Friday, 8 November 2019
Lucky The Dog really doesn’t like fireworks, not one little bit. It didn’t take a huge amount of badgering to get his Dad to take him off on a wild camping trip dahn sarf for a couple of nights, and so it came to be.
Lucky & Dad arrived on Monday 3rd November in order to pre-empt any possible pre-emptive firework-whizz-flash-bang displays around the green and pleasant land of Crookshire.
It didn’t take long for the peaceful trip that Lucky’s Dad (henceforth known as Mike) had planned to be gatecrashed by Judith, Beryl the Peril (aka Margaret) and meself.
Judith, Margaret and I had agreed to rendezvous on the Tuesday. On arrival, Judith was found trying to locate a benchmark on the side of a building. It’s what she does.
We headed off after an hour or so, having demolished our packed lunches, and then walked for miles and miles over hill & dale and through raging rivers to seek out the appointed very very nice and flat camp-spot.
Although it certainly wasn’t anywhere near dark, the light was just beginning to fail and I couldn’t make out Mike’s dark green Akto, it blended very well into the background of cow-poo laden grass.
Fortunately Mike had spotted us and he flashed his torch (well I think it was his torch) which really stood out well in the low light of the winter afternoon. Tents were soon erected and after sharing our tales of daring-do it was almost time for tea….but not before copious amounts of, er, tea.
Then it got rather cool, really very quite chilly-cool. A bit too cold to socialise outside our tents.
Inter-tent communication is always a bit difficult – made even more difficult by the hiss of a gas stove. I spent the evening eating, reading, listening to the BBC R4-type-wireless, dozing, eating some more…oh and drinking tea. Camomile tea seeing as you ask – doesn’t need milk y’see.
I didn’t sleep too well, I was plenty warm enough but just couldn’t get comfortable, in spite of being pitched on flat ground.
The night was clear and the moon shone brightly, even so, loads of stars were visible. I should have taken a photograph or two but it was too damned cold for me to want to escape the warmth of my tent.
Next morning, the grass was white with frost – even as late as 10am.
The morning wasn’t wasted, we spent a good 10 minutes studiously studying maps in a successful attempt at planning a route for TGOC2020. After all this inventive route planning a blur of frenzied activity followed - and an early 11am departure – Denis would be proud.
We retraced our steps, and after hours of battling the sleet, snow, sun, rain, and cold wind we arrived back at our cars.
Judith found her Benchmark, I found an Eccles cake in the boot of my car, Mike & Lucky went off to find a hill, and then we all went home.
A nice little trip, thanks to Mike for arranging and making it happen. We should do it again.
More photographs here.
Oh, and here’s a map of a bit of Wales:
Wednesday, 11 July 2018
Messrs Rye & Walker had planned this little jaunt and foolishly invited me along….probably knowing I’d bring them beer. Which I did. Obv.
The Plan was to meet up at Hebden near Grassington on Sunday around 2pm. I’d had a particularly tough week and so decided to make my own way to the first camp spot of the trip on Conistone Moor, meeting up with Martin and Andrew at 10pm. My alternative plan was a good ‘un, it meant that my walk avoided the silly high temperatures of the day.
The Planned Route
A few shots from my evening walk from Hebden to Conistone Moor, Sunday’s overnight pitch :
I eventually found Alan and Martin just after 10pm. I wasted no time in getting my tent up (I used my TN LaserComp….just to remind it that I still loved it) and distributing the cans of beer I’d lugged up.
Monday morning dawned very brightly and rather warmly. After a quick breakfast and a few mugs of reviving caffeine we were off, via Great Whernside, to Kettlewell for tea, coffee, bacon butties etc.
It was now getting very hot. I don’t know how Martin & Andy coped with long trousers, I was cookingly hot in my lightweight kilt and T shirt.
Looking back to Kettlewell
After our refreshment stop we headed out, climbing out of the valley. This was tough going in the very strong sun.
We’d had a good day of walking, but the high temperature and very strong sun slowed us down. Water was very scarce. We eventually found an almost dried-out tarn. My Sawyer filter clogged in seconds. Andy’s MSR Guardian filter was a life saver, it filtered what was virtually mud, converting it to clear and potable water.
We needed to find a suitable pitch for the night, ideally with a water source – not easy. Eventually we pitched up at Horse Head Gate, actually on the wide path. There was a trickle of a stream nearby so we were sorted for the night.
The Plan for the next day was to head over to Pen-y-ghent, this was clearly going to be a problem. Limestone country isn’t known for a surplus of surface water – and water was going to be a vital requirement if we were to continue with our route.
Home for the night on Monday:
We chose to re-route and cut our trip short by a day. We’d camped on the Pennine Journey LDP, this offered us an easy way off the top and down to the River Wharfe at Yockenthwaite and then to pick up the Dales Way – much easier walking, plus far more chance of picking up water.
An ex-mole on the Pennine Journey LDP
Descending to Yockenthwaite
The dried-up River Wharfe at Yockenthwaite
At 7.45am it was so hot that we were actively searching out shade. Bits of woodland provided some relief from the blazing sun – but the flying insects were a damned nuisance. Smidge helped.
St Michael and All Angels Church at Hubberholme
At Buckden we sat outside the village shop, ate ice creams and glugged cold drinks.
The Dales Way follows the course of the River Wharfe so it was fairly flat (apart from some hilly bits) and easy walking.
At last, water in the River Wharfe
En-route to Kettlewell and more ice cream
Posing outside Kettlewell’s village shop: purveyors of el-cheapo electrolyte drink. And ice cream. (Poor quality pic due to a mucky lens on my phone)
Next stop: Grassington…and a pub. No beer though, we drank copious amounts of coke, water, shandy – anything that was refreshing, cooling and rehydrating.
Hebden, so near….
We arrived back at Hebden around 4.45pm, we needed more ice cream and cold drinks – the tea room was still open it was doing good business. We made full use of it’s facilities…all of them!
We parted company around 6pm, Andy and Martin headed off darn sarf whilst I enjoyed a very pleasant drive through the Dales and eventually back home to Manchester.
First job when I arrived home was to run a much needed cool bath and have a good long soak, that cooled me down nicely.
I’d considered going to the monthly music session at the Lord Eldon in Knutsford….but I was too knackered! A cold beer at home suffficed.
Thanks to andy & Martin for planning the trip, for cutting it sort and for inviting me along. It was good.
Friday, 29 June 2018
For whatever reason I couldn’t embed this YouTube video, hence the hyperlink. Well worth a listen:
After last year’s total Summer Solstice Failure the 2018 Solstice caused me a little apprehension: Would the weather be better? Would the Metrolink tram system thwart my travel plans? Would Brexit continue to cause me a load of grief and worry?
As it happened I needed to keep my daily mileage figures up – July 2018 should see me taking part in ‘Afoot in Two Dales’, a 50 miles in 24 hours walking challenge in the Yorkshire Dales, and the Nijmegen Marches, 160km of ‘marching’ over 4 days in, er, Nijmegen.
An appropriate Plan was planned: I would walk from JJ towers to Alderley Edge, home to footballers, the odd coven, King Arthur and his knights, plus loads of other stuff – including the very fine Derbyshire Caving Club.
A nice little 10 mile route to Alderley Edge was plotted and so off I went, leaving home at 7pm and arriving on the Edge at a little before 10pm.
Alderley Edge is a magical, mystical spot – this YouTube video gives a flavour of the place.
I took lightweight kit: LaserComp tent, a short Thermarest, Caldera Cone meths stove and stuff like that. I thought I’d persevere with my SatMap GPS and take it along – just to give it another chance to redeem itself. It didn’t, obviously.
I’d arranged to meet my mate Anup on the Edge, he was intending to bivvy so he could stare at the stars all night….all night - less than 3 hours of actual darkness.
So, some photos:
Styal Country Park, en-route to Alderley Edge
Folk were wandering around the Edge, some were there to catch the sunset whilst others were just up there for a late evening wander around. Anup had arrived before me, he hunted round and found a nice little flat spot to lay his head.
Sunset from Alderley Edge
Around 10.45pm a group of curiously clad folk rolled up out of the gathering gloom. Some carried djembes, others carried staffs. It was all rather atmospheric.
I didn’t have time to grab my ‘proper’ camera so had to make-do with the phone camera – it didn’t take a very decent photograph. The druid-folk eventually wandered off to sit up the rest of the night around a fire in the man-made stone circle in the woods.
Home for the night
Brew time: my Caldera Cone
I spent a comfortable although not completely restful night in my tent. I was aware of some nocturnal wanderings about and the distant sound of occasional drumming.
Sunrise was forecast to be 4.38am. My alarm announced 4am although it wasn’t needed, the light on my tent and the sound of drumming was more than enough to wake me.
What witchery is this then?
8 minutes to sunrise
By 4.30am the Edge became rather busier, more spectators arrived to witness the sunrise. There were probably 20+ wandering around.
The sunrise itself was quite something – although with the low cloud it could quite easily have been a non-event
As it became lighter the congregation began to disperse. Anup packed his bivvy and headed for home – he was off to do another overnighter somewhere else. Dog walkers and a couple of early morning runners wandered by as the sun rose higher in the sky. The Edge was returning to some level of normality.
At around 6.40am I was packed up and ready to retrace my steps to get back home. I rather foolishly gave my SatMap10 GPS yet ANOTHER chance to redeem itself – to no avail:
The maps were either missing or just wouldn’t load.
Route-finding wasn’t too much of a problem, I either followed the many signs off the top or just followed my nose.
My route home was straightforward, just a matter of retracing my steps: bits of the North Cheshire Way and the Bollin Valley Way plus some inventiveness to avoid as much tarmac as possible. I probably ended up keeping to footpaths for 75% of the time.
Manchester in the distance
St Bartholomew’s Church, Wilmslow
Henry Boddington: famous for beer and playing fields
I stopped for breafast at a picnic table in Styal Woods, lots of dog walkers around plus some runners training up for the Wilmslow Half Marathon.
I arrived back home at 10am, feeling quite pleased with myself – I’d managed a nice little backpack but was only away from home for around 15 hours.
I returned to the Edge in the evening, just for the hell of it. The light was completely different…obv.
You should read ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner if you’re remotely interested in Alderley Edge. It’s suitable for children of all ages – and it may even be based on fact. Maybe.
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