New Take on an Old Favourite   8 comments

With the weather being less than sunny the past few weeks, my chances to get outdoors for exercise have been few and far between (indeed its pretty awful today and not much better tomorrow). Spending most of my working day in front of laptop screen means that spending another hour doing the same thing has not been an attractive proposition, hence the blog silence for a couple of weeks.

Time to rectify that with memories of cracking day (3 weekends back I think) at the start of the cold spell.

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Trying not to drive too far and with Wales out of bounds, the eastern edge of the Black Mountains was the target. We normally only take short walks on this side parking high up but after our walk from Longtown the previous week we decided to start from there and walk all the way up to the main ridge, not something we’ve ever done before.

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A gorgeous morning, clear blues skies set off against the verdant green fields and a dusting of snow on the summits.

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We followed the same route up to the base of the open access land that we took the previous weekend. There are plenty of paths but not all of them are easy to navigate (as we also found out the previous weekend), so knowing this was easy to follow and no muddy impediments made for an easy choice.

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On a sunny day these are enjoyable sections and we didn’t see a soul all the way, another good reason for choosing this route.

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We reached the same point as last weekend but this time turned the other way to head for a path up onto the main ridge.

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There is an easy, if long, gently ascending diagonal path all the way to the top of the edge.

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Views across the Shire.

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As we climbed we reached a patchy line of wet snow.

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The path reaches the edge at the point of the Black Darren landslip that we’ve climbed many times.

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Almost within a few metres underfoot conditions were transformed to full winter with powdery snow and everything frozen solid.

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From here on, with all the ascent done, it was a pure delight to walk along the top in the crunchy snow and ice.

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I can’t be 100% sure but I think the couple of miles we walked SE along the ridge was the first time I’d done this particular stretch. If so it added and extra frisson of excitement to what was already a magnificent day.

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No greater feeling than walking on crisp snow on a clear blue winters day.

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And a Trig Pillar I don’t think I’ve bagged before.

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I love the contrast between winter in the foreground and the green fields below.

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Looking to Hatterrall Hill with Sugar Loaf in the background.

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The higher summits in Wales seemed to be experiencing much more in the way of clouds and likely that’s where we’d have been in normal circumstances.

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It was windy and pretty cold up top, but we did find a sheltered spot for lunch and a cuppa. It was here that we saw our only 3 people of the day, a couple out hiking and lone mountain biker taking extreme care on the icy path.

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We had thought about carrying on to Hatterrall Hill but decided we’d been far enough on a short winter day. We took another diagonal rake back down to the base of the access land.

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For a time we were full on into the face of the wind and out of the sun. It was perishingly cold and I pretty much ran down to reach the sun again!

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The path along the base of the edge was better than I thought. Rather it being the mud-bath I’d assumed it was more rocky and therefore running with water, effectively a stream and easy to stay dry. Where it did turn muddy there was a grassy field to traverse just above it that gave a very pleasant walk.

We dropped down to the valley bottom and crossed more delightful fields to Clodock and its church.

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We’ve stopped for a picnic with the kids here a few times and as with all our local churches it gives a fine backdrop to a blue sky.

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Apart from one extremely muddy stile the walk is finished by more fields of sunshine.

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Back to our new favourite walk start point at Longtown village hall. 8 miles of winter wonder.

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8 responses to “New Take on an Old Favourite

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  1. Ideal conditions for a walk. Blue skies as well, haven’t seen them in weeks!!

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  2. That was a rather splendid day! What I always find so different is the flattish patchwork of green fields that seem to go on forever. It’s not a type of view we see up here – we bump into a hill every few miles lol.

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    • It’s one of the joys of the hills local to me that you get sense of height and distance from the edge looking out over the seemingly endless green fields (and orchards in this part of the world. Never tire of it on a sunny winters day although is not easy to capture that feeling in a photo

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  3. One advantage of being out in a rural area is that you still have some choice of hills, even if limited, which is something I’ve really missed, trapped inside a few square miles of a city for a full year. Good looking hills as well. It was a mental godsend for me recently to get lasting snow for a week just to change the local walks/scenery as I’d completely lost interest in going out at all, doing the same old routes in a pointless circle. After heavy snowfalls my motivation soared and I was out five days in a row which gave my spirits a real lift. Been hard on everyone because it’s dragged on so long. Even I’m feeling it now. Nice looking ridge.

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    • Yeah, I count myself very lucky to live in small village. The local walks from the door are a bit bland and muddy but I know millions of people trapped in cities would give anything for a muddy across a few fields. We are also lucky that a “short drive” gives us access to some mountains or reasonable stature. Hope you’ve been able to stay sane through all the madness and it does look like we are nearing the end at last if the improving pattern continues and we don’t find a new an novel way to screw that up.

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  4. Wow – stunning views and photos. It seems incredible that you could have such perfect conditions and lovely paths almost entirely to yourselves – amazing.

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    beatingthebounds
    • My guess is that the most obvious places to climb this ridge start in Wales where restrictions are a lot stricter. Longtown, where this walk started is right in the middle of nowhere but not too far from home, about 20 minutes. We were/are very lucky

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