’s chief map reader followed closely by me, and then Kel who only uses a map to plan routes, and when I say ‘plan’, I mean find as many contour lines closest together for a route up as she can, I think she just likes the colour orange!

I digress slightly, the cut in the coastline that ‘bays’ make is sometimes quite a decent drop then climb on a normally level route. My choice of nickname for them is because on sight of these features, Sue’s face drops, she stops walking, puts her hands on IMG_5134her hips and says “Oh no!” (Or words to that affect). Dicko then gets a glare as though he’d driven to Yorkshire in the night and dug the bay out himself just to miff Sue off!

But for now we were going at a good pace, the view was great and the jelly babies were on tap from Sue’s heavily laden daysack, did I say laden?, I meant “I’ve had heavier pockets”. The beach offered geographical changes at every turn and, sad as I may sound the sight of the fisherman pulling their lobster pots on board showed me a calmer, more relaxed way of life that is a different world to IMG_5135me. Blea Wyke went by and War Dyke keeping the path nice and level and smiles all round. In fact all was good and we decided to have bait at Hayburn Wyke, the Trust guys had done a great job putting steps down into the nature reserve, handle rails the works! At the bottom of the steps was a great view out to sea and a cracking couple of rocks to perch and eat.

IMG_5137Bait stops are always a time for reflection on the route so far, expectations of the route ahead and a chance for Alfie to weigh up what sandwiches are on offer and to totally ignore the boiled egg Kel brings him…… everytime!

Faces filled and a tantrum from Sue about the short sharp ascent back up onto the beach banks and we were on our way up through the smell of wild garlic and a few smiley bank holiday faces that must have made the trek from Scarborough. Back on the level ground (ish) passed Rodger Trod and another ‘Sue Moaner’ at Salt Pans and a nice view of Cloughton Wyke. Scarborough was in view now and I could taste the post walk pint of cider. The little hut at Long Nab gave us a short view break and a read of the sign relating to the hut. As we left Crook Ness I had a reminder of home, when I say home, I IMG_5138mean my adopted home in east Durham. I don’t want to destroy anyone’s image of this part of the walk but I guess it’s a part of countryside life now meeting a Lurcher closely followed by two traveller ‘wannabes’ looking for an unsuspecting rabbit on the beach banks, and a wake of cannabis fumes as they walked passed with a friendly greeting.

We headed towards Sailors Grave with the sound of the pair with the Lurcher in the background and a view of Scalby Mills and a smack in the mouth with a reality wet fish of brown brick new builds overlooking the North Sea. On the shore were towels and Lilos and the smell of Skunk was replaced by the sewer at Scalby Ness Sands. The volume of tourists increased ten-fold as we walked over Long Nab (2) onto the promenade and colourful beach huts of North Bay Scarborough and Bank Holiday tourists.

IMG_5140A short walk through the holiday hustle and bustle to the car park brought back distant memories of scooter rallies in the 80’s and the welcome sight of my Aygo.

It had been a great day, great walk and yet again great company. Closing in on the end and another ‘Way’ almost complete. Feeling loads better!IMG_5142

A New Year Plod up Place Fell

New Year is either a full on experience for some or it’s just the other annoyance after Christmas for the ‘bar humbug’ brigade.  So, Kel and I hadIMG_3214 a look at the weather forecast after the big fat lad in red had squeezed down the Combi boiler and made a decision.  It looked rainy-check, windy-check, and snow on the peaks-double check!  We’d missed a Wainwright on our last visit due to unforeseen circumstances so we decided our quest should be Place Fell.

We decided we’d see the New Year in at the caravan in the Eden Valley, which is only a short drive from Ullswater which was ideal for our chosen fell hugging the bottom of the massive water.  We had mentioned it to Kel’s sister (whose caravan it is anyway) and she and her hubby Stu where up for bringing 2014 in the lakes.  But after a couple of texts, the party that would be heading up Place Fell was hitting 9 humans and a German shepherd.  Thankfully not all staying in the caravan!

We arrived at Pooley Bridge for lunch Tuesday and a taste of what was to come, Ullswater was like the North Sea as its waves licked its shores splashing the A592.   Snow had capped Helvellyn and its surrounding peaks and I had a fuzzy feeling in my stomach as I love ‘good weather’ when we’re hitting the fells.  Kel doesn’t join me in my like for inclement weather on hills but she would prefer to be battered with nature than walking around the shops with the endless ‘sale’ signs.  We joined Ali, Stu and Bruce at the caravan late afternoon and started to bring in the New Year with finger food and wine, lots of wine!!  We were joined by one of our friends Michelle who managed to find the caravan after a few loops around the Eden Valley and churning up the campsite in her ‘Beemer’ looking for a parking space.

IMG_3215Due to the planned route not taking us that far and only 4 hours on the hills at most, a half ten meet at Pooley Bridge was organised to meet the rest of the party.  So, after leaving Pooley Bridge we drove down the flooded A592 to park at the school house in Patterdale to start our attack of Place Fell.  Quick head count:  Me, Kel, Ali, Stu, Michelle, Dicko, Sue, David (Dicko’s brother), Yvette (David’s wife), Richard (Dicko’s son) and of course the big German Shepherd Bruce.  New Year greetings complete we joined the footpath sneaking between the school house buildings heading across marsh land towards Side Farm to start our ascent up Patterdale Common.  The stream that enters Ullswater down this valley was slightly high and the couple of hundred metres to the farm was ankle deep in water which prompted a few ‘girly’ giggles from the female element of the party.  Us blokes just cracked on as usual!  A testament to recent weather was soon upon us as we saw a caravan in the farmland on its roof at the adjacent campsite.  We all found it amusing but I guess some poor soul has had their world turned on its roof quite literally, oh well.

I’d looked at the map and the route wasn’t that complicated, we’d take a right behind the farm and just IMG_3217climb south east towards Boredale Hause.  There were a couple of other hikers heading up and smiles and New Year greetings were exchanged.  It wasn’t long before the hills gave way to the sound of pounding paws and Bruce’s relentless quest to keep his ‘flock’ in order.  The rain was pleasant and cloud cover high(ish) but the wind was getting up.  As we passed Rooking Gill the breeze got a bit more lively and the drops of rain where getting a bit bigger.  Ullswater was clear and the snow on the Helvellyn range looked very inviting making me wish we’d headed up the western side of the valley, hey ho, Place Fell was the goal and we were well on route.

We arrived at Boredale Hause and were met by another group of hikers chewing the fat.  Stu had found a dubious footpath up the fell which was immediately ‘Poo Poo’d’ by our new friends.  It looked good to me but I could see the top of the fell and it looked bleak, I knew the well-established path was clear and wanted a drama less ascent so we headed to the path that Kel and I had abandoned a few weeks before.  As we trudged up the well-worn path the wind increased and the chunks of rain got bigger.  Just before Steel Edge the weather had got quite bad, we’d stopped for a breather but the party had become stretched.  Communication was hard between the group and chins were hitting the floor.  After a brief chat, Dicko, Sue, Yvette, David and Richard decided to turn back.  There’s no point getting higher into IMG_3220worse weather if all you’re doing is looking down and not enjoying it.  There are certain things that people get from the hills, views, exercise, but I like the thrill! I know it’s not Everest and there’s always a way down but I’ve always loved the mountains and hills not matter what the weather, bad weather just adds to it for me.  I carry enough kit to make my ‘stay’ overnight comfortable!

With a good chunk of the party gone we cracked on leaving just the caravan dwellers heading summit wise and the weather getting worse.  Bruce the Shepherd wasn’t happy, he’d lost half this flock and it was doing his head right in.  However, at the top we managed to shelter slightly but we were greeted with a small scattering of the fluffy white stuff.  A ‘re-group’ as I like to call it was in session.  Did everyone like to carry on? Yes.  Was everyone dry? No but ok.  Where the fek had my daysack cover gone? Hanging near my arse.

Happy days and we cracked on after hoying down a Snickers and a reassessment of kit.  The snow was now driving into my unzipped pockets but I was warm and dry.  Vision was very good considering and every one was chipper.  Bruce had got over the fact he had only 5 humans to watch and cracked on negotiating the crags and the driving snow which, even he was struggling to contend with.

‘The Knight and Mortar Crags’ were negotiated extremely well, mainly down to a good path, nowt to do with navigation.  There were a good few IMG_3223moments where Kel had a couple of slips but nothing to write home about.  My daysack cover decided to make another bid for escape on Mortar Crag but luckily moorland to the west of us saved it from joining the waves of Ullswater.  The wind was very strong making all the snow and rain a little bit more extreme.  Michelle had grabbed my attention as we headed to the massive Sheepfold at Low Moss, she pointed out a left turn just before High Dodd which looked good.  Things were starting to be blown about, my daysack cover included plus my underpants were soaked, don’t ask me how but they were.  We banged in a left turn at the junction and headed down the path parallel with Low Moss Gill.  Immediately the wind reduced and we stopped at the disused quarry about a quarter of the way down to have a break.  Kel popped on her white bonnet and Bruce tried to eat Michelle’s sarnies, I found a lovely slate water fall and we headed off down the route.  The surface was slippery under foot and there was a couple of ‘Hip jammers’ as people slipped but recovered without hitting the deck.  We had the joy of Scalehow Force roaring away to our left as we joined another well-worn path just before Scalehow wood and a left turn south west along the side of the lake.

IMG_3224We were still not half way but as the wind, rain and snow were not with us chins were up and conversation was ongoing.  Well between Ali and Michelle it was, very much so, what do lasses find to talk about?!  With the steep crags to our left and the swirls on Ullswater to our right, the pace picked up and jelly babies made an appearance.  Kel was proud to produce a packet of ‘Spogs’ (liquorice with hundreds and thousands on) and smiles were on all involved.  Silver Bay went by with the water a bit closer than usual and it wasn’t long before the end of Ullswater was in sight.  The cloud was dropping and twinkles of Glennridding were inviting us from across the water.  A text from Dicko stating the rest of the party were in the ‘Ramblers Bar’  made the sight of Side Farm and the caravan on its roof very welcome and a pint to make the day perfect.  However, remember the path from the school to the farm at the start being ankle deep, it had now been replaced by a few more inches of water and a prospect of wet feet for the shorter people in the party.  Sod it, we just trudged through what the hell.  We came out the other side laughing and commenting the fact we’d just seen a black Labrador chase a swan in about two feet of water on the path, and Bruce had just stood and watched, probably in amazement. IMG_3227

I came out the other side with dry feet, so did Stu.  The girls were soaked but the car was in sight and the start of the great ‘De-kit’ IMG_3233and a chance to steam Stu’s car up on the short ride to the ‘Ramblers Bar’ and a welcome from the rest of the starting party.  Stories exchanged and pints downed as Bruce left a dog shaped wet print on the wooden flooring.  The mystery of my wet underpants was solved by realising I’d left the zips on my waterproof over trousers open to the driving rain/snow on the summit.

AW states “Few Fells are so well favoured as Place Fell for praising neighbouring heights!”  This is true; Helvellyn graced us with its white cap the whole way almost inviting us over as if to capture souls.  Even though the weather was ‘wintery’ I wouldn’t have had it any other way!IMG_3236

Cleveland Way Part 2 – Sutton Bank to Osmotherely

Walking the Cleveland Way has some advantages over other linear walks, because the path is so well used and maintained to a high standard it’s virtually map free, leaving more time to enjoy the views.  Anyway the views were quite breathe taking on our second leg of the CW from Sutton banka1 to Osmotherley.

I crisp morning met us as we prepared for this long leg of our winter walk.  We packed ‘MY’ daysack into Kel’s new (ish) Aygo and took to the road expecting a nice long wait on the A19 but were pleasantly surprised by the lack of cars as we followed a solo Dicko heading for our first car drop off point at the quaint little village of Osmotherley.  As we pulled into the village square to park up, the pub was in spitting distance which made Kel and Dicko’s day, I however wasn’t so impressed as I was going onto night shift so a post walk pint wasn’t in the mix for me grrrrr!  We hopped into Dicko’s Passat and Capital radio and its minging music.  You’d have thought a gentleman of his years would enjoy Radio 2 like me; however I had to endure chart chaff while Kel and Dicko chatted away.  We pulled into the car park at the top of Sutton Bank and it was Dicko’s turn to get turned over by the parking meter.  Boots on, me and Dicko put our daysacks on and Kel skipped off laden free back onto the most well-kept route I’ve ever seen.

a2Within a few metres we were back on the top of the cliffs that make up a good part of the CW.  Looking west Sutton Brow gave way to Garbutt Wood revealing Gormire Lake secretly nestled in its trees.  Even on a fairly overcast morning in the North Yorkshire moors the view stretched across to the Pennines that had a cloudy cap.  The route was completely, with us as an exception, hiker free at this point with only a dog walker at the top of South Woods to pass.  The breeze was fresh but not too cold but certainly not t-shirt weather, I was comfortable in a base layer and my trusty Rab jacket.  Kel skipped along in her base layer, fleece and a light body warmer, again all sponsored by Rab.  Sneck Yate Bank was soon up on us as the pace was brisk and with a clear path and no maps we were storming north.  I had to keep looking at the map as I like to know ‘exactly’ where we were, looking at features and fencelines, keeping my mind active as well as looking at the cracking views.  As we approached Sneck I was looking to see the road that crossed the route.  We had stopped as the path forkeda3 off and decided what direction to take; a few Jelly Babies had appeared from Dicko’s bottomless Osprey so I was happy.  Sue had passed on her apologies the day before as she could not get time off work to join us, however she had furnished Dicko with a bag of those liquorice sweets with sprinkles on them, Kel calls them ‘Spogs’ for some reason, it’s probably another ‘Pit Yacker’ expression that no one else has ever heard of.  Then, just as we’d decided on the correct path, this wonderful old bloke came walking passed and began to speak to us.  You could tell by his gear he was seasoned, saying he was local he began to explain, step by step our route to Osmotherley.  He knew ever blade of grass, every twist and turn and every incline we’d encounter in the next 9 miles.  He then further impressed me by mentioning AW himself, I’d have thought a born and bred Yorkshireman hardened in the heather, git stoned fells would probably dismiss the Lancashire legend, but the famous 214 were discussed which made me smile.

As we watched the t’old lad bimble off in the direction we had come, I had a second smile at his canvas gaiters and his ‘lightweight olive green trousers’.  I have spent many years in those trousers, not his, in my first few years in the army.  High Paradise Farm brought a couple of treats for us, well Kel in particular, it had a couple of Saddlebacks nuzzling around in their pen.  They paid us some attention before getting stuck back into the undergrowth, the king size bacon butties gave us a last glance as we walked through the farm yard.  To be fair, the farmer did come out to have a bit of craic, apparently the a4pair of porky pets had knocked out 21 piglets a few days before, of course Kel wanted one but we ushered her away before any deal was sealed.  We carried on towards and knuckled down into Boltby Forest and a considerable drop in temperature.  The festive mood was set alight by the sight of Christmas trees growing and the thought that Kel still won’t allow me to put the tree up back at Hyde Mansions.   Time was getting on and the familiar sound of Tubs’ (Kel, it’s a family nick name nothing to do with her size) tummy rumbling had started to erupt in the grand Yorkshire Moors.  To be fair she’d been dropping hints to stop for food for about a mile but Dicko wasn’t having any on it.  The wind had picked up as we came out of the forest with Little Moor to the east of us, the pace was still good as we followed a path that came surly be seen from the moon it’s so wide and distinctive.  At this point there was a competition looming between Kel’s rumbling stomach and the army Lynxa6 helicopter buzzing the fells on exercise.  Finally we stopped near the disused quarry and the path cross behind a dry stone wall and had lunch.  The only hikers of the day so far came over the moors to the east and bimbled off the way we had come.  Dicko phoned Sue at the office and gloated; she took it well and managed not to swear to much at his attempts to make her jealous.

Sarnies gone and back on track we headed towards the left bend in the route at White Gill Head and along Hambleton Street and a cracking view south west at the route we’d come, quite a distance in a short space of time.  The route drops down quite a bit going passed the forest on Nether Stilton Moor and passed some Grouse Butts to the right, the closest approximately about 50 metres from this well used route, glad they weren’t shooting today!  At Square Corner the route turns left and drops further passed two disused reservoirs and daft question time from my wife.  “Why’s it disused?” she enquires.  “Cos there’s no water in it!” Dicko replied.  I go walking with some sharp tacks I’ll tell ya!

a8We’ve encountered some inclines in the past which, yeah, we all have ‘view stops’ to catch breath.  But today we had not really climbed much but I saw my friend Dicko looking decidedly hot and bothered, too much wine I thought the night before.  We crossed a tarmac road and pushed towards Whitehouse farm and another cheeky little incline making the old boy puff a bit more.  I was shocked cos for his age he’s still a fit lad and generally can keep up if not storm ahead.  We sneaked across the farm land and down into a small wooded area over a stream then up a few steps.  Kel ran to the top, I trudged up thinking Dicko was hot on my heals.  I turned to check and he’d stopped, face red as a baboons backside and a face that said “I’m goosed!”  We got to the top and sat on a bench which sported a sign saying ‘Paul’s steps’, Dicko looked rough.  The end was in sight as we passed almost through the back gardens of the cottages in Osmotherley, a7sometimes passing front doors with signs saying ‘Don’t stamp your boots on our drive’.  Ha, obviously the residents have in the past taken exception to muddy ramblers stamping some of the finest Yorkshire soil over their nice clean driveways.  Through one last ‘gennel’ and we were out into the village square of Osmotherley, it was a bit like coming out of the cinema into the daylight.  We dumped out kit into the Aygo and went into the Queen Catherine Hotel for a post walk pint, or diet coke in my case.

As we settled down and ‘de-layed’ it became apparently why Dicko was struggling on the inclines, he took off the best part of ‘Cotswolds’ stock.  Layer after layer of top quality outdoor clothing was thrown across a wooden chair, body warmer, Rab jacket, fleece and then not one base layer but two!  Oh how we laughed, I had a base layer on and my trusty Rab jacket and I was comfortable, he must have been roasting daft bugger.

Another stage completed and another few miles under the belt, plus another head full of stunning views and lessons learnt.  Hopefully the next leg will have a dusting of snow to add to the views, although I don’t think Dicko’s got anymore clothing to wear if it gets colder!a9a11a10

Beda Fell

Whenever you put boot on fell, you have to take all sorts of factors into consideration; weather, terrain, route, gear and your party’s ability.  There are plenty of benefits of walking in the mountains and hills, but there are also things that could go wrong.  Our walk up Beda Head luckily didn’t need outside help but it goes to show, even seasoned hikers have problems.1

It’s Friday and Kel and me were on dayshift, I was set to finish at 5pm and Kel at 4pm, so it was up to her to get home first, pack my car and get all sorted for a quick blast down the A66 for when I pull up on the drive in her shed, I mean car.  We had a passenger just for the journey; one of my mates had set his family off to Center Parcs in the morning, arranging for us to drop him off on the night so we had a slight detour before settling in the caravan.  We were on the road for roughly half five so things looked good as it only usually took us just short of 1 ½ hours to get to Morland, and the detour wouldn’t add much, so we should be settled for 8pm planning our route for the next day.  The rain was pounding down but, hey ho that’s to be expected.  Process was good until Bowes and the road cone fest, can anyone tell me why the road works are there!?  Bang to a halt and an hour later we managed to come out of the other end and back on our journey.  We drove up the long road to Center Parcs and dropping 2our mate off to tackle the resorts fierce security while we made our way to our own peaceful, quiet resort, Aaahhhhhh!

As the rain bounced down on the tin roof of our, errgh hum, Kel’s sisters caravan we cast our eye over OL5 map and tried to marry it up with the go4awalk.com route which we’re using to get all the peaks in to accomplish our Wainwright goal before I’m 50!  Route sorted and after a couple of night caps, it was bed time.

Next day driving down the side of Ullswater the weather looked good and as we drove through Howtown there were a few cars parked at the bottom of Hallin Fell so a lot of people were already on the fells.   We parked at Garth Heads (427186) near where the footpath crosses the small road up Boredale.3

We planned to take the footpath east up Beda Fell to the ‘head’ then  drop down to Boredale Hause then up onto Place Fell and heading north to High Dodd then back to the car.  This was taking in two Wainwrights and a good few views, plus a post walk pint in the Pooley Bridge Inn and Kel’s favourite cider.  Boots on and straight into a steep climb up to Howsteadbrow and Winter Crag, the temperature was that awkward type of temperature where it’s slightly too warm for a fleece but just too chilly for just a base layer.  We trooped up to the crag and turned right heading to the top and the ground levelled and as we got closer to the top Ullswater revealed itself and with the clear skies every fell in the west could be scene.  Unless it’s driving rain or blowing a hooly I normally like a good little chin wag and it never seems to amaze me that Kel can name most of the fells from every angle.  Our ‘view stops’ are usually a feast of Kel turning a full 360 degrees pointing and saying, “Helvellyn, Sheffield Pike, Gowbarrow 4etc etc!”  But today seemed very quiet on the stops with Kel just appearing to look down and breath heavily, more than usual.  My concerned questions were met with “Aye I’m alright!” and “just tired, maybe too much Pinot last night!”  Too much Pinot!!??  I was concerned; it’d take a lot of Pinot for her to say it’s affected her the next day.  I remember when we went up Helvellyn the day after a good sesh.  We’d stopped at Parkfoot, which isn’t really our place but we were with camping friends.  Our mates weren’t hill walkers but like a good BBQ and the alcohol that went with a good pile of meat and buns.  Anyway needless to say our attack at Helvellyn was a bit ropey and we were sweating 14% but Kel was still chipper and we still made good pace.

But today was different, her chin was down for her not to be talking, this was a 5concern.  I knew that if she didn’t perk up on the flat on the summit I’d have to monitor her without making a fuss.  The summit came and went, she’d smashed a ‘Snickers’ in and we’d started looking for the path down to Boredale Hause.  We’d been blessed with cracking weather today and I was taking in the surrounding peaks, but the guided tour of their names was still missing and I was getting a bit worried about my weary wife.

As we dropped off the top over Freeze Beck and to a possible bait stop, I noticed a slight spring in Kel’s step, she’d said on the top that if she felt this rough at the ‘hause’ we’d be cutting short which I’d whole heartedly agreed.  Now, this ‘spring in her step’ didn’t mean all was good.  During my time in the forces I’d had many times where I’d had to monitor individuals who’d just been poorly.  Nothing to do with fitness as I’ve 6known the ‘Racing snakes’ who ran the fells be taken down by stomach bugs during exercises in the mountains of Wales.  The art is to watch faces and mannerisms; fatigue comes in three stages as far as I’m concerned.  Initially quiet and getting quite tired with more than frequent stops and not saying much.  Then, a second wind where there’s about half hour of “yeah I’m ok now” and picking up the pace.  This second stage is where you have to wait and rest, sit down and have bait.  If you’re walking bud is knackered and has fatigue caused by whatever, they’ll fail whilst resting.  If you don’t clock this this second stage and crack on, it may get serious about an hour later.  I’ve seen the third stage and many people have collapsed and CASEVAC’D (casualty evacuation) off a hill because someone failed to recognised the second stage.  The casualty won’t know and will think life’s good and try to crack on, that’s why it’s important to have a monitor buddy to call the shots.  You might get “What ya goin on about I’m fine!” but take the grief cos if they’d gone up and collapsed you’d be feeling worse.

We sat and started to have bait, it was a busy crossing with walkers coming up from all directions, Patterdale, Boredale and a few 7coming from Angle Tarn direction.  We perched on a rock and tucked into our butties; Kel just nibbled and nibbled then stopped eating.  I refer back to my previous paragraph where I mentioned mannerisms.  Kel had settled by the side of a small boulder, about shoulder height, and had lent against it.  Next thing I knew her eyes closed for a brief moment and there you go, stage two.  She’s never done that before ever, so with a slightly concerned grin, I told her we were getting off the hills.  She said OK!

The journey down Boredale confirmed my prognosis as Kel admitted she did not feel herself.  She perked up slightly again but I had no concerns as we were dropping down to farm land and a flooded path and watch a big black cloud covering Beda and Place fells ready to bolster Boredale Beck on its way into Ullswater.

8I wasn’t concerned that Place Fell hadn’t been bagged, to be fair, it’s not going anyway.  I was just glad I got my wife off the hills before anything bad.  It’s mainly a man thing too, no way am I gonna phone mountain rescue unless necessary, I would carry Kel, her daysack and mine off a fell before I used a much unfunded and overworked resource like mountain rescue.

We reached the car dry and in good spirits for a change and for once, I drove to the pub with my boots on instead of ditching them for sandals for a ‘breather’.9

I hope people that read this blog don’t think I’m a ‘know it all’ and a total knob.  I have had past encounters with all sorts of stuff and while passing on my experience, I’m not the font of all, just know some stuff!

PS, my new boots are the dog’s swingers!!