Thursday 27 July 2017

Three hills and a swim.

Mike and I have quite an established routine for this area. A day walking and then set up a bivi on Ross Back sands. The following day is spent on the beach and in the water, dipping and swimming. Thus it was that on the Monday we headed in to the Cheviot hills. Our first top was Fredden Hill.
A descent that involved a patch of dense bracken, a pause for lunch and then on to Hart Heugh. It was windy up there.
It was then back across Wooler Common.

 Mike nipped up Earle Whin. Then it was back to the car and on to Ross Back sands. Here we set up our bivi come beach shelter!
We had been considering a swim or quick dip. However, a heavy sea was running with large breakers rolling in.

Tuesday morning saw the sea much more settled. There were some fairly heavy waves breaking on the beach though. Getting in to sea I could feel the surge and pull of the waves. It was a little unsettling though when I realised that my feet could no longer touch bottom. Also, I could feel myself being drawn out to sea. Swimming hard, I headed back to the beach.. It was a short swim and yes, I was a wee bit spooked. Swimming solo safety must come first. Mike wisely stayed in the shallows. Later I went back in but did not swim very long.
 A pleasant couple of days. Over the next few weeks I will spend more time swimming and brushing up on my rusty swimming skills.

Saturday 22 July 2017

Of swimming and bog trotting

At one time I used to swim on a regular basis. That though was some years back. Wild swimming had been my preferred option. Over the last couple of years Mike and I had been visiting Ross Back Sands. A lovely, often largely deserted beach. We had spent time in having dips and playing in the shallows.  Mike in particular was much bolder and hardier than me, spending much more time in the sea.
Waterfall, Ash Gill, look closely, there is a figure.
It niggled me though, somewhere along the way I seemed to have lost my swimming mojo. A visit to the local swimming baths had been a negative experience. It had felt sterile, regimented, everyone swimming in marked lanes, ceaselessly plodding up and down. Worse still, it was crowded. In short, I hated it.
Well aware that my Parkinson,s is getting worse, there also came a need to counter balance it. Tuesday last, I made a step in that direction. Not being a clubbable person, I took, what was for me, a large step. Heading over to Whitley Bay, I joined up with a group of other swimmers and went for a swim. They are sea swimmers and I spent some twenty five minutes swimming in the sea.
Ash Gill waterfall.
On Wednesday Mike and I were supposed to heading for a couple of tops in the outlying Cheviots. Cancelled due to dire weather forecasts, we met up on Friday.  This time we had swimming in mind. Our first stop was to be Ash Gill, near Garrigill. Unfortunately the forecast differed from what we actually experienced. It was wet and quite chilly.
Ash Gill has a series of pools, some quite deep. Selecting one, we changed into swimming costumes. Mike was first in, gasping at the coldness of the water. Not hesitating, I edged in. Loose rocks under my feet made me a little wary. The water was not clear and any obstacles could not be seen. With the water up to my chest, I leaned forward, allowing the coldness to envelope me. There was little room for a full swimming stroke. Using a half side stroke, come doggy paddle, I swam round the pool. For a few moments I floated on my back, allowing the water to push me along. Really though it was a little restricted.
A swimmers eye view!
Overall, I was only in the water for some ten minutes. Possibly I could have gone on and swum in a few more pools. However, on getting out, a strong breezey wind was blowing and I began to chill. Thus I dried off and got into warm, dry clothing and joined Mike for lunch . Mike was a wee bit annoyed with himself for not taking the plunge. The water though did feel colder than the sea and knowing Mike, he will be back in the waves next week.
One of Ash Gill,s pools, note clarity of water here!
Ash Gill does not offer easy access, the path drops steeply down the the hillside. In the wet conditions it proved to be extremely slippery.
Taken in the rain, hence slight streaky affect.
In the afternoon we headed over to Cow Green. Originally we had thought about another swim. With the way the weather was we cancelled on that. Mike though, new of a few fairly remote deep pools near to the upper river Tees.. We set off to at least investigate them. Unfortunately it involved making our way across wet, rough, boggy ground. By the time we reached the river I was feeling a little wobbly. The rocks in the river were slippery and I opted out. Mike forged on, paddling across while I sorted out my meds.
 On his return, Mike gave the thumbs up on the pools. A return visit will be made sometime. Our return to the carpark involved a tad more bog trotting. A different sort of day but pleasureable.
The question as to whether I continue swimming over the winter months remains to be seen? Certainly I am not going to make any rash statements. It will be a case of one swim at a time, two or three swims a week. If my body adapts to the cold conditions then I certainly will make the attempt.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Dales wandering.

This was another one of the CAMRA walks that Mike was reviewing. The Settle/Carlisle line is very convenient for circular walks in the Yorkshire Dales. Thus Mike extended the route a wee bit. It was the latter part of the afternoon when we got off the train in Horton in Ribblesdale. The sun was out and it was warm. There is something quite pleasing to be heading up the hill as everyone else is heading down. The questioning look can be seen in the eye of some folk as they pass and say hi!.
A delightful camping spot was found by Hull Pot beck. Unfortunately there where no deep pools in the beck to allow for swimming. However, we enjoyed a cooling dip, which was refreshing.
The following morning saw us heading up Pen-y-ghent. Initially we followed the old path, joining the new one higher up.  Just before the top is a new, hideous concrete staircase. Possibly a shiny new hand rail will follow? It boggles the question as to what is going to happen on the scrambly bit going up over the prow.. There are rumours of Alpine style guides, fixed belay points and via ferrata??
Heading up Pen-Y-ghent.
Things were getting busy on Pen-y-ghent.
 We continued following the Pennine Way to skirt around Fountains Fell. We mutually agreed on having an easy day.
Finding nice water at Tenants Gill and a good camping spot, we stopped for the day.
. A lazy afternoon was spent in our usual round of activities, which involved tea drinking, reading and snoozing. Heavy rain came in overnight. The following morning was grey and a wee bit dreich but not actually raining.
We had a few drizzly showers as we made our way over to  Malham tarn.
Stopping for a break, we sheltered out of a blustery wind by a wall and perused the map. This was going to be a lazy day again. our plan was simple, head over to Langscar Gate and then around by Kirkby Fell. Two rangers were busy installing new gates along the track. Thus we were a tad wary  in finding a spot to camp. After a bit of casting about we settled on a grassy spot by some ancient mine workings.
Later that afternoon, with the nearby gate fixed and the rangers gone, Mike and Lucky headed up Rye Loaf Hill. On his return, Mike had noticed a few beasts and a large bull heading through the gate. Cattle and tents do not go together. They get curious, come and have nose  and the inevitable can happen with panicking animals tripping over guy lines and chaos reigns. The easiest course of action was to persuade the animals back the other side of the gate and close it. With this duly done, everyone could settle down for a peaceful night.
A few showers during the night. The morning though was dank and cloud  covered, everything shrouded in grey. Making sure that the gate was back where it ought to be, we enjoyed a leisurely walk down to Settle.
Arriving early, we pottered about, visited a cafe for a cuppa and something to eat and then investigated a nearby pub. All in all, an enjoyable few days.

Sunday 2 July 2017

Cold Law in the mist.

Mike and I had another wee trip in mind. Basically a walk to take in a top and then another beach foray.
All the way up to the Cheviots it remained wet. Turning up in to the Harthope valley we also encountered swirling mist. It would be a day for full waterproofs.
A steady plod uphill through the all pervading dampness eventually brought us to Cold Law.
.By the time we returned to the car park the rain had eased.
Thankfully it remained fairly dry for the walk in to Ross Back Sands. There was though, a steady northerly wind blowing down the beach.
My concern, worrier that I am, was the tarp we were going to use. Anyone can bivi with a tarp and be uncomfortable. The secret is being comfortable under one. Realising that Mike and I needed something a tad larger, I started thinking. A project that had not turned out right had left me with a fair amount of ripstop nylon. After a hesitant start, I had got busy. Some snipping and cutting and a large amount of sewing with a sewing machine that was not firing on all cylinders, and I had a nine foot square  tarp. The initial hemming required some thirty six feet of stitching. Much muttering and a few choice swear words saw pegging loops added to the corners and middle of the hems. Not my best bit of work. Elegant it was not, functional, most certainly!
My concern was the set up I had in mind, having never used such a large tarp. Despite a thin, mizzly wetness driving down the beach, a wee bit of faffing and we had the tarp up. Not the best but hey! we had shelter from the wind and weather on all three sides. It needs more work in the shape of another lifter toward the rear. However there was loads of space and with the addition  of a mega plastic sheet  Mike had brought along for the floor, we were snug.
 We spent the rest of the day snoozing, reading, drinking tea and generally chilling out.
Early morning saw a  sea fog drifting in with the waves still crashing on the beach in in great rolling, white capped crescendos. Gradually though, the wind changed to the west and the boisterous waves eventually eased. We both spent some time frollicking in the shallows. Mike got wetter than me!
The storm had washed a mass of baby jellyfish and great swathes of seaweed.

Later in the morning the sun came out and we spent a pleasant  few hours before the clouds rolled back in again. It was odd to see a few elderly gents, hidden in the dunes, every so often, stand up, peer around and disappear again  One chappie, rather long in the tooth, had been sitting not that far from us. Standing, he pulled on a pair of shorts, picked up a wee rucksack and walked up the beach, past us. Then proceeded just the other side of us, to enter the dunes once more. There, he discarded the shorts and carried on up through the dunes. Not long after, Mike took Lucky for a walk. Low and behold the same person was now heading back down the beach, clothed. As he came level with our bivi, he paused, gave a loud 'harrumph' and continued on his way. Odd? Even more peculiar was that ten minutes later he came back up the beach, naked and shortly after headed back down the beach, still nude? Well, I guess it takes all sorts!
It was, all in all, not a bad wee do. Readers be warned, there may be more scribblings along these lines!