Monthly Archives: August 2016

Rutland’s highest point

Sunday 28 August 2016. There was just 5 of us on this walk (Moira, Bea, Derek, me and Ming from the Peterborough group). It was a shame that there was so few of us as this was a lovely 9 mile walk with just over 800ft of ascent.

We set off from Braunston in Rutland with some road walking made only longer by me taking a wrong turn. However, we were soon in open countryside passing what we took to be a polo field. It had black and white hooped goal posts at either end with a manicured field in-between. The undulating walk took us into the village of Knossington where I’d planned to stop for coffee at the church. There was a Service underway which we didn’t want to disturb so we had a quick drink and swiftly moved on. The planned lunch break at the Gates garden centre at Cold Overton wasn’t very far away and we arrived just before 12:30. Being the generous person that I am, I allowed a whole 30 minutes for lunch with time to explore the goods on offer. This place has expanded hugely since I was last here and now boasts a large restaurant serving everything from light snacks to a full sunday lunch. The gents urinals were a little unusual being petals/flower heads. I’m told that a similar theme is used for the hand basins in the ladies’ loo.

Until now the walk had been trouble-free but we then hit a series of fields with cereal crops that had still to be harvested and a broken footbridge/stile. The paths across the fields hadn’t been reinstated so we followed tractor tracks where we could as we zig-zagged in the general direction of the non-existent paths. I’ll be reporting this to the local authority for action.

Another short section of uphill road walking brought us to Glebe Farm and the trig point that marked the highest point in Rutland at Cold Overton Park 197m/646ft asl. From here it was more or less downhill all the way back to the cars and a refreshing drink in the local pub.

Braunston in Rutland – walk route

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Cross Fell

Thursday 18 August 2016. The weather forecast for tomorrow and the weekend doesn’t look too promising so today’s walk may have been the last for this holiday. I’ve wanted to walk up Cross Fell for some time; mainly because at 2,930ft it is the highest hill in England outside of the Lake District.

I drove 40 miles to start the walk from the hamlet of Kirkland. There was some cloud cover on the hill tops but this steadily cleared as the day went on. I stopped after 90 minutes for a rest by which time I’d climbed 1,200ft but only covered 2.25 miles. I joined the Pennine Way at Curricks by which time I only had a 400ft climb to the top. Although this was a longish walk at 9.25 miles with a total ascent of 2,400ft there was never any really steep climbs or descents. It was more of an extended slog especially when the path crossed waterlogged sections of fell.

I’d been overlapping with two women and what I took to be their sons as we made our way to the top and the boys added some interest to my trig point picture. As I had lunch in the shelter at the top I chatted with a couple who had come up a little earlier from Kirkland. As they made off they were replaced by a couple who were walking the Pennine Way but unusually from North to South. They were the only people who I saw in nearly 6 hours of walking.

The path down followed the Pennine Way south for a little while before intersecting with my path for Wildboar Scar. This latter path was so faint that I overshot it by 50 yards or so and my GPS came into its own again. More bogs were crossed before the path improved the closer that I got back to Kirkland. It was a largely featureless walk and having done it once, I doubt that I’d do it again.

Cross Fell – walk route

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Nine Standards Rigg

Wednesday 17 August 2016. I turned the clock back 48 hours today with a visit to the optician in Kirkby Stephen but this time it was to update them on the outcome of my hospital visits and to let them know that the eye problem wasn’t as serious as they had thought. Having had a scare with my eyes, I really should take more care of them and I’ve decided to buy a new pair of sunglasses and to wear them more often. The Kirkby Stephen optician had a display of Bolle sunglasses which can be made up with prescription lenses. Unfortunately they didn’t stock the model that I wanted nor did they have an optometrist available to test my eyes and provide an up-to-date prescription. There are stockists in and around Cambridge so I’ll have to follow this up when I get home.

Finally I was able to get back to walking and today was rather special as I wanted to visit Nine Standards Rigg. I was last here just over 5 years ago when doing my Coast to Coast walk but then the hills were shrouded in fog and I didn’t really see the cairns at their best. The weather today was almost perfect although there was still a cool breeze on the top. The first couple of miles of the walk are on a tarmac road so it came as something of a relief when I struck out up the side of Faraday Gill aiming for the top. It was only 4.3 miles to the top but there was a steady climb and it took me a couple of hours to get there.

Having taken numerous photographs, (I forgot to include my duck) I decided that I would find an alternative way back in order to avoid the road walking. My route took me across open fellside before picking up the Green alternative C2C route. There are 3 routes which are supposed to reduce damage to surface vegetation and limit erosion. I then made for Ladthwaite and followed the course of the beck before walking alongside the River Eden back into Kirkby Stephen. The walk was just under 10 miles with a total ascent of 1,900ft.

Nine Standards Rigg – walk route

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Good News

Tuesday 16 August 2016. I’ve been back to the Sunderland Eye Infirmary today for an OCT scan which has confirmed that I don’t have a torn retina in my left eye, I won’t need an operation nor am I at risk of losing my sight. The Consultant has confirmed that the problem is retinoschisis, a condition where the jelly in the eye shrinks away from the retina causing some minor damage with consequential debris (floaters). This is an age related degenerative problem which I can live with and don’t need any treatment.

At least I was in and out of hospital within an hour and although I’ve lost out on 2 days walking in the summer weather, it is a small price to pay to know that I’m not at risk of losing the sight in my left eye.

Back to Monday’s plan tomorrow with a call into the optician in Kirkby Stephen to update them on my condition before climbing Nine Standards Rigg.

Eye Problems

Tuesday 16 August 2016. I’d been waiting for the best part of a week for the summer weather to arrive and it finally came yesterday with clear skies and no wind; ideal walking conditions. However there’s always a fly in the ointment and this was my left eye. On Sunday I started to see floaters through my left eye and having researched this I thought that I’d better get it checked out.

I drove to Kirkby Stephen with the idea of walking up Nine Standards Rigg but called into the opticians to see if they could run a few checks on my left eye. The idea of walking was soon abandoned as the optometrist suspected that a detached retina was the cause of the floaters and sent me immediately to the A&E at Sunderland Eye Infirmary for further checks. As with all A&E’s there was a wait, in this case over 3 hours before I saw a doctor. I then saw another doctor and eventually the surgical consultant. By now I’d been there for nearly 5 hours and some of the support staff had gone home. The consultant wanted to take some photographs of my eye to determine if I really had a detached retina or if it was something less serious. So, I have to make to 100 mile round trip to Sunderland again today for further examination.

It could go one of two ways. It might not be so serious and could just be a condition that I can live with. The worst case scenario is that it is a detached retina which should really be operated upon without delay. However, this would mean that I couldn’t drive for 3 weeks or so after an operation and logistically this is impossible given how far away I am from Sunderland and a lack of public transport.

Fortunately I have some insurance cover through Green Flag which, in the event of illness, will provide a chauffeur to drive me, my car and caravan home. If it is a detached retina then I would need to call upon this service as potentially I could lose the sight in my left eye without any warning and driving and towing a caravan isn’t advisable.

I’m having further tests at 4.30pm when the consultant has finished surgery for the day and I should then have a more definitive diagnosis. I’m hoping for the best outcome and will post an update later today or early tomorrow.

High Force

Sunday 14 August 2016. I started this walk yesterday but had to call it off after less than a mile as the light drizzle developed into more steady rain. I’d driven to the Bowlees visitor centre where I had my customary “holiday bacon sandwich” and a pot of tea whilst the weather made its mind up as to what it was going to do. There was more low cloud and clag on the hills as I set of more in hope than expectation of a fine day. I was soon disappointed by the rain but at least I wasn’t too far into the walk to be able to turn back without getting a soaking.

Today was overcast but there was no rain forecast so I thought that I’d give it another go. I’d done this walk before with Bea but went the opposite way around this time. I passed on the bacon sandwich today and was soon heading towards High Force but on the north bank. There’s a car park just a couple of hundred yards away from the falls but the footpath must pass over private land a charge of £1.50 was being levied for each visitor. The Yorkshire man in me wouldn’t allow me to pay for something that I could see for free later on in the walk. It isn’t the money but it is the principle of charging to see a natural feature that bugged me.

Having made a needless detour I was quickly back on track and passed a small chapel on the minor road near Forest-in-Teesdale. The last time that I was here it was boarded up but now looks as if it has been renovated as a holiday cottage. The halfway point of the walk came as I crossed the River Tees and joined the Pennine Way heading east. I stopped for lunch along this section of the walk and before reaching High Force. I suppose it could be called Durham’s Niagara Falls but it would be stretching it just a tad.

Low Force, as the name implies, doesn’t have quite the same drop but is still impressive and was just half a mile or so from Bowlees so is popular with the tourists. The walk was 8.4 miles with just under 1,000ft of ascent.

High Force – walk route

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On the “Booze”

Friday 12 August 2016. I’ll come back to the title of this post in a little while. Yesterday morning was both showery and blustery so I didn’t think that I’d get out for a walk. By noon it had brightened up but was still very breezy so I set off for a 6 mile walk directly from my caravan. I followed the Teesdale Way and the Tees Railway Path but it was a largely uninspiring walk along field edges so no photographs.

Today I made a short drive of 12 miles south across the county border from Durham and into God’s own county of Yorkshire for what was planned to be an 8 mile walk starting from Langthwaite. If anything the wind was even stronger than yesterday with a clag of low mist shrouding the nearby hills. My route took me steeply uphill to the hamlet of Booze which has an interesting mining history. This was an extremely isolated walk and I only saw two other people away in the distance on Framlington Edge. I was soon out on the vast expanse of Booze Moor and stopped for coffee sat on the doorstep of a rather grand and what appeared to be newly built shooting lodge. This provided some much-needed shelter from the wind.

There was always a threat of rain and this, combined with the wind, made my mind up to cut the walk short and to head downhill where conditions were much better in the valley bottom. The walk was only 4 miles but still had a total ascent of 1,000ft.

Langthwaite was only 6 miles from the Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub at 1,732ft so, as I’d never been before, I thought that I’d have a drive there for lunch. I have to say that I was disappointed. The barman was anything but friendly and needs a course in customer service. I arrived at noon expecting the be able to get some food but it wasn’t served until 1pm. This might have had something to do with the “Glorious 12th” shooting parties that I’d seen as I drove across the moor. I had a cup of tea and left, perhaps never to return.

Caravan Site – walk route

Langthwaite – walk route

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