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, 16 March 2017

Wisp Hill and Pikethaw Hill

Wisp Hill (NY386993, 595m) and Pikethaw Hill (NY369978, 564m)

At 6.30 this morning I sprang out of bed, almost in the manner of a scalded cat, when I realised that it wasn't raining and didn't seem overly windy. Alas, by the time we were breakfasted and back opposite the old Mosspaul Hotel, conditions had deteriorated.

The combination of Mick watching the rain blow horizontally past Bertie's windows, his observations of 'it looks awful out there', combined with his not making a move towards waterproofing himself, gave me the first hints that he was having second thoughts about coming with me. It was a sensible decision to stay behind; no point having two sets of wet stuff to need to get dry in a confined space.

Off and up I went, with the rain blowing full in my face. The going involved a mix of useful sheep trods and yomping across the rough stuff.

I'm not sure what else I can say about my ascent. I'm certainly glad I got to see the loveliness of this area yesterday, as it wasn't something I could appreciate today. Before the top, low cloud had been added to the rain and headwind, so it was wet and hard work without any rewards. A good time to remind myself again that I have the privilege of choosing my suffering, and having chosen to go up hills in full knowledge of the weather forecast, I had no right to moan.

The top of Wisp Hill was reached more quickly than expected, and the descent down to Ewes Doors (another cracking name), which lies between Wisp Hill and my second objective, was also speedy, being downhill and with a fence to follow.

From Ewes Doors, Pikethaw Hill looked rather steep, and I found myself often standing contemplating what lay before me, rather than getting on with it - even though I was blessed with being out of the wind for a while here. Accordingly, it was a slow ascent.

I was very pleased when the top of Pikethaw Hill came into view

I had asked Mick to meet me in a layby a mile and a half down the A7 from my start point and as I sheltered in the lee of the large cairn at the top I gave him my ETA. The spanner in the works was that he found that layby to be closed and he had to go another mile down the road to find somewhere to turn. Had I been 15 yards ahead of myself, that would have worked out nicely, as that’s how far I was from the road when Mick sailed past (from the wrong direction) without noticing me, meaning I didn't get to avoid a road walk.

I would have been 15 yards ahead of myself if I hadn't paused to snap there - just two interesting machines in a farmyard stuffed full of various types of relics

A gap in the cones allowed him to squeeze into the closed layby from a southerly approach, and that's where I arrived, fairly well dripping, a few minutes later (and only 2 minutes off my ETA).

The outing had come in at 5.2 miles with around 570m of ascent.

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