Saturday, 4 February 2017

Tentology

Mike, in his preparations toward the TGO challenge, which this year, he intends to do with his son, had bought a new tent. The intention had been for the two of them to share the one tent. Having purchased the tent, the idea now was to have a trial night out with it. Thus it was we headed over to Alwinton in Northumberland.
Following the river Alwin up for a short way we turned off up a side valley and pitched the tent out of sight of the track.
The tent, a Terra Nova, proved to be very spacious inside. We had pitched early to allow for a bit of faffing and getting a little more familiar with how it pitches. We spent a quiet afternoon, Lucky and Mike dozing and me reading. Mind, the afternoon and evening were not entirely quiet. The crump of  heavy guns firing on the nearby ranges echoed across the hills After a night of mizzle and occasional showers, the early morning broke grey and a wee bit dreich. However it soon cleared.
River Alwin
Our initial aim was to make a round of a couple tops. As we headed up through Kidland forest though it became apparent that forestry operations were being carried out in various areas. Inner Hill,( one of two) was dotted with machinery and was obviously out of bounds.  After a bit of head scratching and double checking of maps, we turned off at Heigh. Anyone intending to use the bridleway, beware, you may experience difficulties! Mind, the path down to Lindhope burn proved to be interesting in places!
Stopping for a brew and a spot of lunch, it was decided that with time running on a bit, our best option was to head back down to Alwinton.
A good day's walking, covering roughly nine miles. Mike had also come to decision with the tent, not really ideal for the Challenge. There was a solution though. Last week I had been experiencing one of my periodic lows. While browsing online, actually looking at handbags and shoulder bags, somehow I ended up with a secondhand Enan. Odd,  a bad habit that, impulse buying? Mind, it sorts out Mike's problem. He will be borrowing it, fantastic!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Peak District wander

After the usual rounds of e mail messages between Mike, John Jocys (JJ) and myself, a date, time and a rough plan were drawn up. Thus it was that we met up in the pub at Bamford on the Monday afternoon. A quick drink and, shouldering our packs, we headed steeply uphill out of the village. Wire barriers and notices stating that the road (Rough track?) ahead was closed due to exposed cables. Undaunted we skirted around the barrier and pressed on upwards. Much of the road was badly eroded and in places slippery but we saw no cables. What at first appeared as a wall in front of us, was in fact the road. It was that steep! In the last light of the day, after passing through a car park with 'no camping' signs and various other notifications, we finally found a place to camp on the edge of a wood. A rather unsalubrious spot  but needs must. As darkness descended so did the murk and wetness.
A dreich morning, Peak District.
Tuesday morning was one of greyness, dank and dripping wet. We were in no hurry to set off. Eventually though we packed up and headed on toward Stanage Edge. We were in a monochrome world. The ghostly figures of sheep appearing and disappearing in the thick cloud. Strange rock formations, phantom sculptures adrift in spectral light and drifting waves of murk.
Figures in the gloom.
Something else that was very apparent was the incredible wetness underfoot. Mind, it was not that bad weather wise. There was no wind and it was incredibly mild.
High Neb trig point.
 A descent to a main road. Briefly we were treated to a wee bit of a view. A spot of road walking and a stop for a lunch break and once more we ascended in to the mist.
Carved rock bowls

Kissing stones?
A void lies beneath!
.Passing the grey clad Wheel Stones, we pressed on to Dovestone Tor. According to the map, a small stream was to be found near there. In reality we found a myriad of tiny trickles that would eventually become a stream. We took water from the many pools in the area and set up camp in beds of soft heather, moss and bilberry. The weather turned from damp and mist to dense cloud and extremely wet. To have strayed far from the tent would have been folly.
Tents in the mist, Dovestone Tor.
Wednesday morning saw the tents streaming with water. Even in the tents, things felt decidedly damp. However, despite it still being misty, there was a hint of brightness.
 Once packed up we made our way around by Lost Lad. A wee scramble to attain the trig point. No fine views though!
Lucky does not enjoy the wet, but remains steadfast.
 Descending down toward Upper Derwent reservoir we finally popped out of the mist to open vistas all around. A stop for lunch by the reservoir and then it was down to Fairholmes and a quick cup of tea at the visitor centre. The place was quite busy, it must be heaving in the summer months! Squadrons of ducks patrolled the area and they looked fat and healthy, obviously well fed by the visitors!
Derwent reservoir.
Well fed ducks.
From the valley a steep path led us up through Hagg Side woods to the ridge above. A steep descent down to Hagg Farm, across the road and then another steep ascent. By the time we made the top I was fast falling in to 'knackered old lady mode'.A quick cast about and we camped close to Hope Cross.
Camp near Hope Cross.
Thursday turned out to be a pleasant day. There had been some mist and mizzle during the night and tents were packed away wet. A steady walk took us over to Winhill Pike. Unfortunately Mike was suffering from back pain. A couple of pain killers from John seemed to ease things a bit.

Winhill Pike.
The path leading us back to Bamford was grim. Dense, cloying mud with underlying clay made for hazardous, slippery conditions.
Trig point, Winhill Pike.
We arrived back in Bamford in time for a spot of lunch in the pub before John had to dash off to catch his train back to Manchester. Mike and I had a bit more time to spare.
An enjoyable trip in good company, despite inclement weather conditions. We will have to plan a return visit sometime.

Derwent water
Bamford mills.
Backpacking Lucky the dog.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Monadhliath

In many respects this was a shuffle around the edge of the Monadhliath. Plans were made to spend the Christmas week in the Monadhliath. However, as is often the case in winter, the weather dictates what is actually achieved.
The journey up to Newtonmore was fairly straightforward. Mind, the trains from Edinburgh and Perth were hugely overcrowded. There are only a few trains a day that stop at Newtonmore and I arrived shortly after five thirty in the evening. My intention was to spend the Friday night at Newtonmore hostel. This is an excellent hostel and much recommended by fellow backpackers. Neil and Sue are backpackers themselves and I was made most welcome. The hostel is warm, cozy, clean and tidy. Rules are few. A place I would certainly recommend to anyone heading in that direction.
Saturday morning I nipped up to the local co'op for a few extra supplies. It was windy with sleet and wet snow. Thus I dawdled in getting away, giving time for one of the village cafes to open. A cup of coffee and a slice of cake and I headed out. My intention was to head up Glen Banchor. As the road out of the village climbed higher, the weather worsened. Soon I was in driving snow with a head on wind.
Allt Fionndrigh, Monadhliath
Flooded ground and a burn in spate rather put paid to my intended destination. Following a deer trail  that led me to the edge of a stunted plantation and a flat piece of ground. There was just about room for the tent on the edge of the trees. They offered scant protection from the wind but any protection was better than none.
One unexpected snag I hit was trying to get the tent pegs in to decent ground. A thick layer of moss and grass saw me using my boot to drive the pegs deep. A few handy rocks were added to ensure they stayed put. It was a short day but there was no point in trying to fight the weather. Even when the snow eased off the wind remained as strong as ever.
Snowy Glen Banchor.
By Sunday morning a rapid thaw had set in. The wind was still strong but it was now raining and felt very mild. Keen to get out and do something, I followed the track that leads up the glen behind the old Glenballoch farmhouse.  It was not a bad wee wander, despite the wind and rain. However, the wind was noticeably picking up.
 Water rising rapidly, Allt Fionnrigh.
With the wind starting to push me around, I turned back. By the time I reached the tent it was blowing a hooley. Great gusts slamming down the the glen and causing the tent to shudder under the onslaught. Using the ice axe as an extra ground anchor, I hooked a spare guy line on to it and, placed another couple of heavy rocks on the tent pegs. With the tent snugged down as much as possible, it was a case of putting the kettle on and sitting out the storm.
Track up the glen.
By evening the wind had eased a little. The temperature had dropped again and once more it began to snow. The snow continued through the night and was still coming down thick on Monday morning.
Wintery tent!
It was still windy in the morning and still snowing. Needing to top up on water, I had a short wander but it was not a day to be out.
Snow in Glen Banchor.
Monday was largely spent in the tent reading and drinking tea.. By the afternoon the weather cleared and another thaw set in.
Snow storm Glenballoch.
The wind eased over Monday night and another rapid thaw set. Deer wandered around by the tent during the night. Tuesday morning broke dry and I was able to get out without being togged up in waterproofs. There was nothing ambitious in mind, just a walk up to Creag nan Abhag. Everything was streaming with water. Being in no rush and basically, not that fit, I took my time. A chill wind was blowing across the broad, wide open top. A meander across to a craggy  top and wanting to be out of the wind I was soon heading down again. A cleft in a rocky outcrop allowed me to sit out of the wind and enjoy a cup of coffee. Dark clouds were scudding across the tops but the glens below were clear.
Care had to be taken heading down  the hill, the ground was slick with water and  greasy.  It was only a short walk and I was back at the tent early afternoon. It was pleasant though to get out and do something.
Wednesday morning was once more dry. Rather than pack up and head straight out I took a detour.. Following the track that runs up by the Allt a Chaorainn I made my way up toward the red bothy and back.. A pleasant walk and in improving weather conditions. Not a bad trip, little done, but that can happen on winter trips.
wintery Monadhliath

memorial cairn
Allt a Chaorrainn
Monadhliath hills
Above Newtonmore
fungi

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Scotland

Christmas has never been a good time for me. Thus it is over the next week I shall be away. As is somewhat the norm., a backpacking trip over the festive season has been planned. Nothing too rigid is planned. Basically it will involve travelling up by train to Newtonmore. From there heading out in to the Monadhliath. Looking at the weather forecast, things looks as if they going to be a tad stormy? In all probability I shall find a suitable place for the tent and use it as a fixed base.
There being a very limited train service to Newtonmore, I shall be using the backpacking bunkhouse on the first and last nights.
To one and all enjoy the festive season. Eat, drink and be of good cheer. As above and so below.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Borrowdale

This was just a wee daunder. Mike had proposed a couple of nights camping in Borrowdale. in some respects it was a bit of an experiment. A while back I was looking for a replacement for my much used Golite tent, the Shangri La three. Shopping about I ended up with the revamped modern version, the Wickiup three by Nigor. It was offered to me as shop soiled, having a mark on the groundsheet. Also, it came  complete with inner and outer. Being a lot cheaper than normal it was grabbed quick. Mike and I used it on the skinny dip and Mike was impressed with the layout. Mike, like me, usually prefers his own tent space. However, when he  posed the question of sharing the big tent for a couple of nights static camping, I agreed.
Tent with porch.
One drawback of the tent was lack of porch space. However, with a bit of thinking, I tried a gull wing tarp. It was quite successful too, especially since we had  fairly wet conditions. Arriving on the Monday afternoon we set up camp, drank quantities of tea and ate mince pies.
Tuesday, with sombre clouds cloaking the tops we opted for an easy (?) amble up and around Castle Crags.
A camera shy ram with his girls!
Gradually, as the morning wore on, the sky cleared and we treated to a few wonderful views.
view over toward Ullscarf

On the slopes of Castle Crag.
Castle Crag Levels.
Mike heading upwards, Castle Crags.

Looking over toward Little Gatesgarthdale.

Mike and Lucky finding the ascent steep and a tad loose!
War memorial, Castle Crags.

Looking down on the Allerdale Ramble track.
Bad weather heading in.
From Castle Crag it was a long descent back down to the river. We had a brief diversion to visit an interesting, lumpy wee hill.. With more wet weather coming in, we  eventually had to don waterproofs. A visit to the pub on the way back and then it was back to the tent. It rained on and off for most of the night with a few strong gusts of wind. It was surprisingly mild though. Wednesday saw us heading home again. A short visit but an interesting one.

A few short walks

Extremely wet weather curtailed a few planned walks in the Huddersfield area. A local walk from Almondbury took me over cold Hill and then continued on to Farnley Hay. A check of the map and it was downhill to Lumb Dike and back around by Almondbury Common. Conditions underfoot were quite awful. Arriving back, my boots and trousers were well slathered in mud.
Late afternoon, Almondbury.

First winter snow, Almondbury.
Squirrel raiding the bird feeder.
Lumb Dike woods
Mike managed to come down for a few days and we went for a rather lazy wee walk around Hebden Water.  Starting from Hardcastle Crags car park, the path led us along by the river to Gibson mill. A pause for lunch by the mill and we carried on upstream.
Weir on Hebden water.
A tiptoe past a very recent rock fall, with more ready to fall. As we left the mill, a large golden labrador dog was heading up the path behind us. Seeing someone further back we thought no more of it. However, further up the path the labrador came running  toward us, clearly stressed. Mike put her on a makeshift lead and leaving me with Lucky headed back the way we had come. Mike had only got so far when she dug her paws in and refused to go any further. She was happy though to carry on with us and appeared to know the way.
Hebden water
A steep, slippery climb up through the woods to Walshaw farm. The labrador seemed to know exactly were she was heading and we tagged along. Heading back down to Gibson mill, two volunteer rangers used their landline and finally managed to contact the dog's owner. Leaving the dog with the rangers we headed back to the car park.Apparently the dog had run off. Eventually all were reunited. A good outcome to an interesting walk.
Feeder stream in to Hebden water.

Our next walk took us over to Meltham. Much easier to get to than Hebden Bridge, traffic there was horrendous. We parked the car in Royd road. Debris washed down from the recent heavy rains covered large areas of the road surface. A steady uphill  plod brought us to the road end and led us on to  Magdalen road. In reality it is now a rough, water worn track. Possibly at one time a more substantial right of way?

Old toll bridge sign.
Crossing the main A635, we carried on down Springs Road. The old road heavily rutted from when wagons hauled stone from the old quarries, now disused. Around by Goodbent Lodge, at one time a farm but the private signs indicate it is now a holiday home or a building used by some form of club?.
A pause for lunch saw extra layers being put on, the wind was chilly.
view toward Digley reservoir.
A happy Mike and Lucky.
Back over the main road and on to Harden Moss Road. it was another of those old rights of way that is now just a track. Parts of it were badly washed out from heavy rainfall. it was then a case of retracing our footsteps back to the car. A pleasant day out.
Fungi
Footpath sign, Almondbury
Plentiful berries for the birds.
Lumb Dyke woods
Hebden Water
A lovely little carving
memorial stone on Magdalen Road.
Lucky on squirrel watch!