Saturday, 30 April 2016

30/04/16 - The Crackington Cracker

Distance - 3.5 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk Inspiration - AA 1001 Family Walks
Pub - Coombe Barton, Sharp's Special

Molly the Labradoodle is 13 years old now.  She's brought our family many pleasures but surely the greatest has to be the annual UK Coastal Walking Holiday.  She's clocking on a bit now and rarely joins us on our proper walks that count towards our #Walk1000Miles target.  However, Sonia insisted she had one more trip to the seaside in her.

So a suitable walk to entertain us all - Clifftop sea breezes (Molly), Geocaches (Me) and a Cream Tea (Sonia) was found from one of my favourite walking books.

The pub at the end was an unexpected bonus.

Crackington Haven is on the North Coast of Cornwall.  It's picture book quaint - a stream running down onto a beach - aforementioned refreshment centres - and some brooding cliffs dominating from either side.

The Start - Crackington Haven
Crackington Haven
We head south, clambering up the cliffs to Cambeak.  Not too steep and plenty of rests are provided for the aging hound to catch her breath.  Our conversation is about whether dog's can appreciate beauty.  There's no denying she has a spring in her step that is not seen when she hides from us before her regular morning jaunt around a Midlands canal.

Out onto the Headland
Footpath to Cambeak
Molly and Sonia
On top of Cambeak
Team Photo
Team Photo 
We say goodbye to the coast at the Strangles and this walk has an unexpected twist in the tail.  We return to the car via an inland trail, following a stream along a hidden valley.  On it's own, this would be top notch walking but when combined with the coastal walk it makes the whole thing a delight.

After all the long distance walking I have completed already, this simple sub 4 miler could well be the walk of 2016.

Hidden Valley return
The Return back along the Hidden Valley
Walk over at 11:20am, the cafe is open and Sonia (and Molly) get their wish of a Cornish cream tea.

Coombe Barton and Cafe
Cafe and a Pub?  This could catch on
Cream Tea
Asked Sonia for advice on whether Jam or Cream first.  She couldn't remember.

Normally, this would have been enough post walk refreshment, but when the pub is in such a wonderful location, it would have been criminal to have not investigated.

Sharp's Special
Sharps Special and a Sea View

Thursday, 28 April 2016

27/04/16 - Glasshampton Monastery

Walk Inspiration
Distance - 3.7 Miles
Geocaches - 1
Pub - New Inn, Shrawley, Wye Valley HPA

One of the dangers of being a committed walker is venturing further and further afield to find new inspiration.  And then ignoring the beauty that is on your own doorstep.

Light evenings can put a stop to that.  After a day of biblical weather (hailstones, snow), I deliberated about chancing this walk.  However, I just had to go out and get some fresh air.

Parking is at the New Inn, Shrawley.  The car park is interesting.  It used to be a facility used by ramblers on the Bluebell walks in Shrawley woods.  Then a new landlord came in and put a £3 levy on it, refundable provided you used the pub.  Today, there is a mismatch of signs - suggesting it's free to use, provided you use the pub.  It costs £20.  Your car may be towed away.

I decide to pop in and ask the bar man.  There is no danger I will not use the facilities, post walk.  I am met with the answer "I only started at 3pm today".

So off on the walk it is.

Up the track and into a field of young bulls, picking up signs to the Monastery.

Baby Cow
Not interested in Ramblers
Monastery This Way
Inner Peace, this way

The scenery is superb and a riot of colour.  Views to the clockhouse at Abberley School, over Woodbury hill and acroos fields of yellow rapeseed.

Abberley in the distance
Fields of Rapeseed
Decide to alter the route and get a closer look at the Monastery.  Always finding it slightly sinister, this place.  Walked here in the past and found monks doing what can only be described as "Lurking".

There stood by the cross of Jesus his Mother
All quiet today, until the bell dongs and scares me half to death.  Must be the Monk's bed time.

Down across fields and into the gloom of The Warren.  Don't know if its my eyesight or the failing light, but I struggle to read my GPS to find the only cache of the day.  Must bring my glasses.  And a torch.

After a quick hunt, it's found and I am off to Astley Church to make friends with the locals.

Astley Church
Astley Church
Friendly Sheep
And a completely not bothered lamb

2nd potential cache of the day is a DNF.  I am in good company.  Although this has not been visited too often, I am the 2nd cacher to fail here today.  Must have disappeared.

A walk through the fisheries at Solhampton Farm and I am back to check out the pub.

Its a boster,  Full for a Wednesday night, with a mixture of diners and local characters enjoying a pint.  The HPA is wonderful.  I have been ignoring this in my local Wye Valley pub in Stourport - choosing instead either Golden or Butty Bach.  This is a mistake that will be remedied on my next visit.

The menu that look good value and portions can only be described as generous.  I think of bringing Sonia back here for the Bluebell walk in the woods and ask what time they serve food until.  You can guess the answer.

"I only started at 3pm today".

The New Inn
The New Inn
Wye Valley HPA
Wonderful Wye Valley HPA

Sunday, 24 April 2016

24/04/16 - Miserden Part 2 - The Northern Loop

Distance - 7.75 Miles
Geocaches - 31
First Cache
Pub - Fostons Ash Inn - Stroud Brewery Budding

I was here in March to complete the SE Loop and vowed to savour this fine geocaching trail of 3 separate loops by knocking off one a month. It's nearly the end of April, so back I come to complete the Northern Loop.

Finding the car park is no problem.  Stored in the car's sat nav.  No other cars there as I arrive at 9:00am on the dot.

I know what to expect - nice easy caches and a chance to explore another new part of the Cotswolds.

It's stunning.

Sheep at the Start of the Loop
Out into the Sheep Field - All the lambs are gathered at the field end
Fields and a country lane to Wishanger Farm, where we walk through the farm yard, through to Whiteway and onto Climperwell Woods.

Which are awash with bluebells.

Bluebell Woods
Bluebell Woods
Skirt the edges of Brimpsfield, walking past a polo training school.  It's that kind of area.

Reach a wonderfully secluded dry valley which brings me to the tiny but beautiful village of Caudle Green.

The day after St George's day and I have never felt so English.

Caudel Green
Costwolds in a Picture
Just the ups and downs of Miserden Park to complete and another excellent day's caching is over.

Last Cache of the Day
Last cache of the Day - Under the Vapour Trails
A walk through the village, where I pass up the opportunity to re-visit the Carpenter's Arms.  I have my eye on a little place that I passed on the drive in.  The Church bells peel to announce its 12pm - exactly 3 hours out and a christening congregation exits adding some colour to the day.

Get back to the Car Park and there's a lot more cars - one definitely belonging to a cacher - it has a trackable on the back window, which I must remember to discover.

The pub for today is the charming looking Fostons Ash Inn.

Fostons Ash Inn
The Charming Cotswolds
It's not really a pub but a restaurant.  However, I will be forever grateful for the introduction to Stroud Brewery - their Budding Pale Ale is something to seek out again.  I feel a trip to Stroud coming on.

Stroud Brewery Budding
Even the local Camra Mag to read - the Tippler
Once again, thanks to rupertmh for another superb trail and an introduction to new paths.

Already looking forward to May for the third and final loop.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

23/04/16 - The Blue Lias

Walk Inspiration
Distance - 5.25 Miles
Geocaches - 2

After the excitement and hard work of last week's Inn Way to Yorkshire, something more sedate for this sunny spring morning.

This is the last available weekend in the month, so I need to fit in my monthly trip on the Millennium Way.  A simple figure of 8 walk, just 5.25 miles long and most of it along the Grand Union Canal.

Parking is provided by the Blue Lias Pub.  That's the post walk refreshment sorted.

The Blue Lias
The Blue Lias - to be Investigated
The first loop of the figure of 8 seems somewhat pointless - we head west along the canal, only to walk back along roads to end up more or less back at the Blue Lias.  Sonia doesn't seem to notice, otherwise the walk could have been over before it got started.

The Two Boats
Leave the Canal on the First Loop at the Two Boats Pub
A tiny amount of countryside walking past High Clay farm before picking up the canal at Stockton Locks.  A slight navigational mistake where I try and leave the canal at another pub - The Boat - before readjusting and continuing down to Gibraltar Bridge.

The One Boat
The Boat
Around the quarry, through Stockton (a 3rd Pub - timed differently after midday and this could have been a 4 pub adventure) before hitting the Stockton Reservoir to laugh at the fishermen and find evidence of more future walking trails.

I will never run out of inspiration in this country.

More Paths to investigate
Harry Green seen before but the Blue Lias Rings are new to us
Fishing Pool
Stockton Reservoir
12:34pm and we are back at the pub - menu perused and warm enough to eat our sandwiches outside.

Five real ales on and after last week, it had to be another slice of Yorkshire.

Timothy Taylor Landlord
Timothy Taylor Landlord

Friday, 22 April 2016

16/04/16 - The Inn Way to Yorkshire Dales - Summary

Distance of the Inn Way to Yorkshire Dales - 80.5 Miles
Days completed in - 6
Pubs Visited - 26
Geocaches - 14
Timeframe - 11/04/16 to 16/04/16

The Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales is an out of print guide book to a walking route that takes in the best that the Yorkshire Dales can offer.

Fine routes through Wharfedale, Littondale, Raydale, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Coverdale and stops at various sized villages for lunch and evening meals/accommodation.  The only criteria for the stops are there has to be at least one pub.

And the pubs, hotels, food and beer were universally excellent.  Yorkshire takes hospitality very seriously.

As with all undertakings - there needs to be a roll of honour.

Best Walk - The Grassington Lead Mines on Day 6
Best Pub - The Buck Hotel, Reeth on Day 3 
Best Pint - Theaskston XB at the Buck Inn, Buckden on Day 1
Best Pie - Meat and Potato at the Bluebell Inn, Kettlewell on Day 5
Best Breakfast - The White Rose, Askrigg on Day 3

The walk provided a perfect opportunity to get away from it all and immerse myself in a week where the only thing to worry about was what time was lunch (usually liquid) and what sort of pie to order for tea.

Each leg of the walk has been detailed on a separate blog, available at the link;

Day 1 - Grassington to Cray
Day 2 - Cray to Askrigg
Day 3 - Askrigg to Reeth
Day 4 - Reeth to West Burton
Day 5 - West Burton to Kettlewell
Day 6 - Kettlewell to Grassington

Now the big adventure for 2016 has been completed, we need to look forward to 2017.  Fortunately, there are plenty of options.

Until Next Time
Future Holidays

The Photo Album on Flickr


16/04/16 - Day 6 Yorkshire Dales Inn Way - Kettlewell to Grassington

Previous days on the Inn Way - Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, Day 5
Distance - 13 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Pubs - 5

"Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me - Winston Churchill"

 Getting Going

The Yee Har has a strict time for breakfast.  8am.  No options, no excuses.

This is because they are catering at an industrial scale.  2 Ramblers and 40 Lycra clad Tri-athletes.  I'm going to say little about about the attire apart from Tri-athletes come in all shapes and sizes.  It's easy to determine the round-heads from the cavaliers.

The drying room has completed a wonderful job on our wet clothes from yesterday.  But will we need waterproofs for today?

What do you wear in the Snow?

The Walk

So, this is it.  The final day.

Every step today will be savoured for tomorrow, we return to normality.  Liquid lunches and daily pies will be a thing of memories.  To avoid the on-set of melancholy, our walk today - down through the Grassington Lead Mines - is the finest of the week.

And we start off in snow!

A Dusting, I grant you
We quickly gain height ascending Langcliffe and the Trig point at Capplestone Gate means we climb no more.  It genuinely is all down hill from here.

Capplestone Gate
Camera on Capplestone Gate Trig Point

We follow Conistone Turf Road (does what it says on the tin, a grass covered lane) and hit the first evidence of the mining industry.  Neil demands we invesigate the portal entrance and a limestone pavement of weird trees.

First Evidence of Mining
Tunnel Entrance?
Weird Landscape
Freaky Forest 

At Scot Lane Gate, we pick up the Dales Way for a short time.  It's a Saturday and the sun is out, so for the first time this week we meet plenty of other ramblers.  I check them carefully for the #Walk1000Miles of WFP badges but find no evidence.

Scot Gate Lane
Scot Lane Gate
Around the deserted farm house - aptly named Bare House - and we pick up the Grassington Mines at Yarnbury.  In a week of exceptional walking, this really is the highlight.  Fascinating remnants of mining industry, complete with notice boards, provide an insight into times gone by.

And its all down hill alongside Hebden Beck.  To the pub.

Grassington Mines
Hebden Beck - all Downhill to the pub
The walk is going too fast.  Soon we will be back in the land of punitive Tax Codes and which bin is it to put out this week.  We do what any sane person would do to maximise our pleasure.

We stop for lunch and learn the contents of a Yorkshire Platter.  Think ploughmans with Wensleydale Cheese and piccalilli.

Claredon Hotel, Hebden
Pub 1 of the Day
Fed and watered, we head out for another stunning section - crossing the River Wharfe.  The Stepping Stones would have surely been used if it wasn't for a tricky middle section.  The suspension bridge comes to our aid.

Stepping Stones - River Wharfe
Maybe for the Summer
Suspension Bridge - River Wharfe
We went suspension

The route stretches the day out by taking us around Grassington, through the pretty villages of Thorpe and Linton - where Pub 2 of the day is found.

And what a pleasant little setting Linton is.  A fine way for the final pub of the walking route to be celebrated.  Neil gets the celebratory beers in (our first sub £3 pint of the week), whilst I hunt for the final cache of the week near the little bridge.

Out of Thorpe
Coming out of Thorpe and looking at Grassington
Linton - Fountaine Inn
The Fountaine at Linton 
The Final Walking Pub
We've done it - Pub Number 26

Almost, but not quite.  Blogfans will remember that we saved the 3 Grassington pubs for our final night.  We just have to get there.  And the walk across Linton Falls is suitably impressive to round off our journey.

Linton Falls
Crossing Linton Falls
Back in Grassington
To arrive back at the beginning
So, what can we expect from a Saturday night in Grassington?

We're staying at our poshest place of the week - The Devonshire Arms.  A Timothy Taylor Hotel, with automatic lights in the bathroom.  Funny the things you remember.  We are checked in but told there is no room to eat tonight - so we save an investigation of the ales until last thing.

Devonshire Arms
No Room at the Inn (to Eat)
We move onto the Black Horse Hotel.  Again, mental busy - but they can fit us in later.  We book a table for 8:30pm and spend the 90 minutes in-between investigating the Forrester's Arms.

What is going on in Grassington?  Another packed pub.  We sit on a table next to three elderly farmers that must be out on their annual jolly boys outing.  They are as drunk as lords and telling stories of siring that are not about their livestock.  We feel part amused, part dirty.  But we have to come back after our meal - as they have entertainment on - a talented singer who can do anything you ask - as long as its played in the same key.

"Name that Tune" was never so difficult.

Black Horse Hotel
Our Restaurant
Forrester's Arms
Home of Singers and Drunken Farmers

So, a nightcap back at the Devonshire and a reminder about the best thing about the Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales.

The glorious views.

What's it's all about
Yorkshire Views

Thursday, 21 April 2016

15/04/16 - Day 5 Yorkshire Dales Inn Way - West Burton to Kettlewell

Previous days on the Inn Way - Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4
Distance - 14 Miles
Geocaches - 2
Pubs - 4

"Ah, beer. The cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems - Homer Simpson"

Getting Going

After the monster breakfast of yesterday - containing all possible breakfast ingredients known to man - we are brought back to reality when our host at the Fox and Hounds suggests "Bacon and Eggs".  On day 1, we would have been disappointed.  Today, we are secretly delighted to dine on something that isn't belly busting.

We vow to make up for things during our evening meal.

The Walk

Today's walk looks like it has a double hop. Escape from one valley to drop down to another. Find a pub. Escape that valley and drop down to find the 3 pubs of Kettlewell.

Nothing could be more straightforward.

We get into a breakfast conversation with a couple who overtake us on the road up to Fleensop Moor.  They are interested in our adventure.  When they pass on their way back down, they pull over and advise us that "there are no pubs up there lads".

Not yet there aren't - as soon as we cross the Moor we drop down to Horsehouse.  If we have timed things correctly, it should be midday and opening time at the Thwaite Arms.

Fleensop Moor
Abandoned Railway Cart on the Ascent 

Fleensop Moor
Wild Descent into Horsehouse
We arrive at Horsehouse at 11:57am.  We are getting good at planning.  Neil checks the pub and comes back with grave news.  Very grave news.  They don't open at lunch time.

We sit and stare in disbelief at what could have been.

The Thwaite Arms
What are we going to do now?
Surely there has been some mistake?  I didn't even fully fill my water bottle today, expecting replenishment here.  I go and have have a look at 12:03.

There is hope - the sign actually says that they don't open at lunch time in Winter Hours.

Just where does April fall in Yorkshire calendar, where the seasons are mainly defined by the wetness of the rain?

I see movement through the window and then the most wonderful sound in the world - the scrape of a bolt being pulled and the door edging open.

I pounce on the Landlady to ask if they are open.  They're almost not, as I appear to have induced a heart attack.  She's not used to customers and certainly not ones as keen as us.

Inside The Thwaite Arms
The Day is Saved!
We're in and in good spirits at this change in fortune.  She tells us all about the history of the pub and the village and then fetches her husband who tells us where our Route author has gone wrong for this afternoons walk and how we should avoid the road and head up Little Whernside.

Then the most extraordinary thing happens - they both leave us alone to go back to tending the garden and suggest we ring the bell if we need them.

Self Service
Can we be trusted at an unmanned bar?
Of course we can.  We're not animals.

We check out the route for this afternoon.  A walk along the River Clover, before picking up a steeply rising road to get to moorland and drop down into the next valley and Kettlewell.  A three pub metropolis.

And when you think there is nothing to talk about - we find this.

The Mole Catcher
Country Folk with their Country Ways
A fence with dead moles is always going to warrant debate.  Through discussion with other ramblers and the use of the #walk1000miles facebook page, we eventually determine that this is how the farmer knows how much to pay the molecatcher.

We leave this scene of multiple varmint homicide and pick up the road, stopping for a cache at Cover Bridge.

Cover Bridge GZ
Geocaching Ground Zero
It's then all uphill to Hunter's Stone, where the weather closing in.  Properly closing in.  We are at the start of a bad storm that rages all night and get thoroughly soaked through.  It's a shame, as the views of Kettlewell Valley would have been superb... although that we are slightly disturbed that Kettlewell itself doesn't appear to be coming to view.

We need something to maintain enthusiasm and we promise to ourselves that it will appear as we turn every corner and descend every hill.

Hunter's Stone
Hunter's Stone and the Weather Changes
Where's Kettlewell
Where's Kettlewell?

It turns out that the village is tucked away right at the end of the valley, huddled beneath the very steep slopes - presumably for protection against the elements.

Tonight, we are staying at the Yee Har.  There is no problem spotting it from the hill, it has a huge model giraffe in the garden.  It's also the Post Office.

The Yee Har
The Yee Har
We are just in time, as we are sharing the accommodation with the Thames Valley Triathletes.  Our host advises us to get into the Drying Room and showers quickly, before they return from their bike ride/swim/run and infest the place with Lycra.

Sound advice - by the time we have showered, they are swarming all over the place.

We decamp to investigate the three pubs marked in the Inn Way.  Who would have thought that a small village would need so many gastropubs?

The best, and where we ate, is the Bluebell.  After five days of walking and three pies - the winner can be announced.  Meat and Potato (all the food groups covered) at the Bluebell takes gold.

The Pie of the Week
Vegetables - Including Roast and New Potatoes yet to arrive
The Bluebell, Kettlewell
Copper Dragon and Yorkshire Dales Brewing Company
Racehorses, Kettlewell
Next Stop - The Racehorses - Over the Road

Some of the party animal Triathletes come over.  They drink halves.  They don't eat pie.

We leave them to it to check out the Racehorses, directly over the road.  We liked this place for the Timothy Taylor beers (exceptional condition) but every table was given over to dining - which was being completed in a strange semi silent manner as though people were too scared to talk.  Sitting at the bar watching a Yorkshire Man getting a Polish barmaid to decipher "bacardi and coke" offered limited entertainment value, so we headed out into the storm to check out the 3rd and final pub.

The King's Head, Kettlewell
The King's Head
Another pub mainly geared to food and we did get to try a new beer - Dark Horse - but we had to admit to ourselves that the Bluebell was the best and head back, tails firmly between our legs.

They don't hold it against us and we stay until closing.

On arriving back at the Yee Har, it's apparent the Triathletes have all gone to bed.