The second in the instalment of meet the bloggers comes from a good friend and fellow FC Hiker the leg end Mr Mike Knipe, one of the UK’s most active bloggers/hikers.
Name – Mike Knipe aka The Pieman
Blog – Northern Pies – www.northernpies.blogspot.com
Twitter profile – None
Age – Don’t be so cheeky, young man
Home Town – Earby in the West Riding of Yorkshire
Where do you spend most of your time outdoors? In the Pennines, mainly North Pennines.
Where did outdoor passion come from? She was a nurse from Halifax. Ooooooer… Family picnics on the moors – what’s that hill over there Dad? “That’s Ingleborough, son….”
Favourite spot to camp? Upper Glen Feshie amongst the scots pines and the wild thyme.
Favourite hill? Don’t be silly
Biggest achievement in the outdoors? TGO Challenge Leg End +
Any burning desires? Did I mention the nurse from Halifax?
Boots or trainers? Boots
Down or synthetic? Mainly down
Ale or lager ? As long as it’s in liquid form….
Going up or down? Up
Trail or TGO? TGO
Compass or GPS ? Neither, either or both
Other blogs you like to read? Loads – I specially like blogs from people just starting to explore.
Funniest thing you’ve seen on the hills? Blowing up an ancient rambler with some flash gun powder whilst trying to make a new foothold in a rock step in Buckden Gill – he started climbing down just as the fuse….. And the odd thing was that there was a big flash and a white cloud and he didn’t seem to notice. It seems that this kind of thing happens to him all the time.
Favourite bit of kit? me old akto….
Favourite tipple? malt scotch (any…)
What do you like about blogging? I like to write stuff….
Best rant? There’s very little point in asking me to just rant, straight off without any actual reason. I mean ter say, you can’t just switch a rant on and off like a..er.. like an on and off switch at will. They have to come naturally. They have to have a trigger. Like a bad experience on the A1 involving an old lady in a Ford Ca and a Pikie’s Truck full of borrowed scrap metal or somebody nicking into that parking spot that you’ve waited ages for that lass with the pram and all the shopping to finally get her fucking arse in gear and get home to make her man’s tea. And then you find that the bloke who’s nicked your spot has “HATE” tattooed on his knuckles and supports Hartlepool United. And he calls you “Bonny Lad”.
Nope, sorry, I can’t just turn it on.
Something good about the outdoors? Its outside. Not inside. It’s windy and there’s birds singing and stuff….
Best joke? I had a crazy dream that I weighed less than a thousandth of a gram. I was like, 0mg!
How do you kill a circus? Go for the juggler! (Christmas cracker joke)
Cheers Mike, full of wit as ever from the man who classes crossing Scotland like popping out for a pint of milk. More in the series of Meet the Outdoor bloggers can be found here.
I’ve always wanted to do this walk since my dad hiked it for charity many years ago when I was just a wee lad. The walk itself is a 40mile slog starting in Osmotherly and ending in Ravenscar via a high moorland route across the North York Moors.
When Paddy rang me up to see if I fancied it my reply was “when”?, and so a plan was hatched and without a thought it was upon us. Now as you may of noticed I’ve been a little lapse with my blog for sometime, mainly due to the fact it’s hard to write an outdoor blog when your not actually doing anything in the outdoors. With my new job now going extremely well I can announce the return of the adventures of ukmase.
We used Cote Ghyll campsite in Osmotherly as our base and I brought along the Outwell Nevada tent for some luxury, it easily fit 3 people and 2 dogs. We hampered down for an early nights sleep but I was hardly slept thanks to Pepper being a little excitable.
We set off on the stroke of midnight in true dirging tradition and headed of into the dark, cold moors that lay before us. The first part of the walk follows the Cleveland way for some 12 miles, the ground underfoot is great but there is a lot of ascent involved. It was quite breezy on the escarpment of the NY moors but the sky was lit with a perfect array of stars.
After a quick hot brew stop near clay bank we were soon at Bloworth Crossing, from here we struck off into the heart of the moors following an old railway track. The mist rolled in the second we left Bloworth Crossing and it was the thickest mist I have ever seen, I was struggling to make out the puddles in the track, I must admit I was glad to have Paddy with me, manly because my head torch battery ran out and secondly because I would of been shitting myself if id been walking solo.
By the time we had reached the road which the lion inn sits on it was just getting light, however the mist was that thick we missed the lion Inn which was our meet up point with Gill and the chance to pick up some food. This was the low point of the walk, Pepper was hungry and I only had jelly babies to give her. Anyway we struck off out into the moors again with empty bellies.
The path now turned into ruin and we were soon splodging through bogs, I would recommend changing into wellies for this section. The going was really difficult and sapped a lot of my energy, at some point we crossed the North York Moors railway and Ella Beck just before our last check point for a very well deserved rest break and some hot soup. Pepper looked knackered and I covered her with my coat but she soon jumped up when we headed back out for the last stretch towards Ravenscar.
The last section seemed to take forever and we were moving quite fast, it was dark for the last 15 minutes of the walk and by the end i was pretty weary. It took 18 hours and a lot of hard graft on some of the sections. I swore never to do it again but I’m starting to think a few weeks on that a summer crossing would be nice and a lot quicker. Well done to Paddy and Pepper and thanks to Gill for supporting our crossing.
I did this walk in non waterproof innov8 trainers, no issues really but it did mean on some sections I had very cold and wet feet mainly due the continuous bogs which never gave my feet the chance to warm up and dry out but on the plus side I wasn’t having to lug big heavy boots for 40 miles.
Its good to be back in the thick of it.
I camped at Skye Farm campsite, £8 per night, basic but in a great location and two pubs within 5 mins walk. Very uneven pitching ground for larger tents so beware.
My plan for the day was a route called the Buttermere marathon and what a great route this is. Highly recommended to anyone willing to go a little bit further to secure a few more hills. We had lucked out on the weather but a cool breeze made the going a lot easier.
The walk starts by taking a high path alongside the lake, it’s a long slog over boggy ground to reach Great Borne but the summit is easy enough and has great views to take in. After Great Bourne head to Starling Dodd, the wind on top of this hill was incredible considering how low the wind throughout the rest of the day. The climb to Red Pike gives you a chance to see the whole route laid out and we took the opportunity to shelter from the wind and eat lunch. We had covered quite a bit of ground but the best was still to come.
From High Crag you get amazing views of the ridge that leads to High Crag which beholds an amazing vantage point for viewing Haystacks, Wainwrights favourite hill. The only downside to the full day was the scree slope that descended High Crag but once past this annoying feature it was pure joy heading towards Haystacks.
Haystacks itself is a hill I had read plenty about and the Innominate Tarn was just special, I must come back here for a wild camp, quite literally stunning. We spent half and hour just taking in the surroundings in the warm sun.
There was one more Wainwright left to bag but Woodstock was looking a but tired so Paddy & Gill headed on down. It was a fair old slog up to Fleetwith Pike but again I was rewarded with an amazing view over the valley. I had plenty left in the tank so I jogged down to the valley and to head back to the campsite via a lakeside path rather than the road.
Trust me this walk is so great you must try it, 17 miles, 7 Wainwrights, 9 hours, job done.
Before I end my blog post I would just like to draw attention to the absolute muppet of a landlord from the Fish Hotel. I will never return to this pub again after customer service that beggared belief. Instead I would advise you head to the Bridge Hotel were the food was amazing with hospitality to match. Night night.
Time flies past and already its the 2nd anniversary of the FC Hikers. Its been quite a busy year for the guys and gals of Team FC which included several meet ups, a team of 4 completing the TGO Challenge , 5 National Trails being knocked off and many other mini adventures.
Quite a few people ask me about the name, Fight Club Hikers, it sounds like we are a crazy bunch of mentalists who battle it out on the hills of the UK. But the name itself came about as a wind up on the LFTO forum. The name goes against the kind of mundane stereotyping of folk who enjoy the outdoors, heck nothing winds we up more than the old adage of ramblers with wooly hats and flasks of tea.
Anyway a few people thought we were trolls stirring up trouble on an internet forum and hatched a plot the would see us all barred for the forum. To be fair we did play a few wind ups on that forum but it was all harmless and always in good humour. Mind you at the time if you dared to share a differing opinion from the all-wise and powerful Trail magazine team you were instantly labelled a trouble maker and we actually ended being barred from the LFTO forum. We took a lot of shit from others but it kind of bonded our friendships and actually motivated us to get out there and let our feet do the talking instead of sitting around glued to our PC’s arguing about whose got the best tent or which waterproof is the best.
Were not a secret club more a group of mates who enjoy getting out into the hills and having a good drink afterwards. We don’t take ourselves seriously and always try to have a laugh along the way. We bounce ideas off each other and more than often then lead to little adventures in the outdoors. That’s it really – FC Hikers, take us or leave us.
ANYWAY less of the history and more of the present. We met up at the Lakes over the weekend for our 2nd anniversary bash (any excuse to hit a pub). In attendance were Titanium Dude, Buzzingirly, Peter Crawford, Wibble69, Darksy, Pieman, Der Alte plus the 3 dogs Woodstock, Millie and Pepper.
The Swirral camping barn was our base camp for the weekend and we started to arrive at 3pm on the Friday and the beers were flowing by the time Paddy and Gill turned up at 8pm. It was good to see Darksy again who I met on my first ever forray into the hills about 4 years ago. Wibble arrived in style by getting his car stuck in a ditch, it took a few recruits from the Travellers Rest pub to free it. Pieman turned up clutching a box of red wine which made him an instant hit with Gill. We spent a cold night in the barn plotting our route and basically sharing banter into the small hours of the morning.
Waking up we were greeted to a snow-covered lakeland, brews and breakfast was consumed and we headed into the hills wrapped up well in winter gear. The walk itself took us up to Sticks Pass, Stybarrow Dodd ,Raise, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywagon Pike and back to The Travllers Rest pub via Grisedale. Darksy took an alternative route via Swirral edge. It was a prefect day for winter lakeland walking and we were treat to some amazing scenery from the uppermost slopes.
After the walk we headed into the Travellers Rest pub and spent the night filling ourselves with ale and fine food, Der Alte turned up after making a perilous journey from down South. Plans were hatched for new adventures and last orders were soon being called. We trudged back to the barn and I drifted off to sleep to sounds of others snoring.
Hope you enjoy the pictures.
A report on Piemans blog http://northernpies.blogspot.com/2010/11/helvellyn-weekend-with-fight-club.html
We pooled all our food and made a hearty breakfast, Paddy had the thankless task of raising Gill from her pit. I decided to head it Drumnadrochit and track down Nessie. A local shop owner told me to try the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and I have got to say it was really interesting, plenty of actual facts disproving the myth rather than pandering on a legend. However escaping the gift shop was another story all together.
Paddy & Gill hooked up with me after the Nessie visit but I decided to push onto Inverness alone as I wanted a bit of solitude and to really motor along the track. The guys didn’t take offence, they have been hiking with me long enough now to understand I need my own space every now and again.
The hike out of Drumnadrochit was a slog uphill through a pine forest, which then turned into open moorland with great views of the surrounding areas. This is without doubt the best part of the whole Great Glen Way and even the Old Drovers road was good underfoot. I reached the outskirts of Inverness around 5pm and finished my walk at Inverness Castle at 6pm. Inverness was just starting to get lit up for the night so i waited in a real ale house and ate Haggis for the first time.
Paddy & Gill joined me at 8pm and we celebrated the end of another long distance trail before heading back to the hostel. Mental note – never let Gill book a hostel ever again. I got stalked by a homeless bag lady and it looked like a homicide had taken place on my bunk bed the previous night. The Highlander Hostel gets 1/10 for me.
Final thoughts on the Great Glen Way
- Its a perfect winter long distance trail and even the harshest weather would struggle to hanper your efforts
- The last section to Inverness is without doubt the best days for hiking.
- Take your time to explore Inverness, Fort Augustus and Drumnadroichit.
- Morags Lodge in Fort Augustus is a really great hostel to stay in.
- 4-5 days is the best option for a crossing, although i might try a 2 day attempt nextyear.
Hope you enjoyed my little report, now what shall i do next, any ideas ?
A great night’s sleep in the hobbit village meant I couldn’t wait to get started and a crisp morning’s frost was the first I had seen for a while. Invermoriston’s local post office provided me with breakfast and we spent some time chatting to the owner of the Clog & Craft shop. The falls of Moriston and the old Telord Bridge were the main points of interest in this sleepy little village.
Today’s hike actually involved some ascent, a huge 1970ft, please ignore my sarcasm here, but the Great Glen Way is as flat as a pancake. It did mean though that we enjoyed the best views of the trip so far and we actually bumped into a few fellow hikers who were hiking the full trail but in the opposite direction.
We took our time today and enjoyed the views, we even stopped for a hot soup break at lunchtime and basically chillaxed. Some days it’s just nice to swanker along the trail without a care in the world leaving all your troubles behind you. By the time we reached Borlum Farm Caravan Park it was just starting to get dark. We pitched up and made a hearty meal before heading into town.
The Loch Ness Inn provided us with a few pints and the Poachers Inn was our last stop before heading home. Unfortunately Gill in the space on 15 minutes became inebriated and it took a huge amount of effort and patience to get her back to the campsite in one piece. The last two photos tell there own story. Gill has now been demoted to the B-team of drinkers whose ranks include lightweight Larry, Shirley Shandy and Peter Pissedabed.
A well planned short day meant even the worst hangover would struggle to knock us off course with our schedule for hiking. As it turned out a few headache tablets and a shower were enough to shake off the previous nights excesses. Morag’s Lodge is well worth a look for hikers, one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in.
Today’s hike was pathetic in distance terms and we laughed at the thought of people tracking us on the social hiking web site. The walk itself followed Loch Ness although we rarely had a good view because of the conifer forest blocking our view.
After the gruelling slog (hangs his head in shame at the distance) we reached am excellent Loch Ness Holiday Park that had a new addition to its accommodation that we took an instant like to – Hobbit Village. The Hobbits are little log structures and offer a fridge and kettle and enough space to sleep four comfortably on built-in-beds. Each lodge is named after a character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, ours was named Shelob though thankfully it was free from spiders.
I spent the evening learning to fish on the Loch but only managed to catch a rock, still it was a great way to finish the day.
I woke about 6am quite chilly and decided to get up and about rather than dwell in my tent. I made brews for everyone to kick start the day. After breakfast we packed up and headed out back onto the trail for what would be our longest day of walking on the whole trip.
The day started by walking along the banks of Loch Lochy to still winds and open skies. Just past Clunes we stumbled upon a quite magical area of woodland called The Fairy footpath that had been created by local school children over the last 3-4 years. We spent about an hour wandering around the grottos and displays made by the children, the troll prison was my favourite display. The footpath is just off the actual national trail but you can easily spot it if you keep your eyes open for the huge red spotted mushroom.
Laggan was the next stop and the Loch was perfectly still as we worked our way along the Great Glen. Laggan lochs is the berthing spot of a special pub / riverboat called ‘The Inn on the Water’, rotten luck meant it was closed on the day we passed. Just a mile further along the trail is an outdoor centre which we stopped at for a swift pint to break the day up.
We still had 9 miles to go and time was getting on, my best attempts to hire a boat to take us to Fort Augustus hade failed miserably so we pushed on along Loch Oich which is the smallest of the three lochs. Loch Oich provided a quite stunning sunset backdrop to the end of our day, looking back at the pictures I took it was a quite magical time.
When we reached Fort Augustus the chippy was just closing but we managed to refuel before heading to Morags Lodge. This hostel is a very lively place and perfect for some Saturday night revelry. Quiz nightstarted with a test of strength for one member of each team, holding a pint of water above your head for as long as possible. I saw off the competition from the fellas but an Australian girl had the beating of me, I wonder if she worked the land back in Oz because she had biceps to tame a crocodile. I introduced Paddy and Gill to a favourite drink of mine Distaronno and by the time I headed back to my room I was well quite merry to say the least. I awoke the next day with a space hopper beside my bed and no recollection of how it got there.
Two late trains meant I arrived at Glasgow queen street with a whisker to spare. Paddy and gill joined me for the final leg up to Fort William but the cloud spoiled what should of been a very picturesque train journey.
We arrived in Fort William at 16:00 and the rain was lashing down, waterproofs on, buddy beacon set and we hit the trail. The walk out of town was uneventful except for a great view over the loch.
The area of Caol provided is with sustenance in the form of sausage and chips. Back onto the trail and darkness closed in as we wandered past neptunes staircase which is a series of eight canal lochs at Banavie.
If I had night vision I would describe the broad gravel track that flanks the Caledonian canal on the way to Gairlochy, however I skipped eating carrots at school and have paid for it ever since.
We reached Gairlochy caravan park about 20:40 and pitched up, hot chocolate and brandy capped off the days events.
Reading the twitter messages before bed made me laugh nearly as much as Paddy thinking his new toy is faulty. Hehe never leave your neo-air unattended , some tricky man might let some air out.
On the 22/10/10 I will be setting out on the 73 miles long-distance route from Fort William to Inverness that is the Great Glen Way.
I will be attempting for the first time a new concept in blogging which will allow you to share my progress live on a map with embedded tweets, photos, blog posts and audio clips.
This has been made possible with a great new site http://new.socialhiking.org.uk/ who have developed the idea into its current form.
You can check my progress out by clicking on the link below – if you have a twitter account you can join in by leaving replies to my tweets @ukmase