Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Saturday 2 May 2020

Raistricks, and other hills over 1000 feet in the Yorkshire Dales

Conrad (aka Sir Hugh) put me on to this self published book, compiled as a labour of love by Bernard Peel as a retirement project.

For a tenner, you can't really go wrong, and Bernard was pleased to post me a copy.

It will be of interest to hillbaggers and to those who would like to seek out some of the less visited viewpoints in the Yorkshire Dales. There are, according to Bernard, some 242 hills of over 1000 feet, and they are assiduously listed in Annex 12 of this book.

The hills comprise:
23 Marilyns (minimum rise of 492 feet on all sides)
13 Hewitts (over 2000 feet with minimum rise of 98 feet on all sides)
8 Nuttalls (over 2000 feet with minimum rise of 49 feet on all sides)
72 Raistricks (between 1000 and 2000 feet with minimum rise of 100 feet on all sides)
126 Unclassified (over 1000 with minimum rise less than 100 feet on all sides)

The 'Raistricks' are Bernard's invention and are named after an inspirational Dalesman, Arthur Raistrick.

As well as the list of hills, the book contains numerous photos and various other information, including 'Minor Roads Offering Good Viewpoints' and a guide to 'Major Hills with Easiest Ascents'. That's just to get readers going I suppose; anyone wishing to tackle this list with vigour will need to work out their own routes - that's part of the fun.

This reminds me of the Lake District's 'Birketts' - Bill Birkett's excellent list of  541 Lakeland summits of over 1000 feet, but unlike Bill's publications it doesn't include much route information.

Once I'm allowed out, I may choose to start ticking off some of these hills, starting with the dozen or so Marilyns I haven't yet attempted. I suspect some of these may be suitable for 'socially distanced' solo walks when we are allowed out further than at present (I don't drive anywhere just now - week six of that - just get early morning suburban exercise for an hour or so from the front door).

If you'd like a copy of the book, you can obtain it by emailing Bernard at and paying by bank transfer.

Well done Bernard, I know it's very satisfying to self-publish a book.

Friday 1 May 2020

Our Wood Pigeons

Many people seem to have a problem with Wood Pigeons, but I find their cooing quite soothing, and their antics around the feeder can be hilarious. They spend a lot of time sitting on the fence waiting for a 'food opportunity'.
I've also spotted them, from our bedroom window, enjoying next door's bird bath, which they sit in for ages, cleaning themselves meticulously.
It's nice to see these birds looking so happy.
Meanwhile, there is usually a Robin in the garden, as well as a Coal Tit and a Blackcap, but they move too quickly for my camera at present, and I'm hoping the Collared Doves that I see nearby may pay us a visit sometime.

Thursday 30 April 2020

Bogle Stroll - 4 and 5 March, 1994

Having recently published Nick's diatribe on the 1981 Bogle Stroll (here), I've now encountered photographic evidence of the same event held in 1994. The personnel are different, but the gist of it is similar.
By 1994, the tradition of convening in the Red Lion in Withington on the Sunday after the 55 mile walk was still apparent, with 20 to 30 from UMIST Hiking Club turning up for that.
I came across just six photos, which is five more than I have for 1981, starting with Glyn and Robert outside the Renold Building at UMIST, just before the finish.
Robert was accustomed to finishing a bit faster, so he found the slow approach to the finish quite enjoyable at the gentle pace set by Glyn, who at this point was 'absolutely knackered'.
Judging by the next two pictures, taken within 10 metres of the finishing desk, Glyn was just about at the end of his tether.
I took Robert and Glyn back to Blackrod, where Glyn is pictured in 'recovery' position.
Robert could have walked it all again... ?!
To be fair to Glyn, he did write his diary entry in Volume 23 that afternoon, closely followed by Robert's entry: 

Glyn's report 

This really is the last time without any training. 15 hours 13 minutes! including about 6 hours of hell. Brain did not want to speak to legs after Blackrod. Severe gut-rot - diarrhoea - most of the way round. Left ankle seized up afterwards (how did it get bruised?) It was a beautiful evening though - ideal Bogling weather, and until half way round I really enjoyed it. Heartfelt thanks to Robert for walking me in through Salford, no, let's be honest... from Blackrod.


Robert's report 

Repaired old Reebok trainers with uhu and a piece of Lyn's blue dress on Friday evening before the start. This was an excellent idea but blister on left heel before Monton (near the start - Ed) made me wish I had bought a new pair. The weather was excellent, with slight drizzle at Coppull, and later on a shower around Westhoughton.
A pile of fifty or so Ann Summers lingerie catalogues prove interesting reading (just a little way past the Hiking Club checkpoint). Glyn insisted I had a good look.
Disappointing lack of numbers - only 300 to 400 walkers and no 'Mad Ones' team! Took an unplanned detour (again) down to Leigh bus station so added another half mile to the route. Also followed the 'old route' out of Manchester, ignoring the Bogle signs. Glyn made several unplanned detours including sitting on his throne in the back of his campervan at Blackrod.
Made good progress to Blackrod (~40 miles - Ed) (9hrs 13mins) but Glyn's general illness and lack of training caught up with him and our pace slowed considerably.
This gave me a good excuse to slow down. Lyn and Gill just did the Blackrod checkpoint and the support included a weekend FT to read whilst Glyn was on his throne.
Martin's appearance just after the Westhoughton checkpoint provided a welcome sight. He walked with us for a couple of miles, then moved his car to Walkden, and later to Swinton. The conversation and drinks provided a welcome distraction from my general aches and pains.
(Glyn spotted lots of frogs/toads on the way round.)
The walk down Eccles New Road seemed to me to be a pleasant stroll for once, but Glyn would not agree with this description.
Arrived back at UMIST at 1.26 pm, Glyn completing the walk by crawling up the Union steps on all fours. We were 9th and 10th to finish. What are the students coming to?
Martin's support extended to a lift back to Blackrod, where Gill provided copious quantities of tea and crumpets.
Robert 5/3/94
Additional Points 

St John's Ambulance men seemed to nearly outnumber the walkers.
Bogle organisation poor.
Chorley Bogle checkpoint moved to the other side of Chorley, out of sight up a cul de sac. G & R gave it a miss.

Tradition dictated a Sunday visit to the Red Lion, where volume 23 of the diary can be seen in front of David Jones, who together with Tim Budd graced the volume with their entries. Gill and Glyn are also pictured below (Glyn looking a bit more human today) and Conan Harrod was there. He went on to break his leg near the summit of Everest, returning a few years later to climb to the summit in a rather uneventful manner.
Here are the rest of the entries from the diary:
Tim's report 

Weather better than usual, turnout low so quite a lonely stroll. Played leapfrog with Glyn and Rob from Wigan to Westhoughton, where they stopped for breakfast. I couldn't force any down.
Painful as usual from Walkden onwards - my mind wants to continue, my legs want me to eat worms and die. Still, I have forgotten all that by next year!
Tim B 6/3/94
David's report
Bought a new pair of trainers the Thursday before, and took a couple of hours' kip on Friday afternoon, and that constituted most of my Bogle preparation this year. I blame this partly on the arrival of baby Chloë in December, and mostly on disorganisation.
Started at 11 pm anticipating rain on Saturday morning (or I'd have started at midnight) and headed off into a (too) warm night in the company of two orienteers who were talking about intending to finish it in about 8 hours. I left them after Wigan and after that I was (to my amazement) just on my own. Missed out lots of support points but was ably supported by John Fuller on his "winter bike" (a little Japanese thing).
Got to the last checkpoint at 7.45 and trudged into UMIST at 8.47, to give a 9.47 time with the customary sprint for the steps.
Martin's report (in support)
Up at 7.00 after 5.30 alarm, for 7.50 departure and off to walk in Rob and Glyn.
Missed them at Blackrod - later discovered Glyn had been hiding on a potty in a van, behind which Rob was hiding. By Wigan, I realised I'd missed them and I eventually tracked them down to near the motel.
Three trips with the car - jogging to the walkers, and walking back to the car with them, took us to the East Lancs junction. I'd also encountered Tim Budd, on his ninth Bogle, a few minutes ahead of Glyn and Rob.
Walked in with them from the East Lancs Junction (approx 8 miles). Glyn absolutely Knackered, Rob ok. They took 15.13 and finished 9th and 10th - a sad reflection on the state of Bogle. MASS Rag apparently disintegrated this year for financial support reasons, and only UMIST was interested in continuing with Bogle - only 400 or so took part.
Dave Jones won convincingly in 9.47, Andy Martin took 13.09, and Tim Budd 14.37. Five out of 10, even though Mad Ones didn't have a designated team (for the first time since 1968). Talk of a 'Geriatric' Mad Ones team next year. Just 15 or 16 members of the Tech Domski Hiking and Hostelling Club (TDHHC) finished Bogle this year.
A taxi to Irlam to recover the car, then a drive to Blackrod for tea and crumpets - and to drop off Glyn and Robert off at Lyn's house.
Not a very demanding Bogle for me - try again next year...
Adjourn to Red Lion on Sunday lunchtime, with about a dozen current students and a similar number of 'geriatrics'. It's strange how you can get to vaguely know people encountered for just an hour or two - once a year.
Stories of horror from John Fuller - retired from walking due to bad knees but a major support effort on his motorbike then a motorway drive (nearly asleep) back to Huddersfield.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

7 and 8 December 2002 - A Visit to Center Parcs

Another small folder near the start of the era of digital images has revealed a few photos from Center Parcs in 2002. This was probably the third or fourth time that Sue and I had joined some old friends on this annual event.
The event continues, most recently in January 2020.
My diary (Volume 42) skips from 27 October to 15 December 2002 in the space of a single line, so these images are all ("thankfully" I hear, and subject to further discoveries) I have to remind us of this particular trip.
Roger, our 'squash supremo' is shown above on court, and various members of our (currently a WhatsApp group that met by Skype only last night) Center Parcs team are depicted below.
Don't we look young! And some haven't changed at all!

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Shogun Trail Breaker 3 - 30 years old today

Thirty years ago today I left work early on a Saturday morning and spent a good hour with a chap called Graham in Harry Hall's shop near the Cathedral. I'd done some research and was aiming for a Trek 830 bike. I finished up with the Trail Breaker. It has had relatively light use, clocking up just around 12,000 miles in the 30 years of its existence. It has received more use in recent years - over 1,000 miles last year, and currently enjoys over 20 miles a week under Lockdown. My routine involves three rides a week, on the suburban route shown below in blue, alternating between this bike and the more modern Specialised Stumpjumper.
The Trail Breaker was a quality mountain bike in its day, but was soon to become outdated by way of the introduction of suspension and disc brakes. However, it was a perfect fit for me, and I didn't use it enough to justify upgrading, until Dave O offered me his five year old Stumpjumper for a good price in 2011.
Whilst the Trail Breaker was seen as an obsolete sort of bike, destined for the scrap heap, I found it lighter and more appropriate for much of our local off road routes - certainly those involving canal towpaths or the Trans Pennine Trail, so it got (and still gets) more use than the more sophisticated Stumpjumper, which is of course much better over some of the rough ground of the Peak District, etc.
However, more recently I've seen a resurgence of bikes very similar to my 30 year old one. They are called 'Gravel Bikes'. So my old mountain bike is no longer obsolete, it's more a sort of 'classic' gravel bike. I hope that both it and 'Stumpy' can give me a few more years of pleasure, before I resort to a battery powered model!

Monday 27 April 2020

Fundraising for the Levana School Partnership

Yesterday I was supposed, like many others, to be taking part in the London Marathon. It has been postponed until 4 October, but who knows how it will deal with Social Distancing issues even then.

Thus my annual fundraising for the Levana School Partnership has failed to get off the mark. This is partly because I recognise that many charities that raise funds for needy causes in the UK are struggling at this time. So why should anyone want to donate to a charity that benefits township children in Cape Town?

I have raised this issue with the trustees, who are really concerned about the children that the charity supports. Here's their initial reaction:

"I think our main concern about Cape Town is the way the virus will affect the townships – the police won’t be so keen to break up groups in that context, whereas they will do with groups in the city. The virus will be rampant in the townships as they all live very close to each other and will have no funds for masks, food etc – it’s just laughable to think they would have any means of protecting themselves.

During their lockdown, the police have been quite forceful in breaking up groups gathering in the suburbs but it could end up in riots if they use the same tactics in the townships.

The gangs are supposed to be helping by giving food parcels out, so that could be a positive to encourage as gangs are really powerful in the townships over there. But food parcels might later be used to put pressure on kids to join gangs for what would seem to be innocuous and supportive acts, but that would lead to exploitation of the children later."
The funds raised this year will not be spent until whenever next year the trustees can get back to South Africa for their annual visit, so there is no immediate fundraising pressure. I didn't take part in yesterday's '2.6' efforts. I will however do a marathon in some way before the end of the year, even if I have to copy our friend Cary's remarkable effort using a complex but somewhat repetitive course in nearby Wythenshawe Park.
Potential and regular donors will have to make their own judgement. I would encourage donations to the Levana charity, and I'll get it off the mark later. But I would also encourage donations to other more local charities who may be struggling for funds. Everyone will have their personal preferences. Those of us who continue to receive our OAP and work-related pensions, as well as refunds of air fares, train fares, accommodation deposits, etc, may actually be able to afford rather more than usual, as well as being able to help family and friends who may be unable to generate their usual level of income in these difficult times. So perhaps a suitable sum could be directed towards Levana - it will make a difference.
That's about it really. I'll be sending links to this posting to numerous regular and potential donors over the next few months in the hope that I can yet again raise a significant sum for the charity.
Please feel free to contribute - here.
Note - the charity's website is here - it should soon be updated for the 2020 visit that thankfully took place just before the virus arrived.

Sunday 26 April 2020

7 July 2005 - A View from the Walkers Haute Route

Just filling in, with my first posting from 2005, I think, after a day of 'Zooming' and technical problems with a monitor that took a while to diagnose.
Here, David is snapping Gaynor as she appears from what appears to be 'nowhere', showing that the weather in the Alps isn't always perfect, this being somewhere on the walkers' route between Chamonix and Zermatt.
A fuller report may appear in due course...
By complete coincidence, I discovered that Barbara S, fellow TGO Challenge vetter, put a picture of the same bridge, in clearer weather, on Facebook on 23 April. I hope she doesn't mind me replicating that picture here:
Whilst amongst our party, Betty is recorded as being fazed by this bridge, my own recollection is that it was ok, but further along our route from above Zermatt to St Niklaus (we were going the opposite way to Barbara) there were some partially collapsed tunnels under the scree that caused a few rips to clothing, and a very annoyed leader (me) when some of the party thought it would be better to avoid the tunnels and attempt to go over the scree from which the tunnels were protecting them!
There was much shouting before they eventually obeyed instructions!
[We went from Zermatt to Grimenz in 2005, then in 2006 we went from Chamonix to Grimenz, meeting a number of TGO Challenge stalwarts, including Sue O and Skippy, along the way.]