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Tuesday, December 24, 2013


To everyone who has visited Come walk with me, whether a regular visitor or an accidental dropper inner and to everyone who loves, and is inspired by, the great outdoors wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a wild and inspiring 2014!

Wet and wild walks from Llanberis

Walking with; Nobody

The good folks at the MWIS had provided the following information for Snowdonia, " frequent snow and hail with thunder, occasional whiteout conditions" but my cosy bunk at the Llanberis YHA was already booked and I had a new pair of Berghaus waterproofs to put to the test! On the drive over it became clear that we were in for some pretty serious weather and it was almost at the stage where I considered retreating to "Pete's Eats", settling next to the radiator and working my way through the largest of large brunches! However I summoned up some serious resolve, parked at the end of the tiny hamlet of Cwm-y-Glo and set off to take on Mother Nature in the foulest of moods. I followed the path from the small carpark at the end of the village and climbed up to Gallt-y-celyn. It was slippery underfoot, brutally windy and the rain was flying in horizontally, but there were still views down towards Llyn Padarn and Snowdon sat magnificent in the distance. I headed across to the slopes of Garreg Lefain where I found myself a sheltered spot above the reservoir for a spot of lunch and some respite from the torrential rain. After twenty minutes of questioning my sanity I devised a roundabout escape plan that would incorporate a little wet weather nav practice with a reasonably rapid descent off the hill. In the end it was one of those days that tested me, there were times when it was a little unpleasant but as I sat in "Pete's Eats" an hour or so later with a pint of coffee and a bacon and egg roll the words of my t-shirt rang true, "Better a rainy day on the hill than a sunny one in the office"!
Thursday's forecast was worse yet but as I left the hostel and started the gentle climb through farmland and past many abandoned and ruined cottages and barns, the sky was still blueish. I hit the North Wales Pilgrims Way above the old slate workings and turned up onto Bryn Mawr and the lower slopes of Moel Eilio, my goal for the day. I could see the clouds rolling in over Snowdon and even more ominously the ribbons of cloud trailing in from the coast, as I hit the summit the hail swept in with stinging force. I ducked into the summit shelter and identified the ridge walk on to Foel Goch which looked straightforward even with the increasingly poor visibility. I made it as far as Foel Gron when the storm hit, the thunder was directly overhead and deafening and the lightning appeared like a flashbulb going off seemingly right in front of my eyes. Abandoning my original plan I decided to get off the ridge as soon as possible and managed to find a reasonably secure (though still extremely blowy) way down to Llyn Dwythwch. By now the snow was falling pretty heavily but I found the ruins of a sheepfold and tucked myself away for some lunch whilst the flakes settled all around me. Shaking off the cold I skirted the lake and made my way back to the hostel. It was too early to go back so I headed over to the old slate mines for a bit of a nosey before the rain forced a retreat once more back to Pete's welcoming embrace!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

A short walk in Oxfordshire

Walking with; Nobody

After a day of exploring the "City of dreaming spires", wandering through the back streets of Oxford stumbling upon characterful pubs, blue plaques a-plenty and hidden gardens tucked away in college quadrangles, I felt the need to get some mud on my boots once more! Not knowing the area and being mapless I bought a copy of the AA 50 Walks in Oxfordshire and picked out a likely looking suspect.
  The fog was hanging in a thick blanket low over the countryside and there was a distinct chill in the air as I parked outside the parish church of Charlton-on-Otmoor. The church (St Mary the virgin) is listed in the Simon Jenkins book "England's 1000 best churches" and has a magnificent timber beamed ceiling and a very famous 16th century wooden rood screen, the cross of which was garlanded with seasonal greenery. I left the village behind and headed into the neighbouring settlement of Oddington. The fog was still thick but the bare trees and hedgerows were alive with wildlife, there were flocks of Redwings, murmurations of Starlings and airborne Rookeries and it made for pleasant, undemanding strolling. The route led me across muddy fields, hugging the hedgerows until I emerged next to two beautiful thatched farmhouses in the hamlet of Noke. In spite of the name meaning "at the Oak trees" there wasn't an Oak tree to be seen and I made my way along the high street before taking the path that led me to the Ot Moor RSPB reserve. Recent sightings there have included Whooper Swans and Pintails but I was treated to the beautiful sight of a Marsh Harrier skimming low over the reedbeds. The muddy path led me through a military firing range and onto an old Roman road which eventually took me into my fourth of the "seven towns of Otmoor", Fencott. From Fencott, I followed the lane that led me back to my original starting point muddied but content.
One of the sadder aspects of the walk was the number of houses I passed named "The Old Black Bull",
"The Old Post Office" or "The Old Schoolhouse", reminders of a time when these tiny communities really functioned as autonomous entities rather than being dorm villages for wealthy refugees from Oxford or Bicester. It is a trend that in recent times has become depressingly familiar. In the village I was bought up in and where my Dad has lived for nearly forty years we used to have a primary school, two pubs, a shop/post office, a village tea room, a staffed railway station housed in a Victorian building and two market gardens. Whilst the school has grown in size, the one struggling pub is the only remaining community asset in the village. People of my generation have been priced out of rural living and, for me, the heart has left many of these communities as they become little more than retirement villages for the wealthy!

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Win a Come walk with me calendar for Christmas!

Hi folks, as a little bit of Christmas fun and an incentive to connect with Come walk with me, anybody commenting on any post on the Come walk with me website will go into a draw to win a free 2014 calendar delivered direct to their door! Get involved and GOOD LUCK!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More walks in and around Grasmere

Walking with; Nobody

I'd only been in Grasmere a couple of weeks earlier, but the great deals the YHA are currently offering on accommodation meant I could get a room to myself for roughly the price of a dorm bed. Butharlyp House (Butterlip is the pronunciation apparently) is an excellent hostel, well appointed, attractive and staffed by cheerful and helpful team members, an ideal location for a couple of nights. Since I'd read Hunter Davies's excellent "A walk around the Lakes" I felt better educated about the life of Wordsworth and, even in early December, there were still tour buses disgorging Japanese tourists outside the "Sarah Nelson Gingerbread shop" and "Dove Cottage". "Tweedies" is far and away the best option for a post walk pint by the fire, a choice of eight real ales and plenty of other options and some impressive looking food, I stuck to the beer on this occasion!
Anyway, enough of the tourist information. Loughrigg is exactly the kind of lumpy, bumpy, path criss-crossed, tarn dotted fell that I imagine has ML assessors salivating. I decided to head up mid-afternoon and play around for a bit before making my way back via the light of my head torch. I scrambled up stream beds, located tarns and trickles, watched Jackdaws playing on the thermals and listened to the insistent "cronk" of the Ravens. I found my way to Scartufts and as I ploughed through the boggy mire the light dropped and the headlights of the cars below skirted Rydal Water. In the darkness I located Lanty Scar, dropped down into Loughrigg Holme and ended up handrailing the wall above the slightly smutty sounding Rough Intake until I found myself back safe and sound in Rydal. I find Night Nav on my own can still be a bit intimidating but as my confidence and ability slowly increases I feel the immense satisfaction that comes from a skill being honed.
The forecast for the next day was apocalyptic and I as readied myself I could feel the glances upon me and the implicit, "You're going out in this.....?" Twenty minutes into my ascent to Alcock Tarn I wondered why I hadn't listened. The rain was torrential and unrelenting, trees bucked and bent in the wind and even the hardy Herdwicks huddled in the lee of stone walls and chewed the grass in miserable silence. A couple of gusts nearly had me off my feet but I continued to climb bent into the wind until I reached the beautifully appointed tarn on the lower slopes of Heron Pike with views of Grasmere and beyond. Rain turned to stinging sleet, the wind continued to blow and I trudged towards the village, then the wind continued to blow, the clouds scudded by and I ascended smiling to Stone Arthur under blue skies! I had a sandwich sheltering between two rocks out of the teeth of the gale and then contoured round below Great Rigg to reach Grizedale Tarn, one of Lakeland's best. Last time I'd been here was on my C2C route and the false summit as you climb up Great Tongue had crushed me, this time I at least knew what to expect.....I saw the only two other walkers of the day at the Tarn and then slipped and clambered up the screey slope of Seat Sandal affording spectacular views down Patterdale to Ullswater. The unusual name is, apparently, a derivation of the old Norse for "Sandulf's Hill Pasture", but it's a rare, old spot with views to match. Leaving the summit it was a knee crunching descent down the Southern slopes before following Great Tongue back down to "Tweedies" and a welcome pint by the fire! Sometimes the inclemency of the weather is the only way to get some of the more popular fells to yourself!

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Come walk with me calendar

After the success of last years calendar we now have the 2014 one ready for distribution. The calendar showcases the best Come walk with me photos from the last 12 months and covers walks from areas as diverse as the Peak District and the Cuban Sierra Maestra. The calendars retail for £11 for the A4 wall hanging version or £9 for the desktop! If you would like one please message me asap as they are going fast already!