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Walkabout Blog

Corrour

Corrour Summit
Corrour Summit

Rannoch Moor swallowed our  train which trundled  hesitantly through the moors internal workings of bog,lochans and still,deep burns before thankfully reappearing at a bright and breezy Corrour Station. The two of us plus mut,rucksacks and a shopping bag full of goodies walked off in the opposite direction to everyone else and soon had a camp set up in the sun by the Allt Coire a Bhric Beag.

Corrour Camp
Corrour Camp

It was warm enough for a dip in the tumbling burn before a wander where we stumbled upon a blackcock lek and a beautiful young stag with velvet antlers.

Ben Na Lap
Ben Na Lap

The weather forecasters crystal ball seemed to be working well and the next bright morning quickly clouded over to threaten rain. We snook up onto Meall Na Lice above Loch Ossian for some moody views and spots of rain.

On Meall Na Lice
On Meall Na Lice

Now me and the Highlands go back a long way and back in the day Corrour Station used to have a split personality. Godforsakenly grim when you arrived in the dark, rain,sleet and wind with nothing but what you carried on your back but a ray of light and hope when you arrived knackered and flushed out of the hills by bad weather after a spell living in the hills from your rucksack!

Things have changed and we spent late afternoon in the rather plush Station House cafe eating expensive cakes and drinking tea. All the grotty old station buildings have gone and been replaced with some rather handsome replacements.

To the Glecoe Hills
To the Glecoe Hills

I enjoyed a day of long views and glancing showers up on Leum Uilleim. Having been ill throughout April and May :-(   it was good to get out and to comforably enjoy a bigger hill! There was time to linger on the tops and arc of ridges to soak up the glorious surroundings. Sal sat in the sun by our tents to finish her novel.

Nevis & Aonach Beag
Nevis & Aonach Beag

Spent our last evening sinking a couple of cold beers over a meal at the Station House.

A bluebell wood in May

blubs (1 of 1)
Morton Wood

Woods are soaked through with bluebells at the moment. We found them drenched in low evening light. Glowing with both scent and colour which seeped into every sense.

In the bluebell wood
In the bluebell wood

 

 

A change in the weather

Normal service is resumed
Normal service is resumed

After weeks of Easterly winds the weather has turned itself off and back on again. Default South West winds have returned bringing sweeping grey skies and a grim mood to the Pennines. It even rained yesterday.

Digley
Digley

The fresh greens of Spring look awkward and out of place beneath these sour skies. I walked out hoping to hear a first cuckoo but felt as if  I’d arrived early and uninvited  at the wrong party.

Greaves Farm
Greaves Farm

 

 

When gorse is out of blossom,kissing’s out of fashion.

Castle Hill In May
Castle Hill In May

So the saying goes anyway!

There’s an extensive patch of gorse on Castle Hill which has developed nicely over the years. I’d noticed it’s yellow splash come into bloom over the past week or so and wished for some sun and a bit of blue sky to set it off for photographs. The weather had been cool and grey from the East for days but after delivering cards to Scholes Post Office I got the feeling that the blanket of cloud would thin and let that May sun in.

Castle Hill Gorse
Castle Hill Gorse

I guessed right and spent an afternoon wandering sunny meadows with sweeping swallows and the warm sun on my back. I could smell the gorse flowers scent in the warming afternoon air.

Paddy
Paddy

Bluebells and Cow parsley lined the field edges and I walked most of the network of paths on the West side of Castle Hill where the stone walls,stiles and scattered trees give an ever changing forground to the scene below Victoria Tower.

Stile and waymarks
Stile and waymarks

Easter Monday

Digley
Digley

The young lambs above Digley are like coat hangers with a fleece on them at the moment. There’s nothing to them at all. On a warm bank holiday evening we stepped into a pastoral scene of lush green fields and motherly ewes.

Digley & Holme Moss
Digley & Holme Moss

 The trees of Digley Wood and sky above were caught in the stillness of wind free water. We spoke with two characters sat arms crossed on a bench by a 60 year old motorbike. Despite the warm afternoon one remained helmeted and his voice echoed slightly when he spoke of miles per gallon,cuckoos and medieval farmers. I kept a straight face.

Wind Free
Wind Free

Along the lane a bit I wandered off and saw a pair of Ring Ouzels flitting about a field quarry as Lapwings combed the air with diving wings.

Old Lane
Old Lane

Swellands

Swellands
Swellands

A sublime April evening on the local moors. Walking up Wessenden beneath a sea blue sky lapped by  rusted bracken hills. Through cold clough shadows up to bright bare moors.

April at Blakley
April at Blakley
Blakley Clough
Blakley Clough

The Pennine Way paved with golden flagstones at Black Moss.

Black Moss
Black Moss

Where we sat in the cold  evening air Sandpipers called by milkshake water  flavoured pink by a  setting sun.

Swellands
Swellands

 

Holme to Haworth

Wessenden
Wessenden

Late getting organised so caught the bus up to Holme and headed out along Issues Road for the moors. Overhead a blustry sky thick with curlew babblings and  possibile precipitation played out the last track of March’s classic album. Picking up the Pennine Way  I pretty much followed it’s flagged way through the bogs over Black Moss, Standedge and White Hill to Blackstone Edge.

Standedge
Standedge

One hefty shower nailed us  in Blakely Clough but otherwise the weather’s bark was mostly louder than it’s bite. It was a joy to be tramping purposefully over  rolling moors  with the aim of knocking off 15 miles by dusk and then camping somewhere in the boulders at the back of Blackstone Edge.

Blackstone Edge
Blackstone Edge

The wind died away with dusk and I found a lovely spot facing East to camp. I had a snipe drumming overhead as I pitched the tent and I was in that contented place of tiredness, hunger  and satisfaction that walking like this brings about. It is a rich place to be!

The M62 grumbled away through the night and occassional showers tapped the flysheet but otherwise all was still until the dawn curlews began warming up for the day.

Bullrushes
Bullrushes

It was some 18 miles to Haworth from where I’d camped so an early start was taken to be sure of some time at the pub before heading home. The morning was windy and threatening on the West side of Blackstone Edge but nothing other than wonderfully dramatic skies developed on the walk  by the chain of reservoirs and conduits which link to Stoodley Pike.

Todmodern
Todmorden

High above Todmorden early April showers cast fast moving light and shadow over Calderdale. It rained on the wind but missed me thankfully! For once I enjoyed the drama without a soaking.

Early April Showers
Early April Showers

Stoodley Pike seems to be a bit of a diva weatherwise and usually puts on a meteorological tantrum of some kind when I walk up here.

Stoodley Pike
Stoodley Pike

Paddy was particularly pleased to reach the oblisk and get out of the wind for a while before the rambling descent to Hebden Bridge and a spot of lunch. There was a real feel of Spring down in the valley  and this developed through the brightening afternoon into a glorious tramp over sunny moors to Haworth.

Ruin (1 of 1)
Nook

It is a long haul through the woods on intricate paths and lanes up into the open country above Hebden Bridge and by the ruined farmstead at Nook  I was feeling it.  The soul  soaked up the dog- eared  South Pennine landscape which lay  before my feet and felt somewhat lighter that my late in the day legs.

The road to Haworth
The road to Haworth

After a paddle and a snooze at Grain Water Bridge I headed up the old unmade road for Haworth and that pint. Coming off the moors above Haworth I had some cracking views North to the Wharfedale hills and enjoyed meadows teeming with curlew as I threaded a way on quiet paths into the village. Not having the legs to walk up the cobbled high street I partook of some ale at the fine Old Hall Hotel before stumbling along the road for a bus to Keighley.

Westmorland

Tainbridge Hill
Tainbridge Hill

Wild West winds, snow clipping the tops and a rather vague weather forcast gave a rewarding and mildly challenging walk up Kirkby Stephen way. In my rush to get on the road I left my camera at home and was reduced to taking photos with the phone! My maps were in the camera case too so I was navigating from my somewhat unreliable memory banks! All good stuff.

Nine Standards Rigg was a glorious tramp from spring back up into winter. The Westerly winds were rattling in bringing heavy cloud laden with hail and snow. Lady Luck was on my side and these showers were nothing more than wintry  passers by who never quite bumped into me.

Nine Standards Rigg
Nine Standards Rigg

I do love this time of year and in particular this kind of weather with Spring and Winter all mixed up like a dogs dinner of warm valley sun,bitter winds on the fells,flocks of curlew and golden plover,snow falling and longer days. Heady stuff to be out in and savoured.

One of showers
One of showers

I seemed to be in good form and tramped on over High Seat and Hugh Seat at what passess for a fair old lick these days. Too cold to stop anyway. I walked into some beautiful late light which caught the fells twists,turns and pale colours as daylight coppered up and began to fade. As ever on these walks there was only me and the dog about to enjoy it.

Late light
Late light

As dusk settled I dropped into Red Gill  thinking it best to get below 2,000 foot for the night. It wasn’t something conscious just a sixth sense pointing me down hill. I found a spot in a flurry of snow and it was tent up and brew on.

Camp at dusk
Camp at dusk

There’s a noticable population of Black Grouse in this area and a great deal of work has gone on to improve thier chances by creating a patch work of trees amongst these cloughs and gills. Real pleasure to see and hear them.

Camp at dawn
Camp at dawn

In the early hours I woke to that silence that comes with snow fall. The wind had swung from West to East and was now plastering the tent door with thick wet snow flakes. So much so that I had to declare an “ok to pee in the tent porch” event. The fly sheet sagged badly and  I knocked it clear every time I turned over for the rest of the night.

Breakfast
Breakfast

I had a very laid back breakfast using the stove to warm up  the tent before packing up inside , gearing up,tipping the dog out and then stepping outside to drop the tent and head off  with the wind and snow at my back for Kirkby Stephen.

March Days

First light
First light

There’s been some good ones this year. I’ve enjoyed the sweeping skies and  longer days as spring cleans winter away. The earlier starts to catch misty moorland and shadowed cloughs before breakast. Most of all the moorland sky is now rich with golden plover,curlew,skylark and oyster catcher.

Spring Reflections
Spring Reflections

The land itself is washed out and almost colourless but the warming sun and wet days will soon change that.

Ramsden Clough
Ramsden Clough

Up in Ramsden Clough I heard the first curlew call over the peat grounds and  found it impossible to take another step as her burbling song held me and gently topped up  a dark winters soul with spring! Later  that day  I sat out of the wind watching a couple of  nibbling mountain hares as showery clouds crept across Woodhead pass. A sky lark was swept up on the wind to fill the moor with song.

Creeping showers
Creeping showers

I spent a breezy afternoon walking from Holmfirth up to West Nab. Paddy panted in the sun like it was a summers day as we trod drying fields upwards and out of the valley to windy moors. Reaching Leyzing Clough at sunset I pitched the tent while a pair of wrens danced and called amongst the gritty boulders of the stream. The night was moonlight and still. Curlew calls promted a clear dawn and a full days walking.

Leyzing Clough
Leyzing Clough

This could be the shorest walk ever.

sunset (1 of 1)

A chippy 4 degrees and stair rod rain in down town Holmfirth all day Sunday. We headed up Holme Moss just before dusk in the car for what we expected would be the shorest walk ever. The rain turned to snow flakes with height and as we stepped onto the moor big dollops of it landed on us from a still, windless sky.

The magic of  the unexpected cast it’s spell on us and off we walked into the silent white peat hags of Holme Moss. An inch of winter covered the highest moorland.  Golden Plovers were heard but couldn’t be seen. A grey traffic cone in the distance turned out to be a hare on hind legs which became invisible as it slipped off silently into the snowy landscape.

An hours walk passed  in a moment.