Sunday, 27 May 2012

27/5/12 - That would be an ecumenical matter

Distance - 9 Miles
Caches - 4
Walk from - Julie Royle's Worcestershire Walks (She has spread her wings)


British weather - you have to love it.  Two weeks ago, I was searching in my rucksack for gloves, having been blown on my backside in hurricane force winds on Ben Lomond.  Last week, Soft Shell firmly required, as I walked under gray Shropshire skies.  This weekend, I could have done it in my pants.

It seemed cruel to force my walking partner to do it in her fur coat - so the Labradoodle was allowed to slope off this morning, without me chasing her.  I also feared for the hot weather - so went as soon as I woke up to beat the midday sun.  Fortunately, a horny tomcat was bellowing the feline equivalent of "Come and get it" at 6am this morning.  As our windows were wide open, I was the only one that heard his love serenade.

Today's walk has been about churches and fine views of the English Countryside.

Park up at a layby on the A49 just north of Ross on Wye, 50 minutes after leaving home.  The walk gets off to a inauspicious start by completing a good couple of miles of lane walking.  Good news, is there are no vehicles.  First sign of civilisation is the surpisingly large church at church farm and the first cache at Higgens Well.

Farm with Huge Church

First cache if the day, at this well
The inscription on the well says that it was improved for Queen Vic's Diamond Jubilee - topical!

Then come back towards the A49 at ash farm.  Before reaching the road, I can hear the rumble of something dragged along the floor.  Turns out to be a couple of septuagenarians pulling along trolley cases like the family from the Fast Show.  The man is 30 yard in front of his wife and keeps turning around to say "Hurry Up".  Wonder where they are going on Hols?  Probably Hereford.

Drop down Tump Lane for some glorious views.... simply superb.  Then meet an unexpected museum dedicated to Violette Szabo, a french resistance fighter.  Links with this hamlet are that she used to stay with her cousin.

Enter the grounds of Mynde Park, with its fabulous house.  Great paths and a huge lake, complete with three caches.  Great walking and views.

Views into Wales from Mynde Park
Skate around the farmhouse, setting off the dogs and then a hearthumping climb up Orcop Hill.  This is in woodland, that offers some nice shade.  Once at the top, there is a cottage and a couple of other ramblers getting out their car.  The owner of the cottage is moving his car out and "wishes that the three of us find a decent pub" on our walk.  He then drives off looking smug in the knowledge that he has some terrific views out of his bungalow windows.

Orcop Hill - Owned by Mr Smug the Bungalow
Then we have grazing fields of sheep (well these were Rams.... I have to say, its a wonder they can walk.  Look suspiciously like they are sitting on furry spacehoppers) and then lanes.

The final highlight of the walk - and reason for being here - is the abandoned church at Llanwarne.  Genuinely, Llanwarne means Church in the Swamp - and due to the constant flooding, they gave up on St John the Baptists in 1864.  After walking past the new church (complete with full on hymn singing going on) you can investigate the ruins of the older one.

Church no More
Another half mile on lanes to get back to the car... all before the best of the Sun.  Stunning walk.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

20/5/12 - Pre Olympics

Distance - 5.8 Miles
Geocaches - 4 on route, 1 drive by on way home
Reason for being here - Get in the mood for the Olympics
Weather - Grey and miserable.

Much Wenlock

Looking for a local route with a touch of history.  What could be more topical than the olympics?  Much Wenlock is the birthplace of the modern olympics through the efforts of Dr William Penny Brookes, who formed the Olympian Society in 1850.  Games in those days included wheel barrow races and "old ladies running for a pound of tea".  I'll keep my eye out in July to see what we have on offer.

The walk starts in Station Road and follows the old railway line from Wenlock to Buildwas out of town.  This soon turns into the Jack Mytton way, the first of two long distance paths that we walk on today.  First cache is a whopper, hidden in a tree on the side of the line.

At Bradley Farm, I pick up the Shropshire way and head out over fields, using the Chimney of the Ironbridge power station as a marker to find my way.  Cache two is a whopper and of my favourite kind.

Cache 2 - In the Army now
The leads to a bit of lane walking on the Shropshire way but no worries, I dont see a car on the entire leg.  Climb up to Wyke and then back down in a loop back to Bradley Farm.  I am joined by a family of three and two more senior walkers who set a mean pace. 

Two caches in quick succession around Down's mill.  Then we come back to the civilsation of the town, first facing the ruins of St Milburga's Priory, which I can peep over the wall at.

In the main square of the village, I pick up the Olympian Way, which is a series of pavement mounted signs that take you on a tour, pointing out all the places of interest.  And there are plenty - pubs, books shops, tea shops.  Everything you could want after a quick walk in the countryside.

Village, People.
Set off back home, and drop in on a driveby cache at the Danery - a missing one from a loop I completed a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, 18 May 2012

18/5/12 - Back to Life

Distance - 5.5 Miles
Walk from - Jarrold, Yorkshire Dales
Geocaches - 3
Onward Journey - 160 Miles returning home
Listening to....
.... Another excellent Radio 6 Mark Radcliffe
.... Sonia Snoring

Last Night
After a week of being alone, Sonia turns up on the train to keep me company and stop me going stir crazy.  So we did whatever any self respecting partners who had been apart for 6 nights.... cards, pool and a selection of melodies on the juke box.  Ate at the Listers Arms, fixed their broadband to the broad joy of our new antipodean chum and went back to Buck Inn to watch frenchies flicking boogers at each other.

The Walk

Malham Cove

A gem.  Originally, I was planning on going up Ingleborough, but with such beauty on our doorstep, it would be rude not to leave from our pub with the taste of yet another FEB on our lips.

Head down a short section of the Pennine Way, following streams until we meet geological high point 1 - Janet's Fosse.  A nice waterfall.

Smell the wild garlic
Janet's Fosse
This quickly leads to a wild campsite on the way to geological wonder number 2 - Goredale Scar - and the first cache of the day.  My guide book described the climb up the waterfall as an easy scramble that looks harder than it really is.  Sonia took one look at it from the bottom and said "there's no way we are doing that without ropes".  I wanted a better look.  It was quite intimidating and no way easy, however, I felt that if we could get up the first bit, the remainder would be fine.  So I go up first.  It was tough.  I can then hear sonia calling that "I'm too short".  She then promptly legs it, giving me the joy of coming back down the way I came.

Stuff your scrambling
Leaving me cragfast, and the fastest she's moved today
Quick replan of the route means we can have a much more sedate clamber up to Geological high point three - malham cove.  This is walking of the highest order and everything you imagine a ramble in Yorkshire to be about.  Simply superb.

Malham Cove comes complete with a geology outing and a teacher who seems to only be able to repeat the phrase "Boys, boys, boys" as he losing control of his charges.  We take in two more caches that require a slight detour and then head for the photo opps from the top.

We learned this used to be under the sea
Then a stiff walk down, admiring the tenacity of the OAPs who are coming up the other way, for more photos at the bottom.

Ground Level
Quick walk through the cows to get back to Malham.  Having done the two pubs, its time to hit the tea shop.

The Journey
Through Pendle before picking up the M6 and familiar roads.  And that's it, my week's adventure is over.  Drove 1050 miles, ate 7 cooked breakfasts, found plenty of caches, had some company and saw some of the best sights the country has to offer.

I'm off to plan the next one.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

17/5/12 – The Wall

Distance – 8 Miles
Walk from - Printed from the web
Geocaches – 6
Onward Journey – 116 Miles
Listening to….
…. American Recordings VI (Thats the set, in order.  Johnny is dead now, so no more)
…. Radio 6 (Mark Radcliffe in fine form – Tuneage)

Last Night
A night of lows and highs.  Low – another shared bathroom experience…. High – I have it all to myself, as I am the only punter.  Yeah.  The tap and stile is a fine real ale pub and I could thing of worse places to call home.  Slightly suspicious of the parking the arrangements – I am advised to leave it in a Loading bay, with the proviso that “we dont have traffic wardens in Hexham”.  This may be true, as the geomotor was unticketed in the morning.

Hexham is an impressive medieval walled town, so I have a look around.  Which basically means going to pubs.  I do 3 – Wetherspoons (Converted Cinema) for a cheap tea and a couple of exceptionally good pints. I may not slag them off again.  Then move on to the Globe, which is a locals pub for locals.  Don’t stay long.  Head back to the Tap, where I can have delicious Doom Bar and Brains SA, whilst using the Wifi in the bar area to maintain contact with humanity.

The Walk

Hadrians Wall

Today was a visit to Hadrian’s Wall.  I had researched and one of the best sections is at Housesteads.  This is a 16 mile drive out of Hexham along our long straight rollercoaster of a road. 

Incredible driving.

Weather is ropey today, so raincoat on and out into the wilds.  The place is a wilderness, with far reaching views.  I couldn’t quite tell whether i was meant to pay to enter or not.  There was a sign with pricing on, but as I am on public footpaths, I don’t feel I should be paying.  I only have £5 of the required £6 on me.  So I avoid anyone that looks in charge.

A short climb through the sheep fields and then we are at the Wall.  This does exactly what it says on the Tin, but I doubt that it can be spotted from Space.

Over the Wall

I am heading west, either on the south, north or at points on, the Wall.  Three easy caches along the way.  One of them looked suspiciously like the container that was last find on Friday in the Lakes.  I bet its the same owner.

Walking highlight is Crag Lough.  Its a crag.  With a body of water at the bottom and some trees.

Best View of the Day

At Peel Crags, there is a party of American School kids climbing up from the opposite direction. 

The teachers think I am the most courteous hill walker they have met.  In reality, I am looking for a cache, which takes me an awful long time.

Drop down here and its lane walking south, then eastbound, to take in the Roman fort of Vindolanda.  You can see  it over a (not the) wall and I would have taken a photo, but there is a team of archaeologists who are all mad at work with their tiny trowels.  No doubt trying to tell an entire civilisation from the remains of an old sandal.

Last cache on the inside of an old limekiln and then back to the car.

The Journey
My week of splendid isolation comes an end, as Sonia has successfully navigated British Rail’s complex fare system to find a way to get to Skipton.  This means a nice drive to Carlisle, down the
M6 and then through North Yorkshire, driving through Ingleton amongst other places.  Can see the hills that I may be climbing tomorrow.

Get a text from Sonia giving me the postcode of a cake shop. 

And blog fans, you may chastise me for blogging when I should be talking to my wife.  Don’t worry, she’s sleeping off her cake.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

16/5/12 – Ben

Distance – 8 Miles
Walk from - Trail Magazine - Feb 2009
Geocaches – 2 and 1 that was stolen
Onward Journey – 168 Miles
Listening to….
…. American Recordings V (100 Highways)
….. Radio 6 (Mark Radcliffe)
….. Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward (Old School)
…. The The, Soul Mining (For a Singalong)

Last Night
Sorry to say that I am a touch disappointed in Pitlcohry.  Initially, I was impressed by the size of the place and as I drove in, I saw the Old Smiddy and the Old Mill Inn and was impressed by both.  On closer investigation, they turned out to be the worst type if gastro pubs, where everyone was sitting down eating. 

My food was going to be a Chinese.  I asked the nice asian man in the newsagents if there was a chinese in town and he took me out the shop and pointed directly opposite.  Mumbling something in Indian about tourists.  Joy was short lived, as they close on Tuesday.

So, it was the Prince of India for the worlds hottest Chicken Patia.  Yes, Stourport Blog Fans, I added the name of the dish to the type of meat.  I then had an extended walk around, looking at the stupidly priced trinkets (£70 for a cow statue) and then popped into the Kingfisher for a pint and the crossword.  Gave up after I filled in 11 down, false teeth – with the answer Gnashers.  It fit.

Back to the Rosemount for a duvet evening.  Fantastic bed and the Sopranos.  And biscuits.

The Walk

Ben Vrackie

A Corbett today.  This is a Scottish Mountain between 2500 and 3000ft.  Ben Vrackie is just shy of this total at 2759.  I can see it from my hotel carpark, so decide to add on a couple of miles and leave the car here.

I’ve never tackled a mountain by walking through a council estate before.  Get to the Moulin Inn and see exactly where the comedown pint will be consumed.

Mountain, Brewery, hog, heaven.

The walk gets going proper and can be broken down into thirds.  The first third is through woods and forest.  All gently uphill.  This leads to the second stage which is wild scrubland. 

Forest Complete

The walking is serious now, we know this because there is a sign.

Its Ok - I've had am FSB.

The only warning I need is that my heart may have a reaction to all of my cooked breakfasts.  Fortunately, benches are provided for a contemplation.

Sit with me a while

Geocache 1 leads to failure, but the last two logs have also failed.  Instead of a cache, there are two bottles of water – so none of us are too sure what is happening here.

To make the walk interesting, we do a loop of a hillock with a very long scottish name.  This leads to Loch a Choire and provides good photo opps.  Cache is found under a great big rock.  Lovely log book stretching back to 2006.  In the early days of caching, people used to write a story in the log books.  Now that they are everywhere, we just have peoples names.

Stage 3 is the climb up the side of the mountain.  A great path but quite hard work.  I meet a 70 year old fella on the top and most of the traffic I see is on the way back down, when I even see an old fella climbing it with a shirt and tie under his Berghaus.

The climb is worth it for full on 360 degree panoramic views and the 2nd cache of the day.  Spend as long as I can until my fingers freeze and I get too cold to operate the camera.  Most photos will go on everytrail.

Finger on the Trig
When I am back next time.... those.

Route back down is straightforward and soon picks up the upward paths.  I run out of water and can’t wait till I get to the brewery.  I have heard about their Braveheart Ale and if the money runs to it (there is a dead brazilian in the bottom of my water carrier), I will have a sandwich.  Menus are all laid out.  Chicken Sandwich is £8.95.  Bravehearts all round.


The Journey
Although not as spectacular as the previous two journeys, this one does have its highlights.  I am in the hands of sat nav and haven’t looked at the way it will take me.  Slightly disappointed to be coming down through Edinburgh without staying, but the drive across the Forth Bridge was stunning.  Local laws stopped me from sticking on the hazards and getting a photo.

I was also pleased to go through the wards of Jedburgh, JedForest and JedWater.  Never been here before, but the town is on every road sign in Edinburgh.  Looked good, I will come back.

Then I passed within 10 miles of Kelso and recognised a huge monument that I walked to when we were up here a fex Xmas’s ago.  Happy Wii related memories.

Finally crossed into England and had some mad rollercoaster roads in Northumberland.  If Wales is all windy, these roads are dead straight but mentally up and down.  More than once, I thought I may loose my Full Scottish Breakfast.

I am an Englishman, in England

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

15/5/12 – I walk the line

Distance – 5.4 + 2.7 Miles
Walk from - AA walks through history
Geocaches – 3 + 5
Weather – Sunny
Onward Journey – 73 Miles
Listening to….
….. American Recordings IV, Johnny Cash (The best one)
…. Grinderman 2 RMX (Because I need a bit of Nick Cave in my life)

Last Night
After a nice afternoon with the sopranos, I headed into the town for an explore.  One cache at the end of the West Highland Way and a visit to three pubs.  Pub 1 – Ben Nevis bar – lovely views over the loch but no real ale.  Bizarrely, they did have massive attack playing.  Left there for the Grog and Gruel – A famous walkers pub.  Ate there and when in Scotland, I always find it best to eat Tex Mex.  Lovely Mexican toasted sandwich.  Top beer in here as well. 

Popped over the road to the estate agents.  7 Bedroom B&B for £280,000.  I think I will have a chat to Janet and Graham about it tomorrow.... looks like a business opportunity.

Was going to call it a night but decided that the Volunteer Arms should be checked out for the end of the football.  My god, there were some drunk men in here.  All from Manchester.

Get back to Chez Janet and creep in.... its after 11pm and the latch may be on.

The Walk

Caledonian Canal

I was expecting today to be a post Ben Nevis recovery day, so planned a gentle walk up and down the caledonian canal.  As I changed Ben Nevis to Glen Nevis, I could have done something more adventurous.  Park up at the end of the canal at the a flight of locks known as Neptunes Staircase.  Have some stunning views over Ben Nevis.

No need to rest, this is the start

The walk couldn’t be easier.  After around 2.5 miles, I am looking for a bridge to cross over and come back.  I am a bit concerned when reaching the point and there is no bridge.  Turns out the canal is an aqueduct, and I need to drop down under it.  This is where cache 1 of the day is – just when a posse of OAPs come into view. 

Runs under the canal

I am now on the lookout for remains of Torcastle.  It’s all marked on the OS map but when getting there, all I find is a knackered old Schimter car and some holiday lets.  Will have a good look at my route guide book when I get home.  I found the cache, but lost the castle.
Head back the way I came.  Additional chance for photos of the views.

Should have been up there

Get back to the start for the two extra caches and the teashop.  They have only just turned the “kettle” on and it takes 20 mins, so I leave parched.

The Journey
Another exceptional road trip across the Caingroms.  Stopped many times for photo opps and for tea and scones, but my favourite places have to be around Dalwhinnie (I may just have one tonight).  The road is at 1650 ft along here.  Superb.

An Audi and the open road.

Bonus Walk

Faskally Geocaching

Arrive at Pitlochry and the sun is shining.  There is a series of caches around Loch Faskally.  Its a bit like the Wyre Forest, only with a great big loch in the middle of it.  Nice easy walking to pick up 5 caches, which is a bonus.

Picnic Area - no Picnic

Monday, 14 May 2012

14/5/12 - She's a Waterfall

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 4
Weather - Almost Sunny
Walk from - Walking World

No driving Today!

Last Night
Too rainy for the one mile walk into town.  Instead, I drove to the Glen Nevis restaurant at the foot of Ben Nevis and watched the rain stream down the side of the impressive slab of rock.  I'm not going up there!  Get back to room, wait patiently for all the scottish football to be shown before seeing the climax to the Prem and plot another route for tomorrow.

The Walk

Glen Nevis

10 minute drive along the River Nevis.  Have to stop for photos, its so beautful.

Enigine Still Running
Park up at the lower falls for geocache 1 of the day.  Last but one log was from a Midlands geocacher that I recognise the name of.  Small world. 

If you are going to look at waterfalls, it might as well be after a monsoon.  Well impressive, with the spray coming up over the top of the bridge.

The walk is simple - follow the river up through Steall Gorge, see the upper waterfalls and then return the way that I came.  It can be broken into three stages.

Stage 1 - The River
Easy walking in the shade of the mountains.  Cross river and walk the next bit on a road.  Contemplate why Range Rover drivers are all tossers.

Where's Wally
Stage 2 - The Gorge
This is the best walking as the path makes its way uphill on rocks, crossing streams with the river thundering way down below.

A mere trickle of a waterfall
Slippery when wet
Stage 3 - Open Land at Upper Falls
This opens out into broad flat land at Upper Falls.  This is one might waterfall, thundering down the side of the mountain.  A gent comes up to me and asks if I know what happended in the Premiership.  He was out last night wild camping in a bothy. Hats off.  What he probably wasn't expecting was a response from someone who has not said anything to anyone for four days apart from "Cooked Breakfast Please".  Its my chance to relive the drama of yesterdays football, complete with Stan Collymore style "unbelievables".  I regale him with the goal by goal chain of events, but I can see in his eyes he just wants to know who won the title.  Turns out he is a Man U fan, so the build up was a bit of an anticlimax.
Big Ben
Its a Steall
Get to the ruins for the last geocache of the route and have a look at the "bridge" to see if I want to get closer to the waterfall.

Looks fine from this side
Walk back, the way I came.  Had a FB chat with Sonia last night about not leaving wet clothes in a bag, so I decided to lay out yesterdays trousers, boots and fleece on the the backs of the seat of the car.  When I get back, the sun has done its thing.  Unfortunately, all the windows of the car are steamed up and the smell is not that pleasant.  Good idea though.

Lazy afternoon and night now.  As the sun is shining, I will explore Fort William.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

13/5/12 - Rider on the Storm

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Weather - Biblical
Walk from - Trail, April 2005

Onward Journey - 102 Miles
Listening too...
.... TalkSport and the thrilling conclusion to the premiership
.... Johnny Cash - American Recordings III (Solitary Man)

Last Night
An Adventure... I've never been to chokey before.  My digs, complete with cell like appearance, shared washroom and a fight in the car park on arrival were interesting.  There was some sort of wedding reception going on and like any good wedding, there was a dust up.  Random dialogue, over the swearing, "just go home before you make the day any worse than you already have".  Still, they had wireless, so I blogged and then went for a look down Balloch.  Ate in the Waterhouse Inn, good food and service, even if it was a steak and ale lie, sans pastry sides.  Then popped into Balloch House before getting back to the scrubs.  There is a disco on and it is really loud.  I watch one episode of the Sopranos over the dulcet tones of "my humps, my humps, my lovely lady bumps" before realising that I have no choice but to put on my best shirt and join in.

For a walker, I've still got the moves.  Left around 1am and I think it stopped at 3am.  Up at 8am for my square sausages.  Met my fellow inmates, a tattooed topless fella from Liverpool who seemed rather proud of his use of the facilities and two amble ladies who went for breakfast in their pjs.

With a tear in my eye, I left for my walk.

The Walk

Ben Lomond

All the way up yesterday, the motorway gantry signs were warning of bad rain.  I feared the worse for today.  Have a glorious 16 mile drive around the east side of Loch Lomond and get out the car, muttering words that will come back to haunt me.  "Its not that bad".

This challenge is my first Munro - a 3000+ft Scottish Mountain.  Read all about Ben Lomond.

My route is straightforward, circular and on well maintained paths.  The only reason to use the sat nav is to check how much further to the top it is.  On a better day, there would have been stunning views behind from the Partmigan Path.

Use your imagination
The higher I get, the worse the rain, hail and winds get.  On the later approach to the peak it becomes truly unbearable.  The wind rips my waterproof trousers down, turning me into a mountaineering MC Hammer and wips the cover from my rucksack off so that it slaps me in the face.

I plod on.  Two days ago, the earth tried to remove my boots.  Today, the wind wants my hat.  Then it gets stupid.  I am actually blown off my feet and land on my aris a few feet away.  How bad has it got to be to bowl over a man of my ample proportions?  And the wind has bitten into my fingers, which I can no longer feel.  With concern of frost bite, I realise I have prepared with a gorgeous pair of red gloves in my pack.  I am genuinely scared - I can't really go back, so I plod onto the summit, hoping I can find shelter around the other side of its scrambly peak.

The football is on.
Drop down on the otherside of the summt.  This is terrifying, there is no shelter.  Until I see a large gap between two rocks.  I stoop and shuffle across to it, only to find a geordie taking cover.  I think he says that he isn't going to the top and is turning back, but you're never too sure in the best of conditions.  My only concern is that he has been there for three days.

I move on for a long, relentless path downhill all the way.  My waterlogged trousers keep slipping down, parading my aris to the elements, which freezes.  My camera has been put in my pocket, which is now full of water.  The above is probably the last shot you will see from my trusty little samsung, 

After an eternity, I arrive back at the visitor centre for the caches.  There is a decent shelter here - like a changing room with benches.  I get my clean clothes out the car and strip off completely before realising the changing rooms have very large windows.  Nothing to worry about.  Little Mappiman has more or less disappeared.

Onward Journey
I will never forget this.  Despite it taking me the first hour to get around to the west side of Loch Lomond, I then have the joys of the A82 as it covers the high ground, getting to 1100ft and going through GlenCoe.  A constant backdrop of impressive looking mountains.

All of this to the commentary of a thrilling last day of the premiership.  What a game. 

The rain is beyond comparison, which is creating waterfalls and standing water that have a log flume effect.  During one of the more barron sections, a brand new campervan has left the road and buried itself nose first into the quagmire 6ft below.

Arrive at my B&B.  A cheery welcome from Janet who explains that its cash only.  Not to worry, I have been phoned by Barclaycard fraud services who cannot believe how much an 18 year olds shoes cost and have suspended the card.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

12/5/12 - Into the Valley

Distance - 6.06 Miles
Walk From - Lowland walks in the Lake District
Geocaches - 3

Onward Journey Miles - 173
Listening to....
.... Unchained, Johnny Cash (album contains "I've been everywhere")
.... Marry Me, St Vincent (She looked quite good on last weeks Jools Holland)
.... The best of the Who (Needed to singalong to something)

Last Night
Queens Hotel was fine.... old and rambling but with a nice room and stunning views from my window.  A tour of Keswicks many pubs, which were all packed, and a chipper dinner - eaten in the street like a teenager/tramp/student.  Delete as applicable.  Must have been tired, as I was in bed before the end of "Not Going Out".

Today's Walk

Its a beautiful day today.  I know this, as I have an east facing room and the curtains don't quite fit.  Pre breakfast cache, buy the times and then head for an FEB.  The greatest three letters in the English alphabet.

I'm going to be controversial today.  Walking the lowlands is better than the peaks.

After nearly meeting my doom in peat bogs, getting snowed on and waking up with aches in places I didn't know I had muscles, I have much preferred todays gentle ramble along the newlands valley.  The peaks look just as good from down below.

Park up at a handy place for Cat Bells - but I'm not hill climbing today.

Stuff your hills, I am a Giant.
Instead, I head out for a farm called Skelgill.  I can see all the dots of hill walkers on all the ridges, but I am happy with my view down below.

Heroic Pose - ManKneery at its finest
I'm following a decent path along the valley floor for around 3 miles until I get to some disused lead mines, and cross the bridge to walk back on the other side of the stream.

Crossing over to the other side
The journey back is only broken up by two items of interest.  The second cache of the day is at a lovely looking church and school house.

Preyed to the god of caching
And then at the gloriously named Little Town (does exactly what it says on the tin), we have a farmhouse that is offering refreshments.  Sonia would have been made up.
Walking is not all misery
Stunning views in both directions on the way back.

Views Behind
View Infront
Soon back at the car and decide to add in a loop to drop me off at Derwent Water for a last cache.  Glad that I did, as the views were extraordinary.

Why I cache
Onward Journey
Up to Loch Lomond in 2.5 hours, but I didn't expect to be driving through the centre of Glasgow.  The overhead signs are warning of heavy raid for tomorrow.  I fear the worst for my walking.  Park up at the Lomond Park Hotel, admiring the shared bathroom facilities.  There's already been a fight in the car park.

Friday, 11 May 2012

11/5/12 - Hit the North

Miles Driven - 230
Todays Music;
..... Johnny Cash, American Recordings 1 (as he is a wild eyed loner)
..... Revolver, The Beatles (because Don Draper was listening to it)
..... Doves, Lost Souls (as its 12 years old)

High Seat

Distance Walked - 9
Caches Found - 13
Walk from - Walking the Wainwrights

The journey begins. Dress with sartorial elegance in my new £45 merino top that is guaranteed not to smell after two weeks walking and my anti chaffing pants.  The merino top is a snug fit, so Sonia comments that I look like the man from milk tray.  Only fatter. The pants are designed to have no friction, therefore avoiding the gonadinal equivalent of joggers nipple.  However, this is also their downfall, as they slip down when you walk.

Hit the road at 6:30am for a decent run up to the lakes.  Weather is foul, but expected. Park up at free parking at Ashness Bridge.  Quickly realise that I need to get goretexed up.
Dressed for it
Head north on a good path past the moutain rescue hut and soon find the first cache of the day.  The views over Derwent Water and Keswick (my home for the night) would have been superb.  If it wasn't for the low cloud.
First cache of the adventure

Walk to Walla Crag - my first wainwright on this walk.  I am following a family of three - Dad in his Tilly Hat, Mom and Daughter and throughout the walk, we constantly overtake each other as they stop for sarnies and I detour for caches.  Strike a conversation with them, where they tell me it will snow.  And it does.

Walla Crag leads to Bleaberry Fell - a steepish climb but with some stunning views.

More nice walking between here and the next wainwright, High Seat.  Don't loose much height, so its straightforward walking, taking in the caches inbetween.

Then it all goes horribly wrong.  The journey between High Seat and High Tove is awful.  In Wainwright's book he says that you should only attempt it after hard frost or no rain.  So quite why I am up here after the wettest April known to man is anyone's guess.  I take the lead from my new family friends and head off.  It becomes increasingly squelchy underfoot. 

In Nick Cave's book - and the ass and saw the angel - the main protaganist is sinking deeper into sinking sand as he recounts his life.  When I disappear into Peat up to both knees, I feel a similar fate will befall me.  Every time I move, I seem to sink a bit deeper and the earth seems to really want my Meindl boots, as they are coming off.  Eventually, I manage to lie prostrate in the peat, and pull myself out by grapping onto the foilage.  Boots come out still on my feet.

Then the snow comes.  I am covered in peat, heart pumping and then I receive a text from Sonia.  "The sun is shining and we are having Cider - how's it there?".

If I live to 100, I am never going back to High Tove.

The drop down to Watendlath Farm is stunning and the sun comes out, so my spirits are lifted again.  I then have some simply stunning walking along a valley path next to a stream.  This is what it is all about.

More like it.
The path is excellent.  At one point, they is a viewpoint marked on the map.  And they aren't joking.  Stunning views over Derwent Water.

Just found a cache.
In next to no time, I am back at the car.  Sit in the boot and de-goretex, replace boots for sketchers and programme my sat nav for the Queens Hotel.  A last goodbye to my new family.  I think they are a bit jealous to see me go, as they have another couple of miles to Keswick.  I would have offered them a lift, but they would have been just cheating themselves.

Now I have a date with the night.  And a shower.