The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A puddle and a Dow

Getting the Scarp II pitched late on Saturday afternoon was a wind swept affair and i decided to use the cross over poles to avoid any potential strong wind deflections during the night.
As it happened, as soon as the tent was up the wind died to nothing and didn’t re-appear again for the rest of our stay.
The purpose of our trip up to the Duddon valley in Cumbria had nothing at all to do with walking, more to do with socialising, drinking, eating, music, fund raising and drinking some more. You know the way it is, oh there’s thingy, not seen you for ages, can i buy you a beer and then, well it would be rude not to reciprocate and so before you know it the beers are lining up and the small wee hours are getting closer.





We awoke on Sunday morning rather bleary eyed and a tad de-hydrated and with a bit of a sore head.
When i spoke to our hosts Anthony and Hillary at Turner Hall Farm it seems we were not alone with the Paracetamol treatment.

Anyway, we lay in our tent listening to the silence of the morning. Just the call from a lone high soaring Buzzard occasionally breaking that silence. It had been a very warm night and too warm to even sleep in my bag and an even warmer morning. We eventually pushed ourselves to get up and the walk i had planned for the day got very close to being put off. However, a bacon sandwich and a couple of cups of coffee convinced us to grab the day and get out.

Alcohol and walking are not good companions and for the first hour i felt very laboured and the beer was seeping through every pore. It was an incredibly humid day with not a breath of breeze. As we slowly made our way from Seathwaite village to Seathwaite tarn  the tops were becoming blanketed in mist. Along Caw and White Pike and along the ridge to Dow Crag there was an inversion. We spoke to a backpacker who had earlier spotted us and our tent and asked us a few questions about the tent. We had a number of people ask about it on the campsite later too. The backpacker was heading across the Walna Scar to Coniston where he would catch a bus and then a train home.

Temperature inversion at White Pike.
With only a thin baselayer between skin and rucksack i was surprised to notice just how wet with sweat i had become. I was dripping. By the time we reached the tarn dam i could have done with a change of top.
Mist was rolling over the Swirl How - Brim Fell ridge line, cascading down towards the tarn before turning back upwards to Grey Friar. It was an eerie silence and so atmospheric, it just needed a few flashes of lightening to finish it off.

View of Seathwaite Tarn and cascading mist, the ridge line covered.
We didn’t go over the path across the dam wall but instead took the narrow path on the tarn’s right hand shoreline. We followed this until we met up with the first stream coming down from the crags on the right. The beck is called Bleaberry Gill and there is no path alongside either bank. We didn’t find any Bleaberry’s either.
From the shoreline the route looks very easy but in places it is a little tricky. Not for the person who has vertigo issues. Easier routes are possible but i wanted to stick with the Gill.
 View down Seathwaite Tarn from Bleaberry Gill
 The route upwards follows the Gill
View taken from about 3/4 of the way up the gill across to Harter Fell.
With care we made it to the top of the beck and into the large catchment area which feeds the Gill. With all the dry weather we have had of late the ground was quite firm but i think it would be a rather boggy area after a period of rain. Today we had luck on our side and the moorland was quite pleasant.
We followed the Gill as one of the goals of todays walk was to go to the small unnamed tarn which lies between Bleaberry and Near Gill’s. I had never been to this tarn in all the years of coming to this area.
Looking at the map, if you follow the Gill to its source and then just continue in the same direction you should come straight to the tarn but in reality this is not the case. The upper reaches are made up of many small boggy drains rather than one channel and we headed off slightly more east than was necessary and that meant we had a longer route to get to the tarn. More circular.

Sheila was looking a bit tired and so it became a pleasure to come over a rise and see the tarn. It was a real disappointment. More a black muddy puddle and certainly not worth all our efforts and certainly not one to backpack to either. The gill on the other hand is clear water and a few pitching spots can be found. The views are excellent.
The Puddle. 
At this point we had to decide what to do next. We couldn’t see the top of Dow but i knew it was only a short march upwards to it. Sheila was struggling a bit and so i suggested heading for the path which runs parallel to Far Gill and from there decide whether to go up Dow or head back down to Seathwaite Tarn.
She said “Just keep going straight up the front of Dow”. And so that’s what we did. A few short stops on route to regain our breath had us close to the craggy summit. It was covered in mist but it was drifting around. One minute you could see and the next you couldn’t.

As we scrambled to the very top of the crags we met our first walkers coming across the crags the opposite way. We let them past as they seemed in more of a rush than us. The back marker was not keen on going across the final craggy top and decided to opt for the easier route around a lower trod.

We sat on the top for a short period listening to the silence and watching the mist swirl in and out. The odd Raven glided past and let out that echoing croak as it disappeared into the gloom. The sound was bouncing around the crags and seemed very strange when visibility disappeared.



Dropping off the ridge slightly we took the opportunity of having lunch in what we call Mick’s bothy. Its a wind break just to the east of the summit and a few years ago it was a bit higher than it is currently. During fell races it was possible with the addition of a tarpaulin to get well out of inclement weather here.
 The walk along the ridge from Dow to Brown Pike was a grey one mainly in mist and care was needed not to stray too far to the left as the drop off is not recommended. The path is a well used one and if you stick to it then the route is a fine one with spectacular views down the gullies and to Goats Water. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Blind Tarn for a few seconds and just long enough to take a photo.
Blind Tarn.
Blind Tarn lies in a magical spot and the old Mine of Goldscope (Name may be wrong, i will check it out ) is just above it. I love the idea of the mine name but gold was never found. It is more than likely just copper or a slate mine. I remember 20 years ago spending a weekend up here and investigating the mine and the many adits in the area. Unfortunately that was before the digital era and i have no idea where the photographs are.

As we walked off the top of Brown Pike we dropped below the cloud level to see the Walna Scar Track now looking quite huge. No longer can 4wd vehicles or scrambling/trials bikes use it any more and the work which was carried out a few years ago is still in good condition. Quite a few mountain bikers crossed over the watershed as we dropped down to meet it.
Dropping down off Brown Pike towards the Walna Scar Road. White Pike and Caw are the 2 peaks in the distance.
It’s an easy walk back down into Seathwaite from the cross roads passing the Walna Quarry and following Long House Gill. It was good to be out of the cloud but it was still a very warm and humid afternoon. The steepness of the track is such that it tends to pull you down and in places you have to almost run.
 Harter Fell from Seathwaite
The Scafell and Bowfell ridgeline from Seathwaite. Mist Free
Back at the tent it was great to get the new stove on the go and get a brew. Considering we were feeling a bit fragile when we set off on this walk we were both pleased with the day.
Later is was great to get a good sunset and it just finished it off perfectly.

Route; 10km with 680M of ascent.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Just a flying visit.

The good weather recently has brought numerous butterflies into the garden and one which i have never seen here before.
The Comma.

I also managed to get a shot of the Speckled Wood butterfly which is a regular visitor but never seems to stay in one place long enough for me to capture it. I managed to get them both in the same shot.
 Of course the very common Red Admiral made an appearance on the Autumn Glory which is just flowering.


 As did the small tortoiseshell.
And the Meadow Brown which i very nearly stood on.
I wonder what will appear next? Here’s hoping.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Non spill lightweight backpacking stove.

My stove of choice for backpacking is the Trail Designs 12-10 stove. I paid for mine at Ultralight Outdoor gear. Just click on the link if you are new to the 12-10 stove. It weighs 14 grams. I have posted about it a number of times here on the blog.

Earlier this year whilst doing the TGO Challenge i got talking to a fellow walker (my apologies for not being able to recal your name) and although he was using the same Caldera cone as i was, he was using a SS Starlyte Ultralyte from Zelph or it may have been a copy, i’m not certain.

However i was impressed with the fact that it was tiny, ultralight, a bit more robust than the 12-10 and most of all that the meths content was not spillable. This meant that measuring the meths content quite accurately could be a thing of the past.

As the contents don’t leak or seep out it means that the stove doesn’t need to be allowed to burn dry like the 12-10 and can be easily extinguished with a dowser. You don’t need to pour the excess back into the bottle and as long as you seal the cooled stove in a sandwich bag the residue fuel will keep until next time.
The Starlyte stove is made in the USA and so if you want one then you have all the hassle of importing it and paying customs etc.

Then i checked out ebay to see if anyone was selling one and lo and behold someone has started making/selling a very similar stove right here in Durham UK. I ordered one.
It arrived quickly and with postage it was just under £6.

Weight. 12 grams



As is my usual thing, i tried it at home first to see if it is worth taking on a trip. I put 20ml of meths in the stove and it boiled 450ml of cold tap water in 6 minutes 20 seconds. I allowed the stove to burn out just to see how long 20ml of fuel would last and it burned for 12 minutes. The stove holds 40ml max.
It’s impressive.




 It will be joining me on my next trip.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A sad local 10km walk.

As is usual at some point over a weekend in home territory we go for an amble. Being semi rural we only have to put a foot outside the door to be in the countryside. We usually cover around 10k.
There are lots of farms around us and we see all sorts of animals. Today we saw lots of healthy sheep, cows, pigs, a Heron, lots of Canada Geese,  but unfortunately, one animal brought back memories from my childhood, we came across a rabbit that i’m 99% sure had Myxomatosis.
This poor thing hopped as though drunk, didn’t run away as we approached and bumped into the footpath banking. When i got up close it was noticeable skin and bone and its eyes all puffed up and weeping. Blind.
Probably when i was around 12 or 13 years old i remember there was a huge outbreak of the disease in the UK and i can still see rabbits in large numbers wandering around the streets where i lived in the same state as this one today. At the time my mum told me to stay away from them and don’t touch them. Some organisation came around regularly and cleared them away. I guess it was Defra or whatever the equivalent was then.
I am hoping that this is just a one off. I am guessing that due to the very large amount of chicken farms nearby that probably someone has put poison down for foxes.  Just a guess.

Anyway here are some photo's of healthy animals we saw on our walk just to change the subject.

 An unusual wooly bull.
 Anyone smell bacon?
Nope. Not a sniff of bacon anywhere.
 A smooth bull.
Should we go through or around?

A Heron tried to hide from us but i managed a photo before it took flight. You can see it hiding in the Himalayan Balsam below.
A few shots of fungi too, just for good measure.
 I thought this one above looked like the moon.






And of course there has to be the odd tractor photo. It wouldn’t be a walk without one or two even.
 Above is a John Deere 6630. 6.8Litre turbo diesel 6 cylinder. 130hp.
And like it says on the hood, this one is a John Deere 6150R. A new one and its a big’un but its still a 6.8Litre 6 cylinder turbo diesel. With engine power increased to 165hp.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Sowerby Bridge to Marsden

On a gorgeous day although slightly misty, Terry and I got the train to Sowerby Bridge. It’s a 40 minute journey and the train was quiet. We left just after rush hour.
Our plan was to walk from Sowerby Bridge along the Hebble into Brighouse and then get  the bus into Huddersfield for lunch. Then head south to the Huddersfield narrow canal and finish in Marston where we get the train back into Manchester Piccadilly.
It didn’t quite work out as planned, Terry’s back was giving him grief and it was obvious by the time we got to Brighouse that he couldn’t carry on. By sheer coincidence our duo rail ticket included a return trip and so we only had to pay to get back to Sowerby Bridge.

For me this was my first walk along the Hebble and Calder navigation and it was delightful. Very pleasing scenery. And as is usual with walks of this type there are lots of industrial architecture along the way from follies, big old mills to old canal markers and more.

Before setting off we had a quick look at the deep lock in Sowerby which is on the Rochdale canal.
Rochdale canal deep lock.

The large marina in Sowerby was where we picked up the towpath and walked past Lock number 1 of the Rochdale Canal. The marina was bustling and the new cafes were doing a roaring trade. Obviously the Indian summer weather had brought the visitors out. The towpath however was quiet, with only the odd cyclist, runner, dog walker and day walker.

For quite sometime we had the massive Wainhouse Tower in our view on the right. Calderdales highest structure and the worlds highest folly at 275ft, its location is SW Halifax. It was built between 1871 and 1875 as a chimney. There are 403 steps inside its octagonal shape and leads to a viewing platform.
The cost of building the tower was £14,000. In 2006 it had restoration work done to it which took 3 years and cost £400,000. It is open to the general public. It must be a fantastic view from the top.
Sowerby Basin and the Wainhouse Folly in the distance.
The Calder and Hebble navigation starts in Wakefield and the first lock is at Fall Ings. All along the towpath you can find mile stones that show the distance from Fall Ing. Strange name.

Also before and after each lock there is a marker stone that says 100yds. We spent a little while discussing why you would need a marker showing 100yds. We came to the conclusion that during the days when narrow boats were horse drawn the 100yd marker would give the boatman chance to slow the boat down or detach the horse. This conclusion could of course be totally wrong. If anyone knows the correct reason then feel free to put me straight.

After about two miles we passed under the Copley viaduct carrying the Caldervale line between Sowerby Bridge and Halifax and connects with the Manchester to Leeds line. This exceptional viaduct was constructed between 1852 by Sir John Hawkshaw. It has 21 arches at a height of 66ft. It is Grade II listed. The line between Sowerby and Halifax is only a short arm and due to the massive expense of the viaduct and the tunnels it almost didn’t go ahead.

The Copley Viaduct.
Note the Skew brickwork of the archway roof below.
As we walked we saw plenty of birdlife. Mallard, Canada Geese, Coots, Moorhen, Heron, Magpie, Jay, Buzzard,Pied and Grey Wagtail and along the Cromwell section we actually saw a Kingfisher. This was my first sighting of a Kingfisher. We only got a couple of seconds view before it disappeared into the reeds. No chance for a photo unlike the docile Mallard Cross Ducks below.
The day was warming up nicely and the mist of earlier had cleared leaving us blue skies and a windless walk. A few people were picnicking along the locks and soon we reached the pleasant Salterhebble bend with it’s lock and upper and lower basin. Here a branch of the canal turns towards Halifax 1.75 miles long, but it is now disused, abandoned in 1942. We carried on following the Hebble. The locks on the canal are regarded as being short and although wide boats can navigate through, the longest length of boat is only 60ft for a narrow boat and 57ft for a wide beam. 
 Under the bridge, The Halifax branch of the canal, now abandoned.
 A Narrow boat in Salterhebble lock.
Salterhebble lower basin.
 Electrically operated, Salterhebble Guillotine lock.
Just the other side of the guillotine lock is the horse tunnel with its new gate. It is underneath Stainland Rd bridge.
Horse Tunnel
River Calder.
As we approached Elland Bridge and the basin on the otherside we spotted a pub called the Barge and Barrel. Unfortunately we were just a bit too early for it to be open which was a real shame as it is a micro brewery. It would have been a good time to have some refreshment as Terry was obviously suffering at this point. But it wasn’t to be. As we moved off the tow path ends and in our distracted state we missed the sign that said the route goes over the bridge to the other bank.
Elland Basin
Mistake corrected we headed over Elland canal bridge and just prior to taking the towpath again i decided to walk up to the River Calder bridge for a photo. 
The River Calder at Elland
The pub was not open, we were too early.
Passing the old Valley mill it was good to see the neat job of restoration which had been achieved in turning it into apartments. The original tower of the mill was looking good and showed the extravagance of the old mill owners. 

Between Elland and Brighouse, is Binns wood and the walk is superb, here the canal takes on the hue of a slow moving river. The banks are not harsh stone and the signs of nature are everywhere. We passed alongside Cromwell Bottom (Great name) nature reserve and then came up to Park Nook Lock and Elland Lock where there is still what’s left of the Lock keepers cottage. Its looking sad and unloved today. 
Elland lock keepers cottage.
Approaching Brighouse.
The eyesore building that marked Sugdens flour mill, i think it is now empty. It also marked the end of our walk. Although we ended this trip early it was certainly an enjoyable walk and one i will do again. We walked 11.3km in a sedate 3 hours.

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