Total Pageviews

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trail Magazine's Face of Fatigue

Page 21 of the new edition of Trail magazine, me looking knackered on Grey Knotts with full pack! Good fun!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hill Skills On Kinder

Walking with; Nobody

Another chance to get out onto the Peak District's finest hill to work on my rope and navigation skills. Kinder is undoubtedly my favourite hill in the area, dramatic, historic and accessible and I decided to access it on this occasion from the lay by at the foot of Chapel Gate. This particular track has been the scene of much controversy over the past 18 months with banning orders for trail bikes and 4x4 and then orders being rescinded. However, early on a Thursday morning it was pretty tranquil and as I struck off towards Brown Knoll, with only a couple of other walkers in sight! The walk to Brown Knoll afforded great views to the Edale valley and the Great Ridge and in the distance were the various rock formations running along the flank of Kinder, Noe's Stool, Pym's Chair and the Crowden Towers.
On reaching the Swine's Back I found a few likely looking crags and spent a productive hour abseiling myself and lowering and retrieving my rucksack up and down the slope, rope work has definitely improved over the last couple of months. Nathan and Manchester Climbing Centre have undoubtedly aided in this, but my poor long suffering wife, Ruthy, has been a willing volunteer to be belayed up and down the stairs in our flat! After a bite of lunch I left Swine's Back and navigated my way through the groughs and peat hags towards the actual peak of Kinder Scout, marked on the map at 636m and a fair distance away from the trig point on Kinder Low. I came up slightly to one side but decided that the cairn to my left was likely to be the spot. Resting at the cairn I watched a couple of Curlew and then, even better, a Golden Plover. I picked my way back to Pym's Chair pausing to eat a couple of bilberries before heading back to Edale Rocks and from there following the path that led me to South Head.
South Head looked tempting, the short, very steep haul up to the summit was an option, but I was in a rush at this stage, needing to pick Ruthy up from Stockport station and time had ticked on. I followed the Bridleway back to my car, being passed only by one mountain biker and finishing in the sunshine feeling pleased to have had a great day further refining my skills! It's a slow process, but my accuracy and ability are definitely improving and my confidence is following with it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bradshaw to The Strawbury Duck for Sunday lunch (and back again!)

Walking with; Ruthy, Paul, Jen, Emily and Kate

There can be few better ways to spend a Sunday than a gentle stroll in the Summer sunshine to a country pub with a bunch of good friends. I knew nothing of this area before yesterday, my experiences of the Bolton area being confined to playing various games of rugby there over the years, however by the time you reach Bradshaw the urban sprawl dissipates and rolling countryside opens out before you.
We set off from the houses on the site of the old Bradshaw Bleach works and were soon making our way through the Bradshaw Bottoms woodland, following the stream past old quarries and squelching through the occasional puddle until we hit the Jumbles Reservoir, an impressive body of water dotted with sailing boats and Canada Geese and sparkling in the sunshine. I like reservoir walking, the going underfoot is usually easy and walking by bodies of water always adds something to a ramble. There were plenty of wildflowers and birds flitting in and out of the foliage and it felt a shame to leave the shelter of the canopy and emerge in the cluster of houses. We climbed up through Turton before heading off along the path flanking our second reservoir of the day, Wayoh. The reservoir was completed in 1876 and is one of the two main sources of drinking water for the Bolton area. Along the path there were Wild Raspberries, Heather and plenty of Rose Bay Willow Herb and there were Cormorant, Canada Geese and Mallard on the water. We eventually wound our way up the hill and there before us like a welcome mirage loomed the welcoming sight of "The Strawbury (sic) Duck", a pub that as a group we can heartily recommend for treats including Potted Duck, Roast Beef and Cod and Chips, not to mention friendly staff and good beer....well worth the effort!
Replete and in need of walking off a few calories we retraced our steps back along the reservoirs and woodland paths to Bradshaw safe in the knowledge we'd had a Sunday well spent!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Kate, my photo genius friend, has been working on a couple of photos for me and come up with these results, I think you'll agree they are very impressive! Check out her website at

Monday, August 12, 2013

Food for free

Foraging is fashionable right now. Michelin starred chefs such as Simon Rogan at "L'Enclume" and Tom Kitchin serve their high end dishes with foraged foods and charge through the nose for it, which, to my mind, represents the antithesis of what "wild" food should be about. Those of us who walk and who explore our fantastic countryside on a regular basis will already be aware of the plethora of freebies already out there from Elderberries to Wild Garlic, not to mention rock pool Shrimps and wild Raspberries.
Now I am no hard core forager, given the choice between a pot of nettle soup and a boil in the bag Full English or a steak pie and chips in a Lakeland pub....well, it's no contest, but I do like the idea of something for nothing and this time of year provides me with a few favourites. Firstly, the Bilberries are now in season, I've found them in the Peaks and Wales already this year although the Lakeland plants seem to be a little tardy. Chuck a handful of these gorgeous, bluey/purple berries into your porridge in the morning for a real wild food treat. They are labour intensive to pick and you will end up with stained hands and cheeks but it is certainly well worth it!
Even better for me, and (if you're willing to risk spilling a little blood in the cause of your sweet tooth) easier to snack on is, of course, the blackberry. I picked a full punnets worth this afternoon in less than ten minutes and am currently debating whether to turn them into a crumble or simply drizzle them with a little cream and eat them after my homemade vegetable soup tonight! Everybody has their favourite blackberrying spot and even in the urban jungle that is Manchester due diligence is rewarded with hordes of berries.
It won't be too much longer before the evenings start to draw in and the leaves start to fall, so let's make the most of nature's bounty whilst it's on offer and a hell of a lot cheaper than as a garnish on a plate at "Noma" !

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Honister, Great Langdale and points in between

Walking with; Nobody/Nathan 

Not being in possession of either children or gainful employment I'd kind of forgotten how the Summer holidays affect the Lake District. There are hills best avoided under these conditions and yet I'd already planned a roughish selection of wanderings to occupy me over three days and I was loathe to stray too far from my prescribed ideas. Whilst it was considerably busier than usual I was fortunate that a little judicious route selection and some reasonably timed starts minimised the amount of contact I was required to have with the many hundreds thronging the fells!
Day one started at the prohibitively priced NT car park in Seatoller. I'd been a member once and when they tried to strong arm us into renewing the subscription they wanted £92 for a couple, the exorbitant fees are clearly the latest example of strong arming people into membership...Heading off up Thorneythwaite Fell (try saying that after a pint or three of Snecklifter) I was soon being treated to views of Derwentwater and the crags above Comb Gill. I was heading for Glaramara, a previous attempt had had to be aborted due to the depth of snow, so I was keen to get it under my belt. The final gentle scramble onto the summit proved very rewarding, two hours in to my Lakeland August odyssey and still not a soul to be seen! I was experimenting with a 1:50000 scale OS in order to sharpen my identification of contours but my brain hadn't quite computed the full repercussions so the wander over to Allen Crags took me twice as long as I had convinced myself it would. Arriving at the Crags and with Great End and Esk Hause in clear view I discovered where all the Summer visitors had been, it was akin to Oxford Street in December, people (and dogs) here, there and everywhere! The path most being trodden appeared to be the one towards Scafell Pike but I dropped off it and headed over to Great End for magnificent views and some close inspection by a rescue chopper which circled the summit for some time. Leaving the tops I followed Ruddy Gill down to Seathwaite and then tramped along The Allerdale Ramble back to Seatoller from where I headed up to the YHA at Honister. Whilst it may be that the hostel could do with a lick of paint and a wee bit of TLC, the staff were friendly, the beer cold and the views spectacular all for the price of a good bottle of wine!
The next morning started with the steep haul up Grey Knotts where I snapped a sure fire winner for the "Trail magazine-Face of Fatigue". The top was reached and the vistas opened out in all directions, Borrowdale, Buttermere, Ennerdale, the heart of the Lakes. The walking over Brandreth and upto Green Gable was gentle and I slipped and slid my way down the Aaron Slack for a bite to eat at Styhead Tarn. Last time I'd been here the snow was knee deep and I'd had the place pretty much to myself, but by lunchtime on a Thursday in August there were already two tents pitched and a plethora of walkers milling about. I headed on up and before too long was escaping the bulk of the crowds once more and slowly ascending Esk Pike for more views back towards England's highest peak. I had one more peak in mind for the day, Bowfell, which I duly meandered up before the descent to the Three Tarns and then down the knee crunching The Band to arrive in Great Langdale with the sun shining and the lure of a good pint foremost in my mind. Tent pitched and chilli cooked it was time to head off to "The Old Dungeon Ghyll" and then "The Stickleback" to refresh myself with a couple of pints of Esthwaite Ale and Loweswater Gold!
Nathan had come across to join me for the Thursday. We headed off into Mickleden and began the brutal climb up Rossett Pike, this was made slightly less arduous for us by the sight of eight gents hefting their mountain bikes up and over the summit, respect due. We carried on to Angle Tarn and gradually ascended to Esk Hause where perched upon one of the shelter walls I found the Guinness cap that I had inadvertently left there the afternoon before! Honest bunch walkers? Or perhaps the sweat stained soiled and grubby cap hadn't proved enough of a prize for anyone to covet, who knows? We'd decided to do a traverse around Great Gable and stopped opposite Lingmell for a bit of rope work practice, still one of my bete noirs! The traverse was spectacular, crossing the screes with stunning views down Wasdale and we eventually ended up at Beck Head from where we made our way back towards Honister with some truly awesome views back down Ennerdale and towards Buttermere and Crummock Water.
Even in the height of Summer there are still plenty of spots where it's possible to find a little Lakeland solitude and the sunshine and the views made this three of my favourite days out so far this year! All that being said, roll on September and the hills to myself once more!