Coniston Old Man ??? Backwards and Forwards

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WHEN I was a teenager I made a pledge to climb Coniston Old Man at least once every year because it was the first mountain I climbed and it was special. I also grew up within sight of its familiar slopes, so that made it a bit more special. But that was in the days when teenagers smoked Consulate cigarettes, drank lager and lime at 18p a pint, and wore Budgie jackets and Sea Dog jeans. Things change . . . Continue reading

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Posted in Allotments, Caving, Childhood, Climbing, Environment, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Life, Mountains, Newsquest, Northern Echo, Politics, Potholing, Redundancy, The Romans, Unemployment, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

On the Tide Line ??? But Not Quite Washed Up

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THERE???S a special place on the Furness peninsula where people live in huts for much of the year. Some of the huts are made from old boats, others from scraps of wood, door frames and bits of recycled houses; a couple of the more modern ones resemble holiday chalets, complete with double-glazing and wind-generated electricity.

I take a dog and a granddaughter and we plod across a railway line and around a bay to this smattering of huts at Lowsy Point. And we gaze across the waters of Walney Channel to the distant slagbanks of Barrow-in-Furness, and the grey blur of a town once dominated by shipyard cranes. This was where my working life began ??? in that grey smudge ??? back in September 1973. And I suddenly realise the irony of visiting this place today. Because at work last night, a hundred miles to the east on the other side of the Pennines, I was handed my notice of redundancy. That???s me gone full circle. Finished . . . Continue reading

Posted in Childhood, Environment, Hiking, History, Life, Mountains, Newsquest, Northern Echo, Politics, Ranting, Redundancy, Shipping Forecast, Unemployment, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 53 Comments

Untold Stories of High Haciendas

Hacienda 1THE mountains are full of places where people lived, raised families and died. Their children and their children???s children have moved on. All that remains are stones and walls and the imagined echoes of humanity . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Death, Environment, Hiking, History, Life, Mountains, Ruins, Spanish Civil War | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Plodding over Pinnel ??? In the Rio Guadalfeo

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THE Rio Guadalfeo flows from the Sierra Nevada mountains through steep-sided valleys to the Mediterranean at Salobre??a. I???ve gazed down upon its course from the winding mountain road to Orgiva many times, and been shouted at from the passenger seat and told to keep my eyes on the road as many times. Fair enough. But men can multitask as well. Today I???m wandering along faint riverside paths to see where they take me . . . Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Footpaths, Geology, Hiking, History, Mountains, Spanish Civil War, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Paths, Goats ??? and Huenes to Pico de la Carne

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THE joy of paths. There are indistinct paths that fade and confound; paths choked with nettles and brambles; malevolent paths that lead through mud and bogland; and paths that twist in the wrong direction. And there are paths that lift the heart and breathe life into boots ??? and when you spy one from afar you know you???ve got to walk it . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Teesside, Walking | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

The Sierra Nevada: Two Peaks, Two Countries

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SPAIN gets under your skin and fingernails. It dries your eyes and your mouth. You can feel it in your hair and on your brow when your boots kick the dust of its white mountain tracks. You smell its wild herbs and warm winds drifting through pine woods. And when you sit in the baking sun on its rocky summits, gazing out across deep valleys and hazy plains, you think: I could live here . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Politics, Ranting, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Walking up the Camino and Down Again

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NOVEMBER in the Sierra Nevada. This camino runs from the rio Guadalfeo to Orgiva. It???s a back lane from a river to the centre of a small town. It is steep and long. Cars can be a problem. Goats can too . . . Continue reading

Posted in Beer, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Walking | Tagged , , | 15 Comments