I woke to this fabulous view. Okay, it's slightly marred by the Great Dun Fell Radome and a double fence. Nine out of ten Daunderers are camped to one side of this fence, which is the boundary of the Moor House National Nature Reserve, following the bank of the River Tees. The importance of this fence only hit home after I had taken a trip to examine the porcelain as dawn had broken.
Walking away up the hill, away from the Nature Reserve, I was really taken aback at the sheer number of Fen Traps set across the little stream I was following. They were placed, I would guess, every fifty yards or so. All the traps appeared to be legal, though I did not spot any identification tags. However I also came across two very sturdy but rusty wire snares. I pulled each out of the ground - they were very firmly attached and this took some effort on my part.
It's clear to me that whoever owns or manages this ground has every intention of eliminating any sort of predator whatsoever that will compete with grouse. Shooting grouse - or any animal, come to that - for fun disgusts me to the core, and the elimination of competitive species is equally abhorrent.
|IT HAD BEEN A VERY COLD NIGHT|
|LORD ELPUS FETTLING HIS STOVE FOR A CUPPA|
|A GLORIOUS START TO THE DAY|
We all set off more or less together; Phil & me following Mike & Lucky down the right bank of the Tees, and the rest of the party either bagging a few raised lumps in the surrounding scenery or the left bank of the river. It was a fabulous start to the day with larks, geese and oystercatchers all doing their larky-oystercatchery-goosey things.
I don't recall seeing a single animal trap.
|DRY LIMESTONE RIVER BED|
I need to do a bit of digging about this place as Phil & I were positive that the Tees came and went as we followed it downstream. We're sure there's a lot of the Tees underground here in the limestone.
Both Banksters were reunited at the disused mine at the confluence of the Tees and Trout Beck. After lazing about in the sun (and perishing wind) we set off again to plod over Metalband Hill and then clamber up the tussocky hillside up to the path that would take us towards Cow Green. What was noticeable after crossing Crook Burn was that every twenty yards or so up the hill we would cross drainage ditches cut around the side of the hill.
With my old Engineer's hat on, I'm pretty sure these will not have been cut to speed drainage into the reservoir, as the water will end up there regardless of faster drainage. I may be wrong (and please feel free to correct me in the comments section if I am) but I believe these are cut solely for the drainage of the peatland to make a better habitat for grouse. If it wasn't for the sodding great dam above Cauldron Snout this would make for a much flashier flood hydrograph, with inevitable increase in risk of flooding further downstream. Even with the dam there as a regulator, they will still have to release water sooner than otherwise necessary.
Of course, if you believe in Man Made Global Warming, draining this peat also leads to massive releases of stored CO2 - not something that the Warmistas would want either. For whatever reason these ditches should be stopped up and left to infill to revert back to a natural peat bog.
|CLICK TO ENLARGE: A GREAT PANORAMA: L>R: KNOCK FELL, GREAT DUN FELL, LITTLE DUN FELL & CROSS FELL|
There is a magnificent sense of wide open country hereabouts and we were fortunate to see it with the wind and blustery little soft hail and snow showers at our backs. We popped into the estate bothy above Backside Fell for a bit of R&R and shelter. Whoever named things around here had a sense of humour. We had also been camped at Crossgill Pants, and had in view Great Cocklake...
Phil & I strolled over the dam to take the very steep concrete steps down the other side (The clamber over the gate almost ripping the crown jewels from my body - not that there's any need for them these days.) We were rewarded with an up close and personal view of the wonderful structure.
|I LOVE DAMS. BRUTAL SIMPLICITY.|
By now my wayward left knee was really giving me a hard time and I was probably a bit quiet as we headed southwest, uphill following the Pennine Way alongside Maize Beck.
|GERRY, PETER, JAYME & MAD'N'BAD.|
You'll note the new very deep sharp-stoned track behind the old lags. This has been built in a National Nature Reserve. Mike filled me in with some of the ghastly details. Utterly depressing. This used to be a beautiful bouncy-earth (occasionally boggy) peat track which was a delightful surface to walk. Now it's a bloody road.
|MIKE & LUCKY THE DOG|
|CLICK TO ENLARGE|
The photo above has been stitched (rather poorly) from two pictures, but it serves well enough to show the very recent muirburn on the northern flanks of Mickle Fell. Again, this is in a National Nature Reserve! WTF? Feel free to comment about this, but anyone who gives me any "conservation" bollocks will be given very short shrift.
|"IT'S NOT A ONESIE!"|
We flipped the shelters up past our original destination, (as the Army wanted it for some stupid with a flare gun) alongside Maize Beck before you get to the footbridge. We all found a place to stay and readied ourselves for what promised to be another very cold night indeed.
|LUCKY THE DOG|
I've not mentioned Lucky, Mike's wonderful companion, that much so far. He is an astonishingly good little dog, who very generously hauls his man up all the steep bits. But even more wonderfully he is a fantastic waste-disposal unit. Today, I had been carrying the bulk of a reconstituted Adventure Food Chicken Curry (which I thought was pretty tasteless and very boring), but Lucky gave it 10/10. That's an excellent review, Adventure Food! As recommended by Lucky the Dog! Stick that on your packaging and it will sell like hot-cakes! They might not be back to order again, mind...
|LUCKY GIVES THE CHICKEN CURRY TOP MARKS|
Trinnie Trailstar is a very happy shelter and whisky was passed around and a generally sociable time was had (while I mainly lazed in my rather snug sleeping bag). Lucky enjoyed curling up inside as well. Mike had to haul him away from his comfortable bliss.
As I dozed off, very cold northerlies were bringing fresh soft hail to rattle against the shelters. It was all quite blissful. And besides, the dreadful walking had stopped, for a while at least.