2 friends and the coast to coast walk

Blencathra (Saddleback) by gleavem
May 5, 2010, 11:35 am
Filed under: Lake district, weather | Tags: , , , ,

We had a list of peaks we wanted to tackle in the Lakes, but we soon realised that (as always) we weren’t going to manage many of them (there’s just not enough days in a week!).  One of those peaks was Blencathra (meaning the bare hill-top shaped like a chair); sitting away from most other peaks and with such a distinctive profile it held much appeal.  So when we awoke on Thursday to a beautiful bright, sunny day, it seemed that fate was on our side for once.  We drove to Threlkeld, parked up and donned our boots, happy not to have to wear our waterproof trousers again.  We began by heading NE out of Threlkeld, crossing Kilnhow Beck in the process.  Passing through Gategill farm, we soon picked up the path which runs along the wall at the base of Blencathra, which we  followed for a few miles, crossing a few becks and encountering a scramble or two.  We met a chap coming the other way who had turned back as the scramble down at Scaley Beck was too tricky; forewarned, we continued and managed (with some awkwardness) to scramble down and safely cross the beck.  Eventually be began to turn north, heading around Scales Fell to pick up the path towards Scales Tarn. 

Heading up to Blencathra

Let me pause to make a comment about navigation.  At this point in the walk my better half took a look at the map; I’d been navigating up to now, not that it had been very challenging so far.  I was confident about where we were and where we were heading, but Sid jus couldn’t get his head into the map.  He was getting quite frustrated as he just couldn’t connect our surroundings with the features on the map.  This is something I’ve noticed happen before; if you haven’t been navigating from the start you haven’t had time to absorb the map, to get used to the orientation and the features around you, and consequently you can find it difficult to place yourself on the map.  …Lesson: leave the navigation to one person (unless they ask for help), or both use the map throughout the walk. 

Shell by the tarn

Sid checks out the map 3

Back to the walk…  Once again as we climbed to wind increased (Sid in particular hates the wind) and the cloud descended, and so we were forced to decide if Sharp Edge was an appropriate approach on this day.  We got as far as the tarn (why is it that tarns like this have such a special feeling, it’s really quite mystical), sat down to consult th map, have a snack and review our options.  We decide to approach the summit via the alternative path (not on our OS map) from the tarn rather than from Sharp Edge (another time!).  As we climbed we entered the cloud and there was a fair bit of snow on the ground… clearly (ha) we would not be seeing any great views today after all.  There weren’t many people around Blencathra today, but we were joined on the summit by a lone walker who took a lovely pic of us on Blencathra’s rather bleak summit:

Blencathra summit

Our return route took us SW along the ridge and down to Knowe Crags.  Most of the descent was easy-going; we were even chuckling at one particular section where many, many zig zags have been created to make the ascent easier (very easy on the way down).  It was nice to come out of the cloud and see some reasonable views over Keswick.  After a while we cut back SE, encountering some steep, slippery sections, and some worn out moany students and their bored leader, finally we returned to Kilnhow Beck and Threlkeld.  We were so chuffed to have completed this walk (including the summit) and only a little disappointed not to have tackled Sharp Edge.  Overall, highly recommended!


The Mountain with the Shieling by a Ravine by gleavem
April 29, 2010, 11:17 am
Filed under: Lake district, weather | Tags: , ,

Doves Nest

Better known as Glaramara, “the mountain with the shieling (hut) by a ravine” was the first walk of our Easter week in the Lakes.  We spent the week in Doves Nest cottage in Borrowdale, which was a perfect starting point for a trip up Glaramara. 

View from front of cottage 2

The path alongside Combe Gill started practically outside our door and so was very easy to find.  We were soon ascending gently with Combe gill rushing past below us; following a morning of rain the gill was fast and furious.  As we climbed to wind also became fast and furious, with some very strong gusts, making conversation almost impossible without shouting.  We continued up Thornythwaite fell, occasionally (and happily) stumbling upon more sheltered sections of path.  With the wind so strong, and as a we weren’t familiar with the summit we decided not to try to reach the top and instead hoped to find the path down alongside Hind Gill. 

Windy Sid

Now I have a confession to make; for the first time in a long time we sort of got lost, or at least we weren’t confident exactly where we were on the map.  Looking back I think we’d probably reached the gap between Capell crag and Raven crag (maybe a little farther).  As we did so the wind became so strong I could barely stand up… definitely time to turn around!!  I never like having to retrace my steps, but on this occasion we had no choice, as we headed back we kept an eye out for any alternative paths, but none appeared.  Obviously this wasn’t the most successful walk we’ve ever done, but we did get some good views and we did enjoy the part of the walk we managed, and we know Glaramara will be there for another time (and I’m sure we’ll try again on a less windy day).   I guess I should rename this post “Ascent of Thornythwaite Fell”.

View from Thornythwaite fell 2

A Change of Plan by gleavem
March 1, 2010, 6:27 pm
Filed under: exercise, friends, weather | Tags: , , , ,

This Sunday’s walk was meant to be a biggy, both in terms of distance and in terms of people.  The plan was to get 6 of the Yorkshire 3-peakers together to practice walking together over a longish distance around Ditchling and Devils Dyke.  Yet again Sunday started as a miserable day and we lost two walkers before we even left the house.  We consulted the others and opted for a shorter walk near them so we could more easily escape the weather.

The walk started at the pub in Skimmington, where we picked up the Greensand Way, following it to the top of Colley Hill:
View from Colley Hill

We’d all learnt from the previous week and were fully waterproofed-up.  It rained on and off for much of the walk, though the rain was fairly light and we could take our hoods down occasionally.  The ground however was saturated after a week of rain and there were massive puddles and lots of mud everywhere:
Very wet path

Folly ceiling

We walked along the ridge, passing a beautiful folly and a victorian water tower, before joining the North Downs Way for a while.  This section passed through some lovely woodland and we’d love to walk here again on a sunny day.  Turning south to Buckland we began to head back to Skimmington and our pub lunch (delicious and very welcome).  In the end the rain eased off and we had a thoroughly enjoyable and varied walk, despite the mud (route).
On the bridge

What a Wet Walk! by gleavem
February 23, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: friends, training, weather | Tags: , , ,

Saturday was a glorious day here in the south east; wonderfully sunny and mild, I was even driving with the window down. It seemed spring had arrived!  Unfortunately we went for a walk on Sunday, which was cloudy, grey and very wet!

We met our good friends Dan and Hatti at a parking spot near Flimwell in Kent, ready for a walk which would take in Bewl water and Bedgebury forest.  We had our waterproofs and boots (although only Dan was wise enough to bring his waterproof trousers), so we headed out into the weather.  Why did we choose to walk here?…simply because it was about half way between us and our friends and looked interesting on the map.

As we headed towards and around Bewl water it rained and rained and rained, and was very wet underfoot.  It was a relief anytime we entered a wooded area as the trees did offer a little shelter.  After a couple of hours we passed a Little Chef, we stopped in for the loo and ended up staying for hot chocolate and toast.  To be honest the little chef is not our normal tea break spot whilst walking, and I wouldn’t necesarily choose it again (since it cost us £20!) but it was there and we were wet and cold.  Of course once we stopped, so did the rain, and some rays of sunshine were even spotted through the window.

Refreshed and somewhat drier, we headed out to relish walking with our hoods down for a while, a feat we managed for almost an hour I think.  We meandered through Cats wood (getting slightly off course) and through a free range chicken farm, then the rain returned, heavier and wetter.  Consequently we didn’t wander around Bedgebury as much as we might have liked, instead deciding to return to the car and find ourselves some lunch.

This was another nice walk, and would obviously be lovely on a sunny (or at least dry) day.  It wasn’t particularly hilly, so that’s something we’ll be looking for in next weeks walk. There are practically no pics to go with this walk as it was just too wet and all views were shrouded in cloud and mist, but here’s one:

And here’s the route.  It’s not 100% accurate but you get the idea.

North Downs Way 1 by gleavem
February 17, 2010, 10:30 pm
Filed under: training, weather | Tags: , ,

The North Downs Way
For our first proper walk of 2010 we headed to the Kent section of the North Downs Way.  We decided to start from Chilham (a really pretty village) and follow the North Downs Way to Wye (another pretty, sleepy village), returning by train.

On the way to Chilham the weather was looking good – plenty of winter sunshine between fluffy broken clouds, however by the time we arrived the area was covered in a thick blanket of cloud.  As I’m sure many of you have heard or seen, Kent had quite a dumping of snow last week, consequently our route was a mixture of snow, frosty puddles and slippy or slushy mud.

This was a very nice walk; lots of variety, with forest paths, open fields and quiet country lanes along the way.  We didn’t see many people along the way; a few dog walkers, a few cyclists and a chap feeding his horse.  There were a few gentle inclines to get our legs going, and lots of nice views to over the snowy Kentish downs as a bonus.

Here’s a link to the route and here’s a few pics:
Start of walk photoSnowy pathSnowy vista

The Crisp Packet Walk by gleavem
January 12, 2009, 5:31 pm
Filed under: exercise, post walk walk, weather | Tags: , , ,

We awoke to a beautiful morning; sunny, fresh, a little frosty, but not quite as cold as it has been; just the weather we’d been hoping for, and perfect for our first walk of 2009.  We hopped in the car and headed for Kearsney near Dover.  Looking at the map we felt the best option for parking was Kearsney Abbey, which is happily well sign-posted, so we got there without a hitch.  After changing into our boots and taking a few pics we set off towards Sherherdswell (about 10am).

Me very close to falling overAs seems to be all too often the case, the walk started with a long incline.  I suppose at least it warmed us up and got our legs moving.  We skirted the edge of some woods, following a good clear track most of the way.  I skipped ahead to get a snap of Sid on the frosty path and managed to catch him just has he slipped – what timing!

After a couple of miles we turned north, passing through fields and woods before descending briefly into Lydden.  It was as we were leaving Lydden that we encountered some rather unusual sheep (in our experience anyway).  Rather than running away, these sheep approached us persistently, we’re not sure whether it was friendliness, hunger or they were protecting their territory. Either way, we didn’t hang around long as all we had to offer was fruit.

We ascended fairly steeply out of Lydden, skirted the edge of a rather awkward hole, and headed for the A2.  On the way we passed over Lydden tunnel, housing the railway. There was something quite cool about knowing that somewhere far beneath us there might be a train, we also spotted the air shafts.  Happily the A2 was easy to cross on a Sunday morning and just a mile later we reached our planned lunch stop; Shepherdswell (or Sibertswold?).  Arriving outside the Bell at about 12:05pm we were devastated to see no signs of life despite the sign saying they opened at 12!  Eager for food, we headed down the hill to the other pub in Shepherdswell, the Cricketers.  However, it turns out they don’t serve food, so in desperation we picked up some provisions from the Co-op before heading back to the Bell for one last check.  We were very happy to see it had opened in the mean-time so we headed in for our lunch.  We’d planned on having a light lunch as we were having home-made curry for tea, but their Sunday menu was all big meals, oh well… Two roast beef dinners and a beer later we re-donned our muddy boots and headed back out into the sunshine.

Tres Muddy bootsFrom Shepherdswell we joined the North Downs Way for a while, this was where the mud really began. Some of the fields we’d crossed thus far had been quite claggy, but in the second half of the walk the mud took on a whole new character.  Due to the cold weather the ground everywhere was pretty hard underfoot, but thanks to the milder weather today, the frosty top layer had thawed to leave a slippy, slimy surface which made every step move underneath us and coated our boots in a very thick layer of “clag” so that they became incredibly heavy!  The only highlight of this section was a mysterious tower near Waldershare Park, which really captured our attention, we just couldn’t figure out what it was!  When we got home we did a spot of Googling and found out that it’s called the Belvedere tower, built in the 18th century for no particular purpose other than as a garden feature from which to admire the view (big feature!).

Cool Building 2

After Walderhsare House we turned South to head back to Kearsney and were confronted by a sharp wind and more claggy fields.  This section was really hard going and tiring thanks to the combination of wind (Sid’s least favurite weather) and mud. It was a great relief to reach Singledge Lane for a little easy road walking and to bash the mud off our boots!

One more muddy field, then it was back across the A2 (or rather under it) to a steady descent into Kearsney by way of a pleasant woody path.  We easily found our way back to the car and were very happy to remove our mucky boots and pop into the tea rooms for a nice hot drink (a very pretty and ornate tea rooms by the way!).
Overall this was a very nice walk (despite the clag), which would be even lovelier on a spring or summers day. There were some nice views, a good variety of paths & surroundings, some points of interest and a couple of options for breaks (Lydden also had a couple of pubs).

Windy Lyminge by gleavem
August 11, 2008, 12:44 pm
Filed under: exercise, training, weather | Tags: , ,

Yesterday was our final training walk before we begin the C2C.  We plotted a circular route from Lyminge, via Stowting, Rhodes Minnis and Elham. It’s a lovely area we’ve walked in once before (Barham-Elham Circular), its got some hills (by Kentish standards anyway), nice scenery and plenty of little village pubs for lunch or refreshment! The only down side to this walk was the wind, and as Sid reminded me frequently, he HATES WIND!

We started by taking the Elham Valley Way (EVW) south out of Lyminge, until we met the North Dows Way (NDW) at Swingfield radio station.  We than followed the NDW past Postling, through some very undulating access land to Hempton farm.  From here we continued on the NDW to Stowting, where we had a delicious lunch (NB: Sid is never again to have Lasagne whilst walking) at the Tiger Inn.  Taking a small path north out of Stowting we passed some noisy nosey geese and encountered our first major navigational challenge. 

Let me pause here to fill you in a little on a recent purchase: Pete Hawkins’ book on map and compass skills. I’ve just finished reading it and Sid is nearly at the end, all I can say is why oh why didn’t we read this years ago!  Those of you who are regular readers will knpw that we often face some navigational challenges, and don’t quite know exactly where we are at all times…well not any more!  As well as being our last training walk, this was our chance to try out our newly learnt navigational skills; we made a route card, we took bearings, we adjusted for magnetic variation, we took back bearings, we “ticked off” and consequently we didn’t get lost!!

To continue the story we came into a field of broad beans; the path through them strted on roughly the right bearing, but fizzled out to nothing about half way across the field.  Surrouded by above head-heigh beans, we were forced to forge our own path to the boundary! On exiting the field we were obviosuly unsure whether it was us of the field that was in the wrong; by a couple of bearings soon told us that we were where we should have been but the path was missing! 

Anyway, we continued up Stowting Hill (a bit of a slog after lunch) to reach Highfields farm, where we headed east through the woods to Rhodes Minnis and onwards to Elham. After a refreshing diet coke, we rejoined the EVW for a plesant low-level stroll back to Lyminge.

Highlights of this walk: lots of friendly dogs, good views, nice lunch & our superb navigational skills!