Thursday, 23 March 2017

137-145 - Stockton, Liverpool and Manchester - 14th-16th March 2017

Green walk
Sometime in 2017 I was asked if I would attend an event in Blackpool, it was a weekend event and although I have already visited the highpoint of Blackpool I decided there and then that I would try and head up a few days early so that I could visit a few more highpoints while I am up in the north of England.
My basecamp for a few nights was to be the Travelodge near St Helens, just to the north east of Liverpool, it was the perfect spot as it was surrounded by many high points. My first destination was about 8 miles to the south west of Manchester, I left my hotel and headed down the M6 and then along the M56 to the town of Altrincham, where I easily found my first high point, this was in a road called Green walk and I was able to park my van right on the road that marked the highest point of Trafford. Green walk is the location of a few large houses and a rather old and lovely church of which I had a walk around. On the way to Green walk I had passed a sign for a national trust property so as a NT member I decided to call in and have a look around.

The Church at Green Walk
Dunham Massey Mill
The property was called Dunham Massey and I only visited the gardens, it is quite large with a deer park and some beautiful areas to walk around. I stayed here for an hour or so and then headed off to destination number 2. This next highpoint was situated south east of Manchester and after a drive along some motorways, through a few towns and villages then finally along a series of country roads I arrived at a parking place near the village of Mellor. It was a short walk from my van past a farm and along a few more country tracks then eventually I was walking along some steep paths uphill to to the highest point of Stockport, Mellor Moor. From the trig point on top of Mellor Moor I had amazing views all around, to the east was Kinder Scout, then to the north was Manchester and Stockport, it had turned out to be a beautiful sunny day so it was lovely to stop here and take it all in. A short walk back to the van and it was then a drive back to the hotel for some dinner and a relax.
Mellor Moor

Mellor Moor
Mellor Moor
















The next day started out with a Little Chef breakfast and then I was on my way just a short 15 min drive to my first destination of the day. Just to the west of the small town of Billinge lies 2 high points, I parked my van in a small parking spot and headed off to find the first of 2. Billinge hill is home to several transmitter masts and right on top sits a stone tower, the views from this point were amazing, it was not particularly sunny at this point however I could see right across Liverpool and across the Mersey all the way to Snowdonia, I was quite impressed with the views from here, apparently it is a well known spot to watch fireworks from on November 5th. The Summit of Billinge hill is the highest point of St Helens.

Billinge Hill
Looking towards Billinge hill 2











Back to the parking spot and before leaving I had to cross the road and walk down a small driveway to visit the second highpoint in the area, this one also part of Billinge hill is the highest point of Wigan. Highpoint number 3 was about a 30 min drive westwards, Finding my way to the M58 I joined it for a while before turning off to find Melling mount, the highest point of Sefton. This one was not as attractive as the last 2, the home of a garage and a run down pub but still it was good to tick it off.

Melling Mount
Knowsley Safari Park
My next highpoint was a bit of a problem, about a 15 min drive to the south of Melling mount is Knowsley Park, the highest point of Knowsley, the problem is that it sits deep within a private estate. I have done a bit of research and it seems the land owners are very reluctant to let people come into the park to find the high point. the nearest you can get is to visit Knowsley safari park and drive around the Lion enclosure but that is an extra £15, I wasnt going to spend half the day looking at animals on my own so I decided to park nearby and take a short walk to get as near as I could. The entrance of the Safari Park would have to do and I have always said that if I can't get to the high point then I would get as near as I could.
Woolton Hill
John Lennon's house
I have never been to Liverpool so on the way to my next destination I decided to take a short detour through the city and along the Mersey, a quick top off to see the famous river and then I was just a stones throw from Woolton hill, the highest point of Liverpool. Woolton hill was quite nice, although it was just a road there was a rather cool water tower here. Another interesting thing about Woolton hill is the fact that just around the corner is a property called Strawberry fields, sound familiar? it should do because just along the road a short distance was John Lennon's childhood home. I stopped off here for a quick look and then it was time to make my way to my last 2 highpoints of the day to the north of Manchester.

Heaton Park

Heaton Park is a large park to the north of Manchester and is home to Heaton hall, a golf course, boating lake, farm and of course the highest point of Manchester. I found Heaton park a rather lovely place, I had a good walk exploring the stately home and many of the gardens. It was sunny so I enjoyed my first ice cream of the year plus I found the highest point called the Temple, mainly because of the temple situated right on the top. Apparently this circular structure was once used as an observatory and still had a working fireplace inside. I was treated to some more views here, mainly looking east and south over Manchester and again over to Kinder Scout and the surrounding hills, nearby within the park was the golf course which was once the deer park. I spent quite a long time at Heaton park wandering around but after a while it was time to head off and find my last high point.

Heaton Hall

Newcome Drive
Heading back west toward my hotel I took a small detour to find the high point, this one could be found in the small town of Little Hulton, around 5 miles south of Bolton, Newcome drive is the highest point of Salford and being it was just a housing estate is was not too exciting but again it was good to tick it off my list. It was at this point in my 2 days of visiting hills that the heavens finally opened and it rained, I was just lucky to get back into my car and avoid getting wet so that was great. I headed back to my hotel after completing 9 high points over the last 2 days.

When I got back to the hotel and I looked into the hills I had visited I realised I had passed a milestone, Mellor Moor was my 139th high point, as I have 239 in total it means I now have less than 100 to go, in fact I am now down to just 93 hills to visit to complete my list, does that mean the end is in sight?

Here are the details of the hills I have visited during this trip

Name Highest point of  Height in metres
Green Walk  Trafford   67
Mellor Moor Stockport   327
Billinge Hill St Helens   179
Billinge Hill  Wigan   169
Melling Mount Sefton   36
Knowsley Park Knowsley   100
Woolton Hill Liverpool   89
Heaton Park Manchester   108
Newcombe Drive  Salford   116


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

137 - 138 - Newcastle and Southend - Sept 2016 & Feb 2017


Well, 2017 has arrived and we are now well into the year, Hill climbing season is fast approaching and its time to catch up with a few hill visits I have completed since last summer.

In September 2016 I headed up to Edinburgh for a short city break with Nathan and Ryan, this was not a hill climbing event however I did manage to visit one hill on the way home, Driving past Newcastle upon Tyne I stopped off to look at some maps and found there was a very easy high point I could do.

Westerhope is the highest point of Newcastle upon Tyne and was just a short drive from the main A1, I didnt have too much time as it was a long journey back down south to an event I was taking part in.

After arriving near the high point of Westerhope I took a short walk, it was not far but was good to get out and stretch my legs. Westerhope is the location of a covered reservoir and in the area there is a football field with a beacon at one end so I knew I was in the right location. it was only a short stop and I was soon on my way back down south.


Travelling forward in time a few months to February and I was taking another short break with Nathan, this time much farther south not too far from the town Essex town of Maldon. While in the area we visited Colchester Zoo and headed into Southend too.

Southend is home to the worlds longest pier so we had to go and see that and it was a lovely long walk. I also visited a high point, Southend on Sea has 2 high points, both are the same height so when this happens it is called a twin top, I did one of them several years ago in January 2014 but I had somehow missed the other one so it was good to get this done even if it was just a road junction, As I say to everyone, it is still a high point and it still counts so I was happy.

138 highpoints done, 102 to go.



Wednesday, 10 August 2016

131-136 - Teesside and More - 3rd-4th August 2016

Roseberry Topping

My cousin Charlie is Mountain mad, He loves climbing and all things outdoors, he is often popping up to the Lakes or Scotland to climb mountains and he has been doing this for years, the odd thing is that he has never joined me on my High point quest so it was time to change that, Charlie was going to be up in Yorkshire area for a while and had a few days spare so we thought it would be a good opportunity to get some high points ticked off.

I left on the Tuesday morning and travelled up to Yorkshire and our Campsite in the small village of Little Ayton on the edge of the North Yorks National Park, Charlie had been off climbing a mountain for his own personal challenge that day but he met me at the campsite not long after I had arrived and we set up camp and settled in for our few days break.

Like me, Charlie has set himself some hill/mountain climbing challenges, one of them being the Trail 100, this is a list of the 100 best mountains across the UK as chosen by the Trail magazine, it is an impressive list and features lots of the hills and mountains that I have already climbed or will need to climb during my own challenge, one of the hill, the smallest of the Trail 100 list is called Roseberry topping. Now roseberry topping is NOT on my list however it does have a place in my heart, many years ago I knew a magician in Redcar, I would visit him and he would show me around, Roseberry topping would often make an appearance in our drives around the countryside. Sadly he died and the night before his funeral I spent the night sleeping in my car at the base of Roseberry Topping. I remember waking up that morning and looking up thinking how amazing it would be to climb it, I never did and I have wanted to ever since so this was going to be a great opportunity for Charlie to tick off a Trail 100 summit and for me to cross off what I will now consider to be an honorary high point.


The topping of Roseberry
On the Wednesday morning we set off with 2 hills in mind, Roseberry topping and one of my high points, We left the campsite and walked along some country lanes quickly coming to footpaths crossing the countryside, We passed some archaeological remains at one point, apparently they were the remains of the house in which the parents of Captain Cook lived. When we left the campsite the forecast for the day was dry, no rain whatsoever, looking behind us however it was a different story, we could see the rain coming and we didn't have our wet weather gear. On the slopes of Roseberry topping we could see a possible shelter so we pressed on and made it to the shelter just as the rain started. The rain didn't stay too long and we were back out climbing up to the summit of Roseberry Topping, one of the most beautiful hills I have ever had the pleasure of climbing, the views were just incredible and I was so pleased to get to the top.

Gisborough Moor
From Roseberry Topping we walked eastwards back down the hill and then up again onto the open moorland of the North yorks National Park. The path was fairly level across the open moorland after some time we reached a trig point where we changed direction to the south and finally we reached the highest point called Gisborough Moor, at 328 Metres it is the highest point of Redcar and Cleveland. The land was fairly flat around here and on the highest point there was a small stone structure just big enough for us to shelter in and have our lunch, the wind was strong so we needed the shelter.


From Gisborough moor we retraced our steps a little bit and then decided to take a gamble on a different route back, there was a farm in the bottom of a valley in our way however Charlie was convinced there was a way through so we thought we would give it a go. On arrival at the farm there seemed to be a footpath but it went in totally the wrong direction but we managed to work our way through the farm and all we were soon working our way up the other side of the valley. Onto a country road now and up to a ridge where we joined another road and walked along to find a path downhill again, this pathway had been affected by some serious water erosion recently and at the bottom we stopped and Charlie cooked us some pasta for lunch.

After pasta we headed up another hill and into a forest where we emerged onto Easby Moor and the Captain cook monument overlooking the vast flat area of land surrounding Middlesbrough. From here is was just a short walk back down the hill to the campsite for a delicious home made vegetarian spicy ratatouille concoction that Charlie had invented from all his leftover food (very yummy).
Highest point of Redcar

On Thursday morning it was time to visit some more high points so off we headed into the North Yorks National Park again, This time we drove to a car park with a spectacular view, it turns out we had both been there before on separate occasions. We left the car park and walk through the forests for a while, we missed a turn at some point but it didn't matter, we soon turned off our path and were back on track heading up hill onto open moorland. The views were pretty good along this path and in the distance we could see the rain coming again but this time we were prepared for it. We kitted ourselves up and carried on and when the rain eventually arrived it was VERY heavy and we got drenched. Despite the rain we managed to get to Round Hill on Urra Moor, at 454 metres it is the highest point of the North York Moors National Park.


Urra Moor
The Rain was really pelting down so we headed back to the car and the sun was soon shining again and drying us off before we got the next soaking from another shower. Once back at the car park we headed back to the campsite for a dry off and some lunch and then we headed off to find more high points. These next few high points were going to involve much walking or climbing as they were all of the kind that were on the side of roads near roads and I was wondering if Charlie was going to enjoy these as they are not much of a challenge however he really got into it and treated it like a treasure hunt reading the maps and telling me where to drive. For the first stop we parked in a layby on a quiet road and walked through a small farm and then across a main road. Passing through a field (with Bull warning signs) and past a house we were as near as we could get to Quarry Hill, the highest point of Middlesbrough, 100 metres above sea level. back through bull field and driving to our next destination just 15 mins drive away.

Quarry Hill
Boy hill was quite an exciting one, not very high but it had lots of interesting features, mainly the wind farm domination the landscape, now if you have read my blog before you may know I love windfarms, well here is where I find out Charlie does too, we spent a while walking around, the high point was rather attractive as it was covered in manure, my first high point made of manure, I was not expecting that, there is a first for everything I guess. So at 82 metres Boy hill is the highest point of Stockton

Boy Hill
Dere Street
Moving on to our next high point it was about a 45 min drive, and with Charlies expert map reading we had soon parked directly on Dere Street, the highest point of Darlington at 219 metres. The last high point of the day was another 30 min drive away back towards the coast and along part of the A1M and eventually we parked in a layby. our destination was a hill in a farm across the road, Normally on my own I would just get as close as I could however Charlie convinced me it would be ok to risk getting shot at by an angry farmer (I knew that wouldn't really happen) and soon we were standing on the highest point of Hartlepool, Whelly Hill at 142 metres. The last thing to do was to make our way back to the campsite and I did that by crossing the River Tees by using the Tees Transporter Bridge (look it up, it is amazing).

Thanks to Charlie for joining me for a few awesome days of hill bagging, I can't believe I managed to tick off 6 high points and an honorary high point.
Whelly Hill

Well earned Fish and Chips



130 - The Old Man of Coniston - Historic Lancashire - 26th July 2016

Sergeant's Crag from Langstrath Beck
It was time to do another trip with Chris G from Bournemouth and he had often expressed a desire to head to the Lake district, I had 1 more high point to do it that area so we headed off up north for a nice holiday and a high point.
Waterside farm campsite
Is it Raining?
This trip was a bit of a last minute plan so I struggled to find a campsite at first however when I did find one it was a good one, Waterside Farm on the banks of Ullsmere was quite nice with great facilities. We arrived on the Monday and set up camp and then went for a wander along the banks of Ullsmere into the local village of Pooley Bridge, finishing the evening off with a nice meal.

Tuesday was the day to tick off the high point, we packed up our bags and headed south through the Lake district and between the mountains to the town of Coniston where we purchased some sausage rolls and snacks ready for the walk. Just up the road from Coniston we found our starting car park where we headed off for our walk. Our route today was not going to be straight up the mountain, instead I had planned on walking around the southern base of the mountain to the western side and then up and over the mountain back to the car park on the eastern edge.

The walk started well, we had purposely chosen this day to climb as according to the weather forecast it was going to be the best day of the week however about 10 minutes into our walk the rain started and became really heavy, we were soon drenched. It turned out to be a fairly short shower and we left the current path and started to make our way along the south edge of the mountain. We passed over some rocked and started to slowly climb in height and then we came across a lake which we had to walk past. After the lake it was a very steep climb up to a ridge on the south west edge of the mountain. It was a steep climb and we heard that a lady had hurt her ankle up ahead and mountain rescue were on their way.
Goats Water on the slopes of the Old man of Coniston
On a high
At the top of the ridge we turned north east and were now climbing directly towards the summit, We passed the injured lady, she had 4 people with her and we checked if they had enough supplies and all was as good as it could be with them. We continued and eventually reached the highest point of the historic county of Lancashire, The old Man of Coniston at 803 metres. Despite the wind and cloud cover we stayed at the top of the Old man for a while, we sheltered behind a stone structure and drank tea and ate our lunch. We were lucky a few times because the clouds parted and we got some amazing views down onto Coniston and across the lake.

Coniston and its lake
From here we took a more direct route back down the mountain, working our way down the steep paths and amongst the old mines eventually getting back to the car park, Thankfully it had stayed dry for the rest of the walk and had actually warmed up a bit, now it was time to head back to camp.

On the Wednesday we headed to Borrowdale for a walk along a valley in search of some waterfalls and a possible swimming hole however it was FAR too cold for a dip so we paddled our feet instead, it was a beautiful sunny day and it was nice to spend some time by the river. We also visited Keswick and headed back to Pooley Bridge for a meal in one of the local pubs. On our last full day we headed to Penrith for another wander around and a bite to eat.

The Old Man of Coniston
Sadly all good things come to an end and we had to pack up camp and make our way home. It was a lovely trip tho and thanks to Chris for coming with me.