Days Like These, No 9: Clearing the Mind on the Cluanie Ridge

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THERE are mornings I wake up with a head full of heaviness and pull the flysheet back to reveal an outside world full of more heaviness. Today is one of those mornings. Fog fills Strath Croe. Trees drip drumbeats of moisture on a wet tent. Sounds are muffled. Clothes are cold and damp. The last thing I feel like doing is rolling out of a warm sleeping bag and pushing feet into stiff boots. But a spark glowing in the recesses of the mind tells me that above this grey and smothered world there is another world of pure sunlight and expansive skies. So I pull on the damp clothes and stiff boots and drive slowly south along Glen Shiel to the banks of Loch Cluanie, where the world is still grey and smothered. But that’s life . . . Continue reading

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Posted in Camping, Climbing, Drove roads, Environment, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

What Does Adventure Mean to You?

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DO you work in a factory, an office, a shop, or drive a company van? Are you a member of parliament, unemployed, a doctor, a refuse collector, a teacher or the chief executive officer of a multi-national corporation? Maybe you fix washing machines, collect taxes, build homes, trawl for fish, deliver mail or paint white lines on roads. It doesn’t really matter . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Environment, Hiking, Mountains, Mourne Wall, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Lindisfarne – A Pilgrim’s Progress

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THERE are not many walks in Britain best undertaken barefoot – but crossing the two-and-a-half miles of mudflats to the island of Lindisfarne is one of them. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and today I have the chance. Not only is this a walk through mud, it’s a walk through turbulent history that transformed the English and their beliefs. And it comes with the added thrill that if you tarry too long or miscalculate the tides the North Sea will sweep in and claim you . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, History, Legends, Life, Religion, Ruins, Shipping Forecast, Vikings, Walking, Weather, York | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

Days Like This, No 8: The Five Sisters of Kintail

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I HITCH a ride from Shiel Bridge along Glen Shiel. I used to do a lot of hitching but times and attitudes change. People are more wary of strangers these days. Everyone is less communicative. But what the heck. The sky is flawless blue and the sun burning savagely. My driver is a friendly chap from Fort William who is happy to drop me off in a lay-by beneath Bealach an Lapain. From here the only way is up . . . Continue reading

Posted in Beer, Camping, Climbing, Environment, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Cross Fell – Fiends, Rivers, Paths and Poets

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EVERY now and then a man should retrace his steps over known ground. It’s good exercise for the mind as well as the legs and heart. It dislodges memories and taps into deep seams. That’s why I’m revisiting Cross Fell, which at 893 metres (2,930ft) is the highest peak in the Pennines. It’s also the bleakest – but that’s just my opinion . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Ghosts, Hiking, History, Legends, Life, Mountains, Pennine Way, Poetry, Railway goods wagons, Railways, Religion, Rivers, Teesdale, Teesside, Tyneside, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Old Roads, a Fallen Lady, St Jude and Thoughts for the Day

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I HAVE a theory that the more uninspiring a walking route appears on a map, the more interesting it will turn out to be. This complements another theory of mine that the more eager you are to reach a certain goal, the greater your chance of being diverted by something unforeseen that will turn out to be more fascinating. These theories certainly prove accurate in the Durham Dales . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Death, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Life, Mountains, Religion, Rivers, Ruins, Teesdale, Teesside, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Scaud Hill and Beyond – At My Leisure

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ONCE we’re under way with this post and built up some momentum I’m going to tell you about Mr Ramsey. That’s Gordon Arthur Ramsey. Not the chef with the bad attitude. Another bloke. Anyway, the air feels like spring this morning. I’ve parked the car at the side of the B6277 near the head of Teesdale, County Durham, next to the mouth of an old lead mine at Ashgill Head. I like it up here. There’s a sense of openness and wildness. This is beautiful country but little frequented. There are a few whitewashed farms, almost as many Methodist chapels, and lots of ruined buildings – an indication that the population was once far greater than it is today. Life has passed through Teesdale in magnificent cycles, the same as it does in most places. Only we don’t always notice things spinning . . . Continue reading

Posted in Caving, Childhood, Environment, Hiking, History, horse gins, Industrial archaeology, Life, Mountains, Newsquest, Northern Echo, Politics, Ranting, Redundancy, Ruins, Second World War, Unemployment, Walking | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments