Wednesday 30 September 2015


 This really was a relaxed day out on the Simonside hills. No pressure, no mileage to cover. Just an easy day of walking in good company and fine weather.
Mick, my near neighbour, picked me up in the morning. His instructions where simple, bring some food and drink and yourself. The day was warm and sunny as we made our way up through cleared forestry. A stiff uphill  bit brought us up on to Simonside. Groups of teenagers looking studiously busy with maps and compasses passed us on the way. Indeed, we had already observed numerous bodies of folks out and about.

Up on the ridge things were even busier with two large bodies of people walking with guides leading them.. A leisurely lunch break was had, it was a pleasure just to sit and bask in the glorious warm sunshine.

A gentle meander back down through the forestry brought us around to the car park. A gentle day of just under seven miles, but the excellent conditions and made it most enjoyable.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Skinny dip

Well folks, sometimes some of us have that mad, possibly ridiculous hankering to do something way beyond one's comfort zone. To push the boundaries of what is considered sane and sensible.
Mike ( had done the dip before, however, he wanted someone to support him. A person who was willing to help, to hold his towel and offer some reassurance that he was not way out there alone.
Initially I offered support as towel holder and tea maker. Mulling things over and wrestling with many fears and self doubts, I finally offered to do the dip with him.
The aim of the skinny dip is a charity fund raising project in aid of Mind. Having written previously on this subject, I will refrain from waffling on.
 Mike and I camped overnight at Druridge Bay. There many more people, all of them come for the dip, were also camping. A party like atmosphere prevailed
 Possibly due to nerves, I had slept little on the Friday night. Both Mike and I experienced little sleep on the Saturday as well.
The alarm woke us at four forty  five a.m. There was evidence of frost on the grass and it certainly felt chilly. By five thirty everyone was congregating on the beach. Although chilly, the conditions where stunningly beautiful. A flat, calm sea, the early rose tinted glow of dawn on the distant skyline. Then suddenly, as the first rays of the early morning sunrise burst in glowing golden colour over the horizon, there was a great cheer, clothes where rapidly shed and some three hundred naked bodies ran down the beach to plunge in to the ocean. An awesome and amazing moment. It was most certainly an incredible moment. Mad, totally insane, but a very emotive occasion. Well worth doing, despite my feet losing all feeling.
My very grateful thanks to all of you out there who offered support and donated generously to the charity Mind. We raised almost two hundred and fifty pounds, thank you.
Mike has managed to capture some amazing photos of the event, so pop of to his blog to view them.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Birkett wanderings

Birketts, so Mike has informed me, are hills of a certain height and nature and located in the Lake District.( Mike is an authority on these matters and will soon correct me if I am wrong!
On the Sunday the thirteenth, Mike duly collected me from my flat and we were soon heading in a westerly direction. Our destination was a small campsite just outside of Ennerdale Bridge. Entry to the farm was up a rough driveway giving Mike a few concerns in regard to the car's suspension.
The farm was a horse riding school. Unusually they used a variety of Shire and cross bred Shire/Dale horses. To Mike's amusement and with the farmers permission, I went off to visit a few of the horses.

There were more important things on the agenda to do. We had a Birkett to visit by the name of High Hows. This particular hill has a certain reputation though. Apparently the landowner has a somewhat rabid phobia about walkers and the like. Thus we had to be a wee bit discreet. Setting out from the small carpark at Felldyke, we were soon heading over to  Cogra Moss.
We had opted for the back door route to the top. A wander up a forestry track, up through a patch of forestry, some careful negotiation over a barbed wire topped fence and a quick dash and the hill was duly bagged.

A heavy dew overnight saw the tents soaked by morning. However, we had hills to visit and the weather was fine.

A drive through narrow lanes and soon the car was parked at Bowness Knott car park. Ennerdale water was still with barely a breath of wind. A delightful walk up the valley. it was a tad disconcerting to see a white twenty seater bus heading up the track behind us, a land management field study group apparently.
Negotiating our way around a large black bull, our way now headed upwards, steeply so. The goal was Lingmell. Unfortunately, I was suffering, energy levels plunging through the floor, lightheadedness and feeling a wee bit wobbly. Feeling a wimp and trying not to whinge, I struggled on.  Mike bore my stop, go wobbliness with great patience. Finally we made Lingmell and sat for an early bite of lunch.
It had taken me half a bag of jelly babies to get that far and we had yet more hill to negotiate. Up and around Tewit How, we pressed on. Another break on the shoulder between Scoat Fell and Haycock. Jelly babies now severely depleted, we eventually made the cairn that marked Haycock. Up and over  Little Gowder Crag. It was then the long, long descent back to the valley. Even Mike suffered a bit as we headed down. Lucky though was as full of beans as ever.

For me it had been a hard day and I felt drained. We had covered a fair distance of roughly 11.25. A special thanks to Mike who stoically put up with me throughout the day.
Tuesday saw us relocating to Eskdale with a stop on the way at Gosforth to replenish supplies, including more jelly babies! With tents set up in a quiet corner of the Fisherford campsite, we set off across toward Miterdale. Great Bank was the hill we were heading for. The west face was an imposing prow of a crag. Forestry operations were in progress and notices indicated that the area was closed off. obviously there is a way up the hill from somewhere around the back. However, we turned back.
   Wednesday and we started the day with a short ride on 'La'al Ratty' It saved a couple of miles of road walking!
A cup of tea at Dalegarth and we then set off on pleasant footpaths up the valley to Jubilee Bridge.  From there we continued on the bridleway up to Lingcove Bridge. This is an ancient, single span packhorse bridge.
A stiff climb up out of the valley by Throstle Garth with the river Esk plunging steeply down a narrow gorge and soon we were in the wide open bowl of The Great Moss. here we set up camp surrounded by awesome views on all sides.

Finding a deep pool, the temptation of a swim was too great. However, on entering the water, it was to find the bottom was made up of slabs of rock covered in slimy growth. Also, there were deep holes between the slabs. My foot went down one and I was unable to feel the bottom. Rather than risk a broken leg or ankle it was thus was a quick dip and out.
Thursday morning saw another dry start with sunshine. Mike wanted to bag Pike de Bield. Finding I was moving slow, I chose to let him press on while I had a lazy morning.

We were back at the tents by lunchtime. A brew, some lazing about, which is a specialised art and well worth studying! Finally we decided to descend back down to Lingcove bridge and camp there.

Spot the tents!

It turned out our move was a serendipity wise one. Rain came on early evening and continued for the most of the night. At times it was torrential. The rivers rose by several feet, the night air filled by the sound of roaring waters, boulders tumbled by the torrents, rumbling downwards. Nature hinting at the sheer raw power she possess.

By morning the rain had ceased and all was calm. Only the velocity of the water in the river giving any indication of the previous night's precipitation. Within even a few short hours the river levels had noticeably dropped.

.It was a lazy stroll back down the valley. Another cup of tea at the station cafe and back to the campsite.

A good week and in good company. Thank you Mike and Lucky.
Just a wee nudge folks, next Sunday is the big day. Yes, I am scared, however, I am also committed, I will be doing the skinny dip for a charitable cause. Many, many thanks to all those who have donated

A few more photos