The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 31 December 2015


There's something particularly pleasing about seeing a small child, dressed in a ski-suit, headed towards the beach clutching a bucket, a spade and a kite - on the last day of December. He and his family didn't have the beach to themselves either. People were out in force in Whitby today, even though it was much cooler than of late.

We didn't build any sandcastles ourselves, but we did amble for 6.5 miles, taking in some cliff-top paths as well as exploring the town.

And now just 2.5 hours of this year remain (which I suppose means I should be putting together my annual set of walking stats graphs, shouldn't I?) so let me wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2016.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Filey, followed by a Scarborough Fail

The beach at Filey comprises the perfect sand for walking, being so firm that each step left only the barest hint of a footprint. Even so, our walk south along the beach was one of the most difficult flat walks I've taken in a while. The wind was brutal, with gusts that brought me to a standstill.

The intense breeziness didn't seem to be putting people off; as we arrived both the beach and the prom were well populated including children with balls and fishing nets. I think they may have been a bit optimistic in taking either, in the conditions. We later saw a chap positively sprinting after a ball that had been taken by the wind and which his dog was either too clever or too stupid to bother chasing itself.

It was a relief to turn to put the wind behind us and up the beach we went, past a fish and chip kiosk bearing an assistant who looked resigned to a very quiet shift. With all of the sand in the air I doubt many would have fancied sitting on the beachside to eat.

It was a short outing in keeping with the weather and by early afternoon we were headed to Scarborough where it appeared to us that the council doesn't want people with Colin-sized vehicles to park in any proximity to the town or seafront and with showers now passing I didn't fancy a long walk in. Then the only campsite I could find nearby, which was both open and had hardstanding, would only have us if we stayed 3 days, rather than the 2 we'd asked for. Perhaps they're expecting a sudden rush of last-minute end-of-week visitors - or maybe they just have a flawed business model. Either way, we gave up on Scarborough and are now just outside Whitby, which will be the location of our bimblings tomorrow.

(Today's photo was taken on Filey seafront, looking north)

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Flamborough Head Circuit

After another breezy night, this morning dawned fine, bright and calm - a perfect day for walking around Flamborough Head. The campsite owner had forewarned that the section between Colin and the lighthouse (which sits on the Head) was rather boring. I didn't find it so, although I do acknowledge that the section around the lighthouse and northwards is more spectacular with caves, pillars and seabirds galore. I suppose it did help on the allegedly boring section that we had the entertainment of a Search and Rescue helicopter undertaking a training exercise at close proximity to us (at one point very close indeed).

Tea and cake was had on a bench next to the lighthouse and car park - an area which was busy with people (even the cafe was open and busy). We took long enough over elevenses to decide to stick with the same bench for lunch then it was onwards, past a band of twitchers standing on the clifftop training their scopes inland, on something in an adjacent field. If they hadn't all been so intent on peering on whatever it was, I would have enquired as to the source of their excitement.

We soon turned inland ourselves, negotiating our way through a holiday park to arrive back on the north side of the village of Flamborough. It wasn't far before we were back on the south side of the village and just a few minutes more before we were approaching Colin.

'Twas a top day of coastal walking, with 8.5 miles walked and with a few undulations amounting to around 1500'.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Flamborough to Bridlington

Along the coast between Flamborough and Bridlington today the wind didn't know in which direction it wanted to blow, so it blew from every which way. That was a bit of a bonus really, as never did it impede our progress for long before it switched direction again. The mud was more of an impediment than the wind, and even that was far less extensive than I would have expected at this time of year.

A nice little clifftop walk followed by a chunk of beach then some seafront promenade took us to Bridlington harbour, from where we sought out a cafe for tea. It was whilst drinking the tea that a pub lunch came to seem an appealing idea, so the packed lunch I'd made this morning got carried all the way back with us too. Looks like it's cheese sandwiches for tea tonight...

Our return route wasn't entirely dissimilar to our outward one, albeit we did omit the beach and we also added a bit of distance by walking past the direct path back to Colin (intentionally done!) to loop back to Flamborough from slightly further along the coast.

Whilst only a handful of people were seen on the muddy cliff path, the surfaced paths between Sewerby and Brid, not to mention the beach, we're positively bustling with people (and their dogs) today. I'm guessing that's mainly because most people are on holiday at the moment and that it's not that busy on an average winter's day.

The stats were that we walked 8.75 miles with (allegedly) around 1000' of ascent.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Bishop Wilton Wold (SE822570)

There we were, driving along the A166 towards Bridlington just around sunset this afternoon, when I thought "I recognise this place". Funny how you can recognise a bit of road when your only experience of it was in crossing it when walking a Big Walk the best part of 5 years ago. 

A bell then sounded somewhere in the depths of my brain and, as I scrabbled around for a map and my Hill Lists App I asked Mick to pull over if he could see somewhere suitable to park. You see, five years ago we passed within a few hundred yards (linear) and a few feet (vertical) of the top of a Marilyn, but at that time I didn't know that because Conrad hadn't,  at that time, led me astray into collecting them.

A most suitably positioned layby presented itself, the Hill Lists App confirmed the exact location of the spot I was seeking and away through a thin point in a hedge I headed. A few minutes later I was back, mission complete.

The stats for the outing must have been in the region of 100 yards walked with about 10' of up. Yep, it's quite close to the main road is that wooded tumulus which is the recognised top of this 'hill' ('higher ground' would be a more fitting description for this one).

It may not have been a significant conquest physically but it was significant numerically as I have now visited the top of half of the English Marilyns.

Monday, 7 December 2015

A Short Break in Ironbridge

Monday 7 December

Yesterday afternoon, in considering what to do with the final 24 hours of this trip, I discovered that Mick had never been to Ironbridge. I’m not sure why that surprised me, considering that (unlike me) he didn’t grow up 20 miles down the road, but it was sufficient information to make me set the SatNav to take us there.

Temporary flood defences were just being dismantled by the Environment Agency as we arrived, which turned out to be to our benefit, as it had closed the main road into the town* to vehicles and pedestrians alike and caused us to walk a roundabout route from the Wharfeside car park into the town, giving us a good vantage point of the swollen river and bits of the town that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.


Yesterday’s amble around was relatively short due to impending darkness, but today we ventured further – up to Benthall Edge, in fact, which involved a lot of steps and boardwalks:


Neither of us counted the steps, which I’m sure total somewhere in the hundreds, but eventually we did top out on the edge. Passing a dog which its owner described as a wannabe hippopotamus (in reference not to its size, but to how it had been wallowing in mud), a pleasant woodland walk along the edge took us to a good view over Ironbridge:


It was a good view, with a clear blue sky, neither of which facts is conveyed via that awful excuse for a snap!

We could have dropped straight down from the viewpoint to complete the ‘Lime Trail of Benthall Edge’ (a waymarked circular walk of 3km in length) which we had been following so far, but I was minded to go further along the edge, so that’s what we did, before taking to a very slippery and muddy section of the Shropshire Way to get back down to river level.

Talking of mud, one of my childhood memories of visiting Ironbridge (at the age of about 7) involved me getting so thoroughly caked in mud whilst out on a walk that my father pretended not to be with me as we walked back into civilisation. From what I remember of that long-ago outing, I suspect that it was largely the same as the route we took today.

Walking back across the bridge today a breeze hit us and the odd thing about it was that it was positively warm. That (combined with having felt that shorts would have been appropriate today) is just not normal at this time of year, is it?

“Let’s stop for coffee” we said on the way back to Colin, choosing an establishment called The Tea Emporium for the purpose. Coffee morphed into a very late second breakfast as, on seeing the menu, it was too hard to resist:


I do believe that it was the best version of a veggie breakfast that I have ever been served**. I think next time I’ll try out the Fisherman’s version.

Suitably stuffed, we waddled up the road back to Colin and, with this little trip now over, we pointed him homeward, stopping on the way at my gran’s house, to wish her a happy 94th birthday.

(*I’m not sure ‘town’ is the right description for Ironbridge, but couldn’t come up with a more appropriate word to describe it.

**In fact, I almost never order a veggie breakfast because I don’t see the point in fake sausages, which almost always seem to feature. Usually I just order the full cooked, without bacon or sausage but with an extra egg. I’ve never come across grilled halloumi as a breakfast item before, but I wholeheartedly approve. The bubble and squeak was excellent too.)


Sunday 6 December; Stiperstones (SO368986)


Whilst the weather forecast had been unduly optimistic about the dryness of the day, the prediction of falling winds was correct and thus by the time we made our way (via an interesting route) back up to the same car park as we had abandoned at 1.30 on Saturday morning, it was looking to be a suitable day for my final Marilyn in Section 38A.

Considering that we didn’t get moving until gone 11am, there were far fewer people out and about than I had expected on this distinctive hill in a popular walking area, and we passed just three duos as we made our way via the shortest route to the top.

Catching sight of the trig point I adjudged it to be the most impressively placed one I have visited this year – and, upon clocking the small size and exposed position of the top, also realised that there was absolutely no chance that I could have made my way up to it in Saturday’s >50mph winds, even if I had battled my way up the hill:20151206_113850

We even got a shot of both of us on the top (also showing off nicely the nature of the summit), thanks to a random act of kindness by a passing stranger, who shouted up to us that she would take a photo and send it to us. This was the result:


Thank you kind stranger, should you ever see this!

Even though the day was a bit damper than expected (albeit only drizzle) we didn’t simply retrace our steps on this one, as a number of obvious circuits presented themselves. The one we chose was modest, taking us northwards for a while before dropping down to the Shropshire Way, which took us to and along a track, back to our start point. It was in the final few hundred yards of that track that we rued not setting out five minutes earlier as the drizzle turned to heavy rain.

With all of our intended hills now visited, and with 24 hours still at our disposal before we needed to head home, we consulted the map and pondered where to go next …

No Hills In This Wind!

Saturday 5 December

At 1.30 this morning we were lying in bed just a stone’s throw away from today’s intended summit, when three conclusions were reached:

1) there would not be any hills today;

2) we were not going to get any sleep whilst Colin was being walloped by the wind to the extent we were experiencing; and

3) a night-stop at 1300’ may not have been the wisest choice, given the forecast.

So, for the second time this year we decamped in the middle of the night. This time there were no wild horses involved and, of course, there was no tent either, which made the process a whole lot quicker and easier.

Seventeen miles of debris-strewn roads later put us 1000’ lower and also added another significant layer of mud and grime to Colin; he’s never been so liberally covered in dirt. It was the churned-up car park access track that did it. In spite of the poor quality of its access (and in the absence of any signage, we did wonder, in the pitch-dark, whether we were actually driving down someone’s driveway), the new car park seemed pretty good for our purposes – flat and reasonably sheltered from the wind, and we only had one short incidence of undesirable company.

Today even the modified plan of making a circuit from Cardingmill Valley went out of the window in favour of coffee and toasted tea cakes at the Visitor Centre Cafe. We did eventually brace ourselves for a stroll (/battle against the wind) out to the reservoir and back, but even at that modest altitude we were being blown all over the place. A lazy day was declared, but not before Mick had proved himself to be glove-saviour of the day when he ran down stream to fish out a very soggy hand covering and return it to its owner, after we’d watched the wind whip it from her gasp and plonk it, with great precision, straight into the fast-flowing water.

Apparently tomorrow will be calm so hopefully the final hill of this area will be visited before the weekend is out.

In the meantime, here’s a little video snippet illustrating the breeziness in Cardingmill Valley today:

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Heath Mynd, Corndon Hill and Caeliber Isaf

Colin is in need of a bath when he gets home. He’s had an adventurous (and dirty) day today, frolicking up some very little lanes of such poor quality that I struggled to convince Mick that we were, in fact, on a public road and not just a farm track. The first hill of the day was:

Heath Mynd (SO336941)


Parking in a layby on the main road gave a longer approach to this hill, but meant that Mick could join me, which was a fine plan until, about three minutes in, we found the right of way overgrown to the point of being impassable. Plan B was brought into action which saw Mick steer Colin up the worst excuse for a road and reverse him (on the third attempt, after spinning wheels had liberally spattered mud up Colin’s flanks) into the entrance of a track so he was just about off the narrow road. Leaving Mick there, for the unlikely event that someone should come along and need access to the track, off I strode up the hill.

I think this is the first hill since my Marilynning campaign began where I don’t have a photo of myself on the top. I’d just taken photos of the rain in one direction and the fine skies in the other when the rain hit me and that, combined with being mindful of not wanting to leave Mick sitting there too long, led me to trot off back down the hill. I was out of sight of the top when it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken a selfie and whilst on a fine day with Mick parked in a sensible spot I would have re-ascended, today I didn’t.


Rain approaching

I was soon back at Colin, having completed a circular outing of just 1.25 miles with 500’ of up.

Corndon Hill (SO306969)


There’s plentiful parking within easy reach of this hill, allowing Mick to join me as I huffed, puffed and laboured my way up. I’m not sure Mick bought my excuse that I’d already trotted up one hill; perhaps the reality is that I’ve lost a chunk of fitness over the last quarter.

Other than the steepness, the ascent was simplicity itself and after being blown around on the summit for a few minutes (the wind had picked up again; it had been absent for Heath Mynd) our steps were retraced. Funnily enough, it was a steep descent too.


Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle lay not far beyond where we’d parked Colin, so we strode right by him on our return and visited the English Heritage site (that surprised me. Corndon Hill is in Wales, but it turned out that we’d parked Colin right on the border and thus had re-entered England in visiting the Stone Circle). I’m never too excited by stone circles themselves, but the information sign there gave enough history to make it interesting.

Back at Colin (with 2.25 miles walked and a whole 600’ of ascent) our time was bided, as I didn’t want to hit the final hill of the day until as close to 3.30pm as we could manage.

Caeliber Isaf (SO212934)


This is one of those Marilyns that I was tempted to omit from my list ticking. The summit is the middle of a field, which is accessed by way of crossing other fields. That gives the ‘hill’ a bit of a pointless air but, in itself, wouldn’t put me off. The off-putting feature, for me, is that there’s not a right of way running over it, which meant that my entire walk would be an act of trespass. Hence, I wanted to arrive as the light was fading out of the day.

Unfortunately, we arrived a bit early and the parking situation was such that Mick opted to let me trespass alone. It was at a trot that I attacked the first field. Now, usually when I say that I trotted or ‘almost ran’ up a hill what I mean is that I walked as fast as my little legs could carry me. Today, seeing a farm vehicle approaching along the road and wanting to be out of sight of the gateway before it passed, I ran. Uphill. And did I mention earlier my lack of fitness? Goodness me, my poor little heart!

With that excitement over (the vehicle passed before I got out of sight but it didn’t pay me any heed) it was simply a fast walk (and the negotiation of one fence) up to the flat area in the middle of a field. Then I went back down again, declaring that it may not be the dullest Marilyn I’ve visited to date, but that it’s right up there in the top two.


Looking uncommonly pleased to be standing in the middle of a field!

Brace yourself for the stats: 0.8 of a mile, with 150’ of ascent.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Caer Caradoc Hill

Thursday 3 December – Caer Caradoc Hill (SO477954)


With the end of 2015 rushing towards us at a rate of knots, and with only 4 new Marilyns having been bagged since the end of August, the notion popped into my head of nipping out to nab a few Shropshire Hills. Weather forecasts were duly consulted and the story they told was such that ordinarily I would have swiftly come up with a Plan B. But, the end of the year is almost upon us and it’s unlikely that any hills will be ticked during January or February, and thus I read things like “26mph, gusting 50” with a favourable eye and great optimism (or do I mean “with a foolhardy disposition”?).

So, here we are sitting in Colin with the rain lashing and the wind violently rocking him on his axles. However, it hasn’t been like this all day. When we arrived in Church Stretton just after 1.30 this afternoon it was grey, but dry and it was remarkably similar when we set out in the direction of our hill half an hour later.

Mud was a horribly slippery feature of the initial path across fields, but once onto the hill the going improved remarkably and if it hadn’t been for a wind so strong that it was trying to blow the glasses off my face, it would have been a good day for this nice little hill.

It was a struggle not to topple off the rocky outcrop which is the high point (where Mick took a photo of me, but as I can’t work out how to get it off his phone and onto this computer, this post will have to be photo-free) and after a brief stagger around the rest of the summit we headed back down.  Dropping south off the hill made our walk into a lollipop-shaped one (our approach had been along the ridge).

An hour and a twenty minutes after setting off, and after a repeat of the slipping and sliding across the mudfest-fields, we were back at Colin with 3.6 miles walked with 1000’ of up. That was quite enough exercise for one day, particularly as darkness was poised to fall and rain was approaching.

I’ve just seen the latest forecast for tomorrow. Looks like fun…