Saturday, 28 November 2009

Rad's Army - I'm sure there's a church round here

We really did come across this signpost

But before we get into any dubious 'detail' from the walk, this week I've been mostly p'd off by people looking to blame other people. It seems to be a national sport at the moment, however the one that really got me was the Travelodge people pointing out a mistake that Premier Inn people made in an offer 6 months ago. They sent this email out to 10's of 1000's of people (I'm guessing but it's certainly 'lots of people')

On Tuesday 24th November 09, following a complaint by Travelodge to the ASA, The Times reported that budget hotel operator Premier Inn has potentially been overcharging thousands of customers trying to book a Premier Offer £29 room since June 2009. Their television and newspaper advertising, featuring Lenny Henry, proudly claimed that the chain were offering 1,000,000 rooms for £29, but The Times reported that when customers arrived at the Premier Inn website those using the Quick Book on the homepage were not being offered £29 rooms when they were still available. Instead customers would only be able to find these advertised rooms by clicking on a different part of the website.

So, Travelodge made the original complaint, not 1 customer!! and the customers could have got the offer had they looked a bit more. Now some poor chap/chapess in marketing or IT gets fired because of the 'who's fault is it?' culture. Maybe if the rooms at Travelodge weren't so shite more people would stay and they wouldn't need to resort to trash marketing.

Sorry about that, but there are similarities. The unplanned dalliances of a late November walk around The Roaches could easily have triggered similar scapegoat thoughts. I'm glad to report that in over 6 hours not an iota of dissension raised it's head.

This route had not originally been a Mark 'Radders' walk, although 'Captain Radwaring' had recently been be volunteered as chief dinner lady after posting a somewhat tricky route anticlockwise to Lud's Church and back over The Roaches.

The weather forecast for the day was at best 'shabby', I think icy rain was threatened by Metcheck. Despite this,10 troops strong and true turned out at 9am Saturday morning late November......oh except Captain Radwaring who turned in 10 minutes late. Arenig Hodges had been waiting to catch everyone out at the allotted spot since 7.55am and wouldn't even heat the car to keep his wife warm.

We set off in the rain with very low cloud and headed for Ramshaw Rocks, marvellously taking the wrong turn at the first gate. No names no pack drill but I'm sure I heard 'Don't panic' muttered from the back. At this point I knew already that we were in trouble, 10 people and 6 maps just isn't going to work and pretty soon we'd marched through a swamp into a field with one gate in and no gates out......don't tell them your name Granty. Except Captain R knew better and headed (against most peoples better judgement) uphill to towards a farm. Pretty soon we were striding up a road towards the escarpment following Jim who in true Wilson style had claimed all the glory. Even though though the cloud was still low the view from the top back down the Leek road was impressive.

Next we headed downhill, passed some lama (it could be lamas) that sounded very like dogs and next some weird rocks appeared out of the gloom

before we headed off cross country. There was definitely a path somewhere but not where we were going. You'd think we were searching for spies as we'd got that far apart.

Not to worry Captain R got us back on track,

I did think Carl or Dellwalker were about to turn into Frazer at this point as they'd walked the farthest; but blame. Then it got boggy and paths were scant, before we eventually came out above Gradbach.

Down the hill and passed the YHA, well we would have been 'passed' it, other than the need to peer through the window at the chalk board pricelist. At this point everyone turned into Frazer '£1.80 for a pint, scandalous!' 'bet it's a real hoot in there', 'cup of tea 60 p outrageous!' followed by 'shame its not open'.

We dragged ourselves away and headed towards the forest in which Lud's Church was hopefully still secreted.......oh except we did this on the wrong side of the barbed wire fence. But we were 'Rads Army' we could deal with it, over the fences we went, not even a prick in our waterproof trousers could dent our enthusiasm. Pretty soon we rested for rations while certain troops did walrus impressions to gain the summit of the rocky peaks. ' Stupid boys'

I really like Lud's Church, it's a fissure in the rock formation which forms a natural and well hidden chasm. Last time I was here the place was covered in icicles

Its always been a bit slippery at the entrance, but after the recent deluge of rain the lower end was pretty swampy. No worries a few stones and we were over it, oh except for Walker who decided he knew a better way...this resulted in him being momentarily up to his knees in gunk.

And all we needed to do now was climb out of the church, make the crest of the ridge and head back to the cars....except it's very muddy in the forest and so we opt for cross country. I had most definitely adopted a 'Wilson' mantle now and thought I knew best. Cross county. off the map, uphill and spread out......maybe good on the TV, but it's not in many mountain leader guide books.

So apologies to Wendy who had to clamber for 20 minutes over 3ft high gorse and to everyone else for putting them through the needless waste of energy. oh yeah you should have followed me to the path and then up to the ridge, it was easy

..............boom tish.

Along the ridges,

through the forest

and down to the cars via the hobbit house (must check if you can rent this place) and most importantly a review of manoeuvres in the pub.

It was a tricky route to navigate and the boggy ground made it fairly tough going at times, but it was a splendid 11 miles with no casualties, although little new intelligence was gained.

thanks for the invite chaps and apologies to anyone not skitted, it's best I know you better first as I wouldn't want to be tripped on a downward hill stretch next time .

Private Cheeseman :)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Popping Pills in the Peaks

Nothing wrong with a bit of alliteration as one of my pals once said 'a pig could sell Persil' in hindsight perhaps a Unilever sales conference wasn't the ideal place to be alliterating. And so after yet another wash out week in Blighty, even the miserable doom casters at Metcheck were forecasting an appearance of the big yellow shiny thing. We also had a free Sunday!

I love the internet for the immediate communication and the lack of planning required, a simple log on and check if anyone is planning a walk on Sunday, excellent Mr and Mrs Robbo and Mr and Mrs Pete about an hour away from home.

Sunday morning at the mildly sensible time of 9.45am me and Pam parked up in Earl Sterndale outside the Quiet Woman pub, ready to walk over Chrome and Parkhouse Hills. I'd done some of this walk previously when I raced my pal Shad up Chrome Hill so I knew it would be OK for the non climbers in my car.

The weather fairies had one last laugh by chucking a 2 minute heavy shower on us and then out with the rainbows.

Sometimes it's the views, other times the adversity, or the tricky climb and other times just watching your mates fall over or get soaked (or preferably both at the same time!) that make the day. Today it was the conversation, as someone said 'it's no wonder they are out of breath'

I ended up laughing most of the way, but I was particularly taken with the space age health discussion. As some of you may know, I understand Big Picture Health, sensible food, exercise, moderate drinking, no drugs and no fags even if I do admire it from afar with a kebab in my hands some days. Well good news everyone, there's a better way.....

Pills! and if that doesn't work more pills.

Now I'm guessing that everyone on this walk had probably recently sneaked passed their fortieth birthdays and were now experiencing some deterioration in their body temple. Well it started with knees......a normal walking complaint. No worries, a touch of cod liver oil pills and everything will be fixed. If you really do a lot of crawling you can supplement this with collagen tablets, which as far as I now understand enable you to spring about more than a spring chicken. In fact if you imagine Tricky Dicky watching a football match over a fence with two springs attached to his feet, Beano circa 1972 you've pretty much got it. 6 of these little beauties a day though.

They should sell them in quarters next to the midget gems.

Iron tablets seemed to be high on most peoples lists, and vitamin C which strangely is always in orange tablet form.

Then there were the multivits mix and match with Calcium and other stuff, by now I was getting the munchies for a tube of smarties, apparently they don't count. The overall winner by a mile though is the mighty

Statin pills,

these don't just lower cholesterol, but I'm assured they beat it to a pulp and demand kebab supplements. I don't have a cholesterol issue but just to be sure I'm going to be popping these with every Ginsters pasty I eat. Awesome. oh yeah we did some walking and some climbing too.

Over the soggy fields and round farmyards all the way to the northern tip of Chrome Hill. A few scowls from Pam who takes exception to using her hands to walk! 'if you need to use your hands, then it's not a walk'.

Thankfully it was a pretty short clamber before the wide ridge took over and happiness broke out. Up to the top without too much hassle and then off the far side to Parkhouse Hill.

Even though the limestone was a bit slippery Pete decided that a touch of climbing was in order so two of us made it to the top of the pinnacle adjacent to the main hill. Up to the top for a spot of lunch and a bit of geocaching

For the second week in a row Peter had left lunch in the car, you can get away with this if you are on your own with a flask of soup. I honestly thought Helen would have been quite within her rights to shove him off the ridge, aggressive action wasn't needed though, as Robbo simultaneously dropped part of the geocache off the ridge. Well about 8 yards down the really steep bit. Peter promptly volunteered to get it, I guess he figured he was safer on an 8 inch ledge over a 200ft drop than standing sandwich less on the flat bit.

Just as Peter arrived at the bit of paper Robbo announced 'sorry mate that's just a bit of paper I've just found the cache in my pocket'. 'I put it there so it didn't get blown off'. top effort chaps.

It was a bit of a steep drop down to the bottom and Pam took the 5 points of contact with the earth at all times option.

And so from here a hop, skip and a slide back to the cars and to the pub for cider. Just got to plan my raid on Holland and Barrets now. Cheers for the extra photographs chaps

Sunday, 8 November 2009

15 miles in the Eastern Lakes - 'Easy'

I have a pet hate of categories and boxes, they encourage prejudice, they limit expectations and they can define behaviour. The latest one to attract my attention is the DWP report (It's Dept for Work and Pensions for now, although it will probably be something else by the time I post this) about ageing. It's conclusions on the UK peoples attitudes to ageing are

Youth ends at 45
Old age starts at 63

which means you have a maximum of 18 years of middle age.

There are so many thing wrong with this, not the least being that I've recently turned 45.

Obviously, I've decided to ignore 'them' and happily carry on with my adolescent behaviour, such that everything is still possible. OK the 100m final would be tricky now....but only because that Bolt chap is a bit nippy. No training required for this or anything else.

And so to the walk, I've been a bit laid up with post flu viral nonsense lately, as a consequence of this and my need to guzzle cider throughout a record number of recent gigs, my fitness may have deteriorated..marginally. Still how bad could a walk around a few Lake District peaks be, it's not the bloody Himalayas or Kilimanjaro is it?

With slight trepidation I'd agreed to a 14.5 mile walk around the Eastern Lakes with a group of Olympic standard fell runners.

I'd planned an escape route option after 6 miles, I may be enthusiastic still but I'm not stupid! Sunday morning 8.30am and we're parking outside Martindale church in the middle of nowhere near Ullswater, the vicar must have thought all his Sundays that doesn't work. It was also remembrance Sunday which probably meant we'd stolen Mrs Miggins once a year parking slot. Best dash off quickly.

And dash off they did

Passed the Old Martindale church, why on Gods that's inappropriate too, but really; it's superfluous, unless maybe you are a church builder by trade and have two vicar sons what possible need for an extra church?. Oh yes passed the church in a blur and onto the mountain climb before you could say 'how big is that red phone box'.

It was almost as big as the house it was attached to, London bus conversion maybe, they have lots of barn and loft conversions around here, why not a bus.

Uphill they went humming and whistling, I'm 150 yards in, looking at the mist and thinking it's payback time. Now there may have been the odd time when slightly distracted I've lead a couple of pals up a very steep and yes inappropriate 'garden path'. Well chaps if you are reading this I recommend a serves you right smile about now. Thankfully a couple of these guys were caring enough to feign injury, dodgy knees etc and spend time encouraging me. I think my previous stance was 'stop being a Jessie'.

I looked at the floor an awful lot, and then at the mist and then at a bit more floor. Eventually we made the ridge and I was so happy I smiled at the mist. Oh well, now for UP the ridge, but at least I get to start ticking off hills, I blame Allan Clarke 'Sniffer' to his friends for this habit, ticking and collecting not sniffing.

He was the last Leeds player I collected in the 1973ish Panini book and I had to steal the GUS money to get the final pack. I was deterred from a life of crime by a ceremonial burning of the whole book by my dad, I'm pretty sure he was encouraged by my mam as he left Leeds United miraculously unscathed..cheers dad.

UP we went to Beda Fell and further UP to Angletarns Crags, Result of the day, I'd been here recently and knew more than the fell runners. Better still it was in the mist and Peters GPS was a bit on the slow side. Suddenly I'm an expert. Over the Crags and round to the Tarn which I'm sure was as beautiful as ever behind the thick veil of mist. Yup we couldn't see a thing. And then off to climb UP yet another hill. Perhaps I mentioned that we should keep going to the wall with the gate and hang a right, but this time GPS power took over and we marched cross country through bogs and mud and round the back of the hill before eventually peaking on Brock Crags 20 minutes later.

30 seconds after we left the hilltop there we were at 'my gate' or at least that's how it's playing in my head. Then it got tough, we started UP some really long drags to the misnamed Rest Dodd it was as hard a walk as I've ever done, mainly due to my lack of fitness, but I was about to make a move on my masterplan. We're 6 miles in and I'm just going to hang a left here, over 'The Nab', 3 miles home and last one in the pubs a cissy! Apprehensively I looked at the mist again, I was pretty tired and it was cold. There were also predators about just waiting for the straggler.

We were over 700m now and Peter did the classic 'it'll be OK we're almost at the top', I promise I'll never say this again. We stumbled and dragged ourselves UP to the top of The Knott for a spot of lunch, my bottom lip had left a neat gully for the water to run down where it had dragged over the wet ground.

This chap left his lunch in the car, but stole one of my sandwiches safe in the knowledge I couldn't fight back.

It's amazing though, a touch of food and a warm drink, a change of gloves and dry clothes, the world suddenly seemed a better place. For the first time the mist started to clear, I had a momentary flicker of 'why not 30 minutes ago at my shortcut' but the vista opened up and well, 'it's always worth it'.

From here on in, even on the inclines UP to High Street I loved every minute, we were on the return leg and we had a few hills to climb but it was gorgeous. We played the 'who's head is behind the wall' game, I have to say it was really easy from my side of the wall. The views across Fusedale away down the ridge were fantastic.

Across further to Saint Sundays Crag the sun shone

And Striding Edge eventually made it out of the clouds

And then the route planner excelled himself, just as I was feeling really tired he declared 'there are the cars!' and turned sharp left off a cliff edge to take the most direct return route I've ever tried. Again the views over Ullswater were awesome.

I was red carded for two unassisted dives, the second was a fairly spectacular fall as I landed on a rock on my arse...yeah yeah always best to hit a soft spot.

A slight incline to the car and off to the pub for a very well earned cider.

When does old age hit again? this middle age stuff is rubbish.

Top day out chaps and thanks for waiting, encouraging and entertaining.