Maiden Way & Cross Fell 2-day backpack

Pitch on Green FellA 2-day route around the hills and moors south of Alston culminating at Cross Fell.

The outward route closely follows a section of the Maiden Way Roman road (MW) from the flank of Park Fell, a new Dewey 500m hill, to its highest point near the summit of Melmerby Fell. It then heads into the broad and little trodden, wild and remote region of Cross Fell's north-western approaches for a pitch on Green Fell.

The second day completes the traverse of Cross Fell and heads north-east through an area of old mines to join the Pennine Way (PW) for a couple of miles. It then branches off westwards into grouse-shooting country over Staneshaw Rigg to Greencastle Tarn, descending Rotherhope Fell via a vehicle track to the River South Tyne and rejoining the PW to Alston.

Much of this route is about spacious landscape views, but also crosses stretches of wilderness of great character where atmosphere and feeling predominate over visuals. There were a few walkers on the two short PW sections, but for the rest of the trip the whole area was deserted. Cross Fell still retained small pockets of snow on its northern face.

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Warcop Fells 2-day backpack

Pitch on Cronkley FellA 2-day route around the fells of the remote Warcop military exercise area culminating at Mickle Fell and returning via Cronkley Fell and the south side of Maize Beck to Murton Fell.

Recent surveys have added two new 2000′ tops to the Nuttalls list, Long Fell and Tinside Rigg, that I was keen to visit to maintain completion status. Another visit to the area had in any case been on the agenda for some time, partly to explore the Tinside Rigg region and also to more fully experience Mickle Fell by doing a complete traverse of its long curved ridge. The route also gives an obvious opportunity to add a couple of new Dewey 500m tops, Roman Fell and Murton Pike.

Some sections of the route are rough and trackless, boggy and very remote, a superbly wild landscape but one that can appear confusing even in clear weather.

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Stanhope Common 2-day backpack

Trig point on Bolt's LawA 2-day route around the moorland hills north of the attractive town of Stanhope, a new area for us, mainly on easy tracks and paths.

The outward high moorland section arcs around the moors of Stanhope Common, visiting the three Dewey 500m summits defining the high points of these rolling hills that stretch into the far distance to emphasize the vastness of the landscape.

The return section descends the Boltslaw Incline to Rookhope and joins the Weardale Way, first following Rookhope Burn to Eastgate then the River Wear back to Stanhope.

The moors are intensively managed for shooting and have a rather different character from our grouse-worrying treks farther west and elsewhere that we walked years ago. The heather is cropped and burned for a plentiful supply of new young shoots and supplemented with many grouse feeding units, a tamer and much easier landscape than those knee-deep excursions.

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Nantgwynant North-West 2-day backpack

Pitch on Y Lliwedd east ridgeA leisurely 2-day traversal of the north-western side of Nantgwynant, visiting Craig Fach, Llyn Llydaw and the Hafod y Llan walk above Craflwyn Hall, some new pockets of Wales for us to explore and giving us a superb pitch on the eastern ridge of Y Lliwedd.

At 609m, Craig Fach is in the elite group of Dewey hills that are also Sims, one of three that we had yet to claim. It is also a fine example of a hill that we probably wouldn’t otherwise have explored due to its very close proximity to the most popular honeypot in Wales, but turns out to be a secluded and delightful little gem.

None of our previous trips to the area have included the lakes enclosed by the Snowdon horseshoe, this was an opportunity to visit one of them, Llyn Llydaw, and view the mountain architecture from a new perspective.

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The Cowal Way 4-day backpack

Pitch at the Brack bealachA 4-day backpack of the Cowal Way (CW) waymarked trail in Argyll, running through the peninsula from Portavadie in the south-west to Tarbet in the north.

I enjoyed this backpack almost entirely in glorious conditions and I was very surprised to find nearly all of it totally deserted. Apart from locals in the towns and villages, the only people I saw on the route were two couples near Sruth Ban waterfalls and a few starting out on the popular Succoth path to The Cobbler.

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Eastern Glyderau circuit 2-day backpack

A 2-day circuit of the eastern arm of the Glyderau, approaching Bwlch Tryfan from Capel Curig via Gallt yr Ogof and Y Foel Goch and returning via Llyn Bochlwyd and the byway of Telford’s old road along the valley.

I walked this approach on my Tryfan East solo backpack in 2014, the main objective of this trip was to make that excellent tent pitch at Llyn Caseg-fraith together on a joint trip. The conditions were even better this time, two days of superbly clear and sunny weather with the last remnants of snow to spice the scenery.

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SW Nantlle hills & cwms 2-day backpack

Llynnau Cwm Silyn corrie lakeA 2-day circuit from Nebo of the mountains and little trodden cwms in the south-western half of the Nantlle ridge, a region of Wales we last visited thirteen years ago.

In our quest for new pockets of territory to explore at a slackpacking pace, we approached Mynydd Graig Goch on its north-western ridge via Llyn Cwm Dulyn, while the focus for the second day was the undoubtedly little frequented area below the crags of Craig Cwm Silyn, including the corrie lake with its companion and some nameless pools on the higher ground between Cwm Silyn and Cwm Afon Craig-las.

This short spell of warm and sunny August weather was the perfect time to experience the vibrant colours of the heather and bog vegetation, particularly on the second day below the crags when picking our way through the mixture of boggy ground, fallen boulders and heather that make this a superb fragment of wild Wales.

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Northern Arans #4 2-day backpack

Pitch at Gwaun LydanAfter a long hiatus we decided on another short visit to the familiar territory of the Northern Arans, a typical short route ascending from the north to Aran Fawddwy and curving around over Drysgol to Gwaun Lydan. The return descends into the Llaethnant valley to reach Creiglyn Dyfi and traverses Foel Hafod-fynydd to Bwlch Sirddyn and the little used pass route through Cwm Ddu.

The warm humid air afforded only hazy views today and, being a sunny Sunday, a fair number of walkers on the usually quiet Aran Fawddwy.

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Cwm Lledr circuit 2-day backpack

Pitch on Ysgafell ridgeAnother 2-day circuit around the hills forming Cwm Lledr, this time exploring the lower cwm on the eastern side and returning via Dolwyddelan Castle.

The Ysgafell Wen ridge is superb for backpackers: great mountain views, rocky knolls, grassy pitches and bejewelled with lakes, yet little trodden and often walked in solitude, due no doubt to the difficulty of devising satisfactory circuits for the typical day walker. We have done several longer backpacks in this area but this route was a short one to take advantage of a fine sunny weekend and we saw nobody until the afternoon of the second day when a group appeared on the mine track from the Crimea Pass.

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Latchford Locks, Bridgewater Way & Dunham Massey

Dunham MasseyA single day walk on the west side of Altrincham. The outward line follows the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) westwards as far as Latchford Locks on the Manchester Ship Canal. The return line follows the Bridgewater Way (BW) canal path through Lymm to Bollington Mill and the National Trust house and park of Dunham Massey.

The TPT follows a former railway bed in a dead straight line for 3.6m (5.8km) from Oldfield Brow to Oughtrington with just a slight kink before another 2m (3.2km) to the M6 and is highly unphotogenic, hence no worthwhile pictures from this section. As we’ve remarked before, this type of easy level walking, though pleasant enough, is not our usual choice but is fine for distance training and is well used by cyclists and runners too. We also saw a new (to us) phenomenon here: speed roller skating with 2m long poles to aid propulsion.

The BW section is a picturesque walk in the rural Cheshire landscape passing through Lymm, a bustling town today in warm sunshine. As expected Dunham Massey was extremely busy with day trippers enjoying the warm early Autumn conditions, a popular deer park whose various paths form sections of our shorter and more frequent half-day walks from home. The exit gate on the B5160 leads onto the path through Dunham golf course emerging at Highgate Road, a short walk from home.

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