The Secret Achipelago Expedition

As a kid, I was engrossed by Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series of books, and must admit to having re-read them as an adult too. The same goes for Cath too, and she’s been trying to get her son into them (I gave up on this with my offspring years ago after being constantly called a “muggle” by them – it was a forlorn hope). Now every time I’ve mentioned to Cath about the walks I’m doing in the top right-hand bit of Essex, she has been reminding me of Secret Water and, basically, pestering me for us to arrange a suitable Expedition.

And so it was, that nearing the end of the Essex Way, and mentioning that it goes within a mile or two of “Secret Water”, a plan was hatched to attempt the audacious combination of a circumnavigation of that area and the completion of the Way. I think she sees herself as a bit of a Nancy Blackett (really ? Peggy maybe, as she’s a bit of a galoot). For this trip, as the local guide, I would take the role of the Mastadon (albeit sans splatchers). Continue reading “The Secret Achipelago Expedition”

Never invite someone called Dale to somewhere all the places have “Dale” in them

Cath’s (@wellycath) been wanting to get a group together for a camp around her birthday for a couple of years now, and finally managed to seize her chance last year when Team Social Hiking decided not to contest the 5-in-5/10-in-10 this year, and instead to try to get together socially sometime in June. This also brought it into the range of my personal festivities and so it came to pass that this year my Official Annual Birthday Camp would be in the company of friends rather than hiding away solo and forlornly at the edge of a field in Kent. Continue reading “Never invite someone called Dale to somewhere all the places have “Dale” in them”

Another New Year on Dartmoor – Part 2: The Far West

No day’s walking on Dartmoor is complete without a visit to the Fox Tor Cafe, and especially so when you’re staying next door. Being on winter opening hours, it didn’t open until 10am and Cath and I were first in the queue at the front door for when it opened. Looking through the window we could see Paul and Jim at the back door also occupying position 1. They opened up and all 4 of us headed straight to the counter to order. A leisurely breakfast was had, but our route had been decided in advance and it wasn’t far to go. Continue reading “Another New Year on Dartmoor – Part 2: The Far West”

Ups and Downs: Referendum Night on Blencathra

The sky was dumping large amounts of water as Colin picked me up and we headed onto the motorway network for the long journey north. A combination of rush hour and large amounts of standing water made for unpleasant conditions, but the gradual change to better was discernable with every mile further north. A quick stop at Keele Services to pick up Cath and we were on our way, the day now getting nicer and nicer. As we entered the National Park, we discussed the original plan involving a camp near Ullscarf, and then a better plan emerged.

Continue reading “Ups and Downs: Referendum Night on Blencathra”

The Tors and Rocks of Chagford Common and Gidleigh

Yet again a crappy forecast. But it’s Dartmoor, so it comes with the territory. If there’s one thing Dartmoor’s done for me, it’s to improve my tolerance for walking in uncomfortable weather. Today looked like a day for further “training” in that area. Continue reading “The Tors and Rocks of Chagford Common and Gidleigh”

The Moor Beckons

Once again the Moor beckons. I just can’t keep away. Continue reading “The Moor Beckons”

A Quick Pop Up Kinder

Poor old Cath (@wellycath), she tries to arrange a get together and the weather forecast doesn’t play ball. Yours truly ends up having a sneaky camp on the North Downs instead. She tries again, and then finds everyone dropping out for a variety of reasons. Still I made it. Continue reading “A Quick Pop Up Kinder”

Tors and Beaches – A week in Devon

Every year close to Easter, we get together with a group of old university friends – a tradition that’s been going on for 20 years now. Consequently we’re running out of new places to go, and as we’ve evolved into family groups and acquired children and dogs, additional criteria that further restrict our choice of location get added. This time, though, I was keen to see if I could steer the decision in favour of Devon so that an opportunity to bag a few more tors on Dartmoor could be created. Continue reading “Tors and Beaches – A week in Devon”

Finishing off the Northern Fells – Part 2: Blencathra & Friends


The forecast for the weekend was poor, maybe even bordering on lunacy, and was the main reason why we’d decided not to camp this time out, preferring instead the security of hostels and especially the chances they afforded to get dry and warm after a day out on the fells dicing with the conditions.

Today we could expect 40-65 mph winds and negligible visibility on the summits themselves. And today we’d be burdened with all of our stuff at a time when the plan said we’d have to get over the highest point on the whole trip. No pressure then. Continue reading “Finishing off the Northern Fells – Part 2: Blencathra & Friends”