Bleasdale (or Piglet’s Patience Runs Out)

28 March, 2016
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Fair Snape Fell with Parlick in the background

Back in December, during the Christmas holidays, Piggle and I decided to get out into the Forest of Bowland to do some walking off our usual patch.

Bleasdale

Bleasdale Summary

Much furtling in books took place. Rather too much of it occurred on the morning of the walk itself, in fact, because although we were up early it was after 1230 by the time we left the car and set off up the road towards the track that leads to Fell End. Since the sun was due to set at approximately 4pm we had a lot of fast miles to put in if we were to finish during daylight hours. Um…

Late

Oops!

Nothing loath, we decided to go for it, and soon we were trotting happily along the track towards the Bleasdale Tower.

We found our way up onto the fell side fairly easily, and struck up in the direction of what turned out to be the appropriately named Fiendsdale. I say that because it then seemed to take us approximately 16,000 hours to circumnavigate Holme House Fell to get to Fair Snape Fell. It was very tussocky and boggy and, in places, even peat haggy.

Peat Hag

Peat Hag (and no, that isn’t me, although it felt like it…)

We did eventually get up, though, and then we began to make our way down towards Parlick.

I think the plan had been to strike down the side of Parlick towards Blindhurst Farm, and to make our way back along paths through fields towards Bleasdale Tower, but–as I’ve found sometimes happens when out walking–I couldn’t see anything other than the main path down.We therefore stuck to it, and eventually came out at Fell Foot.

By then the light was failing, and as we set off along a tarmaced lane that was off the part of the map that I’d printed out Piglet looked up at me with a “Oh, God… here we go again!” sort of expression on her furry little face. It’s amazing the way I’ve learned to read her expressions over the years!

Piglet isn't happy

Piglet isn’t happy. Just call me Dog Whisperer.

I think it then took us a couple of hours to get back to the car. We crossed ultra-muddy fields, and eventually Piglet refused to walk on and I had to pick her up and carry her for a while. Major fail 😦

I sort of knew that we were aiming in the right direction, but we didn’t seem to be getting any closer to the point at which we’d left the car. When we arrived at what I think from the map must have been the junction on the road with a track leading to Broadgate I thought we’d cracked it, but when we arrived at a cluster of buildings in the dark there didn’t seem to be a way out.

In desperation I knocked on a door, and a very kind woman in a nighty and dressing gown came out and led us to the start of a field track and told us how to get back to the car. Thank you, very kind person! Without that help it’s entirely possible that we’d still be there…

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Crossing the last field in the dark

I tried to speak cheerfully to Piglet as we made our way along the last of the road to the car, but it was clear that she had descended into the sort of foul mood that no kind of food-related bribes or blandishments from me could cure. When we arrived at the car I rubbed her down with a towel and offered gravy bones, but she refused to look at me and crept into her crate in the boot with her tail between her legs. I’m pretty sure I saw a tear in her eye.

When we got home I carried her in and popped her down inside the door but she refused to move! Eventually she consented to eat some chickling with white mice…

Piggy tea

Piglet’s chickling with white mice

…and then I wrapped her up in a blanket on the sofa, from where she lay glaring malignantly at me…

Piggy home

Furious…

…until she eventually fell asleep.

I’m looking forward to getting back out to the Forest of Bowland for further exciting forays, but I think next time I’ll pay a little more attention to the timings 🙂

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Fairfield Horseshoe

27 March, 2016

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The weather has been so dreadful since November that there have been very few lovely days. There was a good one back on 27th February, though, and so Piggle and I nipped up to the Lakes to do the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Fairfield Horseshoe

Fairfield Horseshoe Summary

In relative weathery terms it was a great day: dry and sunny, with the promise of a scattering of snow on the tops. Unfortunately, however, anticipation of the snow failed to alert me to the wisdom of packing my elasticated mini-crampon thingies–doh–which led to a great deal of rather scary slipping and sliding on the steeper sections higher up, and particularly on the descent from Fairfield towards Hart Crag. Piggle has her own built-in little crampons, of course, and couldn’t understand why I was proceeding so slowly, and sideways, like some sort of huge disorientated crab. She’s grown used to my foibles, though, and so she forgave me in the end.

As we were descending I stopped for a moment, and noticed a couple some distance away who looked very familiar. They were on the way up, and they turned out to be John Manning and Steph Hughes. I’ve not seen them for years, and it was nice to stop for a few minutes to catch up.

(The last time I saw them, in fact, and upon reflection, was the last time I went up to the Lakes–that time with a friend from work–to do the Fairfield Horseshoe. We stopped on the way home to eat, and we ran into them in the restaurant. How spooky is that?!)

Spooky

Spooookeeeeee!

Anyway… they’d been sensible enough to remember their crampons, and so as Piglet and I slid on down the hill they got out their crampons and prepared to make their way rather more safely to the top.

The descent towards Ambleside always begins to feel like a bit of a chore–all that relentless down, Down, DOWN–but I’d forgotten about the awkward step. I think it’s just below Low Pike. That formed a bit of a distraction for a few minutes, because little Piglet doesn’t like heights any more than I do, and she did a bit of squeaking with fear as I manoeuvred her in her little carrying harness. Or maybe that was because she thought I might drop her…

Anyway, we got safely down in the end, and for what I think must be the first time in my whole life I drove straight home without stopping for a look around the kit shops!

We did stop, in fact, but not until Windermere, because I’d been harbouring a macaroni cheese plan since somewhere around Rydal Fell. Sadly, though, the yummy ready-made macaroni cheese in the special frozen section at Booths required 45 minutes’ cooking, and so I settled for pizza instead. Piglet ate a little tub of dog food in the car park to keep her going on the journey, and then went to sleep in her crate.

Catty had thoughtfully set the fire for us, and so it wasn’t long before the three of us were snuggled up in our PJs, sharing the pizza and catching up with something on the television. Roll on the drier weather!


Ingleborough & Whernside

25 March, 2016

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Piggly and I had a great day out today.

  • Distance: 18 miles (prolly 19+ with our wee lost bit)
  • Ascent: 1,233m
  • Descent: 1,237m
  • Time: 9 hours
  • Scoff: 3 cheese & marmite rolls (shared) + a ton of kibble (Piglet’s) + coffee (mine)

It looked from the forecast as though this was likely to be the only decent day in the next couple of weeks, and so Piglet suggested that we should get out and do something more substantial than our usual routes, to make the best of the weather. Catty suggested Ingleborough and Whernside (I suspect he was hoping to get rid of us for a whole day), and it sounded like a good plan to Piggly and me and so we did 🙂

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Route 02

Route 03

We’ve done Ingleborough and Whernside  several times before, but today we took a different route. Rather than descending steeply from Ingleborough towards Chapel-le-Dale and climbing up via Ellerbeck and Bruntscar to the top, before retracing our steps in order to descend, we continued after Ingleborough via Park Fell right down to the railway near the Ribblehead Viaduct, and went up Whernside from there. Afternwards we went down via Ellerbeck, crossed Scales Moor and–after descending the extremely steep Twisleton Scar End–bimbled back along the road to Ingleton.

There was only one point at which we were irritatingly misplaced. On descending from Park Fell Piglet persuaded me that we should bear left, but that wasn’t a good idea because we were faced with the railway line and no way to cross it. We therefore had to retrace our steps in order to come out at the point at which there’s a little bridge. Bizarrely, soon after that, a bloke asked me for directions! He must have been truly desperate 🙂 I was able to point him towards Horton in Ribblesdale, though, with the assistance of ViewRanger on my iPhone, so it was okay in the end.

I’m about to have dinner, and Piglet is already curled up on the sofa. Judging from the mess in the house on our return, the Cat has had all of his pals in!


Wow – Ciabatta!

23 March, 2016

Wow! I’ve been meaning to have a go at ciabatta for a long time, but it seemed so complicated (it’s a very wet dough) that I kept finding something less complicated to do instead.

Today I decided to bite the bullet, though, and I’m very chuffed with how it’s come out!

This was a ‘fast ciabatta‘ recipe that I didn’t even start until late morning. I totally messed it up right from the start by adding far too much water, but I tried to salvage things by adding more flour until it looked as though the dough might eventually be able to form a ball around the Kenwood dough hook. That approach isn’t ideal, as it throws out the proportions (of flour to salt and yeast) but ho hum… It seemed a shame not to keep trying, and eventually it did come together.

I left the dough to rise while I went off to choir, and for about an hour more on my return while I took Piglet out. Then I more-or-less poured it out onto the kitchen table, divvied it up into sort-of rectangles and let it rise again for another hour. After that it went into the oven for 20 mins and at the end I had a pile of lovely-looking little ciabattas! Awesome 🙂

It tastes pretty good and has lots of uneven holes, as it should. I’ve no doubt that it can be better, but I’m amazed that it came out as well as it did in all the circumstances.

After a modicum of cooling I converted two into mozzarella and tomato rolls, and very scrumptious they were. I’m definitely planning to make this again, and will try to get the water right next time 🙂


The best bread rolls I’ve ever made!

13 March, 2016

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Kudos to James Morton and his ‘Brilliant Bread‘ book! Finally, I’ve managed to make a decent crusty roll 🙂


What a gorgeous morning!

7 March, 2016

Toadstool garlic

Because I was working on Saturday I have today off, and for once the Weather Gods have smiled on me and I’ve been blessed with a truly lovely day.

I was planning to spend a fair proportion of the day in my PJs, watching television, but when I woke to golden sunshine and crisply freezing air wafting in through the attic window I couldn’t stay in bed, and Piglet made it clear that she couldn’t stay in the house.

We therefore went for a brisk trot around some local fields, and on the way back I stopped to gather a bag of wild garlic. I’m planning to make soup later. I haven’t got a recipe yet, but I’m thinking wild garlic, potatoes and mushrooms. Yumsy yum!

Piglet has now gone out with her beloved dogly walker, Sonja, for her second walk, and is hoping to see her bezzy mate Poppy. Catty is installed on a bin in the yard soaking up sunshine, and I’m going to try out a new bread recipe from James Morton’s Brilliant Bread book: crusty rolls.

Life is good today 🙂 TTFN.


The Cafe at the Museum in Manchester

6 March, 2016

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I was in Manchester yesterday, and a pal and I needed to find somewhere for a coffee near Oxford Road.

Happily, somebody suggested what turned out to be the absolutely brilliant Cafe at the Museum, which was just across the road. It was not yet 0930 when we arrived and so it was quiet, but it was immediately obvious that I was going to have to make an exception to my ‘no breakfast’ habit!

Lots of things on the menu tempted me, but in the end I went for my choice of three of the astoundingly yummy-looking homemade salads they had on offer, all ready for lunch. They were just as good as they looked. My pal had what he said was a fantastic bacon sandwich — you can see from the pic below the lovely sourdough bread it arrived on. The coffee was delicious too, and the staff were friendly and helpful. There was great cake as well, but I confined myself to a photo on that front. It was truly the most delicious and happy-making experience I’ve had in a cafe/restaurant for quite a long time!

We nipped back over later in the morning for further coffee, and weren’t surprised to find people queueing for lunch. I even spotted a pigeon on the way out eating a bagel!

Very highly recommended! If you’re in Manchester then it’s definitely worth a detour.