Monday, 8 September 2014

d'Arcy Dalton Way - Day 3

I had a really good night's sleep, waking only once in the early hours to hear a fox barking nearby and then moving away. I was away by 7am, stopping for breakfast an hour or so later just before reaching Hook Norton. Definitely on home ground around here. The Way passed through the village, through some allotments and then up a hillside to pass through Fanville Farm and across fields to Great Rollright, along a wide ridge path where I stopped for elevenses not far from the Rollright Stones and then through the tiny settlement of Little Rollright, now only a church, a manor house and a couple of cottages.

Leafy avenue at Brighthill Farm
Little Rollright
Little Rollright
I walked on to Salford and then home by lunchtime. Mission accomplished. The rest of the d'Arcy Dalton Way, about forty miles, will wait for another time. Around 9 miles walked.

This weekend, I took with me an Omron III pedometer which I bought recently having been reading that, to keep healthy and active, I must walk at least 10,000 steps a day. So, the weekend's step count was Friday 17,086, Saturday 51,607 and today 24695.

d'Arcy Dalton Way - Day 2

A very quiet night. I wasn't far from the main Banbury to Birmingham railway line but it didn't disturb my sleep. Awake at around 5.30, I was away by 6.20, continuing along the canal towpath through Cropredy and then, after a couple of hours, reaching Bridge 139 at Wormleighton Reservoir. Here, there was a footpath sign for the DDW so up I went. I had a quick look across the reservoir, took a few photos for the record and then set off southwards.

Old bridge - Bedford to Stratford-upon-Avon Railway
Here's where it starts

Wormleighton Reservoir
All set!

After the first couple of hundred yards, I had to cross the railway. This is one to be really careful over. It is a fast and busy line - two tracks. It was pleasant walking through grassy fields, then through the village of Farnborough and then the National Trust's Farnborough Park. I picked up supplies of crisps and chocolate at the little shop at Anita's camping and caravan park at Mollington - a very friendly place. They directed me to their water tap.

Couldn't resist this - a moving ad for an artificial grass company
In Mollington
Emerging from the village and entering fields, I very soon became aware of the traffic noise from the M40. I walked parallel to it for about half a mile, with the carriageway being no more than fifty feet away. However, here was a treat - a wild plum tree with fruit there for the taking - which I did. At other times all through the weekend, there were also blackberries and elderberries. I then crossed the M40 by means of a footbridge.

Then through Shotteswell, across the B4100 road, eventually reaching Hornton, where I went into the Dun Cow for a pint. The pub was deserted, this seeming to be another case of locals not using their pub enough. I read that Liverpool Cathedral was built using Hornton Stone although it is now quarried at nearby Edge Hill. The stone is a deep honey colour and I prefer the look of it to Cotswold Stone.

 I just continued to walk and walk. The weather was pretty perfect. I passed through Shenington and Epwell, stopping near the junction with the B4035 around 6pm to cook up a meal before walking on. The Way took me through the grounds of Sibford School in the village of Sibford Ferris. Here, I espied a water hose and took the opportunity to fill up my water belt which then left me equipped to find a pitch for the night whenever I wanted. At 7.45pm I was ambling along musing that, at that exact point in time, with it going to start getting dark shortly, I hadn't a clue where I would be spending the night. For me, that is one of the joys of wild camping. Shortly after passing Sibford Grounds Farm and dropping down through woodland, I skirted by a field of corn on the cob (so much of it growing around here) where the path entered more woodland. By going on a few yards along the field edge and then around a corner, I found an excellent pitch. I set up and it was getting dark about twenty minutes later.

About 18 miles walked today.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

d'Arcy Dalton Way - Day 1

The DDW is one of the closest long distance paths close to where I live. I was given the book of it some years ago. I've done odd bits of it as it coincides with other local walks here and there and when driving around this area, there are numerous footpath signs bearing its name. It weaves about all over the place. The DDW starts at Wormleighton Reservoir north of Banbury on the Oxford Canal and ends at Wayland's Smithy, which is the starting point of the Ridgeway. It is 65 miles long. My plan for this weekend was to do the section from the start to its closest point to home.

To do this, I was driven up to Banbury and abandoned near the Southam Road where I dropped down to the Oxford Canal. To reach the start of the DDW, I had to walk for eight miles up the canal towpath to bridge 139. There is no immediate vehicle access, although it would be possible to drive to within half a mile or so of the start, walk to the reservoir and then back again, and then continue the walk. The canal towpath was good walking, passing by a couple of stretches of permanent moorings. They are real little communities. Of course, there were also numerous holiday boats, all of which had moored for the night.

Oxford Canal
I walked from 6.10pm to around 7.30pm as light began to fade. Canals aren't easy for wild camping. The land on either side is, more often than not, impossible to get to due to impenetrable hedges. Locks are often good, though, particularly the side opposite the towpath. It is easy to get across the lock over the gates at either end. Slat Mill Lock was a good resting place. I recognised the nearby farmhouse (Peewit Farm) as being the venue for a festival I was at a few weeks ago.

Slat Mill Lock

Sunday, 29 June 2014

North of England Way - postponement

My insides still aren't right and I'm not fancying any of the food I've brought with me and rather lacking in energy levels as a result. I took the decision yesterday to save the rest of this walk for another time. However, any final decision was taken out of my hands this morning when I put my back out! I won't disclose what I was doing that precipitated it. So, this walk will be continued at another time.

Hawes is an excellent place to spend a couple of days. Have visited friends who live here and this is the home of Wensleydale cheese so not all is doom and gloom. It's appropriate to describe the Way as  Wallace might - "Cracking good walk, Gromit!" The North of England Way is very good. How does it compare with the Wainwright Coast to Coast? Well, I did that some ten years ago so I can't really remember but it is well worth doing. The route from here would be Bainbridge, Askrigg, Aysgarth Falls, Castle Bolton, Thirsk and then over the North York Moors to Helmsley, Scalby and then a short way down the coast to Scarborough. Without exception, those I met along the way would say that they'd never heard of it. It's none the worse for that though. Although the book of the Way by David Maughan is out of print, it's available on Amazon second hand.

Friday, 27 June 2014

North of England Way Day 6 Friday 27 June

Stoops Moss to Hawes
Miles walked 11
Miles left 117
Walking from 6am to 11am
I was woken at 2.15am by the sound of the gate shutting into/out of North Yorkshire only a few feet away. It wasn't that dark but surely no-one could be out walking at that time. There was no other sound so I went back to sleep.

Off early again, the path over Gayle Moor was generally good but could be boggy in parts if wet. Shortly before High Gayle, there is a fork where the main and obvious track (which is a vehicle track at this point) continues ahead with a grassy path (with a new footpath signpost to Gearstones) to the right. That is the way to go. It passes above High Gayle Farm and gradually descends to Winshaw and then to the B6255. Turning left for two hundred yards, the Dales Way starts a long 1.5 mile ascent to High Cam, meeting with the Pennine Way which joins it from the right. There are currently forest operations going on in Cam Woodlands so the track has been upgraded for lorry use. I saw one go up it from a distance and, when I was on it, a 4x4 went by and threw up a lot of dust.

After a couple of miles further, the Dales Way continued off to the right, signposted Oughtershaw, and  I carried on along the Pennine Way.

It was level walking on a rough vehicle track for maybe four miles before branching off on a grassy path and eventually starting a long descent into Gayle and then Hawes, which was busy with tourists and bunting out for the Tour de France cyclists passing through the weekend after next. I'm taking a day off tomorrow so normal service will hopefully resume on Sunday. I say "hopefully" as this nausea and tummy unsettledness isn't going away. We shall see. This is supposed to be a holiday, after all and I cannot afford to take time off work when I get home.

North of England Way Day 5 Thursday 26 June

Near Thwaite to Stoops Moss
Miles walked 18.5
Miles left 128
Walking 5.45am to 7.34pm

It rained lightly on and off in the night but I was able to pack away after it had stopped. The path was easy to follow south towards Sedbergh. I stopped for a minute or two to watch a heron preening itself on a rock down in the river below.

I went into Sedbergh and found again the shop I'd visited in 2009 on my LEJOG and bought a couple of excellent meat pies to sustain me. The steak and Guinness one I shovelled down mid morning couldn't have tasted better. While I was eating it a Dales Way walker with a dog came by. He couldn't carry a pack due to a shoulder problem and so had made a two wheel carrier that he had strapped to a belt he was wearing. His pack was on it and occasionally the dog was carried as well.  The Way then dropped down into Dentdale, passing through the picture postcard hamlet of Millthrop.

The River Dee was followed along the edge of meadows to Dent where their annual festival was getting under way. There were to be musical events (Midge Ure, for one) and a beer festival. People were arriving with tents and campervans. 

My queasiness from yesterday had returned during the morning. In Dent, I visited a tearoom for a pot of tea and a toasted teacake and a couple of times there I came out in a sweat and felt quite nauseous and, unusually for me, wasn't able to finish the teacake. Leaving Dent, the walking was easy, just switching from one side of the river to the other from time to time. The weather was cloudy all day but dry so ideal really. Approaching the hamlet of Cowgill, I opted to stick to the lane rather than follow the Dales Way at a higher level. There was very little traffic. After Cowgill, the road passed beneath the Dent Head Viaduct which carries the Settle-Carlisle railway. According to my book of the North of England Way, a local farmer was asked why Dent station is 4 1/2 miles from the village. Apparently, he replied that it was because they wanted the station near the railway line! There were three more miles of tarmac before leaving the road to enter the wild moorland of Stoops Moss. I pitched about half a mile in on the first reasonable pitch. It's quite tufty but comfortable enough. The fence and stile I'm next to mark the boundary between Cumbria and North Yorkshire. The weather has turned quite breezy and chilly. The curlews were quite vocal at first but quieter now and there's a lapwing as well. I can see the profile of Penyghent in the distance. I shall be joining the Pennine Way tomorrow. 

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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

North of England Way Day 4 Wednesday 25 June

Just south of Staveley to just north of Thwaite on River Lune
Miles walked 11.5
Miles left 146.5
Walking from 10.30am to 8pm

Showered and clean shaven, I set off down the lane from the CCC site. It's quite a size and has its own pub and basic restaurant. The site was by no means full and was very quiet. I started today with a new pair of Inov8 Terrocs which I've had in reserve for over a year, bought at a good price when they were about to be discontinued. The sole of one of my old ones had split open and they were generally falling apart.
 I took a short cut through woodland to cross the A591 and then over a bridge below which was the single track line to Windermere. I rejoined the Way at Bowston. Just before Burneside, following the riverside path, I stopped to chat with four ladies walking the Dales Way. They were B&B-ing and having baggage carried and enjoying the walk very much. I passed a few other small groups probably doing the same. The way the grass was trodden, it would seem that most folk doing the Dales Way start at Ilkley and finish at Windermere rather than the way I'm going.  Burneside was the place to find some decent bread for lunch. I passed by the chain convenience store and made enquiries about a bakery which I believed was there. I was told that the lady owner's husband had just died and it might not be open but I'm glad to say it was. My bread rolls had only just come out of the oven and were too hot to hold. Burneside also has a pub and fish and chip shop. During the morning, I felt a lethargy and vague queasiness come on and I really don't know why. Walking with a pack was a bit of a chore but I plodded on. The feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day. The path was quite easy to follow although there were many stiles and gates. At Patton Bridge, my route book said that 50 miles had been covered but my digital mapping indicated only 48. Anyway, I'm well and truly out of the Lake District National Park.  As I was about to cross the A6 north of Kendal, I came across Dave and Phil, cycling Lands End to John O'Groats. They were collapsed, waiting for their friend with the support van to arrive and give them lunch. He arrived and kindly offered me a cup of tea which was a life saver. They're doing the ride for two charities - see I was happy to give a donation.  

On from there at a farm just across the A685 I met Emily Walker, waiting for the owners to return home to sort out where she could camp. I passed the time of day briefly but then she mentioned that she was WALKING LEJOG so I sat down and we chatted for a while. She hadn't met anyone on her walk who was doing it so I was the next best thing as someone who has done it before. She's walking for charity and blogging - see http;// 


I crossed the noisy M6, stopped to cook a meal next to Crook of Lune Bridge. The light drizzly rain kept most of the midges at bay. I didn't have the stomach for all the meal but I needed to eat. The other side of the bridge, I walked alongside the river. I walked through some rather muddy woodland but that came to an end and I'm camped back from the river out of sight unless anyone comes down from the farm.  

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