Xmas and New Year Walks – Hanter Hill & Hergest Ridge   5 comments

A short post for a short walk, albeit a different take on a classic couple of hills

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We’ve found a parking spot near the small collection of houses (village would be over playing its hand) of Burlingjobb. A back door route onto the Kington Hills which can be busy, with parking a challenge on weekends and holidays.

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The steep climb up the south ridge of Hanter Hill is a lung burster of packed contours. You can see the burn zone from the fire back in the summer in the photo above.

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It was a grey and damp day but not all that unpleasant – another to file under “glad we went out” and other platitudes reserved for grey days.

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Time to move on from Hanter Hill to the round of the sights on Hergest Ridge.

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Summit.

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View from the Trig Pillar.

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The summit pond.

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The Monkey Puzzle Trees (forgot to take a picture of the Whet Stone)

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We went down a different way along the western slopes of Hanter Hill. All very nice until the last few hundred yards where building work had destroyed the path and turned it into an impassable muddy mess. A walk over fields and along the road required to get back. Still a decent walk though.

Posted January 25, 2022 by surfnslide in Mid Wales, Wales, Walking

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Xmas and New Year Walks – The Begwyns   10 comments

Another wet and windy day with a clear afternoon spell had us out for another walk.

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We’ve not been to the Begwyns for a while. In fact the Prof had no memory of the place at all even though he’s been up here numerous times. I showed him some photos (and its quite a easily remembered spot at the top) but its been wiped and deleted.

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It was an odd afternoon of wispy clouds, blue sky and a ferocious wind.

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Its a perfect walk when you don’t want any navigational complexities. Just an open access land of grass and bracken with numerous paths in all directions. We always park at one end then walk to the other end and back.

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Choice of route is always a little different and this time we chose a selection of paths on the way out to stay out of the very strong westerly wind.

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The summit circle of trees surrounded by a wall known as the Roundabout.

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We’ve often stopped here for a break, picnic or cuppa but today being xmas it was busy and the wind made it far too cold to want to linger.

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We wandered back, this time with the wind behind us which made for a really quite enjoyable winter stroll.

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Another photo inspired by a TBF comfort break.

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Pleasant pond of mucky water.

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Setting sun.

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I mentioned the Begwyns to a friend and what a fine walk it was. When he looked on the map he was rather disappointed to find they are a small range, low in altitude and only a couple of miles long. I think he was expecting or confusing them with the Berwyns!

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Most of the people park up at the road near the Roundabout so the eastern end is always quiet

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The grassy paths between the bracken are something to be savoured and the colours at this time of year in late afternoon are stunning.

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A final golden brown shot of the bracken – shame its such a pain the ar5e when its green!

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Posted January 20, 2022 by surfnslide in Mid Wales, Walking

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Xmas and New Year Walks – Garway Hill   14 comments

Seeing as we were unable to travel to warmer climes this Xmas and New Year we were left with walks in the UK. As expected, since our wonderful two days in Yorkshire, the weather reverted to type and things were largely grey and wet. We did manage a few sunny intervals between the wet patches though. Firstly a break between heavy showers on Garway Hill.

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We were lucky in catching the sunniest period for a few days while we were out.

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Don’t be fooled by the expansive blue skies. This was very much against the run of play as they say in football circles.

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It was wild and windy up top, not a day to linger on the summit.

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Our summer time visits when we sat on the top watching the sunset with a chilled glass of beer seemed a very long time ago.

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At least the bracken had receded and was providing a welcome splash of colour.

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The next band of showers was already under construction.

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I always find the transmitter on the ridge to make a fine photo subject.

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Fine views out over the Shire.

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Looking back to the summit.

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TBF on her way back from, well, I’ll leave you to fill in that blank.

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And over to next door-shire (the Worcester one)

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Posted January 11, 2022 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Local Walks, Walking

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Whernside Sunny Side Up   19 comments

Another day and another stunning blue sky day. What had we done to appease the rain gods.

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Another big breakfast but earlier starts were planned and whips were cracked and we were on our way before – shock – 11am. A repeat of the walk we did a couple of years ago to take in Three Peak Number two for the weekend, Whernside. Hopefully with a view from the top and without a finish in the pouring rain.

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We drove about a mile down the road (saves a bit of road walking) and started with some cracking views to our target and the impressive Ribblehead viaduct, complete with train.

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Its a lovely path along the river and the railway line with views to the other peaks. Pen y Ghent here.

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And the skyline of the previous day’s route to Ingleborough.

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I always love a winter tree.

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A much smaller band of happy hikers today. The majority went down to the Ingleton waterfalls.

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Along the valley to Ingleborough.

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Entrance to the Blea Moor Tunnel. One of an amazing number of engineering marvels of the Settle to Carlisle line. I really must travel on it one day.

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One of the many waterfalls of Force Gill.

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As we climbed it became clear the the inversion has spread up the eastern side of the country and was much thicker than on the western side. Here approaching 500m.

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Our party had split with our intention to look at the Whernside Tarns which EWO had told us were rather nice from his previous days outing. UF and the Prof wanted no such extension to a walk and headed straight for the summit.

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Their loss as the walk across the flanks was superb on a fine grassy path with amazing views over the Pennines and the rolling inversion that seemed to be on the move.

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Panorama shot (click to enlarge)

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One of the many spectacular viaducts on the line. The inversion in right of shot was actually flowing down the valley towards it.

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Reaching the Whernside Tarns required a bit of heather-bashing and bog-trotting but well worth it. EWO was right, they are a wonderful spot.

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I spied a cairn over on the edge so while I waited for others to catch me up I went over for a look. It was there to mark a spectacular view out over Dentdale to the Howgills and distant Lake District. With sun behind me it was a perfect moment.

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Cairns always make a great photo foreground.

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The tarns were perfectly still and would have made for a stunning reflection shot had there been any background to reflect!

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Had the other two still been with us it would have made a perfect place for lunch. It was still calm and relatively warm in the sun. We had to push on to try and join them at the summit.

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The views out over Greensett Tarn (I assume that’s its name as its not indicated on the map) were superb. The inversion was starting spread and flow down to where our hostel was.

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Looking north along the edge of Whernside.

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And south to the summit and beyond.

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This guy spent well over an hour trying to take off without much success. In winter on a calm day I can’t imagine there being enough wind or thermals to make a decent flight. He did manage it eventually while we were on the way down but he pretty much just went straight to the valley bottom.

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The views from the summit were as expected spectacular. The inversion was still in full effect.

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We did stop for lunch but by now there was a light breeze blowing, enough to make things rather chilly. We were still feeling immensely pleased and happy.

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We had to tear ourselves away due to to cold extremeties and a dipping sun. Compensation was, as yesterday, provided by some gorgeous light to further enhance those stunning views.

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The inversion here seemed much lower as we were sure we could see Arnside Knott, Warton Crag well out of the cloud (each being only 500 feet high) and I was also sure I could see both Humphrey Head and the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster, both even lower. You could see the bottom end of the Isle of Man, just visible in the centre of the photo.

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On the opposite side the inversion was spreading rapidly. Here providing a stunning view over Ribblehead and the viaduct.

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Looking out over the Forest of Bowland. If you look closely at the middle right hand edge of the picture you can see a range of distant mountains poking above the cloud. It’s the mountains of Snowdonia (Carneddau most likely). I’ve seen them very hazily from the south Lakes but never from this distance or so clearly. I reckon they must be 80 miles away as the crow flies. Amazing.

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The spectacular clouds even started to smother and shroud Park Fell. It was a wonderful show of nature.

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The light become ever more spectacular and golden as we and the sun descended

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I love this shot of the clouds and the viaduct bathed in that golden light.

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More winter trees.

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And the inversion starts to swallow Ingleborough.

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As before as we reached the valley we felt temperatures drop rapidly. Sadly we missed close ups of the viaduct bathed in light but on reaching the hostel we were treated to this surreal light show of mist, sunset and the lights of Ribblehead. A stunning day day, if anything even better than the previous one, which is saying something.

Another fun evening in the hostel, spirits were unsurprisingly high after two amazing days.

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We did manage another walk the following day to bag the the third of the Three Peaks, Pen y Ghent. However the cloud base was now more as expected and it was a bitterly cold, raw day. We did get a view from the top and its was still a great walk but not a day for photos. This was the only one I took.

What a magnificent weekend. A chance to meet up with many friends and share some quality time together which is the most important thing. The fact we had two stunning days of weather was just the icing on the pre-xmas cake. Likely we will pay for this luck for years to come but there you go, and who cares!

Ingleborough Sunny Side Up   19 comments

Warning – the next couple of posts will have A LOT of photos, many of which will be classified as “smug”.

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We always gather together for a weekend of old and good friends every year just before Xmas (missing last year because of you-know-what). We’ve settled on the area around the Three Peaks in Yorkshire as there is plenty to do and the scenery superb. However we’ve rarely seen the sun and my memories are of rain streaked windows and grey skies. This year our luck changed – dramatically.

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We woke to completely cloudless skies and distant mist settled on the valley near Horton. It was a stunning morning, one to really lift the spirits and we were out early. Well, we would have been had we not had to cook up a massive fried breakfast, eat it and then corral a seriously inept group of hikers to actually get ready. It was approaching midday when we finally set off.

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Lateness and frustration soon forgotten on what was a truly stunning day.

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We decided to head for Ingleborough this time, just a straight out and back to the top. Even the first stretch, cutting the corner between our home at Gearstones Lodge and Gauber, past the source of the Ribble was just a delight. There was barely a breath of wind so the sun still had a little warmth. Pace was slow with quite a collection of old timers, kids and their various partners. Who cares on a day this good.

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Mark looking out to Ingleborough.

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Three Peak number two – Pen y Ghent.

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And number three – Whernside with the Ribblehead viaduct in the middle ground.

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Up and over the Settle to Carlisle Line.

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Views opening out as we climbed the steep slopes to Park Fell.

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We’d hoped that the valley mists might give us some decent views as we climbed but we were stunned and amazed by the scale and size of the cloud inversion. Above is a distant Pendle Hill above the clouds.

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Some of the large party on the Park Fell summit.

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We took a route over some seriously boggy ground and took in Simons Seat as well, Ingleborough looming larger and yet more distant than we’d hoped considering the late hour of start time.

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All the while the views and the sheer extent of the inversion becoming more magnificent as we progressed.

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Mountains of the Lake District in the distance.

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UF on Simon Fell.

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Whernside, and, to the right of shot the superb edge path which was to be our return route.

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Once we finally reached Ingleborough the true extent of the inversion became clearer. It was blanketing most of the NW and Morecambe Bay up to the Dales and Lakes. We had it on good authority that anywhere low down and further south was seeing a gloomy mist and little else.

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As is always the case when you are above an inversion, the air is stunningly bright and clear. It was a remarkable day. Ingleborough in its isolated position was the perfect vantage point.

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Ingleborough summit.

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Smug selfie!

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Close up of the clouds flowing through the valley.

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I returned from my photo reverie to discover that DB Junior – again – had come a cropper and cut his chin open. It was quite a nasty cut but with so many people he was soon patched up (a later visit to A&E confirmed no major damage or need for stitches)

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Despite a little grumbling through the day the advantage of a late start means some of the best views of the day as the lowering sun sets everything with a deep golden glow.

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We all had to make a swift exit to try and get back without an excessive amount of walking in the dark.

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With views this good it is very difficult to tear yourself away. The walk back along the edge path I mentioned was just amazing in the fading light. We managed to reach the road just before it got proper dark. Even the walk across the fields on a clear, frosty, moonlit evening was a joy. Some took my suggestion of a shorter walk to the Hill Inn where I’d pick them up later. If only it had been open! They had to walk a couple miles down the road in the dark but seemed happy enough when I picked them up at a different pub with large G&Ts in hand. I joined them for a quick pint to help things along.

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What a truly superb day to live long in the memory. The map below only shows our return route rather than the outward one over Park and Simon Fells. Distance was over 10 miles in the end. Whilst a more leisurely stop on the summit would have been good I’ll take the grand breakfast, late start and late afternoon light as ample compensation.

Awesome!

A Long Forgotten Church   12 comments

Over the past few weeks we’ve made a couple of trips to Nottinghamshire for family visits. Nothing too exciting, a few short walks and some bike rides but nice to relax and chill out.

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The local attraction is the Grantham Canal which makes for nice cycle routes and short walks. The photo below betrays just how bitterly cold and windy it was on that day.

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Continuing the unusual church theme from the previous post.

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This is St Mary’s Church at Colston Bassett.

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As you can see its now a ruin although recently tidied up and re-dedicated by English Heritage. We were in the area on a bike ride and TBH said it was worth a look (she used to live in the area when she was younger).

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We were lucky to catch a really clear blue spell on an otherwise grey day.

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When she said remains of a church I was expecting just scant foundations and a few walls so I was surprised to see such a substantial remain.

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Information online is bit vague but from memory of the sign at the entrance, it’s been around since Norman times and fell into ruin by the 19th Century as the Wolds were depopulated and the main site of the village moved about half a mile. A new church was then built in the site of the village today hence this one was no longer required. On a sunny winter afternoon it was an evocative site and I’m very glad we made the effort to see it.

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Slightly out of sync with posts to come, a few photos from our second visit over Xmas. A walk around Bradgate Park on Xmas Eve. A misty and dreary day, which was a shame as its a wonderful park with a myriad of small hills, woodland, lakes and, to enliven this walk no end, plenty of deer.

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Even though they are very much habituated to human presence its still always a joy to see a bit of wildlife – even if that life is not exceptionally wild.

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At least the weather was calm so we enjoyed our outing as a precursor to a calm and relaxed Xmas.

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And also following on from the “wonky” theme of the previous post, a single image from our Xmas day walk to the dramatic “summit” of Hickling Standard. A dizzying 105m above sea level and complete with a leaning Trig Pillar.

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Back to Hatterrall Hill   16 comments

Another of our classic go-to walks. A circuit of Hatterrall Hill from Cwmyoy.

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A glorious winter morning with a – relatively – early start to catch the best of the weather.

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My favourite local church at Cwmyoy.

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This time I took a peek inside. Pleased to see the the window at the end keeps the wonky theme going.

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Its a gorgeous little church and worth a visit for its own sake. For me it just happens to sit on the route of one of my favourite walks.

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I’ve tweaked the route slightly to take in a more open approach across the fields and meadows to the base of the small rocky peak created by a landslip many years ago.

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Its a marvellous little spot with great views out to Ysgyryd Fawr.

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And back towards Hatterrall Hill.

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Until I looked at the images again writing the post I’d forgotten just what a cold day it was. A hint of snow on the higher summits and all the wet sections frozen solid.

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Looking back to the little nameless rocky peak.

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Sugar Loaf and the southern reaches of the Black Mountains.

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Frosty hollows.

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Vale of Ewyas leading up to the Gospel Pass.

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Offas Dyke path heading towards the Trig Pillar that’s not located on the summit.

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Its a fine spot though with expansive views across the patch work fields of the Shire.

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What better place to stop for an early lunch and a cuppa, hunkered down out of the chilly wind.

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As we finished lunch the cloud the started to build and the best part of the day was done and dusted. Happy times.

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Bristol and Cheddar Gorge   16 comments

Back to the end of November and a night out in Bristol followed by a walk in the Mendips.

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Hotel prices ruled out a city centre stay so I found a nice little cheap hotel in Clifton with the intention of catching a bus into town to meet my old workmates for beers and a curry. The afternoon rain seemed to have cleared so I decided to walk instead. First I wanted to take a closer look at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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Its an iconic site and the first time I’ve been over or near it since I was a kid. Even though the light was fading I enjoyed wandering across and back to take in its precipitous position and views of the Avon Gorge.

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Looking upstream towards the city centre.

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And downstream along the main part of the Avon Gorge.

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The building on the opposite side is the Clifton Observatory so I thought I’d take a look.

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A fine building.

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Commanding excellent views over the bridge to highlight what a marvel it is spanning the gorge.

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The sun was now set and darkness encroaching so I bid my farewell to the bridge and headed down the steep path to begin my walk along the Bristol harbourside.

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The bridge from below.

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Early evening down by the water. A great precursor to a great night out with friends I hadn’t seen in over 2 years (hoping its not another 2 years before we can meet again)

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Overnight, Storm Arwen hit the UK but I was still keen to take in a walk. Things didn’t look promising as I parked up in Cheddar. I was the only car in a huge car park, the wind was howling and rain was falling heavily. Checking the very useful Netweather App I could see the rain was just about to clear. I decided to go for it and by the time I set out and started the steep climb out of the town the sun was out.

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My plan was a long held wish to walk a circuit of Cheddar Gorge. My research told me there was a well marked trail along both sides so I set off on the northern edge path.

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Its a fine path but mostly follows the woodlands so you don’t see much of the depths of the gorge other than a short section near the start.

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It was a nice route though and being post-storm was deserted for now. The views out over the Somerset levels were rather good.

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Other than the wind it was quite a decent day now. I decided to extend the walk and see if I could reach Beacon Batch, highest point in the Mendips range.

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This follows the West Mendip Way and as it leaves the gorge behind runs through a very pleasant little valley.

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This long stretch through a massive field was especially fine and easy walking.

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The summit moors of Beacon Batch are not terribly interesting. It’s a bit muddy and bland although the views are ok. The shot below has Bristol Airport in it and I was disproportionately excited to see all the EasyJet planes parked up.

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Looking out over Weston Super Mare to South Wales.

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The summit trig pillar.

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Summit selfie that really doesn’t do justice to how windy it was. I was struggling to stand up as Storm Arwen had her final hurrah.

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It had been a long walk from the gorge so I had to push on and head back. The various grassy fields and paths were extremely fetching and I was keen to stop for a brew but it wasn’t until I reached the wonderfully named Velvet Bottom that I managed to find a place out of the wind.

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The clouds had rolled by then as well but I enjoyed the rest as I’d been walking for over 3 hours without much of a break.

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Looking back to Beacon Batch.

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Time to take a look at the southern edge of the gorge. Crepuscular rays over what I think are hills in Dorset.

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This side was much more like it. You can walk along the edge of the precipices and stand on a variety of exposed outcrops and peer into depths.

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Spectacular views over Cheddar reservoir to the Quantocks and north Devon coast. The small hill in the middle distance is Brent Knoll.

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Photos on a grey day don’t really convey how deep the gorge is and how exposed the edges are. It was a really superb section that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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A steep descent down the stairs/steps of Jacobs ladder returned me to the cheesy part of the gorge (see what I did there), all gift shops and tacky money grabbing enterprises but you still get the feel of the immenseness of the gorge.

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Quite a stretch of 11 miles in the end although it wasn’t really a day for hanging around so I was finished before it got dark. Another on my list of walks in this area ticked off but still a few interesting spots on the agenda.

Daily Exercise Regime   14 comments

Over the past 18 months I’d been largely focused on cycling for my daily exercise. I’ve been making an effort to get out for at least an hours exercise every day in a drive to drop some unwanted weight. Its worked to a decent extent as I’ve lost around 7kg (helped by cutting out snacks in the middle of the day and evening).

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I was however finding that while the cycling was great for my aerobic fitness, it was hampering my walking muscles. At the end of any reasonable day, whilst I was quick to climb, my legs would ache for a couple of hours afterwards, not used to carrying my weight around.

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Since the summer I’ve therefore been mixing walking with cycling for my daily regime. After a little experimentation I’ve managed to devise 3 or 4 decent routes across my local fields that avoid the worst of the mud and livestock. Most are from my front door (just one that involves a car journey) and all around 3-4 miles that I can do in an hour or so. Walking is at a brisk rate to get the blood pumping as there is barely any uphill worthy of the name.

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These first few pictures are from what I refer to as my “North Loop” on a particularly fine afternoon between work meetings.

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The trees were in their autumn garb and looking very fine.

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This field of green stuff (no idea what) also looked rather fetching.

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I’m always mesmerised and impressed in equal measure by how farmers can create such perfect straight lines when ploughing and seeding crops.

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These fields near the various Wormhill Farms are always a pleasure to walk through. The farmer has very kindly left the footpaths clear so, other than the mud when it rains, they are easy to walk through.

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The return across the same fields back to the village.

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Route Map:

And a couple of nice sunset shots from my front garden.

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Every week I visit my local farm shop to pick up fruit, veg and whatever else they have in an effort to support my local businesses. For a couple of weeks the direct route by road was closed for people to lay Broadband Fibre (by a Private company as BT can’t be bothered with the rural areas). This meant a detour that takes me through the village of Bredwardine where there are some slightly more uphill walks I can take in on the way.

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Shorter at just less than 3 miles but with a couple of hundred feet of ascent to make up the effort difference.

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Superb views out over the Marches and the Wye Valley from the modest slopes.

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Returning to the car by the bridge and our favourite local swimming spot (not this time of year though!)

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And the pretty little church of Bredwardine where I park the car.

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Route map:

The longest of my routes is my Eaton Bishop circular that takes in a rather nice and petite area of Open Access Land called Honeymoor Common. Sadly I’ve not walked on a photogenic day lately so here are a couple of pictures from a dismal rainy walk today with a flock of inquisitive sheep that followed me across the field.

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And the green fields close to home.

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Route Map:

Lastly is my Golf Course circuit, so named as it, well, crosses my local 9 hole par 3 course.

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Again, it took a few experimental efforts to fine tune the best route.

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The golf course makes for a fine stroll on an autumn day between the showers.

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On a weekday it’s almost always deserted.

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The last few fields on my way home.

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We gave up on local walks from home after living here a couple of years but this latest round of exploration has revealed some really nice stretches. There are of course a few fields with cows and horses and few muddy corners but overall I’m now happy with my circuits. Mixing them in with a variety of bike routes means I now have around two weeks worth of daily exercise routines before a repeat.

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Route Map:

I hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on my daily walks around my local neighbourhood!

The Churchstoke Round   22 comments

A firm favourite this one and a walk we’ve not done for a while. It’s just over the border in Wales (although its heart belongs to Shropshire) and it was out of bounds for the many weeks of Lockdown. Another fine autumnal day and it was time to head back and enjoy its many charms.

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The trees were still putting on their final show of colour before the bare branches of winter.

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First on the list is Todleth Hill. No paths as such but all open access land and I’ve never seen anyone up here. The views are superb.

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The highlight of the walk for me is the wonderful little Roundton Hill. Definitely in my top five small hills.

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Nicely framed between the trees.

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Its a steep little bugger though but the reward is expansive views. Here to the summit of the range, Corndon Hill.

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And out over the Severn Valley to Snowdonia. Snowdon itself is just about visible in the centre of this shot.

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When I said it was an autumnal day, it was more like winter. The air was chilly and there was a strong breeze that made it feel rather icy. Lunch on the summit was the hunkered down in the grass behind a rock sort.

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Onwards to Corndon Hill. The improved route along a lovely grassy path much better than my original try, bashing through the bracken.

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Looking back towards Roundton Hill.

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Corndon Hill is quite isolated and while only 500m high, this isolation provides some fantastic and far reaching views. Here to Stiperstones.

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The Long Mynd.

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The wind was howling on the top and I reached for hat and and gloves for the first time this new season.

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The distant Cheshire Plain.

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TBF heading down towards Lan Fawr.

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Lan Fawr is a wonderful collection of small grassy knolls, again with spectacular views out to mid-Wales. Its a great place to linger, but not today, exposed as it was to the cold wind.

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The route down is along a high level grassy path, marked with wind blown trees. Its a superb stretch that I look forward to when I do this walk.

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We managed to find a spot in a field lower down for second lunch, tucked behind a hedge and out of the wind. A great view across to Roundton Hill, looking much higher than its 370m.

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Whilst there are paths to make a circuit back to Churchstoke, the best way is simply to repeat another walk over Todleth Hill.

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This time the setting sun was bathing Roundton Hill in a gorgeous deep golden light.

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And the setting sun makes a grand finale as you wander back down to collect the car.

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A memorable walk, all the better for the fact we only saw a handful of people despite it being a blue sky day.

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Posted December 12, 2021 by surfnslide in Mid Wales, Wales, Walking

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