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Tue 29th April 2014

Pen-y-Ghent - Yorkshire Dales

Pen-y-Ghent - Yorkshire Dales

It was a damp journey down to the Yorkshire Dales and as we passed Whernside in the people carrier we could not even see the base of the mountain from the road, never mind the top but as we pulled into Horton of Ribblesdale there seemed to be a slight break in the weather.

As we pulled on our walking gear ready to start our walk the sun came out and for the mist lifted a little and we got our first glimpse of Pen-y-Ghent through the clouds and as we set off the waterproof over layers soon got peeled off as we settled into a gradual climb as we all warmed up.
The group where all fit and managed well.

On the same day the Three Peaks fell race was taking place so as we approached the main path up to Pen-y-Ghent we were treated to what looked liked a row of ants flowing down from the higher ground. We all took a few moments to marvel at the fitness of these hardy folk before the big climb started for ourselves.

About three quarters up the climb we found a great sheltered spot to enjoy out lunch with a great view over to Ingleborough and Whernside away to the right. With this size of group we had great conversation and with everybody’s fitness being so evenly matched it made for a real team feeling.

The final climb to the summit quickly warmed us all back up and as we reached the summit we had great views of this special part of the country.From the summit we steeply dropped down and thankfully with the ground and rocky ground being dry under foot it made it far easier than it could have been. It was just a case of just taking our time to ensure we all got down safely.The final decent was a lot more gradual and spirits where high as we kept finding parts of trekking poles under our feet which kept us all amused.

A great day was had by all and looking back at the day, how lucky where we with the weather.

Mon 21st April 2014

Craster Nordic Walk

Craster Nordic Walk

As Jane had hurt her foot, Julie led this walk.

Everyone was nice and punctual on this chilly and blustery morning and after chatting to another group of walkers, who asked who we were and what we were doing with poles, we warmed up in the car park and set off.
The first part of the walk took us down the road towards the harbour and the group turned left for the walk towards Dunstanburgh Castle.  The group soon stretched as the two men in the group set off at a very quick pace, only slowed down by the gates where they gallantly waited for the rest of us.  Beth asked if we could find places that weren’t as beautiful as she had to keep stopping to take photographs.  

As we skirted around the bottom of the Castle, I was pleased to see that there was a vast expanse of beach that we could drop onto meaning we could put our Nordic walking technique into practice.  After stopping for a few seconds so that the golfers could tee off we headed down to the sand and everyone found the harder sand and set off, this time it was two of the ladies who took up the front position.  We walked a fair bit along the sand before turning round to finish off the rest of the walk.  Although I think everyone would have been just as pleased to stay on the beach.

Next came a part of the walk that was on paths, passing the limekiln and many pillboxes.  Everyone loved the scenery and the pace was a good one.  The stops came when we got to gates as nobody wanted to stop otherwise because it was too cold and windy once you stopped.

We headed through a field of sheep and their lambs who were lying on the footpath but who weren’t interested in us.  Cue more photographs from Beth.  We skirted around a field rather than dropping down onto the road.

We were coming to the end of the walk and someone asked how far we had walked.  Martin’s GPS said 5.12 miles.  

We then dropped through the trees back to the car park where we finished off with cool down and stretches.  

Everyone said they had enjoyed the walk, could feel that they had worked their shoulders and arms.  

Most of us headed to the Kipper Bun van for a sandwich and a cuppa before leaving to go home.

This was a good Nordic walk as there were lots of long stretches whereby we could all get into our swing and go at our pace.  Thank you to everyone for coming along and I hope to see you again soon.


Mon 21st April 2014

Davidsons Linn from Wedder Leap

Davidsons Linn from Wedder Leap

I usually write the walk blog the day after a walk before sending it off to Jon.  This one is no different except that a chance observation in today’s Sunday Times (ST) caught my eye prompting a few thoughts.  Two sentences highlighted in an article in the ST News Review read as follows “I’ve had trips to the Kremlin and the Smithsonian ruined by guides who didn’t realise I’m only there to say I’ve been.  Not to learn anything.”  It struck a chord, for several reasons, about the subconscious assumptions made about the purposes and motivations that both participants and guide make concerning a walk.

I assume that people want to know about the things they are seeing and prepare accordingly.  For me the guiding bit is really only about relieving participants of the need to navigate in its broadest sense (detailed route selection, safety, places to stop, timing and pacing etc).  The broader role is to explain and interpret what we see along the way for those who want to know.  Realistically, and totally understandably, not everyone does, for example they use stops to get their breath back, commune with nature, play with their electronic gadgets (GPS, SLR camera, phone etc) use their binoculars, have an extra “snack” (Ian), have a chat etc.  In a parallel life in mountain rescue it is axiomatic that you don’t make any assumptions but check and verify everything you can before embarking on a particular course of action and in an ideal world we do.  Then of course there is reality and the restrictions of the limited information field that is available at the time.  All of this suggests that, with normally distributed groups of walkers, it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time.  Oh the guilt and depression.

However, it is unrealistic to assume that we all have the same interests and motivations, we don’t.  Some of our number really did want to visit Davidson’s Linn and wouldn’t have gone alone for a host of reasons.  Others took the opportunity to visit a beautiful and quiet corner of Northumberland in the company of like-minded people for an experience “in the round” whilst at least two of our number took the opportunity to hone their navigational skills en-route.  The photographers came into their own at the waterfall itself where we had lunch in an idyllic warm and sunny spot.  The incidentals, like seeing the bird of prey being mobbed near Murder Cleugh, talking to Ian Tait above his hayfields whilst climbing Barrow Law, or almost causing an international incident (well, at least a regional one) on the Border Fence by “discussing” the relative merits of Newcastle and Sunderland football teams with partisan mountain bikers, resulted in an experience which is hopefully more than the sum of its parts.  Even the two dogs got a decent walk and provided some interest, not to say, hilarity throughout the walk.  The weather was excellent too, high pressure, blue sky with the odd fair weather cumulus.  The air temperature wasn’t great but the sun was strong, the wind was a “bit draughty” in places too, hence the importance of knowing where to stop.  I really had to resist jumping-in for a quick seminar about clouds when someone made a throw-away remark about “fluffy cumulus” but 1 out of 10 for knowing the word cumulus.  They were Cumulus Humilis actually but there is also Cu Mediocris, Cu Congestus, Cu Fractus and even a Radiatus variety too.  Additionally there are all of the what, when, why, who, and how questions arising from atmospheric instability represented by cumuliform clouds but that will have to wait for another day – whatever do you mean obsessive compulsive disorder?  The sky represents half of what we see, especially in the “Land of the Far Horizons” and particularly where we were but is frequently ignored except when we get things we don’t want from it like the various forms of precipitation, 8/8ths cloud, strong winds etc.  Similarly the landscape, everyone can pick out some of the individual landscape elements and characteristics but linking them together into a working physical and human system needs a bit more knowledge and insight.  

So where does that leave us?  Simply that we are all motivated to walk by a myriad of different enthusiasms and that this very diversity is a major strength in itself. Oh, and I’ve found a cunning way to increase the pace of slower walkers too.  I offer to “clarify” (quite a short tutorial usually as long as you don’t ask any questions) the different agri-environment environmental stewardship schemes available to farmers.  Usually I only get as far as the broad outline of the scheme, not even onto the difference between the Organic and Upland Entry Level Schemes before the pace picks-up and they are off!

Alternatively it might just have been that they could see that we were only a few hundred yards from Ian Tait’s Tearoom at Barrowburn.  There was a queue but I didn’t have the heart to continue the tutorial (monologue!), everyone looked so happy and comfortable and anyway nobody had left me a seat.  Now you all know why Ian always walks at the rear of the group and is the happiest person on the walk!  Sorry about the seven hours of continuous sunshine, don’t get too used to it.  Ian and I hope that everyone enjoyed the day and that we will see you again soon.  
Sunday, 20 April 2014