DATE                         13.02.17

DISTANCE                5.45 MILES




Today I found myself heading off towards Simonside for a wander, there was Several reason for this which I will go into in a moment but as it turned out all the reasons where wrong, “what I hear you all say Mick was wrong” ………….o the shock and horror of it all Mick was wrong!!!! ………I know folks it’s hard to believe but I do get things wrong sometime. So where to start ……………

I had the day off , and had got loads of good boy brownie points and I really felt that I needed to get out someplace , the only problem was the weather , to be honest it was shite and had been for the last few days , strong wind, dull grey low level clag and rain in fact we had been having a fair amount of rain for the last week or so , yes on the higher fells it had turned into sleet and snow and there was a covering on the higher fells , in fact I read  that there was three to four foot snow drifts on some of the higher fells making things rather tricky , now as much as I love the white stuff I am restricted when its soft fluffy stuff to about 4” after that I can’t really get my Arty leg to swing and function properly so combined with the wind the fells would be a no go area for me plus the lower fells would be soaking boggy mess by now . No I needed a cunning plan and after several cups of coffee I decided on Simonside, the forest should provide some shelter from the wind (if it’s still windy) the forestry roads would provide reasonably dry firms paths to walk along and up on the crag tops there is a stone slab walkway path so that shouldn’t be too bad …sounds like a plan. I informed Bob dog and as normal he was up for it as long as I packed his treats and roast beef and I sent a pm to my long suffering walking buddy Edwina and much to my delight she agreed to join us for the day and that was that sorted.

On the day gear was sorted and thrown into the car, much to Bob dog’s delight Edwina brought Rosie dog with her and we were off. Weather wise it was still dull and grey and things didn’t change much on the drive up, in fact the only thing that changed was the ice warning light beeped at me just as we approached the car park at Simonside but all was good. Getting out of the car you couldn’t help but notice how wet the parking area was but that’s to be expected, gear was sorted, both dogs had their coats put on (much to Bob disgust) and we were off, we would be following the well  marked red route for most of today’s walk, just adding a little bit extra on and going on a bit further the ridge line before we cut down, however sometime things have to be changed.

As expected it was easy walking along the forestry tracks , both Bob dog and Rosie were having a great time running backwards and forwards stopping for a sniff every now and then , we made a small detour to go have a look at church rock , Edwina hadn’t seen it before and when we arrived she had to go for a mooch around it , I don’t know if she was impressed or not sometimes just hearing about these things is actually better than seeing them after all its just a large lump of sandstone with a few holes carved into it , but it seemed a shame for her not to see it when passing .

Weather wise it was still very dull with that wet clag hanging around, you know the sort it slowly gets everything wet and you can’t see bugger all, which is a shame I was hoping to see the Cheviots with snowy covering on today, but that wasn’t going to happen the weather was in for the day, but never mind a day’s walking is a day’s walking , it was shortly after this point that we left the track and went up the footpath which can best be described as a small river running down the path .

A bit on the wet side in places

on the good side it washed the mud away and made for a good grip as we splashed and sploshed our way up on the bad side both Pooches started to get wet and we was both concerned about them getting cold . However ten minutes later we climbed out of “this ditch” that used to be a path  and where back on a forestry track again, one thing both Edwina and I had noticed was how colder it was and we had only climbed up a few hundred feet or so. The wet ground now had patches of sleet and ice dotted around.

Our next climb was up to the top of the Crags, the way up had now been sorted out by the park rangers some time ago who had built a path all the way up with a series of stone steps, this of course made it so much easier but with all the rain / sleet / snow we had been having the water had run down onto the steps and frozen making several sections rather slippery and fun but somehow we managed it without coming a cropper , of course both dogs run up and down the step making it look easy , myself I was seriously trying to get some air into my lungs but the slow pace in getting to the top stopped my head from turning its normal shade of red and I wasn’t on the point of claps when I finally made it to the top .

However once on the top it soon became apparent that the weather wasn’t finished with us , we were exposed to the full force of the wind combined with the wet clag made for a rather cold experience , Lunch was quickly forgotten about as we both decided it would be better to press on along the ridge.

The ground was a mixture of ice and snow making life rather fun for us all, the pathway was all stone slabs but with a mixture of ice and water covering them.

Fun times ahead , it's a bit slipprey in places

 which again caused us to walk at a slightly slower pace, but we were committed unless we both wanted to return down the steep stairs (no thank you) and so off we went, Rosie Dog was showing sign of the cold and so Edwina wrapped her up in a survival blanket then zipped her into her coat, it’s something that she has done before and it works out very well.

A happy Rosie dog

 Rosie dog is nice and snug and it keep Edwina’s hands free for the hiking poles and so we made our way towards old stell crag , sadly the wind didn’t slacken in fact it seemed to get worse plus you could see bugger all so we both decided to crack on before we stopped for lunch , passing Old Stell Crag we met up with a BBC camera crew , we had met them earlier on in the car park they are doing a short story about what’s now known as a the proposal stone link :-

 The proposal stone

A bit of info

It’s a pity they picked such a lousy day but as it’s for Valentine’s Day I don’t suppose they had much say in the matter, we had a quick chat about it, they filmed us and did a short interview (they must be hard up for a story line) but whether they show it or not I don’t know and off we went again heading for The Beacon at this point my original plan was to carry on along the ridge line towards Dove Crag and cut down there towards Lordenshaw and the cup and saucer marked rock but due to the weather we both decided to cut down into the forest and out of the freezing wind , the trip down was fun , the icy path turned into a very wet boggy section and the last few hundred meters consisted of a bog trot however being intrepid explores we soon made the forestry track again and headed into the trees for a well-deserved lunch break. Food was stuffed down our necks, Bob dog woofed his roast beef down and then started on his treats, Rosie dog was more refined and only had a tiny bit of beef, Edwina woofed down her soup but produced two picnic bars (did I tell you all what a lovely lady she is) and we both threw them down our necks very quickly ………….NOM NOM .....very tasty they were too.

Our walk back consisted of staying on the forestry tracks, I think that we had both had enough of splodging or splashing slipping and sliding and decided to play things safe. Back at the car pooches were towed dried and Edwina (that lovely lady) produced a brew of tea again and we both finished our walk with a cuppa.

We walked 5.4 miles with 1042 ft. of the ups and downs, it should have been a lot more but sometimes cutting it short is the right thing to do, saying that I still had a great day.

As normal a few dull photos

Taken from the car park


And we are off


Bob dog leading the way


Looking towards Church rock


The views don’t look that good


Edwina heading towards Church rock for a mooch around

Nearly made it


Fallen tree


Now back on the forestry track (it used to be covered in trees along this section)


Some of the huge sandstone boulders are now visible

Starting to head up the path started to get a bit wet


Still can’t see a great deal

A new money tree has been started, Edwina wanted to pull the coins out and take them home

A bit higher, it looks like the clag might be lifting


Now heading up towards the crags

Part way up and there is a few icy places


Getting near the top

Made it Simonside crags (believe me it’s here hidden by the clag) it’s also very exposed and icy


And the views are …….


Heading towards Old Stell Crag


Loin rock? I don’t know if that’s it correct name but it reminds me of a lion so that’s what I call it


Now at the proposal stone


Looking over the far edge


Edwina heading down


Our route is that way


Looking back at the BBC camera crew (they really did pick a bad day)

Looking back / up towards them


The sandstone rocks at the Beacon (time to head down)


Made it down, it’s much warmer down here out of the wind, looking back up


Rosie Dog feeling much warmer now


Looking up towards the crags, you wouldn’t believe how cold it was up there in the wind compared with down here


Bob dog running back to check on us


Still heading down into the trees


I don’t know the name of this place but I always take a photo of it (don’t know why)


Messing around trying to do an “Arty” photo


Don’t really know why this came out so dark


As this was a rather short walk we stopped off at Thrum mill on the way back home a few photos

Day after thoughts

I was very pleased with how arty leg preformed today , it was rough going in places , very wet in places , extremely windy up on the crags and very slippery on the stone slabs with all the ice, but I managed very well (well I think that I did) so yes I’m feeling pleased with how things went .

On returning home, first job was to Bath Bob dog, he was stinking with peaty mud and god knows what elts. His coats has gone into the washer as well , he always scrubs up very well and to be honest its nice having a clean Bob dog sitting next to me , myself I was fine no soreness and because of the shortness of this walk no aches or pains.