Friday, 16 November 2012

21 - Brown Willy, Cornwall - 13th November 2012 - Part 2

Click here for Part 1

Continued . . . . . . . 

The wind was blowing at the top of Brown Willy however it was not that cold, the clouds were moving fast above me, it felt like they were just above my head but I expect they were quite a long way up, I stayed up the top on Brown Willy for about 30 mins as I was making a time lapse video and they always take a while to make. It was after I had finished the time lapse video while I was taking a few more photos I looked over to the west and noticed the light coming through the clouds, I could just make out where the sun was, it was just at the horizon and setting fast, a quick glance at my watch and it was 4:30pm.

I have several books about climbing the high points of the UK and in one of them it says that Brown Willy should take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the entire walk, the other book states that the walk is 4 miles. this made sense to me, if I walked at 3 miles an hour then 2 hours should be plenty of time to walk the 4 miles, what I didn't take into account was the fact that I often stop off for photographs, also the people who write these books obviously walk at the speed of a harrier jump jet where I walk at a much slower pace.

Muddy Shoes

It had taken me 1.5 hours to walk to the top of Brown Willy, the sun had just set and I was some distance from the car park, daylight was fading fast. I have no problem with walking in the dark, I have a compass for emergencies and an Ordnance Survey map and GPS tracker on my phone so this was not an issue, what I didn't want is for a sudden mist to come along and make things difficult. Bodmin moor is notorious for mist developing in a very short time. It was time to pack up and get back to the car park fast.

From the top of Brown Willy it is only a couple of miles to the car park, it should take me just 30-40 mins if I walk fast however Rough Tor sits directly in the way and I had a choice to make, do I walk around the edge of Rough Tor or cut straight over the top? well as I started my descent down the muddy slippery paths I had a short time to think about it. The walk down the side of Brown Willy was fast, I knew where the worst mud was and headed straight over the first gate in just a few minutes. It was during the next section I started to notice the problem with my left knee, every 5th or 6th step was giving me shooting pains through my knee and slowing me down slightly, I pushed on.

The next gate was at the bottom of Brown Willy, I was now across the river and working my way up to wards Rough Tor, time to make a decision, What I did in the end was aim up the side of Rough Tor in between 2 peaks, I figured it was a compromise between the two routes. Passing some horses I now started to notice my right knee playing up, yes I was now getting shooting pains in both knees, perfect, with two knees hurting every few steps and the light disappearing fast it was quite an interesting walk, at least I hadn't thought about the beast of Bodmin moor yet . . .oh great, and now I had THAT in my mind, I was alone, it was nearly dark, there was no sign of life for miles around and there is me thinking about big mysterious creatures in the night, perfect.

I carried on, walking up the hill as fast as I could, thankfully I took my walking poles so I managed to keep up a good pace, soon I had made it to the top of the ridge between the two peaks and it was down hill all the way, in the fading light I could now see the car park ahead, it must have been just less than a mile away, 15 mins and I would be there.

The Night Approaches
I reached the car park very quickly, my knees had both stopped hurting on the way down and there had been no sign of the beast of Bodmin moor (shame, I could have made a fortune). There was just enough light to take a few photos and a small explore around the area of the car park, there is a memorial to Charlotte Dymond here, she was murdered on the moor back in 1844, I took a few photos of the bridge and then made my way back to the car.

I think this has to be the best walk I have done since I climbed Scafell Pike with Chris and Amy, the views are stunning, the scenery is amazing and it all makes for such a brilliant walk, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

21 - Brown Willy, Cornwall - 13th November 2012

Just to the north of Bodmin in the north east of Cornwall lies Bodmin Moor, an 80 sq mile moorland and home to the highest point in Cornwall, Brown Willy.

I have been to Cornwall many many times and I have worked out that I have driven through Bodmin Moor along the A30 around 80 times however I have never stopped off on the moor for an explore, it was time to change this and I left home at 10:30am for the 188 mile drive to the car park near Camelford.

The journey was uneventful having done most of it many times before, driving along the M27, A31 past Ringwood, A35 past Dorchester, Honiton then onto the M5 for a short time and then the A30 past Okehampton. Just after Launceston I turned off the A30 onto a smaller road and past the village of Pipers Pool and Davidstow, finally turning left just before Camelford towards the car park. I arrived at the car park around 2:30pm and prepared for my walk.

I left the car park and headed south through a gate, across a field and through another gate where I crossed a bridge over a river and headed onto the Bodmin Moor, I could see several hills rising up ahead of me and from this point I could not see Brown Willy. After a very short time It had become apparent that the ground was very wet, my shoes were already damp and mud was splattered up my jeans but this was not a problem, I dodged the puddles where I could.

I made my way up in between the first 2 hills, on my left was Showery Tor and on my right was Little Rough Tor, My plan was to get to the top of the ridge between these 2 Tors and then turn west and head up to the top of Little Rough Tor. This was not a steep climb but the ground was scattered with boulders and mud ahead of me which slowed me a little, eventually a made my way up to the top of Little Rough Tor.

Up until now I had not seen Brown Willy and as I reached the top of Little Rough Tor I saw it ahead, an unmistakable peak beyond a shallow valley to the south of me, I took a few photos and continued west along the ridge to the top of the next hill. Rough Tor is an impressive sight, many large boulders protrude from the top of the hill, they look like they have been scattered there by giants, some balancing on top of others as if they are about to fall off and then to the west a hugh granite wall stands as if ready to hold back an approaching army.
There is a memorial on top of the Tor for the 43rd Memorial Division who fought in WWII, the Scouts also have recently visited to leave a poppy wreath. I stayed around for a few minutes and then decided to move on to Brown Willy, I headed south again and worked my way through and over the boulders which are scattered all over the slopes of Rough Tor.

Rough Tor
The boulders and rocks soon disappeared as I walked through the valley between Rough Tor and Brown Willy, it was around this time during my walk I noticed how alone I was, I had not seen anyone since the car park and could see no one around, just a few horses, cows and sheep in the distance, it was quite windy but down in the valley I could not feel the full force of the wind and it was actually very quiet, a feeling of remoteness was upon me, I couldn't see any signs of civilisation, just the occasional barb wire fence.

At the bottom of the valley I approached a river with a bridge and a gate, up until now I had been on National Trust land but Brown Willy is on open moorland and there were paths for me to follow from now on, I stopped to photograph the little bridge over the river and then crossed it to the gate, it was pretty muddy as I got near the gate and I carefully stepped on solid ground towards the gate but just as I reached it my foot sunk into a mud hole right up past my ankle, ewwwww, the water poured into my shoe and I was left with a horrible soggy foot, oh well, never mind, at least I didn't have to worry about it getting any wetter.

Once through the gate I started the climb up Brown Willy its not a steep climb, in fact its a very easy climb so it was not long until I was at the second gate and once through this it was even muddier for a short distance, further towards the top the path became strewn with rocks and boulders and the top was in sight.

Further up the path I walked and up the last few feet to the top of Brown Willy where I found a trig point and a pile of rocks marking the highest point, I had made it to the top, The views are magnificent, to the south and east are the rolling moors stretching into the distance and in the north-west lies the Atlantic Ocean, they are probably some of the best views I have seen on any of my highpoint climbs so I was very happy.

To be Continued . . . . . . . . . . 

Click here for part 2

Saturday, 10 November 2012

18-20 - Walsall, Solihull and Coventry - 7th November 2012

Barr Beacon
Yesterday I visited 4 of the hills in the Birmingham area, today I was going to visit 3 more and the first to visit was Barr Beacon situated in Walsall to the north of Birmingham. It was easy to find Barr Beacon, I just kept driving up hill until I couldn't go any further, parking right on top of Barr Beacon I went for a walk around the area.

On top of Barr Beacon is a war memorial, it looks like a bandstand and when I got there it was totally covered in Scaffolding, apparently thieves have stolen all the copper from the roof so it was getting some much needed repairs. I had a really nice walk around the entire beacon, there are some radio masts and plenty of open areas, plus a few clumps of woodland which were turning a beautiful orange colour as winter draws in.

The views from the top are pretty awesome too, you can see all the way to Sedgely beacon in the west and over the rolling hills to the east. I couldn't see Birmingham to the south as the trees were in the way.

Meighs Wood
My next hill to conquer was in Solihull and what can I say about it, well, basically it was a tree stump in Meighs wood just to the north of the town of Meriden, there is not much more I can say about it really, I pulled up in a layby and wandered into the woodland for an explore but it was all pretty unexciting.

The highest point in Coventry
My last high point of the day was just a few minutes drive away, it was the high point of Coventry and is situated in the small village of Corley Moor. The actual high point is thought to be a manhole cover in the middle of the road so I parked in the centre of the village and wandered around the area, again another very uneventful high point to visit.
Corley Moor

The best high point in Birmingham was probably Barr Beacon and yesterday I have 2 other really good hills to climb with Sedgley Beacon and Rednal Hill, I was pleased to have those good hills to climb to make my trip worth while.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

14-17 - Birmingham, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton - 6th November 2012

Rednall Hill in Birmingham
Having walked to the top of Ebrington Hill in Warwickshire earlier this afternoon It was time to continue to my next set of hills in and around Birmingham, from Ebrington Hill I headed north through the Shakespearian town of Stratford Upon Avon and then up the M40 towards Britains second largest city Birmingham.

An Oak Tree
The first of four hills was Rednall Hill, the highest point of Birmingham, it can be found in the far south west of the city close to where the M42 meets the M5. I parked up in a small layby in a residential area and walked up a steep and quite small path towards the top of the hill, it was not a long walk, I was up on top of the hill within 5 minutes, there were a few good views over the surrounding area and in the distance I could see the centre of Birmingham. I didn't stay too long as there was not much to look at on the very top of the hill, so I made my way back down the hill to the layby meeting some dogs on the way.

The Delights of Turners Hill
The next hill was just a 15 minute drive away in Sandwell, Turners Hill is the highest point in the surrounding area of Birmingham but it was far from being the prettiest, I parked in an empty golf club car park and walked the very short path to the top of the hill. the hardest part was dodging the rubbish and doggy deposits and I was soon as close as I could get, the actual high point was situated behind some very big locked gates (what do thy keep in here? Dinosaurs?)

Cawney Hill
The next stop was Cawney Hill in Dudley, another unimpressive stop just 5 minutes away from Turners Hill, turning off a main road and up a residential street I parked up outside the private house which sits on top of the hill. No time to stop here as there were a few people about and I thought I would look suspicious taking photos and having a look around.

The View of Birmingham from Sedgley Beacon

It was time to stop for some dinner so I headed back towards Birmingham and came across a huge Tesco store, now I am not really the type who gets excited about supermarkets (well not much) but this Tesco was HUGE, it was one of those raised up on stilts with the car park underneath, but when you get up into the store the roof seemed to be miles above me and the views out of the window over Birmingham were pretty cool, I think this Tesco was taller than a lot of my high points but I was not going to try climbing it (well not today anyway, I had another hill to visit tonight and don't want to get arrested).

Sedgley Beacon
After a dinner of burger and chips I headed north towards Wolverhampton and Sedgley Beacon, It was dark now but I parked in a residential area and walked up the short path to the top of the hill, the actual high point is not at the top of the hill, yes it sounds odd but the border cuts through the hill and so the highest point is right on the edge of the border as high up the hill as it can get, but I walked to the top anyway. The views were pretty good, on one side was the small town of Sedgley and then on the east side the lights of Birmingham stretched out below me as far as I could see.

Remember Remember, Sedgley Fireworks
I took a few photos and being it was a day after Firework night there were still a few fireworks going off, it was an excellent viewpoint to see them. I stayed up on Sedgley Beacon for about 20 mins before heading back to my car and then heading to my bed for the night. Rednall Hill and Sedgley Beacon are worth a look if you are in the area but give Cawney Hill and Turners Hill a miss.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

13 - Ebrington Hill, Warwickshire - 6th November 2012

You may have noticed that I am running out of local high points and the time has come to start travelling so It was time to do a few high points over the course of 2 days. I decided that my first high point was going to be Ebrington Hill, in Warwickshire, this is a bit of an unusual one as most of the walk was in Gloucestershire, the highest point of Warwickshire lies just a few feet over the border between the 2 counties.

I left home around 10am and drove the 115+ miles towards the Midlands, my route took me along the M27,  up the M3, then the A34 towards Oxford, eventually I turned off onto the A44 passing Blenheim Palace and eventually arriving at Chipping Campden for some lunch.

Chipping Campden is in the Cotswolds and is surrounded by amazing scenery, the village is also pretty amazing, a typical old fashioned village with tea rooms and little shops. I had a nice wander around the main high street and around the market hall which was built in 1627. Walking away from the main street I headed towards the church and had a wander around that area, there was a house which reminded me of a house in the Harry Potter books. Back in the village I had my lunch (Sausage Roll and Almond Tart) and then drove to a car park at the base of Ebrington Hill just a few miles away.

I left the car and started the walk up the hill, it was not far to walk to the top and not steep either, just a gradual climb, it was not long until the amazing views were stretching out behind me, the path turned right and then I came across a massive puddle which I had to climb across somehow without getting wet feet.

A few minutes later I had reached the top of the hill, I finally walked out of Gloucestershire and into Warwickshire where the high point was situated, a small area was fenced off where a communication station was situated but the views to the west over the Cotswolds were amazing, I took a few photos and it was around this point it started to rain a little. It was not long before I made my way back down towards the car park. There was nothing spectacular about Ebrington hill but it was a nice walk and worth having an explore.