Green Hurth: Where the Big Wheel Turns

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TODAY I have a mission. This is no ordinary walk into the Pennine hills. This is a voyage of discovery to a lonely place where ingenious and industrious men built wondrous machines. And ingenious men they certainly were. The Brunels, the Stephensons, Telford and Trevithick might well have hogged industrial revolution glory and claimed immortality. But the unknown men of Green Hurth were no less inventive and ambitious. It’s just that their legacy has all but vanished from the face of the earth . . . Continue reading

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Posted in Archaeology, Environment, Explosives, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Ruins, Teesdale, Teesside, Walking, Waterwheels | Tagged , , , , , | 41 Comments

The Environment is Positively Charged


WHEN you’ve sat for a hundred miles in the passenger seat of an Austin Maxi 1500 listening to Tony Blackburn on Radio 1 there aren’t many things left to keep you occupied – so you stick your instamatic camera out of the window and take random photographs. My mate, Pete, who is driving, is concerned about the oil leaking from the engine of his father’s car and ignores small talk. Also, he’s preoccupied with moving into student accommodation at Birmingham University, which is where we are heading. I’ve never been to Birmingham and I’m looking forward to my very first proper curry. We’ve stopped three times on the M6 to top up the engine oil and now we’re in the Midlands. This is a new world to me. It’s all very modern-looking. Click goes the camera. And I capture the image at the top of this post . . . Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Hiking, Industrial archaeology, Life, Mountains, Ranting, Windmills | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Days Like This, No 10: Peaking on the Three Peaks

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WHEN you walk 24 miles (39km) in one day the soles of your feet sting and your socks feel like Brillo pads. Your legs don’t bend easily at the knees, your body aches all over, and your skin feels tight beneath a microscopic shell of sweat, dust and grime. You crave food and beer, but you also crave sleep. The desire for a hot shower passes long before the 20-mile mark. Food and beer are all that matter – and sleep . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Pennine Way, Walking, Weather | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Black Combe – On the Edge of a Circle

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LIFE flows in curves that turn into circles. Even things that should be permanent are part of a cycle. Today I’m walking along the shores of the Duddon estuary with a dog and a granddaughter. I’ve been here before in several senses. I have no doubt the three of us will return at some point if I hold tight to the circumference and remember that Pi equals 3.142 or 22 over seven . . . Continue reading

Posted in Childhood, Climbing, Environment, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Life, Mountains, Rivers, Walking | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

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

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