Pics or it didn’t happen

Well, I must admit, at 11AM this morning, I didn’t expect to be typing this blog. It’s the middle day of my 3 days off (in fact, I’ve got 9 days off, consider this a 12″ extended version), so me, Gary and Jamie were due a walk. As can be expected, Jamie pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances (for the third week in a row, might I add), meaning that Gary and I were left to do the walk on our own.

With the help of Google Maps, I’d chosen the location. I remember Ste, from Employment Palace, telling me there was a nice walk in Guisborough, which isn’t too far away. Despite being out the night before, I awoke, fresh as a slightly decaying daisy, reeking of alcohol and vindaloo, complete with an occasional burp which tasted of Jagerbomb. Joy.

Anyway, prior to Gary picking me up, I headed of to Lidl, to pick up some water for the trip. Let me just say that I got as far as the petrol station… in fact I’ll let my Facebook status tell the story…

Andrew D isn’t far wrong – I took a stash of bog roll in the camera bag, just in case!

Gary picked me up, and along with his dog Boris, we headed along the A19, A174, A172, A171, and just a smidgeon of the A173, we arrived. Once thing that was instantly noticeable compared to our other walks, is that spring had definitely sprung. The trees were starting to grow leaves, and the whole area had a much greener hue to it compared to the rest of the walks. The first photos were taken, when Gary discovered a small tunnel. Unfortunately, we didn’t get chance to emulate Jamie S’s epic troll photo as the tunnel was full of flies.

Immediately after this photo was taken, disaster happened. As I was putting the camera back in its bag, it left my grasp a little too soon, and went hurtling to the uneven, gravel-stone ground. Fucking hell. The crunch it made was enough to make me bring a little bit of sick up. “Oh well, the lens could do with an upgrade” was my instant thought. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the camera to find absolutely no damage to the lens glass, or the camera mechanics. Upon closer inspection, there’s a small chunk removed from the lens body, and a small scratch near the shutter button. That’s all. My luck for the month has now been used up.

The walk continued. It was all uphill, but it wasn’t as uphill as the challenge we were about to set ourselves. We reached a junction in the forest paths. While I took photos of daffodils again (oh, come on! they’re only out for a few weeks every year!), Gary looked through the trees, and noticed how close Roseberry Topping was. It was literally half a mile away.

Roseberry Topping is a place I will always hold dear. I’m going to ramble on here, and for that, I don’t apologize. It’s one of my favourite places on this planet. It was always visible when we went to places for days out such as Whitby. It’s the prominent focal point for the whole of Teesside. I seem to remember Cleveland County Council using it in their logo for a years, even though it’s technically in North Yorkshire. Anyway, as a child, being 11 years old, I always remember having a dream about it. being visible from Hartlepool. A few days later, on a walk home from school, I stopped dead in my tracks on the coast road. There it was. Roseberry Topping was indeed visible from Hartlepool. I couldn’t quite believe it.

In January 1992, Daddykins took me and him to climb it. This was 20 years ago, there was no path at the time. There’s a photo somewhere of me, climbing up the side of it, grabbing onto frost-covered ferns for dear life, as we attempted what seemed like the impossible.

Again, there are photos of me and Daddykins at the top of the hill – we made it up there without further incident or injury. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a clear day, so Hartlepool wasn’t visible. On the way home, to give you an idea of how long it was ago, I heard “Twilight Zone” by 2 Unlimited for the first time, and went home to play Bubble Bobble on my Commodore 64.

The next time I climbed it, was with Wayne, and his dad. By this time, it was the summer of 1995, and the pathway to the top had been laid. It was still a bitch to climb. Unfortunately, there’s no photographical document of this walk, but after we’d came back down, we went to see Judge Dredd at the Showcase… my one and only trip to this particular cinema.

Back to the present day, and I left you with me and Gary, stood in the middle of a forest, wondering which way to go. I’d already had a few miles in my legs by then, and I was reluctant to do the Roseberry Topping bit. Gary convinced me it was a good idea. I don’t know how he managed that.

At the bottom, I took a video. It’s pretty clear just how uncertain I was!

Oddly, I arrived at the top, and my exact thoughts were “Woah… was that it?” I think, the only difference between my previous trips up Roseberry Topping and this one, was the fact I’d notuched up 55 miles of walking in the previous month, and I had a bottle of water. I’d hazard a guess that they both helped.

I almost lost the contents of a testicle when I noticed I could see Hartlepool, and could easily make out Steetley Chimney with the naked eye. The image below is a cropped image, but the original can be found here

It would have been more prominent if the buildings attached to it weren’t demolished several years ago.

We reached the top, and made contact with an elderly couple who had also made it to the top. Apparently, they make the trip to Roseberry Topping every hear for his birthday. He was 83, and she was 80. Bloody hell. If I look a day older than them when I’m their age, then these walks have done their job. They walk all over the local area, and even gave me a couple of ideas for future walks. As they were about to leave, they asked me to take a photo for them on their camera. They were even apologetic over it. I hope I convinced them that I really, really didn’t mind at all!

OK, so there needs to be some evidence that we made it up there, hence the title of this posting. Glen posted the “pics or it didn’t happen” comment, on my previous posting, as he knows for a fact, I don’t go anywhere these days without some type of digital picture recording device

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So, there’s me cared for… as for Gary and Boris… You’d think they were waiting from a lift from a nearby plane…

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Something visible from the top of Roseberry Topping is a structure. I have no idea what it is, or what its purpose is…

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It was enough of a mystery for me to want to go down and investigate it. Thankfully, Roseberry Topping has several paths leading from its top to its base, and one of them leads you along this path. In fact, it’s the main path to continue if you don’t fancy attempting the big hill. Along the way, we found, of all things, a discarded lightbulb. Gary suggested that it would be a good idea to move it from the beaten path, to somewhere a little more safer. Although a perfectly acceptable idea, it meant that I ended up carrying it for about half a mile before dispensing it in the afore-mentioned little buildong…

Neither the walk over there, nor the photos clear up the mystery of this strange little building in the middle of nowhere. It’s either a folly, or some type of hunter’s refuge from years ago, if things suddenly turned shite.

The three of us (including the dog) didn’t fancy going back the way we came, as we’d have to complete the bottom third of Roseberry topping again, therefore we took a chance, and headed through what we think was private land. There were no signposts, and the gates were opened by hand, so if the landowner happens to view the endomondo link at the end of this post, and notices we trespassed, I’m sure the lord’s prayer has something about forgiving trespassing ‘n’ shit. I didn’t eat any of your crops, though if you get a ladybird infestation, this could be the reason why…

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It’s rare enough in 2011, to see ladybirds. It’s even rarer to actually see them “doing it”. Therefore, this video should be considered ultra rare I would have considered doing a voiceover / soundtrack featuring 70’s porno music, but as we were probably on private land, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

We rejoined a path. Thankfully, it was the correct one. It led us back through the forest, and after a detour following an obstacle course which we both avoided, we arrived back at the car park.

It seems a perfect opportunity to post the Endomondo link, therefore…

Does the link work? (EDIT DEC 2016…. Yep, it does now)

If it doesn’t, I’m not going to apologise, it’s not my fault. I can’t change the privacy on my walks at the moment, because whatever scripting they’re using to show the buttons, has died, so I can’t change my default view. Whoops. Gary’s calculation also left something be be desired. I’m not sure why, but it showed us in several fields. My link is much more accurate, yet I have no idea why. There’s an obvious alien invasion about to take place.

The last paragraph in this post saw me ripped off, and it was entirely my own fault. On the way home from the walk, we pulled into a Tesco service station. I was already feeling the pain from the walk, and after noticing it sold beer, picked some up. After all, it would have saved me walking down to the offy in agony. I’d headed to the till with the following:-

4x Stella, 568ml @ 4.39
4x Stella, 440ml @ 4.99

There was other stuff I’d purchased, but that was the fucker. How did I not notice I’d picked up two different sets of volume, and prices? The receipt will forever be a testament of what a cock I really am…

It’s forest o’clock!

OK, I’m really struggling these days when it comes to imaginitive titles. After my massively expensive shopping trip yesterday, it was time to do something entirely different, and that was to spend the day walking around Hamsterley forest. This time, I’d be with Gary (aka Flav), and, once again, Jamie S would be in charge of the transportation.

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed on Thursday morning, was the fog. It’s the thickest it’s been in a long time. Thankfully, Hartlepool is on the coast, and Hamsterley Forest is many miles inland. I’d be hopeful that the mist would burn off. After a quick stop off at the town so Jamie S could pick up some Primark Plimmies, we headed off to Port Clarence to pick up Gary. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of this particular place, but it does have one of my favourite pieces of graffiti…

FUCK OFF

Awesome. It’ll always remind me of getting the No. 1 bus to Middlesbrough for jury duty.

The first step was to the petrol station. It was only fair that we helped fill Jamie S’s car up a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mortgage application form to hand, so I just handed him a tenner and hoped his car would get away with breathing fumes.

The journey there was brightened up with the discovery of the best placename of the day…

North Bitchburn. Awesome. Jamie S had to hold up traffic slightly while I took that photo. Unfortunately it was in the wrong direction for us, so the only thing I can say about the place is it has a wikipedia article that really should be tidied up.

Shortly after, we arrived at Hamsterley Forest. The car park was literally nothing more than a few mounds of earth and a bit of gravel. Saying that, it looked newly constructed, so they’ll probably put grass over the top of the mounds to make it look a bit more attractive. The question is, what route were we going to take? There was the blue route, which was a piece-of-piss 1 mile journey around Bedburn Beck. There was also the orange and red walks, which were longer. Of course, what’s the first thing three blokes do when entering a forest? No, not that, you pack of pervs. You go and have a play on the swings of course….

To be honest, I actually want one of those swings. They’re pretty awesome. One thing I don’t want, however, is a fireman’s pole, though Gary appeared to thrive off them…

Riiiiiiiiighty-ho. Moving swiftly on, we began to follow the orange path. According to the signs, it was a decent length, and would have taken a perfectly acceptable amount of time. Of course, there were distractions and diversions….

The biggest distraction had to be when we accidedentally walked off the beaten track, and found ourself in the middle of a mountain bike course…

Eventually, we found our way onto the correct path, mainly by chance. Something came darting out of the trees near the bottom of the path we were heading. I think my first reaction was “Woah, what the fuck was that?” It took me a few moments to notice it had a red collar on, and was a dog. Eventually, the orange path just sort of fizzled out. It headed into some fields with picnic tables, with no clear path on where to go next. Therefore, we just made up our own way back. We knew which side of the ‘river’ we needed to be on, and thankfully, there was a gravel path leading back in the general direction.

We were right, it was indeed the correct road, and we ended up back at the swings. Jamie S was so delighted by this, he surprised us all with a beutiful rendition on the tubular bells…

Truly haunting. Jamie S and Gary continued to make use of the “obstacle course”, with hilarious results. It had been a good walk, and it’s only thr second time I’ve been able to use Endomondo properly…

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Well, I say properly, it would appear I’d had it set on “running” instead of walking. Never mind.

We headed back to the car, and discussions on food were next. We’d passed through a village that appeared to have a nice chippy, so off we jolly well went. and could we find it? No, is the definitive answer to that. We passed through all manner of villages and small towns, looking for a location that would serve us deep-fried potato chunks. Eventually, we ended up in Durham city centre. A bit of a way out, but hell, there was bound to be edibles there.

At this point, Jamie S informed me of his purchase at the Metro Centre the day before. He had bought a bottle of… “scent”. I don’t know what you call it. It’s not aftershave, it’s not deodorant, but either way, it was presented in a large box, and price-tagged at £25. My jaw initially dropped at the time of purchase, but by jaw dropped even more when it explained what was in the box. A blue, glass bottle, no bigger than his inhaler, with 30ml of expensive guff inside of it. That was just under £1 per millilitre….

So, I got ripped off with onion rings, he got even more ripped off with… I don’t know. Our thoughts turned away from small bottles of smelly, and we walked around Durham looking for an eaterie. We ended up, ironically, at Burger King. The irony is, that there has been plenty of discussion recently about my refusal to eat burgers. It seemes foreign to some people that you can live a life without eating a burger. I’ve managed 31 years so far… I do have to wonder, if I’m the only person to ever enter Burger King and not actually order a burger… instead, I ordered large fries, and a portion of onion rings… which cost a third of what they cost me at the Metro Centre. They weren’t as nice, however.

After screaming at traffic on the way out of Durham, we headed back home. After all, he had to get changed for the night out…