Sunday, 30 November 2008
Saturday, 29 November 2008
Friday, 28 November 2008
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
By way of celebration, and to provide a photo for the consultant who fitted the stens that Brian was still alive and kicking, we arranged to go to the top of Skiddaw. Unfortunately, a warm, wet Atlantic blow brought hill fog down to about 400 metres or so and it was drizzling and windy in a typical pennine windy and drizzly sort of way. A pic of Skiddaw summit would have been hardly woirth the effort.
So, instead, he fed his neighbours, the gooses (see pic) and we kitted up in yellow romper suits and wellies and forced our way into Nenthead's Scaleburn leadmine. the purpose was twofold
1) To see if we couldnt get some nice fossils from a seam of nice fossils - for which we carried a spade and a lump hammer and a chisel.
2) To visit a horse gang, which, until recently had been blocked off by a roof fall which had recently been excavated.
and ...er ... threefold
3) To take some pics for the consultant (see above )
4) To have a laff....
Objective number one was started, but we abandoned the attempt to prize out some fossils pro tem. I was a bit worried when some big rocks suddenly squashed the rucksack with the tools in it. It would seem that roof falls happen suddenly and with no creaking or rumbling at all - the damn things just go bang - or splash, if they land in water. This was a bit scary, but Brian seemed unfazed.
And so we paddled through to the excavation for the horse gin - a short crawl under scaffolding. No creaking....
The horse gin is a circular cast iron ...er... circle whoch was rotated by a horse, who's job it was to simply walk around in circles. The gin pulled a cable and so, things were pulled up a deep shaft - which was just luking dangerously quite nearby. We lunched and took pictures and went back to the fossils.
We got a few nice ones, loaded everything up and left for a coffee at brian's.
A lass with a camera and her partner, who were interested in leadmines and had been mooching around purposefully outside, helped me get my wellies off. Once they get water in, I can't get the buggers off..
All good clean, wet and slightly muddy, fun.
I used the new Petzl and two backup lights, one of which is a wind-up. A real wind-up.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Friday, 21 November 2008
Our route took us over doggy-prohibited grouse shooting moorland on to the wind and weather-clipped (and therefore, much easier to walk on than the heathery parts) tops. The particular top which we made for was Horse Stone Naze, a Dewey and otherwise fairly nondescript hillock which has a little gritstone tor on the top to provide just a little bit of excitement. Bruno made it to the very top with a little encouragement and a tug on the lead at a crucial just-about-to-blob-off-point.
Crow Stones, a bit further South provided a bit more interest with it’s strangely tilted rocks and nooks and crannies. Anybody who likes scrambling about on grit could pass a few entertaining hours here. Today (that’s yesterday actually) it was a bit cold and windy for that sort of thing. And I’m not much cop at that type of activity any more, so I tend not to do it.
And so we progressed Southly.
The peat hags around here are BIG and otherwise the ground is soggy and, in places, precarious for the cleanliness of one’s lower trousers – so the trek over to the junction with Cut Gate was, shall we say, sploshy and, occasionally very circuitous. Even superdawg, who doesn’t usually mind a bit of soft muck, was starting to get a bit paranoid about the potential depth of some of the soft and peaty bits.
Then it rained, then it almost went dark.
We descended easily, and very enjoyably in a half gale and fading light by the Cut gate bridleway.
The recrossing of the road was “testing” and took a long time before there was even a slight gap in the traffic. This road is a right bugger to cross – a constant stream of headlights in both directions. My best suggestion for doing this walk is to mug a lollipop lady of her lollypop and secrete it in the trees for use on your return. You’ll probably get killed, though. Live with it.
A Somerfield petrol station and mini market sold me a bottle of Blossom Hill on the way home ..not my home… the dad-in-law’s home in Halifax.
Huddersfield ring road still as scary as it was when I once went to Huddersfield Poly…. Only scarier, actually..
Nice walk, though – about 12 miles.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
In nice, almost warm sunshine, we went back to Ash Gill – at least I went back there as John hadn’t been there before…. Er… anyway. It was roughly the same as it had been on Monday – maybe just a bit more water. But, in leaving the place this time, we took a little side path that I happened to know about and this lead us up to an overhanging crag – apparently impossible to climb without pitons and a friendly helicopter. Or a friend with a very long ladder. R Kidd expressed the view that he wouldn’t be able to climb it.
But there’s a little slot in the crag, gained by a short but slippery rock step and this slot leads fairly steeply but nevertherless quite easily up through the crag in a sort of underground fashion and pops out in a surprising sort of way at the top. Just a bit bizarre, but interesting nevertheless.
After this adventure, we walked up a bit of tarmac, noting the red squirrels trotting along the wall tops – and up onto the moorland of the Weardale ridge, topping out at the summit of Dead Stones, at about 700 and a bit metres. Dead stones has a shelter or bothy on the top. You wouldn’t want to spend a night in there, though – inside there’s just a slimy bench and a tiny fireplace and no door.
We followed the ridge Northwards for a while and chatted to various grouse beaters waiting to start their drive on the way. We were advised two or threee times which side of the hill to walk on, but, generally, the encounter was friendly.
As it started getting a bit late, we shortened the walk at this point and headed down towards the col between nenthead and garrigill and then, by field paths in gathering gloom, back to the South Tyne and Garrigill.
Brian, my pal from Nenthead provided welcome hot coffee on my way home.
A mile or so up/down the path from Garrigill is the little gorge of Ash Gill, at the top of which there is the main road from Alston to Teesdale. Emanating, or , rather, gushing from underneath this bridge is an impressive waterfall, behind which you can venture for a look at a waterfall from behind. This is an ideal spot for hiding from injuns as they gallop by. When the beck is in spate it is a truly awesome experience, with the water thundering past at arms stretch.
And so, after being slightly awed (as the beck wasn’t quite in spate), we continued up/down South Tynedale, ultimately to it’s source where there is a vaguely erotic statue with a hole in it through which to view the very spring out if which springs the reason for the most famous of Lindisfarne’s hit records. It was quite foggy up there on Monday as well.
Then, after much huffing and puffing from me, we finally mounted the soggy and only slightly tilted slopes of Round Hill with it’s little cairn. A few celebratory pictures were taken and then we evacuated the place for warmer places such as Garrigill. It went dark again.
I put my tent up behind the village hall (not a bad spot as it happens…) and after a brief but nutritious scoff, we repaired to the pub for a sweet sherry and a water biscuit and to listen to the landlord’s vynil collection. Quite an enjoyable night, all in all.
Tuesday follows (but then you know that, innit?)
Sunday, 16 November 2008
It was a cracking day for it, cold and sunny with views from Teeside to Ingleborough – which is a long way. We started off on a bridleway, passing a notice full of dire warnings, and up a little valley and over some moorland to the derelict trig-in-a-shelter on the other top of Little Fell. The main top is a little way over to the North and is marked by a puny cairn of carboniferous limestone.
The views towards Mickle fell from the edge of this hill are notable – very wild, peat-hagged and, well, er..wild…
We got to grips with the final slopes of Mickle fell by using a handy ATV track that went in the right direction. Mickle Fell summit is marked by a large and venerable cairn – suitable for it’s position as the highest point in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and, of course, Yorkshire itself, and also the highest point in the current County Durham – almost recently renamed Durham County, or Durham and Darlington County, or possible something else….
We followed small streams and green strips through the rough ground down to maize Beck, which we handrailed to the bridleway back to Scorsdale. Scorsdale is a fab, wild and rocky slit in the scarp and it was a bit unfortunate that it went dark as we descended – but lucky that we’d just hit a good track just as the light was switched off. I used a little wind up torch that I got from a local pound shop (guess how much it cost) It has 2 leds and is very bright and I didn’t need to wind it up. I’ll use adminfairy’s headlight next time, honest. I expect it would have been better than the pound shop thingy….
I think we did about 14 miles.
More walkies tomorrow, unless it really, really rains…
Friday, 14 November 2008
Later.... today....Had a Topsy and Tim busy day including erecting a garden bench, fitting a number sign to my mum's house wall, welcoming and supervising a carpet fitter measurer man, visiting the Council offices to get some rubbish shifted, herding a goat and getting my exhausty pipe fixed...
Yes, that was herding a goat. I noticed a large brown animal disappearing behind the old folks flats...and then this enormous goat-in-a-panic came rushing by followed by a bloke who had been loitering behind there a bit suspiciously in my opinion. He asked me if it would bite him and I said I didnt think so. He made off, suspiciously.... So, a bit worried that it (goat) might wander onto the main road and eat a car or something, I captured the timid but slightly scary animal using guile and ancient half-remembered hunting instincts such as creeping up behind it and getting hold of it's "lead" It had very big horns and a strange way of looking at me - a bit like staring Old Nick himself in the eye. (Old Nick lives in the OAP's flats by the way and drives one of those electric cart things very fast whilst encouraging people to "Get out of the f****ng way")His vehicle has a high-vis jacket on the back and a union flag on a long ariel.... but I digress, or ingest or whatever it is.....
So I bring the goat back to show to the wife and tie him to the ash tree in our front garden, whereupon he scoffs my fuschia, next door's privet, an apple (donated as a diversion) a selection of leaves from a flowering blackcurrant, a sort of spiky little bush thingy and a dwarf conifer. - Oh, and a melange of potentilla fruticosa lightly drizzled with sooty dew.. The wife wants me to visit the pet shop for a bag of hay.
I set off to find an owner whilst the wife cheers up the police call centre in Durham (who advise that they'll issue an email to all the County Durham border crossings and airports in case some Northumbrian bedouins try to escape without one of their goats.) Failing that, its our problem. If it had been a nanny goat they would have sent round a WPC, apparently.
Turns out it belongs to a bloke who goes by the name of "Sooty" and lives with a horse in a field next to the old folks flats and has been busy, according to neighbours, eating the birch tree in the field and various organic items from their gardens.. It appears that it may well have consumed bits of the fence for its lunch.
I return it to it's horsey pal who is clearly quite pleased to see him. They nuzzle each other. Its time for me to rattle and roar up to Tow Law for me new exhausty pipe. (£147 by the way...) I wander around Hedleyhope Fell nature reserve for an hour whilst waiting for delivery of the new parts... Fab place by the way, just fab.
In the meantime, BT have responded to our complaints that the broadband falls over whenever its a bit windy or wet by erecting two new telegraph poles up the street and rewiring the whole shebang. What they made of a goat tethered in one of the front gardens is anybody's guess.
Bruno is quite pleased about the new telegraph poles....
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Monday, 10 November 2008
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Everybody will pass grandma's and great-grandmas birth houses and the place where , out of four families in their houses, only one male returned from the battlefields of Normandy and the one grandad./great grandad, severely injured both physically and mentally..... I remember that he showed me pictures of a devastated town and described how he hid behind the remains of a tree at Ypres but still got hit and said " Don't ever get involved in anything like this, lad...." and mended my bike. and told me how to manage walking long distances, and taught me some dog French with a Normandy/Lancashire accent....... and read the pink paper upside down when he was finally beyond reason... I heard from my mum that he'd actually shed tears when he heard that I'd passed my 11+ and could go to Grammar School. I wish they'd told me that at the time. I wonder why I'm thinking more about my grandad than mum. She was a cotton weaver. they were all cotton weavers. She could tell you what the people in the car behind were talking about because all cotton weavers could lip-read.... even through a mirror... Cotton dust hung in the sunlight in our house... I thought everywhere was like that...
Cotton Mills had the same rythm as "Gimme Some Loving" by the way.
All of this later today... at the top of Red Lion Street behind the YHA.
These are my roots...