Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Day 0 - Home to Edale

I caught the 488 bus to Banbury which gave me 30 minutes to wait at Banbury station. The bus station is less than five minutes walk from the rail station. The train arrived just a couple of minutes late. I made my way to my seat and immediately a head came round from the seat in front with a perky "Hello Geoff". It was Howard Kelly, fellow Backpackers Club member, travelling up from further south with his lady friend, Audrey, to walk St. Cuthbert's Way. The journey passed in no time. I got off at Sheffield. The last time I had been here was 1975 when I started the Pennine Way for my first ever backpack.

On the station, also waiting for the train to Edale, I got into conversation with Frank, also planning to walk the Pennine Way, but with two packs, the larger one (and it was massive) was being transported for him each day by Brigantes. Neither pack had any food in them, nor means of cooking, so I really don't know what he had packed. Anyway, he was good company and no doubt our paths will cross from time to time during the next three weeks.

I pitched at Cooper's Farm campsite where other BPC members had arrived for a mid week meet so it was nice to be with friends. I now have to wait until Mike turns up either tomorrow or Thursday. There is no phone signal here so I have no way of making contact with him.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 19 May 2017

Pennine Way 2017

A long held plan has been to backpack the Pennine Way in one trip. My first ever multi-day backpacks were over 1975, 1976 and 1977 when, with a friend, I did the PW. I described these in an earlier post.

Since then, I have covered sections of the PW but now I have a great opportunity coming up next week when I join Mike Menzel at Edale. He is currently walking from Lands End to John o'Groats and blogging at I shall wait until he reaches Edale and we shall then set off together. I have just about everything packed/ready to pack. There are still a few decisions to make regarding kit. I had planned to use a Laser Competition 1 tent without the inner but I am now wavering and thinking I shall take the inner. It was fine last month for the few nights I had in the Peak District but I am now thinking of windy nights when I could get showered with condensation and my down quilt wouldn't like it. On the other hand, maybe I should take a bivy bag instead of the inner (an Alpkit Hunka). It's a little heavier than the inner but it would double up as an survival bag.

Food - I shall take five days of food and pick up a resupply parcel at Hawes. For the last week or so, I shall rely on buying food as I go. Food can be heavy, even though much of what I will be carrying has been dehydrated. My food bag for the first five days weighs 2.5kg and this is not insignificant. However, I will be eating the food I want and I know, largely, what has gone into it. My pack, including 500ml of meths, but minus food and water, will be just over 6kg or 13.5lb so that's not too bad. Given that there are shops regularly along the way, I could do it differently and maybe I should on a future trip. It really comes down to personal choice.

I've got some last minute tweaking to do!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Backpackers Club Annual Gathering 2017

After an uneventful train journey to Manchester and then changing for the Manchester - Sheffield train, I arrived at Edale mid afternoon. I debated whether to immediately start walking south and eventually find somewhere to wild camp overnight. In the end, laziness triumphed and I booked in at Coopers Campsite. I went for a wander a mile or so up the old Pennine Way route towards Grindsbrook Clough and back again. It was a lovely sunny afternoon. After supper, I turned in early to get a good night's sleep.

Setting off at 6.15 next morning, I took the lane, and then track, up the side of Mam Tor. There was no-one else around which suited me just fine. After a couple of miles, I joined the Limestone Way, which I was to follow for the next two days. Signposts made the going easy and the countryside was very pleasant. I stopped for breakfast just into Hay Dale.

At Millers Dale I stopped to pass the time of day with Grace, who was following a round Derbyshire route, over ten days, being picked up by her husband each afternoon and being delivered back the next day. she obviously thought I looked in need of nourishment and gave me a back of nuts & raisins and some dried figs.

I arrived at the Bull i' th' Thorn pub in the afternoon to pitch for the night. Here, I met George Crawforth, a fellow BPC member as another club member, Dave Longden, had arranged a walk-in the the Summer Gathering from here. Other backpackers turned up as time went on.

Next morning, Howard Kelly and I set off together, going through Monyash (of course, stopping at the café there for coffee and a bacon and egg roll) and then making our way to Youlgrave where we found the Peak Feast Bakery. We sat outside scoffing a homity pie each. Really delicious.

We then walked on to our night's stop at the Miners Standard at Winster. I'd stayed here a couple of times before and it is popular with the Backpackers Club. Yet more Club members had arrived.

Howard and I continued along the Limestone Way the next day, chatting as we went and arrived at Parwich (Foufinside Farm) for the BPC Summer Gathering. Quite a few tents had already been pitched and many more appeared as the day went on and yet more came the next day. It was good to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. A couple of traders put in a welcome appearance, Backpackinglight and Mountain Trails

The weekend as a whole was excellent. On the Sunday, Sean Putnam and I walked over to Tissington and enjoyed sitting outside with a pot of tea watching the world go by. This was a good trial run for the Pennine Way next month. Carrying a full pack for the first time since the op was fine, although to cut down weight, I shall be using just the fly of my Laser Competition tent.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Leaving tomorrow

Off to the Peak District tomorrow, the first bit of backpacking since "the incision" in January. Walking from Edale to Parwich for the Backpackers Club Summer Gathering next weekend, maybe meeting up with others along the way. The weather forecast seems to be generally dry but not that warm.

Friday, 17 March 2017


I'm aware that I haven't posted for some time, last July, in fact. Life has been interesting since then, to say the least. I finished gainful employment on 30 June 2016. Three weeks later, my wife and I took off to Scandinavia for some eleven weeks in our camper van. We blogged the journey every day. A work in progress is a combination of both our blogs, with photographs, which I am gradually putting together - see

About four weeks later, although feeling fine, I became aware that I had a health issue and, to cut a long story short, on 11 January 2017, I had a cancerous left kidney removed. I am now getting back to full strength although my surgeon advised against a backpack of the Cumbria Way for the last week of this month. I have, reluctantly, taken his advice but he assures me that I will be fighting fit to tackle the Pennine Way towards the end of May. Training is now starting. I have started back at the gym, taking it a little easy and I am doing a few day walks.

I have a friend, Mike, from Germany, who is planning to walk Land's End to John o'Groats (his blog is at and I plan to join him at Edale around 23 May. He and I haven't walked together before so I don't know about his walking pace. I'm sure we'll get on, though. I have bought a rail ticket to Edale for 22 May and, assuming Mike hasn't arrived at Edale before then, I shall wait until he turns up.

I first walked the Pennine Way over three separate weeks in 1975, 1976 and 1977, armed with 1:50,000 maps and, more importantly, Wainwright's Pennine Way Companion, which alternately cheered us up and depressed us along the way. I still have this rather battered book. 1975 was a wet week and the first couple of days were horrendous. That was the time before flagstones were placed over the worst bits of bog and quagmire over Kinder Plateau and beyond. My companion and I floundered through the seemingly endless peat groughs, often sinking up to our knees. It was truly awful. I also remember waking up in the dark hours one morning to find that our tent was a couple of inches deep in rainwater. The first week took us to Gargrave.

Being gluttons for punishment, we returned in 1976 for another week. Those of you of a certain age will recall that the in summer of 1976 the UK experienced a severe drought. Consequently, we got through a lot of sun cream and there was very little water to be found along the route but, at least, there was no rain.

The final week was in 1977 when we tackled the final stretch from near Bowes to Kirk Yetholm. It was another dry week but, unfortunately, my companion suffered badly from blisters and left me at Byrness to finish on my own. He left me with the rather heavy tent but I just about managed. My abiding memory of that week was planning to camp at Windy Gyle. I was quite parched with just about enough water to get me through the night. I met some walkers who were coming down who gave me some orange squash that they had spare which I carefully carried in a mug. Unfortunately, while I was pitching the tent, an inquisitive sheep came too close and knocked it over. During the week I possibly drank some suspect water and arrived home with a tummy bug.

Black Hill

Me, looking very stylish!

Camping on Windy Gyle
Evidence I reached the end

 Although it seems ridiculous looking back, the clothing I wore was totally unsuitable. Denim jeans and Tuf work boots, although not the steel toe cap variety. They gave me terrible blisters and let in water.

Nevertheless, those three weeks remained in my memory for years. Since then, I've walked parts of the Pennine Way, notably Dufton to Bellingham in 2007 and Marsden to Horton-in-Ribblesdale as part of my LEJOG in 2009. This year will hopefully be the first time I have walked it from end to end.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Walking to The Ridgeway

This was a walk I'd been planning to do in 2014 and 2015 but family things got in the way. The idea was to walk from home to The Ridgeway over two days (just over forty miles) and meet up with members of the Backpackers Club for a weekend gathering. This year I was determined to do it.

I didn't get away from home till 11am. My route was the d'Arcy Dalton Way. I walked the section from its start at Wormleighton Reservoir on the Oxford Canal to home last year. It ends at Wayland's Smithy on The Ridgeway, 66.4 miles altogether. I joined the Way at Sarsden which seemed to be the quickest way to it.

Approaching Great Barrington
 The weather was sunny for most of the day but there were a couple of brief showers. My route today took me through Lyneham, Bruern, Fifield, Great & Little Barrington, Westwell and Holwell. Just past Holwell I found a delightful belt of trees to spend the night.

I was quite well hidden. My tarp is the tiny grey splodge between trees.

I was away by 7am. A lovely morning and set to be quite warm. I went through Filkins, Broadwell, diverting from the Way to go through Langford in the hope of finding water. I took some from a stream in the village. At Radcot, I crossed over a quite small River Thames.

On then to the hamlet of Eaton Hastings. There were quite a few military planes going over from nearby Carterton. After Longcot and then Compton Beauchamp, I started the ascent to The Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway on the horizon

At the top was some perfect woodland to tuck myself away in. The wildlife was very noisy but I slept well.

Next morning I had a leisurely few miles to meet up with the others at Lower Farncombe Farm just outside Lambourn. There was a good turn out of about twenty eight. A new Club member had come all the way from Düsseldorf just for the weekend. A group of us walked to Court Hill Centre just outside Letcombe Bassett where there are superb views to the north.

Sunday was the quickest way back to Lambourn to sort out some holiday related problems at home. This blog will be quiet for the next ten weeks or so but some reading can be had at

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The start of a new life

Life's going to become a bit odd now. Full time work has finished as of 30 June. What better way to start it than by a micro backpacking trip actually from my front door. Throwing a few things together, I headed for Salford and from there towards Little Compton. I joined the Macmillan Way towards Chastleton, spending a good couple of hours exploring field and woodland paths south of the village. All these so close to home but I'd never walked them. I just met a couple of dog walkers.

I went into Adlestrop where there was a water tap outside the village hall so I filled my water belt and headed off northwards along the Cotswold Diamond Way to find somewhere to camp.

I found a superb location. Particularly in the south of England, whilst it's not difficult to find places to wild camp, more and more, I'm tending to scout out wooded areas so as to be completely out of sight. Many of these woods are infested by nettles or brambles and so are unsuitable except maybe for use with a hammock. Others, though, are just great, as was the one I found on this occasion. There were no paths into the wood but I ducked through a small opening and found a sizeable area inside which had mainly leaves as ground cover and this was perfect. I pitched and cooked my dinner. I whiled away the evening reading. I was startled by the barking of a fox for a few minutes but then everything quietened down and I spent a peaceful night.

I was on my way by 7 o'clock next morning. No-one was about and I made my way into the idyllic village of Evenlode, a place not for the financially faint hearted.

I walked around the village and then took a bridleway across field edges towards Chastleton, there taking a bridleway over Chastleton Barrow, an iron age hill fort. I've lived nearby for over thirty years and never before visited it. I then made my leisurely way back home for lunch.