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Friday, February 22, 2013

Up or Down?

Instead of spending a week walking up mountains I shall be strapping a couple of planks to my feet and sliding down them, mostly in some kind of control!

Have a good week!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Grasmere overnighter

Walking with; Nobody

Last time I stopped in Grasmere was a couple of years ago on my Coast to Coast walk and my impression of the village was of a shrine to Wordsworth that lacked a decent Lakeland pub. I'd stayed in the Thorney How Hostel which at that time was owned by the YHA but is now operating on an independent basis. I stayed on this visit at the Butharlyp Howe hostel (pronounced Butterlip) and have nothing but praise for it, a beautiful building in an excellent location with Goldcrests in the garden. I arrived later than intended after too much wine the night before and fish and chips in Ambleside, so decided on something gentle to stretch the legs and stimulate the mind with thoughts of "lonesome wandering".
Leaving Grasmere I headed out past Dove Cottage (Wordsworth's home from 1799-1808 when he sold it to Thomas de Quincy) and started ascending on the old coffin route across to Rydal and Rydal Mount where Wordsworth lived later in his life. The coffin route is so named as before Rydal and Ambleside had churches of their own, bodies used to be carried (in coffins) to St Oswald's church in Grasmere for burial. As I climbed out of the village I passed one of the coffin stones that was used to  rest coffins on in order to provide the bearers with a break. The path was very slushy underfoot, the dump of snow on Wednesday was already thawing and there was water everywhere, but the views across to Rydal Water were beautiful with the water reflecting Loughrigg Terrace. Passing Rydal Mount I continued through the village and after crossing the River Rothay meandered out onto the slopes of Loughrigg and the impressive caves caused by quarrying on the fell.  The walk along Loughrigg Terrace back towards Redbank Wood was breathtaking with views across Grasmere, Helm Crag and back to Nab Scar. Bags dropped off at the YHA I decided to try "Tweedies" bar and am very glad I did, there's not much better after an afternoon on the fells than a log fire, some locally brewed real ale and a steak and kidney pudding!
Day two, I headed off from the hostel and took the path away from the village and onto the lower slopes of Helm Crag. Whilst I couldn't really see any sign of the lion or the lamb, it's a handsome hill and from the summit there was some fantastic views back to the lakes I'd trawled round the previous day. Wainwright wrote of it, ""The virtues of Helm Crag have not been lauded enough. It gives an exhilarating little climb, a brief essay in real mountaineering, and, in a region where all is beautiful, it makes a notable contribution to the natural charms and attractions of Grasmere" and I'd be hard pressed to disagree. Leaving the summit, I followed the ridge along to Gibson Knott and continued over the Pike of Carr and Calf Crag. It was warm work even with the snow still lying thick on some parts of the path. Reaching the head of Far Easdale I began the descent into the valley stopping for a beautiful sunlit lunch at the foot of one of the many waterfalls where the sun shining through the spray created some beautiful rainbows. Following Far Easdale Gill back towards the village I took the permissive path through the grounds of the Lancrigg where I was lucky enough to come face to face with a beautiful Roe Deer standing in the woodland at the hotel entrance......a perfect end to a very good day of walking.

To view the full album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.342759652509613&type=1

Monday, February 11, 2013

First Lakeland trip of 2013

Walking with; Nobody

The Lake District in the snow is just about the best place to be in England so after a Monday snowfall I decided to head up there for an overnight trip staying at the Windermere YHA on the Troutbeck Road ( . I got up there not long before lunch on the Wednesday and having parked up just outside Troutbeck set off up Robin Lane towards the snow sprinkled top of Wansfell Pike. As the path slowly climbed, the views across Windermere to the snow capped peaks beyond became ever more impressive. I turned onto Hundreds Road and then was out in open moorland and admiring the views across to Yoke and Ill Bell. The path was pretty iced up as I ascended steadily towards the South Western summit. The name Wansfell is believed to have been derived from the Old Norse for Woden's Fell and with the wind whipping across the ridge reddening the face and making the eyes water it had a distinctly Scandanavian feel to it!
I began the descent down to Ambleside, the path remaining slippery underfoot, and after meeting a few people struggling up the slope I arrived in the park around Stockghyll Force. Stock Ghyll is a tributary of the River Rothay and the falls tumble 70 feet towards the town through a pretty wooded vale. After browsing a few of the plethora of outdoor shops I settled on a pint at "The Royal Oak" and worked out my route back. Leaving Ambleside via Skelghyll Woods, the path passed the remote farm at High Skelghyll before leading back round towards Robin Lane. The sun was still shining though and I wasn't quite ready for home so added a loop via Wood Farm and Middlerigg Tarn (Goldeneyes, Pochard and Mute Swans) before heading back to the car and then the hostel via an hour of sitting in front of a crackling log fire at the fantastic "Mortal Man" pub (
I was up early the next morning and parking my car in the layby next to Kentmere church just after 8am. Nowadays Kentmere is a tiny hamlet full of beautiful cottages but very remote, but it has an illustrious history and the fortified tower of Kentmere Hall is still a visible reminder of times past. The Gilpin family (who came over with William the Conquerer) owned the hall for 12 generations before all of it except the tower was destroyed by Cromwell's forces during the Civil War. The churchyard still contains the graves of the few hardy families who settled this area and there were a number of memorials to "Yeomans" (free man owning his own farm).
The Garburn Pass was slippery underfoot but as I set off I saw a herd of deer on the skyline which buoyed my spirits and by the time I was trudging through the snow towards the summit of Yoke the sun was peeking out through the clouds and a couple of other hardy walkers could be seen in the distance. The ridge walk from Yoke over Ill Bell and Froswick to Bleathwaite Crags was awesome......stunning scenery, deep snow making for challenging walking and almost complete silence. The route to Mardale Ill Bell was through even deeper snow and by the time I reached Nan Bield Pass I was both exhausted and felt I'd been genuinely challenged! I clambered up the steep slope onto Harter Fell with it's distinctive cairn spiked with metal and then continued across the exposed moorland through more deep snow to Kentmere Pike my final summit of the day. A little off piste descending scared both myself and the odd sheep before I finally made my way back to the edge of Kentmere and wound my way through the hamlet back to my car and a very welcome cup of coffee.
The Kentmere Round is a genuinely stunning walk and I would highly recommend it. It was challenging in winter conditions and it wouldn't be a place to be out if you were underequipped, but the views from Windermere to Haweswater are more than ample reward!

To view the full album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.337197503065828&type=1

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rushup Edge to Hayfield

Walking with; Ruth, Emily and Roz

Some of the more observant amongst you may have noticed that whilst the blog is called Come walk with me, for many of my wanderings, I tend to wander alone! This is partially as a result of me generally walking during the week when other people are working and partially because I enjoy walking on my own. However, I am in the process of trying to become a Mountain Leader and that, of course, requires leading people, so many thanks to Ruthy, Emily and Roz for being willing guinea pigs in this experiment!
We set off, in pretty miserable conditions from Rushup Edge and after slipping and sliding on the first iced up half mile of the Pennine Bridleway we disappeared into thick mist. It was muddy going underfoot and the Bridleway provides the additional hazard of avoiding hurtling hordes of mountain bikers, but early progress was predominantly "head down, hoods up and aim into the wind!". After crossing the wooded stream at Bolehill Clough we descended to Roych Clough where the cloud thinned and we paused for a sandwich ahead of the climb up to South Head. The slope up to South Head is brutal and the wind on the top was gale force, but the lure of getting to the top of the highest point on the main route was too good a chance to miss and with Roz leading the way we ascended to the summit for a good view of the clouds and all cobwebs to be very decisively blown away!
We slid (literally in Ruthy's case) back down to the Bridleway and continued a gradual descent out of the clouds circumventing Mount Famine (try as I might I have been unable to find out where this name comes from) and following the paths down towards Bowden Bridge where we found a magnificent herd of Highland Cattle grazing contentedly. From there we followed the River Sett down into Hayfield for a well deserved drink at The Pack Horse. I managed not to lose or kill anyone, hopefully even imparted a little bit of knowledge and the girls all seemed to have a good time, so everyone is a winner! First of many I hope.

To view the full album, please click on the link below;

3 Staffordshire Hills

Walking with; Nobody

Sometimes in the hill walking community we naturally assume bigger is better, but that isn't always the case. As the husband of a wife who measures in at a less than towering 5 ft 2 and as a fan of the brand of wing wizadry Shane Williams bought to the Welsh rugby team, I am more than aware that the best things often come in small packages.......which leads me neatly to a three hour walk with no peak above 425m which was one of the best I've done in a while!
I parked in the tiny hamlet of Hollinsclough. The 1851 census listed 400 residents living there, but I'd be surprised if there were more than a tenth of that now and apart from the school there were few signs of life. I followed the path leading towards Glutton Grange before striking off up the steep slopes of Parkhouse Hill from where I was able to watch a Buzzard circling ever higher on the thermals. Shutlingsloe is nicknamed the "Cheshire Matterhorn" and I would argue Parkhouse Hill should definitely be in line for the Staffordshire version of that title. Both Parkhouse and Chrome Hill are part of a Carboniferous reef and from the valley floor you can clearly see how the reef must once have run. The views from the top were stunning in all directions and well worth the ten minutes of steep scrambling it took to reach the top. I descended down the rocky spine which involved lots of hands on the ground and the occasional quickening heartbeat, but reached the valley floor in one piece and continued on to Chrome Hill.
The summit of Chrome Hill was a great spot for lunch with views across to the village of Earl Sterndale and down to Dowall Hall and again, for a short ascent, the views were breathtaking. The path follows the craggy spine of the hill before descending onto a permissive path that leads round to Booth Farm where I left it and headed up the muddy slopes of Hollins Hill to follow another path running along the spine of the hill adjacent to farmland before dropping back towards the village. Just before crossing the Dove, a sign warned me of a weak bridge and a notice from the Parish Council informed me that the bridge and path would be closed from February 4th until further notice and that there is no alternative route which would necessitate a very long reverse journey.So, as of today I don't think I'd be able to replicate this walk for some time.....shame!

To view the full album, please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.333819363403642&type=1

Friday, February 1, 2013


Walking with; Nobody

When I think of the Dark Peak, I tend to think about the "Big three", Kinder, Bleaklow and Crowden/Black Hill, but I do seem to neglect the latter. It doesn't have the mystery of Bleaklow with it's low hanging fog and aircraft wrecks (although it does have a few up there) or the history of Kinder and the tresspass, but it does have the Great and Little Brooks, Laddow Rocks (where the original members of The Rucksack club climbed and put in place the foundations of the modern Mountain rescue service) and miles of barren moorland. I wanted a bit more navigation work and figured miles of barren moorland met that criteria so away I went, passing the YHA before crossing Crowden Brook and making my way up to The Pennine Way. There were Pheasant and Grouse about and I heard Ravens at least twice on my walk. I ascended slowly until I reached Oakenclough Brook tumbling down off Rakes Moss,then instead of re-treading the next section of the Way, I decided to follow a narrow track contouring along the valley and below Laddow Rocks before emerging back onto the Way opposite the magnificent rock formations known as Castles.
The path crisscrossed the brook before the distinctive paving slabs showed me the way towards the distant Black Hill. I'm always struck at how vast the expanse of moorland is up there, miles of nothingness giving the lone walker the occasional chill down the spine especially when the mist starts to drift in.......Visibility remianed pretty good though so I struck off in an easterly direction, locating the pond at Sliddens Moss before continuing on the rough, broken up, tussocky ground in the direction of the ever visible Holme Moss Transmitting Station. The groughs were still full of snow and I set off a Mountain Hare in it's beautiful white coat, he made my progress across the moor look decidedly clumsy and he bounced and bounded away from me. I eventually made my way up on to Tooleyshaw Moss and searched for the remains of the original route that the Pennine Way took. The wind had gotten up by this point and the dark clouds that had hovered over Bleaklow began to scud in my general direction incentivising me to pick up my pace as I slip slid through the peaty bogs and mossy marshes from White Low and across Westend Moss. The squall when it hit did so with the kind of malevolence a disgruntled Nordic God might have used to show his power over mere humans and I was soaked before I'd even got my waterproofs out of my rucksack......luckily it was over as quickly as it started and I wandered the remaining path back to the hamlet of Crowden (the most Northerly settlement in Derbyshire) without further downpour.

To visit the full photo album for this walk please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.332787893506789&type=1