Thursday, 22 June 2017

Summer solstice

Mike and I decided to spend the summer solstice on our favourite beach, Ross Back Sands. The plan was simple, a walk in the Cheviots before heading for the beach. Having a hospital appointment in the morning meant a later start than normal. It was a straightforward walk starting in the Harthope valley up to Langlee Crags and back. A slight delay when a chappy took a purler over the handlebars of his bike.
A pleasant walk up the hill above the valley, chivied by a blustery wind. A wander around Langlee crags and a leisurely stop for lunch.
 There are several rocky outcrops in the area. A fascinating geological feature.
It was difficult to decide which one was actually the highest point, thus we visited them all.

We took a slightly circular route back to the car, passing through a herd of quite placid cows.
It was then on to Ross Back Sands. A bivi on the beach, is a wee bit different from the average bivi. A nylon tarp is still used However, anchoring in fine sand is a more difficult proposition. Currently I have been using a selection of sixteen inch, home made wooden stakes. The downside is that they are darned heavy. Extra guylines are also needed, beaches can be windy.

Using a gull wing tarp and the camo basha groundsheet as an extra side panel to protect from the wind.

We usually carry in at least six litres of water. For cooking a trangia is the best option. The snag is that they are bulky and not that light. Also added is a half litre of fuel. All in all, a fair bit of extra weight. Recently I laid hands on a stack of large bamboo poles. The idea is to split them, cut them in to eighteen inch lengths and use them as pegs.
Was awake before four in the morning and watched the gradual breaking of the new day. Even Mike was awake for the solstice morning!
A slightly slanted photo of the new day.
Mike went back to sleep. Unable to sleep, I went for a walk up the beach,
Later that morning we heard the ominous rumble of thunder. Snug under the tarp we watched the lightning and heavy rain as the storm passed through.
With the weather clearing, Mike went for a splash around in the sea. All I managed was a paddle. We where treated to seeing seals feeding and playing in the shallows. Arctic turns were very much in evidence.
All in all a lovely walk and beach bivi.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Innerleithen / Peebles

This was a walk in relation to a review Mike was doing on behalf of CAMRA. They had brought out a guide to various pub walks and Mike had agreed to review a couple of the walks.. Peebles is a fair trek just to do a walk, thus Mike suggested an overnight camp would be better.
With the car parked in Peebles we nipped on the bus down to Innerleithen. Heading out, our route took us through the grounds of Traquair House. Plenty of superb lawns, (ideal for backpacking tents!).
. A few folk were around but it was fairly quiet. Lucky was quite taken by the peacocks.

Heading up through the Glen, notices welcomed walkers to the estate. The route led us on to the Cross Border Drove Road. An ancient right of way. We were in no rush and, finding a suitable camp spot we stopped for the day.

A comfortable night, despite a few midges. Early morning rain saw us delaying our start a wee bit. Following the drove road, we headed uphill. Mike had a wee top to visit. Having been moving quite slow, I opted to guard the rucksacks! while he nipped up the hill. Coming around by Yellow Mire, heavy rain caught up with us. squally showers chivvied for the rest of our way.
.The old road is a delight to walk, leading us over Kirkhope Law and Kailzie Hill. a lovely undulating ridge with splendid views all round and Glensax below.
.All too soon we began to descend downwards to Peebles.
There is some fine walking to be had in the Peebles area. Rounded, rolling hills that invite the walker to come and explore.
There was one disconcerting thing though, the route we took was to review a walk given by CAMRA, but we never visited a pub?

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Kielder wander

A nice wee wander proposed by Mike. There was initially a tad bit of faffing due to car parks marked on the map now being closed. The forestry commision seemed determined to funnel all cars in to a specific car park. No doubt as a handy cash cow?
The day was dry and quite warm with a brisk wind. The walking  pleasant as we walked along a maze of forestry tracks.
Mike had a plan in place. It was his aim to bag a couple of tops that lurked somewhere in the forestry. . After a few forays in to dense closely knit phalanxes of prickly pine trees, we eventually won through.  The bleached bones of some other poor soul who had attempted to penetrate this dense mass, gave warning of the dire perils of our mission. Well, alright, that is exaggerating a wee bit! Mind, there was no clear route and we had to revert to Mike's gps to get us back out. Mike decided to give the second top a miss?
Taking a longer loop, we eventually came down by the Calvert Trust buildings. Another little bit of bushwhacking and we joined  paths that eventually led us back to the car park at Leaplish.
A pleasant day's walking. Mind, I am still finding pine needles around the flat. Pine needles down one's bra are very uncomfortable!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Dales way, Part two

My original plan for Saturday was to push on to a few miles past Sedbergh. However, a rather concerned lady at the campsite warned me of storms forecast for the afternoon. A quick change of plan. The map showed a campsite at Sedbergh and I decided to aim for that. Again, it was a fine morning. Once more the day began with a spell of following river banks.
The DW passes through some lovely hay meadows. The walking is straight forward but an eye needs to be kept on the map.
. Switching from following the river Dee, the DW heads up and over to descend down to Millthrop. It is fine walking on old farm lanes and bridleways. Heading up by Gate Manor, climbing through old woodlands. The views from the top are excellent.
The weather was on the change, it was close and muggy and dark clouds were starting to build in the distance. There was also the added factor that I was not doing good. Although still mobile, there was a definite need for a break.
The campsite was a half mile off route but that was no problem. What was annoying though was that when I arrived there it was obviously a caravan park. Worse, it was a posh one. The warden came hurrying out the moment he spotted me. His manner was, to put it mildly, frosty. "No, we certainly DO NOT take tents. Besides, we are full" Enquiring if he knew of any local campsites, the reply was blunt. " No, there are no campsite in the Sedbergh Area. You will just have to move on" What is it with these folk, they live on another planet! It may not appear much but wasting a mile was something I did not need.

It was tempting to  head in to Sedbergh and find a B&B. Instead I pushed on.

Thunder was beginning to mutter in the distance. Not good, with a storm brewing I really needed to stop soon.
Taking a chance, I nipped in to the farm at Hebblethwaites. The farmer directed me to the caravan park next door. After my previous experience I was wary. However, he reassured me that the warden would unofficially accept tents if it was only an overnight stop. The warden was not available. With the first drops of rain already falling, I cast caution to the wind and got the tent up on a small bit of grass. Ten minutes later the warden returned in his car. Yelling at me from his car, it was obvious he was not happy about were the tent was. Fortunately, with the storm coming in big time, he relented after I reassured him I would be away early the next morning. Mind, it cost me a tenner. At least there was a loo and shower available. It can be a tad daunting lying in a tent with thunder and lightning all around. Worse were the gusts of wind slamming in to the tent, the rain was a deluge and to cap it all hailstones also pounded the flysheet.
As promised, I was away shortly after seven thirty next morning. My aim was for Burneside. Roughly calculated it is was in the region of fifteen miles.
The walking was not difficult, the DW route though appeared at times to travel a long way to get not very far! Navigation wise a constant eye needed to be kept on the map.
There were some impressive red sandstone and iron viaducts to be seen along the way.
Unfortunately they are now only reminders of a time when railway branch lines covered much more of the country. They are certainly well constructed.
Was almost mown down by a speeding mountain biker at Crook Of Lune Bridge. The thing was, I was on the left hand side of the road. If it had been a car instead of me, he would have stood no chance.
It felt something like a milestone when I eventually crossed the bridge over the M6. Stopping for a break near Holme Park farm, I settled down for a nibble and a wee doze. It was not to be. Within five minutes I had an audience of a herd of cows. Arranged in a semi circle, gazing at me in the bovine curiosity sort of manner that cows do. Nudging each like naughty school kids, they would inch forward. As soon as I made a move though they scattered.
 It was on this section I met someone else who was on the DW. He was travelling light only doing a leg or two of the way at weekends. The guy did mention though that he found the Sedbergh to Burneside bit the most difficult navigation wise. It certainly called for a constant eye on the map. Reaching Burneside, I made for the local pub and booked in for the night. They did a very good Sunday roast.
It was raining when I set off on the Monday morning. Initially it was only light rain. but at times it became heavy.
The way up to Stavely was once more predominantly river bank walking. From Stavely onward the DW enters in to more rolling countryside. Several ups and downs, small lanes and ancient tracks. The area is more rugged than may be expected, with some fine rocky outcrops and crags. Enjoyable walking despite the rain. Once again, a close eye needs to be kept on the map.
As the route approaches Bowness the paths thread in and out of a lot of private land. Signs abound,'Private, no path, keep out'. Gates were, more often than not, padlocked. Some of the narrow kissing gates were not made with backpackers in mind. They took a wee bit of shoogling to wriggle through!
Bowness itself remained hidden until almost the last moment.

Heading down the hill in to Bowness, I was looking forward to a cup of tea and a spot of lunch. It was not to be. The place was wall to wall with people. Experiencing something akin to a panic attack, I was on the first available bus to Windermere.
The mileage covered varies from which ever guide book is consulted. Overall, my calculations give an average of eighty three miles over six days. That is four whole days and two half days. Surprisingly I coped ok, but did experience one fall, which is unusual for me. At times I wobble but that is about all.
The journey back was interesting. No trains running from Oxenholme northwards. Buses and taxis were running a shuttle service. It was fun ending up in a taxi to Carlisle, paid by Virgin trains, I may add.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Dales Way, Part one

This was the second part of my mad idea, two fairly straight forward walks, back to back, almost! Back from the first walk, a day or two sorting things out, restocking on gas and food and then away again on the Tuesday morning.
This time I was heading for Ilkley and the Dales Way. Arriving in Ilkley early afternoon to find the weather warm and pleasant. The start is a very easy route to follow. Beginning at the Old bridge over the river Wharfe the path predominantly keeps close to the river. Surprisingly once I got a few miles up stream, I saw few people out. With the recent dry weather the river was very low in places. Mind, the surrounding woods and pastures remained lush and green.
Approaching Bolton Bridge, the path takes to the main road for a few hundred yards. That was something of a nightmare, I almost got side swiped by a speeding van. By the time I reached Bolton Abbey, time was running on and I was getting tired. There had been a sign up at the bridge indicating a campsite. Walked up to the Abbey, saw a group of caravans and camper wagons in a field behind the car park. Wandered over but was informed in no uncertain manner that they were a private club and the field was for their exclusive use. It would have been nice to have a wander about but after a round of verbal from a group of youths, predominantly teenage girls, I headed back to the river and found a stealthy spot for the tent.
Supper was mainly fluids and a bit of cake, I was tired and not that hungry. Surprisingly there were only a few midges around.
Wednesday morning I was up and away early..The Bolton Abbey estate appears to cover a vast area. It was quite gentle walking on well made tracks through verdant woodland, always with the river for company.
The abbey trust had laid out numerous tracks and trails for for folk to explore. Maybe due to the early hour, but there was not another soul about.
The air was alive with birdsong, swallows dived low over the water catching insects on the wing.
It felt good to be striding out in shorts and tee shirt. Strid wood is a lovely mixture of mature deciduous trees, including a large amount of sessile oaks. They certainly look their best at this time of year.
The Strid itself is an extremely narrow gorge, or cleft in the rock formation were the river is forced through. Apparently people have died trying to swim in its pools or attempting to jump over the narrow gap. It must be awesome when the river is in spate!

Beyond the Strid the path crosses the river over quite an impressive bridge. It is actually a viaduct carrying water from Nidderdale to Bradford. Got a hesitant nod from two bird watcher types as I passed them at Barden Bridge and wished them a 'good morning'! This is too good an area to hurry through, especially on such a fine day.
Burnsall has a fantastic tea shop, well frequented by cyclists. Coffee and poached egg on toast went down very well. Back on the path it was amusing to see a lady having mild hysterics as she scolded her husband for allowing the pampered pooch to jump in the river for a swim. From what I could hear, the dog had just that morning been to a doggy beauty parlour for a shampoo and set? The dog got a big thumbs up from me. Good on it, may it forever do what comes naturally!
It was straight forward walking from there to Grassington. The bank holiday had certainly brought the crowds out. Stopped by Linton falls, hoping for a quiet snooze, eventually though I gave up.
Grassington was awash with folk, the tea rooms where overflowing, the ice cream wagons were doing well and the pubs were heaving. It was a bit too much for me and I hurried through. A mistake, I ought to have picked up some sun block. Picking up 3 litres of water from a very nice lady out pottering around her garden. It was then a slow uphill plod on to the high ground above Grassington. This is limestone country, hence me picking up water in Grassington. After a mile or so I called it a day and set up camp.
It was a fine spot for a camp too. The sheep were friendly, dropping by to have a nose and wandering off again. Copious amounts of fluid were consumed and a wee amount of snoozing too. So far I seemed to be holding up ok, a few aches and pains, a wee bit of a wobbly earlier in the day but everything still functioning!
Thursday morning there was a heavy dew but with it came the promise of a really nice day.
Some fine walking over toward Kettlewell. This is a really nice area and one to be enjoyed. Picked up a few bits in the village shop, unfortunately they had no sun block.

 My one concern was were I could camp that night. Possibly at Buckden? From there on up in to Langstrothdale possible spots were very limited. It was still early when I reached Buckden. An icecream and a restock of more fluids and I pushed on. There were a couple of places I knew of. The one I had in mind was close to Beckermonds, a fairish way up the dale.  It made for a long day but I reached the place I had in mind, just out of direct sight of the road.
 Another heavy dew overnight and stuff I had washed out the night before had not thoroughly dried meant starting a little later than intended.
From Beckermonds up to Oughtershaw is road walking. The road was quiet though and was no great hardship.
It is interesting to note that the old school and chapel at Oughtershaw has submitted planning application to turn the place in to hostel/bunkhouse and to remove some later extensions made to the place. From what I can recall, the sight is grade two listed. Mind, if it is done properly and extends the life of the building, well, it may be a good thing!
Accommodation can be had at Nethergill, mainly self catering, I think? There is self serve tea and coffee available worked on a honesty system, flapjacks too. It is a steady pull up to Cam Houses where I picked up another litre of water, it was getting hot! It was then a sharpish climb up on to Cam High Road. Spectacular views all round.
 Cam High Road is an ancient route. It was in use before the Romans took it over and later it was a medieval trade route. Unfortunately it has now been up graded to allow timber lorries access to it. On a hot day, with the sunlight radiating off its surface it was not pleasant walking.

 The day was turning out to be a scorcher and on the long descent down toward Far Gearstones farm I stopped for a break and promptly dozed off. Not a bad thing really. This was going to be another long day. Basically, with hospitals appointments in the latter part of the following week, I had to be out by Tuesday.  An initial steep uphill pull past Winshaw and then a steady bit of walking on to the Black Rake Road. A steady descent down through Dent Head.
For reasons I am unsure of, I blame it on the heat! I carried on through to Dent. That was a long day. A pint of lemonade at the local pub and on to the campsite. A shower, more fluids, a bite to eat and I was ready to snooze until it was time to take my night meds.