Tag Archives: hiking

Gummer’s How Hike with Bulls

A friend of mine has recently returned from Japan and agreed to come with me on a walk in the Lake district. It turned out to be a very interesting day.

As usual, before the walk, I downloaded the route to my Garmin GPS. I did this despite the route being described as “a fell walk in miniature,  attainable almost without effort” by Wainwright. It turned out to be a good job.

When we arrived at the car park I remembered that statement and we started to head up the obvious path…at the back of the car park..in the opposite direction that we needed to go. The scenery was not what I was expecting – lots of spruce, few rocks. I checked the GPS, looked behind and up, saw the cairn on top of the opposite hill and did an about-turn.

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The weather was drizzly, cloudy, windy, or rainy take your pick. But we could see the cairn in the distance.

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Eventually, we found the right path a little up from the carpark. We had only walked a few minutes along the path when we were faced with one of the biggest bulls I have ever seen. It was huge, it was off to the side of the path. It looked at us but didn’t move or make any signs that it was bothered by our presence. So we calmly carried on with just a slight nagging feeling the bull was following, but it was not.

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Just up the path, in the bracken were two cows and a calf too. They were happily eating and ignored us completely. So we carried on and enjoyed the views despite the weather.

See, rocky not sprucy. What a lovely day…and then we saw it…

Another bull. This time it was younger, and it immediately looked aggressive. It mooed and stamped its foot. We stood still, not quite knowing what to do. Should we go down to the other bull? Should we calmly walk passed this one? Should we climb straight up the rocks out of the way and call for help? Maybe the farmer can come or something??

My friend moved behind me and made it very clear she was not happy. I decided the best course of action was to remain calm and carry on. The young bull had other ideas..it charged. My “friend” gave me a push to start her run, I scrambled up some rocks, figuring bovines aren’t known for their climbing skills. The bull went down the path at a fair rate. In hindsight, I think that was its intended route to get away from us. The cows must use the paths to avoid the rocky landscape and we startled it. Either way, it was really scary to see more than a few pounds of beef and horns speeding towards you. We determined to carry on with the walk as our return route was now blocked by undercooked hamburgers.

Getting to the top was indeed fairly easy and we were still happy, due to not being trampled. We were slightly ticked off that there had been no warning about their presence. There is a sign about the walk at the beginning. Why not put a warning sign on that, especially when there is a calf involved?

Anyway, my friend said she did not want to return the way we came and I agreed. I hate cows.

Here is where all the money I paid for the GPS device and not just rely on my phone turned out to be very worth it. I checked it and there was another route, but we had to go off the main route a bit to get to it. The alternate route was a little steeper and a bit boggier. But with my handy walking stick, no worries. My friend didn’t have a stick, but she did push me in front of a charging bull, so sucked for her 😉

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But eventually, we got down to a nice little lake. My friend made a walking stick out of a broken branch.

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..and then she just got carried away making better walking sticks…

Oh look a road! Yes!! and best of all we had to climb a fence to get to this point. Fences and stiles = no cows. I love my gps. We got back to the car with no more issues. There was another car there by this point, a couple was there with their elderly mother. I asked if they were going up Gummer’s How and they said yes. I told them about the calf and bulls. They were already in two minds due to the weather, now they took their boots off and decided to go somewhere else.

And walk done, but not the drama. There were massive amounts of traffic on the way back. I noticed our reflection of headlights on the car in front and one of my headlights was broken. Goddamn it. So when we finally parked up in Manchester and I called the RAC. I know it was probably just a bulb, but both lights on that side were out and I would be driving on the motorway at night to get home. The RAC was great, but just as I was saying my reg number my phone cut out and said no more credit. Holy Moly could this day get better. I know I had just topped it up, I check the balance and it said 2000minutes!!! I was miffed but still happy. I put more credit on but in the meantime, the RAC dispatcher called back to check I was ok. Thank goodness. The RAC mechanic arrived in 20 mins and in 10 he had fixed it.

Awesome.

I am not sure my friend will be up for another walk, but it was an interesting day.

Cycle and a hike up Mt. Tsukuba

Last night myself and a few friends decided to climb Mount Tsukuba in order to observe the sunrise. Yes, this entry has a few other people in it which makes a nice change. There are plenty of websites with information about hiking around this area, here are a some: Here , Here and Here. The latter site has a handy map and you can see the route we took, following the cable car starting at Tsukubasan Shrine.

Now, in order to get there in time I had to set off at midnight as I was cycling to the shrine. I tried to catch some sleep before then, but I just couldn’t drop off. So by the time I had to set off I had no sleep and was heading into a 2 hour plus cycle up a mountain, then a 2 hour hike up and 2 hour down, then a cycle back..I was surprisingly chipper.

Here is my bike all ready to go, with and without the use of flash. You can see it was quite dark as midnight tends to be.

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The roads were completely empty and most didn’t have street lights like this area. I was wearing a bright yellow coat to make myself more visible and made sure I had spare batteries for my front light (I had just changed the back and it uses less power). The route to the shrine was about 18ish km and the first 14km or so are pretty flat so I manage that in just over an hour. Our meeting time was 2:30am…so why set off so early?? Because it is a mountain and the last 3km or so are steep and I am not fit enough to cycle up, though I did manage more this time, so walk and push it was.

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The tori gate was a welcome site as I was done with pushing. Now to find somewhere to park the bike?? I couldn’t see any signs for bike parks, just car parks. My friends said put it anywhere, which I was a little uncomfortable with. I saw a couple of Japanese guys getting ready for a night hike too and asked them what to do. They said I could chain it near their car and they would say it is theirs if anyone asks..nice Japanese people.

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Now I had to wait for the others to arrive…Yeah I was first, I win..wait..that means I have to wait in the dark at a shrine eeeeek. Actually I am totally unafraid of the dark so it was no problem, I am afraid of a few things, but dark is not one of them which turned out to be a good thing on this walk.

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Two other people were supposed to be cycling, but alarm clocks, oversleeping etc meant I was the only cycler and the others were slightly late…apart from Blue Coat Man who was prompt and prepared as usual. As this is a public blog here are the codes for my friends.

Blue Coat Man
Sleepy McSnorey
Over Prepared Man
Tree Hugger
Solitary Man – not in any pictures as solitary man is also quite speedy.

As you can see from the pictures below the path is quite tricky and covered in rocks and roots. So my headlamp and neck LED were quite handy and handsfree.

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As the route was pitch black I didn’t bother taking many pictures, except when I saw this toad..in a hole! That was Tree Hugger’s joke. The toad is a famous symbol of this area and the oil from its skin is used to make a cream. Legend says that if the toad is placed in a mirrored box it begins to sweat because of the terror caused by its own reflection. Our toad looked very relaxed considering the sight of Gaijins shining torches on it in the dead of night. Sleepy McSnorey would have liked the box story as she kept us entertained with stories of different occasions when she screamed or caused screaming.

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The hike seemed to go on for ever and at one point it descended for a worrying amount of time, but Solitary man assured us it was the right direction (I was tempted to look at my GPS though). We got to the top with about 20 minutes to spare before the sunrise. I am a surprisingly slow walker on all occasions and often get left behind when hiking with a group, so it was very nice that Tree Hugger and Over Prepared Man stayed with me the whole route up and down. There was another small hike to to summit, but I was done. My back was really hurting and I was cold. Layers, layers people!!

Plus this was the view, quite misty and the peak for the usual view of the sunrise was covered in a steady mist. So I decided to stay put near the vending machines with hot coffee and toilets. By this time we had seen nobody, but the car park people. Then from nowhere a whole group of older hikers appeared from all directions and started calling out to each other. It seems in these parts the pensioners hike up this route regularly and are very spritely. Put our group to shame.

Anyway, Tree Hugger and Over Prepared man stayed with me and the others went to the summit.

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At this point we had time to kill and checked out the backpack of Over Prepared Man. He had forgotten to clean a few pockets before setting off and there were still work related items in there…plus parts of a washing machine, toothpaste, a billion pencils…you never know when you will need these items.

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By the time the others came back from viewing the shadow of the sunrise we had 3 hours to wait until the first cable car ride down. So choices, wait for the ride down, or brave my bad back and walk back down the 2 hours route. We went to the start of the route down and the first step down was agony, a sharp spasm. I said no, I couldn’t do it. But waiting 3 hours in the cold??

So I tried again and this time it wasn’t so bad. I was so glad I had my hiking stick with me. With each step we got closer to the bottom and my back became less painful…and the return of light cheered us up no end.

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Again I have to say thanks to Tree Hugger and Over Prepared man, thanks for sticking with me. Solitary man went ahead and left little notes along the route.

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And here I am closer to the end of the route.

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Of course there was still the matter of the 20km cycle home. Blue Jacket man offered to put my bike in his car and drive me home..but cycling down is the best bit and doesn’t take much effort. The ride back took half the time of the initial ride and was awesome. I love cycling down this route.

When I finally got back I had a hot bath which helped my back and I promptly fell asleep on my couch. Totals for the day 40km-ish cycle, climbed up and down a 877m (2,877ft) mountain = 21,000 steps = eat all the crap I like.

 

References
http://tsukuba.wikia.com/wiki/Gama_abura
http://japanhike.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/mt-tsukuba/
http://yamaonna.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/hike-mt-tsukuba/
http://tsukuba.wikia.com/wiki/Gama_abura