Cross Fell – Fiends, Rivers, Paths and Poets

Cross Fell 7

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

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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

Days Like This, No 7: On a Ridge Above Glen Shiel

On the summit of Sàileag, looking towards the Five Sisters of Kintail

On the summit of Sàileag, looking towards the Five Sisters of Kintail

SOMETIMES early mornings can be warm and skies blue. Sometimes the air is so peaceful that mountains reflect in lochs while shadows retreat to cooler places. This morning, in Strath Croe, nothing stirs except bees. Even sheep remain motionless. It’s a perfect day to traverse a high ridge . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Days Like This, No 6: Ciste Dhubh – a Highland Jewel

The view along Allt Cam-bàn from Ciste Dhubh

The view along Allt Cam-bàn from Ciste Dhubh

RAIN drumming on a flysheet. Condensation dripping on damp clothes. Another day begins in the Highlands – a day with clouds hugging the treetops and few prospects of fine mountain scenery . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Days Like This, No 5: Ireland’s Deep Secrets

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DAWN breaks over Belfast. A van and a minibus rattle through the city and head down the main road towards Dublin, stopping only at the cross-border road block on the hills above Newry where a British squaddie peers at our luggage. An unfriendly machine-gun pokes from a bunker in the heather. You see this sort of thing on the telly but don’t realise how unnerving it is until the gun is pointing directly at your body. But by mid-afternoon that’s all behind us, and we have reached the Wicklow Mountains and the quiet valley of Glendalough. This is where our adventure begins . . . Continue reading

Posted in Bronze Age, Camping, Caving, Environment, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Potholing, Ruins, Vikings, Walking | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Days Like This, No 4: Before Night at Beacon Tarn

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I HAVE a book in my rucksack by GV Carey. It’s called Mind the Stop. It could be about buses, it could be about church organs, but it concerns neither. It’s a book about punctuation, and I had half a mind to leave it in my parent’s caravan in Cockermouth to cut down the weight. But I stuffed it in a rucksack pocket with my map and teabags as I set out on a backpacking trip to Greenodd on the edge of Morecambe Bay. It was one of my better decision . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Hiking, Mountains, Quarrying, Slate quarries, Walking, Writing | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments