Posts Tagged ‘Navigation courses and guided walks’

Hadrian’s Wall – Final Day


A straightforward easy walk to Heddon on the Wall and the full team are on the starting blocks (sic!)

The day started well with a good breakfast at the Robin Hood Inn at East Wallhouses. Unfortunately, a minor incident occurred as Tom crushed Joan’s crisps as he loaded her rucksack – see the caption competition below and see if you can guess what Joanie is saying……

We weren’t far into our walk when we stopped at the Great Northern Reservoir to ’twitch’ a while when we heard the cry of ”Hello United States of America” at full voice. Turning round we saw our friends Inge and Miet aka the ’Belgian Bombers’ who we have met every day on the walk. The camaraderie and fun that we’ve had with these two ladies just epitomises long distance walks in the UK. It was lovely meeting these two ’famous Belgians’ and hopefully you had ad much fun as we did when we met up!

Today we were treated to lovely views across the Tyne Valley as we walked in the Roman ditch or alongside the Vallum either side of the wall which is now the military road and covered by asphalt.

The scenery whilst not specific to Hadrians Wall still pleases the eye and spirit and allows you time to appreciate the fact that many parts of the wall are so well preserved in the aftermath of 2000 years of agriculture and mankind’s progress!

Poppies alongside the wheatfields

After a pleasant lunch spot just after Rudchester Fort, we arrived at our destination, the Three Tuns in Heddon on the Wall.

Time then for a celebratory drink with Ritchie from Badger Adventures and who should be lurking in the pub but the Belgian Bombers! So it was a whisky for Tom and a whole cask of ale for Joanie!

Joan settles for a bottle of ’dog’

So it was back to our lodgings at the Robin Hood for a small snooze (Tom), an episode of Tipping Point for Ritchie, no doubt a shower for Joan, and blog writing for me!

Tonight is our celebratory dinner before taking Joan and Tom back to Carlisle so that they can continue their adventure in the Lake District.

Thanks to Joan and Tom for making this a fun trip, thanks to Inge and Miet for their humour along the way, and Ritchie from Badger Adventures for making it all happen in a seamless way.

Bon Voyage and until the next time.


Hadrian’s Wall – day 2


From our hotel in Gilsland we drove back to Steel Rigg car park ready to continue our Badger Adventure .

Joan and Tom ready for day 2.

The weather was forecast to be cooler and our first hour was to climb Peel Crags and Milecastle 39 (Castle Nick) before gaining a view of Crag Lough Sycamore Gap. The Sycamore was made famous as a star in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.

Joan and Tom aka Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman – and the sycamore tree as himself!

Walking up to the crag we passed the Crag Lough with some stunning views through the crags to the water. No need for a huge wall here with the crag being such a good defense against the marauding barbarians from over the border into Scotland.

View from Steel Rigg to Crag Lough.

A few more ’undulations’ and we traverse Hotbank Crags, Cuddy’s Crags and then Housesteads Crag. Coming along the wall you are greeted by the archeological site of Housesteads Fort. The Fort is one of the most important Roman sites anywhere in Europe with well preserved ruins of the granary, communal latrines, commanders quarters and much more.

Housesteads Fort / home to up to 1000 Roman infantrymen and cavalry.

The next portion of todays 19km walk took us past Busy Gap and the impressive restoration work of John Clayton in the 17th century.

Sewingshields Crag just before Turret 35a and a saxon burial chamber / crypt.

Leaving the crags behind we picked up the ditch on the north side of the wall and the vallum on the south. More sightings of Hen Harriers and a Goshawk kept our journey alive with wildlife.

Soon we arrived at Brocolitia Fort and the Temple of Mithras and the sun God. After a quick prayer we hastened our way onwards to Limestone Corner, the most northernmost point of the Roman Empire.

Temple of Mithras with altar at the far end and two Sun God worshippers!

The last part of our Badger Adventure took us along a relatively flat part of country to Chesters Fort and Roman Baths. Ritchie (Chief Badger) was waiting for us in the bus ready to adjourn to the Crown Inn in Humshaugh for libation of local ale and northern sustenance!

So another great day with Joan and Tom and ready to return to Chesters first thing tomorrow to explore the Fort and Baths before our 15km walk to East Wallhouses.

Why not tailor your Badger Adventure by following the link to the website and see what you can do!

Badger Adventures

See you tomorrow!

Hadrian’s Wall – day 1


Our plan today was to walk the wall from Gilsland to Once Brewed / 15km or 9.5m.

As you can see, the day was a rollercoaster with many ’undulations’ but mostly a straight line!

Joan and Tom started with a few minor comfort niggles but nothing to cause any concern. So off we went.

Our first major point of interest (other than the Badger Sett – alas not the home of Badger Adventures), was Thirlwall Castle -the 14th century fortified home of the Thirlwall family to protect their amassed wealth from military campaigns from the Border Reivers who loved nothing better than taking whatever they could steal. The fortified home was built almost entirely from stone from Hadrian’s Wall but sadly after 300 years was sold for £4000 and fell into disrepair.

Soon after we Headed onto the wall and got our first real sense of the way ahead.

The Northumberland scenery also began to emerge in all its glory. Vast open countryside, big skies, and a 2000 year old feat of engineering, vision and determination.

The Walltown Crags in the distance behind Jane and Tom.

The undulations became a frequent companion if not friendly!

A little before 1630 we reached our end point of day 1 and retired to The Milecastle Inn at Twice Brewed for a small amount of imbibing before a drive back to Gilsland Spa Hotel for our overnight and dinner.

So, day 1 completed and looking forward to day 2 and even more spectacular scenery and wall.

If you are interested in this walk or any other UK trail, why not look at Badger Adventures for details of how you can join us on your adventure.

Follow us tomorrow for the next instalment of Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventures

Coast to Coast May 2016 – The End


It’s always a bitter sweet day when the final walk into Robin Hoods Bay arrives. The weather was dry with a hint of early morning drizzle for our last 17 1/2 miles from Egton Bridge to RHB.

Stepping across the River Esk

Stepping across the River Esk

After a couple of miles we reached Grosmont (lit. Big Hill) and with a calf popping 230m climb out of the town, it had us all puffing a little harder (except Trevor who loves hills more than Full English Breakfasts)!

At least we got to see a steam train departing at Grosmont

At least we got to see a steam train departing at Grosmont

So we climbed up on to Sleights Moor and gained our first view of Whitby Abbey on our way to Littlebeck. I had promised everyone a coffee stop at Falling Foss in the woods – a delightful tea garden but the signs warned us of an impending wedding at the garden and closure at 1130! After a hasty dash through the woods, we made it for a brunch. With only 7 miles walked in 4 hours as we left the garden, I was anticipating a late arrival into the Bay.

Falling Foss Tea Garden

Falling Foss Tea Garden

Trevor scraping the barrel

Trevor scraping the barrel

Negotiating the mossy stones across Little Beck near Falling Foss - Mark shows the way

Negotiating the mossy stones across Little Beck near Falling Foss – Mark shows the way to Kelly

With Jo’s, Liz’s and Karen’s blistered feet, Kelly’s mushed toes, Mark’s ‘dead legs’ there was only Cheryl, Trevor and me walking on air! I needn’t have worried though. The walk over the moor was as if the group were on drugs – oh wait – they were – Ibuprofen at least as far as Jo was concerned – enough to dull the pain caused by her blisters Bob and Betty who were not giving her an easy time at all!

After a good yomp across the Moors, Trevor needed to treat himself to a reward – yep – a light snack by way of an ice cream

'Just a top up Malcolm' - it's Bootiful - just like these fleece lined trousers to keep me warm!

‘Just a top up Malcolm’ – it’s Bootiful – just like these fleece lined trousers to keep me warm!

So as they say in war movies, “over the top we went” and down to the cliffs of the North Sea Coast

The North Sea always looks like the Mediterranean on arrival  - look at that sun kissed sea!

The North Sea always looks like the Mediterranean on arrival – look at that sun kissed sea!

The final 3 miles melted away as we drew close to the end of this particular pilgrimage paying homage to Alfred Wainwright. He has been revered, respected, cursed and dreaded for what he has led the group to do – but for all that they have succeeded!

Bay Town at last - 192 miles and many aches and pains later

Bay Town at last – 192 miles and many aches and pains later

After checking into our accommodation, it was down to the end and the ritual of depositing our carried pebbles from the Irish Sea into the North Sea.

Liz escapes the pebble throwing ceremony just as the waves engulf the rest!

Liz escapes the pebble throwing ceremony just as the waves engulf the rest!

Liz's pebble caught on camera mid chuck!

Liz’s pebble caught on camera mid chuck!

So with a mix of emotions, it was off to celebrate the achievement and contemplate what next…………..


It’s been a wonderful crossing with only a half day of rain, and plenty of sunshine to help us across. There has been torment, pain, agony and ecstasy en route and finally the joy of the finish.

The Coast to Coast is a challenging walk over 192 miles, three national parks, mountains, hills, bogs, vales and coastline – each bringing their own brand of challenge.

Well done, and congratulations to Cheryl, Jo, Karen, Kelly, Liz, Mark, and Trevor for an epic journey that you’ll never forget. It has been a pleasure to guide you for the past two weeks and good luck with your next challenge – don’t let it be your last – no matter what you do.


If you would like to take the challenge, contact Sherpa Expeditions at

Coast to Coast – May 2016 Day 12


The penultimate day and we are back to full strength for the 11 miles from Blakey Ridge to Egton Bridge. It’s all downhill today (literally) and suits some but not all!

Mark suffered from his post ‘race’ exertions with Trevor yesterday along the old railway track to Blakey. Muscle fatigue hit his legs ( not due to Black Sheep he declared) and he kept a watching brief on the group from the tail 🙊

The wind through the night was pretty wild and no less so when we left Blakey – gusting to 35mph and a wind chill of 4c taking it down to about 8c! This made it positively ‘baltic’ for our Australian Coasters – normal May temps for us Brits!

Passing Fat Betty and on through Great Fryup Dale, we stopped for tea at the Glaisdale Tea Garden and enjoyed scones, tea cakes, and cake in the summer sun!

Karen, Cheryl and Kelly from Australia enjoy a UK summer tea in the garden

Karen, Cheryl and Kelly from Australia enjoy a UK summer tea in the garden

Hardy Brits Liz, Trevor and Mark  enjoy summer sun

Hardy Brits Liz, Trevor and Mark enjoy summer sun (Trevor having just mopped up the spare cream, jam and milk! – using his knife too – what would his wife say?

So tea done and it was a short roll down the hill to Beggars Bridge, through the woods and into Egton Bridge and the Horseshoe Hotel for an early afternoon libation (sleep for Mark though!)

Tomorrow is our last day – 17 miles to Robin Hoods Bay and the termination of this crossing. It’ll be a sad farewell on Sunday after breakfast to this lovely group of people. They have been an absolute pleasure to lead across the 192 miles with laughter, fun, some pain, but above all some brilliant moments that will live forever hopefully in all of our memories.

Still, one more day to go and the opportunity to enjoy the walk into The Bay and celebrate a tremendous achievement by all of the ‘Magnificent Seven’


Coast to Coast May 2016 – day 5


16 miles today with over 1300m (4400 feet) of ascent and some gnarly walking over rocky paths and an ugly descent from Kidsty Howes really tests the legs and your patience! I always think that this is the hardest day by far on the C2C and a real test for anybody. It’s not rude to say that there was a fair amount of trepidation about today from many of the group but from what I saw previously, the only concern I had was the descent down a rocky, broken section of crag on Kidsty Howes. It’s not dangerous, just slow to negotiate and pick your descent!

The morning started brightly on Ullswater and the ‘Magnificent 7’ were waiting in Patterdale like hungry hounds waiting to be unleashed on to the fells. Well, maybe not quite that exuberant but you know what I mean!


imageI arrived in Patterdale and was greeted what looked to be Trevor limbering up for the Rio Olympics 400m hurdle final…….

imageWith a hurdle action like that, Kidsty Pike doesn’t have a chance – not so sure about the athletes diet of a Cornish Pasty though Mr Hart! I needn’t have worried though – he was off out of the traps like a dog after a rabbit. Both Trevor and Mark blitzed the climb to Boredale Hause as if the devil was at their tails! The rest of the group weren’t dragging their heels either and we reached Boredale Hause just in time to see other groups heading off in every direction but the right one. With an average 75% success rate on the C2C  I was concerned that this day would reveal sore feet, destroyed morale , and general tiredness and maybe lead to a couple or more withdrawals.

The morning ended with us all on the summit of Kidsty Pike with everyone walking so well and so confidently that I was beginning to hope that the descent wouldn’t be a problem.


Look at that group of ecstatic people – every one overcoming their individual challenges to get to Kidsty Pike summit before midday.

Actually, the descent was so well done, it hardly needs mentioning except to say that Karen who had really struggled with downhill sections managed this descent with aplomb and consummate ease. So we reached the shores of Haweswater exactly on my hoped for time of 1300. So lunch on the banks and a little foot airing and then on with the more than half of the day left to walk. Everyone was walking well despite the warm temperature and sun warming us up. Sunscreen and frequent water slurps were needed to keep ourselves in good shape.

Feet get pounded the shores of Haweswater and the pace inevitably slowed but was fast enough to guarantee that we would complete the day in 8 1/2 hours including stops etc. What’s more, no new injuries or friction burns, blisters appeared – just the sign of tired limbs.

The group all finished in Shap, and apart from expected tiredness were in great shape. All that remained was for a hot bath, meal and an early night to ready ourselves for 20 miles to Kirkby Stephen tomorrow.

Some fantastic individual efforts today and everyone should be congratulated on their efforts today – well done.

Please keep giving to Jo and Trevor who are doing this for their chosen charity’s – they deserve every penny that you can spare!





Coast to Coast May 2016 – day 4


Today is always a day of decisions – high level route via Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag or Grisedale Valley to Patterdale. The weather looked kind so after a steady climb to Grisedale Hause, the decision to take on St Sunday Crag was an easy one. At 841m it’s not an easy task but we headed off up the mountain and a narrow track to Deepdale Hause.

Decisions about attire needed to be made at the Hause, Jo asking whether she needed clothes to do the next bit raised a few make eyebrows, but expecting something a little more risqué, Jo donned an extra fleece! Not long before, Mark asked in a quiet voice, whether I could unzip him! Fortunately he was alluding to his vent zips on his jacket – phew!

Just under the summit of St Sunday Crag

Just under the summit of St Sunday Crag

St Sunday Crag is 841m so not an insignificant challenge and certainly will be the highest point on the entire C2C for most groups should they decide to tackle this Wainwright.

Heading up the mountain proved to be a much easier proposition for all (apart from Mark who was suffering a little from his lamb shank and 1/4 of Liz’s pizza from the night before and a full Cumbrian breakfast this morning).  Having said that, a meal and a half and a full breakfast seems to be Mark’s modus operandi and after a slower start than usual, normal service was resumed.

Kelly, Karen, Cheryl, Trevor and Liz were moving well and the summit was reached relatively comfortably for a celebratory photo on the top with Helvellyn and Striding Edge as a background.

St Sunday Crag Summit 841m

St Sunday Crag Summit 841m

Descending a mountain seems to be harder for most people and we were no exception – but a steady walk down using five points of contact for some (hands, legs and bum) we came into view of the Ullswater Valley.

Ullswater at its best

Ullswater at its best

This is one of the best days you can have (with your clothes on Jo) and really shows the Lake District at its very best and most exhilerating.

Tomorrow we head out to Shap and leave the Lake District; some would say the most picturesque of the entire C2C. I believe that it is outstanding, but then the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors have their own unique attraction to be savoured – so bring it on!

More tomorrow from Shap – until then enjoy your walking or whatever you’re doing tomorrow.


Coast to Coast May 2016 Day 2



After another good breakfast and improving weather promised, the group were ready and raring to go for day 2 and the 16 miles to Borrowdale from Ennerdale Bridge. With a good night of rest and the various potions and lotions applied, the energy level was palpable!

The walk along the Ennerdale shore is always an awkward one with large boulders and water after the last few days of heavy rain, but overall progress towards Black Sail was good.


We made Black Sail in a reasonable time for lunch and discovered it closed completely! It’s about time the YHA got this sorted and allowed visitors to use the facility at this time of year – after all it is May – shame on you YHA! At least you left the toilet door open for use………..


After an enticing mix of delicacies for lunch at Black Sail, our next task was the climb out of Ennerdale up to Brandreth Fence via Loft Beck. The group did well and the views from the top into Ennerdale, Buttermere and to the Solway Firth were as good as always.


After the climb on to the plateau, the walk across Moses Trod to The Drum House is pretty easy but punctuated with more stunning 360 degree panoramas. From there it’s a steady walk down to Honister mine and on to Stonethwaite and our billets for the evening. Stonethwaite has to be the most picturesque hamlet in all of Lakeland by far!

Dinner scheduled for 1930 and this meant that the youngest member of the group (Jo) could have a Nana Nap before a steak of Desperate Dan proportions in the Langstrath Country Hotel.

Good tales of blisters, ankle soreness and the ready volunteering of team Vaseline by Mark meant that pre dinner chat was of the lowest order!! Some even regaled the group with the worst possible jokes every told by anyone over 6 3/4 years of age (yours truly!)

Anyway, after a good meal, we bade our good nights and off for a good sleep before a modest day of 9 miles to Grasmere tomorrow over Greenup Edge.

31 miles down and only 161 to go!

Two of our group are challenging themselves to raise funds for two worthy charities. Jo Purnell is raising money for Macmillans and Cancer Research so if you would like to give a thing to help this cause, please visit http//

Trevor Hart is raising money for Caring for Life and if you would like to raise funds for this worthy cause, please do so at

The Coast to Coast is a tough challenge and raising funds by this method is no easy feat – please help them if you can.

Lake District Ski Club Operating Today


I was on a Fix the Fells volunteering day today around the Ullswater Valley. We decided to undertake a drain run (clearing path drains and sweeping pitched paths) up Sticks Pass on to Helvellyn Lower Man and back via Keppel Cove with half of the group, and the other half branching off to Glencoyne and back via Seldom Seen to Glenridding.

The view of Catstycam as we made our way up to Greenside Mine at Glenridding indicated some light snowfall overnight but nothing major. This week since I got back from the Cairngorms on Monday evening has seen some very spring like weather which has melted lots of the snow.

Catstycam with a sprinkling of light overnight snow seen from Greenside Mine, Glenridding.

Catstycam with a sprinkling of light overnight snow seen from Greenside Mine, Glenridding.

The walk up from Sticks Pass takes you past the lake District Ski Club based on Raise. It’s sense good recent skiing but I didn’t expect to see it open today. Quell Surprise! Not only was it open and running, there was still some half decent skiing to be had. With the weather forecast indicating colder weather and more snow this weekend, maybe winter sports will persist a little longer in the Lake District.

The Lake District Ski Club on Raise (883m), part of the Helvellyn Range

The Lake District Ski Club on Raise (883m), part of the Helvellyn Range

As we reached the top of Sticks Pass, it started to snow quite well and we needed to head south up to Whiteside Bank which was a solid block of ice when we tried to climb it. A brief stop at the cairn to admire the rapidly disappearing view and it was onwards to find a suitable sheltered area for lunch near Keppel Cove.

Cairn on the way from Raise to Keppel Cove (883m) and quite chilly!

Cairn on the way from Raise to Keppel Cove (883m) and quite chilly!

It was quite difficult to gain any help from the surroundings on the plateau and with driving snow, it was a case of heading due south towards Keppel Cove to locate our path. Having found it, we descended to a sheltered depression for much need lunch for some of us (not Phil!) and a chance to admire the view of Catstycam’s North Face, Brown Cove and Swirral Edge.

Heading for lunch as we walk towards Brown Cove - Catstycam in the distance

Heading for lunch as we walk towards Brown Cove – Catstycam in the distance with Swirral Edge to the right

The walk down to Glenridding is always a gentle amble taking in the view opening up in front of you (Ullswater, Glenridding Dodd, Place Fell, High Street etc) and not a walk to rush!

The view from our lunch spot - perfect!

The view from our lunch spot – perfect!

Once back in Glenridding, our customary finale is tea or something a little stronger (Cumberland Ale) for men Ratchers Bar in the Glenridding Hotel.

Another productive day for the Fix the Fells Volunteers (3 routes completed and a great day of company with a turnout of 13 volunteers).

If you want to learn more about the Fix the Fells work or would like to become a volunteer to look after these wonderful fells check out the website at

You will be assured of a warm welcome from like minded people and guaranteed to have a lot of fun as well as doing something very important in maintaining the Lake District Fells.

Has spring arrived in Mardale before half term?


It was -4c at the car park at Mardale Head with clear skies and the moon just disappearing from view at 0830 this morning. Having left home in fog in the Eden Valley, I wasn’t expecting too much of a day in Mardale. How wrong I was! As soon as I climbed out of the valley at home, the sky cleared and it started to look more like the weather forecast with the high pressure still dominating the north west.

Looking into Whelter Crags across Haweswater

Looking into Whelter Crags across a partly frozen Haweswater

Apart from Christine and my cars, there were only a couple of others there as we arrived – Mardale can be such a daft place to walk if the weather is unkind and the lack of cars seemed not to bode well. The fine weather of the last couple of days has thawed the snow at the lower levels but anything above 250m is still well covered. The Hardwick sheep are looking ready to lamb in the north east lake district – a sign of spring perhaps?

Kidsty Pike in the February sun

Kidsty Pike in the February sun

It’s easy to believe that maybe Spring is on its way when you sit in the snow and warm yourself in the morning sun watching the aeroplane contrails in the blue sky.

Basking in the Caribbean on a sandy beach ?? No - just the Lake District in the snow

Basking in the Caribbean on a sandy beach ?? No – just the Lake District in the snow

Wonder where they are headed?

Wonder where they are headed?

Memo to self: charge camera battery so it lasts longer than coffee break – doh!

Still another spectacular day in my back yard – good company, great scenery, and stunning Spring weather – maybe!!! Watch this space – half term is looming !!

Whatever happens – I love my job and the place I live 🙂

%d bloggers like this: