Days Like This, No 15: Walking From Penrith to Ravenglass

ravenglass 1

THIS morning I catch the 6.30am train from Askam-in-Furness to Barrow, jump on a connection to Lancaster, board an inter-city express to Penrith, and walk blinking into the daylight of a fine spring morning to embark on my second back-packing trip in the space of three weeks. I have Jim Callaghan to thank for this dollop of good fortune. Uncle Jim. I’ll tell you why later . . . Continue reading

Posted in Beer, Camping, Climbing, English language, Environment, Food, Hiking, History, Life, Mountains, Politics, Ranting, The Romans, Traditions, Walking, Weather, William Wordsworth | Tagged , , , , , | 61 Comments

Arkengarthdale Moor and the Death of Sods Law

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SOMETIMES when you walk through wild and lonely countryside you experience a creeping realisation that things haven’t always been the way they seem. The heathery moors to the west of Reeth, in the northern Pennines, are empty places except for a scattering of 19th Century lead mining remains and a few structures and tracks associated with grouse shooting. But a walk from Whaw to Tan Hill across Arkengarthdale Moor reveals some interesting features and points towards a darker past . . . Continue reading

Posted in Coal mining, Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, History, horse gins, Hunting, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Pennine Way, Railways, Ranting, Ruins, Tan Hill Inn, Traditions, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

Done on Great Dun Fell

great dun fell 1

THERE are certain things in this world on which you should never depend and one of them is the weather forecast. I’ll think of a few more before I’m through, but the weather forecast will suffice for now. The outlook for this morning in the northern Pennines is clear skies with a thin veil of cloud drifting in this evening. So my day has been organised around – and depends upon – this exceptionally fine winter weather . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Environment, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Pennine Way, Ruins, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Days Like This, No 14: Travellers and the Cluanie Ridge

Cluanie Ridge 1

THE roaring of stags is an unearthly sound that sends shivers across skin. It echoes from the rock walls of corries like the groans of the tortured. People passing along the A87 are unaware that a few hundred feet above their cars is a world that has changed little since the glaciers retreated, a world where animals bellow mating calls and raptors soar. I feel I am crossing a line between one epoch and another as I climb patiently up Druim Thollaidh ridge towards the summit of Sgurr Coire na Feinne. The distant hum of engines has faded. Here there are animal noises and whispers of wind in brown grass. And that’s all . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Environment, Hiking, Life, Mountains, Recycling, Weather | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Days Like This, No 13: Suddenly Night on A’ Ghlas-bheinn

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THE ground is white with frost and a sharp wind cuts along the glen from Loch Duich. Heavy clouds roll in from somewhere unknown. The weather forecast is far from encouraging. My wife drops me off at the head of Strath Croe. Then off she drives in a nice warm car. Off I walk into the east, following a grey river along Gleann Choinneachain towards a mountain called Beinn Fhada . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

Days Like This, No 12: Dawn on Dove Crag

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WALKING is a dangerous business. Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov has just been stabbed while walking over Waterloo Bridge. And get this: his assailant used an umbrella with a poisoned tip. We down another round of pints in the Brotherswater Inn and discuss the ramifications of the incident. I’m considered to be an expert in this field because I once witnessed two men fighting with brollies on a pavement in Ulverston. It was an ugly skirmish. Both brollies were seriously damaged. And now we’ve got to climb a mountain in the dark. Aren’t there enough dangers in the world without people wielding deadly umbrellas? Best have another pint first . . . Continue reading

Posted in Beer, Camping, Caving, Climbing, Hiking, History, Legends, Mountains, Traditions, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Days Like This, No 11: Above Clouds on A’ Chràlaig

A Chralaig 1

ABOVE the shores of Loch Cluani the slopes of A’ Chràlaig rise steeply and without respite to its 1,120m (3,674ft) summit. From the crest of its south ridge I expect to behold fine and uninterrupted views across the western Highlands to the Knoydart peninsula and north to Kintail and beyond. To the south I’ll see the Nevis range. God knows what lies to the east. For now, that’s an unknown country . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Footpaths, Hiking, History, Mountains, Politics, Walking | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments