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Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back on Top

Just back from a splendid three days in the sunny Yorkshire Dales. OK, not that sunny – a bit misty and rainy really, and hail, and snow – but a real boost to morale nonetheless. Why? Two reasons.

Firstly our friends, Rick & Lindsey. Their good company and home cooking (plus treasures from Rick’s deep and mysterious wine cellar) make the trip worthwhile for their hospitality alone. But secondly the trip signalled phase two of Miss W’s program to get me back to full fitness, which she accomplished with her customary determination and disregard for my personal comfort.

Sunday. Half way up the A1.

“Have you got the maps?”
“Yes dear”
“Hat, gloves, jacket, socks, boots?”
“Yes dear”
“Compass, rucksack, base layer?”
“Yes dear”
“How the %*?! Could you forget to pack your trousers!”
“Well, you wouldn’t let me go through my check list.”
“Oh, I see – it’s MY fault is it?”

There is a dangerous edge to her voice, and I lapse into silence for the next eighty miles. Eventually Miss W remarks,

“You’re going to be very cold where I’m taking you, that’s all I can say”
“I’ll buy some more.”
“At half past four on a Sunday afternoon?”

More silence.

As we pass through Long Preston, deep joy! I am saved from humiliation on the hill; the Rohan factory outlet is still open – and to cap it all there is a half price sale! I halt the car Starsky & Hutch style and dive in, to emerge triumphant with a splendid new set of strides.

The day ended well, with a marvellous welcome and evening meal as we caught up with the village news in North Yorks.


Monday dawned with mist and drizzle, and after breakfast we drove out to Horton for Miss W’s planned ascent of Pen-y-ghent to see how I got on with a bit of a climb. The previous evening, after a few glasses of wine, I had expounded on the peculiarity of character that makes ‘peak baggers’ struggle up hills when there is no possibility of a view from the top. ‘What is the point of wearing yourself out to stand next to a trig point or pile of stones in zero visibility and freezing cold?’ I asked. ‘One pile of frozen rocks looks very much like another, and if you can’t see anything else it seems a pretty miserable way to spend an afternoon’.

Pen-y-ghent is 694 metres high. The cloud base was around 450 metres as we set off. Ah!

Soon we entered the mist and, as we scrambled up the rocks that make up the steps on the south side, I found that I was quite enjoying the sensation of a seemingly bottomless misty void below my feet and only cloud and more rocks ahead. I’m not a convert, though. As the trig point appeared the wind howled and it was perishingly cold (glad I had a pair of trousers!). We sat by the shelter wall for lunch and then abandoned a walk over Plover Hill in favour of descending to daylight again and having afternoon tea in Settle.

I was really chuffed. A decent ascent and nothing had twanged or protested. Maybe Miss W’s regime is working. I didn’t tell her this of course, as it would only encourage her to up the tempo of her program.

To round off a good day, Rick & Lindsey had invited ‘Mr & Mrs Grumpy’ to dinner (that is Peter & Avril Goddard) and their dog, Spice. Salmon mousse, roast beef & Yorkshire pudding, cheeses and lemon syllabub all accompanied by a judicious selection from Rick’s cellars. Naturally, talk veered towards the challenge, and Peter asked if Alan & I had planned our route yet, as being ‘over five timers’ we only had a couple of weeks to go to our deadline. Thankfully I was able to say yes, and discovered that we may well meet somewhere near the River Orrin.

Better pack an extra bottle of malt.


Never trust the weather forecast in the Dales. We were promised ‘sunny periods’ for Miss W’s “long stretch” along the Pennine Way from Hawes to Horton. Indeed there were sunny periods. Two of them. The rest of the time we were in cloud or bursts of hail and the occasional snow flurry. Once again, not many views, but nevertheless an enjoyable walk, and one that I would happily do again – preferably at the week end when the pub in Horton will be open!

A typical view on our Tuesday walk.

Rick kindly volunteered to drive us up to Hawes and pick us up in Horton, so we had a lovely linear walk. We only met three people the whole way – a very wet cyclist who was roundly cursing the BBC weather girl, and, towards Horton, a pair of cavers who surprised us by emerging from a small hole near the path. “We popped down to get out of the rain”, they joked.

Miss W enjoys a snow shower!

This area is riddled with potholes and caves. We stopped just south of Cave Hill to have a rest and heard the noise of a waterfall just over the wall. We hopped over the stile to see a roaring swallow hole where a fair sized stream suddenly plunged underground. It’s a good place to sit down and have a cup of tea, but I wouldn’t recommend getting too close to the hole. The rocks are very slippery and slope towards the abyss. Trouble is, these places exert a strange fascination, and only good sense prevented me from trying to peer in.

The Swallowhole

As evening approached I rang Rick, who turned up bang on time to whisk us back to tea and Lindsey’s home made cake before a long soak in the bath. As I contemplated the day there was knock on the bathroom door and I was presented with a pre prandial glass of Chablis to sip as I soaked.


Another culinary triumph from R & L’s kitchen and an early night before the long slog home. All in all, a great way to stretch the old limbs and , rather to my surprise, find that I’m feeling pretty fit. Convalescence over, I reckon. Back on top!

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Blogger Alan Sloman said...

Oh B077ox! Miss Whiplash is a cruel task master indeed! She is just making my stumbling stagger from west to east even harder! Lord Elpus was hard enough to catch in the first place - he will be like a bleedin' greyhound now with this regime!
I think he will need to carry the bottle of vintage Chablis to slow him down.

January 15, 2009 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger Mike Knipe said...

That hole looks like Calf Holes Pot which is the one in my Pennine Way thingy.... I think its about thirty feet into the puddle at the bottom...

Sorry, shouldn't mention bottoms....

Good progress clearly being made, though, Phil.

January 15, 2009 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Yes indeed, Mike, Calf Holes Pot! I should have done my research...

...and Alan. Fear not. By May I could well be a broken man.

January 16, 2009 at 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we drove down the 65 towards Kendal we did comment on how the BBC lied pretty consistently about the weather in t'north and Avril remarked how sorry she was that we had not been able to join you on the walk. Glad to see you both made it back. Keep up the good work Miss W and maybe you can get Sloman along on a few walks, he looks as though he could do with a good work out.

January 16, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Alison Hobbs said...

Marvellous, Phil. We enjoyed this latest post; even though "Miss W" looks a bit disgruntled in the sleet it sounds as if you had a good time really. Love to you both from us both.

January 18, 2009 at 2:08 AM  
Blogger Miss W. said...

Mr G is dead right about the weather - that's why I'm not looking gruntled, Ali! It was a fun day though.

January 18, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

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