Thursday, 20 September 2012

We plough the fields and scatter ...

It’s a double whammy when I haven’t walked a long distance path for a while; no long walk so no blog. That’s because I tend to write about the longer treks rather than your everyday local walks. The situation should have been remedied this week in the Lake District where I had a 10-day holiday planned. Regrettably, a need to cancel at the last moment put paid to that though. So, keen to update my scribblings with something/anything in order to satisfy the blogging bug I thought I’d let the fingers do the talking about more local matters.

The weather in this part of the country has been perfect for farmers and walkers. Farmers have just about finished harvesting cereals and are well into ploughing and sewing winter crops over which walkers such as I have the pleasure of walking around or over. Witnessing the harvesting at close range can be spectacular.

John Deere 9030 Series with Gregoire Besson 12 Furrow plough - south of Thurleigh, Bedfordshire

Here’s the twelve furrow Greqoire Besson 12 Furrow plough in action. The sound track is grim but bearable so endure it (concentrate though or you’ll be reluctant to admit that you were actually tapping your feet or wobbling something) for at least a minute until you have seen the miraculous, mesmerising, manoeuvring, machinations of this magnificent feat of engineering upon arrival at the headland.

A nice walk this either by bus to Thurleigh and a wander back to Bedford; or a wander to Thurleigh and a bus back to Bedford; or a wander to The Jackal at Thurleigh and  back.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The West Highland Way - After

Inveroran Hotel (2-3 miles north of Bridge of Orchy)

A Scottish friend of mine would occasionally say, with a sigh, “It’s a sair fecht”. A straight translation of which is - “It’s a sore fight.”

When people use this phrase they mean – “It’s a hard life.” People usually say it when they are just a bit fed up with things, not seriously despondent or depressed.

That was me on The West Highland Way.

Perhaps it was my very high expectations that were vulnerable and therefore almost guaranteed to plummet. Whatever the reason, regrettably, the overall experience of  walking The West Highland Way was not a good one for me.

The reader will want to know what the main problem was. Well, the Scottish Midge essentially. Call me stupid but I don’t find it enjoyable walking the length of Loch Lomond, and elsewhere, if I’m unable to take the weight off my feet and laze without fear of being eaten by clouds of evil midges.

A lady at Rowardennan said “There’s a reason for the midges but I can’t remember what it is.” Err, alright then. Food chain maybe? The House Martins hoovering up the midges outside at the time would agree that point if they were capable of agreeing anything. And if it is food chain then fine. Just leave me (and my friends) out of it.

Also, me being me, if one thing doesn’t suit me I do tend to look at other things in a bad light which can exacerbate the problem. In short order, I did not appreciate the beer (a Tartan Special at the Rod & Reel in Crianlarich was ok after the third pint), the food; the Full Scottish Breakfast looks a bit lonely on the plate, and they don’t seem to even have plates at The Inversnaid Hotel …

Prodnose: “Enough!!”

Me: “But they’ll want to hear about the walk. About the good company of Andrea, Markus and Anthony, the friendly locals, what the scenery looks like through the secure window of a b&b where the inside temperature is 34C , where midges congregate in a tent, how small the fried eggs ...”

Prodnose: “You’re off again. Enough!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The West Highland Way - Before

It's a great feeling; the grass has been cut; gentle, reassuring words delivered to the spuds, shallots, rhubarb and the rest; the house is tidy and hoovered, and best of all, I've been packed since yesterday. So, I'm ready to head north this morning. Ready too for The West Highland Way starting this weekend.

It will be a walking holiday with a difference for me and almost luxurious. Reserved Bed and Breakfasts along the way except for one night at a campsite. A sherpa service to carry my belongings (less a day bag). And I'll be walking with friends for most of the time; Markus, Andrea and Anthony (all of whom I met on the Coast to Coast a couple of years ago).

The weather forecast sounds good too. Mostly dry, although that may suit the midges.

I'm still in two minds about a daily blog. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

More of the same - Mon 7 & Tue 8 May 2012

Monday: Bus to and then more time in and around Keswick, final visit to The Dog & Gun - until the next time.

Tuesday: Homeward bound.

It's been a great week for walking (if not for good blogging) principally for enjoyment but also exercise in preparation for The West Highland Way at the end of this month. These posts were more about postcards home than letters of note.

Monday, 7 May 2012

More of the same - Fri 4 to Sun 6 May 2012

Friday: Upped Sticks and walking poles and moved from the Keswick Camping Site to the Camping and Caravan Club's Troutbeck Site (off the A66 between Keswick and Penrith). In between an exploration of Penrith sampling some of its delights; tea, cake, soup and bitter.

Saturday: Trudged across boggy (bridleway impassable in wet weather the sign at Lobbs warns) Threlkeld Common, then east along the Old Coach Road to Dockray, then northwest through forestry commission land back to campsite (12-14 miles?)

Saddleback/Blencathra (from Threlkeld Common)

Sunday: To Saddleback (or Blencathra if you prefer) via Scales Tarn. There's an unmapped, well-used path from the west side of the tarn to the summit - the Sharp Edge is too scary a route for me. It was snowing from the tarn to the summit! Returned via the same route but stopping off at the White Horse Inn, Scales for refreshments.

Sharp Edge (from Scales Tarn)

Friday, 4 May 2012

More of the same - Wed 2 & Thu 3 May 2012

It's been a week of walking rather than talking hence the brief posts. Once again I've been lucky with the weather. Some drizzle this morning (Friday) but that's the first rain since Sunday night.

Wednesday: a walk around Derwent Water along nicely surfaced (level) paths with the minimum of road walking. About 8-9 (easy) miles I think.

Thursday: from Keswick up to the summit of Skiddaw and back. About 8-9 (hard) miles I reckon.

Skiddaw: (Centre, rear). Third highest lump in the Lake District

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

More of the same - Tuesday 1 May 2012

Borrowdale ...
Baa Lambs ...
Bus - from Rosthwaite back to Keswick ...

More of the same - Monday 30 April 12

Lakes ...
Legwork ...
Lubrication ...

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sykeside Camping Park - 22 to 26 March 12

What a lovely morning it is this morning; bright, pale blue sky, everything looking fresh after yesterday’s rain – the perfect morning for, well, lots of things but in my case perfect for planting another row of early potatoes. I dug a trench at the weekend, filled it with farmyard manure and left it open to soak up the rain. I can bury the spuds now.

Yesterday’s rain caused me to postpone a walk though. The planned wander with a friend along the River Great Ouse through Bedford followed by a pub lunch, wasn’t quite so appealing in the damp. You win some you lose some. Rather like my walk last year along The Leeds to Liverpool Canal when it didn’t seem to stop raining.

The weather was a feature of my stay in the Lakes – as it usually is but this time I struck lucky. It felt like August should do but without the crowds. Not a pretty sight but shorts were the order of the day for me, during the day.

I was based at Sykeside Campsite for the second part of the week. It is in a rather special place - Dove Valley, which is overlooked by hills and crags shouting out to be climbed. At this time of the year, out of the tourist season, it was quite a special campsite too because it was almost empty. It’s not that I am anti or unsociable it’s just that I can imagine it not being such a great place when fully occupied; the pitches are closer together than I’ve encountered on this type of site elsewhere, and at a location where there are over 60 pitches for campervans and tents, and an adjacent area for caravans, the Gents only has four “seats”!

Mine was a simple daily routine; basically - up early, a circular walk, packed lunch at the summit of something, nap, pub, bed.

Rounding off the account of the week has become a bit of a mind drag. It should have been a straightforward enough job but with photos to transfer from camera and phone, wanting to make maps into pictures and transfer them from a netbook to pc, and to be in the right frame of mind to write, all contrived to make it a seem a bit of a chore, each day therefore it was left till the next. Excuses, excuses. Or, perhaps I should just not get out more.

So without further ado, and with only the one image (of the campsite I shared with a few quiet humans and a small flock of sheep), I’m taking the easy route. I’ve got spuds to plant so I’ll publish and be damned. Kirk out.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Castlerigg Stone Circle - 21 March 12

I guess that most people will have heard of Stonehenge but I reckon that far less (or should that be fewer) know of Castlerigg Stone Circle. I checked it out today after noticing information about it last year. First thing this morning I had it all to myself. Fascinating stuff. Mind you, not a great deal is really known about the circle. One of life’s mysteries, like: is it only the labels that are made in China? And, how come most people never tire of having the exact same breakfast every day, but would object to eating the same set meal daily at other meal times? Just a thought.

In contemplative mood I wandered toward and over Walla Crag, down to Derwent Water and back into Keswick.

The sun shone this afternoon. Deckchairs were dusted off and sat on outside caravans and campervans. People chatted. Dogs stretched out. And I, unsociably, closed the curtains and had a nap. That set me up nicely for 2.5 pints in the Dog and Gun this early evening in good company. The place is regularly packed. What a great pub.

Tomorrow, Thursday, I head off to the campsite at Hartsop. My endeavours will be slightly more adventurous. I say again, slightly! Regrettably, sort of, communications will not be as good over there so I’ll not be blogging again until after I return home – Tuesday of next week.

In the meantime, here’s my theme song (pinched by a certain car maker) to power me up the fells. Pump up the volume ...

Latrigg - 20 March 12

Latrigg is Keswick’s very own hill. Its close proximity makes it an imposing presence yet in reality it is only a very modest lump; rising to 1230 feet it is little more than a third of its giant neighbour Skiddaw.

I have walked to the summit of Latrigg before but that didn’t prevent me from doing so again today. The touristy six mile circuit provides outstanding views in clear weather, which there was today, and its a fine way to spend a morning.

The River Greta flows along Latrigg’s southern base through a picturesque wooded gorge. It inspired William Wordsworth – “To the River Greta, near Keswick”

“Greta, what fearful listening! when huge stones,
Rumble along thy bed, block after block:
Or whirling with related shock,
Combat, while darkness aggravates the groans ...”

He's not just daffodills yer know!

My afternoon was spent walking the shops of Keswick – walking gear everywhere. Ooohh! [nice shivers]. The green and black new look of the Osprey Exos (rucksack) seductive; the latest Memory Map device (3800) improved and appealing; Paramo, Montane - new colours, but I am in denial, my wallet remains in my pocket - until I arrive the Dog & Duck, the beer, refreshing.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Keswick - 19 Mar 12

The idea, or basic plan, was, to set off early from Leek, spend a couple of hours with sister and brother-in-law, leave Holly and continue to Keswick, plug in the Grampervan, then, after a swift pint in town stroll toward Latrigg and back before it got dark. You’re probably ahead of me; yes, the plan came unstuck in town – in the Dog & Gun actually where they stock a delicious golden bitter, Thirst Blossom which is brewed here at the Keswick Brewing Company. And long may they do so.

I wasn’t much use for anything after that but a good sleep which I attended to fairly early and have paid the price by being wide awake since 03:15 hours.

At this campsite, those in tents can pitch up-close to Derwent Water and are rewarded with fantastic views as you can see from the image above. It’s £9.30 a night for me here although added to that, as I forgot to mention yesterday, is the annual club subscription, the amount of which I have also forgotten. It’s an age thing.

A bit of walking today and, well, I’ll just see how it goes.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Leek, Staffordshire - 18 Mar 12

It's about 260 miles from my house in Bedfordshire to the place in south Cumbria where I visit family and drop off my dog. Normally, it's a five hour journey. The drive is a bit of a drag though even with a couple of breaks along the way.

So, to make it easier, and because I wanted to check out a Peak District campsite, today I've travelled as far as Leek (which is about half way to Cumbria) where I'm spending the night at the Camping & Caravan Club's site.

The campsite is tidy and peacefull. It's a bit muddy in places but the price is right; I'm in my campervan for the night so it's £7.95 for a hard surfaced pitch, with hook-up to a 16 Amp electric supply, and there's access to a clean ablutions block with hot showers etc. There's no pub handy but I'm carrying everything that I need - including the kitchen sink and hob.

Keswick from tomorrow till Thursday, and then south-east to Hartsop where I'll be based until Monday. Someone else to do the cooking from tomorrow (and pull pints). Luxury!

Monday, 12 March 2012

It's only me

Ladybirds were promenading around the mint patch in my garden yesterday, the warm weather tempting them out of hibernation. “Who knows” I wondered, “do they have sweet dreams as we do, and thoughts of what they’ll get up to when they’re active again?” Juicy aphids and other ladybirds are all that occupy their minds I’d guess.

It may have seemed that I have been hibernating too. Not so, just busy. Regrettably, I cannot claim to have walked far, restricted by duties at home and a lovely dog that, in her dotage, struggles after half a mile and so prefers just a short stroll, meeting and sniffing.

If all goes well I'll get time off next week though; Holly goes to a rest home (my sister’s abode) and I have a week to myself to amble around the Lake District. I haven’t decided where exactly yet but something casual is required, sufficient to blow away (wash more likely) the cobwebs, and oil my innards. This will also be pre-preparation for the only other item on my walking calendar at the moment - The West Highland Way in late May.

In the meantime, and as usual, it’s always good to read others’ blogs, for which I thank the many, including Dawn and Al because I particularly like to follow a daily, well-written and interesting LEJOG blog.