ZOMG… I’ve written a book!

23 April, 2017

BWP AmazonWell, sort of 🙂 I decided to spend the Easter holiday converting my various walking write-ups into an Amazon eBook.

Please do take a look! Piglet, Catty and I are quite excited 🙂


No longer on Facebook because…

19 March, 2017

Facebook smaller

Hi peeps,

I received the above from Facebook this morning, and they’ve locked me out of my account.

Since I can’t send them a copy of a passport, driving licence or similar with my internet name on it — and wouldn’t even if I could — I’m afraid I won’t be able to post there any more.



Thank goodness for unreliable forecasts!

8 May, 2016


Piglet has been keeping an eye on the BBC weather app all week, but most of the news has been gloomy. Cloud, rain, hail, sleet and general horribleness seemed likely to occupy the entire Bank Holiday weekend, and as the weekend approached it seemed increasingly likely that the whole thing was going to be a complete wash out.


Oh noes!

Around about Thursday, though, it began to look as though yesterday (Saturday) might simply be cloudy, with intermittent showers, and so late on Friday I began to have a think about where we might go for a good weekend walk.

We wanted a change from the Dales, but didn’t want to contend with the weekend traffic heading up the m/way to the Lakes, and so–in a moment of rare genius–it occurred to me to take a look at the Howgills.

By dint of some quick Googling I discovered that my old pal, Mike Knipe, has a year’s worth of Howgills route descriptions over on another old pal Phil Lambert’s excellent Doodlecat site. Since this is April (well, it was when I looked on Friday) I decided to go with Mike’s April walk, which starts, conveniently, in Sedbergh. Whoohoo! Piglet was ecstatic, and she did a little dance 🙂




(Regular readers may notice that this isn’t Piglet, but since she so rarely agrees to smile for the camera I’ve borrowed a picture. This is just what she looked like when I told her where we were going. Really.)

Our route

Our route

The details

The details

Yesterday morning the weather at home was pretty crappy, and after taking care of essential business–feeding,  watering and mucking out a dog, three cats, three chucks and a horse–I was undecided about whether or not to risk the rain.

The main reason for my hesitation was that my main walking waterproof jacket, a Paramo Viento, has had a broken main zip for a couple of months now, and is unusable. I’ve had the jacket for about 12 years, and have already had to have the main zip replaced once. One of the great things about Paramo (I’ve always thought) has been their lifetime guarantee, and when the zip first broke about 5 years into my ownership they happily took the jacket back and replaced it for me free of charge. When I contacted them a couple of months ago, though, they told me that the life of the main zip had now come to an end, and that I’d have to pay for a second replacement. At £47.50 plus postage that felt like a lot of money, and I’ve not had it done yet. I don’t really think the main zip in a £200 jacket should fail and need to be replaced twice in 12 years.

They also suggested that after 12 years it was probably time for me to think about buying a new jacket. This from Paramo, one of whose main selling points has always been longevity. TBH, I was extremely unimpressed.

Anyway… my other jacket (a Cioch Glamaig) is great but it’s shorter than the Viento, and lighter, and I don’t think of it as a first choice for very wet weather. Hence my ambivalence in the face of the freezing rain occurring outside my front door.

It’s always difficult to deal with Piglet’s tears, though, and so in the end I loaded up the rucksack, and then the car, and we set off for Sedbergh with claws and fingers crossed.

It turned out to be a truly fantastic day! I could see some snow on the tops as we drove over, but I hadn’t anticipated that at some points it might be calf deep. That was brilliant, as Piglet loves a bit of snow and so do I. The weather was a little overcast as we set off up the hill…


The hill at the start

…but as we gained a bit of height it began to pick up, and after about an hour it was sunshine virtually all the way.


Looking down to Sedbergh

From our raised position I could see little rain showers happening all around us, but we were incredibly lucky and none of them came our way 🙂

Like Mike, we didn’t go up Winder but instead followed a path closer to Settlebeck Gill.


Settlebeck Gill

We crossed the gill and followed a path up to the right. Unlike Mike, we didn’t take the detour to the top of Crook, but we took a piccy looking down at it from a higher point slightly later in the walk.


On the approach to Arant Haw


Looking back down to Winder


Crook, with the little knobble on top

When we reached the top of Arant Haw we entered a different, and fabulous, world. Ahead of us lay an exciting snowy landscape, and Piglet stared ahead, enthralled.


The way ahead — towards Brant Fell

At that point it occurred to me to try out the Panorama feature on my new camera. Result!


From Arant Haw towards Calders, and The Calf (somewhere behind)

The climb up to Calders looked steep as we set off towards it…


Climb to Calders

…but it was fine, if a little windy, and we stopped half way to admire some interlocking spurs that I vaguely remembered learning about when we were doing glaciation in geography at school, about 1,000 years ago.


Interlocking spurs!

We took another panoramic thingy a little higher up…


…and again we were lucky to avoid the rain showers that we could clearly see around and about.


Rain to the left


And rain to the right

Without what felt like too great an effort we arrived at the top of Calders.


On top of Calders

Had my iPhone not been running ViewRanger I might have thought Calders was The Calf, but it turned out not to be. We therefore pressed on again, and passed a few people out enjoying the amazing weather, and here was one of them crossing the lovely plateau towards us.


Lone walker

As we embarked upon the final ascent towards The Calf we passed a brolly. Weird! We left it there, in the hope that the owner might nip back and pick it up.



Eventually we got to the top, and we stood around chatting with a couple of walkers who’d come up another way. I took a photo for them, and accidentally posted it to their Whatsapp account. Whoops!


On top of The Calf

From The Calf our route was due to take us towards Fell Head, but had it not been for my trusty compass I might have set off for Docker Knott instead as I’d forgotten that we were meant to be making a left-hand turn. Fortunately I checked, though, and we began our descent in the right direction.


Starting the descent from The Calf

Until that point I’d just been wearing a Fuera Smock over my baselayer, but it was actually pretty chilly and therefore I stopped to get out my jacket. Re-clothed in both jacket and Fuera I prepared to continue, but noticed that Piglet was by that point looking a little pinched.


Wee baby is getting cold!

It was probably the standing around that had done it, but I delved back into the pack and got out her lovely Hurtta winter jacket. Much better 🙂


Baby much warmer now 🙂

The views and landscape just got better and better as we progressed. There was an element of up and down, of course, but at the same time there was much more of a plateau than I had expected to find, and it was really lovely to be able to press on through gorgeous scenery without having to make significant descents and ascents on a regular basis.


Lovely high and level walking

As we pressed on over (what the map tells me is) Bush Howe towards Fell Head, from which we were going to descend, I noticed an oddly-shaped patch standing out in stark relief on the side of the fell ahead. I vaguely remembered reading something that Mike had written about the famous ‘Black Horse of Busha’, and wondered whether this might be it. I took a piccy, just in case. Looking now at the picture Mike took I realise that what I saw was the wrong thing. Not entirely suprising, since it also appears that I was looking in the wrong place. In fact I was probably standing on the horse when I took my piccy. Doh… 🙂

The Black Amoeba of Busha

The Black Amoeba of Busha

Several factors combined at this point to place Piglet and me in significant danger.

Uh oh

Uh oh…

First, Mike had spoken of standing on The Black Horse, and since I thought that my amoeba was the horse I began to think that I should start contouring round to the left when I reached the saddle that now lay ahead of me. Secondly, I misread the map and wrongly thought the saddle was the point at which the path turns left towards Fell Head. Oops…



It’s a good job it was snowy, because I did walk a little way along the ‘path’ to the left but it was immediately obvious even to the most hopeless of navigators that conditions were not right for that kind of precipitous undertaking. I therefore retraced my steps and set off up the steep hill ahead instead, mentally doffing my cap to Mike and Bruno. It was only when I checked ViewRanger when higher up that I realised my mistake.

The climb to Fell Head had looked horribly steep, but in the end it wasn’t too bad. We eventually reached the top…


Finally… At Fell Head preparing to descent to Whins End

…and there we sat down to share a sandwich. We’d both have liked to have stopped earlier, but there had been so little shelter that I’d kept deciding to press on. Since I’d forgotten to take the usual pocket full of mini-biscuits for Piglet, she was highly delighted to tuck into my cheese and coleslaw roll. From that point it was going to be almost all downhill, and I began to wonder how long it would take us to find our way back to Sedbergh.

First we had to get down, though…


The descent towards Whins End

…and as we wound our way down the steep hillside I watched traffic speeding past on the motorway far below us.

We spotted some fell ponies as we went on, and I was hugely relieved to confirm that they weren’t coos.


Not coos, thank goodness!

As we reached the bottom we headed left and crossed a small ravine (for want of a better word) and then climbed towards the intake wall (i.e. the wall that separates the fellside from the cultivated land. I mention this because I wasn’t quite sure, until I looked it up).


Little ravine

I’d hoped to follow the wall back to Sedbergh, but it fairly soon became obvious that that would be difficult–barbed wire and quantities of cows provided a significant hint–and so at or about Castley we struck off down a track and joined a lovely little lane for the last three miles.


Lovely lane back to Sedbergh


The lane is a Roman road

The lane was almost as lovely as the fellside had been before it, and had the advantage of being decorated with a profusion of spring flowers.


Cuckoo Flower/May Flower






Blackthorn blossom


Little Mouse Ear? (Let me know if it isn’t)


Brave dandelion 🙂


Early bluebell


Garlic Mustard/Jack-by-the-Hedge (said to be edible but you’d need to be starving!)

I also spotted a small, vacated egg shell. I think it was from a thrush.


Thrush egg

The three miles on the lane passed quickly, and I realised I was re-joining the thriving metropolis when I spotted some very beautiful flowering blackcurrant.


Flowering blackcurrant

From that point it was only ten minutes to the car, and we stopped on the way home at Booths to buy a pizza (and a tart au citron and some creme fraiche and cheese and olives and some other stuff). My sister was coming up, so I though I’d better lay in stores. Now that she’s been unable to come I’ll just have to eat it all myself! C’est la vie! 🙂

The weather today is just as crappy as had been forecast, so they don’t always get it wrong. It’s definitely worth taking a chance when it just might be okay, though. And when I finally buy a decent new foul weather jacket I won’t mind if it’s raining.

If anyone would like to see them, all the pics can be found on Flickr, here.

David Bowie — Touched my Life

11 January, 2016

I’m more than sad today to hear of the death of the incomparable David Bowie.

When my sister and I were muddy little sprogs growing up in the country with our lively and equally naughty pals across the fields the four of us couldn’t afford to buy a lot of albums, but there were two that we listened to all the time. One of them was Hunky Dory, and the sounds of it will forever be all muddled up in my mind with my memories of those golden early teenage days, and etched into my heart.

Not that I’m the first to ask the question, but where does life go? It seems to have flashed past from 14 to 54 in the blink of the proverbial eye.

Bizarrely, in the circumstances, my sister returned from New York this morning. She flew over last week to see DB’s new play and to watch a tribute band. Happily, she didn’t hear of DB’s death until she got home this morning. Now she feels it like a family bereavement.

I’d die happy to have been able to write just one line of one verse of any of these tunes. RIP David Bowie, and thank you x


Oh! You Pretty Things

Eight Line Poem

Life on Mars



Fill Your Heart

Andy Warhol

Song for Bob Dylan

Queen Bitch

The Bewlay Brothers






Amazing fungi 

14 November, 2015


Lots of beautiful toadstools and mushrooms are showing themselves here at the moment. I wish I could find a local ID course.

This is meant to be a grid of pictures, but I have a feeling it isn’t going to come out that way… Crubeens crossed!

Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith (aka J K Rowling)

12 November, 2015

career of evil

I listen to audiobooks at virtually every free moment. Walking Piglet, cooking, out for a run, tidying the house (ha… that doesn’t take long!), driving etc, and very quickly after starting to do so I ran out of the ones I knew I’d enjoy i.e. biographies, autobiographies, old favourite novels and so forth. I therefore had to find something else, and about 3 or 4 years ago I began to listen to thrillers of various sorts. I found I enjoyed them. Bring on that murder and gore!

Some 2 or 3 years ago I downloaded a book by a new author — Robert Galbraith — and enjoyed it very much. It was The Cookoo’s Calling. Not long afterwards it turned out in the press to have been written by J K Rowling, and I felt very smug to have enjoyed it before I’d known that it was written by the Harry Potter author 🙂 Heh…

I know I enjoyed the second in the series too — The Silkworm — but I’ve just finished the third: Career of Evil. I listen to a lot of books (as I’ve mentioned…) but it’s quite some time since I found myself regretting the impending conclusion before I was even half way through the book. This was one of those occasions, though.

I’d highly recommend this to anybody who doesn’t mind a bit of blood and guts, and relishes suspense and a tightly woven story that keeps you guessing right up to the end. Brilliant!

I now feel bereft, of course, and I hope it won’t be an awfully long time before the fourth comes out. Go and get it 🙂

Raichle boots — worth re-soling?

1 November, 2015

broken boot

Hi peeps.

I have a nice pair of Raichle boots. The uppers fit perfectly, but the soles were always very slippery and I wouldn’t have bought another pair. I’ve not worn them for prolly 8 years or so, since I stopped wearing leather boots. I bought them because they were just stiff enough to take a crampon. I wore them today, though, because I’m currently without decent footwear. My Inov-8s have given up the ghost and the little Salomon trail shoes I’ve been wearing recently for walking from home don’t really do the job on soaking wet days in sopping wet fields full of cow poo/on slippery surfaces.

I therefore dug out the Raichles because Piglet insisted on a walk, and for the first hour or so I was delighted to be walking in such comfy boots and keeping my feet warm and dry. Lovely 🙂

Shortly after that, though, I noticed an odd flappy feeling to the heel of my right foot, and when I stopped to look I saw that the heel had come away. Presumably something rubbery had perished during the boots’ long sojourn up in the attic. Twenty mins later the same thing happened to the other boot. Uh-oh…

I’ve Googled boot repair, because the uppers were so very comfy. My feet aren’t quite the same size, but both feet were cozy today with no toe bashing/need to crumple up the toes of my slightly longer right foot. Nor were either of my feet swishing around in too large a space. Everything felt very secure.

It sounds from what I’ve read as though re-soling often isn’t successful, resulting in an upper that no longer fits well.

Has anyone had a good experience? If so, can you recommend a repairer?

Alternatively, can somebody please suggest a nice, light, ideally non-leather and non-membranous boot? I did have a look at Salomon boots online this morning (in the past Salomons have seemed to fit my feet well), but they all seem to have a Gore-tex membrane, which I’ve never really felt was a very good idea. More Googling seems to suggest that maybe Raichle no longer make boots.

I’d like something grippy, if at all possible. The sort of thing I can wear for walking Piglet on wet, slippery wintery days in low-lying fields, but can also wear with confidence up in the Lakes or over in the Dales.

Suggestions welcome 🙂

Mi and Pho — Manchester

20 October, 2015

Unusually, I spent the day in Manchester today. I knew I’d be finished with my commitments by early afternoon and so I decided to try to find somewhere truly yummy to have a late lunch. The availability of truly scrummy food is one of the few things I miss, now that I’ve moved to a tiny village in the heart of farming country. It’s a fair swap, but still… I do miss it!

I was very tempted by the prospect of dim sum at the Yang Sing, where I’ve happily pigged out many times in the past, but I’ve recently watched a lot of very happy-looking people eating/making pho (– apparently pronounced ‘fur’ without the ‘r’ –) on YouTube, and so I decided to go Vietnamese instead. Yum 🙂

TripAdvisor currently ranks Mi and Pho as ‘2 of 1,852 restaurants in Manchester’, so I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, it’s almost 20 years since I lived in Manchester, and so I’d forgotten that Palatine Road goes on for a loooooong way… My anticipated £5 taxi fare therefore turned into £17.50 including tip, but I reminded myself that a brief jaunt round the food hall in M&S would have inflicted much more damage and tried not to fret 🙂

I eventually arrived at the restaurant and shot in, in case some speedier diner might grab the only remaining table. I immediately saw a sign indicating cash only, though, and so I shot out again even more quickly than I’d entered and made a strategic visit to the cash machine next door. It was working. Phew!

Newly cash-rich, I re-entered the restaurant and bagged a table. Even at 2.30pm it was fairly busy, and so it was with a sigh of relief that I sat down. Exciting!

The staff are friendly, and quickly came over to say hello and proffer a menu. It was at that point that I think I made a fundamental error.

Upon reflection, the whole point of pho is that it’s made with a rich beefy, boney stock that has simmered for hours. Since I’ve recently given up meat I decided to go for the prawn pho rather than the beef, which is what I really wanted. The soup I received was good, but I think there’s a limit to what can be done with prawns in the production of stock, and so it wasn’t quite the unctuous concoction that I’d been hoping for. My fault, I think, rather than theirs. And major kudos to the restaurant for clearly using different stocks, based on the customers’ choice of main ingredient.

Summer Rolls - Prawn

Summer rolls – Prawn

Pho -- Prawn

Pho – Prawn

I enjoyed my lunch, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more if my choices had played to the restaurant’s strengths rather than having being constrained by my conscience.

It also turned out that it takes more than 50 minutes to get back to what used to be G-mex from Northenden, and so I spent the next 49 minutes in a state of increasing anxiety at the prospect of missing the coach home. I eventually jumped out and grabbed a second taxi, and managed to arrive with approximately 6.517 seconds to spare. Phew!

My lunch –with a glass of home-made lemonade– cost just over £10, which was great value. Taxis and buses to and from Northenden came to approximately £27. Oops… I’d have been able to eat my way through quite a substantial part of the Yang Sing’s dim sum menu for the cost of the transport alone, but I know I’d have regretted not having tried out something new and exciting.

In summary, then, I’d very much recommend Mi and Pho, but I suggest that you should allow them to provide you with what they do best, which prolly isn’t a conscience-stricken semi-veggie’s version of the fantastic Vietnamese cuisine 🙂

Les barricades mystérieuses, Francois Couperin — Gorgeous!

21 June, 2015

Francois Couperin

Watching The Tree of Life just now I had to stop and dash upstairs to the computer, to identify this beautiful music. Just gorgeous!

And a slightly too fast (IMO) version, but what amazing playing!

Back to the fiLm now 🙂

Happy times to all current Challengers

20 May, 2015

Such happy memories of my last Challenge! Would love the chance to do it again 🙂