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On Yer Bike – The Camel Trail   15 comments

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A walk on the moors, a walk on the coast, a play in the sea. We needed something else to entertain us on the last day. Some cycling was in order. The Camel Trail runs for 17 miles along the estuary and inland towards the fringes of Bodmin Moor. That would do nicely, we hired bikes, packed a picnic and headed off

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Its a supremely easy and flat ride, busy and very popular with families. There are wide and expansive views across the estuary

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After passing through Wadebridge the character changes and it becomes a wooded trail. Much quieter and in fact for large stretches, deserted

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At the far end near Wenfordbridge we came across this rather nice meadow by the river and had tea, crab sandwiches and cake. Very refined

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And then back the same way rather than a trip through the lanes. To be honest the inland stretch was a bit samey, just long stretches through the trees with not much in the way of views. I think a road return would have added some variety but there is a lot to be said for traffic free cycling

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We returned along the estuary for more fine views and and ever increasing soreness of backside (a problem I find when I don’t have any cause to ride out of the saddle on a longer ride)

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A 34 mile trip took the weekends outdoor distance covered to almost 50 miles. Not bad

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Just a final stroll through Padstow and a quiet sit on the harbour to finish off a superb weekend

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Getting older has its benefits, lets just hope I have plenty more Cornwall weekends left in me! 🙂

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The Shorter Side of Wasdale   6 comments

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Last day always involves a good deal of packing. My trailer despite flipping open/closed quickly still takes a couple of hours to unpack and stow everything, empty water containers and the like. The windy weather helped out by taking my awning down for me the previous morning and bending my poles into interesting new shapes which was nice

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It was after lunch before all was done, leaving time for a short leisurely stroll to Wast Water. The kids decided to stay back and play footy. Like the day before there was plenty of blue sky and sunshine and it was nice to catch up with everyone without worrying about covering long distances or the kids happiness

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The lake-shore path at the SW end is the best way to experience the classic Wasdale view of Wast Water, Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell

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As well as the Wasdale Screes on the opposite shore (great to look at, awful to walk over)

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We sat on the grassy bank and chatted for a while, even daring to paddle in the chilly lake waters

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Alas we all had very long drives home so the walk was short yet perfectly formed. In fact a decent day until EWO drew a dark cloud over us all during a discussion about backpacking next Easter. I have no idea where this wording came from or what he was thinking but he said, and I quote ” how many more backpacking trips have you got left in you?” Both me and ED were stunned and momentarily lost for words until we told him we had a limitless supply. I intend to live forever for no other reason that to be an annoyance to every one who knows me for an eternity. Needless to say once we recovered our composure we saw the funny side and began what is likely to be an endless mickey take. Every conversation we ever have now, about anything will conclude with a “I don’t know how many (insert wording as needed) I have left”. Me and ED have a already started and it will probably appear as a regular guest phrase in most of my blog posts

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An entire weekend up here without significant rain is almost unheard of. Probably just as well we were there for this one because……

I don’t know how many more of these weekends I have left in me 🙂

The past 4 post photos all collected into a single slideshow with an awesome, Brian Cox endorsed tune for your pleasure

The quieter side of Wasdale   12 comments

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With a mild hangover (spot the pun from the previous post) we spent the usual eternity agreeing where to go for a walk. Not fancying using the car or the crowds no doubt attracted to the honeypots higher up the valley, we hit the heights of Buckbarrow and Seatallan. Hills of contrast, one rocky, one grassy. A nice combination that see’s very few footprints if my experience is anything to go by

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Over the fields and a steep climb alongside the tautological Gill Beck.

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Buckbarrow is splendid summit if you can call it that. In reality, just the rocky end of the grassier Seatallan but littered with small rocky outcrops. I’ve climbed it several times in the past few years and its become one of my favourite places.

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DB Senior who apparently wasn’t all that keen on a walk had a whale of time scrambling up some pretty tough little routes. Always adds to the pleasure for me to see one of the younger members of the gang enjoying the mountains same way I used to. I feel like I’m passing on the baton as I get older (more of this in a couple of posts time!)

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It was an overcast day but a few glints of sunlight kept us bright and the clouds were off the summits making for pretty fine views

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We stopped for a very long lunch after a long stretch where we walked for almost one hour! We compared stoves (my Jetboil won of course), talked nonsense with a little politics thrown in and laughed at great deal

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Time to move on as OGS was getting restless. I compared middle aged ailments and injuries as we strolled to the broad grassy summit of Seatallan. The views from here are unusual in that you see hills and valleys you wouldn’t normally see or know of. Here we have Haycock and Caw Fell above the wonderfully name River Bleng. Looked a fine spot for quiet wild camp some time

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We could see the Isle of Man although its summits seemed to be in cloud

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The main Scafell Pike range looked impressively dark and forbidding

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The descent towards Middle Fell was impressively steep and I declined the offer of an ascent of Middle Fell in return for a very wet, soggy and leg grazing traverse around Greendale Tarn.

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The rest of the day was whiled away with the steep descent along Greendale Gill and the return across the fields to the campsite for a chilly BBQ in the ever increasing wind

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Quite a long walk in the end at 8 miles and a very one enjoyable one as well. Nothing to challenge the brain so the focus is just on enjoying being out with good company both young, old and very old (sorry OGS!)

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Brecons Gap Route   8 comments

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Since I decided to give cycling another go I’ve had my eye on what looked like a rather fine round called the Brecons Gap Route. So named as it traverses the gap between Fan y Big and Cribyn in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. It’s a good deal tougher in the mountain section than anything I’ve attempted before but the weather was stunning so I figured I could at least give it a go. I set off from Talybont-on-Usk on a gloriously warm sunny day and headed off on the Taff Trail

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The first section was very rough and bouncy. The Taff trail follows the line of an old railway along the valley – at least that’s what I thought. Turns out the first couple of km follow an old bridleway and it was rough going but not too steep and I coped fine

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As it climbed the views began to open out across the Talybont reservoir

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I wandered onto the dam to take a couple of shots. Stunning I thought

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From there its a very long climb up to the pass above the reservoir. Never steep and by now on the old railway line the going was much smoother. They are clearing away the old plantation so the views were superb. Gave me an excuse to stop many times and admire.

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I passed a few people walking but no-one else on a bike. The Beacons Way follows this stretch and it reminds me why I don’t like following pre-ordained long distance routes. There is a superb high level route that would avoid this long endless trudge on foot, a few hundred foot up above on open ground. In fact the Beacons Way actually descends from where that path starts to pick up the Taff Trail and then climbs back up again to meet it a few km later. Why the route chooses to ignore an obvious high level path in favour of a forest trail is beyond me. This trail is ideal for cycling but not for walking. Each to their own I suppose but the D of E groups I saw seemed not to be enjoying the trudge even on this glorious day

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Seeing as this is the age of the selfie, here’s a very rare picture of yours truly enjoying another photo-rest excuse to stop

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From the high point of the road there is a speedy short descent before the trail curves around towards the main part of the Beacons. From here things get a little tougher

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The trail becomes extremely stony and rutted and while not steep was pretty hard work. I’m pleased to say that other than one short section that drops steeply in and out of a stream, I made it all the way to the “gap” (seen in the centre of the photo below) without needing to push or more importantly, falling off

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I have to admit I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I’d done 15km and close to 500m of ascent and survived to tell the tale. More than that I really enjoyed it – never thought I’d hear myself say that about mountain biking

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I celebrated with a very lengthy stop to have lunch and a brew, chatting to other cyclists as they passed through (this a popular and well-known mountain bike route)

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The descent from the gap gave me my only problem. The first 500m or so is steep and very rough, more like scree than a path. After a couple of nervous attempts I decided discretion was best and pushed for a few minutes. This section really needs a full on, front and rear suspension bike (mine is just a hard-tail). I managed to negotiate my way down carefully. It was wild and bouncy and my bike was making all kinds of rattling noises but again I was very pleased to make it all the way to the road-head without falling off, albeit very much slower than the madcap people taking the descent at full throttle. It must be a hell of an adrenaline rush but if you came off you’d do yourself a really nasty one

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Once on the road its a very fast and steep descent all the way to valley bottom along peaceful wild-flower be-decked country lanes. A real blast. My route back to the car was along the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal. It was superb (and flat!) and gave an excellent last hours wind-down in more peaceful surroundings after the drama of the gap

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The canal has a small aqueduct over the river Usk

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This little bridge just after was picture perfect and I stopped for breather. Nice spot for a picnic I thought. More to follow in a later post

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From there it was an easy cruise along the tow-path. Wild flowers were abundant and the route busy with other cyclists and families enjoying a perfect spring day

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I think TBF would enjoy this part of the ride although definitely not the mountain section! I must fashion a route along the canal and back along the lanes of this quiet corner of the national park

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35km ride in total and a real classic – me, enjoying mountain biking, who’d have thought 🙂

Cycling with the Hardman   20 comments

When I told people about this they were concerned for my welfare. Going cycling with the Hardman is like saying I’m off for a short stroll with John Muir. The Hardman is very serious about his cycling and despite his older years is seriously fit. He’s thin and wiry and in short everything I’m not. This is man who cycled from the coast to the highest road on Tenerife, a relentless unbroken climb of 2400m, in less than 3 hours. I’d agreed to go cycling in the Peak District with him. I sent him several “go easy on me” and “I’m really quite unfit” e-mails in the hope that I might stand a slim chance of returning directly home afterwards rather than via an oxygen tent in a lonely casualty department.

In the event he was a very considerate cycling partner, reducing his speed down to “middle aged mortal” level and allowing me and TBF to survive the experience intact 🙂

In truth the route was an easy one. North along the Tissington Trail, south on the High Peak Trail and back along the roads to the start. After an excellent breakfast at a garden centre (I had to wait for it to open, how sad is that at my age) we parked up the stunning village of Tissington ready for the off.

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It was a cracker of a day. A clear blue sky is the perfect day for a visit to the White Peak. The green fields and the white stone walls seems to radiate light and warmth

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The Tissington Trail is a wonderful vantage point (or stretch to be precise) to view it from on a bike as its elevated. More importantly the ascent is barely noticeable, in effect a flat ride. Perfect for us less fit types

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We made easy and swift progress to Parsley Hay where the views were superb and we celebrated with a cuppa. The White Peak was my local hiking/stomping ground around 15 years ago when I lived near Derby and I used to love it. The mix of open grassy fields and deep limestone dales and gorges was always one of my favourite landscapes and its a real shame I don’t get back there often enough

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Such was the quality of the day we headed up to the far end of the trail to see what it was like

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This section was especially fine and the easy cycling in such wonderful surroundings was a joy. There is plan in motion to link the ends of the Tissington, Monsal and High Peak cycle ways. When complete it will be a quite superb 2 day circuit through some of the finest scenery in the UK

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We headed south and back along the High Peak Trail. Another stop for a snack and a cuppa was in order but this section was exposed to the cold wind. We eventually found a really well sheltered spot just after this man-made causeway, itself really rather impressive

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We left the trail at Brassington and had a rather excellent sweeping fast descent down the road. The price to pay was a short steep hill preceded by a ford (which the Hardman disappointingly refused to cycle through). Me and TBF were well chuffed to make it to the top without needing to push although a couple of stops to admire the scenery were required

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The Hardman, being a more serious cycling type has a disturbing tendency to dress like a MAMIL!

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A final lazy roll back down to Tissington finished a memorable ride of 30 miles. I may at some point start to enjoy cycling (don’t tell anyone)

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Best way to finish off a great day and a superb weekend? A family meal at Wagamamas when we got home. Sorted!

Funster Birthday Weekend – Trevose Head   10 comments

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A coastal walk today to contrast with the moorland walk of the previous day. Before that a nice little photo of our B&B

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We’ve walked many stretches of the coast in the neighbourhood having spent many family holidays down in Cornwall. Trevose Head is one neither of us had done so it seemed an obvious route. Winter had arrived and it was windy and bitterly cold but with a sharp clarity to the air and hopefully not too many showers. We parked up by the beach at Treyarnon Bay, one of our favourites but today we were the only car there

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It was a wonderful morning, crashing waves and a mix of blue skies and threatening clouds

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Along Constantine Bay beach and then past the very splendidly named Boobys Bay

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As you approach the headland there is another “Round Hole” where a sea cave roof has collapsed. Very impressive.

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The walks continue around the headland and past the lighthouse

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As you round the headland the next three coves of Mother Iveys, Harlyn and Trevone Bays come into view

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Mother Iveys Bay is steeply shelving so the waves hit the shore close in making for a great scene of Atlantic aggression.

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As we approached Harlyn Bay we caught a glimpse of a seal and he played in the waves while we watched for a few minutes

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Onto our last beach at Harlyn

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I liked the contrast between the clouds the rippled sand and the seaweed covered rocks

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Back along the lanes to the car and with a seven mile walk I was feeling the knee strain when I got back to the car. We decided that we’d earned a lunch at the very nice cafe at the YHA, soup and cider the order of the day

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We actually managed to go in the sea as well for some kayaking and body boarding fun. Unsurprisingly we had the sea to ourselves what with it being bitterly cold. I wish I’d taken my camera as after one bruising hailstorm the views were sublime.

A cracking day finished off with another meal out, this time at The Basement in Padstow and once again, wonderful food as part of an ongoing birthday treat. A sacrifice I was willing to make 🙂

R & R in Silverdale   4 comments

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A short post based on the few photos I took over this weekend back in September. More in tribute and thanks to Mark and his family for inviting the usual collection of kids young and now getting older and adults already old and trying to be younger, to their home and allowing us to eat their food, untidy their rooms and generally interrupt their busy life. Its a weekend we now always look forward to as a kind of last hurrah before the dark days of winter set in

We did a pretty long on the Saturday. Leighton Moss & Hall and down to Warton (where we met the Yorkshire contingent for a pint and a bowl of chips in a local pub) and then back to Silverdale via Warton Crag. It was an excellent day but as it was a little grey and overcast I took no pictures. It was more a day for catching up and chatting and none the worse for that.

Sunday was day of bright sunny intervals and though there were heavy showers we missed almost all of them on a walk down to Jack Scout and Jenny Brown’s Point. Its one of my favourites and this time took a few snaps to capture the day.

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En route we came across a rope swing that the kids had a great time with (and some adults who should know better)

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The tide was out and the views across Morecambe Bay, the wet sand reflecting the sun, were very fetching

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The kids gathered for a cheery team photo in the very strong and blustery wind, before we went back for yet more food. Eating is a big part of this weekend 🙂

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We enjoyed one final walk between late afternoon lunch and early tea – yet more food – up through Eaves Wood to the Pepperpot. The views across the village and the bay from here are superb and I’m always jealous of the fact that this view is no more than a 15-20 minute stroll from Mark’s front door.

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A fine way to finish another excellent weekend away – big thanks again to the Silverdale crew!

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