County tops


Late September 2020 (which turned out to be the coldest for over 20 years in Aviemore)

Glenmore Campsite

Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Around Loch Morlich and Loch an Eilein

Packraft hire on Loch Morlich



Whernside from Dent station, finishing at Ribblehead, staring with a walk along the road beside the little River Dee and the Settle – Carlisle train line.

River Dee, next to the railway line near Dent North entrance to Bleamoor Tunnel Railway line near Dent Head Viaduct

There is a very straight path directly over the Bleamoor tunnel, with several air shafts along the way.

Path towards Blea Moor Air shaft above Bleamoor Tunnel Ingleborough from Blea Moor

Then up to the top of Whernside through a few snow patches.

Whernside Path on Whernside Snow on the path on Whernside Snow on the path on Whernside Looking towards Dentdale from Whernside


Cloud on the top came and went.  We could see Ingleborough with a permanent toupeé.  The wall marks the boundary between Cumbria and North Yorkshire, the trig point is on the Cumbrian side.

Summit of Whernside Summit of Whernside Towards Ingleborough and Ribblehead Viaduct from Whernside Dentdale from Whernside Snow on Whernside Trig point on Whernside Walkers at Trig point on Whernside

After a steep but thankfully not icy descent we walked under the Ribblehead Viaduct just as the light faded and the rain started.

Looking towards Ribblehead Viaduct Whernside ridge, looking south Whernside ridge, looking south Whernside ridge, looking south Sheep and the Ribblehead Viaduct


whern160123_route-elev Whernside route

10.5 miles

Whernside, 763 m; Marilyn, HuMP, Hewitt, Nuttall, County Top (North Yorkshire)

23/08/15 Kinder Scout

A mission to find the highest point, and a bit of map and compass exercise.  We were lucky with the weather, it was clear enough to see that we might actually be at the top (marginally higher than the surrounding moor; perhaps not worth it unless you are a bagger) and the rain held off until we were on the home strait.

Kinder Scout Kinder Scout Kinder Scout Kinder Scout Kinder Scout

Kinder Scout Kinder Scout Kinder Scout

10 miles

Kinder Scout: 636 m, Marilyn, Hewitt, County Top

Dartmoor 2014

22-26/06/14 – First camping outing in the van.
An overnight trip with bivvy on North Dartmoor to High Willhays.

Tarp over van

I found a great car park in Belstone, plenty of space and no signs prohibiting overnight parking.   Left the van about 6 pm and squashed bivvy bag, sleeping bag and mat into my rucksack, along with a bit of food, water, a can of Hobgoblin and a hip flask, and headed out of the village on a bit of the Tarka Trail.  Followed tracks (farm, or MOD, or both) around East Okement Farm (which took me across ‘Irishman’s Wall’, could still see the remains of it) through New Bridge and up to Yes Tor.   Amaing views, the sun was lowish and sending rays through the clouds.   I could see as far as the north Devon coast.

View north from Yes Tor Trig point on Yes Tor Cairn on High Willhays

Went on to High Willhays, not as nice bivvy spots as at the Tor but I dislike back-tracking.  Later I spied some other people on the tor (how very dare they!) and I was quite happy alone.  The sun poked through the clouds a bit before it went down as a red disc.  I found a great sleeping spot which was sheltered under an over-hanging rock, but not needed this evening.  Settled down in a little less sheltered position in order to see the sun coming up.  It was almost cold; dry and still.  I had my thermarest inside the bivvy bag and it was a bit of a squeeze.  I woke a few times in the night, it was never particularly dark, I could see lots of stars in a blue/grey sky.  Woke a bit before 4 am to find a crescent moon and summoned the energy to take few pictures.  I finally got up with the sun respectably high in the sky, which felt like about 9 am but turned out to be about half six.


High Willhays; 621 m, Marilyn, Hewitt, County Top

Yes Tor; 619 m, Nuttall


Early morning on Yes Tor

Next morning I walked off-path to pick up a track near Dinger Tor, then followed it to Okement Hill and on to Hangingstone Hill; no gibbet, but a military hut at the top.  To the west is the source of the East Dart, the West Okement and Taw.  There is a letterbox marked on the map and I didn’t know what these were at the time, so I tried to find it to find out.  The area is marked as marsh, but it was very dry.  Even so, it became impossibly tussocky, with lots of soft mud.  Very glad of the walking poles.  In places there were 5 ft drops where the water had worn through the peat, definitely a place to watch your step.

I retreated back to the track and headed north.  Crossed the Taw next to the dead sheep your mother warned you about – I’d taken some water further up so was lucky on this occasion.  I followed the path to Oke Tor; a great spot, flat sheep-cropped grass at the top and some shelter from the stones.  I started to meet a few other people now.  Followed the Taw back to Belstone and the waiting van.

river Taw Oke Tor Oke Tor

Hangingstone Hill; 603 m, Dewey



van and tarp in princetown

Camped at the Plume of Feathers pub for a couple of nights.  There is a new visitors centre in an old hotel where Arthur Conan Doyle stayed when researching and writing The Hound of the Baskervilles.  They had a small exhibition including some letters that he had written at the time.  In this hot and sunny weather it was hard to imagine the mists that he talked of, but I know this isn’t typical.  Bought a copy with accompanying notes to read over the next few days, and as it turned out, to inspire some walking.

I visited the prison museum, a mind-boggling array of pieces and text in no particular order.  The personality of ‘the curator’ was closely felt.  They had an old bike that was claimed to have belonged to one Mr MacKie.

I set off for a walk at 4pm but it was still hot.  I saw one other person, a guy on a mountain bike going the other way.  There’s a bridleway straight out of the campsite to South Hessary Tor, which then takes a straight line to Nun’s Cross, and a nice if deserted-looking farmhouse.

nun's cross, dartmoor devon leat, dartmoor devon leat, dartmoor

Then over the Devonport Leat and across a bit of the Abbot’s Way before heading to Fox Tor, past another cross.  This is a great viewpoint and overlooks Foxton Mires, which became the Grimpen Mire for Holmes.  Downhill to Childe’s tomb (familiar from a Seth Lakeman song) and then a bit of compass use to aim for some Cists which were marked on the map but I had no idea what they were – I found some circular patches which must have been them.

fox tor, dartmoor childe's tomb, dartmoor

To get back I had to cross the Swincomb River, which flows into the West Dart.  I spotted an animal crossing and waded through in my boots – it was actually quite pleasant.  Again the poles were useful.  A bit of a slow tramp up a tussocky and featureless field to eventually come out onto a road back to Princetown, in time to watch the sun setting behind North Hessary Tor.  Returned to the campsite after 10 pm: they never close.

spider, dartmoor sunset, dartmoor princetown, dartmoor

South Hessary Tor; 454 m, Tump



Left Princetown and drove north east via Postbridge to Bennetts’s Cross.

Bridge at Postbridge, Devon Old bridge at Postbridge, Devon

Took a path south towards Soussons Down Wood, then around the edge of Challacombe Down.  An old village is marked on the map, visible was a wall including some massive stones, and ridges in the ground.  Later on I saw that these extended around the hill, and there is a field system marked, which looked like terraces.  Followed a road south for a mile to Blackaton Cross, then a bridleway uphill to meet the Two Moors Way.  This was a nice viewpoint, of other tors, craggy hilltops and crazily steep roads.

Wall at Challacombe Down, Dartmoor Bonehill Down, Dartmoor

Then I took the Two Moors Way north, over Hamel Down.  It connects a number of cairns and barrows, which are marked with a stone each with what looked like ‘DC 1853′.  From Hameldown Tor (529 m) it is downhill fairly steeply, during which the settlement of Grimspound comes into view, the inspiration for Holmes’ hideout on the moor.

grimspound01 Grimspound, Dartmoor View from Hookney Tor, Dartmoor Hookney Tor, Dartmoor

Up once more to Hookney Tor, then back to the van to head towards Buckfastleigh.



After being slightly lost I followed a campsite sign and ended up at Beara Farm, which was delightful.  The other campers seemed fairly resident, either in vans in varying states of repair or teepee-shaped canvas tents full of children.  The very friendly farmer called John pointed out the way to the River Dart if I fancied a swim, which I thought was mad but did in fact take a quick dip in lieu of a shower.  It looked calm but the current was respectable and it was of course freezing.

river dart van_buckfastleigh01

The following day the rain came, and I had a cycle around the place mainly because I had brought my bike and thought I ought to use it!  Got to Buckfast Abbey which was busy with coach trippers.  The Abbey Church was odd, being clean and new yet traditional ‘church’ in style…the money required to rebuild it must have been considerable.  The only place open in the town was The Seed cafe, which turned out to be staffed by a guy from the campsite who had cycled there in bare feet.  A very nice cafe/shop although the anti-vax stuff was a little scary.

The rain stopped by the evening, my last before heading home.  The Buckfastleigh to Totnes train line is on the other side of the river…a steam train is just puffing past.  Holmes and Watson could be on it, on their way to Baskerville Hall.




View of Snowdon on the way there by car Tent at campsite near Snowdon

We started the walk through some woods among Llyn Gwynant, then up the Watkin path.  The weather was better than expected, the night before started clear and cold (this is the earliest I had camped and it was quite nippy sitting around outside in the evening), then there was some rain but it had cleared by morning.  We had a few showers but they were short, and in-between was sunny and very clear.  The mountains are craggy, spiky and covered in scree, grey slate with bands of white quartz.  A few small patches of snow were clinging on above Glaslyn.  The Watkin path follows Afon Cwm Llan up a gentle slope then turns more steeply to reach the path which goes over the ridge.

Path up Snowdon near Gladstone rock Looking down the Watkin path on the way up Snowdon Glaslyn from Snowdon

We turned left and had a view of the return route.  The summit was mostly visible but became briefly hidden by cloud at this point.  After lunch we headed on up the steep scramble until the route joins the Rhyd-Ddu path.  The summit cafe was only visible when we were nearly at the top.  Busy, sunny and windy.  Stopped for coffee and flapjack.  A train arrived as we left, our route following the rack initially then heading east for the Miner’s track.

View from the top of Snowdon The author at the top of Snowdon View from the top of Snowdon looking south east Looking towards Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw on the descent of Snowdon

Some steep descending to the edge of the tarns Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw.  There are the remains of some quite substantial buildings here, it must have been hard work bringing materials up.  Followed the path to meet the road and the Pen-y-pass youth hostel.  The final stretch involved a bit more descending and then levelled out, my knees were quite sore by this point and it seemed to drag.

A Llyn near Snowdon Map of Snowdon walk

Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa: Furth, Hewitt, Marilyn; 1085 m

12.3 miles

Start/finish Llyn Gwynant campsite

Malverns 2


Another visit in a different season, similar route but opposite direction.  Straight up to Worcestershire Beacon in fog/low cloud.

Toposcope on the top of Worcestershire Beacon
Spot the Geordie.

Trig point on the top of Worcestershire Beacon

Walking south along the top of the hills the cloud started to lift, and we stopped for lunch just before Herefordshire Beacon.  After getting to the top the cloud came back down again, and we returned to the station by the lower paths.

Clouds lifting looking west from the Malvern Hills Clouds lifting looking west from the Malvern Hills Looking east from Jubilee Hill, Malverns Looking north from Herefordshire Beacon, Malvern Hills Looking north from Herefordshire Beacon, Malvern Hills

Worcestershire Beacon: Marilyn, County top; 425 m

Herefordshire Beacon: HuMP; 338 m