Black Gold, Tan Hill Tea

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THERE was a loose plan fluttering about this morning like a threadbare flag above a roadside burger bar. But the wind changed and the plan got blown across fields and was last seen snagged on a fence alongside a ragged length of black plastic silage bag and other rural detritus. It wasn’t much of a plan anyway . . . Continue reading

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Posted in Beer, Environment, Footpaths, Geology, Ghosts, Hiking, History, horse gins, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Railway goods wagons, Tan Hill Inn, Teesdale, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Humber. Southeasterly Four. Moderate or Good. Rain later.

Spurn 12SPURN Head is one of those places everyone has heard of but few can pinpoint on a map. When you’ve got your bearings it’s easy to find – but that could also be said of Kafia Kingi and Amelia Earhart. Spurn Head is a three-mile spit of land that dangles like a loose tooth from the upper jaw of the Humber estuary. Glance at a map of Britain and you wonder what it’s doing there – a ragged hem from England’s shirt-tail, flapping about in the North Sea. I suppose that’s one of the things that makes it attractive. I’ve wanted to visit Spurn Head for years. Here I am . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Camping, Environment, Explosives, Footpaths, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Politics, Railways, Rivers, Ruins, Second World War, Shipping Forecast, South Gare, Teesside, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , | 45 Comments

In Between One England and Another

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I’M in between mountains at the moment. And I’m in between jobs. I’m in between a lot of stuff. If I wrote a book I’d call it The Inbetweener but I’d probably get sued. Today I’m going for a walk in between hills. I can see the North York Moors to the east and the Pennines to the west. I’m not going far, just out of the village in between dinner and tea – or lunch and dinner, whatever your preference . . . Continue reading

Posted in Cleveland Way, Climbing, Footpaths, Great North Road, Hiking, Jargon, Life, Mountains, Ranting, Redundancy, Ruins, Teesdale, Unemployment, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments

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

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 , , , , | 27 Comments