Blackstone Edge 29th July 2012

After waiting some time for the torrential rain to stop, including eating our lunches indoors, Babs and I parked near the bottom of the big hill that goes up to Blackstone Edge.
We set off up the hill along a good path, the main feature of which is the Roman Road. There is a lot of controversy as to whether it is a Roman Road or not. It certainly says it is on the map. The path leads up to the Aiggin Stone which was a marker stone for ye ancient travellers and this definitely has been dated to be 600 years old.
We headed back down a bit and then cut across under Robin Hood’s Bed (but not his breakfast) and circled round to meet the Pennine Bridleway and back to the car.
We had a lovely 4 mile walk and it didn’t rain on us, which considering the forecast had been for very wet all day long was a real plus. The sun actually appeared and made us warm at the end.

Roman Road
Roman channel
The Aiggin Stone
Me and Aiggin Stone
Babs, glam companion!

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Malvern Hills 21st July 2012

Sophy, Mills and I parked at British Camp car park. This is not a tent fest full of Union Jacks but an Iron Age hill fort and also known as Herefordshire Beacon. We set off northwards to go alongside the Shire Ditch to Worcestershire Beacon.
We had very good weather, not too hot but sunny and fresh wind at times. The walk undulates to Black Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Jubilee Hill and Perseverance Hill. We lunched near Jubille Hill on delicious goodies from the deli in Ledbury plus tomatoes, carrots and crisps. Mine was a beetroot, feta and walnut tartlet. Yum! I also had a strudel, yum yum!
The route then drops down to Upper Wyche which has loos and a very large bus shelter. We crossed the road and headed back up to Summer Hill and then the Worcestershire Beacon which is at 425m. Some good views despite being a little hazy across to the Welsh mountains.
6 hills had by then taken a toll on the 2 older members of the party so we tracked back contouring round alongside the road. This was a nice cool path. We stopped for tea at The Kettle Sings where we had teas and lemonade and shared a shortcake.
Back to the car having done about 9km including multiple ascents and descents.
Thank you, dear cousins, for a lovely day.

British Camp on the way out
The path ahead
Upper Wyche
Sophy and Mills in the clouds on top of Worcestershire Beacon
The way we came
British Camp on return leg

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Springsteen in Manchester June 2012

Carol, Chris and I left our house in a torrential downpour at 4pm. The rain was so heavy I got drenched just getting across the road to get into the car.
Despite all warnings about huge queues and difficulties parking we got to the Etihad Stadium in darkest East Manchester quite quickly. It was very very wet indeed going along the M62 but getting to the car park was an absolute breeze. We parked up and then had a gourmet picnic in the car. This was a great way to start the evening. We had cold meats, cheeses and salads plus some nice juice and chilled white wine.
At about 6.15, we left the car and it actually wasn’t raining so much. I took a rucksack with drinks (normally forbidden) and extra clothes. In the short walk across to the stadium it was my feet that got completely soaked, as my boots let in every drop. They dried out quickly but at one point I thought I was going to be uncomfortable all evening.
Getting to our seats was really easy and we were on the left side facing the stage but quite far back. No problem for viewing the screens and we could just see the band on the stage.
The band came on at 7.20 to Badlands and played on till about 10.40. 30 song set.
Highlights for me were Wrecking Ball, Save My Love, The Promise, The River.
After the show, we went back and sat in the car until we could get out of the car park. We drank not very hot coffee out of the flask.
Then easily home. Chris and I reckon that Bruce is better in Euroland where the audiences are more appreciative and actually stop to listen to the quiet numbers. Here, they just talk and shout all through them. For me, I want to hear all the passion, whether it’s rock and roll or emotional ballad. That’s the main thing, gives us 100%.

Greasy Lake set list

Two hearts
Where is my beer?
Rock n roll
Oh dear, more rock n roll!

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Helvellyn via Swirral Edge 8th July 2012

Despite getting up at 6.30, I still didn’t manage to get started walking until 10.45. I really am going to have to NOT stop at Lancaster services for a coffee in future.
I had 2 goals for the day: to do a bit of a scramble and to do a long walk to see if I’d got the stamina.
I parked up at Glenridding car park for a whopping £7 for the day, although as it turned out it was less than a pound per hour. There are clean, free loos in the car park, and a cafe and postcards if you want them.
The route goes past a camp site and then rises up alongside Mires Beck. I soon picked up 3 old men (on large Ramblers’ outing from St. Helens). They were either behind or ahead of me for half the day. I left them to climb to Birkhouse Moor (1st Wainwright of the day). A dog was roaming loose on the hillside and chasing sheep but I couldn’t see an owner, too far away for me to try to catch it too, and then what would I do with it, even if it did stay still long enough?


Back on the path along a big wall for a long flat section. Over on St. Sunday Crag, someone was being rescued from the cliff. When I’d walked St. Sunday Crag I’d watched a rescue of someone on Striding Edge.

Away from the wall to head across to Red Tarn, still flat so made up some time.
Red Tarn is at the base of the climb to Swirral Edge and a Mountain Leader was about to take a group of children up there too. I knew he was an ML the minute I overheard him point out Geographicum lichen! Plus he got them all to check their bootlaces and talked about foot placement and 3 points of contact.
The group commenced the climb and I stopped for my first lunch of pitta filled with hummous, tomato and basil so as to give them a good head start.
However, when I got to the hard part of the climb up the edge, there they all were again so he let me go past. It’s a short section of scrambling and does require concentration and thought as to where to put your hands and feet but there is enough room to take the numbers of people. It was more busy with people coming down but waiting for them is a chance for a breather. What it does do is get you to the top very quickly. A father coming down with his son was berating him for going down on his bum and bullying him in a very unpleasant way, such a contrast with the group coming up and I so wanted to intervene and kick dad off the mountain but anyway I kept quiet.
Helvellyn (2nd Wainwright) is a big plateau at 950m and I stopped at the first cairn and chatted to a couple of men about whisky. Then I moved on to the trig point and chatted to a couple of Indian men who had come up the easy way from Thirlmere with no gear, no map, no compass. They took my photo and I took theirs. My first trio had turned up by then and we all advised them how to get down and back to their car but I didn’t see them after that so they must have gone a different way, which would mean a long walk along the road.

Someone biked up Helvellyn
Me on the top, doing the bent knee pose!

I treated myself to an energy bar in the shelter and then set off for Nethermost Pike (3rd Wainwright) and then Dollywagon Pike (4th).

Old gatepost at foot of Dollywagon Pike

After Dollywagon it was 3/4 of an hour to get down to Grisedale Tarn, although the path is good. Here I had my second lunch, identical to the first and it rained for about 10 minutes.
I was feeling quite tired and still had a long stretch to get back to Glenridding. I only managed to do this by setting myself intermediate goals of places to look for and aim for.

Ruthwaite Lodge climbing hut

It was a lovely walk and although I’d seen a few people I hadn’t actually passed anyone since Helvellyn. It took 2 and 1/4 hours to get back, the last section was a bit tricky. I had an option to go up in order to get back down, staying on Access Land and on Rights of Way, or to go off the Access Land and along marked paths on the contour. I chose the latter as I just couldn’t face any further up by then and was cursing every little rise. This took me across a fence with barbed wire into a mucky old wood with lots of bog and rotting trees. I slid my way out of that to go through over head high bracken which wet me through and then down onto a real track leading to a house and then onto the main road which frankly I was quite glad to see.
I left Glenridding at 6.30 and was back home at 8.30, not bad!
I did 17 km which is 10.5 miles – mountain miles! so the stamina is ok as although I felt tired and had a few leg and foot aches and pains, nothing was unbearable. And I did the lesser of the 2 Edges leading to Helvellyn, so all I need now is my pal Cath to do the other Edge!

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Lakeland Break 28th June – 2nd July 2012

Silver How 28th June

Carol and I arrived in Chapel Stile in time for lunch. As we drove near Windermere a big storm had started up. We got unpacked without getting too wet and the storm only caught up as I walked back from parking the car. We are staying in the annexe to Inglewood House which is Jane and Malcolm’s holiday cottage that they let out. They have very kindly allowed us to come here to the annexe. It’s compact but has all mod cons. C has a ham and a cheese sandwich lunch and I have tuna salad that I picked up on the way in M&S at Lancaster services. I sit and continue with Wolf Hall on my iPhone while lightning and thunder perform a merry dance. The rain is bouncing up about 6″. About 3 it starts to brighten and the rain stops so we quickly get out.
Just along the road is a path up to Spedding Crag which rises steeply to a col. From there we bear to the left to avoid the bog but miss the good path which is indistinct at that point. We descend a little through tall bracken and cross the first of several raging torrents. We skirt round a plantation where several big trees have been uprooted. Looks like the ground has been loosened by the vast amounts of wet and then a big wind has toppled them.
At a wall corner we turn left up a good path towards the clouds. I am expecting Wainwright’s scramble but the path continues to the top of Silver How. C says she is pleased she’s done the summit. As we turn and descend the clouds head away and we get good views to Grasmere. We return via the good path that avoids big bog and bracken to the col. Then a fast descent, all done without the use of an anorak!
We’ve got Look What We Found chicken curry with rice, sugar snap peas and ciabatta for supper. I wasn’t quite sure what the cooking facilities would be so played easy. It’s a microwave with grill and oven and 2 separate and fast heating electric rings and all work efficiently. So well that I am now thinking about getting one myself. As well as varifocal contact lenses (these would be easier for seeing up mountains in the rain.)
Down to Chapel Stile
Big cloud on top of our heads

Townend and the Grasmere Hotel 29th June

We got into the Nat Trust’s Townend on a “bring a friend for free” offer (NT BOGOF!). It’s a 17th century farmhouse that stayed in the Browne family for yonks and then one of them went mad for wood carving in Victorian times. Beatrix Potter knew the family and was scathing about the carving. Nearly everything oak had been attacked so you can see her point. I liked the house and old barn opposite. Mr B had made up his own coat of arms and installed his own pew in the church but the other parishioners said “stuff that” and ripped it out and burnt it.
Picnic lunch in car. Pitta bread with salami, tomatoes and crisps for me, ham roll, crisps and tangerine for C.
We went to Grasmere and Ambleside shopping.
Dinner at the Grasmere Hotel run by poofs. 4 course dinner for 2 for £45. Pâté appetisers. C had duck and orange pate, then tarragon chicken then Grasmere gingerbread and meringue. I had sardines (3) because had only the other day said I’d never had one. The fish was nice but very fiddly to eat so won’t bother again but might try tinned to see if they don’t have bones. Then beef in beer with spuds and veg. Sorbet in between first and second courses. Then almond frangipani with almond and brandy ice cream. C made friends with everyone. So we heard all about the people who got soaked to their underwear. Coffee which came with mini choc coated Kendal mint cake. Finding it hard to move….
Down the street from our door
Townend, fab chimneys
Very old barn at Townend

Holme Fell 30th June

We parked in a NT car park at Tarn Hows on the road from Ambleside to Coniston. A short stretch along the busy main road to Yew Trees Farm which was used in the Renee Zellweger film about Beatrix Potter and although BP didn’t live in it, the farm was one that she bought and gave to the NT. The walk goes along a flat section above Yew Trees Tarn and then rises through Harry Guards Wood. The path follows the stream up to Uskdale Gap which is a col with views across to the Langdale pikes. We then climbed a bit more to the cairn which gave us views to Coniston Water. We descended to get out of the wind and nipped down to “Reservoirs (disused)” to sit on a rock for our picnic lunches. Mine was the same as yesterday’s and I think C’s was too. Some Belted Galloways were munching about 100m away which was fine but then they gathered on our path back. They belonged to Yew Trees Farm who sell the meat. The cows mostly moved away but as we set off about 5 of them were on the path and we had to walk between them. Ahead of us was a party of 5 people who watched our fearlessness in the midst of cattle!
We got down quite quickly meeting only a group of DoE silver medal candidates. I considered getting some beef but the logistics of keeping it cool, fresh etc. not so easy.
We popped into Coniston and popped out again so took a circuit drive round the lake going past Brantwood, John Ruskin’s house which looked interesting and now thinking about going there.
Home for lamb dinner whilst the locals bang away at the pre gala dance. Grilled lamb steaks from our farm shop with spuds and steamed broccoli and carrots.
Across to Pavey Ark and some Stickles
Reservoir (disused)
Coniston Water

Tarn Hows and Iron Keld 1st July

We survived the pre gala dance by playing Scrabble in the kitchen downstairs where mercifully the noise was less. I was beaten. But very tired so drank wine and whisky. Just after getting into bed it stopped promptly at midnight.
This was a day for trying to dodge the rain so we had a look in Rock Bottom in Grasmere whilst firming up our plans. Decided to park in same NT car park as yesterday (this weekend I’ve recouped nearly half my NT membership fee!). Just as we set off a man asked us to keep an eye out for his camera so we took his phone number and promised to do so but we didn’t find it. The footpath to Tarn Hows goes through woodland up the side of a stream that turns into a waterfall and then Tom Gill which is quite a high fast force. Tarn Hows itself is a man made lake with manicured paths but also ducks, geese and water lilies and islands.
Usual lunch on a wet bank looking at the rain on the lake.
Then we got away from the main drag and onto AW’s “rough old road” to the Iron Keld plantation. Here we headed north to Iron Keld. A keld is a source or spring. We then turned back and retraced our steps. We saw 2 stoats running along a wall for a good few metres.
Finished off the day at the Jumble Room in Grasmere. Great resto and recent diners have been Vint Cerf (our waiter said he was the head of Google, but as a founder of Arpanet he goes back before Google was even thought of and without which Google would not exist) and Sting! I had gnocchetti with cheese sauce and truffle for starter. Never had truffle before but am a convert – totally delicious. C and I both had lamb koftas served with couscous, cherry tomatoes, cucumber yoghurt sauce and rose petals (another first!) C had sticky toffee pud and I had pannacotta with strawberries and shortbread. All very delicious. If you go there, which we both heartily recommend, the upstairs is quieter.
Tom Gill
Many gloves for foxes
Near Iron Keld
Iron Keld plantation
The Monday was too wet for anything much so we drove around a bit, Brantwood looked too busy so we had our sandwiches in the car looking at some wet cows and then headed home.
We had a lovely few days eating our way round Grasmere. We had some good walks up the smaller fells and managed not to get badly wet. I now need to not eat for several weeks to get this belly down!
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