Saturday, 25 May 2013

River Swale at Richmond

I was in Richmond town centre early one weekend recently whilst working on another project and so I thought I'd make the most of it with a quick castle walk. Part way round though I decided to take the steep steps down and do the walk round at river level.

I normally stay up on the high path but down at the riverbank you really get a good impression of how the castle dominates the landscape.

This really is a lovely place to walk - even though you are just minutes from the market place this feels far removed from anyone and at this time of day the only sound was the water rushing by. For those having a short break whilst on the Coast To Coast this is well worth having a look.

Even in the shallow fast-flowing river, an odd bend allows the water to slow right up providing a tranquil scene.

And the falls are always a good viewing point as the water cascades only a metre or two but it is always a compelling scene. Like sitting round a campfire gazing into the flames, somehow I never get bored of looking at the water hurtling over the edge of the falls.

A quick sharp walk uphill and I was back at the market square, the walk is literally only ten minutes, but sufficient to put a smile on my face for the rest of the day!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Yorkshire Three Peaks April 2013

It was just over year the weather last Winter defeated our previous attempt at the Yorks Three Peaks, and so having compared calendars with walking buddy Dave, Claire and I found a date at the start of April this year to give the Three Peaks challenge walk another go.

It is an odd one it has to be said. Due to the nature of the challenge, you don't get a great deal of time to fully appreciate the scenery as you are trying to complete the walk in less than twelve hours. It also attracts a huge volume of walkers which obviously puts a strain on the footpaths of these fragile fells. A lot of work has been done to improve the path and make it more durable, especially across the infamous bog section between Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside

The sun was just coming up over the top of Pen-y-Ghent as we set off from Horton-In-Ribblesdale and it really was a beautiful morning to be out on the fells. The first couple of miles are very rewarding as although it is a sharp pull up Pen-y-Ghent, it isn't long before you reach the top, soaking up the views and thinking one down, two to go, that's not so bad!

Reality soon kicks in afterwards - the long trudge over to Ribblehead takes a few hours to complete and although I remembered this a being a flat march, there are actually a couple of short ascents and descents. The great news here is that the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and National Park Authority have done a fantastic job in putting a new path that diverts away from the boggy ground of Black Dubb Moss which makes for much easier going.

The tarmac on the road for the mile or so over to Ribblehead is hard on the feet, but this was all good as we had left a car here and knew that a breakfast stop and water bottle refill was soon to come.

The next long trudge was along the huge hump-backed spine of Whernside, which is a good couple of miles of non-stop ascent. I have really enjoyed walking Whernside individually but as part of the challenge walk is it pretty tough going - even more so on a snow-covered path.

With Ingleborough up next, we enjoyed the gentle walk between the two fells and the good path across the lower slopes leading up to the steep bit. Normally this is a tough slog up a zig zag path, but with a thick blanket of snow, the only way was to head straight up kicking holes into the ice and climbing the sharp gradient upwards. This certainly got the heart, legs and adrenalin pumping!

From the top of Ingleborough we had some spectacular views all around of the terrain we had walked and way beyond. This is a great fell and definitely deserves exploration on its own and not just as part of the challenge.

The last couple of miles seem a lot longer than they actually are as fatigue sets in, but the end is in sight, and soon enough we were back in Horton in Ribblesdale hobbling to the Three Peaks Cafe on tired but happy legs.

We decided to stay at a spectacular bed and breakfast not far from Clapham, and toasted our walk with a couple of drinks in the pubs of Ingleton that evening before sleeping extremely well!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Durham Brewery Tour

I recently made the most of a great Christmas present, which was two tickets for a tour of Durham brewery. The car stayed at home for this one and we got the train up to Durham, visiting the town for a spot of lunch and a look around some of the outdoor shops. The brewery is a short bus ride outside of Durham, in Bowburn and we arrived just in time for the 2pm tour.

I won't give away too much, but the tour itself was really interesting. Our educated tour guide and master brewer Steve was very entertaining and we learnt a lot about the history of brewing as well as the start of the Durham brewery itself. For example I didn't know that the British traditionally brewed ale which which preceded the introduction of hops - and subsequently brewing beer rather than ale. Dutch migrant workers introduced hops, and that as they have preservative qualities, this was the essential factor that made brewing beer as an industry possible, rather than being simply brewed for private consumption.

And of course the star attraction was the beer samples, and these were plentiful and generous! No thimble of beer here and here, we got full pints to try and with each one we learnt about the brewing process and what makes each beer unique. The only exception was the Russian stout which came in a wine glass, and at 10% that's probably just as well!

I picked up a couple of bottles too, all I need now is a special occasion to get these opened and sampled!