Monthly Archives: February 2015


I used to have a list of ever increasingly harder, but modest, climbs to do. Lead E2 on my 50th, E3 on my 60th etc etc….Looking back I’ve achieved an awful lot and can’t complain – so I’m not going to.  I’ve pushed my limited physique to enjoy a few good decades of climbing, first traditionally in Britain and many places abroad and more recently sports climbing in the latest hotspots. My well documented problem with my left big toe and its associated pain has limited my climbing recently – but I still hobble up to Craigy for a short session. I was surprised therefore to find on my pin board a list of to dos  – without a single climb. The list had been concocted last year whilst I was recovering from a toe operation and hopeful of some easy rehabilitation and was entirely composed of straightforward walking routes. There must be a link here to my recent post on what motivates me.

As you can see I’ve already ticked off some of the list at the end of last year, most satisfying was the completion of the GR7 through Spain. This route has given me many weeks of superb walking and immersion into Spanish society that I’ll never forget. But onwards I go and now I find myself starting on the GR131, a linear walk recently discovered in the Canary Islands. One has to fit the season to the walk [or vice versa] and now is the optimum walking time out in the Canary Islands.

The other listed walks can wait for suitable times and companions.Maybe I’ll find mine…….

………….watch this space for more list ticking.


Windswept Parlick.

This last week I was thwarted on my planned two day walk because I couldn’t face paying  a pub £60 B&B!  Anyway the weather was not brilliant.

I’ve had some recent conversation with Conrad, he of the long walks, over the miles one drives in relation to actual walking distance. [we used a lot of public transport on our recent Cheshire Ring Walk]  I’ve been guilty in the past of driving long distances to accomplish a relatively small walk. Whilst I was ‘Munroing’ this was often a problem with a mad dash up North in the car at a weekend. I partially overcame this by stringing together hills on long backpacking trips, having travelled there by rail. At the time [1978] I had just read Hamish Brown’s book on his continuous journey and was enthused to do likewise on a smaller scale.

I hate to think of the air miles I’ve covered to reach my backpacking jaunts on the continent, again I’ve mitigated those somewhat more recently by using the eurorail network when possible. Rock climbing trips usually meant a lot of [shared] driving. Looking back I could have used public transport far more. No one is perfect.

I’m lucky to be able to walk from my house into the Bowland area and now use my car as little as possible locally. As Saturday afternoon proved to be fairly bright and dry I  set off to walk through the fields to Chipping. Time was short so I did a linear walk and then caught the bus back. This made for an enjoyable few hours with time for a coffee in The Cobbled Corner Cafe in Chipping whilst waiting for the bus, money into the local economy. Of course the bus pass comes in handy, must use it more often!

Nothing much happened on the walk. A couple of Buzzards were watched for some time. I’ve avoided the cliched photos of frisking lambs and sparkling snowdrops. Instead there is a strange green corrugated shed, a rotting ?Bedford truck and a farmer’s unsightly silage pile.


Last week it was so easy in Sri Lanka to get out walking, exploring, swimming etc.  I always find that going abroad to sunny warm climes helps me through the winter months, but it comes as a bit of a shock back home. For a few years now I’ve used a SAD light box in the darker months but don’t know how effective it is. This last week has been cold and dull and finding the motivation to exercise outdoors is difficult. I don’t do ‘gyms’ and now I’m not climbing much don’t have the regular wall sessions. Mr. Motivator from the 90’s breakfast TV has just come to mind – remember him?

If there is a trip on the horizon I push myself to get semi-fit, I no longer delude myself about keeping in shape. So I have decided to set off on a couple of walking trips in the near future, one short and the other long, to give me some added motivation. This week I fitted in a couple of forest walks on the dry tracks of Longridge Fell but there was little to see. Phoning friends to suggest a walk was fairly fruitless as they all seem to be injured.

I needed something to get me out at the weekend and I scanned my memory for a local walk – interesting, dry underfoot and somewhere I hadn’t visited for years. I came up with idea of the private road up from Dunsop Bridge to the remote Brennand and Whitendale Farms.

So after lunch I parked up in Dunsop Bridge, almost the centre of the British Isles and home to a lot of well fed ducks. Most of this area is owned and managed by The Duchy of Lancaster – there was no sign of the Queen today. The walk up the tarmacked road by the River Dunsop was popular with families and dogs. Most going no further than the salmon leap where the Brennand and Whitendale rivers join. Despite this being a classic northern river valley I only caught sight of one Dipper.

At that junction I was passed by a lady jogger who explained she was heading home to one of the farms. Must be a lonely existence up here. Carrying on up the Brennand I had the only section on wet paths round the back of the appropriately named Middle Knoll. The drop down to Whitendale Farm was much steeper than I remembered and I regretted not having my sticks – having lost the bottom section of one on my recent Cheshire Ring Walk, memo to buy another.

The 3 miles back down the road passed quickly as the temperature dropped. This is a surprisingly remote walk in the Bowland Fells despite the tarmac and made for a great afternoon’s diversion. Highly recommended and so accessible.

Just have to book that flight to the sun and my motivation will be on course.

Middle Knoll.

Middle Knoll.

Dipper River.

Dipper River.

Deepest Bowland.

Deepest Bowland.

What is the history about this?

What is the history behind  this?


I’ve just returned from a two week walking/sightseeing tour of Sri Lanka, with a small friendly Exodus group. Organisation was first class and the busy itinerary perfect. I would urge anybody to pay a visit to this magic island.

Wifi was poor out there so I’m posting a general impression of the highlights now, in no particular order.


The Sinhalese are mainly Buddhists, with a minority of Christians and Muslims. There are sizeable populations of Tamils in the NE and on the tea plantations. All I can say is that they are all very friendly and smiling towards us tourists! There did not appear to be the overcrowding and poverty prevalent in India and Pakistan. The lack of hassle was very welcome.

Our crew.

Our crew.

Local wedding.

Local wedding.


As this was substantially a walking holiday we explored some quite remote hilly areas of the country and enjoyed an insight into farming life that has not changed for centuries. The Knuckles Mountain Range was particularly impressive and untouched, we needed local guides to find our way through the jungle. Horton Plains and Worlds End were also a highlight despite the usual damp mountain weather. The walking around Ella was spectacular on a smaller scale. There were some lovely waterfalls in the hills.


Everywhere there were Buddha statues and shrines for the people to make their offerings and pray as part of their daily life. We learnt about the different poses of Buddha and the steps to Nirvana. During our stay there was a full moon which is auspicious to the Buddhists and hence a holiday and crowds at popular sights.


Any Buddhist country has a plethora of Temples, on this trip we achieved the right balance of sightseeing and didn’t become ‘templed out’.  Dambulla, Adam’s Peak, Temple of the Tooth and Kataragama were the highlights. Most temples were shared with other religions giving a cosmopolitan experience.



Adam's Peak.

Adam’s Peak.



Don’t forget to remove your shoes before entering any temple.


Sri Lanka has had a colourful and tortuous history and many ancient capital cities have crumbled to be replaced by the next. The dramatic short lived Sigiriya was one of them, unbelievably constructed in the 5th century on a 200m rock tower and needing a head for heights to scale today. Halfway up in a cave are some well preserved frescoes of beautiful damsels.

A salutary warning!

The summit fort.

 6. TOWNS.

We only visited a few towns Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella and Galle.  Nuwara Eliya was the strangest with ‘Tudor’ houses, old colonial clubs, a golf course and a race course!

Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya.

Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya.

We had time to explore the local markets and cafes, opportunities to sample the traffic from the dubious safety of a Tuk Tuk.

Kandy Market.


Srio Lankan food is distinctive from Indian in the abundant use of coconut for its oil, milk and flesh, ‘The Tree of Life’.  Most places served a version of rice and curry, [aubergine beetroot beans and dhal] with accompanying hot coconut sambol. Hoppers and banana leaves were extras and we had a cooking class to learn how.

Rice and curry.

Rice and curry.

In the towns with a significant Tamil population roti, samosas and wada were available for a change.

Tamil cafe.

Tamil cafe.

I thought the fish was disappointing for an island. Everything was very cheap – 2 or 3 quid for a meal.



The local Lion Lager was OK and the arrack liqueur potent.


I was constantly surprised at the variety of vegetation and wildlife we encountered whilst walking – from rain forest, plains to mangrove swamps. With the expertise of our local guides all manner of spice plants were recognised – nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, peppers. The different palms were explained, coconuts for milk, flesh or toddy. Magnificent trees on the forest walks and beautiful flowers everywhere. Wildlife was everywhere, we visited a game park but saw more on our walks in the forest and around lakes. Animals ranged from centipedes to elephants and I saw more exotic birds than I’ve seen before.


The British brought tea to Ceylon at the end of the 19th century and it still is a major industry. Large areas of highland jungle were cleared for planting and Tamil labourers brought in. Their ancestors are still the major workforce today in the tidy tea estates dominating the hill country. The estates have a colonial feel and much of the British machinery used for processing is aged. The teas are graded according to the leaf size and give a minefield of abbreviations – OP, BOP, BOPF and Dust. Tea is served everywhere.


So not all was good………..The leaches were ‘bloody’ numerous but not as dangerous a the ‘electric’ showers………only 11 hours flight back …