March Many Weathers (Take 6)

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Daffodil season is just about over and I don’t seem to have taken many photos of daffs this year. So here’s some which were sat in our porch – I noticed the light as I was setting-out for a wander and I couldn’t resist.

Of course, normally I fret about the fact that I continually post photos of the same old things over and over, ‘leaves and stuff’ as TBH has it; ironically, this year I’m worrying that I haven’t taken enough photos of daffodils, one of my usual spring staples. Something else I ponder from time to time is whether it’s best to restrict each post to a single walk and each walk to a single post, and whether or not I ought to cover every one of my walks on the blog. I realise that if these are the things I worry about then I’m a very lucky man, but even though these things are obviously trivial, and nobody really cares whether blogs have rules or not, these are still matters that I mull over occasionally. Not that I’ve ever reached any sort of satisfactory conclusion.

All of which waffle leads up to the fact that this is a portmanteau post which covers several mid-March walks whilst also ignoring a number of others.

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Several of those walks involved ascents of Arnside Knott. Multiple ascents on some occasions. Six in all.

One of them was with TBH, as you can see.

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It’s often said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only weather. So I’ll refrain from suggesting that we had some rotten weather in March, but I can at least say that we had a lot of weather. Some days, the weather was very changeable, with big clouds and showers blowing through.

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I like those kinds of days, because of the rainbows, dramatic lighting and impressive cloud formations which often accompany them.

Some days, however, just brought a lot of rain. B’s rugby was often cancelled due to water-logged pitches and the fields east of Arnside Tower farm and adjacent to Silverdale Moss were all flooded…

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Still, if it means we get days of high contrast, when louring skies…

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…clear…

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…but I can still see showers, falling on someone else, whilst I have sunshine…

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…then I’m quite happy.

The Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale…

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…was running very high and swift, but even that looked less threatening a few minutes later…

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…when the sun came out.

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The view from the Knott was also always changing. Sometimes there was hardly any view. At others times only the higher hills were obscured by clouds, or they were cloaked in snow, or both.

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Another spring staple of the blog, much shyer than daffs, is Green Hellebore…

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I made several visits on the way to and from the Knott to check that it was still there. It was. Very reassuring.

This is Davy Graham’s version of ‘Take 5’…

…it seems like he was in a hurry to finish!

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March Many Weathers (Take 6)

Take 5

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The weather’s dreadful, the forecast is for worse to come, but you’re desperate to get out and put some miles beneath your feet and, perhaps more importantly, to include plenty of up in your route. What do you do?

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Climb Arnside Knott, obviously.

Five times.

Not that I’m obsessed or anything!

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The Pepperpot was barely beneath the low clouds and the Knott was hidden as I approached it, but began to clear after I’d arrived on the top for the first time.

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By the time I’d reached the toposcope I almost had a view.

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I didn’t set my camera phone to monochrome, this is just what the weather was like!

And down at Far Arnside…

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The sun was shining a little on the daffodils.

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Perhaps things were looking up?

But by the end of my second ascent, heavy snow was falling, somewhat to my surprise.

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Over the course of the six hours of the walk I had snow, hail and, as you can see, some pleasant spells too. But mostly I had rain, increasingly so, and lots of it.

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I did contemplate calling it a day at times, but mostly I was enjoying myself. I also found one or two bits of path which I’d not walked before.

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Eventually, I stopped taking photos, with the exception of a series of selfies by the trig point on the Knott. I’m not sure why. I’m not normally one for taking selfies at all, and since you can’t actually see the trig point in any of the photos, they don’t really prove anything at all. In the first couple I look a bit sweaty and more than a bit gormless, in the penultimate one I look quite wet, and by the last one it was clearly chucking it down…

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…but I still managed to look quite pleased with myself.

That’s my new coat, by the way. Picked up for a snip from Mountain Warehouse. It did surprisingly well, but by the time I got home I was saturated. No coat will keep you dry forever, especially not one that costs £35.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt! Maybe tomorrow, if I can swing it.

This is Val Bennet’s ‘The Russian’s Are Coming’, but obviously it’s actually a reggae cover version of Paul Desmond’s ‘Take 5’.

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Oh. 15ish miles and about 2600′ of ascent, according to Mapmywalk, for those of you who like stats. Which, I’ve just realised, puts me almost bang on Naismith. Almost. Hurrah. There’s hope for me yet.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

Take 5

An Unexpected Windfall

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This photo, of the footpath through the woods at the edge of Holgates Caravan park, is the only one I took during yet another weekend ascent of Arnside Knott. Once again, I waited too long, on a bright and sunny afternoon, hoping to catch a spectacular sunset, but fell foul of a huge mass of cloud in the western sky which swallowed up the sun without putting on any kind of show.

I’m trying to climb the Knott as often as I can at present. I am in training after all.

I’ve used the Knott as an outdoor gym in the past too. Most notably in the winter of 1999 and the spring of 2000, when I was preparing for a summer trip to the Andes.

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My first view of the Cordillera Blanca.

This was an expensive trip, lasting a full five weeks. The kind of thing I’d never done before, and haven’t since when I think about it. It’s unlikely that I would ever have saved up enough to go, but the impetus came from an unlikely source. Cutting a long story short, I was involved in a high speed collision on the motorway with an articulated lorry. Miraculously, I emerged from the wreck of my car almost unscathed, physically at least, but I did eventually receive a small compensation payment which gave me a head start towards the money I needed for the holiday.

I’d booked to join a trek in the Cordillera Blanca, around Alpamayo, which is considered by some people to be the world’s most beautiful mountain, although that’s highly subjective, of course.

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Having met up in Lima, the group spent a week acclimatising in Huaraz. The photo above shows a view across the town to Huarascán, Peru’s highest mountain.

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Perhaps because I’d climbed Arnside Knott so many times in preparation for the trip, it became the measure of all ascents during the trek. Some of the climbs to passes were huge, so I made them seem more manageable by dividing them into 150m sections, and ticked off each multiple of Arnside Knott as it passed. It’s a habit that has stuck, and which I seem to have passed on to my friend the Tower Captain. I estimate that my 10 in 10 challenge entails close to 13 Arnside Knotts, which is hopefully not an unlucky omen.

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Later in my Peruvian trip, I also travelled to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. I took hundreds of photos on my old Nikon SLR and when I got the films developed I took up the option to have electronic copies on compact discs as well as prints. Sadly, the discs all seem to be corrupted in some way and so I’ve only managed to download a handful of photos, all from the Cordillera Blanca.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

 

An Unexpected Windfall

Little and Often: In Training

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A three walk Sunday, all part of my Little and Often campaign. First, a familiar wander to the Cove and across the Lots. The sun was shining and the light was lovely.

Then I dropped S off at his climbing lesson and drove up onto the edge of the Forest of Bowland hills, walking a brisk out and back route to Grizedale Dock Reservoir…

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…via Holme Wood…

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When I have more time to spare, there are definitely some good walks to be had in that area, so I shall be looking to go back, probably one summer evening. The weather had deteriorated and there were flecks of rain blowing in the wind, but it was good to be out.

Later still, I was out again, past Arnside Tower…

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…hoping to catch the sunset from the Knott. Sadly, although the weather had improved again, a bank of cloud over the Irish Sea smothered that idea. I’ve made similar mistakes since, leaving it a little too late to get out on a sunny afternoon and thereby missing the sunshine altogether. I shall make a mental note not to be so tardy in future.

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Humphrey Head and last signs of the departed sun.


 

In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less. This year the route starts at the Swinside hotel, goes over some of the Northwestern Fells, down to Buttermere and then back over Dale Head and High Spy, among others. You can find out more here.

It’s not the sort of thing I would usually do, but I shall be joining my old school friend John and frankly I’m relishing the challenge. Whether I will still feel that way on the day remains to be seen. It’s more than a little Quixotic for me to imagine that I can tackle all of the ascent involved in the time allowed, but I shall give it a go.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

Plug over, for now at least, although I will probably add links to forthcoming posts too.

 

Little and Often: In Training

Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

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In Eaves Wood.

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

I did it! At some point during October half-term I reached the completely arbitrary target I set myself, which was to walk 1000 miles during 2018.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

I was talking to my old school friend JS about the thousand mile challenge when we walked on Whitbarrow back in September. He has subsequently joined the same Faceache community which I joined, in a fit of enthusiasm, last January, but then religiously ignored for the rest of the year – the kids are always highly amused by any engagement on my part with social media since they have decided that I am essentially anti-social – so, anyway, JS has joined the group and committed himself to walk 1000 miles in 2019. All to the good.

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I think this must be the spring, bizarrely quite high on the hill on which Eaves Wood stands, which feeds the large water-tanks by the edge of the wood which once supplied Hill House, now the Woodies pub.

JS asked me, during our walk, whether I would be repeating the challenge in 2019? I told him that I was undecided, in fact, that I was struggling to make my mind up. Now, since I finished in 2018 with room to spare and have really enjoyed getting out regularly, that equivocation probably requires a little unpicking.

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In Eaves Wood.

It doesn’t require a maths teacher to work out that, in order to reach a thousand miles in a year, you need to walk roughly 20 miles a week, or an average of 3 miles per day; actually, slightly less in both cases. Bizarrely, my highest mileage months in 2018 were January and February, in that order. I did just about make the required total in most other months, aside from November, when the wheels came off a bit.

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Eaves Wood.

January and February went so well, despite the lack of daylight and the miserable weather, because, in the first flush of enthusiasm, I really took the ‘little and often’ idea to heart and tried to get out as often as possible, including regular lunch time walks from work, which prompted, incidentally, the Listed Lancaster posts, some of which have become almost the most popular posts in the ten year lifetime of the blog, rather annoyingly.

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But when I was talking to JS in September, I had already realised that, because our circumstances have changed somewhat, the lunchtime walks are not really feasible any longer and I anticipated that I was going to find it very difficult to maintain the kind of mileage I had hitherto achieved.

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Ironically, September turned out to be one of my better months, and I did well in October too, but December and particularly November have gone on to confirm some of my worries.

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By the end of November, I was finding my relative inactivity that month exasperating. When I chatted to JS, I had been anticipating that, should that happen, then tracking my mileage each month and watching myself fall behind schedule would only exacerbate the frustration.

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Sunset from the Cove. The photos here were all taken on either the Saturday or the Sunday at the end of our October half-term.

That still is a bit of a concern, but I’ve decided that I am going to aim for a thousand miles again, and continue to track my progress on Mapmywalk. The reason, simply, is that I’m feeling pretty fit, by my own lax standards. Towards the end of our night in Glasgow, when TBH took me to the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, a guy in a donkey jacket (how the heat in the room didn’t melt him I don’t know) came over and shook my hand, congratulating me on dancing through the entire show. At that point we’d been dancing for something like four and a half hours, fuelled, in case you were wondering, only by curry, tap water and euphoria.  What’s more, I was full of cold, but would have happily carried on dancing for at least a while longer.

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In retrospect, I’m quite chuffed with that: I don’t think I would have managed it a year ago. And since walking is pretty much the only exercise I get, the little and often approach has to be working. It’s going to be more difficult this year, I’m going to have to box clever and be creative in finding opportunities to get out, but hopefully the target will spur me on, as it did at times in the rain and the dark last year.

Onward and upward.

Having begun with a quote from a Proclaimers lyric I really ought to end with one of their songs, but then I was intending to work in some more of the tunes from our night at the Glasgow Academy. So, two for the price of one:

Not, 500 miles, but the boys from Leith at their witty best.

And, hard to dance to, and played by one of the DJ’s who preceded Mr Charles…

When I saw them at the Lancaster Music Festival, the Hackney Colliery Band finished with this, leaving the stage and wandering around mingling with the audience. Bizarrely, Weezer have also recently covered this song, after a concerted campaign by some of their fans. Their cover is very faithful to the original, which is not a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

Little and Often: Progress Report

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Somehow the end of February slid by without any mention here of my progress, or otherwise, towards the target I’ve set myself of walking 1000 miles this year, above and beyond the pottering about I do at home and at work. This wasn’t because I’d fallen behind; I didn’t quite match January’s total, it’s true, but with a little over 120 miles logged, I had much more than I need to reach my, admittedly arbitrary, target.

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These photographs are from one of my ‘little and often’ strolls. The day after our friends left us was once again wet, but it briefly brightened up in the afternoon, so I took my chance for a standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots.

These are the benches where I sometimes sit to watch the sun set, currently graced by an entourage of Daffodils.

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I’ve been enjoying a website, Other-Wordly, “about strange and lovely words” and one of the words which I hope will stick with me is smultronställe, a Swedish term,

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Maybe these benches are not wild enough, or private enough, to match that description, but otherwise they’re a perfect fit.

The rain may have paused for a while, but the evidence of it’s recent ubiquity was everywhere to see…

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Even on the Lots, which usually stay reasonably dry…

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By the time I came back through the village, the skies were leaden again, presaging the imminent arrival of more wet.

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Here’s my calendar for February, from Mapmywalk…

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By contrast, March looks a little spartan…

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..and it’s true that illness and general busyness did hamper my efforts somewhat. In fact, at one point, I did find myself bitterly contemplating the possibility of a blogpost entitled something along the lines of ‘Too Little, Less Often’, but despite my misgivings, I still just about crept over the required mileage for a month, so that’s okay then. In fact, as of today, I’ve just passed 400 miles for the year so far.

In a similar vein: last night I was updating my ‘Birkett Tick List‘ page, essentially a list of the hills in the Lake District which I’ve climbed since I started to write this blog, back in 2008. I was engrossed in the technicalities of editing the page – something I’ve had trouble with, which is why it was almost two years behind, but it was quite enlightening to look back at two years of walks and realise that in that time I’d actually climbed far more hills than I expected. At one point, A was looking over my shoulder and pointed out to me that the list has become quite a long one. And she’s right: without ever really applying myself, I do seem to have accumulated a fair few ascents. Now, admittedly, the Lakes are compact and it’s often possible to tick-off several hills in a single walk. And also, it’s taken me 10 years to build-up a substantial tally, but I still feel like this is another victory for the steady , softly-softly, tortoise (rather than hare) approach.

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Blea Tarn Hill – somewhere I might never have visited without Birkett’s list to encourage me. Not a lot of effort being expended here, but we actually managed to claim a fair number of summits that day.

Little and Often: Progress Report

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.

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Eaves Wood.

Between work, the weather, the lurgy and lethargy, I’ve let my Little and Often resolve crumble away and I haven’t been getting out as often as I was. But now I’m off work for a couple of weeks, and the sun has come out, and in the woods spring is already well under way.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood.

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Gorse at Jack Scout.

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Jack Scout view – The Coniston Fells in the distance. The horizon was tilted like that, honest.

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Wolf House.

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Daffs on Lindeth Road.

This was a short, familiar outing which I made very heavy weather of; apparently, I’m not completely over the lurgy yet. Still: time to do some catching up.

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.