Fri
May
07

2010

...and on to 2010

Well it all started with a walk………..

A sunny day on High Street And as you know not just any old walk, we did invite you along for our honeymoon (even if it was only virtually)!
Having met over 15 years ago and fallen in love with not just each other but with the great outdoors and more importantly distance walking too, it seemed only fitting that we should celebrate our union by doing a walk for our honeymoon. Not just a walk in the park at that, it had to be something fun and a wee bit challenging. What better way to start our new lives together than completing the 200 miles of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route from St Bees Head on the coast of Cumbria, to Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire coast. We could even boast that it also involved climbing the equivalent of 10,000 metres (that’s higher than Everest) in less than a fortnight – wow. To add to the challenge, we decided to write a blog of the fun and frolics on the route and send it back via a smart phone – (If you want to read more about our exploits on this journey take a look further down our blog). Don’t ahh & ooh too much though it was a 200 mile pub crawl after all!!!

However, we can be forgiven a wee bit – we did raise over £4600 for our two chosen charities; Christie Hospital and Bolton Women’s Aid so that’s good eh?.
Did we stop there I hear you ask, don’t be daft of course we didn’t. We have been lucky enough to get out end enjoy many, many more walks (even after a pretty fraught 18 months). These have included the Pendle Bowland challenge for last years 1st anniversary and are about to set out on the West Highland Way. At only 95 miles, in a week it should be a nice stroll – oh and it goes near to Ste’s favourite Whisky Distillery (at Glengoyne), I wondered why he was so keen on this walk!! Thanks here must definitely go to Dougie at Make Tracks , he really pulled out all the stops to get us into overnight stays along the route even though (as those of you who know us will agree) we were on the last minute yet again in organising the trip -.
And now for the begging/serious bit – Although we are not actively seeking sponsorship this time around, so no threats of “give us your money or else we send the boys round” – we would like to do a little something. So should any of you, our blog readers, ‘enjoy’ our radom riley ramblings (we promise no more offside rules on Mornington pheasant), if you would like to give a little something to St Anne’s Hospice, Greater Manchester then please take a look at the link.

Many of our more stalwart blog followers will be aware that following on from my Mum’s Cancer treatment at the Christie Hospital Manchester, we have come into contact with so many people who are affected by Cancer (relatives and sufferers alike) and for many of those people the only hope on offer is the respite provided by Special places such as St Anne’s Hospice, so do give a little something if you can – oh & keep on sending us your comments please.

Luv Ste & Steffi

Thu
Jan
14

2010

2009 Part One

Continuing my record of being completely rubbish at keeping an up-to-date blog, I thought it time that I typed something to cheer up a snowy dull day in Bolton.

Last year was definitely one we need to forget. Prepare yourselves for a moan…………….

It was a year of morphine taking for Steff, along with CAT scans, MRI scans and Endoscopies. This ended up with one consultant saying she’d be in a wheelchair before too long and another saying that’s a bit over-dramatic. The net result of all these scans? Well some of her intervertebral disks are collapsing and wearing away to the width of a Rizla paper. Incredibly painful and it is likely stay that way until the vertebrae fuse together, at which point it’ll be merely painful.
What else? Steff’s mum had two strokes at the beginning of the year then had a fall at the end of the year and broke her hip, which involved lots of driving for us to and from Royal Preston Hospital and nine weeks in hospital and Intermediate care. Happily she is recovering very well and getting back to her cheerful self (which really means back to moaning about everything and everyone).
Then it was my turn. I went blind in one eye. To cut a long story short, after an MRI scan of my own, I have now been warned that the diagnosis could well be a mild attack of MS – yet to be verified by a lumbar puncture. Oh and in amongst all of this I broke my nose falling headfirst into the tow-hitch on our caravan (yes you read it right folks we’ve gone and got all grown-up and purchased the arch enemy of most level headed drivers – but that tale’s for another day).

So you would think that we haven’t had the time to do very much.

Well actually…

As advertised in the last blog, for our 1st anniversary we went for a walk around Pendle and the Trough of Bowland.
Having carefully plotted out the route on Anquet, we managed to find and book B&B’s and hotels at all the places we wanted without too many detours and extra miles. Next job was to print off and laminate all the maps and download the route onto my GPS (if you would like a copy of the Anquet ADF file, go to the contacts page and get in touch).
We began our little expedition at the Mytton Fold Hotel in Langho. The staff there were all lovely, the food was great, the rooms were comfy and best of all, they didn’t mind us leaving the car while we went wandering off on foot. We could have played a round of golf had we wanted to (but as her in doors is apt to say “what a way to spoil a good walk”).

Day One. Langho to Holden. 19 Miles.
After a nice leisurely breakfast, we set off from the hotel shortly after 10 am. Heading out through Billington and Whalley, up through the golf club and on towards the Nick of Pendle, we continued up to the Pendle Hill trig point. Steff found lots of sheep to talk to, including the occasional lamb, one of which wanted to suckle her finger. Awww (yes she does have Dr Doolittle tendencies!).
The higher we got, the stronger the wind blew. On the tops it really got a good blow going, so we tucked in behind a wall for shelter while we ate our oversized lunch bag. As we started off again, aiming to pass the huge cairn commemorating the centenary of Scouting (did you know that the scouting movement was 100 years old on the 1st August 2007? Me neither), it started to rain and got heavier and heavier as we headed downhill towards Worston. Here we met a bunch of girls who looked like they were out practising for their Duke of Edinburgh awards. They were really bedraggled and only had a soggy tent to look forward to. Whilst we had no such worries, we were aiming for the small hamlet of Holden and the Copy Nook Hotel. As we left the dripping, moaning DoE girls behind and went past Downham, the clouds parted and the sun started to shine again which dried us out nicely. Following an overgrown track brought us out at the ruined Abbey at Sawley – this was an unexpected treat, though it needed a spot of renovation. Arriving at the hotel at around 5 pm brought something neither of us is used to. It was shut and we had to bang on the door to attract their attention before we got our traditional beer. After 7 hours of walking, that pint tasted fantastic.

I reckon we are onto a good thing with this walk – again the welcome was warm, the food was excellent and the rooms really comfy.

Day Two. Holden to Dunsop Bridge. 18.5 miles.
Another late and somewhat leisurely breakfast set us up for the next days walk (you might spot a pattern emerging here).
Our first target was straight up the hill towards Grindleton Fell. This takes you through a place called Shivering Ginnel. Great name – I guess it’s from when there was a cutting through the trees at this point – for Southerners and other non-Brits, a ginnel is a gap between two buildings. I can’t think of a good reason for it to be shivering though. At the top of the hill, we walked past two piles of stones called “The Wife” and “Old Ned”. Feel free to make something up here.
Another couple of miles took us into Slaidburn where we stopped for a nice long lunch break. It made a pleasant change to be sitting on a bench instead of on wet grass, tucked behind a wall. I don’t think too many people wander through there in full walking regalia, as we got quite a few stares (the ducks were happy though as Steffers in her Dr Doolittle role was keen to extend the hand of friendship – well share her lunch with them!!).
Next was the real hard part – the slog up Dunsop Fell. It’s only 4 miles or so, but it seemed to me to go on for ever, with plenty of ‘false’ summits. Unfortunately for me, Steff just hops and skips her way up and makes it look so easy. I’m sure she must defy gravity or something. Turning left at Whitendale takes you onto the main, if very very muddy, footpath across the tops of the fell.
At Foot Holme we had intended to follow the eastern bank of the river Dunsop down into Dunsop Bridge. However, a Police warning sign greeted us saying the path was closed. Not a real problem as there is a perfectly good road down the other side, but it left us wondering why. On arriving at our next overnight stop, Root House at half 5, we found out just why it’s not a good idea to ignore this warning. Apparently a pair of Eagle owls have taken up residence somewhere down the path and their natural territorial tendency has had them attacking anyone and anything that strays into ‘their’ area, people and dogs included!
The only thing – and I mean the ONLY thing – wrong with this B&B is that it doesn’t have a bar (the tradition therefore, had to wait a short while!!). What it does have though, is a fantastically friendly couple running it. They had already let us drop off a posh change of clothes before we set off on the walk. So after a glorious fragrant bath and donning our ‘posh garbs’, the owner then drove us the couple of miles down the road to the Inn at Whitewell for a fab anniversary meal. The Inn even gave us a bottle of Champagne to celebrate! – how good are they? In a happy and slightly intoxicated mood, we were duly picked up and taken back to the farm house for a lovely nights sleep.

Day Three. Dunsop Bridge to Chipping. 12.5 Miles.
A seriously late get up today – nearly lunchtime! No, it wasn’t a hangover, pills can take longer to work on some days than others. But the weather?? It was fantastic!
We set off at a fair lick up the side of a sunny, sparkly Langden Brook. After passing the Mountain Rescue Centre we continued on up to Sykes Fell. The route here takes you past Langden Castle, but I would challenge anyone to actually find it (there you go, over to you). From this point the track climbs up the hill towards Fiendsdale Head. As it was still pretty windy on the heights, before we got too high, we found a great sheltered spot for lunch – a warm and sunny little gap in the gorse and heather where we could watch the LBOPS and ground nesters fly past. The lovely people from Root House had done us proud with our lunch bags and we were quite well stuffed before we headed off and up into the wind.
The views today were brilliant. With the rain a couple of days before and the wind stirring everything up, the horizon was crystal clear. We could see for miles and miles from the top of Wolf Fell and even while we were descending Saddle Fell.
As it was approaching 5:30, we controlled ourselves and didn’t stop at a pub in the lovely village of Chipping. We even managed to avoid going into the Cobble Corner Café on our way through, simply aiming for the very posh and thoroughly expensive Gibbon Bridge Hotel. The bar was, of course, open – time for tradition.
A word here on the Gibbon Bridge. I’m sure that if you turn up there in a nice car wearing nice clothes, you will be treated like royalty. If like us, you turn up wearing muddy boots and a rucksack with your gear in it, well, once you get past the lovely lady on reception – and she really was lovely – and the friendly chap behind the bar, you’ll find yourself doing battle with The Restaurant. Oh dear, we were put as far from the others as possible as though we might pass something on (like you can catch the Paramo disease!!). They do have a website so feel free to Google it (other search engines are available), but I can’t be bothered putting the hyperlink on a walking blog, suffice to say we won’t be going there again. Okay, the food was excellent and our room enormous, but what let it down was the service.

Day Four. Chipping back to the car at Langho. 12 Miles.
Having had yet another attack of The Restaurant blues over breakfast (same bloke, same attitude – yes we got the Siberia table), we set off on the last leg back to the car.
Now, I had expected that the views from the top of Longridge Fell would be the highlight of the day, but no! Walking through the valley towards the River Hodder was absolutely superb. Again we had a yet another sunny day to compliment the last leg of our walk, even the wind was far calmer now that we had descended from the fell tops. Steff found some more sheep to talk to (nothing new there then I hear you say). With such beautiful scenery, oh and great company – ouch Steff’s just thumped me, it makes walking an absolute pleasure and worth all the hard work.
The climb up the side of Longridge Fell showed me just how much extra training I should have attempted before we set off. My legs were like lumps of lead, my heart was banging away like a timpani and my chest was trying to explode. I was really thankful when we got to the top. As expected, the view was spectacular, it was just a lot noisier than I would have liked until my chest finally calmed down. I must make an effort to lose some weight.
From the top of Longridge, we could see much of where we had walked over the past few days; Pendle Hill, Sawley, Fair Snape, each one standing out as a reminder.
On our way down the other side, we were tempted by the great views of the lush and green Ribble Valley coming towards us. Here we stopped for a quick chat with a couple who were perched on a wall eating their lunch. It was ever so nice of them as they offered to take a photograph of us – we don’t have too many photos of the two of us walking together (it’s usually Steff’s backside as she runs on ahead or me leaning on a gate, post, fence etc whilst I catch my breath), so it’s nice to have this memento.
Continuing on through Hurst Green we stopped at a lovely little pub for a beer while we ate our lunch in the garden in the sunshine – lovely.
From the pub, the road took us down to the River Ribble as it meanders its way through the valley. It really is a very pretty river with stunning countryside surrounding it. There is a National Trail that follows the river up to its source – the Ribble Valley Way – I’m sure we’ll do this 73 mile, or so, route on one anniversary or another.
Crossing the magnificent suspension bridge took us to within a spit of the finish. However, that’s way too simple and would cut the walk far too short and miss out on some pretty and very scenic views. So we carried on around the north of Old Langho, going past Hacking Hall and turning away from the Ribble at the sewerage works (see I told you it was scenic). After following the path up through Lower Elker we finally re-crossed the slightly hazardous and very busy A59 – a shock to the system having only seen minor roads for 60 miles. A short climb up through farm fields brought us back to where we started at Mytton Fold. Both feeling elated at our achievement, if a teeny bit sad that it was all over. Here we were finally re-united with the car.
Is it me or do most people feel slightly odd getting back behind the steering wheel after 4 days continuous walking? Feel free to leave us a comment.
Well what a super walk – it really should be in everyone’s book of long distance walks. 62 miles, 4 days, FANTASTIC. I want to do it all again, in the snow, now.

- Steve (Steffi says hi as well).

Thu
Apr
02

2009

Long Time, No Blog

Well I have been really rubbish at keeping the blog up to date. It has been a bit manic at work and I haven’t found time to do very much else during the day. It pays the bills though.

In fact we have done lots and lots of walking. After the agonies of the C2C, I now have a new pair of Raichle boots which are the comfiest bits of rubber and leather imaginable. I have also been to see a Podiatrist, who spent literally minutes looking at my feet and has given me (Yes! Given! NHS is a brilliant thing) some insoles that are way, way better than the ones I have spent the better part of £150 on over the years.

Overlooking Auxerre
We have also been to France. About 6 miles south of Auxerre in Burgundy country is a converted Dove Cote attached to a genuine wine making estate. Look them up –
Domaine Borgnat. You can see the dove cote to one side of the courtyard on their web page background.
We often buy a few boxes of wine while away touring around France (no surprise there then I hear you say!!). When we get back to the UK we drink it and realize that without the context of the local food and ambiance, it tastes like shi… sorry mum …terrible. Their wine still tastes really, really nice.
And we’ve run out. Damn – good excuse to go back again according to Steffi.

This was a brilliant place for walking. We covered well over a hundred miles in the fortnight, barely using the same bit of footpath twice. The villages are quite stunning. Many of them have a bar in them for a quick Perrier (hahahaha), though few do food! We always used to rely on a small bar in the middle of nowhere to knock up a Croque Monsieur/Madame, but not any more. If you don’t mind crisps for lunch you are okay. Otherwise, do what we do and pack a bottle of wine, decanted into a couple of lightweight water bottles, a pile of cheese, pate and a baguette. Perfect.
You must try a drink called Desperados though. The first time you try it, it tastes a little like shandy, but then you find yourself slurring your words and you quickly realize it is nearly 6% alcohol – very refreshing though.

There are lots and lots of big, little and small birds of prey (BBOP, LBOP and SBOP) around. If you have read previous blog entries you will know that my knowledge of birds barely stretches to spotting the difference between a pigeon and, well, anything else so recognizing the difference between a BBOP and an LBOP is pretty good for me.

As we wandered around the vineyards we could smell the pong of wild boar. We didn’t see any this year; last year we were in the Languedoc region and saw a few snuffling away to themselves – along with a whole bunch of butch blokes in fluorescent tabards taking pot shots at them.


Christmas came and went in a blink. With New Year though, we went camping near Canterbury. Now that was a tad chilly. It got down to minus 6. So, it was time to go shopping. Given such an excellent excuse for buying a new sleeping bag and extra thick Thermarest, I can now go down to -20, admittedly I would have to wear all my clothes. And probably still have a bit of a shiver going on. But I was wonderfully comfortable. In case you are wondering, Steffi already has a comfy, over-the-top-of-the-range sleeping bag, so she was fine.

So what’s next? Well a few years ago, a chap called John Dixon came up with a challenge walk in the Trough of Bowland; he called it The Bowland-Pendle Challenge Trail. Not to be confused with the Bowland Challenge, organised by the Bowland Pennine MRT, this one is supposed to be 46 miles done in 24 hours. Steffi’s ill at the moment, but knowing that it is irrelevant whether she gets better or not (anyone who knows Steff will understand); we thought we would break it up into a 4 day walk. This turns out to be nearer 60 miles, because of the inconvenient places they build B&Bs and hotels these days.
Day 1 is the longest day at 18 miles. It starts in Langho, goes over Pendle Hill, through Worston, Downham and Sawley; ending up in Bolton-By-Bowland our first night.
Day 2 is a little over 16 miles and takes us up through Slaidburn heading west over the moors (we might even be able to spot some chess playing grouse again or branch out into Mornington Pheasant) we go over Dunsop Fell up to Whitendale and down by the River Dunsop to Dunsop Bridge.
Day 3 is a nice and relaxing day at 12 miles. We first go back up onto the moors and travel south over Sykes, Holme House, Wolf and Saddle Fells for the final overnight in Chipping.
Day 4 is the shortest at only 11 miles. The highlight of the day should be the view from the top of Longridge fell, before getting back to the car in Langho.

If all goes well, look forward to a full report on where we stayed and how we got on when we return.

- Steve.

Thu
Jul
31

2008

Kirkby Lonsdale

Just inside the border of Cumbria from Lancashire, Kirkby Lonsdale is a most beautiful place to visit. If you want pot holes, it’s spelunking heaven.
It’s also a very popular place for bikers to visit. It’s always a very colorful, shiny and noisy collection; and that’s just the bikers. The 998 FireNinja’s are fabulous things to look at and I’m quite sure they are utterly brilliant to ride. Not wanting to be the next kidney donor we drove past them towards Casterton, to park for free.
There are plenty of very clear footpaths around the area, so navigation is an absolute doddle. The only difficulty is in choosing the direction to walk. Do you walk through incredible scenery, or would you prefer incredible scenery?
Needless to say, we chose incredible scenery. We decided to work our way around Barbon Low Fell, past Bullpot farm with a very clearly advertised Emergency Telephone, through Leck and down as far as Overtown before heading back to the car – around 13 miles.

Soon after we started up the hill towards the tops, we spotted an enormous bird sat on the end of a wall. It was shouting it’s head off at something. I’m not very good at bird spotting, so if there are any budding Bill Oddies/Kate Humbles (delete as applicable) reading this, it was obviously a bird of prey with wide blunt wings and a whistle that goes peeeeoooooooooooo.

The only people we saw the whole time were stood chatting outside the Bullpot farm. The reason for the ‘phone is quite obvious; at the side of it is a chalk board with the names of some of the pot holes. It must be very well visited as a couple of names of parties were still written up. Rather them than me. The two blokes were both as skinny as rakes. I think I would love to go down one of these holes, but my rotund self would probably get stuck trying to get out again.
Steffi reading a map!
Just around here Steff took over navigating! This doesn’t happen very often, though I do try to encourage it. I generally get the blame for getting us lost. Unfortunately, I was unable to get my own back.
Ease Gill
As we got towards a dried up river valley called Ease Gill, the path split. I obviously said “Go that way”, so we did and it was the wrong one. Steff, of course, wanted the other way, so after we found the partly hidden step-ladder style in the bottom right hand corner of the field, we were back on our way. I’m sure the stream would have been bursting during the winter, but today it was completely bone-dry. It also took sharp-eyed Steffers to spot the footpath going it’s way up the other side of the valley.
From here we followed Leck Beck. I am sure that with time I could come up with a limerick to celebrate this river, but for now, I’ll leave it up to you. We went through the lovely village of Leck (didn’t expect that name did you?) and over the A65 towards Overtown.
Turning right at Overtown, takes you back up to a large pub at the side of the A65. Parked outside were 8 or a dozen Ford Model Ts. If anyone else is car geeky enough, they know that the Model T is celebrating it’s centenary this year.
From here it was back up to High Casterton and the car, followed by a customary pint in a pub. Then home for a shower – phew what a scorcher.

- Steve.

Tue
Jul
15

2008

High Security at Castle Howard

We spent last weekend at a campsite in Slingsby. It’s a really nice, quiet Camping and Caravanning Club site a few miles north of York with clean loos and showers. Not what you would find at, say, Glastonbury or the V Festival.
On the way there, we were held up by going home time traffic, car crashes and a Meat Loaf rock concert at Castle Howard. 3 hours to drive 100 miles! It was rubbish.
Happily, we have a tent that goes up in less than 10 minutes, so while drinking our traditional beer we were in and eating our dinner in no time.

After a wonderful nights sleep, we got up at the crack of 10:30 for bacon butties and got away for a long walk around Castle Howard.
Steve in a wheat field
All around this area is arable land stuffed full of wheat, barley and beans. In a blatant attempt to get more photo’s of me on the Internet, I can’t resist showing me walking through a wheat field.

So what was the point of telling of our drive up to Slingsby? The clue was Meat Loaf. It turns out that he, Boyzone (uhg!) and Katie Melua were all performing over the weekend and the place was swarming with security guards.
I had plotted a 17 mile route right around the grounds of Castle Howard. It really is a delightful place to wander with some fabulous views. At one point, though, we ran into a security guard at an entrance to the castle grounds and he made the mistake of telling us we couldn’t walk along the public footpaths.
Now, I have tried telling Steff that she can’t do things before and it isn’t a healthy option. I was dead proud of her. She started asking him if they had arranged for planning permission to shut the paths. Answer – “Yes”. Then she asked where the signs where showing that they were temporarily shut. Answer – “Errm”. And what, may she ask, were they doing about diverting us away from our legal Right Of Way?
At this point, the poor chap had had quite enough and got onto his walkie talkie. He obviously hadn’t been briefed properly because his boss made it quite clear that we should be allowed to carry on.

The moral to this tale is never, ever, believe a chap with a yellow high-viz jacket who tells you that you are not allowed to walk along a public footpath.

All together a great weekend and a long walk.

- Steve.