Ann’s Dales Way Poem

Ann not enjoying a ‘hands free’ experience on a suspension bridge with Dodja.

Ann not enjoying a 'hands free' experience on a suspension bridge with Dodja.

Ann not enjoying a ‘hands free’ experience on a suspension bridge with Dodja.

Over the years Ann has become Adventure Guide’s poet laureate. We have become accustomed to a last night rendition of her latest poetic offering , not only displaying exceptional talent but also humourous observation.

                 The Dales Way

There’s a famous explorer called Walton


Who….. looking for further amusement

Decided to walk the Dales Way.


He got all his clients around him

And said “Eee, I’ve got an idea

I’m off to put wind up them Yorkshire folk

And need someone to bring up the rear.”


So 14 old codgers and Dodja

Looking for fresh air and fun

Set off in a bus up to Yorkshire

Wondering “what the hell have I done?”


The campsite itself was quite lovely

And soon pulses started to race

But Yorkshire put wind up the clients

Blowing tents all over the place.


The gale showed no sign of abating

And our tents were beginning to shake

But the Staff weighed them down quite firmly

As luckily…. Ann had brought cake!


Eventually the sun decided to shine

And the walk finally got underway

80 miles in total they said

If you believed what our leader did say.


The Staff looked after the Clients

The Clients made fun of the staff

But we got on so well together

We did nowt but walk and laugh.


The food it was tasty and filling

with fry-ups, packed lunches and occasional chips

But some survived on lattes and seeds

And liquorice to give them the sh*ts.


The Clients got on well together

But if anyone made a faux-pas

A cloth cap was produced for the culprit

Tho’ Steve reckoned the joke went too far.


We had bridges and stiles, going on for miles

Dead birds, trapped lambs and wild flowers.

It was too cold to sleep and too hot to walk

And my sister moaned on for hours.


So sadly we’ve had our final day

It’s our very last night in the camp

The Yorkshire dream is finally over

And now, back home we must tramp.


I hope the Dales enjoyed having us

With our loud voices, laughter and flat caps

Tho’ the local papers headline tonight is….





Stowe and Offa’s Dyke from Kinsley Wood

Shortly after returning from Nepal and a day after the first earthquake, a group of us met at Kinsley Wood just a short distance from the lovely market town of Knighton on the Shropshire/Welsh border. It was a gloriously sunny day, perfect for a walk in unspoilt countryside. There were ten of us in total.

Looking down into the Teme Valley

Looking down into the Teme Valley

April had been a particularly dry month and the trail was in excellent condition. Areas that had been wet when I walked the route a few weeks earlier were now completely dry. Whether it was the better underfoot conditions or the fact that I had just returned from a fairly strenuous trek in Nepal, I found it a lot easier this second time around. Comments were made by some with me that they could tell I had been out in the hills for a sustained period.

Climbing to the top of Stowe Hill provided us with far reaching views over the rolling countryside but the best views were to come later when we reached Offa’s Dyke and were able to look down on the Teme Valley.

Resting on Cwm-sanaham Hill

Resting on Cwm-sanaham Hill

It was a perfect combination of terrain, with some open hillsides, reasonable climbs, pastureland and forest, all the time providing variety and interest. On the return leg of the walk we climbed to high point of Cwm-sanaham Hill, resting there to take in the view and to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine. It really was a glorious day.

Having completed the 12 miles we adjourned to the Lion Inn in Lientwardine that has an excellent range of beers and, by the looks of it, an excellent menu, although we did not try the food. On such a nice day it was a pleasure to sit in the garden adjacent to the River Teme and a particularly fine bridge.

A perfect day with good friends.


Heading back briefly to the hills

When we flew to Lukla for the start of our trek I was pleasantly surprised by the swift efficiency and the quiet atmosphere of the check in. Not so today. Words like chaos and pandemonium spring to mind. It appears that what has made it so today in particular is a forest fire near Lukla. It did not help that a group of Japanese trekkers were blocking up the area while their leader checked them in. There is no need for everybody to crowd round the desk and make it very difficult for everybody else. More bizarrely, in the middle of all the chaos were trays of eggs stacked up in front of the desk, belonging to no one obvious. Eventually they were removed and one can only assume that they found themselves on a flight to Lukla.

Out of all the pandemonium a boarding card is eventually produced allowing me to pass through security into the relative calm of departures. Transit through departures was quite swift, but having reached the plane we then sat on the tarmac for twenty minutes while they refuelled it.

The flight was good but as we made our approach to Lukla the whole hillside on our left was on fire. Huge plumes of smoke rose and followed the shape of the hill, fortunately away from our flight path, and flames could be seen leaping above the smoke. There is absolutely no mechanism for putting these fires out, no access and no easily available water supply. As the day lengthens the wind increases and fans the fire. All that anybody can hope for is either heavy and prolonged rain, or for the fire to burn itself out. So far it has been burning for two days and seems to be growing with no prospect of either.
As I walked up the Khumbu the smokey haze provided much diminished views of the mountains and the smell of burning pervaded the air.



I managed to reach Phakding in two hours and stopped for lunch and a short rest. Although I only had Rara Soup I felt full and my afternoon walk up to Monjo became more of a tired trudge. Nevertheless I reached Monjo in less than two hours from Phakding, arriving shortly after 3.30, before the arrival of the group.

After about half an hour Mark, followed by the rest of the group, appeared at the top of the steps leading up to the exit from the national park. As they walked passed Ang Darki’s lodge I stood in the doorway and asked if they were going to ignore me. My appearance took them by surprise and there was much noise and hugging.

Bishnu is happy to see me!

Bishnu is happy to see me!

Monkey gets a pasting

Monkey gets a pasting

Our lodge was just a little way down the hill. It looked good but the rooms were a bit dungeon like and the food was a huge, tasteless disappointment. I shared a room with Stephen and Nathan and we had a problem with our shower providing us with an indoor pool. Nigel and Mike had sewage swilling around on their bathroom floor. The poor food and disappointing accommodation left us feeling the need for some entertainment.  The lodge had a resident kitten, an attractive creature with a playful nature.  For some reason I had already been awarded the monkey for leaving my sun glasses at the lodge in Namche several days earlier. It seemed we had some ready made potential entertainment.  Here we had a kitten that wanted to play and a monkey that would make an ideal toy.  The kitten did not need much encouragement to attack and it proved very entertaining.

The scars of battle!

The scars of battle!

In the morning the monkey came to breakfast bearing the scars of battle!

We were quite pleased to leave but before we did we thanked our porters and gave them their tips as they would be wanting to return to Base Camp with another group as soon as they had delivered our bags.

The walk back to Lukla passed without incident although it was very hot and the second half spent predominantly climbing up to Lukla proved tiring and arduous. At some point I got fed up of carrying the monkey, which has, incidentally, made a remarkable recovery from its battle with the kitten, and gave it to a little boy on the understanding that he shared it with his sister.  Clearly he didn’t understand me and before we left the rest spot an argument over the monkey was already brewing.  Their mother will love me!

There are some pretty tired bodies in the group and, whilst they have had a fantastic time, they are quite relieved that the walk is completed.

Our only concern now is getting out. There have been problems today and not everybody got out. The wind, often a tail wind, makes landing at Lukla very difficult.  Landing speed on such a short runway is crucial if the plane is to slow down in time before the runway ends.  If there is a significant tails wind, that increases the speed of the plane as it lands, reducing the time is has to slow down.  When the wind reaches the point where doubt is cast in the pilot’s mind, flights are cancelled.  That is what happened today and while some people failed to get out, others did not manage to leave Kathmandu. As a result  there has been a flurry of activity around the helipad with stranded passengers paying the extra to keep to their schedules. The problem with those that are stranded is that they do not get priority the next day; that goes to those with day specific tickets.  The stranded passengers are forced to wait for the third or fourth group of flights, and, as is so often the case, those are the flights that are cancelled.  The potential for being stuck in Lukla for several days is a stark reality.  Fingers crossed.

A Day in the City – well a morning, at least

We woke to a beautiful, sunny morning.

Dunedin had looked impressive last night. It has a reputation for being the Edinburgh of the southern hemisphere, so we thought we would spend a day absorbing the cultural delights of the city.  Driving in and finding somewhere to park was easy, largely due to Angela’s excellent navigational skills.  Our first port of call was the First Church of Dunedin, a spired church overlooking the old harbour from on high.  The sign on the door as we entered welcomed passengers from the cruise ship Princess ???  When we ventured into the Heritage Centre at the back of the church we were asked if we were from the cruise ship Princess ???  As soon as we said ‘no’ they seemed to lose interest in us.

Two sides of the Octagon, Dunedin

Back in the Octagon, the centre of Dunedin, we were asked if we were from the cruise ship Princess ???  ‘No’, I said, ‘but what would have happened if I had said yes?’  Apparently, I would have been asked questions.  Glad I wasn’t on the cruise ship, Princess whatever its name is.  The Octagon has a number of bars and restaurants, the art gallery, a cinema, St Paul’s Cathedral and the house of justice around the edges.  The restaurants all looked a little tired.  In the middle was a market that was very disappointing for the city.  I have seen better in much smaller towns.

We ventured into the art gallery, an impressive building.  On the whole the art within was fairly unimpressive.

We struggled to find the heart of the city.  Princes Street, which I assume had at one time been the heart now looked a little run down and disappointing.  Princes Street runs into George Street and that is where we found the heart.  George Street is where the shops are and the shoppers.  The place was alive with lots of young people – Dunedin is the premier university town in New Zealand and the population increases by 25,000 during term time.

Struggling to fill the day with cultural activity, we visited St Paul’s Cathedral after lunch.  It has the outward appearance of being a traditional church built on standard lines.  What a surprise as you enter and find a traditional nave but a concrete, modern altar end.  Apparently, when they originally built the cathedral in the early 20th Century they ran out of money by the time they got to that end of the church.  In the 70s they found the money to do the job properly but building traditions had moved on.  It works quite well but it has certainly raised some local eyebrows and is a cause for some discussion.

Overlooking Sandfly Bay

By now we had both had enough of culture and the city, so took ourselves off to explore the stunning Otago Peninsular, created out of an ancient volcano. The sunshine of the morning had given way to cloud, which occasionally produced sharp showers on a strong breeze.  We found some really stunning locations – Sandfly Bay, Hoopers Inlet and Taiaroa Head.  Penguins live at Sandfly Bay but as we are having a penguin day tomorrow we left them in peace.

A pair of young shags on their nesting perch

The highlight of Hoopers Inlet was wading birds searching for food and Taiaroa Head, as well as being home to the Royal Albatros Centre (also on the menu for tomorrow) is also home to a great many nesting sea birds on the cliffs.  We are looking forward to an exciting time.


Angela’s Bit

We had a DIY breakfast in our large ‘suite’,which came with double & single bed, fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, TV & free Wi Fi.

Coffee (Flat White & Americano with warm milk on the side) was taken overlooking the ocean on the newly renovated Esplanade.

Lunch in a café in the city and a dinner back at the morning’s haunt on the Esplanade…….the restaurant was called Swell……and it was, so were we and so was the sea!!

Mt. John to Twizel via Mt. Cook

Ate a stone grill meal last night.  Basically, a square of granite is brought to your table with three pieces of raw meat sizzling away.  To either side there were chips and salad.  We both had a piece of chicken, pork and beef.  Cutting it into slices we ensured that it was cooked through and just how we liked it.  Then it was back to camp for a good night under canvas.  Sadly we woke to a rather cloudy morning.

It seemed appropriate this morning to climb Mt. John before we left Lake Tekapo.  Mt. John is only a climb of about 300m from the lakeshore and stands 1031m above sea level.  In New Zealand it is a very important mountain as, on the summit, sit New Zealand’s largest observatory with five telescopes searching the skies.

On top of Mt. John

Leaving the lakeshore, the climb zig-zags through a mixture of larch and spruce trees before opening out on to a summit dome.  There are two summits, the North Peak, which is clear of scientific equipment and the slightly higher South Peak, which is surrounded by the telescopes and has a café on the summit.  Sitting in the hazy sunshine, drinking coffee and eating a slice of ‘naughty’ each we had views all along Lake Tekapo and beyond to the still shrouded mountains.

The weather had much improved while we were on the summit and the sun began to break through the clouds.  Refreshed, we chose to take the long route back, which took us further away from the village, along a gradually descending ridge to the lakeshore, where the path followed the shore back to the village, where we picked up the car.

Lake Pukaki

Our next scheduled stay was the village of Mt. Cook.  We drove to the eastern end of Lake Pukaki, another turquoise blue lake significantly longer and wider than Lake Tekapo.  High peaks, including Mt. Cook, surround the western end but they were all shrouded in cloud.  Turning off the main highway we drove the 40 or so km along the shore and beyond to the village of Mt. Cook.  I instantly took a dislike to it.  It looked so much like a manufactured French ski resort like Tignes.  I wasn’t really looking forward to spending two nights there, paying inflated prices.  Having picked up the phone numbers for the various establishments available from the Tourist Information Office, I was quite relieved when the response from all that we tried turned us away.  We also looked at the weather forecast for the next day and it did not make promising reading, suggesting that our planned walk up the Hooker Valley would not be a pleasurable experience.  A phone call to a farm cottage at Twizel, back on the main highway, secured us a cabin for a night, or two, depending on how we feel and what the weather does.

Tasman Glacier

Before we left Mt. Cook. I took a couple of pictures of the mountain itself, despite parts of it still hiding behind its cloudy mask.  We had a quick look up the Hooker Valley, but there wasn’t much we could see beyond the car park, and then drove up to have a look at the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest.  From the viewpoint on the moraine, you looked up valley to the glacier snout where chunks of ice fall into the ablution lake.  The surface of the glacier is just a jumble of rock and does not look pretty at all.  You have to travel several kilometres up the glacier to see good, clean ice.  Snowy peaks surround the glacier, which I am sure would look very impressive in better conditions.  Soon after leaving the Tasman Glacier, the petrol warning light came on in the car and by the time we had driven the 50 or so km to Twizel we were on fumes!

Angela’s Bit

 First night of the trip under canvas and I was chilly!  What’s new eh!  Having put on a track suit and snuggled up to my human hot water bottle all was well.  YHA shower was good & our DIY breakfast sufficed.

Our summit of Mt. John was memorable for the people we met as well as the views.  An English family with 3 children were taking 48 days to travel the southern hemisphere.  Youngest daughter, Hattie took a shine to us and showed us her camera and assorted photos.  As she was about 5 she’d done well!  Quad bikes and legs excepted!!  As they left she gave us hugs….oh! charming.  We then had a conversation with a couple from S. Devon and they were equally delightful.

We have ended the day on a beef farm staying in a cabin, which has all mod cons.