Archive for October 2018

A Damp Day in the South Lakes   19 comments

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TJS had only been away at University for 3 weeks but as it was his Birthday we decided to go and see him. Mark and his family were kind enough to let us stay, mess up their house and eat all their food – again! The forecast for Saturday had looked pretty decent but alas it dawned grey, dreary and overcast with a light drizzle in the air. Not a day for a high level walk as I’d planned and it was left to just me, Mark TBF and TJS to form a hike party

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We planned a route around the small hills and pastures near the south end of Windermere to take in the small but very prominent summit of Gummer’s How which despite hundreds of visits to the Lakes, I’d never been up. As it was in the cloud when we parked up near the base we decided to save it for the end of the walk hoping it would be out of the cloud

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Despite the gloomy conditions it was a really good walk. What the area lacks in mountainous peaks it more than makes up for with interesting stuff.  The forest is packed with small tarns like this one, Middle Tarn

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Whilst this may look like a barn it is in fact a Quaker meeting-house, Heights Cottage

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From there its a short walk across to Raven’s Barrow and its prominent cairn overlooking the valley of the Winster river and down to Arnside, Arnside Knott and beyond to Morecambe Bay. The line of brightness shows the split in the weather beyond which all was blue skies further south and east. Despite our hopes it never reached us

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On our way to a lunchtime stop we passed the church on the slopes of Cartmell Fell (Mark will step in and give out its real name when he reads and comments I hope. He knows the area very well and is a useful companion on these walks to take you on a tour of the interesting sites like this.)

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Its been rendered on the outside and looks quite plain but on the inside its stunning. It’s very, very old and the stained glass contains fragments taken from other churches

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I particularly liked the wooden roof beams

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The area is packed with wonderful converted farm buildings and cottages and wanted to live in every one. This one in particular caught my eye although I suspect I’d need to perform a Hatton Garden style robbery to afford it

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Of course its proximity to one of Lakelands finest pubs had nothing to do with my enthusiasm to live here. The Masons Arms is an old favourite serving a range of beers that includes Belgian fruit beer (raspberry today). Very tasty it was too.

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The food was also very good and we enjoyed a light lunch of Black Pudding, Poached Egg and Potatoes. We sat outside under cover and our stay coincided with a spell of heavy drizzle that stopped as we packed up to leave.

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From there a steep climb up Whinny Knott

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And into the Birch Fell Forest (or should that be Fanghorn Forest, home of the Ents)

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From there we had to bash through the undergrowth and very wet grass and Bracken to reach the top of Gummer’s How

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We were just out of the cloud so its famed views were somewhat limited. Still, there were great views down over the southern end of the lake.

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The line of brightness had crept a little closer but not close enough

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Despite that, I enjoyed our visit to the summit and look forward to a return sometime in sunshine. It is only a 15 minute walk from the car after all

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Gummer's How

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A fine walk regardless and one where we never donned waterproofs which seems pretty miraculous considering the weather. Back home for a slap up takeaway curry to finish the day

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Down By the Seaside   12 comments

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A weekend of storms, high winds and heavy rain put pay to a plan for a weekend with The Hairy Oatcake down in the Gower for some kayak surfing. Instead Sunday looked better so we planned a day out. High quality weather forecasts let us down as always and Sunday dawned just as wet and miserable as the previous couple days but we went anyway. After a lunch in Porthcawl the rain stopped and there was tentative sunshine. The waves looked especially promising and into the water we went

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It turned into a wonderful afternoon. Offshore winds created near perfect waves and eventually we were treated to abundant blue skies and warm sunshine.

Kayaking selfie

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THO in action on the waves

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Taking a break under blue skies

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Hard to believe the torrential rain we’d driven down in a few hours earlier. Fickleness of the British weather never ceases to amaze me.

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After a cracking afternoon riding some of the best waves in many a year, time to return to the THO camper van for a brew

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And some fine late evening shots across the Bristol Channel to North Devon and along to the Gower

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Oh I do love to be beside the seaside (and on the sea)

Posted October 24, 2018 by surfnslide in Gower, Kayaking, Surf Kayaking, Wales

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Winter is Coming   17 comments

Just before the autumn deluge began, washing away all memories of the glorious first half of the summer me and TBF headed out for a walk in the Brecon Beacons. A walk tinged with sadness as the first one where we’d normally expect TJS to be with us.

We set off from Llanfrynach and I was glad I’d put the shorts away and felt the need for the gloves for the first stretch (hence the title of the post). In the end as the weather was so pleasant it turned into quite a long walk of around 13 miles.

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The first section is along by the babbling stream and small leat that I assume provides the village with its water supply. It’s a very nice section that I always enjoy.

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As you reach the open fields above, views open out to the main summits of the Beacons

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The sheep and trees made a nice foreground

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We decided to include Cribyn on the itinerary which involved some road walking and long trudge along an overgrown green lane to reach its open slopes

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From there is a long steady climb to the base of the very steep north ridge

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A view down from the summit of Cribyn while I waited for TBF to catch up

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Cribyn is a superb mountain with a sharp summit and expansive views all round

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The long edge heading east from the top is equally good and we’d hoped to find a sheltered spot for lunch. The wind had other ideas and seemed to find us out wherever we hunkered down

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We ploughed on to the almost as good summit of Fan y Big, still no shelter until we eventually found a small grassy terrace where we could take a break having walked pretty much non stop for 3 hours

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The edges from here are just a joy to walk, almost level walking with views to the distant hills of mid-Wales and Shropshire

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We descended what seemed to become an endless ridge back towards our start point. Having not been on that many long walks for a while we feeling weary by this point

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Before the steep drop down to the village this dead tree caught my eye

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We were tired an fulfilled after a long stretch, longest walk I’ve done for quite a while

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TJS would have enjoyed this walk I’m sure but he has his own range of mountains in the Lake District to explore now

Posted October 16, 2018 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Wales, Walking

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And Then There Were Three   21 comments

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A couple of weekends back and a big change for the family. TJS having worked hard for his A-Level results was now about to start on his own way in the world. With full car and empty wallet we dropped him off and helped him settle in to his new life at Lancaster University. Four years of hard work and new experiences await him as he starts his Masters Physics course. He’s taken everything completely in his stride and seemed totally at ease with settling into life away from home. In fact they had set up all kinds of events for his welcome day and was eager for us to go! In truth the fact that he seemed so ready to go made the prospect much easier for me and TBF as parents.

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Its a new life for us to get used to as well. Luckily we have our good friends Mark and his family who live nearby and offered to put us up for the weekend. That also helped to soften the blow of the changed circumstances. We managed to fit in a series of fine walks over the weekend around our commitments with Danny and their weekend plans.

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After dropping Danny off in Lancaster we had time for an afternoon walk. As you know from my many previous visits to their home, there is a huge range of wonderful interesting walks that go straight from the door. First one, we followed Mark as he took us a tour that included Arnside Knott.

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After cutting through Eaves Wood we passed by Middlebarrow Quarry. (I’m sure Mark will correct me if I have any of the locations or maps incorrect – there are so many paths around there, not all marked on the map, that its impossible to be 100% sure where I am. Not that it matters, its all wonderful). Its huge but you’d never know it was there unless you went looking for it

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Across a huge open pasture with views to Arnside Knott and Arnside Tower. The railway line was close by and there a few people clearly waiting for a train to pass through. More on that later.

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As we emerged onto the upper slopes of Arnside Knott the colours told us Autumn was on its way and the views, as they always are from up here, were superb

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Here is the stream train crossing the Arnside viaduct over the Kent that the spotters must have been waiting for

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One of the finest of the UK’s small hills in my view. Me and Mark played the game of which one we thought was best between Carn Fadryn and Arnside Knott. I think it was an honourable draw. 🙂

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In the late afternoon sunshine the changing colours of the trees was spellbinding.

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Throw in the sunlight behind the clouds and it was all rather splendid.

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TBF looking cold

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Fungus-mongous!

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A view down over Silverdale village

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And the setting sun.

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A respectable 6 miles for a late afternoon walk

Arnside Knott

Next morning one of the DBs was being confirmed at a local church so me and TBF went for a short stroll down to Jenny Brown’s Point and Jack Scout

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It was a pretty dull morning and very cold and windy. However even though I was without my local guides I managed not get lost!

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A view across Morecambe Bay towards Lancaster

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A view towards Grange over Sands from  Jack Scout

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Another 5 miles to the total

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After a fine buffet lunch we were out again. Back across The Lots (one of my favourite spots around here). The weather had changed to bright sunny intervals and heavy showers

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I don’t mind those sorts of days. Its wothn putting up with the odd soaking when you get clear spells and dark brooding skies like these

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We wandered back through the edge of the village and along The Row (dodging another shower) and then up into Eaves Wood. The light in the trees was sublime

 

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Emerging on to the top near the Pepper Pot the storms were still tracking across the horizon, missing us fortunately.

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A storm completely covering Heysham and its power station – it was clearly visible a minute or two earlier

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And the Pepper Pot itself.

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Another 4 miles in the bank and almost 15 miles over the weekend. Not bad for a few strolls

Eaves Wood

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So a contrasting weekend of emotions. A mix of pride and sadness that TJS has now left home to follow his own path and seems to coping so well, and a great weekend spent with good friends. Huge thanks to Mark, TBH and the family for helping us through the weekend, putting us up and feeding us amazingly well as they always do! 🙂

A Dash Between the Rains   12 comments

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I’m catching up slowly and this walk was only 2.5 weeks ago. A horrid Saturday and a wet Sunday morning with a poor forecast seemed to condemn us to a weekend of domestic servitude. Sunday lunchtime arrived, clouds cleared and the sun weakly shone so we swiftly headed out for a walk.

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Hay Bluff and Lord Herefords Knob is always a good choice for a short notice walk as, like the Sugar Loaf you can park halfway up.

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Classic views across the Wye Valley right from the outset.

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And the usual leg burning, lung busting steep climb to the top of Hay Bluff

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Panorama from the summit

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What I wasn’t prepared for was the strong winds and significant drop in temperatures from the previous few days. A north wind meant that wearing shorts was not the best decision!

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After a couple of days of damp misty weather the winds had cleared the air and visibility was amazing in the clear sunny spells. We could see as far as Cadair Idris in the southern reaches of Snowdonia

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We didn’t linger on the summit for very long. It was cold and windy.

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And storms were approaching

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This one was definitely coming our way and I feared we were in for a fair old battering

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View south down to the Vale of Ewyas

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In the end we only caught the tail of the storm and the soaking was very minor as we walked back to the car

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Hadn’t expected to even hit the hills on this weekend so we counted ourselves fortunate to grab such a decent slice of wild and clear weather between the showers

Keeping the musical contribution going. A great track from a band who, with the passing of Tom Petty earlier this year, now have less surviving members than departed ones. The End of the Line for this post

Night Out in the Black Mountains   16 comments

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I’ve been trying to get out more to wild camp this year and TJS was keen for a last trip before heading off to university. Forecast wasn’t too bad so we gave it a go on a Friday after work.

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It was past 7 when we set off from the car, windy and cold. We had less than an hour of light left. We returned to the same point by Llyn y Fan Fawr where we camped earlier in the summer. The wind made it difficult to put both tents up at the same time so it took a while to get set up. Pitch dark by the time we’d done so a lazy evening drinking tea and chatting.

Next morning was much better. Brighter with wisps of blue sky

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Breakfast in the tent (too windy and cold for an al fresco affair)

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Its a cracking spot though

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TBF readies herself for a day in the mountains

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We left the tents pitched and went for the classic circuit of the Black Mountain range. Same circuit as in the summer but in reverse. I figured as the wind was so strong we’d want it behind us on the higher section

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A view down over Llyn y Fan Fawr

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TJS on the high level traverse under the cliffs

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The old water leat that supplies Llyn y Fan Fach

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One of my favourite south Wales views over Llyn y Fan Fach and Bannau Sir Gaer

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As we walked along the edge we were engulfed in a heavy shower of rain. Luckily it didn’t last long and we had some nice wispy cloud effects

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View from the highest point over Llyn Fan Fawr. Our campsite is in the top left hand corner of the lake

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A view down the prominent gully that splits the crags above the lake

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Time for lunch at the tent. We had to hide behind the tent for shelter such was the force of the wind

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Forecast for the afternoon and next day was very poor so time to get the hell out of there. We packed up and headed down

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The views across to Fforest Fawr were excellent

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Fan Gyhirych looking dark and moody

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There was a lot more water flowing than earlier in the summer

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The sunshine on the small waterfalls was very fetching but the water looked cold. Those hot summer days of wild swimming seem a long time ago

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Chances to sneak away for a wild camp will be limited as winter closes in although it is my intention to get out and do some winter summit overnights if we get some cold frosty weather.

Having been reading and enjoying Ken Browns new music inspired blog I thought I might add some tunes to my post to broaden the scope a little. I used to create a music tracked slideshow but I’ve lost interest in that of late so I’ll just add a tune that I like to each post. I just happened to be listening to this while I finished this post and as its a sublime and chilled track, one of my favourites I’ve discovered in the past 12 months I thought I’d share it. I like the lyric “Didn’t I take you to, higher places you can’t reach without me”

Short Walk on the Sugar Loaf   14 comments

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A short day needs a short walk and this one is a local classic. Start high and a nice horseshoe around the southern flanks of the distinctive Sugar Loaf overlooking Abergavenny.

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Weather looked to have some promise when we set off but the clouds were quickly gathering with showers and drizzle cloaking the hills to the south

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Not sure what they use the rolls of bracken for (animal feed, fuel to burn?)

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Ever darkening skies

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Gorse still in flower

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Approaching the summit

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TJS on the summit

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We had some decent views and managed to find a sheltered spot on the top (it was exceptionally windy). The summit was remarkably windy for a cloudy and windy day. Many people seemed somewhat under-equipped, a poor decision as luck ran out and it started drizzling heavily as we left the summit and we got quite a soaking

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It stopped on the way down and we dried out a bit before we had to sit in the car for the drive home

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Decent stroll on a hill we know well, no need for navigational thoughts, just enjoy the panoramas and being outdoors in the hills and fresh air

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