Cornwall and Glos.

Saturday

An uneventful long journey from Yorkshire to Cornwall. I got up early, left before 7 and did the drive in 4 chunks stopping every 2 hours. Frankley services at 9 were quiet but Sedgemoor services at lunchtime were hell. I had a short last stop in a lay by and arrived in St. Ives at 3.30. I miss the games Carol and I used to play on long journeys.

I’m staying with HF Holidays in their house, Chy Morvah, it’s just up from the town. It has a nice garden and my room has a sea view. Once settled in I booked some activities for Friday.

HF excel at organisation so dealing with covid control was no exception.

I had to get away. I’m sure everyone feels the need for a change. I needed some time away from the house full of Carol. There’s the luxury of being well fed and I don’t have to prepare it.

The last time I came to Cornwall was about 33 years ago with Chris when we were young and in love.

Korev lager, local and delicious. After an extensive dinner, soup, veg roll, veg Dhansak, choc torte, I wandered down to the town, smells of fried food, young drunks and girls in tiny shorts. I needed to see where the Hepworth gallery was, even though it’s shut. Vivid memories of being there with Chris.

The garden at Chy Morvah
From my window
From my window

Sunday

Haddock and poached egg for breakfast, yum. Bimbled about a bit then drove to Morvah and turned off to park up. My walk took me to Men-an-Tol which may have something to do with the man and his 7 wives. One legend is that if a woman passed through the stone 7 times she would become pregnant. Next Men Scryfa, a stone with writing on it, “Rialobranus son of Cunovalus”, as to who they are it’s a lot of conjecture, anyway it’s a very old stone! Onto The Nine Maidens, of which there are 11 stones! The stones form a stone row not a stone circle although when you are there it looks like a circle. Then to the Ding Dong tin mine engine which is much more recent, even in a couple of hundred years, we’ve managed to change the name from Ting Tong. I wondered if it was to do with the noise it made, turns out it’s to do with the church bell ringing to call the men to work. I sat here for my lunch. There was a couple sitting eating their lunch and that’s about all I can tell you because I was very keen to get photos of the mine tower against the blue blue sky. It turned out this was Gary from my Romanian holiday back in 2016! He realised it really was me when I posted some photos on Facebook later in the day! This was also the holiday where I met Karin, Julia and Sue. Two months after Romania I was at Gatwick flying out to see a man in Gothenburg and Gary was also in the airport so we had a beer together. It’s strange how our paths keep crossing although this one was a miss. I passed a lot of young brown boy cows on the path who stood and looked at me then all ran off terrified. The last bit of the walk was to the Lanyon Quoit which is a neolithic burial chamber, very fine, with a huge capstone.
Returning to the car I drove past a turn to Madron chapel and well. Trotted off to look, the well is a muddy puddle with offerings of ribbons, scarves and clothing dangling in the branches of the trees, some have been there a very long time and they look really horrible. The chapel was quite peaceful in contrast, deep in the woods. I went and had a look at Kelynack where Chris and I had camped. Drove back along the lanes full of moronic drivers. So many big vehicles in the narrow lanes.

Lushington’s IPA, very nice. Dinner was pate, sea bass in a dill and caper sauce then crème brûlée for pudding. Except it had not had a blow torch on it so just crème, it was also supposed to have fresh berries but these were not present.

Men-an-Tol
Men Scryfa
Ding Dong Mine
The Nine (or so) Maidens
Ding Dong!
Lanyon Quoit
Through Ding Dong looking at Little Galver
Lanyon Quoit

Monday

Tired and a bit out of sorts. I drove to Morrisons in Penzance to fill the tank. I put 1.36l of unleaded into the diesel tank. Thank goodness I was looking at the gauge and didn’t fill it up entirely. I picked the hose on the left which at Sainsbury’s where I usually refill, is the diesel hose. A chap behind me said it would be ok because such a small amount. My tank holds 69 litres so 1.36 is a relatively small fraction of the total. I checked online and what I read confirmed that it would probably be ok despite the car manual saying I had basically broken the engine. It is worse to do it the other way round however, which is why a diesel hose won’t fit in an unleaded tank hole but not possible of course to make an unleaded one not fit a diesel. I can think of a way of sorting it so it would never happen either way, perhaps I should patent it. It took forever to sort because I had to queue to pay for the unleaded, then fill up with diesel and had to queue to pay for that. After all that I thought I would go in Morrisons and pick up a couple of bits I needed. Wearing my mask I started what turned out to be a full day of sneezing, so snot dribbled down my face in the mask, horrid. This was my first foray into a supermarket since the middle of March and I will revert to online delivery shopping when I get home.

To relax I went to Carn Euny down tiny roads with huge high hedges, sticking my head out of the window to see round corners. The roads then got even tinier. At the place I parked Google maps wanted me to continue driving down a footpath which at its narrowest was a foot wide! Carn Euny is an Iron Age settlement consisting of 7 linked huts. It has an amazing underground chamber, a fogou and a tunnel. Not for tall people. Really good. From there I walked to Carn Brea at 198m. It’s the most westerly hill in England. Huge 180°+ views and across to Lands End. Lunch on the top. Returned to Chy Morvah, walked into St. Ives to get anti histamines, really busy and did not feel safe with all the hordes of idiots. Betty Stog’s bitter, ok, too many caramel notes for me. Dinner was nachos, a meal in itself, chicken with wild mushrooms and pasta, huge portion, couldn’t eat it all, ice cream.

This holiday feels like a lot to do with Chris. She and I went to Boscastle, Tintagel, St. Ives, Kelynack, Land’s End, The Lizard, Gorran, Plymouth doing a mixture of camping and youth hostels. It was the days when you still had to do chores. I remember eating fish in Plymouth and spending the entire night going to and fro the loo to chuck up. I don’t suppose anybody in the dorm got any sleep either. We did more than one trip here, coming from Bristol.

From my window
Sky above Morrisons’ car park
Fogou at Carn Euny
Tunnel at Carn Euny
Cornish pony
Cairn near Carn Euny
From my window
From my window

Tuesday

Still feeling terribly tired. Off out to Chysauster ancient village looked after by English Heritage. Locked despite being all outdoors. Then to the Merry Maidens to see what they were up to. They were quite well behaved but my enjoyment was lessened by the 2 men chanting, singing, whistling, praying and rolling around in the middle of the circle. It was very difficult to get any photos without these tossers in them and they spoilt it for me. I drove a few hundred metres up the road to look at an old Celtic cross. It’s almost obliterated by vegetation now. Walked a footpath along a field edge which then continued across a field of barley, shutup Sting, to a have a good line of sight to a fab standing stone. No-one about at all to disturb my peace. Then to Trengwainton Gardens (Nat Trust) to meet up with Gerry and Hilary and Bobby the old dog. Lovely shady exotic garden to walk round plus very pleasant well organised tea room in the orchard. Well organised until they forgot my lunch but it was nice when it arrived. Back to Doom Bar beer. Minty watermelon salad, squash and chilli risotto, fresh fruit salad.

The Merry Maidens without irritating hippies
Old cross
Standing stone in the field of barley
Field of barley
At Trengwainton Gardens
Trengwainton House
Bobby the dog, Gerry and Hilary

Wednesday

Drove to Carnewas NT car park on the north Cornwall coast along from Newquay. Walked along eastwards passing Bedruthan Steps to Porthcothan beach and had my lunch looking at the sea. Walked back along a lower path. Hot walking. The car park was quiet when I arrived at 10 but heaving when I left at 2.30. Ice cream from the Nat Trust. Back to the house for Korev lager from St. Austell brewery. Korean fried cauli, broccoli salad, fresh fruit salad.

Coast near Bedruthan Steps
Coast near Bedruthan Steps
Coast near Bedruthan Steps
I love these walls
Coast near Bedruthan Steps
Coast near Bedruthan Steps
Wall

Thursday

To The Lizard where I parked up on The Green. Because I get out early, I am getting good car parking spots. I trolled off to the east and did a short circuit on the coast path with a lot of ups and downs. At the cove there was a man walking a sheep on a lead, as well as a small dog. They were going very slowly. Passed the new lifeboat station, a sea navigational feature, the coastwatch box (made me think of Mary Wesley’s The Camomile Lawn), a large hotel, the lighthouse with its massive fog horns. I walked over to some rocks just below the lighthouse and remembered standing there with Chris all those years ago. I could see that the Lizard point itself was very busy with people so I didn’t go there and went back up to the village because by then it had done one huge downpour and another one looked like it was coming on. Drove past HMS Culdrose which is enclosed by well over 2 miles of razor wire and Goonhilly Earth Station. Early back to the house and managed to park the car without any issues. This is a real problem this week, because we are all on self guided walking so most people have arrived in cars rather than by public transport. The house is only supposed to be 50% full but actually there are 48 people staying here and the capacity is 70-80. Slightly annoyed and will take this up with HF as one of my main reasons for coming was the reduced number of guests. They run 2 sittings for breakfast and dinner which works ok, I’m on the earlies at 7.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.

Coast near The Lizard
Church at Church Cove (closed)
I remember standing here with Chris as if it was yesterday
The Lizard lighthouse
Big whoppers
The old lifeboat station

Friday

More chaos with the ruddy parking. This morning I was blocked in by 2 cars. Only one driver, Mr Passat, had helpfully put his phone number in the window (on my suggestion when he blocked me in previously). The manager said I should have sorted it out the night before which was not particularly helpful when I had a timed ticket for my outing. He was busy doing the 2nd breakfast sitting so gave me the room number for Mr VW GTI. I spoke to Mrs VW GTI, she said Mr would move his car. It took me nearly 20 minutes to round up the 2 drivers at the same time and while Mr Passat was actually quite nice, Mr VW GTI came out with a horrid face on. I drove for an hour to The Lost Gardens of Heligan including a section of road where the hedges were as tall as the top of the lamp posts ie double decker bus height, of course this was on the narrowest bit of the narrow road. The Lost Gardens were nice and it was easy to walk round without being near anyone. I had a coffee which took 20 minutes of queuing despite being only the 3rd customer in the queue. Ate my sandwich in the car park and then drove another hour to Marazion and parked up. Walked across the sand to the causeway and stumbled round the Terraced Gardens. They were lovely but we all had to walk really slowly because everyone was taking photos. I had a bit of banter with a couple of gay men which was nice. Then I sat on the grass and finally went to the top of St. Michael’s Mount to the Castle which I was told was operating at 10% of its capacity. Well if I heard that correctly it must be hell on earth at 100%. So many children running round like puppies in no coherent direction making such a lot of noise. Next time for Cornwall it will not be in the school holidays. It’s my own fault for being desperate to get away. I walked round very quickly and just took in the views. By this time I was far too tired to listen to volunteers telling me important historical facts. I did too much all in one day and should have learnt that by now. I used to know not to do that. It started to rain heavily as I got back to the car. Lushington beer. Dinner was goat’s cheese with beetroot, bean stew with pastry on top and some veg, fresh fruit salad with a dollop of ice cream. I am seriously going to work at getting rid of my spare tyre and getting a bit fitter. I’m glad I came away and hope I can have some more trips this year. I had some interesting chats with a couple of nice people and some laughs too.

Puppies crawling over everything
St. Michael’s Mount
Wren
Heligan
Heligan
St. Michael’s Mount
St. Michael’s Mount

Saturday

I drove to the Forest of Dean and got physically distanced with Liz, Ariel, Tracey, Jason and Laurie. Had a lovely time eating in the carport with tablecloths and candles and then went for a walk in the forest and saw Deadly Nightshade.

Deadly nightshade
Towards the estuary
Forest posers
Two lovelies

Sunday

Lovely lazy morning watching Liz empty the amazing Klover heating machine. Drove further on to Sophy’s for more r&r. So good to see friends and family. So important.

Monday

Another lazy morning! Well over 5 hours to do the usual 3.5 hours home because the M6 was closed and then had another accident further up. Nothing like a massive traffic jam to let you know lockdown is over.

Coniston March 2020

Monday 9th

Set off in the dry but the rain arrived heavily as I reached Ambleside. Had to make an emergency purchase of waterproof trousers because I discovered yesterday that I’m too fat for my old ones. Checked into a nice room in the Counting House at HF Holidays Monk Coniston. This house was once owned by Beatrix Potter and now by the National Trust who lease it to HF.

The first person I met was the first person I met here last July and to whom I took a violent dislike. Bollocks. For dinner I had veg quiche, salmon and veg, fruit salad. And a bottle of Coniston lager. I sat next to a Gove voter but the whole table agreed we wouldn’t talk politics. Jackie gave us a talk on red squirrels. I listened to The Archers who clearly think that what we need when there is a worldwide health crisis, is a traumatic storyline with multiple repercussions for most of the inhabitants of Ambridge. No dark humour now about Kenton concealing that he had run over Eccles the peacock.

Monk Coniston side entrance from The Counting House
Painting by Bertram Potter, Beatrix’s brother

Tuesday 10th

Lots of rain. Clambered into the vast waterproof trousers. All onto the bus. A short drive and 4 of us plus Dave the leader got off. We walked about 14 km in wind and rain and some respites of dry. From the A593 to Colwith Force in full spate, to Skelwith Force, Loughrigg Tarn, Grasmere lake, Rydal Water and Rydal cave then to Ambleside. I’d walked some of this with Carol in June 2012.  Hot chocolate (horrible) and the bus back. Lovely hot shower. Dinner of broccoli and Stilton soup, veg risotto and ice cream. Total sugar fail day. After dinner I played skittles and surprised myself by being very good at it. Last played 10 pin bowling when I was 16! I can see myself playing bowls in years to come!! A good day but more Tories. I was completely unable to hold back my views on the shower of shite they’ve given us. Mostly wet with some windy blasts.

Herdwick sheep
Sugar beet
Grasmere
Rydal Cave

Wednesday 11th

On the bus a short way. 11 of us plus Geoff the leader for the intermediate level walk today. The first part we had done a bit of yesterday. We climbed up a bit to Lingmoor Fell to look over Elterwater to one side and Grasmere to the other. We got just below Silver How (I got Carol to the summit in 2012) then we dropped down into Chapel Stile passing the place we had stayed in. Hard to think of how well she had been then just before dialysis kicked in. Along the valley to Dungeon Ghyll for beer then bus. Nice chats today. Mostly windy with some cold wet blasts. For dinner I had avocado and feta salad, boeuf bourguignon, fruit salad. We then had the HF inter house quiz. The team I was in did ok. One woman turned out to be a big Bruce fan.

Thursday 12th

In bus to Water Yeat. To Beacon Fell. Across the Blawith Fells to Torver. Windy but dry. Into the Wilson pub at Torver for soup and a sandwich paid by HF, A pub Carol and I visited in 2015. The pub has great loos! Interesting design using big slabs of slate and wood. Andrew bought me a birthday juice. Outside again to walk along Coniston Water to Coniston. A heavy shower as we reached the village. Into cafe where Audrey and Norie kindly bought me a coffee and A shared her cake. Back to the house. Quite a long walking day. Mostly dry. Dinner fresh fig salad, lamb with veg, choc mousse. Pre birthday lager. Quiz and chat. Starting to feel scared about the incompetence of our so called leaders (not the HF walk leaders).

At Beacon Tarn
Coniston Water
Coniston Hall, now owned by the National Trust

Friday 13th

Farewells to all my new friends. Drove to Wray Castle (National Trust), “this is not like most National Trust properties, there are no paintings or furniture”. An interesting building, one of the guides took me onto the roof (not normally accessible). I listened to a couple of guides telling the history of the place and how Beatrix Potter’s family had taken the castle as a summer let and she had met Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust during that time. I took a stroll to the boathouse and jetty and along the lake a little. Then into Grasmere where I knew not to go to the deli because I had a horrible coffee there previously so instead I tried the Mathilde’s at the Heaton Cooper Studio. They do a Scandi food theme so I had an open sandwich which was really nice. Walked up to Allan Bank (more National Trust), “this is not like most National Trust properties, there are no paintings or furniture”. There were in fact some hideous ginormous paintings of the 3 people most connected with the house – Wordsworth, Coleridge and Rawnsley. I can’t think of Wordsworth and Coleridge without thinking of the Wordsmiths of Gorsemere which is one of the funniest radio programmes ever, Sue Limb, brilliant. Coleric is always under the influence and chasing after anything that breathes. Available on Audible. There’s not much to see in the house so I went for a walk round the grounds. The house is in a lovely location with views of lakes and mountains. Then I set off for home, calling in at Booths in Windermere where there wasn’t any panic buying. I got 18 loo rolls on a BOGOF promotion and got home without any problems during the Friday rush hour.

Wray Castle
Wray Castle
Windermere
From Allan Bank
Allan Bank House

The last few days have been good because I met some lovely people and had great chats while out walking. Also laughs. Today I felt weepy most of the day. I’ve got used to everywhere I go near home or in the Calder Valley being full of memories of things I’ve done with Carol and Chris. The Lake District is also full of both of them, walks, hills, lakes, cafes, pubs, restaurants, you name it. Carol rarely remembered anywhere we’d been. Whereas I’ve always been able to say which table we sat at and who sat where, going back years and years. I can’t not remember. A year ago I felt cast adrift. Now I feel shipwrecked, broken, shattered. Still alive but in pieces that have tumbled and spilt. We are all at a very strange period of time because of Covid 19 and Corona virus. As I walked about in the sun this morning in the loveliness of the Lake District it felt like the lull before the storm.

Northumberland October 2019

Friday 25th

Rain. Rain. Huge rain. It took Liz and Ariel 5 and a half hours to reach me from the Forest of Dean. I watched TV turning the heating off and back on as their journey time increased. A pit stop and a transfer of interesting luggage (an axe and a bag seemingly full of footwear) from one Skoda Yeti to another and we were off into a wet time warp where for at least half the journey Google Maps told us it would take 3 hours and 22 minutes. If only. 5 soggy hours later we reached Church Cottage in Kyloe. Our landlords had kindly unpacked our Sainsbury’s delivery for us and left us a bottle of organic prosecco. Cheers.

Saturday 26th

Great to see our views across to Lindisfarne. We went shopping in Berwick. I managed to get run over by a car. My foot was trapped under its front wheel for a while but I came away completely unscathed, not even any bruising. I frightened myself and my friends and the driver for which I am truly sorry. I didn’t look before I crossed the road the second time because when I’d crossed it first I looked both ways, saw cars only going one way, saw cars parked facing the same way so made an incorrect assumption. I was lucky the driver was going slowly and that I was wearing new Doc Martens that are very rigid. Of course it was my left foot. But remarkably there is no damage. I have wanted to be dead but I don’t actually want to die. Not yet, not until I’ve finished sorting out the stuff in my house. And not then either. It was a salutary reminder that all it takes is one microsecond of inattention. I am walking around with so many dead loved ones I’m not that surprised it happened. After calming down from my idiocy we went to Cheswick and walked by the sea. Liz and I managed to walk in an area containing unexploded ordnance and quicksand! Back to gigli made by A. Yum. Started watching The Laundromat film with Meryl Streep about the Panama Papers.

Sunday 27th

My foot is none the worse. Remarkable boot. Not even a mark on the boot. From Craster we walked along by the sea to Dunstanburgh castle. At Greymare rock we sent Carol’s ashes off into the sea. A seal joined us while the crashing waves took the ashes away. Called in at Howick Hall for the slowest tea ever and an incorrectly delivered order then walked around the gardens. Back home along the lanes as the sun descended. Liz produced borscht, scrummy. We finished watching the Laundromat. Good movie.

Monday 28th

Ariel and I walked a good part of the way up The Cheviot but decided not to try the summit as it was very boggy and cold on the dark side. Instead we stayed in the sun to descend and bimbled about in some woods. We got back to Liz, a blazing fire, delicious kedgeree and a really rubbish film, Call Me By My Name which Netflix told us included “strong sex”. Only if you are a peach. It was very boring IMO.

Liz took this lovely photo of the steps near our cottage

Tuesday 29th

Billy Shiel’s boat from Seahouses around the Farne Islands. Good weather, a bit of bouncing on the waves, a lot of birds and a huge lot of seals, all sizes and ages. Only £15 for 90 minutes. Fab. Pit stop at the Ship Inn. To Ros Castle, a short steep climb for 360 views. Descended to magnificent burnt orange sunset. I made the green Thai curry, possibly the first time I’ve really cooked for other people since Carol died, and I enjoyed it. We tried to watch Capote movie but Liz and I fell asleep. Lovely day.

Wednesday 30th

We drove to Lindisfarne across the causeway. Straight into Pilgrims’ Coffee which sold nice coffee but was short on competent staff. Up to the castle for a good look round including a history talk. Around Gertrude Jekyll’s garden, over to the priory, the parish church and back to the car to get across the causeway before the tide came in. Home for lunch, then A and I went out for walks in different directions. I stayed out until dark. Dinner and another terrible movie, Roma.

Thursday 31st

We did our own things during the day. I went to Lowick and bought bread, then to Doddington. I did a circular walk to find a hill fort, a stone circle and a cup and ring stone. The paths were very overgrown with bracken and gorse and indistinct for most of the walk. I had to micro navigate using a mix of old and new tools all the way round. I found everything, well I found the hill fort easily enough, I wasn’t sure about the cup and ring marks because I didn’t really know what I was looking for. The stone circle (rems of) only had a solitary stone in a swamp of bracken. There may have been more but I didn’t want to do any more bracken than I had to. I got back to the cottage. We dined out at The Black Bull in Lowick 2 miles away. We all had really nice dinners. Back at the cottage we moved away from awful films and played Bananagram, Liz was very good and I was delighted to have been able to use the word buggery.

Liz and Ariel saw this hare on their walk

Friday 1st November

We set off to have a look at Kielder Forest, as we drove we talked about coffee at the observatory. But unlucky for us the road was being resurfaced just at that point so we couldn’t get there. Instead we had a look in the Alpnhaus (why no ‘e’?) where there is a swish B&B and an Alpine shop, all feeling pretty remote. We carried on to Corbridge where we stopped for our coffee, by this time it was well into the afternoon. Eventually we rocked up at The Moorcock in Norland which is on my doorstep and ate very well in the pub. I can’t rate this place highly enough. Then back to mine to recover from yet another mammoth journey.

Snowdonia October 2019

Monday 14th

I booked this short break when Carol was still alive. Arrived at Craflwyn Hall mid afternoon, staying in the stables again, a different stall from the last time I was there. That time I sustained an injury to my elbow and Carol looked after me from a distance, sorted out a GP appointment for me. Dinner was tapas which I enjoyed but some of the other guests didn’t. Some people are so gobby! Entertainment was a word square game. The team I was in won.

Tuesday 15th

Drove to Trawsfynydd which is mostly known for its ex nuclear power station. It was opened in 1965 after 6 years of building. Remained in operation until 1991. It will take 100 years to decommission. Just above it is Tomen y Mur Roman fort and small amphitheatre which was built in the first century and in operation for at least a hundred years and is still very evident on the ground but a hell of a lot less poisonous. After climbing the Norman motte and bimbling about I drove south from Talsarnau up tiny roads with green down the middle and branches hitting the car, out and in for a gate, continuing until the road stopped. Walked roughly 3 km along a fairly good level path, soggy and squelchy in places, to reach Bryn Cader Faner stone circle which was a delight. Back the same way. This time I met a farm truck and a van coming up so I had to reverse quite a way. The evening entertainment was Benjie and Mev who are local birds of prey experts, not a C&W duo. They were knowledgeable and interesting.

Wednesday 16th

Car free day. Walked from the house straight up the hill behind, which is the lower slopes of Yr Aran, a sub peak of Snowdon. A nice mountain walk without going very high. Passed old mine. Some boggy bits. Eventually joined up with the Watkin path. Stopped in Caffi Gwynant for a coffee and a scone. Walked back to the house along the east side of Llyn Dinas on a very good well made path. Only one heavy shower early on. Sunny mostly. Unfortunately the best photos of the walk past Llyn Dinas were corrupted. Another very irritating woman staying here. I’m getting good at walking away. Entertainment was the quiz. My team came second. There are 31 guests in the house, some of whom are Brexiteers, some think it’s ok to make “jokes” about sexual violence, one thinks bereavement is the same as divorce and at least 7 who are decent human beings with respect for others and a developed sense of right and wrong. I have trouble with those who lack self awareness. I don’t expect everyone to be emotionally tip top all the time but I do think people could develop their interpersonal skills before letting themselves out of the house. My best shirt is wasted on them.

Thursday 17th

Leisurely breakfast. Heavy rain expected so I drove quite a way to a National Trust property, Plas yn Rhiw. I’ve really had my money’s worth out of the NT membership fee this year, at least twice over, if not more. Makes up for the years when all I did was park the car. It was a nice little house previously owned by the 3 Keating sisters who were an interesting bunch and rebuilt this house in a stunning location looking out across the bay. Then the rain came, on and off. Had my lunch in the car. Went and looked out over to Bardsey island. Through a torrential downpour to Betws y Coed to see if there were any outdoor kit bargains, there weren’t. The rain settled in heavily. The mental and emotional toll of grief is obvious but I hadn’t even considered the physical aspects, the sapping of energy, lethargy, continued poor sleep, fatigue, reduced muscle strength, low stamina. I am working on all of these. Feels like slow progress. At least my left leg muscles match the right leg, 6 months later.

Friday 18th

To Llannymawddwy through more downpours. However they more or less stopped as I parked up. This is a place Carol and I went to several times (misnamed by me as Pennant in that blog post) when we used to stay at Llanfechain. Carol liked it because we could be in the mountains without having to actually climb one. It’s a gentle walk up to a col, about 100m of up to 1 km of length. We never saw anyone else and I didn’t today. We last went there in March 2015, after getting our civil partnership upgrade. I buried some more of Carol’s ashes at the col overlooking the east valley. It’s such a lovely spot, with valleys east and west. Constant sound of tumbling waterfalls. Back at the car, the rain came on again. I decided it would be ok to do the mountain road and it was though I was cautious through the flooded bits. The really scary bit of road has had big new barriers put up which I was grateful for. Round Lake Vyrnwy and then to Oswestry to get some veg. On the spur of the moment I stopped at Chirk Castle, knocking up yet another National Trust property visited this year. I got wet because I’d failed to take my brolly. It took a long time to get home because of the terrible weather.

North Ballachulish 2

Wednesday 7th November

Fruit and yoghurt. Poached egg and beans. And a croissant. Not quite low cholesterol.

Met up with Karl Griffin who owns the Ballachulish Information Centre, the fish and chip shop and the hardware shop and is a professional photographer. It was very wet and windy. We went to 3 different locations and I learnt a few things but now feel I’ve got lots more to learn and need to keep practising.

After the session I went to the Onich red squirrel feeding post and watched squirrels for ages. I took some awful photos and then something clicked and I managed to get some half decent shots.

Back at Alltshellach, I dried off and then went out again with a view to taking more photos but it rained so hard I gave in and returned for a very hot shower and a cup of tea.

Dinner of pate, goats cheese tarts with green veg and potatoes, lemon pie with ice cream.

The HF quiz. The team I was in came second.

I’ve managed not to think too much about work today. If I’m not working there will be more time for doing all the boring domestic things and not having to cram them all into 1 day, taking photos, going hiking, hopefully leading for HF.

Thursday 8th November

Another wet looking morning. But then it cleared so I drove to Oban and had a look round. I went there on a family road trip back in 1970. It was very wet then and we went to pictures and saw Waterloo which at the age of 12 was extremely boring. Now I’d just have a nice sleep but then it seemed pointless. I looked for the cinema but it was demolished in the 70s and is now shops and flats.

I got diesel in Tescos for £1.34 a litre, better than the eye watering £1.39 elsewhere. Went to Sutherland’s Grove at Barcaldine. It has lots of Douglas firs. I walked around and went up to a reservoir – Glen Dubh Lochan, it’s quite big and has a great sluice.

Then I went to Glasdrum Wood National Nature Reserve and had another little walk round there. This was enough for me, I’m so tired still and Ben Nevis will have to wait for another day if at all, there are lots of lovely walks in this area.

Dinner of apple juice, braised beef, mash and veg, Scottish cheese and biscuits.

Oban

Alltshellach
Connell bridge

From Glen Dubh

Sluice at Glen Dubh. Do NOT swim here.

North Ballachulish November 2018

5th November

7 hour journey including 4 stops. It took 2 hours (usually just 1) to get to Lancaster services where I had double espresso and granola yoghurt breakfast. Then another double espresso at Abington services. A woman tapped on my car door and asked if I liked my car! Once I’d recovered from the shock she was very friendly if a bit odd. Stopped for lunch somewhere on the side of Loch Lomond and then the loo at Tyndrum. Arrived at HF Glen Coe at 14.45.

Huge room with en suite bathroom. Tea and small piece of cake and one small shortbread. Out for little walk around the grounds and Loch Leven with Steve (leader, but everyone is doing self guided).

Back to house. I am now officially at risk of redundancy. Past caring.

Dinner: apple juice, grilled chicken salad, cheese and oatcakes.

Quiz but didn’t win.

Not one firework to be heard, bliss!

Tuesday 6th

Muesli, apple and yoghurt. Sausage, poached egg and beans.

Drove back along the A82 and parked up. I cut the walk route by not walking along the side of the A82, saved lots of kilometres. Walked up the West Highland Way about 350m to a col, this is part of the old military road network made by General Wade, although this section was done by his successor. The road is over 250 years old and was part of the Brits exerting control over the pesky highlanders. I turned right at the col onto a less distinct path to the summit of Beinn Bheag. Good views although a lot of low cloud around. Back down and then an espresso in the Clachaig Inn which is/was used by mountaineers. Drove through old Glencoe village, and Ballachulish village. I now know where the diesel and the Coop are. Then a scenic drive along and around Loch Leven and through Kinlochleven (another Coop and a leisure centre with a climbing wall and an ice wall).

I’ve seen more about the restructures at work and am cross. 15 years of loyal service and now I’m surplus to requirements. It’s not personal, of course it bloody is.

The house has an indoor pool so I popped in for a swim. It was nearly dark and there was a man in the pool. He told me he was naked and asked if I minded and I said I didn’t so we just chatted away. It was nice of him to tell me, I can’t actually see much without my specs on so I probably wouldn’t have noticed unless I’d seen him get out with his dingly dangly bits.

Missing Chris as much as ever. It’s when I’m out in the mountains that I feel it a lot. She would have gone a bit quiet over the boggy bits though, she hated bog and boy did we get in a lot of bogs.

Dinner of Scotch broth, sausages with veg and mash, hot plums and berries with a tiny bit of a sort of custard.

Quiz, the group I was in didn’t win again.

Looking back up towards Rannoch Moor

Footpath to Beinn Bheag

Loch Leven, towards Kinlochleven

Loch Leven looking towards Ballachulish

Loch Leven

GPS Training 13/10/2018

Carol was in hospital waiting for surgery to repair her failed new fistula graft. Storm Callum and I was on my way to the Lake District after work. On the way I passed a tree that had fallen and squashed a car, miraculously no-one was hurt. Because I had to pass Tebay services, I also had to get out in the teeming rain and buy provisions for the next day. And also because it was a ritual that Chris and I stopped at Tebay whenever we could.

I got to Mosedale End Farm B&B just after 6. It’s beyond Mungrisdale (pronounced mung as in bean and Grizedale as in Grizedale). There is more road beyond the farm but it felt like the end of the line. The farm backs onto Carrock Fell which looms steeply over it. I’d like to return to climb the fell especially as the B&B is fully geared up for walkers with an honesty fridge full of sandwiches and various other snacks, and a boot room.

I rang Carol who had finally had the surgery. After settling in, I drove the 2 km back to Mungrisdale. It was very dark by then and very wet. The Mill Inn was quiet. Chris and I came here back in 2011 but it felt like yesterday despite the weather being totally different. And that time we stopped at Tebay on the way home after summitting Grisedale (with an s) Pike! I had a chicken curry which was fine and some Cumbria Way beer, very good beer. Carol and I came to Bowscale Tarn in 2010 but not the pub.

Back to the B&B to watch Never Say Never Again. And never watch it again either. Twice is too many times.

Good breakfast is somewhat dark and gloomy room. Lots to eat, homemade bread. I had a poached egg and baked beans. JoAnne was a good hostess and let me get on with what I needed to do, i.e. get to the course on time.

It was still raining very heavily but I only had to go the 2km to Mungrisdale Village Hall. There were 6 of us on the course, run by Andy of GPS Training. I’d recently bought a Satmap GPS device and the course was just for Satmap GPS units. Andy was excellent and knew his way round the 3 different models. It was raining so much the river rose during the day so we only went out briefly a couple of times. I can’t fault the training and now feel much more in command of the unit and what it can do. There’s also a year of access to an online resource. Andy has done loads of video resources to answer any possible question you might have!!

I had a short chat with Carol before leaving for home. It had been a good use of my time as she was out of action, but I was nagged by the underlying anxiety of the surgery.

I got home Saturday evening and then broke Carol out the next day. Surgery successful.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
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North Yorkshire September 2018

Tuesday 11th

Carol and I had a few days away, staying at Cundall Lodge Farm B&B. This was a lovely place and Caroline welcomed us with Victoria sponge and tea.

On our first evening we ate at The Oak Tree pub in Helperby, just minutes down the road. Carol had leek tartlets and I had a burger and beer without a bun. Food was fine.

Wednesday 12th

We went to Thirsk and Carol gave her new walking device a good pavement test. Cobbles, paving slabs and bumpy bits to assist blind people at road crossings are not great for it, but tarmac is fine. Despite these obstacles, C moved around well and covered much bigger distances than just using the walking stick. As we went back to the car, 2 women drove their cars into each other. Weirdly a police incident van saw it all happen and was definitely in the right place at the right time to sort it all out. Fortunately the drivers knew each other and it was all relatively friendly. I managed to get my car out of the way of it all.

In the afternoon we went to Shandy Hall in Coxwold, this was fairly bonkers. We thought we might be the only visitors to such a niche place of interest but there were nearly 30 people plus all their cars, for which there isn’t sufficient room. I ended up parking half on and half off the pavement which did not please me at all but I was asked to do this by the curator. The curator of the Laurence Sterne trust also lives in the hall which is named after the character in the book. He clearly loves Sterne a great deal and he gave us a good performance. I looked him up and he was once an actor. Laurence Sterne seemed really irritating and I have no wish at all to read the blasted book. But I still enjoyed looking round the house which was lovely. We both like going to places that aren’t sanitised. Speaking of which they had an outside loo which took me back to my childhood!

After the hall, we went in the church of which the adulterous Sterne had been the incumbent. It has an octagonal tower which was fab. Then, in a new move for us, we sent straight to the Fauconberg Arms for an early dinner (rather than going back to the B&B and out again which is what we usually do). This works much better for me as I don’t like eating late on. Carol had a half portion of fish and chips which still looked pretty big and I had chicken in a hunter sauce. Both fine.

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Laurence Sterne’s outside loo

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Coxwold church

Thursday 13th

In the morning we went to Helmsley, this was much better for Carol moving around with the walking machine because the pavements are made of tarmac.

The afternoon took us to Mount Grace Priory which is operated by English Heritage but owned by the National Trust. It’s a Carthusian priory and the monks had individual cells. In my head I thought this meant something of the size of a prison cell so small, cramped and not very nice but actually it means a house. Each monk had a bedroom, study, sitting room, huge workroom upstairs bigger than my sitting room, a garden and an outside loo.

As I walked down the very narrow, oddly pitched, weird riser height and somewhat polished wooden stairs, complete with a notice saying to go down backwards which I had wilfully ignored, I slipped and in the moment of trying not to fall, managed to hurt my leg, thumb and big toe. The leg and thumb recovered quickly but the big toe, which bent over on itself, is now black and blue.

The manor house was originally the monastery’s guest house but was done up 100 years ago or so in the Arts and Crafts style. There are only a few rooms to see and they’ve been restored very recently so don’t expect too much here.

We then headed to the Angel in Topcliffe, just minutes from the B&B, for our dinner. C had tomato soup and I had goat’s cheese and mediterranean veg tart. OK but not the best pub food.

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Mount Grace priory

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Reconstructed monk’s cell

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Enormous work room for the monk

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Monk’s outside loo

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Manor house

Lakes August 2018

Weds 15th

I got to Monk Coniston early enough to settle in to my room in the cottage and plan my walk for the next day.

HF had sent me a voucher for a free bottle of wine so I made a start on it. Dinner of chicken with Parma ham, a bit tough and then ice cream.

The HF inter house quiz was on and the team I was in won in this house. We each got a cloth bag prize!

Thurs 16th

Breakfast of poached egg and sausage and a croissant.

I drove to the end of Langdale and parked off the road. Rain was on and off. Walked up to Pike of Blisco. Some short scrambling sections. Very windy at the top. Started to go to Cold Pike but retreated because the weather was so unpleasant I wasn’t enjoying myself and it was a long detour. Down via Oxendale, last walked with Chris when we did the ruddy Crinkle Crags.

Back to a hot shower and a local produce dinner. More wine (same bottle). A vegetable soup, a mini Cumberland sausage, salt marsh lamb, very tender, with creamed potato and half a parsnip, a dessert trio of sticky toffee pudding, cold, not my favourite at best of times, Kendal mint cake cheesecake which was nicer than it sounded and a lemon torte which was delicious and which I wished had been my entire dessert.

Chatted with Sally while we nibbled cheese and biscuits.

Went to bed early and fell asleep straight away.

Coniston

This woman is in the garden at Monk Coniston and I had to keep walking past her. Something seems to have slipped a bit…

Fri 17th

Breakfast, surprisingly hungry. Fruit, yoghurt and granola, hash browns, poached egg and beans and toast.

Parked up on road in Coniston. Had no change or inclination to pay £7 in car park.

2.5 hours to reach the summit of Old Man of Coniston. This is another hill I’d done with Chris. Stayed mainly dry on the way up but hideous weather at the top. V poor visibility. Went to Brim Fell but abandoned the idea of a circuit because I couldn’t see enough. Returned to the Old Man for a bit of shelter and met Sally and her 2 friends. They decided to return the way I and they had come up so I tagged along.

Not far down Jenny twisted her knee. She kept going but very slowly. One of the HF groups passed us and advised that we call Mountain Rescue. Sally and I were reaching that view also. I rang 999 and asked for Police Mountain Rescue, a very calm woman took our grid reference and description of where we were. We kept going. After a while the Coniston MR team rang us and said they were on the way, another calm chap who said they could drive up quite a way and they would ring from Crowberry Haws. We kept on. Then hooray, heard a siren. Before long the team of 8 arrived and stretchered Jenny down to their Land Rovers. Sally, Abi and I walked to the Land Rovers. Once the team arrived with Jenny, they unstrapped her and got her into the warm van. Then they all pitched in did fiddly weaving with all the stretcher straps. The team gave the 3 of us a lift down a very bumpy mine track. It was all done extremely efficiently and kindly. An ambulance was waiting for Jenny on arrival at the MR base in Coniston, she was whizzed off for x-rays at Barrow in Furness hospital. Abi went to her home in Coniston. Sally and I were given hot drinks and Mars bars in the MR base.

The weather had deteriorated from about midday. Certainly all my gear (summer showers rating only) was soaked by the time we got back so there had been a real risk of hypothermia at the speed we were going. Fab HF drying room sorting out the wet gear.

Finished off my bottle of wine. Dinner of fresh tomato soup, home made pizza with potato wedges and coleslaw, raspberry creme brulé. I’d originally asked for small portions but after our adventures I was very hungry. I had a half of beer watching a game of skittles! Yes indeed!! I did 10 pin bowling when I was 16 but was terrible at it then so didn’t even try it.

Mine workings

Low Water, not visible at all on our way back down

Cairn on Brim Fell

Hats off to these people

Sat 18th

Sally updated me that Jenny had no broken bones or torn ligaments, muscle damage so that should heal more quickly. She also got a lift home with the doctor who treated her!

After breakfast I went to Windermere and looked at an exhibition about the Windermere Boys (and girls) who were housed briefly in Windermere after leaving the Nazi concentration camps as orphans. An impressive exhibition in the library.

The rain had dropped off and I did think about walking up Lingmoor Fell but decided to go home.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
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Welsh weekend

Friday 29th June

Managed to leave at a sensible time and avoid the worst of the traffic. Stopped at the Welsh food centre farm shop, lovely place, quiet. Had coffee and ice cream in the steamy heat. Arrived Craflwyn Hall at 2.30.

Room in the stables very comfortable with bath robe, slippers and tin of Kendal mint cake. Cut finger on door bolt. Tea and scones at 4, then local walk at 5 to Llyn Dinas. Got chatting to nice family from Canada and USA.

Lager. Listened to walks talk then dinner. More lager. I had roast beef with roast potatoes, veg and Yorkshire pudding. The spuds needed more roasting. Caramel cheesecake pudding was a bit odd but ice cream helped.

Early to bed.

Snowdon horseshoe

Llyn Dinas

At Craflwyn Hall

At Craflwyn Hall

Above the stables

Saturday 30th June

Woke early. I can’t sleep past 5.30 at the moment. Heat and light. Granola, yoghurt and berries, mini croissants, hash brown, beans and poached egg and toast.

Arrived Siabod cafe in Capel Curig to meet Paul, Chris and Rich. Basically out all day practicing navigation skills and Paul said I was fine which is good. He was my ML assessor. Lots of contours.

Near the end of the day I slipped while crossing a very small bit of stream only inches wider than me,  in addition to getting muddy and wet which was ok because so hot, I banged and cut my elbow which is very sore and needs sorting out a bit. Lucky that Rich was an A&E doctor. He and Paul were properly equipped with first aid. I need to update my kit a bit to cater for things of this nature requiring a large dressing.

After we finished I went to Betws y Coed and got ibuprofen from the Spar shop and various dressings from a nice woman in Cotswold Outdoor who raided their first aid kit. I drove straight back to Craflwyn and assembled my supplies including my quite big car first aid box.

Showered and tried to clean the cut which was still dropping blood on the floor fairly copiously but not done well with the cleaning so will need to see a nurse. It hurts and I was a bit in shock when it happened. It doesn’t look much but very sore.

Lager. Sea bass and veg, then ice cream. More lager. Watched people playing games. Elbow still leaking. Have nasty bruise on my hip. And no arnica.

This clumsiness and injury very unlike me. I am rattled by the compulsory redundancies announced by my employer on Thursday less than a year since I was last restructured. Angry too that they have allowed this to happen. Maybe my eye is off the ball.

 

Llynau Mymbyr

Craflwyn Hall

At Craflwyn Hall

Sunday 1st July

Not a great sleep, too hot and all one sided, no thrashing around. Went for a wee in the night and found no water in the taps. Same on waking, it turns out the whole village has no water. I got every bottle I had and it came to 2 litres. Staff managed breakfast and produced tea and coffee from bottled water. No tooth brushing this morning for anyone! Breakfast of granola, berries and yogurt, mini croissant and then haddock with a poached egg on toast.

I drove to Croesor, passed the man mending the water pump at Beddgelert. Set off up Cnicht. Stopped at about 540m as it was getting more scrambly, I was too hot and had lost a bit of confidence after yesterday, I also banged the elbow again and it was very sore . Happy with getting to where I did. Headed back down. Went to cafe in Croesor for ice cream and coffee. Drove off vaguely thinking of ibuprofen gel and arnica and passed a sign saying Minor Injuries Unit. There were about 6 cars in the car park and only 2 people waiting ahead of me. I got seen and puncture wound dressed in under an hour. Got told off for not going yesterday but hard to do that if you don’t know it’s there. Surely I must be too old now to be told off?!

Back to Craflwyn. All water back in action. Shower with cling film over new dressing. Lager x 2. Dinner of lamb kebab, a bit dry, then chicken with mashed spud and veg, ice cream. We had a music quiz in the garden and the team I was in won. We had to identify instruments, then song intros, then film themes and composers. Quite hard. Thunderflies attack. Talked to Henry and Damian about leading for HF over a glass of Penderyn.

Cnicht

View to the sea from Cnicht

Ow!

Monday 2nd July

After a light breakfast I said farewell to my new Canadian/American friends. Stopped a few times to take some photos and then again at Bodnant to pick up some goodies. Very slow journey back home. Straight to the GP which Carol had sorted for me. Got a new waterproof dressing and some strong antibiotics within half an hour. 4 days later I haven’t dared to inspect it….

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

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