Friday 16th September 2022…… Helvellyn.

Helvellyn Summit.

3111 feet high, it commands a central position in the Lake District, a National Park in the UK.

Centuries ago, the Packhorse Routes criss crossed these mountains, carrying Salt, Lead, Graphite and many other useful products to places far and wide, via the sea ports on the west coast of Britain. One such route crossed this Mountain Summit. When we travelled this route, on a warm sunny day, although by the time we reached it, it was bitterly cold, the first signs of winter flowing South on a North wind. As I turned my collar to the cold, I felt my horse Toby, agree. Time to head down.

Great ride, and spectacular views.

Views from the summit. Red Tarn below, and Ullswater in the distance.

Long Live The King!

I write this with a heavy heart, Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth 2nd has passed away .

No doubt everyone will have some thoughts on the matter but for me? I am a Veteran, I served during a time of turbulence, terrorism and aggressors, so nothing has changed, except the names and dates. Elizabeth was the one constant in my life, and dare I say, in all of our lives. I served Queen and Country, it was my choice, and I have never regretted doing so. I was born in the year of Accession to the throne, of a young Queen, beautiful and small of stature, she was to become a beacon for all people in our Great Nation. I for one am very sad at her passing, we will never see her like again. That is a sad fact, she was the last of those with great respect, and dignity, not only for Politicians and other Leaders, but for us, the small people. She gave me a strength, a sense of Nationhood, and to her I shall be eternally grateful. God Bless you Ma’am.

The Cost.

I hear it all the time from folks, saying how?….”I can’t afford a horse, it’s so expensive!”

I tend to be of the view, that it’s only as expensive as you want it to be, and what you want. You could just buy a nag, a horse that will do most things, but in other people’s eyes, ain’t worth a shit. It all depends on you. Rescue horses, they’re all out there, just look. Keep your costs low by being self aware, learn how to be your own veterinarian, as far as you can. Don’t waste money on gadgets and trends. But most of all, don’t listen to those who think they know better than you, as there’s plenty out there. Do your own thing, be honest with yourself and the horse.

Sunset on Ullswater

Sunset above Ullswater

A late afternoon ride with friends turned into a late home ride in the dark.

We waited until the last rays of the sun sank behind Blencathra, then we dawdled away back to Scales Farm.

A beautiful evening marred by absolutely nothing. Even the rising of the Blood Moon, was extraordinary, it was a calm Red or in the night sky, as I drive home.

Toby did his job tonight despite his night blindness. He strode out from the group, occasionally he stumbled, but he immediately corrected himself. A good horse. Or should I say, a fine horse in new country.

Stravaiging

Mounthooley Bound!

I have often ridden over areas of land, that I thought were free to roam by us none landowning proletariat. Not so it seems, to my everlasting shame, I have been ignorant of English Land Law. While Scotland has a Right to Roam Act, England alas, has not. The saving grace in all this, are the myriad of Bridleways and Footpaths, Permissive Ways and so called Green Lanes. These are historical rights of way, built up over generations, but sadly, are being little used by the Smart phone weilding public.

I fear that in the years to come, landowners will find any excuse to rid ‘their’ land of the footfall, of multiple visitors to the countryside. Horse riders, now afeared, due to heavy vehicular traffic upon the roads, reduce themselves to Arena work and competitive rides, where traffic isn’t an issue. This is to the loss of all horse riders. However, there are a few intrepid persons, intent on claiming back the Bridleway et al, I include myself in this, we must never give up on these highways of the ancient Packhorse and Tinkers Cob.

One Day Thirty Miles

Heather Bashing.

A beautiful day. Thirty miles across the Cheviot Hills, Northumbria National Park UK. On the 1st August this year we left the tiny Hamlet of Cocklawfoot, which nestles at the foot of the Border Ridge, between Scotland and England.

A short ride to Sourhope, and then upwards into the wild beauty. It’s a little known fact, that these hills have seen much history, from raging battles to thieving and rustling of horses and cattle. The Romans made the first real lasting impression, with Vine Terraces, and Roads.

But we are here to travel to Alwinton, via Mounthooley, Goldscleugh Langleeford, The Dod, Linhope Spout, Alnham and finally Newton Farm just outside the “One Horse Dorp”, that is Alwinton.

Fifteen hours later we arrived, a bit wet, and weary, but happy in the knowledge that I had repeated this ride, that my friend and I, Bobby McCaw first did in 2008.

It was fun then, and it was fun still.

My thanks to Rachel Ardley and her horse Enar, who accompanied me on this venture.

Memories of Great Rides.

I’ve had some wonderful memories of rides with Gracie and friends across the years. If any horse helped me, it was Gracie, staunchly loyal, opinionated, and physically strong. She took me across many hills, valleys and numerous miles of country. Never baulked except when she sensed danger, and there was a few times. It took me a while to realize that what she was doing, was protecting me and herself from soft ground, faulty bridges, and many other things.

Partially retired now, I look at her and smile, they say they don’t live as we do, but I’m almost sure they warm to us, perhaps even accept us, but never ever does that acceptance become total.

She swishes her tail now quietly surveying her Kingdom, keeping two young geldings in line.