DATE                               20.11.16

DISTANCE                     5.4 MILES

WEATHER                     BRIGHT BUT COLD



Simonside and a bit of practise

After my last wander with the Northumberland walking group, I was feeling pretty good about things, it was talked about having another meet up along a section of Hadrian’s wall on Sunday and to honest I was looking forward to attending, however reality kicked in and I realised that I haven’t done no steps with this new set up, yes I had gone up and down stairs at home and at work but that’s completely different from doing up’s and downs outside on rather rough and uneven ground , plus with the cold wet / icy weather it might make things even more “fun” , I have no doubt that I could manage , but it’s a slow process getting used to it and even figuring out what the best system or way to do them , no I needed to get some practise in before I go out with any group walks , I know that the various members wouldn’t mind the slow pace , but with it being cold the last thing I want to do is hold the group up , it would be different in the warmer weather but that’s a long way off . so for today’s walk I was going to go back to one of my training areas and get some practise in, naturally I chose one of my regular haunts because I know it has what I need to practise on, some serious ups and downs on uneven steps plus a few miles of that horrid uneven stone flagged path plus loads of uneven ground with a bit of everything thrown in from slippery mud, tree roots and a fair amount of bog stomping and of course some good forestry tracks where I could try to walk like a normal person rather than a drunken sailor .

Naturally I had to discuss this with Bob Dog, who informed me that it would be a good day to test out his new all singing / dancing waterproof coat as well,

Bob's new coat

Then we on to discuss the fact that it was  Sunday  & too late to get our normal sarnie as the shop was shut so he wouldn’t get any roast beef, not a problem said Bob who then went on to inform me that there was lots of ham in the fridge and why not pack a few ham sarnies and some extra bits for him , sounds like a plan and so after a mad ten minute rush round , gear was sorted and thrown into the car , I did ask Munchy and Flynn if they wanted to come along , this was answered by them both snuggling down by the fire and saying that they would stay at home and guard the place until we returned and not to ask them anymore until the summer was here .

So that was it just me and Bob dog and within minutes we was driving up to Simonside.

The one thing that I did notice on the drive up was the temperature  was falling , living by the sea we tend to be spared the worst of the weather , but it had dropped from a cool ’ish 4c to -1 when we pulled into the forestry car park at Simonside.

First things first , Bob dog was zipped into his new coat , today should be a good test of how good or bad it was going to be , it cost me an arm and leg so it had better be good or it will be going back . then I got sorted, it was quite sheltered in the trees and I settled for just a thin base layer on then my new coat over the top, my new coat isn’t very thick or warm but it does stop the wind and any rain from getting through, however once I had got it on I soon warmed up as it seems keeps the heat in, however I had a thicker base layer in my rucksack just in case.

Then off we went with Bob dog bounding off (as normal in the wrong direction) a quick whistle and he came bounding back and shooting off this time in the right direction, sometimes I think that he is the most cleverest Dog I know or the most stupid …...I really don’t know (but I wouldn’t have him any other way) but he was having a great time, running this way ……sniffing .then running off to some other place , we met up with a few other walkers all heading off in different directions , Bob of course just had to say hello to everyone we met and of course run off to play with any other dogs that where in the area , but as we moved away from the car park we soon found ourselves on our own and settled down into our normal routine , which mean Bob run’s ,chases ,mooches and sniffs around while I get on with the business of deciding where I am going , Today was easy I would be following the well-marked “red route” heading up to Simonside crags and then along that bloody awful stone path to Dove Crag then if all goes well heading back down into the trees and from that point I would just make it up as we went along .

First thing that I noticed as we left the tree line was how cold it was, as always the trees do provide a lot of shelter but now the ground was frozen solid and everything had a covering of ice on it, this is the first time that I have walked over icy, uneven ground with this arty leg and to be honest I didn’t really have any problems.

Frozen ice made for a fun time

It would seem that years of experience still dictate how and where I move my arty foot , as we started the climb up to Simonside crags I was stopped by some fellow walkers who informed me about the ice covered steps a bit further up likewise how cold it was once you reached the summit, and they wasn’t kidding , there was huge sections of stone steps covered with ice which made life ….fun / interesting to say the least , it was my plane to get to the top then walk back down again to get some sort of technic with arty knee , but going up was bad enough so going down would be pure stupid , Bob of course was running up and down making it look very easy . on reaching the summit the first thing I noticed (once I got my breath back) was how cold it was and decided to put on another base layer, once zipped up inside my jacket again I was instantly toasty warm apart from my face and lead to the next hour or so of my nose running but the good news was despite the cold wind chill it didn’t seem to penetrate my new jacket so I remained nice and snug with very little on. (Does that make sense)?

After the normal few photos off we went again along the stone path, only this time just to make my life more interesting it was covered in ice in several places or submerged or covered in a coating of frost / frozen sleet, but the sun was out we had (at this time) a lovely blue sky what more could I want after all this is why I had come to this place to try and “marry up” to Arty leg , we met several people who were making the most of the weather and the conversation always seem to start off with “watch out for the ice on the path back there “ which the reply would be …..Thank you …there is some more just in front of you so be careful ….then it went onto how cold that little bit of wind made it up here.

At Old stell crag I found that the stone steps where free of ice and so I spent a bit of time going up and back down them trying out different technics after all that was what I was up here for , I was partly successful in the fact that I stayed on my feet and didn’t fall but I am still fighting the knee for control , I know I have got to stop fighting it and work with it and we will get on fine but at the moment I’m fighting it to the death. (Give it time I keep telling myself)

Normally I really dislike walking along these stone paths as they are so uneven and cause me no end of trouble with the knee not doing what it should but today I seemed to fly along, I will admit to walking that little bit faster / harder than what I would normally do but it didn’t cause me any problems what so ever, Bob dog run back and informed me that he was going to scout ahead and find a good spot out of the wind so we could stop for food and off he went ………….and sure enough before I knew it he had scoffed down his treats , roast ham and was busy helping me scoff down my sarnie’s , after lunch it was time to head off , by this time we was approaching Dove crag when the wind seemed to pick up and it seemed that it got much colder , looking back towards Simonside crag it was covered it what looked like a fine rain , yep time to head back down fortunately we was right by the footpath that headed down , once again it was frozen solid but it made for easy going as the mud had been churned up before it froze . we saw a couple of deer that went running into the forest before I could get a photo of them , Bob of course was too small to see them which saved me the trouble of calling him back as he gave chase . Instead he seemed to want to roll around on the ice;

Bob dog having a roll

I was a bit concerned because normally he likes rolling around on any foul smelling stuff …..Fox pooh being his favourite thing at the moment but much to my surprise he just like rolling and sliding on the ice and was having great fun.

 Once on the forestry track again I decided to leave the “red route” and do a bit of practise walking in a normal correct way rather than my drunken sailor way, I can’t say how good or bad it was as I can’t really tell, I normally have to ask someone, anyway as we made our way back I decided to go from two hiking poles to one, straight away I noticed that the knee would help me when going downhill as it stiffened up and acted as a brake , I didn’t know that the knee could do this ..but then I am so busy fighting the knee all the time I don’t really know what it can do …………….give me some time and I will work with it and together we will do good things . (Well that’s the plane)

On arriving back at the car park I meet up with a couple of walkers who snapped off a photo of me (thanks Karl) and offered to send it to me , which is rather nice  he has a photo web site Link :- .


All in all we did about 5.4 miles with 1082ft of the up’s and downs  according to my GPS , Bob did loads more but then he always does . I was pleased to note that when I removed his coat (which was filthy and wet on the outside) but still dry and warm on the inside so that was good news, and was money well spent.


 And we are off ...the red route


A frosty covering  


 Bob dog sniffing around


frozen firn  


Old cave  

Following the red route along  

Break in the trees

First small climb





Bob dog coming back to check that I'm ok


Time to get my breath back looking back

Huge sandstone rocks the area is littered with them

As we get a bit of height the views start to open up


Looking back

I saw a Deer , but missed it with this photo

Another rest stop , but what a view

Time for a sit down and well deserved rest

Taken from this seat

Time to start the climb up

Bob dog showing how easy it is to go up and down these steps

Part way up showing all the icy steps

A few photos as i make my way up

 Phew made it a couple from the top

Time to walk that slipprey path that I really dont like , Bob waiting for me to catch up

Now at old stell crag

With its lion faced rock ...can you see it ?

Bob sitting watching me as I practise walking up and down the stone steps

Our route

Leaving the crags

It starts to feel a lot cooler ...looking back

At dove crag looking back

Bob dog telling me it's time to head down

Bob having a roll

The path heading down to the forest

Looking towards Rothbury

Then the sun comes out again , a few photos as we make our way along

Heading down

Looking back up

A few more as we head back to the car park

Day after thoughts

Despite the hard pace I set myself I reached the car and didn’t feel tired in the slightest, my stump wasn’t comfortable but it wasn’t un comfortable if that makes sense, I guess I am still getting used to the socket, I was very pleased with how well the knee / myself did on the slippery stone pathways, and the fact that I started to work with the knee coming down hill rather than fighting it all the way made for a good day………….. In fact it was a good day all-round thank you