Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

Roaches and Mud   10 comments

We try to arrange a group meet up for a walk around early October. This year it was a select band who gathered at the excellent Roaches Tea Rooms and Restaurants for a slap up breakfast that included my very first Staffordshire Oatcake, and very nice it was too.

A lot nicer than the weather that had let us down badly. The forecast was good but were in the grip of what my weather obsessed friend Uncle Fester called “The Cheshire Gap Effect”. In short, a bank of dreary cloud and drizzle hangs over the eastern Peak District while everywhere else was dry with some sunshine. Ho hum. Still, good company was a more than adequate replacement for sunshine and blue sky.

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I used to love the walks around the Roaches when I lived near Derby. It was always a go to place when I was short for an idea (rare in the Peak as there is so much varied walking to be had). Hen Cloud was as steep as I remember. Sadly little in way of views as it was in the cloud when we got to the top. No sign of the fabled wallabies either (I think they died out in a cold winter about 20 years ago)

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One thing the walk did deliver was a couple of new hills to climb as they were on private land when I lived up here but are now on access land. Firstly Ramshaw Rocks. They were extremely impressive but the weather was at its dreary worst while we were up there

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Second was Gradbach Hill. Here we had the best weather of the day with some fleeting sunshine and blue sky

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We stopped for a bite to eat and to enjoy the interlude before it rained again which it surely did

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We paid a visit to Luds Church. Despite the fact I must have walked this area a dozen times and must have been through it, I don’t remember it. It’s a memorable spot so either I genuinely haven’t or I’m losing/have lost the plot

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I was nearly lost for good in here. The mud in the photo above was about a foot deep. And I stepped in it. In trail shoes. In shorts. Nasty. In fact every inch of path we walked on the whole walk was slick with mud. Either it rained non-stop while we on holiday in Europe or there has been no sun to dry anything out. I don’t think I’ve ever walked in the UK and seen so much mud (as opposed to squelchy bog). That I slurped into deep mud was immaterial seeing as my feet were soaked anyway. I was still washing dirt off my feet several days later

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Anyway, Luds Church was another highlight of a damp day

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We finished our walk along the main Roaches edge.

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A fine walk and we had some half decent views between the drizzle interludes

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Hard to take decent photos on such a gloomy day but it gives the impression. Uncle Fester confirmed what we already knew, that a few minutes drive away on his way home the skies were clear and the sun was out.

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Still a pretty good walk though and a long one at 11 miles. Trail shoes had to go through the washing machine to recover though 🙂

Roaches

 

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A Proper Day’s Walk   12 comments

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Seems like a long time ago that I wrote a post about a proper walk in the hills. A some distant point back in September me, TJS and TBF took a long walk around the Eastern edges of the Brecon Beacons. A route I did a couple of years back with TJS. You can read about that post here which has a reminder at the end of the post at just what a clumsy bugger I am and that I should never be allowed to use sharp objects.

The forecast was bland but dry and we set off under bright but grey skies

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It’s a pretty steep climb in a couple of places that had us puffing hard. We walked a lot of miles on our city tour but it doesn’t keep you in shape for a proper mountain walk

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At the top of Carn Pica we were in the cloud, a most unsatisfactory turn of events. As we crossed the plateau of Waun Rydd (on a spanking new path) the skies began to clear again. The walk along the edges up here are some of the finest in the UK, elevated with expansive and spacious views

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We stopped for lunch and a cuppa and the weather steadily improved

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When we set off again there was plentiful blue sky and it was turning into a very splendid autumn afternoon

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The route is a round of the valley containing the Talybont Reservoir. The southern leg is across a wild and track-less moor that seems to see no people. I’d noticed how wet and muddy everything was on this walk. It’s normally dry at this time of year so either we’ve had a wet year all round or it must have rained ceaselessly while we were away on our travels. This section of the walk was especially soggy

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More than compensated for by the marvellous views

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Its and wonderful high level stroll/squelch across these hills although I’d forgotten just how far it was

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It was late afternoon already and the car was at the far end of the reservoir in the photo below

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We’d left the other Funster behind at home and were anxious not be home too late. More stops to admire the views were in order but we had to press on and enjoy them on the fly

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The peak at the end of the ridge (on the right in the photo below) is Tor y Foel. Me and TJS climbed it last time we were up here but we were too late in the day this time. You can drive halfway up and it’s another one for my much touted but never to be written book about small hills

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Instead we cut down through very dark and wet forests, very Mordor-like in their spookiness

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When we emerged at the dam by the end of the reservoir it was a glorious evening, all blue sky and reflective water

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A grand day out and a challenging long one for unfit hikers at over 12 miles.

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One of those routes that seems obvious on the map and on the ground but seems to see no walkers or mentions in any of my guide books

Back to Normality   14 comments

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After taking my readers on a long trip around Europe’s finest cities, its time to get back to normality for a few posts (warning, more city related posts are forecast for the end of the week)

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This walk is one of my local favourites, a nice high start and an interesting landscape feature.

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It was the weekend after we returned from holiday and it was cold, wet and very windy. The hot days of Rome and Venice suddenly seemed a very long time ago!

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Rainbows were a constant companion on this short couple of hours wander

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Cobwebs were certainly blown away

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A fine way to re-aclimatise to the UK, its mountains and its weather

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Back to normality in every way

Posted October 31, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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On the Beach and in the Hills in Wales   13 comments

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Blog silence is over and I’m back from my summer travels. Much to tell you about our grand tour of Europe but before that (be patient) one post to catch up on. I don’t need a calendar or alarm to remind me the school summer holidays have started. Other than a house with two sullen looking teenagers moping about to tell me term-time is over, I find myself at Towyn Farm Campsite and beach as if to celebrate. Friends and their offspring gather and fun is had by all.

When we arrived it was glorious, a cloudless blue sky and plenty of warm sunshine to heat me up while I was putting the camper up. Excellent. When I awoke the next morning it was lashing it down. Ho hum!

By late morning it had stopped and whilst the hills were still shrouded in cloud we decided to go for a walk anyway. It was DB Jr’s Birthday so he gets to choose and he chose Carn Fadryn, better known to him as Birthday Hill. Inspired. As we drove up and walked higher so the cloud lifted. The bracken was wet and the trailblazer – me – got quite a soaking. No matter when you’re climbing a small hill with disproportionately great views!

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Bilberries were plentiful on the way up, stringing the party out somewhat

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By the time we summited, blue sky was plentiful and views stunning.

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TJS decided that he could see Pembrokeshire even though he was looking north. After a suitable period of laughter I judged the distant land we were looking at as Anglesey when in fact it was Ireland. I’ve been up here many times but never seen that far. Amazing transformation in the weather from a few hours previous. TJS continues to claim that mistaking the North Irish sea for Pembrokeshire and then having me mistake Anglesey for Ireland was some kind of moral victory – the poor deluded boy.

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A trip up Carn Fadryn is essential on these gatherings and this time it got the trip off to a great start. I don’t remember it raining at the end of the day but I guess it must have done if this photo is anything to go by

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Whatever, the weather delivered a stunning sunset. The beach faces North West, ideal for sunsets at this time of year

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We adopted the same approach the next day. Lazy breakfast, late morning walk, late lunch. This time down to the end of the peninsula. It’s a glorious walk and the Silverdale gang had never done it. They were suitably impressed

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All was going well until we all got a soaking from a vicious heavy shower a few minutes before we reached the cars. Small price to pay for cracking walk. Not sure what we did the rest of the day. It may have rained. We may have gone to the beach. Without photos I have no chance of remembering these days.

Same for the following day. I think – he said hesitantly – that we had a spell of heavy and persistent rain all afternoon. We gathered in the camper to play games, tell stories and drink tea. Spirits were high even in bad weather

Later (based on these photos anyway) we must have had a grand sunset and played games on the beach in the fading light.

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Great fun if your idea of fun is trying to catch a dark red cricket ball or catch a frisbee hurtling towards you in the twilight (it is great fun by the way)

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Now the next day I do remember. We went for a walk. Again. This time an early start and we headed up to The Rivals. We walked up here a few years ago but there was some unfinished business and unclimbed hills. It was a gloomy chilly day but again spirits were high as we headed out to an un-named point 250m above the sea

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Its an amazing spot, a view into an almost secret coastline. The cliffs are so severe that no path traverses the shoreline. The Coast path actually traverses through The Rivals

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The views down to the sea are precipitous, enough to make my legs go wobbly. The view up and along the coast in both directions magnificent even under a grey sky

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Time to move on and bag one of the obvious three summits we hadn’t done, again un-named. We found a sketchy damp path most of the way but then these mountains are made of stern stuff. The path vanished to be replaced by waist deep heather covering boulders. It took an age to climb the last few hundred feet. There was bitching aplenty including me, from my ever twisting knees. Having just had a knee op, I was warned to stay off “uneven ground”. I think this might just fit the description

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Time for a brew on the summit. I had a stove, EWO had a flask of coffee with milk. Well he would have done if his partner, TYG had not put milk in the wrong flask. He was not best pleased. “You total waste of space” was the insult he chose. Not sure why I found it so funny. I still do. In my good mood I offered him my milk to prove the space I’d been occupying was being well used

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May as well bag the main summit while were there. A steep and swift climb had us admiring further summit views

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A grand morning out and by the time we’d reached the campsite, sunshine was again plentiful. A game of, well I can’t remember actually. It involves throwing blocks of wood at other blocks of wood. Sound boring? Well its not. Way more skillful than it sounds and enormous fun with a gang of people. EWO called it “Plop”. Not the correct name but much funnier.

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An afternoon on the beach for the usual fun, games of tennis, cricket, rounders, baseball etc

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I went in the sea and body-boarded one of the days. Can’t remember which day. Might have been this one. Possibly the day before

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Not to worry. We had some sunny weather and that’s what matters

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Our last evening was spent trying to BBQ a pigs worth of local sausages (Black Pudding ones in my case – awesome) in a strong wind. The weather had been breezy for almost the entire week, making my decision to pitch facing the prevailing wind direction seem rather foolish (although it was dry warm, sunny and calm when I did)

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The last day we packed up but left enough time for another afternoon on the beach, this time to play bowls in a pathetically over-competitive way 🙂

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Another superb week away. Set us up nicely for our main holiday a week later. A Tale of Eight Cities. Coming soon…..

 

Brief Encounter with Garway Hill   12 comments

A local walk to fill a gap in an otherwise pretty soggy few days. TBF’s sister was staying with us and TJS was staying overnight at a friends near Garway Hill after a party. What better than to combine a taxi ride to pick him up with a local walk between the showers.

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There were stormy clouds on the horizon and they were heading straight for us.

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Lets just say we finished the walk rather more briskly than we wanted to!

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We made it back to the car before the rain but on the drive home the heavens opened and biblical rain fell. There were small-scale local floods. Just as well we didn’t dither on the summit

Posted August 1, 2017 by surfnslide in Local Walks, Walking

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Post Work Wander   10 comments

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I’m quite taken with the idea of heading our for a walk late Friday after tea. Me and TJS had a go last week but the weather let us down and we copped the only cloudy and damp spell of the weekend. Tonight was much better with a beautiful warm summers evening up on Ysgyryd Fawr. I’ve blogged this walk many times so just I’ll just let the photos do the talking this time

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Marvellous. We even had a cheeky beer on the top 🙂

Posted July 14, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Wild Camping – The Next Generation   17 comments

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The delights of Wild Camping are not always obvious to the younger members of the family. We’ve been hatching a plan for a couple of years to get more of the kids involved after Mark took A out on a couple of trips and me, TJS, the Hardman and his eldest did the same last year

To coordinate a weekend is easier said than done so we just picked a date and agreed to decide closer to the time to see if was a goer.

Right on cue the forecast was really poor. I almost bailed out, not fancying spending a weekend in the rain with grumpy kids. However it was said kids who convinced me I was the grumpy one and we decided to give it a go. We had planned a trip to upper Eskdale but the weather looked truly awful so we plumped on a less ambitious route into the Howgills.

The Saturday morning was as horrid as the forecast, several hours of ceaseless rain had us lounging about Mark’s place while he filled us up with a nourishing soup. We headed out anyway and as luck would have it got delayed by a traffic jam on the M6 long enough for the rain to have pretty much stopped by the time we parked up. All packed and ready to go we headed for the hills

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The original plan had been to walk up Carlingill Beck. Its a superb valley and has possible camp spots at the far end. The wet weather had the streams in spate though and crossing them would have been a challenge. We changed tack and headed up and around the head of Carlingill by going over Linghaw and picking up an interesting looking traversing path high above the waterfalls at the head of the valley

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The horses kept us company clearly waiting for us to disappear so they could get up to mischief, more of this later

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Considering how poor the forecast had been the weather wasn’t all that bad. It had stopped raining and whilst it was windy, the cloud lifted a bit and we had views of a sort

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We easily picked up the high level traversing path and what a find (thanks to Mark). Even in gloomy weather it was a real delight, easy, yet elevated high above the deep cleft of Carlingill Beck

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We even had a few glimpses of sunshine on the valley below

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The path cut across the top of the dramatic Black Force

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The kids seemed in great spirits and were enjoying the challenge of the walk into the wilds

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There were even steam crossings to delight and amuse for young and old alike

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It was just a short walk from there to Blakethwaite Bottom, our intended pitch, having read favourable reviews online as a great spot. It was seriously windy and exposed but we found a great spot on the far side sheltered enough to make sitting outside the tents quite pleasent.

The Hardman had a new tent to try out, an enormous 3 -person Vango affair, in a discrete scarlet colour

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I lent Mark my large Lightwave 3 person tent for him and two of his dangerous offspring. He was very taken with it. So taken I’ve lent it to him long term as his kids are really taking to the wild camping and this tent really hits that 3 person spot. I don’t have much use for it any more (TJS prefers to sleep solo when there’s the three of us – I snore apparently as well) and I’d much rather see it in use than under my bed gathering dust

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We had a really enjoyable time cooking tea, messing about and having a laugh. The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and being outdoors with a trio of middle-aged grey hikers

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We even had some brief sunny spells and decided to take an evening walk up Uldale Head

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It was brutally steep and when crested the top, amazingly windy.

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We had a few fleeting views but the real fun was had from surfing in the wind. The smiles on the faces below tell how much we all enjoyed being kids. We also discovered that turning cagoules inside out made a fairly effective parachute to drag us around the summit. I forgot to take photos alas

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It had been cracking day, all the better for the fact we hadn’t expected to get much out of it other than a soaking and long periods sat in the tent. In the event we only went under canvas when it was time for bed after an improvised game of Petanques with rocks, many brews of tea and lots of biscuits

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We woke the next morning with company. A small gathering of wild horses and ponies on our doorstep. A bacon breakfast got the day off to a grand start

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Soon there was celebrity death-match between some cows and the horses. The cows won and spent an age just stood close by looking at us curiously, nudging each other out the way for a closer look. Very comical. I’ve had a few run ins with cows recently but these were harmless if a little disconcerting but soon dispersed with a little encouragement

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We didn’t want to hang around as the forecast was for strengthening winds and rain in the afternoon. We packed up and headed back down but were hit by the only bad weather of the weekend. We walked straight into a cold deluge that had us all soaked within seconds and for a short period it was deeply unpleasent. It stopped soon enough though and apart from a few short sprinkles we stayed dry the rest of the day

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We dropped back down to Carlingill Beck by the side of Black Force. An impressive ravine and extremely steep so we took our time. Again I think the kids enjoyed the challenge and the rain hadn’t doused their spirits in any way

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We had a brief lunch by the river and embraced the challenge of a couple of river crossings

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The walk along Carlingill Beck is superb and provided a fitting finish to what was a superb if short trip out to the wilds

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I wasn’t sure how the kids would take to a wild camp in less than perfect conditions but they were all superb company. My abiding memory of the weekend was smiles and laughter. They took everything in their stride and were a pleasure to be with from start to finish. For me, there was a real sense of pride that they enjoyed it far more than I hoped and seemed to share in the simple pleasures of just being out in the mountains. Their youthful enthusiasm was infectious and I hope we can do this on a much more regular basis. Cracking stuff. If only those pesky ponies I mentioned hadn’t sheltered by my car and barged into it, denting the front wing, the little pests. Still that’s why we have insurance I guess

 

That brings my blog back up to date. I’m out of action for a few weeks having just had some minor surgery on my left knee. All went well and healing nicely so blog service will be resumed in a couple of weeks

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