With Katarina. We started at Little Bullocks b&b at Hope End Green as I had been staying there. If you're not a customer public parking is not so abundant but this walk can easily be started at Hatfield Broad Oak or Takely. From LIttle Bullocks a track - Oak Lane - heads across something called Cow Common. With these names you would expect therev to be a lot of beasts here but it ius mostly arable land and we met no livestock till after Hatfield Broad Oak. Very easy walking on sometimes slightly muddy paths took us there past Hellman's Cross, Aldbury's Farm, Taverner's Green. From here we followed the Three Forests Way downhill to a footbridge and then north up Pincey Brook, passing some very placid cattle, and on as far as Bridgefoot Farm. Here we took a left and follwoed a footpath over the fields and to the right of some houses to find a road and after going down it a bit a gate into Hatfield Forest. This would have been nice to explore more thoroughly but it was getting late and coming on to rain so we heeded fairly briskly north to reach the Flitch Way. Easily east along this as the light faded for about 3km till a footpath over fields past Runnel's Hey wood took us back to Little Bullocks.
I drove to Buttermere from Keswick over the Honister Pass. Just after the top I passed a man on a bicycle coming up the other side, looking utterly spent and worn out. Come on, old friend, you’re nearly there, I thought, and in a few more turns of his pedals so he would be. I parked at Gatesgarth (Pay and display - remember to bring cash, it's a long way to the nearest cashpoint) and put my boots on. A very tiny friendly black dog came out to inspect me. I took the path past the farm, over the fields and up towards Scarth Gap that separates High Crag from Haystack. Getting high up on this path with High Stile as objective you start to envy the people heading for Haystacks. They are nearly there, you aren’t. Both Wainwright and the Nuttalls advise leaving the main path a bit before the gap and following a wall that goes off top the right. So I did. After a bit it turns right and after a bit more another wall (in a very poor state) branches off to the left. Following the latter leads steeply and roughly to the gap between Seat and High Crag. I wasn’t in great shape today - after a criminally sedentary October - and from here it still seemed a good stiff climb to the top. The last few yards were very hard work as I was utterly spent and worn out. I remembered the Honister cyclist. Catching my breath on the summit I soon accepted it had been worth the pain. Conditions were utterly perfect. Cold, to be sure but very calm and sunny with blue skies all round. On I went over High Stile towards Red Pike. I could see everything - Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water, Grasmoor, Skiddaw, Blencathra. Helvellyn, Pendle Hill, Great Gable, Scafell Pike, Scafell, Pilllar, the Atlantic Ocean, the Isle of Man and quite a lot of SW Scotland. All glistening in the early winter sun, the highest peaks, including my own, lightly dusted with snow.
Approaching Red Pike the path down towards Dodd from its summit looked alarmingly steep and precarious. And indeed, on close acquaintance it was pretty unpleasant, very steep eroded scree but the worst bit was close to the top and short-lived. Halfway to the col I took a couple of minutes' break to chat to a friendly young couple heading up. Dodd was a very little thing, a tiny irregularity in the northern slopes of Red Pike, one of those Nuttalls that are not Wainwrights. But the top is a lovely spot. And so down to Bleaberry Tarn and on down all the way back to Buttermere. This latter descent I had been led to expect from the Nuttals would be tedious and interminable. It was indeed tedious and interminable. Finally getting back to the lakeside path, there wasn’t much light left so I didn’t hang about. When I was almost back at Peggy’s Bridge I met the same friendly young couple as before. They told me they had had to make some haste racing the failing light down the slopes of High Crag. They had done the same walk I had but anticlockwise and in roughly 50% of the time it had taken me! Slow as I had been I was pretty tired and grateful to get back to my car and drove over the pass to the Scafell Hotel for some Hunter’s chicken and sticky toffee pudding. It had been a great day. The High Stile hills are well defended by long steep slopes making for a tough slog up and a pretty tough slog down but the ridge walk along the top is hevenly and worth the pain.
I parked in a small car park opposite the church. A sign said I was welcome to do so except on a Sunday morning when it was reserved for churchgoers. So maybe don’t come here in a car on a Sunday morning (unless you are a churchgoer.) There is more than one path on the ground heading up to the top of this nice easy little Wainwright. One starts just by the youth centre. I followed it for a bit and soon got to the summit. Another starts a bit further on (to the west) along the road that has just turned to a dirt track by here just where there is a park bench. Coming down this was where I ended up. A nice little walk when you don’t have much time to play with.
I parked at the car park for the Aber Falls and walked up to the waterfall. Here there is a bridge over the river which put me on the North Wales Path which I followed over another bridge below the Rhaeaedr Bach and across the Afon Gam before leaving it and heading up the valley of the latter. This is a pretty rough place, waste deep everywhere in ferns but there are little paths to be found. I found one well to the right to the stream and another mostly on its left on the return. As I reached the top I had the lovely sight of a local farmer on the slopes of Drosgl wokring his dogs to round up and move his sheep. He was a friendly soul and stopped for a chat just as I reached the path shown on the may that contours Moel Wnion before heading up to the gap between Drosgl and Gyrn Wigau. I followed it to the latter gap and detoured off it to the top of the latter hill, the latter stage a pleaant stroll with almost no climbing. Back to the path which I followed round and part way up Drosgl leaving it again to collect the latter summit. From here a short down and up took me to the rocky castle of Bera Bach which is an easy scramble up. By this point I was in thick mist with very limited visibility and it was a little tricky to find the next target, the rather bigger rocky castle that was Bera Mawr. THis is also an easy enough scramble to the top but you wouldn't think so at first glance and a little epxloring is needed to find the easy way up. The satisfaction of this nice little scramble was marred by the ocean of wet slippery boulders that surrounded it on all sides. DOWn the same way skipping the detours to Drosgl and Gyrn Wigau.
On the map Craig Eigiau is nothing at all. A couple of little contour rings on a broad ridge that sweeps down from the high Carnedds. Only a fool who collects Nuttalls would give it the time of day but I am such a fool. The Nuttalls themselves, determined to fit all the Carnedds into four outings, incorporate it in one of their more perverse walks, up from the car park near Lyn Eigiau, then a big down and big steep up into Pen Llithrig-y-Wrach. Then down and up again over Caigiau Gleision and down into the wrong valley with a tedious trek over the Moel Eilio ridge back to the start. Not for me. But I am taking rather more than four outings already and counting. The road to the small car park near Lynn Eigiau is one of a number that climb out of the Conwy Valley to some fabulously lonely, lovely spots. Like the others it makes an interesting drive. Very narrow with steep hairpins, closed gates you have to stop and open, a grassy central reservation between your tires. Also, for some reason, speed bumps. There is no sign post at all where it heads out of Tal-y-Bont so you need your wits about you. The car park is about 1000 ft. above sea level so you get a nice head start on the climbing. A track heads NW from just before the car park. Follow it. After about a mile there is a gate with a ladder stile. Cross it and keep going. (Here my directions depart slightly from the Nuttalls.) After a couple of hundred yards on there in another gate with a step stile. Cross it too. After just a few paces look for a faint path heading off left. Follow it up to a wall. Follow the wall on its right hand side. There is still a faint path. After climbing a bit it turns into a fence. When the fence stops there is a nice rocky outcrop thing. The top of this is the summit of Craig Eigiau, a lovely spot that doesn't at all feel like nothing at all though it will soon look like one, looking back, if you continue up the broad grassy ridge towards Foel Grach, as I did.
This is a pleasant easy climb on grass at a relatively gentle gradient. There is a path which I managed to lose after a time but the grassy ground meant it didn't matter much, though the ground was boggy here and there. From Foel Grach, I continued easily to the bouldery tor that is the top of Garnedd Uchaf. Here I took stock. The plan here was to check the time and the weather. If both were propitious go for the full Craig Eigiau Horsehoe over Pen Yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig-y-Wrach. If not back the way I came. Time was OK but weather seemed on the turn with rain setting in. So back the way I came. The visibility had deteriorated too and, as Ashton's Cicerone guide notes, you need your wits about you coming down from Foel Grach this way. But all went smoothly and I was soon back at my car and on my way to a big bowl of chilli at the Siabod Cafe.
I climbed this hill from Dinas Mawddwy on not very nice showery September day. If you drive, as I did, east from the direction of Dolgellau towards Dinas Mawddwy, you come in due course, as you might expect, to a sign announcing that you are arriving in Dinas Mawddwy. Almost immediately after this is a lay-by on the right with a footpath sign. This is the path up Maesglase. Of course if you are like me you will only cop on to this after you pass it and end up having to drive into the village and turn round. The path begins with a long stiff climb steeply up through woods. Towards the bottom it is muddy and slippery but later it becomes more intensively engineered and some kind person has constructed a lengthy flight of stairs up it. When you leave the woods it turns right and describes a long contour round Foel Dinas to Bwlch Siglen. This is muddy and slippery and not terribly pleasant and I found myself thinking be better just to climb up and over Foel Dinas but the pathless slopes in that direction are offputtingly steep. After the bwlch the path soon disappears from the map but there is one on the ground all the way to the top, steeply at first alongside the woods then more gently alongside Craig Maesglase. In the wet, slippery conditions I did sometimes find myself wondering if it was really necessary to make the path quite so close to the edge of the cliff in places.
There are two tops of which the Nuttalls say the westernmost is the summit. I visited both just in case they change their mind. To get to the west top - Crag Rhiw-Erch on the Explorer map - you have to climb the fence but it's not barbed wire and easily enough stepped over for a tall chap like me. A tiny cairn, only visible from a few feet away, marks the spot. Returning I tried a bit of a short cut to cut out the east top - a dumb idea as the pathless ground was horrendous deep heather but once back on the path I was soon back at the bwlch. The path from here to the lay-by did not hold pleasant memories so I decided to return by the valley of the Nant Maesglase. A steep path leads down this way from the belch but it soon levels out just when it passes a ruined sheepfold just before some woods on the right. It improves to become a track leading to a tarred road that leads easily and quickly back to the A470. Mercifully this has a grass verge on which to avoid immolation by the high speed traffic and it didn't take long to be back at the car. A shortish day but with some rough ground that made it take longer than expected. Some tasty fish and chips at the Cross Foxes rounded things off nicely.
With Philip and Linda. Did the seven hills last year but enjoyed it so much I did it again today, the experience enlivened by some delightful company. Started at the Arch of Constantine by the Colosseum. We queued here quite a long time fir tickets onto the Palatine Hill. We followed the crowds up past the Arch of Titus to the upper reaches and had a good look round before descending to the Forum Romanum to do more of the same. The mist interesting bit of the walk is here in the first few hundred meters so you have to judge how long to linger an when to tear yourself away. Then down the Via dei Fori Imperiali and left up the hill to the imposing piazza atop the Capitoline. Down the steps, right into the Piazza Venezia, past Trajan's column and left up the Via Ventquattro Maggio to the Piazza del Quirinale.
Up the Via del Quirinale, right down Via Milano and left into Via Panisperna, passing the back of the Palazzo del Viminale. Down to Santa Maria Maggiore and right again down the Viale del Monte Oppio to the Baths of Titus on the Esquiline. Over the Via Labanica, up the hill to the Caelian Hill to the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, then down to the Baths of Caracalla which, to our annoyance, were closed on Mondays. Down the Viale Giotto to the Pyramid of Cestis and up the Aventine Hill to finish on the Giardino degli Aranci. A man in a van in the Lungotavere Testaccio sold us some soft drinks before we went our separate ways back to our respective hotels.
The last of three short walks up easy Southern Marilyns. This one was an easy stroll from the car park in Tennyson's Lane. (Alworth House, where the poet lived is very cllose by.) A couple of hundred yards up the track here you pass what looks like a n oddly situated OS trig point but actually turns out to be a National Trust honesty box to pay for the car park, just far eough away to be a real pain in the neck if you realise at this point your money is back in the car. There is a complicated labyrinth of paths and tracks in the woods so I thought I'll just make sure I stay near the crest of the right and keep heading south-ish. Sooner or later that way I'll come to the Temple of the Winds. Which I did. A small group of Belted Galloway cows were stood around, including a bull, all extrenely placid and chilled. From here I headed back north looking out for a track off to the left which crosses the crest of the riedge not far south of the trig point. I took this and followed it west. After a short way it reaches the crest of the hill and here a little path heads of north that took me to the trig point. After that I more or less retraced my steps back to the car park. Lunch with a friend in Haslemere then the grim motorway north.
Another walk with a late start. The wedding celebrations at Arundel were petering out by about 3 so I drove up the A280 and A24 towards the South Downs. There is a carpark off the A24 where the South Downs Way crosses it. The easiest way to find it is to drive all the way to the roundabout and right on the A283 into Washington then right down the yellow road to the unsignposted turn for it. After that a very pleasant stroll leads up to the trig point. Aft6er coming this far it would have been a come not to carry on to the beautiful copse of beech trees on Chanctonbury Ring. The beech trees are a modern feature, planted in the 18th century but there was a temple here in Roman times. More recently tall tales abound of ghosts and witches. Be that as it may, it is beautiful round here and it would have been great to have a had a full day for a longer walk and a proper explore.
Driving south for an old friend’s wedding gave me a chance to grab myself a few little Marilyns. This was the first. After a long and very tedious drive from Sheffield I got parked up in Coldharbour mid-afternoon. The place is awash with posters. “Don’t Drill Leith Hill” – it seems there are folk wanting to do some exploratory drilling to look for oil or gas deposits and a lot of locals and others very keen to stop them. I planned short walk heading first to the trig point in the Abinger Forest, then to the trig point in Wolvens Lane and then on to the top of the hill. The first of these targets was easily reached. Then I had a navigational screw-up. I took a wrong turn in the woods near Collickmoor farm and ended up properly lost. I made the usual dubious decision in forestry, Well, I’ll just keep going this way till I come to a road, or a helpful signpost, or a building I can identify and on I went. (THis strategy is almost never a great idea.) Eventually I found myself somewhere I recognised. Er. Coldharbour. So start again. Off I went up through the woods pasty Upper Meriden Cottage to Wolvens Lane where I easily found the trig point. Then back a bit and right down a hill leading to Home Farm. Then down through the woods past Warren Farm to a crossroads where a path leads steeply off right to the toip of the hill. I met about 20 people around here which is about 19 more than I had met on the whole walk up to the point, mostly cyclists struggling up and racing down.