Summer Looming, Long Time Coming

So I have not posted in ages. Bygones. I have been cycling to work all winter, including the days that were so cold that I wore thermals and tights for the first time ever. Running, cycling and hiking has been my jam.

Here in Lancashire there is a hill called Hameldon that I always meant to climb but never did, until this week. Last Sunday I did it – discovering up there a park bench of all things – and strolled across to what I have nicknamed the Golf Ball:

It is actually a Met Office weather radar station. I always meant to climb up to see what it was, ever since I was a nipper decades ago, and I went up a while ago, and then a good few times more since. I feel as though I have completed a childhood ambition.

The climb up to the top of Hameldon followed by the walk across to this is great. It is essentially a chain of hills a bit like a massif. The feeling up there is eerily still and reminiscent of growing up in the tail end of the Cold War. Weird I know but all of the architecture and the construction looks like that time. Even stranger is the fact that it reminds me of photos of Buran, the Soviet space shuttle that was mothballed before it ever flew in space. Some enterprising soul tracked it down to an aerodrome in Kazakhstan where it sits, rusting away quietly. I would love to go and see it. I am not sure that it would be worth the risk of being detained by Russian Secret Service goons, however.

It is possible to get very close to the Golf Ball, within about five metres, but once there it is gated and covered in warnings about ionising radiation, which I am sure are more of an intimidating attempt at deterrent than factual given that it is just radar.

The whole walk from my house and back was about twelve miles, which is very rewarding when you have a spritely young border collie to tire out. Even though he went up to his shoulders in mud a couple of times he had a whale of time. Hiking is simply so much better with a doggie in tow. Even better is the Hapton Inn at the base of Hameldon where you can roll up for a well-earned drink afterwards.

Here come some cool photographs.

Barkley at the trig point
Summit of Hameldon, looking towards Preston
The Golf Ball

Pushing for Endurance

Is it possible – or indeed advisable – to run hard in the morning and then hike a mountain in the afternoon? Well, it is definitely possible because I did it today. Whether or not it is a good idea remains to be seen, but I do know that it stretches endurance limits and it definitely felt good to do it.


This morning I broke through the six mile barrier.

This felt pretty good and I was well worn out but not as much as previously. Presumably my body is adapting well to endurance sports. Every time I add a mile or half mile extra it is that last segment in which I find myself longing for the run to be over so mentally I seem to be strengthening also.

After a couple of hours rest I then dragged the kids over Pen Y Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales.


This is the opener to the Yorkshire Three Peaks and it is also an absolute sod of a climb, very steep, and you gain altitude very quickly over short distances. There is also a ton of scrambling to do through the protruding limestone which takes a lot of patience, effort and strength.

I have said it before: if you want to work your whole body and get strong quickly then fell and mountain hiking cannot be beaten, particularly if you wish to build stamina too. There is not a single muscle in my body that is not aching and glowing from usage. The beauty of it is that when you climb like this, or scramble, or similar then you not only use your whole body, you also move and rotate your body, joints and muscles on all three axes. I really cannot think of another sport like it. The first few times you do it you will be exhausted because there is nowhere for your muscles to hide from effort. What is remarkable is how quickly the exhaustion recedes and you get used to the exertion. Eventually energy levels slowly improve, as does stamina, and suddenly you realise that you want to do all three of the Peaks in twelve hours, which is the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

Keep pushing, and keep improving.

Lockdown Lifestyle

So, here we are, a family in a semi rural town with time on our hands. Of course I have been hiking and cycling.

Climbing Ingleborough

Strava Data

Map and Splits

Pace, Heart Rate and Cadence

This was a hard slog for whatever reason, but ultimately rewarding. I am definitely not 100% healthy, my immunity is low and I feel a background malaise but still it was great to get out hiking. Isolation from the rest of the world is the thing I love about hiking the most so it is obviously fine in respect to social distancing. I think we saw perhaps three other people, two at the summit and one on his mountain bike ascending after us.


As I previously posted, I bought myself a folding bicycle so naturally the thing to do is buy another bike also, which I did – a tourer hybrid. This means that I can now go cycling off road. It’s no good for mountains or whatever but for towpaths and dirt tracks it’s just fine. The Leeds-Liverpool canal is like an artery running through my town, linking it to almost all of the North West of England so it’s useful to be able to access it, not only for my convenience but also because it is much safer for taking the kids cycling. My daughters love it. The oldest is the cautious, cerebral one and we cycle more or less together. All the while her younger sister – the absolute little shitbag – slams the pedals hard and flies off into the distance. I love her bravery and fearlessness as much as I love her sister’s gentle, caring nature. It’s fascinating how different they can be. Anyway, below are data for a couple of rides. I have done more - you can visit my Strava if you really want to see the lot.

May 12th 2020

Bolton Map

This ride was very strange. Firstly I was testing out my tourer over distance. It’s not only a slow ride compared to what I would have done on my racer, but also because the last eight miles were me cycling slowly, hopelessly lost. For some reason, once I arrived near to my destination my Garmin Edge 1000 took me on an eight mile track which was basically an orbit of my actual intended destination. It was the most bizarre navigation error I have ever experienced.

In terms of features the Edge 1000 is streets ahead of the Edge 800 it replaced, but the navigation performance has been very iffy. The 800 was genuinely a fantastic addition to my gear. Every single destination I used to to reach was in there and I arrived literally at the front door every time. The 1000 has taken me on some exceptionally unusual routes. For example, when I was working in Todmorden it took me over an unbelievably difficult and hilly ride because it was around .25 miles shorter than the much flatter, faster alternative. Obviously the hills added a lot of time to the journey, and I can’t believe that the Garmin algorithm did that. Now it has taken me eight miles around my destination for no reason, and when I was plotting the route originally it struggled to find the address. The 800 always accepted the postcode and took me there. For me the jury is out right now on the 1000. I got it because the 800 has no Bluetooth or WiFi and I used to have to boot my computer and plug it in just to upload routes which drove me batty in the wireless era of technology. Right now I would happily go back rather than have the current issues I am facing. I hope that things improve quickly.

Nature and Mental Health

Being outside is great for your mental health. The evidence is growing, despite the fact that, to me at least, it seems intuitively so. Some of the best times of my life came. when I was most at peace were in Sweden, and specifically during the winter in Abisko National Park.

Mountains in Abisko. The blue hue was a beautiful optical effect

Natural beauty seems to have a profoundly restorative effect on the mental health and wellness of human beings. To commit to spending a good portion of one’s life outdoors is a transformative habit in which to engage oneself.

Frozen Lake in Abisko
Frozen Lake in Abisko

The whole world has stunning locations that are cheap and easy to reach. Below is Pirin Mountain, Bulgaria, where I hiked up to meet my friend snowboarding from the top. This trip cost me less than £200.

The Forest on Pirin Mountain
The Forest on Pirin Mountain

The Forest on Pirin Mountain

The beauty of the natural world is that it is everywhere, however. There is no need to travel far. One the the great things about living in England is how well preserved our countryside has been down the years.

Janet’s Foss in Malham, Yorkshire
Janet’s Foss in Malham, Yorkshire

In Lancashire where I live natural surroundings are a fifteen minute walk in any direction, the Yorkshire Dales a 45 minute drive away, and Cumbria around 90 minutes. It’s everywhere, all you have to do is look for it.

Double Rainbow by Pen Y Ghent
Double Rainbow by Pen Y Ghent

Hiking is free you know! It is also access to priceless sights and experiences.

Hawdraw Force

The most satisfying part of the hiking experience for me is when I arrive home and the kids and the dog fall asleep almost immediately and then do not stir all night! The last hiking season we did we used to take our hound and she would literally not move for two days after expeditions – such a great feeling. Obviously the whole day spent outdoors is fantastic and the feel good factor of having walked miles or climbed a mountain is great, as is the endorphin hit. It also feels like a day well spent and I can tell you now that no workout in the world that you will ever do can compare to the resistance exercise obtained climbing and scrambling over rocky fells and mountains. God that is seriously hard work, and your muscles will thank you for years.

The View from the Ascent of Ingleborough
The View from the Ascent of Ingleborough

The View from the Descent of Ingleborough
The View from the Descent of Ingleborough

The View From Pen Y Ghent
The View From Pen Y Ghent

The Whernside Viaduct
The Whernside Viaduct

So get outside and see the true beauty of the natural world.

Whernside Redux: Electric Boogaloo

I am slightly concerned about my Garmin Vivoactive sports watch. Granted it is not cutting edge technology any more, it’s an old model of sports watch, however either it or the Apple Health app is calculating things badly. My money is on Garmin doing it wrong which is unfortunate. Here is my reasoning:

Garmin stats

Apple Health Stats

According to the Yorkshire Dales website climbing Whernside is 8.4 miles of hiking. Given that Apple Health clocks all of my steps during the day it seems sensible to believe that I hiked the 8.4 miles and the rest is normal everyday wandering about.

Garmin Vivoactive clocked me at 6.41 miles which seems very low. I have no idea why it does this but I think it vastly underestimates the distance I hiked.

That being said, despite the notoriety of Whernside for bad weather today’s hike was great. I even took photos.

Ingleborough from the descent

Tadpole Hunting

Millie, our dog, Pulling a Pint

Here, finally, is the map

Whatever is going on with my tracking equipment I can attest to the joy found in ascending this peak. Even though I have done it many times before it is beautiful to see the view from the summit. We definitely earned our pint in the country pub at the end.

Summit Panorama

Project Lake District: Derwent Water

This year I have decided on an activity for my family entitled Project Lake District. I intend to take my children to all nineteen of the lakes in the Lake District. Strictly speaking only Bassenthwaite Lake is actually a lake. The rest are waters. That being said, geographical taxonomy is neither my specialty nor my subject for this blog. I love the Lake District and have explored a lot of it, climbing Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw Massif to name but a few and I have spent plenty of time around Windermere, Derwent Water, Grasmere, Coniston Water and others. I want my children to experience the beauty of this place too.

Today we conquered Derwent Water. I had initially intended to walk the kids all of the way around it, however this quickly turned out to be unrealistic. A couple of days ago I walked my children 11.52 miles to wear them out and that was, I found out, their limit, so another few miles on top (Derwent is around 14-15 in circumference) would have been impossible, particularly since my youngest had not slept well since the big walk and she is possibly the angriest, most stubborn and grumpy human being I know.  We kept it to four miles (ish) and that left us with some extremely tired sprogs and dogs.



Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Next up: Grasmere.