Wednesday, 10 August 2016

131-135 - 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.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

129 - Windsor and Maidenhead - 3rd June 2016

Ashley Hill

Danny and his amazing balloons
I have a friend entertainer called Danny who I have known for some time but I have never seen him perform, I found out he was going to be performing his balloon show in Maidenhead and I thought it would be a great opportunity to kill 2 birds with 1 stone by seeing his show AND visit a high point.

Maidenhead is about a 2 hour drive for me and I decided to see his show first, it was a great show and I smiled and laughed all the way through so was great to see. After a coffee with Danny I headed off to find my high point, it was only a 10 minute drive from the Theatre and I was soon parked up and walking through the woodlands of Maidenhead. It was not a big hill and I was soon at the top, there was a private house here but I got as close as I could so that I could tick off Ashley Hill at 145 Metres the highest point of Windsor and Maidenhead. I had a bit of a wander around but there were no views to stop and look at so I was soon on my way home again. It was a nice little hill with some lovely woodland and it was all made better with a chance to see Danny doing his great balloon show.

For more details about Danny -

The highest point of Windsor and Maidenhead

127-128 - Dumfries & Galloway and South Ayrshire - 18th May 2015

There are several people who sometimes join me for my high points, the person who has done the most is Darren with an amazing 36 high points out of the 126 that I have done so far, the reason he has done so many is because he did all the London high points with me, mostly all on one day back in January 2013. I remember saying to Darren that he should come and do a proper mountain at some point and so the time had come for us both to make that happen.

Now Darren has a favourite movie, The 1973 film The Wicker Man starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward (or Ewar Woowar for those in the know) and when we started to plan his trip he mentioned about visiting some of the filming locations for the film so that is what we would do, a combined mountain/Wicker man trip. The Wicker man was filmed in Scotland and we managed to find a holiday park on the actual site of some of the filming so off we headed up the M6 to Scotland and the Burrowhead Holiday Village near Whithorn.

Before I go any further I need to say that there are Wicker Man spoilers, so if you have never seen it and don't want it ruined then go watch it now, I will wait while you watch it . . . . . .

We set up camp and the first night was spend exploring the holiday park but the next morning we were off for a drive around the local area to see some of the Wicker man sights. we were quite lucky as we managed to find both sites where they filmed the actual Wicker Man being set on fire, We also found the hole in which Edward Woodward was led out of before he was taken to the Wicker man, and further down the coast we found St Ninians cave which was used in the movie. The Isle of Whithorn is a small fishing village in the local area too and we stopped here for some food for our barbecue that night, we ended up buying some fish from a travelling fish salesman, (that was odd and expensive).

The next day it was time for a hill climb and we headed north to the Galloway Forest park where we parked amongst the hills next to Loch Trool. We left the car and were soon walking along the side of a river, there were a few waterfalls along here which were nice and after a few smaller hills we were walking through a large open flat area with a ruined spooky stone cabin overlooking the river and mountains. After a bit of an explore we headed off again and were soon climbing up the slopes of our mountain, firstly through the forests and then out into the open moorland. The climb was going well but the weather was slowly deteriorating, It had started off cloudy and dry but it was turning damp and windy and we were now starting to walk into the cloud.

After a few snack stops we were now getting close to the summit, we couldn't see the high point until the very last minute due to the thick cloud cover but it was good to see and we found some shelter from the wind in a small stone structure near the Trig point on top of Merrick, at 782 metres it is the highest point of Dumfries and Galloway. After a stop for food it was time to move on to our next high point, it was not very far from Merrick however it soon became apparent that the cloud and wind combined with a very rocky ridge and steep slopes made the rest of the walk rather difficult and a little bit dangerous. Merrick - Kirriereoch Hill the highest point of South Ayrshire at 782 metres above sea level.
There was no way I was going to carry on and risk any injuries without being able to see where we were going. I do have a little rule in my high points challenge and that is that I will get as close as possible to any high points, sometimes it is not possible to get to a high point due to it being private property or if the weather is too bad or if it is too dangerous so we decided that this was as close we were going to get.

As near as we dared to go
It was now time to make our way back to the carpark so we retraced our steps and passed Merrick again and worked our way back down the slopes of Merrick, through the forest and along the banks of the river and back to the car, near the car park over looking Loch Trool we stopped at a memorial to Robert the Bruce, It was here that Bruce and his men were victorious against the English in 1307, a really beautiful place to visit.

Back at the campsite it was barbecue time again and time to set fire to the Wicker Man, It was sun set and Darren had made a mini Wicker man and the plan was to set fire to him in the same location as the original Wicker Man, it took us a while to get him lit but we managed it and we danced around singing pagan ritual songs as the sun dipped below the horizon (not really, we just burnt the little wicker man). Now it was time for a well earned rest before our long drive home the next day. After packing up the tent we set off for home and on route we stopped off at several other Wicker Man filming locations. It was a brilliant trip and Darren was excellent company, I look forward to climbing another hill or 2 with him, Thanks Darren.