Archive for December 2018

Pre-Xmas Warm Up in Yorkshire – Part 1   23 comments

Our usual Xmas gathering of friends. Same area of West Yorkshire but a different location for the accommodation, the bunkhouse at Gearstones Lodge – very good it is too!

After an evening of catching up and a morning of over-consumption at breakfast, exercise was needed. The weather was the seemingly traditional grey and damp we always have but the company of good friends always helps to make the walk very much worthwhile. We’d planned a walk from Horton in Ribblesdale back to the bunkhouse via Pen y Ghent and a few other key sights.

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A grey day without any sunshine but we still had some views.

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A special photo of TBB as she didn’t want to be photographed or have he new blog name reminded – sorry TBB! 🙂

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Pen y Ghent loomed in and out of the cloud. We had a few tempting glimpses of brightness but it never materialised into anything that could be classed as sunshine.

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A brief stop to take on extra clothes and food. It was pretty miserable at this point but we find fun in the most unlikely places

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It was the briefest of stops on Pen y Ghent, it was pretty grim and for a while pretty wet.

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Once below the summit things improved both in terms of weather (it stopped raining at least) and in terms of sights. Being a limestone area, potholes are everywhere and we took a look at two of the finest examples. This one is the narrow defile of Hunt Pot.

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We scrambled down to the edge and found a sheltered and somewhat precarious spot for lunch.

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And thence to Hull Pot. This is a massively impressive hole in the ground, its size due, I assume, to a collapsed cavern roof. I’ve only ever seen it in dry weather so it was a stroke off luck to see it with water pouring in.

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It looks like a fine spot for a wild camp if a little popular.

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From there we had the minor challenge of a further 5-6 miles to walk back along the Ribble Way with around an hour of light left. Those maths don’t add up and we ended up walking over an hour in complete darkness. I actually enjoyed it and the benefit of OS Maps on my phone really came to the fore – I’m pretty sure we’d either have had to walk along way around on the the road or we’d have taken ages getting lost without it.

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A grand walk despite the gloomy weather and a decent 12 mile stretch. We’d earned a slap up meal and a few beers so that’s exactly what we did!/

And that will be it from me for 2018. Off tomorrow to Gran Canaria for our usual dose of winter sun (via a short city break in Lisbon). Happy Xmas and New Year to you all! 🙂

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Old Places – Sugar Loaf   11 comments

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It’s good having the prodigal son arrive back home from University and see him ambling about the house again. He was keen to head out for a walk on his old local hills. The forecast was ok but things looked deeply gloomy when we parked up but perked up no end as we climbed one of our go to favourites for a short day, the Sugar Loaf.

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We’d mistaken a bank of mist hanging on the lower slopes for the overall cloud base. we soon climbed through it to reveal atmospheric ethereal wisps of cloud at the halfway point as it were.

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It was cold and not much in the way of sunshine but good to be out after a dreadful wet day before.

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We had in mind a much longer walk than usual taking in a couple of the long ridges that fan out to the south having never walked them. 

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Views over to Ysgyryd Fawr, another go to favourite but lower down the list since they started making you pay to park at the bottom. 😦

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There is a very short rocky ridge on the top which I always enjoy and makes  for a great photo foreground.

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The summit was surprisingly quiet but we didn’t linger as the skies started to threaten rain.

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This led us to abandon our plan, instead finding a new and very pleasant route that traversed through fields and woods from one ridge to another. We rather liked the gnarly trees.

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A simple walk of around 5.5 miles but nice to find a subtley different variation on a grand mini mountain.

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It was also great to be out walking with TJS again, familiar territory, familiar company.

More New Places – High Vinnalls   14 comments

This Marilyn bagging is becoming addictive, not in a completist sort of way (I have zero chance of ever finishing them even by country) but in a desire to explore new corners of my local parts of South Wales, the Marches and Shropshire.

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After my walk the previous day I was up late and wasn’t planning a walk but the weather looked like it might deliver some decent sunshine between the showers so I headed out on a whim. Another new summit, this time High Vinnalls from Overton Common. The woods at the Black Pool car park are crossed many numerous trails and it was a pleasant walk up through Haye Park Wood. When I emerged from the trees the sun came out and the views were sensational.

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These shots were taken from the curiously named Climbing Jack Common.

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The equally curiously named Titterstone Clee Hill with its radar dome really stood out in the sun. For some reason it remained in the sun pretty much all day or at least whenever I glimpsed it.

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Seen here with its less dramatic but higher neighbour of Brown Clee Hill.

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In no time at all I was on the summit of High Vinnalls and the views were superb. Sunshine looking east towards the Midlands, dark and stormy towards the mountains of central Wales.

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The forest doesn’t reach the top so the views are wide and expansive. It really is an exceptionally fine summit and not one I ever knew was there even though I drive past it regularly heading north along the A49 in Shropshire.

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It was also remarkably quiet, just a handful of folks out for a Sunday stroll with a variety of bouncy dogs.

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A view to South Wales and the Black Mountains. The pointy peak on the horizon just left of centre is Ysgyryd Fawr.

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And across the Marches to the Malverns.

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There seemed to be plenty of paths and options to make a good circular route. I chose to walk along the top of Hanway Common.

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Before heading down towards the pretty village of Richards Castle. I used to get very excited as a kid to see any place name with the word “Castle” in it figuring every one would have a castle. They rarely do or at least nothing more than an old motte and bailey (historical speak for a mound and a ditch). This is all Richards Castle has sadly.

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What I did get were some stunning rainbows including a double one below that I only noticed when I looked at the photos at home.

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A walk along the muddy lanes was just as enjoyable in the late afternoon light.

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This ruined old barn catching the sun also caught my eye.

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As I reached woods where the car was parked the sun came out delivering more glorious autumn colours and rainbows.

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As it was a day not meant for stopping (it was cold and windy on top and very muddy lower down) I’d covered over 6 miles in just a couple of hours

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Yet another new hill and yet another good one. Long may the Marilyn’s rule!

Wet and Windy in Westwood   12 comments

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The weekend started out with a night out in Bristol with friends old and new from my Bristol connections. A cracking night out with plenty of laughs and a nice view from my hotel.

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A very long and leisurely breakfast wasn’t quite enough to dispel a mild hangover so a walk on the way home was in order. It was a pretty grim day, dark, stormy and windy so I picked another new Marilyn to attempt between Usk and Chepstow, Wentwood.

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It was chucking it down when I parked up in an empty car park at Cadira Beeches. I headed out with the wind howling through the trees above me but sheltered from the worst of it. 

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Being a forested hill, views were a bit limited and when I did find a break everywhere looked damp and wet. The hangover was gone though!

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I reached the summit to find one of the saddest and most neglected Trig pillars I’ve come across in quite a while.

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I had some occasional glimpses of blue sky and sunshine through the dense forest.

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The broad forestry track I’d been following degenerated into a muddy trawl. I’m becoming used to the idea that mud is a feature on these lower forested hills. A showery view over the Usk river valley.

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After walking the length of the ridge I turned to follow a parallel track below the ridge to the south heading back towards the car.

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The weather started to improve a bit with less rain, more flashes of sunlight but still with a howling wind above me.

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Passing Little Oak and Foresters Oak before reaching a point called The Five Paths. I turned for the short walk back to the car and was greeted with a patch of expansive blue sky and bright sunshine.

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Keen to try and get some views over the valley I struck out on a thin but exceptionally fine path through the woods. Whilst I didn’t really get any wide views the forest was a little less dense so I could at least sense the sky was clear and sunshine was up there, somewhere.

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Some more muddy paths took me through a succession of wooded glades and paths before I was back at the car.

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I was only planning a short stroll to blow out the cobwebs but I was enjoying being out and clocked up 6 miles in a couple of very blowy hours.

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It would be a fine place for a walk in Spring or autumn when it might be a bit less soggy. Another new place discovered and I have to say I’m enjoying the new places the Marylin’s list is introducing to me.

Posted December 9, 2018 by surfnslide in Wales, Walking

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Football Follow Up   13 comments

Every year round about this time me and TJS head up to Manchester for a football match, a few beers and a curry. This year it was against Bournemouth, decent game, City won and despite some dreary weather, and a bad cold for me we had a top day out.  We stayed over with The Hard Man to the west of the Peak District and were hoping from some decent weather and a long walk. November delivered another dismal damp day but not bad enough to deter us from a  shorter walk. With a  few hardy souls we parked up near Bosley Reservoir for a walk over a couple of the smaller hills. Sadly no new Marilyns for me although I did get a view of one from the car of Bosley Cloud.

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The first mile or so along the shore of the reservoir was muddy but pleasant enough and it had actually stopped raining for now.

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A few nice shots of and through the trees.

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Steeply up through the wet grass and mud (and some very slippery stiles) on to Sutton Common with its massive telecom tower. Sitting right on the edge of the Cheshire Plain the views are expansive and considering the weather not at all bad. The white dot in the middle of the photo is Jodrell Bank telescope.

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Still plenty of storms and showers that we seemed to miss the worst of. The top of the tower in and out of the mist.

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On the top it was windy and cold and not a day to linger. Probably not the best idea to head out into the cold damp weather with a head cold but I reckon sitting cooped up inside is just as bad.

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As we dropped down onto the ridge of Bosley Minn or Wincle Minn (my map shows both names on either side) there were some shafts of sunlight that gave us views to make the walk very much worthwhile more than just exercise.

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We were back home at The Hard Man’s place for a late lunch and several brews of tea and cake.

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A great weekend with plenty of laughs (if The Hard Man offers to show you his photo collection then I’d decline if I were you), good company and exercise with beer and curry thrown in. What’s not to like!

And with that I’m up to date on the blog for the first time in about 6 months!

New Places – Seager Hill   14 comments

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Time to head back out on my quest for new and less walked hills courtesy of my new found interest in the list of Marilyns.

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This time my poring over maps found Seager Hill in what looked like a fairly nondescript corner of Herefordshire. There were paths marked but no rights of way so I was keen to avoid any “get off my land” encounters. In the end I saw no-one at all.

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It had been dank and dreary weekend and even the slight lifting in the gloom engendered low hopes for anything other than an excuse for a bit of fresh air and exercise. A short steep climb from the road had me on top of the ridge which was open with surprisingly good views across the Herefordshire countryside towards the Malverns.

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The area is clearly very much dedicated to the shooting fraternity judging by the viewing seat above and the hundreds of pheasants I startled on my walk.

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As I walked past the Trig pillar and on past the highest point, ticking my list as I went, the skies began to clear a little and there were some broad shots of sunlight. I hadn’t expected to see any sun so was lifted by this positive turn in weather.

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I dropped down into the forest to try and make something of a circuit but it was boggy and wet with deeply rutted tracks that were hard to walk on.

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On my way back up the sunshine was catching this autumnal bush perfectly making it look like fire.

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When I was back on the ridge there was a large patch of blue and a pretty decent setting sun.

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A view back along the ridge.

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I was amazed at my luck again. From a walk designed merely to take a stroll for some fresh air in new surroundings I had a pretty superb finish to the day.

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The walk along the ridge was a pleasure, having it all to myself made it even better.

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Every gap in the trees gave a new view of the setting sun and pink clouds.

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The walk back down through the forest was muddy and a bit of a pain but worth it to make a decent circular walk to fill a couple of hours.

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Just short of 4 miles over an hour or so that rescued a dreary weekend of domestic chores and playing with my new smart home kit. Life is full of delights, planned and otherwise.

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