Well-worn ways

This page is for Well House Circle community members to provide their suggestions for walks, so that we can all benefit and enjoy.

18 Responses to Well-worn ways

  1. Andrew Hoppit says:

    I’m not sure if an intended consequence of this blog was to suggest walks in France….anyway….. One of the places that over recent years has given me great interest is the Eastern end of the Pyrenees. The is one mountain that dominates the landscape rising up from the Roussillon plain called Pic du Canigou. This is a spiritual place for the Catalan people. Each year on 23rd June a beacon is lit at the top of the mountain, the start of many (thousands?) across the land. This must be an incredible site and one day I’d really like to see this. This link to a pdf gives more on the Canigou and surronding interests http://alan.mattingly.pagesperso-orange.fr/cadyguide.pdf

    • Thanks Andrew. It will be good to hear about special walks anywhere – no boundaries – and I hope others will follow your lead.

      This walk sounds really good. I would love to do it but – if I ever do – would probably have to go for the shortened jeep version (with only four hours of what sounds like very steep up and downhill walking to the summit!)

      This page can also include suggestions for cycling, as some other people here are keen cyclists.

  2. Stephen says:

    I’m currently in training for a 50 mile cycle for charity: http://www.justgiving.com/Steve-Jane-McCarthy should you wish to sponsor me. I’m also preparing for walking the Cotswold Way in October – for more information click here: http://pigyard.com/wordpress/?page_id=57. As a consequence of all this walking and cycling I’ve purchased and App for my iPhone that keeps a trace of the route taken, statistics about the speed, time, etc and also shows the route on a Google Map. I recommend anyone who likes to keep information about their walks or cycles it’s well worth £2.99 (http://www.walkmeter.com/) or download walkmeter from your iPhone. For an example of the information click here: http://j.mp/9eGAX4. Great fun.

    • Andrew Hoppit says:

      Yes a good friend of mine has also used this app on his iPhone for a cycle ride he did near Bezier in France and then sent the link for his data through to me. Very impressive. I’m not sure how you attach the iPhone to the bike or maybe he just left it in his back pocket. I guess if used on the bike it would only be for fair weather as I wouldn’t want to leave the iPhone out in wet conditions!!
      Good luck with your cycling.

  3. Stephen says:

    I completed my 50 mile cycle in a very chilly, brisk, northerly wind yesterday. My timing was never going to set any records but I still felt it was an achievement. My wife and I also raised over £600 for Cynthia Spencer Hospice and Macmillan nurses.
    For details of the route and stats click here: http://j.mp/dAIPh9
    To see our Just Giving web page click here: http://www.justgiving.com/Steve-Jane-McCarthy
    And many thanks to all those who supported us…

  4. Stephen says:

    I’ve never wished to do a long distance walk but a good friend persuaded me that it was one of his lifes ambitions and to help him achieve his wish I agreed to walk the Cotswold Way with him – a total distance of 102 miles. We started in Bath and walked over 6 days to Chipping Camden. I wouldn’t say the experience was life changing but certainly life affirming and I had to draw on elements of self resolve and strength that I’d forgotten I had.
    For full details visit my blog at: http://pigyard.com/wordpress/?page_id=57

  5. Karin says:

    Hi Steve, the walk sounded great and you had good weather at the end for it. How did your friend feel, having achieved one of his life’s ambitions? And will you be doing more long walks like this?

    • Stephen says:

      There were several occasions when my friend questioned his sanity in wanting to do this and vowed never to do anything so arduous ever again.
      The final steps into Chipping Camden were quite emotional because, despite the tough walking, it had come to an end. It put me in mind of a school play I was in and although I was completely out of my comfort zone and disliked every second I was on stage I was sad when it was over.
      Long distance walks are not like day walks – whenever I’ve done day walks in the past there was always the option to rest the following day. Getting up every day and walking nearly 20 miles, day after day, was very hard.
      Jane and I are talking about a coast to coast cycle next year so watch this space.

      • Karin says:

        Agree 100% about the get-out clause a day walk offers. I was a coward and only did a day of the Lyme Regis to Larmer Tree festival walk this summer as I wasn’t sure how I’d feel after just a day (16-18 miles). I was ok but very stiff so next time I’d like to mix walking and yoga which for me could be a sublime combination. Am hoping others will agree!
        I also know what you mean about being sad when a situation of such challenge is over. There is something about being in such a peak place, a special energy.

  6. Viv says:

    I am tempted to say, ” If you came this way, Taking any route, starting from anywhere, at any time or at any season, It would always be the same: you would have to put off sense and notion…”
    Sometimes what we “bring” on a walk is more important than where or how far we walk.

    • Karin says:

      Hello Viv, thanks and I agree wholeheartedly with your comment; and also the TS Eliot chimes hugely with me – one of my favourite poets and when I first came to the UK, a friend and I went to find three of the Four Quartets. Perhaps I will write about this on here sometime.

      • Viv says:

        A friend of mine coerced us into visiting Rhossili on the Gower Penisula(because of Howatch’s Wheel of Fortune) and on one memorable day we crossed the Shipway to the Worm’s Head. Hardest walk I’ve ever done, slipping on seaweed and grazing knees on razor-sharp barnacles and put me off such literary pilgrimages for a long time.
        Concerning the places in Four Quartets, I have never bothered looking for them; not too far from Little Gidding here. In some ways it seemed counter inutitive to visit the actual places, as in essence they are “England. Never and Always”, and being English, I guess it is inborn.
        I did write a novel called Little Gidding Girl, exploring some of the ideas I got snarled up in with the Four Quartets. It was the best way I could think of for dealing with the images and snippets of story that were invading waking and sleeping life; exorcism by paper and ink.
        I often think the quote, “Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown” could easily be my motto or epitaph….

  7. Viv says:

    ..all that said, I do visit the Julian Shrine in Norwich a few times a year. Half an hour settles my soul nicely and lets me be unsettled again with gratitude for the ripples.

    • Karin says:

      I like your epitaph. And of course Eliot said in Little Gidding, ‘…Every poem an epitaph’ and that thought was actually the inspiration for my PhD thesis.

      Evocative description of your walk on the Gower peninsula, I remember reading the book when on holiday near there. Didn’t leave quite the same legacy as grazed knees.

      Being an American newly landed in England at the time, visiting the places of the Four Quartets was hugely impactful, especially Burnt Norton about which I will write more.

  8. Stephen says:

    Has anyone logged onto the Ordnance Survey web site and used facility to print walks and add your own walks. I think it’s a shame it isn’t getting greater support because it has great potential.
    Also has anyone undertaken or thought about doing a coast to coast cycle. I’d be interested in any experiences that could be shared

  9. Andrew Hoppit says:

    I was talking to Karin the other day about her blog and she mentioned that you were thinking of tackling the coast to coast ride, so I thought you might find the attached article from my local cycle club (Sudbury Suffolk) magazine of some interest, it’s not written by me but by a friend (Robin Weaver). I know Mac in the article wouldn’t mind me saying that he’s 76 years old and still riding his bike on touring holidays such as the Coast to Coast
    “We decided on the Reivers Way east to west, and the C2C route west to east, neatly finishing up back where we started, to avoid logistic/transport problems. Three easy days each way seemed about right for the 172 mile route out, and 136 mile return, so, armed with the Guides, we booked all the accommodation in one evening, with no trouble at all.

    Experienced tourer Mac prepared for the trip with a single pannier, Dave and I with two, Dave laden in addition with the essential trip admin file of booking confirmations etc.

    We planned a longish first day of 72 miles over the (easy!) country from Tynemouth to Kielder, to get some miles under our tyres. After a good breakfast at our ‘scruffy round the edges’ hotel, we met up with John and Joyce Leiper, friends of Mac’s from Colchester Rovers, who now live at Coldstream, and were to join us for the trip. The marker for the start of the route at Tynemouth is beneath a massive monument to Vice-admiral Collingwood, which we left in a light sea mist. This turned to drizzle, as we made our way out of Newcastle on (mostly) well-signed cycle tracks down disused industrial ‘waggonways’. After what seemed hours, we hit open countryside and the weather improved. Our mood also improved after a cafe lunch stop, although we did turn the wrong way after leaving the cafe . . . .

    The route got hillier and hillier, a good run-up often being prevented by the numerous gates on the open moorland stretches. Sheep – millions of them! We soon learned which way was up for the chevrons on the route sheet. After another cafe stop – in a library – we pressed on over a distinctly ‘off-road’ bit of route to the Kielder dam, and along the length of Kielder to the well appointed youth hostel and some pub grub – arrival time 7.30pm – so much for the easy miles!

    The famous Kielder midges were awake early the next day, and saw us rapidly off the premises, on the next leg to south of Carlisle – an easy 47 miles. We passed up the chance of off-roading on forest tracks in favour of tarmac, and after a brief hour and a half in Scotland (qualify as extensive Scottish cycle touring?) we re-entered the home country. A few more stiff hills followed immediately after, up which we were pursued by ubiquitous Tesco vans – very little other traffic. Good distant views from here of the Solway Firth and the Dumfries hills. We ‘lost’ John and Joyce here for 30 mins – they’d missed a hidden turn – but after finding an elusive phone signal contact was remade. After a late pub lunch in the sunshine, the route eased slightly as we neared Carlisle; the route through was on cycle tracks, but out-of-action lifts at a city centre footbridge meant a subterranean diversion up and down steps. Once we found it, the route out to our B&B village was very pleasant, following the river Caldew. Excellent B&B – an offer of washing, and an Indian restaurant just down the road. Arrival time 6.45pm – only a slight improvement!

    The day’s route to the coast started off (relatively) flat, then climbed as we started to cross the northern flank of the outlying Lake District. After a sunny cafe stop, Joyce, who had been feeling the effects of the meal the night before, decided she didn’t feel up to carrying on, so she and John turned for Carlisle and a train home. We carried on climbing, with superb views of the coast and the Lakeland hills, past Bassenthwaite and down to Cockermouth for lunch in a jungle-inspired kids cafe with play area. After a p***t**r* for Mac, we pressed on to Workington, where the onset of rain coincided with us going on an off route ‘excursion’. Eventually back on route, we pressed on into the wind and rain for the 5 miles to Whitehaven. We didn’t dally on the uninviting coast, but after the inevitable photo carried on (another ex-railway track) to our B&B hotel at Cleator Moor. Although slightly tatty, this had shower, food, and lots of coat hangers for wet clothing, so we didn’t mind at all. Arrival time 6.45pm, after 58 miles – definitely not easy!

    Lake District day today – via Kirkland (red squirrels in evidence) – a very long stiff climb, then down past Loweswater, through Whinlatter Pass (many off-roaders wearing full armour) and a great descent to Keswick, where there were more people than we’d seen on the rest of the trip combined. After a sunny lunch in the middle of town, another ex-railway route following the Derwent out of town – many fine rivetted bridges for engineer Dave to inspect. The route ran parallel to the A66, then into Greystoke, reputedly the source of the Tarzan story, but now principally famed for a slightly eccentric cyclists cafe – we certainly fitted the bill. On then into Penrith, and the best B&B of the trip – Italian food tonight. 48 miles, slightly earlier 6pm finish.

    The road out of Penrith – the first climb straight after breakfast! Further climbs as we approached the Pennines, with a strata of low cloud obscuring the high ground. A very long slow climb (30/29 gear) up to the A686, which we joined briefly (and less steeply) to reach the top of Hartside and its cafe. The advertised view of Morecambe Bay was not in evidence – we could just about see over the road. Good calories though. What goes up must go down (not true everywhere, but certainly here), as we climbed ridges and dropped to villages in valleys, fingers locked over the brakes in the damp conditions. Two particularly steep climbs after a late lunch, one over the highest point on the C2C, then a great 4.5 mile descent to Rookhope and a B&B with the strangest hosts on the trip, but great food. A record early 4.30pm arrival after 49 miles.

    The last day already – an (easy) 44 miles back to Tynemouth and a drive home. The road immediately opposite the B&B rose, and carried on rising, only to drop into the next village of Stanhope. The way out was the aptly named Crawley Bank, labelled on the route “Very steep hill”.
    Given the two chevron hills that had dotted the route so far, this was enough to dent my confidence severely, and after passing the ambulance car parked halfway up with its engine running and the door open, I did the sensible thing and walked. Dave carried on riding, but at a pace only slightly faster. After an initial mile, the slope flattened slightly for a further two miles, where we turned onto yet another ex-railway track that promised 35 miles of basic downhill to Newcastle. After an ex-station cafe coffee, off we went, and yes, downhill it was, following the Derwent valley. The outskirts of Gateshead dragged a bit, then we passed the Sage building, and crossed the ‘lifting eyebrow’ Millennium Bridge (photo opportunity), to follow the river back to Tynemouth. 3.15pm. Job done!

    All in all, a very enjoyable trip (thanks Dave and Mac).

    Lessons learned;
    Pack not just light, but very light! Some stuff I didn’t wear at all.
    However, panniers didn’t make as much difference as I’d feared – apart from built-in instability when pushing/leaning the bike.
    Hills, gates, cycle tracks, admiring the view, photo stops, greatly affect average speed – I think ours was about 8.5 – 9 mph.
    This resulted in longer days than we’d anticipated – especially in the wet!
    In general, signposting on both routes was excellent – the downside of this was that when a doubt arose, it seemed far more of a problem.
    Mechanical problems; 1 puncture for Mac, one loose chainwheel bolt for Dave.
    Best of all, hills were do-able (well, except the one).”

    I hope you tackle the Coast to Coast as I’ve heard the route is well planned and of course there is the stunning scenery to enjoy, remember there is always the lowest gear of getting off the bike and pushing it. For interest my brother and I are planning to do a 26o mile tour of Normandy in early summer, the planning/trainiing has already commenced!

    • Stephen says:

      Hi Andrew and thank you for the review of the coast to coast. In these events age is irrelevant and it’s all down to levels of enthusiasm. The chaps here sound very, very enthusiastic cyclists even to the extent of bemoaning their average speed because they stopped to smell the flowers. I shall share this with my wife and we will think about it. One thing is certain we will only be going in one direction and we certainly won’t be doing high daily mileage, probably no more than 40 miles per day so that we have time to enjoy lunch, take photos and smell the flowers.

      • Karin says:

        Glad to hear you retain your sense of balance, Steve – even (especially?) in retirement! I look forward to reading your account of whatever you and Jane decide to do.

        I enjoyed reading Andrew’s account of his friends’ cycle ride – from the armchair!!

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