Ninebanks YHA Weekend Part Two – Greenleycleugh Crags   14 comments

Some walks have a special place in your heart, like a fondly loved tune or a favourite meal. This walk is one of  mine for reasons I can’t truly explain. It’s not especially dramatic, doesn’t possess any features of great interest, in fact I would imagine the “big peak” baggers would call it dull. Perhaps it’s the peace and solitude, possibly the open expansive views, or just simply it’s such a quiet and little known or walked area. Whatever the reason it’s a great easy stroll that fits in with the laid back atmosphere we always seem to conjure and cultivate on our Xmas weekends.

Greenleycleugh Crags

Greenleycleugh Crags from Ninebanks

After our cracking day out to Hadrians Wall and an evening of curry, quizzes and stories it was time for a more leisurely day. Best way to begin such a day is with a humungous fried breakfast served with toast and several pots of tea. None of us are especially great cooks (well Mark is actually but let’s not build his part up) but boy do we know how to fry sausages and bacon and boil unfeasibly large amounts of beans in a pan. Refreshed and stomachs full to bursting we needed exercise so we “popped out for a stroll”.

Mohope Burn

Mohope Burn

We headed on the same route as we did last year (minus the clear, cold, snowy conditions) but when I plotted the route it came out at 7.5 miles which surprised me as it always feels less than half that.

Greenleycleugh

D is now the proper mountain man so declined the offer of a kiddy stroll in favour of joining that seasoned group of mountaineers that is me, Mark, Geordie Munro and Uncle Fester – building parts up again there. We strode, well ambled, along the quiet and muddy banks of the Mohope Burn below the hostel where we met up with the advance summit party who’d got up at the crack of dawn to bag what turned out to be spot heights on the moor.

Mohope Burn

Intrepid mountain men

This prompting a new tedious train of thought about possible guidebooks and tick lists. EWO then took a sideways step away from convincing us that weather is sunny and cloudless when it clearly isn’t, to trying to convince us that the moors were not boggy when they clearly were. We decided it was time to move on and headed on up towards the moors. Not without losing one of our party though. You’re probably thinking it was the younger member of the party, worn down by the relentless pace of the experienced members. Wrong, it was Uncle Fester who bailed out – he can’t walk for two consecutive days the poor old lamb. Despite this set-back we recovered our composure and carried on.

West Allendale

GM and ED above West Allendale

West Allendale

West Allendale

There was a biting cold wind blowing so we took a stop in the forest of the Corryhill Plantation. It was dark and gloomy but again for reasons I can’t put my finger on it was a wonderful 30 minutes. We sat, brewed tea , ate cold apple crumble and custard from a sandwich box, and relived, at D’s request, some of our favourite days in the mountains from years gone by. Mark has detailed this in his blog post of the same day as well as a rather dated and embarrassing photo from the 80’s. If I ever get the time I’d love to scan in some of those old photos and tell a few more of those tales from years gone by, they were good times.

Corryhill Plantation

ED and GM discuss the old days

We continued up onto the Dryburn Moor and on to Greenleycleugh Crags. As expected it was boggy unlike the assertions of EWO!

Dryburn Moor

Dryburn Moor

Small in stature and little more than a line of loose boulders it’s an esoteric spot which I’ve grown to love. The view spreads from the western Lake District to Cross Fell and over to the North Sea. Doesn’t really qualify as a “hill” but it would definitely make it into my book of “small hills with disproportionately fine views”. It’s up there now with Carn Fadryn, Foeldrygarn and Arnside Knott in my affections. It’s lonely, unspoilt and evokes feelings of a bygone age. Despite the road only a few hundred metres away it feels like a step back in time to a simpler age. It’s a beguiling place and one I urge you to seek out when you are up this way

Greenleycleugh Crags

Greenleycleugh Crags

Greenleycleugh Crags

ED on Greenleycleugh Crags

Greenleycleugh Crags

Tarns on Greenleycleugh Crags

Due to the late start the light was fading so after a brief pause we headed down through the open moor and upland fields down to West Allendale.

West Allendale, Mohope Moor

West Allendale and Mohope Moor

We caught sight of a couple of deer in the woods as we descended the ever steepening slopes to the river including a rather precarious and dated gate.

West Allendale

Olympic Gymnastics

Back in the valley we crossed fields of mud and passed through the sleepy farms at Broadlee and Hesleywell back to the hostel. It was pretty much dark when we got back but we all added this walk and this day to our list of the best ever. It says much for it’s quality that it shares a place with some well known and distinctive routes from my past. My first ascent of Ben Nevis in winter, Piz Palu in the Bernina Alps, Chrome Hill in the White Peak, Sgor Gaoith on skis to name a few. It deserves it’s place.

West Allendale

Winter Trees

Having visited this area for the past 3 years and this walk in particular the last 2, perhaps its familiarity that gives this walk it’s special place. They say familiarity breeds contempt. I disagree, and this weekend epitomises that sentiment. To me familiarity is bred from memories and my memories are my story of who I am and the person I’ve become. My passion for the outdoor life is very much at the core of my personality so my memories of my walks both favourite and less well cherished are an integral part of that. As I have changed so has my appreciation of the mountains. In my callow youth I became the peak bagger, seeking out the highest summits, the well known mountains, the longest routes, compiling and checking off lists, reluctant to repeat a mountain (“nah, went up that one last year”). Nowadays I look for unusual places, hills I’ve never heard of or visited, intriguing routes, quiet places. When I’ve found them I like to revisit them and enjoy them time over adding to that list favourites and special places. Familiarity breeds close acquaintance and an understanding of charms and subtleties. You come to feel at home on a walk

Mohope Moor

Moon over Mohope Moor

This passion for the outdoor life began while I was at University through it’s Hiking club. I forged some great friendships from those beginnings with people who shared that passion. These friends that were with me right at the start are still my best friends today. They have shared in many of my formative experiences in the hills and been part of most of the those favourite days. They are part of that familiarity that marks out who I am. We’ve all grown up (a bit!) through various careers and now into building our own families but the outdoors is still that constant binding thread. These weekends are a fundamental part of my life and I can’t imagine it any other way. When we get together that familiarity breeds a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere of friendship that I’d struggle to define. The old favourite stories from 30+ years that we re-tell time and again (and often joke about) remind me of good times, no, great times that we’ve had and like the favourite walks are part of who I am, my story, that I now tell through the blog. It will be sad day if we stop telling them or sharing the memories. I can’t imagine not spending the last weekend before Xmas in a Youth Hostel, the first weekend in the school summer holidays in North Wales or any other of the regular get-togethers. Familiarity breeds lifelong friendships.

Next year it’s off to somewhere new. Goodbye Ninebanks (for now) and thanks for all the fish 🙂

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14 responses to “Ninebanks YHA Weekend Part Two – Greenleycleugh Crags

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  1. Love the Hitchhikers reference! That made me laugh. You raise a very good point about sharing stories and experiences, I totally agree. We go walking in a couple of weeks (shift work at the weekend really does poop on walking plans sometimes) and I can’t wait! Great post and it looks like a great walk, thanks!

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  2. Nice vid and tune dude.

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  3. Compliments all gratefully accepted. I have to point out your modesty however, and report that the Spag Bol you produced on the Sunday evening was delicious.
    Since you praised my cooking I may forgive you the inclusion of several photos with me in ’em. Once upon a time I ruined photos by pulling faces or making rude gestures, these days I don’t need to make an effort! Particularly chuffed with the action shot of me climbing the gate. I was afraid that would feature – cheers!
    Nick Lowe is still my current favourite. I’ve been listening to OCMS too – cheers for that pointer.
    Lovely post: a fitting tribute to a great weekend. I’m glad that you made the connection from familiar walks to the comfort and security of familiar company and old friends. It may have been at the back of my mind, but you made the point which I now think I should have made. I’m happy to be moving on next Christmas, but would also be happy to come back to Ninebanks in the future.

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    beatingthebounds
    • It’s all about the narrative, how could I not include that photo!
      I was in a reflective mood when I wrote the post so it seemed appropriate to go into why these weekends are so important to me. Ninebanks is now added to my special places list
      You can thank Chrissie for the OCMS recommendation and the wonderful people at Nokia for allowing me free access to unlimited music to download their collection.

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  4. So you’ve got someone else listening to OCMS as well now? We’ll get them recognition yet!
    The whole area up there is definitely my kind of country. I love the moors, great views and even the solitude. You can walk all day round there and never see a soul. And I certainly love that familiarity that comes from visiting a place loads of times and doing the same favourite walks. Geoff will want to move on to a new place sooner than me – but I sometimes think I could never get enough of some areas!

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    • I have that same familiarity now with my local hills in South Wales, I get quite a kick from feeling like a kind of local expert and showing off the best routes when I have friends down. It’s taken me several years to understand the charms of the wild expansive and quieter mountains and hills but they are in my blood now

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  5. Thank You. I loved making the hike thru Your photos. There were many highlight photos and I lovevery much that “Olympic Gymnastics” photo.

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  6. There are plenty of quiet walks with those subtle wild charms in the vast N Pennines, Allendale is one area we have yet to explore – those photos should spur me on to work out a route. A drought (or deep freeze) would be handy though, it must be exceedingly wet in parts at the moment.

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    • Thanks Geoff, love this area, wild and, well, esoteric I suppose. It was pretty soggy up top, even last year when it was cold Mark managed to fall into a waist deep pool of unpleasantness!!

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