Annie wanted to get away from it all…..ummm perhaps Britain’s busiest mountain was not the right answer…

A week of sunny days spent indoors in London town forced my hand, a mountain adventure was needed, Hankey had a birthday weekend in Snowdonia planned, time to cadge a favour!  Great a Friday cruise up to North Wales, only 265 miles door-to-door and Annie was in the land of sheep and ummm sheep and yes even more sheep – all in good time for supper, lamb…


While the rest of the team larked about in sunshine on the beach at Harlech, 30 minutes from the Pengwern Hall Cottages, I decided that climbing slate in the pouring rain was a smart idea,  Blaenau Ffestiniog, it wasn’t, but was ever so slightly more interesting than a stroll around town…not a lot going on – do ya see?

Snowdon Mountain Railway

No I didn't but what a magnificent feat of engineering from the Victorians

Saturday – yee ha – Snowdon here we come, slight detour due to a little over confidence in our sturdy route masters Hankey and Blythe, so up and over the mountains, stomach churning, Rufus you would not have been happy.

Glorious colours under the copper mine, next to the very chilled Miners route, 4 miles down or 4 miles up

Noting that according to Welsh legend Snowdon is the tomb of Rhita Gawr, a King killing ogre who made cloaks out of the Kings beards, I recommend you not buy the rather hairy looking jumpers and jackets that prevail in local shops.  Don’t worry King Arthur killed Rhita Gawr some time ago so your biggest mortal danger comes from nutters who run past you in their five finger Vibros, Lisa?  Outrageous.

Snowy route up to the top - lovely

What is it about snow and climbers / walkers / snow ballers / random kids…. Hankey how old are you now?

Direct hit...loving the beige trews...not

Snowdon has a number of routes, off piste and on, it was the Pyg up and the Miners down for us, neither of which would trouble a reasonable Saturday walker, note arrive early at the Pen y Pass car park or else you will get a two-mile jog or a sherpa bus trek on top of your march, Annie enjoyed the jog but then Annie is strange.

Annie pops in some sit-ups the pace was not quite up to scratch....titter

A little busy for a getaway stroll but only really messy at the peak

Apart from the usual trauma of the gal whose pants did not fit, the lady who couldn’t skim pebbles on the lake, the lass whose fitness was slightly in question and the birdy who wore socks instead of gloves it all went to plan.  Finished off with a pintilicious Welsh ale (aka Carlsberg) and a few Welsh cakes the team would absolutely recommend Snowdon and the cottage to everyone.  Go on do it.

Japanese whisky sloshed into summit cafe coffee - grand


London life a bit intense? 13.5 mile Wendover Circular and Rumsey’s Chocolaterie would sort that…

A week in Birmingham, multiple 5k ergos, a late night in London town and a dinner party in the ‘oaks…..time for a tramp in the Chilterns was no longer an option but a necessity, not least to support the communities that are about to be hit by HS2.  The stride was designed by Sharon so no online options but this link will offer a pretty good alternative Wendover Circular.

A view from the Ridgeway - stop HS2

Last time Annie and Rufus hit Tring younger brother Tim was busy browning up, awesome achievement even if it is not a sport that rocks your boat and posted here as a mere homage….

My brother, total committment sport - madness and perhaps not your scene but wow ...

Apparently not a team to worry too much about their bodies being temples, titter, a snack break, followed by a lunch break, followed by the famed Cafe’ in the Woods….hold on Rumsey’s was also on the plan?  Annie stuck to her apples and even Duncan snorted with disdain.

Crisps, sandwiches, cakes, chocolate....good Lord its only a few miles

Yet another walk with no shock-horror, hysteria, LOL, navigational trauma or anything other than glorious countryside.  I say it again and again but use online resources to get a walk if you are not great at plans and maps, but boots on, picnics made and Barbours buttoned is a must this Spring.

Just for the record – Rumsey’s was visited and guess what – it serves mulled wine!!

Mulled wine and chocolate cake, great combo

More motorway madness as Annie navigates her bicycle back up the M2 – ooops

Saturday emerged all murky and grey, so Annie decided that the planned Sole Street to Rochester 12 miler over the Wealden Way and the North Downs was too tame, easily solved by biking 6 miles to the start instead of hitching the train……not wise.  Who knew the Medway was so hilly, who knew that no-one in Rochester (including the taxi drivers) had ever heard of Sole Street.  These facts combined with a genius for navigation led to…… a 20 mile bike ride which included sections of the M2, Annie starting the walk an hour and twenty minutes behind the team sans map, a very hot red face and the realisation that the Five Peaks challenge was going to be tougher than Annie had ever thought.

Ha ha....yes the lower finger was me the upper finger them. Very funny...

The very thoughtful Clair chalked up instructions for the feckless Annie whose 31st phone call had clearly begun to irritate the nature lovers…  the walk took in Luddesdown, Upper and Lower Bush and a few other Medway villages, not amazing views but the ridgeway of the North Downs down to the Medway was pretty neat.

Annie wondered if they had signed the "wrong way" but just for a moment....

Catching up with the gang after a mere three hours I received a bit of a beating…..deserved…we moved swiftly on to Rochester, full of history and contradiction with a Norman castle, a magnificent cathedral, truly excellent tea rooms on one side and then a miserable modern iteration of the worst kind of High Street on the other.

Rochester - a town of contradiction

A solitary walk due to incompetance so not too many stories to recount, however, Rochester is worth a visit and the walk is worth a day of your time especially if you are up for a cruise.  Next stop Annie leads a walk….OMG

Muddy boots swapped for glitter ball earrings and long frocks…for one night only…

Rufus rambled a little less during December and January but with Christmas upon Birthday upon New Year upon Birthday…. the party season has been long, relentless and fun…not quite over but the rambles are back on track regardless…..

Limbering up for the limbo - final party of the season - nope but this dress is staying packed away..

Annie is due to lead a walk in the next few weeks…..oh good Lord….she can barely navigate out of her own drive…so lots of practice has taken place.  First attempt a 9 miler – turned into an 18 miler, second attempt a 10 miler – turned into  a 13 miler….ummmm and so it went on.

A stunning start to the 10 - aka 13 miler

Whilst underfoot was all slip, slide and slither the muddy fields of Kent provided an abundence of outstanding photo ops….not least due to the extra miles tracked…

Eridge and the Old Deer Park showing off winter colours

Pheasants shot just outside Knole Park, glorious not.

Rufus did not do the beating....

The lakes of the Deer Park were stunning, yes another fiasco of navigation but worth the detour.



Week 3 of Christmas shenanigans, ouch…..Annie needed a stride…20 mile Knockholt circular…fabulous

Three weeks of Birthday and Christmas events, Annie’s apparent lack of will power (don’t believe it)  and the mulled wine and mince pie fests starting on Monday meant the glorious blue sky,  frosty fields and threatened snow meant it was time to get togged up for a 20 miler.  Broke Hill golf course bereft of golfers looked stunning with the low winter sun breaking across the bunkers.

A little early for the golfers of Broke Hill

The ground, icy underfoot, flew past at pace, with a skid here and there it was a little faster than planned.  What ho’ wellington boots were these walkers mad, skid-slide-grimace-ouch, ummm Annie was not impressed the wellies were winning the battle and the war. (Not sure about the fashion statement though)…

So much for Meindle, Brasher, Salomon and Wengen...Hunter look alikes won the day

As the pace quickened the snow decided to fall, the ice melted and gave way to mud-glorious-mud, you guessed it the wellies continued to be the choice of the day.  Lilia, no need for footwear, loved the snow if not the need for a lead.

I am a shepherd let me near those sheep....please.

The walk, taking us along the shady side of the North Downs and into Downe, the home of some good pubs, an awesome tea shoppe and the home of Charles Darwin, was filled with significant homes, historical sites and views to boot (titter).

Canary Wharf, the Shard and a City of London vista in the distance....deadly

Downe Village - cute as a bug

A quick stop at The Queen’s Head, roaring fire, pints of Bass and plates of chips, (Rufus if only….) and then Annie realised that her Oakley’s had gone MIA at some point over the last 11 Miles.  OMG would she have to revert to her Ray Bans….life was tough.

On almost the shortest day of the year the final 8 miles were done in 2 hours flat, blimey, the sun reappeared, which did not help the rather feeble snowman, but did help our skidding footsteps.

Not sure I will make it to Christmas

No guide to the full 20 but here is a shortened version that might do the trick.  This walk is about 20 miles from central London, a really quick train journey away, it really is worth a crack, we even saw deer, if not a golfer.

Hot off the press, Sunday morning saw Annie retrack her steps and yippee the sunnies were found.

A week of late nights and motorway madness – 14 miles around Watton-at-Stone – perfect

A combination of Christmas and Birthdays wearing me down the big sun and blue skies forced me to throw off the duvet, give Duncan a buzz, get that train ticket (train….that’s a first…..ah out in London later I assume…) and head off for Watton-at-Stone Hertfordshire, land of Barratt Homes and would be aristos, pheasant anyone?

No I am not a Herdy, this is Hertfordshire not Cumbria, twit...

At last the 09.26 from Kings Cross to Watton-at-Stone, a name fraught with danger for the less gifted (me): Wooton-on-Sutton, Wooton-at-Summer, Walton-at-Sheen….. thank god for iPhones….”hello, hello, any idea where are we going today….”, ah ticket purchased, disaster averted, Annie happy.

WAIT!!! Good grief you lot get a trot on.....really

Walking, walking, all drifting pleasantly into our personal zones, gorgeous …….aaaaaaaaah….. Duncan, WAIT,  a screech so loud, so piercing that the the whole team, crashing out of their reverie, dug heels in tout-de-suite (posh speak as we are in Herts dahling)….funny to watch….harsh to hear, you had to be there…..

Ade, determined to get the early train home, set off at a pace that would make Seb Coe proud, ….Annie was having none of it though, another first, taking snaps with a fellow traveller she got left behind, unbelievable.

Annie's snap, was it worth it? No.

Phone out, calls made, Nicola, Nicola….are you there….Ade, Ade, Ade…..please answer…., ummm not impressed.  Guessing the route we set off at a jog, no less than half an hour later the team hove into view….not even a backward glance.  Nice, thanks chums, not sharing my apples with you ever again.

WAIT......did not seem to work for Annie

Field-after-field, village-after-village, gun-toting-tweedy after gun-toting-tweedy…..what!  It turns out that our walk took us through the land of the hired gun.  Thousands of pheasants flying high in the sky, dropped like stones at our feet, their corpses hung like coats on tractors that flew past, parping as only the very arrogant can.  “Hear, hear, hear”, “mind out-of-the-way dear”, “good grief we have ducks to shoot”, “hrummph hrumph”, were these the rudest people we had ever met?  Yes I can confirm they were, letters would be written to Woodhall Estate, I am not one to shoot but respect others right to do so if they wish, the foul manners of staff and guests was truly shocking.

Downton Abbey's Lady Mary would not have stood for the rudeness and nor will Annie

This is cracking countryside, though I expect the shades and tones of our winter sun made it more beautiful than it really is, a summer walk might be a bit bland.  Next time I walk in Herts I will take my own tweedy jacket with kill pockets, then I can be rude to walkers too….today’s puffa was not quite the ticket…or was it?

Crispy duck anyone?

Monster tough week for Nunan…..respite required…Shropshire, Wiltshire and Cumbria beckoned

2011 continued to bless us with mellow sun and bold blue skies, no excuses let’s go visit pals and places, my muttley friends continue to reject all offers (or snaffle picnics) so Annie and the Polo it is.  First stop Tenbury Wells; Dils, Tinkerbell, Chloe and an Aga, gorgeous.

Tinkerbell was not up for a walk the Aga was far too toasty

Chloe, the most inappropriate name for a mutt bred from Pit Bull, Deer Hound, Grey Hound and other such fierce forebears….very beautiful but doesn’t she know it.

Come on Tinkerbell.

Dils had other fish to fry (literally …. a shoot lunch to which Annie was not invited…the shame), so it was a quick march around the Tenbury Hills and back for coffee and the M6 to Crook / Kendal to visit Ford of Boar’s Rock.

After a few detours around Kendal, a Rioja pick up at the local stores, I made it to dinner with Mo, Clara and Clare.  Lovely.

Saturday arrived with dark clouds, gale force winds and a generally poor demeanour(both me – Rioja – and the weather) oh well.  Mighty Mo, Mountain leader beyond compare thoughtfully asked, “where do you want to walk today Annie….” “Dollywagon Pike would be fantastic”…. smile to myself, another Wainwright to tick off…or so I thought.  “OK let’s go…..we will do Seat Sandal and then Dollywagon but only if the conditions get better….”.  Not happy – not happy at all….I know I was late for supper but really.

Too many prescription drugs in my bod to make this the most joyous ascent but .... loved it when I got there

Boot, shank, shoulder and stride, the rain harsh, the wind fierce, the route was chosen and the summit was there to be taken, no prisoners allowed….ha ha.  Seat Sandal, a steep but small fell was challenging none-the-less.  Ouch the conditions DID NOT improve so no Dolly Wagon….ummmm.  Off to the Red Lion pub in Grasmere to meet some pals then….

Sunday cracked with the wind unleashed, Annie was ready…..for a lie-in.  Mo was having none of it, things-to-do, places-to-go, people-to-meet kind of a day for her.  OK a short sharp one up Scout Scar, one of Wainwright’s outlying fells, and then a race down the Motorway for a swift walk with Beamer.  All good.

I keep saying it but……a great 2011…..whether its the weather…the friends, the landscape or something else entirely it works for me.

Got to love a stout wall

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