Monday, 22 October 2012

12 - St Boniface Down, Isle of Wight - 22nd October 2012

On the ferry to the island
My 11th high point is St Boniface Down, on the southern part of the Isle of Wight it is just 18 miles from my house and one of the more local high points but it proved to be a bit more difficult to get to. Joining me today was Nat, then Andie once we reached the Island.

To get to the island we chose to take the Passenger ferry from Portsmouth to Ryde and set off ready to catch the 10:40 sailing, arriving nice and early we walked down to the ferry only to find out that the 10:40 ferry had been cancelled, now ferry cancellations are a common occurrence and we had check the website to see if there were any cancellations but they had failed to advertise this change so we had 45 mins to wait to catch the next ferry.

After a walk to the Co-op and a bit of a wait near HMS Warrior we made our way back to the ferry to get our tickets, £34 later (yes £34 for 2 adults to travel a total of 10 miles) we had our tickets and boarded the ferry for our 15 minute trip to Ryde. The weather crossing the Solent was pretty foggy, there was nothing to look at during our trip and when we arrived at Ryde Pier Head we couldn't actually see land, just the pier stretching out into the fog ahead of us.

We found Andie waiting for us at the entrance of the pier and we piled into here little car for the 25 minute drive across the island, we drove from Ryde, thro Brading, Sandown, Shankling and then on towards Ventnor. Our original plan was to park just outside Ventnor but the car park was closed due to roadworks so we carried on down into the town and parked in the town car park instead.

The fog, look out for zombie pirates
Leaving the car park we walked along the road and up some very steep steps to another road, then along to the start of St Boniface Down, when we passed through the gate onto the downs we were presented with a decision, either left or right, Nat was heading left but looking at the map this path just led back down towards the town, where turning right meant going up the hill, so we went right and up the hill, first following a wall then climbing steeply, and then even more steeply, it was near impossible to climb but we managed and came out onto some open land.

We followed the contours of the hill for a while and saw a sleeping fox not far away, he woke up and ran away but was nice to see, after this we worked our way up the steep hill and through the ferns eventually coming out at the top path, this path ran alongside a fenced off area, the location of several radio masts and the location of the highest point on the island, we walked along this path a while and took some photos, we didn't stop for too long as the view was non existent, the fog was so thick we couldn't more than a few tens of meters.

Rob, Nat and Andie on St Boniface Down

Shortly we started to make our way back down the hill, this time following the path towards the west end of Ventnor, we were hoping to see some of the feral goats which the area is known for but sadly they were hiding today. We soon went through a gate and were back in civilisation where it was a short walk back to the car park.

Once we reached the car park we had all decided we were hungry so continued down through the town and onto the seafront where we walked along the promenade to the Spy Glass Inn where we all had a fantastic Lunch, I had a Cheddar and Stilton ploughmans, Nat had scampi with chips and Andie had a cheese and coleslaw jacket potato, It was all very yummy and highly recommended.

Once lunch was finished we headed back to the car and then Andie very kindly drove us back to Ryde Pier where we managed to catch the ferry through the thick fog back to Portsmouth.

It was an excellent day with excellent company and I hope to do it again sometime soon when its not so foggy. Thanks to Nat and Andie for joining me on the adventure today.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

7-11 - Poole, Bournemouth, New Forest, Southampton and Portsmouth - 10th October 2012

Today it was a chance for me to get 5 high points done in one day, the first of the local authority high points on my list. I decided early on to do these 5 high points in one go and thought it best to travel to the furthest away and work my way back towards home and so I set off towards Poole in Dorset.

Combe Hills, Poole
Poole is only an hours drive and I arrived at the Corfe Mullen area around midday, there was nothing special about the highpoint, it was next to a school and all pretty residential, I am sure people were looking out of their windows at me taking photos, there was a Roman road crossing the main road, it was just a footpath but clearly signposted as a Roman road.

Ringwood road, Bournemouth
I didn't stay in Poole too long as there was not much to see so I got in my car and drove towards the next high point in Bournemouth. It was only a 10 minute drive to Wallisdown in Bournemouth and on arrival I noticed I had been here before, as a kid I used to come to Bournemouth for the family holiday so I know the area well, it was just down the road from Tower Park, the home of a water park I used to love.

Near Pipers Wait
I managed to pull up in a residential road and get out of my car for a quick walk around, again there was nothing special about the high point, it was the location of a duel carriage way and an Alfa Romeo Showroom.

The next high point on my list was not an official high point but it was one that I wanted to do, it was the highest point of the New Forest National Park. Pipers Wait is an area of the New Forest not far from the village of Nomansland, it was easy to find and had a small car park for me to pull into, there was a couple sat in their car eating their lunch when I arrived. I left the car and took a short walk around the area, the high point was a fairly large open Plateau so it was difficult to find the exact highest point but I had a good wander around avoiding the cows and horses.

Pipers Wait
On now to the next high point, this one was in Southampton in an area called Basset, it was fairly easy to get to and find, I knew exactly where it was as I know Southampton very well, I stopped off in a side road just off of one of the main routes in and out of Southampton and took a few photos, it was another place I didn't want to stay at for too long.

Basset Avenue, Southampton
The last stop for me was my most local high point, not just for today but for the entire collection of high points, it was the highest point of Portsmouth, just next to Fort Southwick and over looking the city below it was an easy one to find, I parked in a small car park and wandered up to the high point, it was a bit difficult to get close to and I have to say it was a total mess, rubbish and litter strews all over the place. There were also places right next to the high point which were actually higher but these were part of Fort Southwick and man made so they did not count.

Fort Southwick, Portsmouth
So that was the end of an easy day of visiting high points, it was probably going to be one of the least exciting days of hill bagging I am going to be doing, owing to the fact that I have been to nearly all of them and they are not really that amazing to look at but I still had a nice day out and I managed to double my list from 5 hills visited up to 10 hills visited.

Poole - Combe Hills - 78 meters
Bournemouth - Ringwood Road - 65 meters
New Forest - Pipers Wait - 129 meters
Southampton - Basset Avenue - 85 meters
Portsmouth - Fort Southwick - 122 meters

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Highest Points - The Complete List

For those of you who are interested, here is the complete list of High Points, this includes the modern AND Historic counties of England, Wales and Scotland plus all the unitary authorities of England, Scotland and Wales including the 33 London boroughs.

Hill name County Metres Feet Date of Visit
Ben Nevis Highland   1344 4409
Ben Macdui Aberdeenshire   1309 4295
Ben Lawers Perth and Kinross   1214 3983
Carn Eige  Ross and Cromarty   1183 3881
Ben More Stirling   1174 3852
Bidean nam Bian Argyllshire   1150 3773
Ben Cruachan Argyll and Bute   1126 3694
Snowdon - Yr Wyddfa Gwynedd   1085 3560 02 September 2010
Glas Maol Angus   1068 3504
Carnedd Llewelyn Conwy   1064 3491
Ben More Assynt Sutherland   998 3274
Scafell Pike Cumbria   978 3209 21 August 2012
Ben Lomond Stirlingshire   974 3196
Helvellyn Westmorland   950 3117
Ben Vorlich Dunbartonshire   943 3094
Aran Fawddwy Merionethshire 905 2969
Pen y Fan Powys   886 2907
Goatfell [Goat Fell] North Ayrshire   874 2867
Merrick Dumfries and Galloway   843 2766
Broad Law Scottish Borders   840 2756
Cadair Berwyn Denbighshire  830 2723
Moel Sych Denbighshire 827 2713
White Coomb Dumfriesshire   821 2694
The Cheviot Northumberland   815 2674
The Old Man of Coniston Lancashire   803 2635
Clisham  Na h-Eileanan Siar  799 2621
Mickle Fell Durham   790 2592
Craig Berwyn Wrexham   790 2592
Merrick - Kirriereoch Hill  South Ayrshire   782 2566
Fan Foel Carmarthenshire  781 2562
Mount Battock Kincardineshire   778 2552
Pumlumon Fawr  Cardiganshire 752 2467
Culter Fell South Lanarkshire   748 2454
Burnhope Seat Durham   747 2451
Cairn Hill West Top  Roxburghshire   743 2438
Whernside North Yorkshire   736 2415
Ben Cleuch Clackmannanshire   721 2365
Carn a'Ghille Chearr Morayshire   710 2329
Morven Caithness   706 2316
Black Mountain Herefordshire   703 2306
Blackcraig Hill East Ayrshire   700 2297
Chwarel y Fan Monmouthshire  679 2228
Great Rhos Radnorshire  660 2165
Carn Glas-choire Nairnshire   659 2162
Blackhope Scar Midlothian   651 2136
Kinder Scout Derbyshire   636.3 2088
Green Hill Lancashire   628 2060
Snaefell Isle of Man   621 2037
High Willhays Devon   621 2037
Snaefell Isle of Man   621 2037
Craig y Llyn Neath Port Talbot 600 1969
Black Hill Kirklees   582 1909
Coity Mountain  Blaenau Gwent   578 1896
Earl's Seat East Dunbartonshire   578 1896
Coety Mountain  Torfaen   574 1883
Werfa  Bridgend   568 1864
East Cairn Hill Edinburgh   567 1860
Shining Tor Cheshire East   559 1834
Moel Famau Flintshire  554.8 1820
Howden Edge  Sheffield   550 1804
Black Chew Head Oldham   542 1778
Brown Clee Hill Shropshire   540 1772
Foel Cwmcerwyn Pembrokeshire  536 1759
Pen March Caerphilly   535 1755
Meikle Says Law East Lothian   535 1755
Merthyr Common Merthyr Tydfil   531 1742
Cort-ma Law East Top North Lanarkshire   527 1729
West Lomond Fife   522 1713
Hill of Stake Renfrewshire   522 1713
Cheeks Hill Staffordshire   520 1706
Dunkery Beacon Somerset   519 1703
Hoar Stones - Howden Edge Barnsley   514 1686
Hoarstone Edge Tameside   497 1631
Innerdouny Hill Kinross-shire   497 1631
Ward Hill Orkney Islands   481 1578
Way Stone Edge  Calderdale   482 1575
Blackstone Edge Rochdale   474 1555
Withins Height - Round Hill Bradford   457 1499
Winter Hill Blackburn with Darwen   456 1496
Urra Moor
Ronas Hill
North York Moors Nat Park
Shetland Islands  
Winter Hill  Bolton   449 1473
Creuch Hill Inverclyde   441 1447
Worcestershire Beacon Worcestershire   425 1394
Brown Willy Cornwall   420 1378
Scholes Height & Bull Hill Bury   415 1362
The Wrekin Telford and Wrekin   407 1335
Duncolm West Dunbartonshire   401 1316
Corse Hill East Renfrewshire   376 1234
Mynydd y Betws Swansea   373 1224
Darrach Hill Falkirk   357 1171
Burley Moor Leeds   342 1122
Cleeve Hill Gloucestershire   330 1083
Gisborough Moor Redcar and Cleveland   328 1076
Mellor Moor Stockport   327 1073
Cairnpapple Hill West Lothian   312 1024
Wentwood Newport   309 1014
Garth Hill Cardiff   307 1007
Walbury Hill West Berkshire   297 974 07 September 2012
Leith Hill Surrey   295 968 28 September 2012
Milk Hill Wiltshire   294.3 966
Pilot Hill Hampshire   286 938
Black Down West Sussex   280 919 05 September 2012
Lewesdon Hill Dorset   279 915
Bardon Hill Leicestershire   278 912
Liddington Hill Swindon   276 905
Butser Hill
Turner's Hill
South Downs National Park
Wendover Woods  Buckinghamshire   267 876
Brimmond Hill Aberdeen   266 873
Niver Hill Bath and NE Somerset   264 866
Whitehorse Hill Oxfordshire   261 856
Ebrington Hill Warwickshire   261 856
Currock Hill Gateshead   259 850
Bald Hill Oxfordshire   257 843
Cawney Hill Dudley   251 823
Betsoms Hill Kent   251 823
Rednal Hill Birmingham   250 820
Meir Heath Stoke on Trent   250 820
Ditchling Beacon East Sussex   248 814 03 October 2012
Bishop Wilton Wold Yorkshire E Riding   248 814
Westerham Heights Greater London   245 804
Westerham Heights Bromley 245 804
Pavis Wood Hertfordshire   244 801
Dunstable Downs Central Bedfordshire   243 797
Blagdon Hill Farm North Somerset   242 794
St Boniface Down Isle of Wight   241 791
Hanging Hill South Gloucestershire   237 778
Sedgley Beacon  Wolverhampton   235 771
Raw Head Cheshire West and Chester   227.1 745
Barr Beacon Walsall   227 745
Arbury Hill Northamptonshire   225 738
Holyhead Mountain Anglesey  220 722
Dere Street Darlington   219 719
Newtonwood Lane Nottinghamshire   205 673
Cathkin Braes Glasgow   200 656
Cold Overton Park Rutland   197 646
Bullock Hill Brighton and Hove   197 646
Cold Overton Park Rutland   197 646
Beacon Hill Torbay   196 643
Meighs Wood Solihull   185 607
Billinge Hill St Helens   179 587
Whitehill  Luton   178 584
Woolley Edge  Wakefield   176 577
Sanderstead Plantation Croydon   175 574
Gallow Hill Dundee   175 574
The Moors Sunderland   174 571
Holly Hill Medway   172 564
Bow Brickhill Milton Keynes   171 561
Billinge Hill  Wigan   169 554
Normanby Top  Lincolnshire   168 551
Corley Moor Coventry   167 548
Woolwell Road Plymouth   162 531
Dundry Hill East Bristol   160 525
Fir Hill - Harthill Field Rotherham   157 515
Bushey Heath Harrow   153 502
Viking Way Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven   151 495
Chrishall Common Essex   147 482
Arkley Barnet   147 482
Chrishall Common Essex   147 482
Great Chishill Cambridgeshire   146 479
Mote End Farm Barnet   145 476
Ashley Hill Windsor and Maidenhead   145 476
Foredoles Head Doncaster   144 472
Whelly Hill Hartlepool   142 466
Bowsey Hill Wokingham   142 466
Lillypot Vale of Glamorgan   140 459
Allestree Park Derby   138 453
Potter Street Hill Hillingdon   134 440
Hampstead Heath Camden   134 440
Shooters Hill Greenwich   132 433
Nottingham M1 Nottingham   132 433
Westerhope Newcastle upon Tyne   131 430
Surrey Hill Bracknell Forest   130 427
Highgate Haringey   129 423
Pipers Wait New Forest National Park 129 422
Great Wood Suffolk   128 420
Fort Southwick Portsmouth   122 400
Wold Newton North-East Lincolnshire   117 384
Langdon Hill  Thurrock   116 381
Newcombe Drive  Salford   116 380
Bournwell Hill  Enfield   115 377
Sydenham Hill Lewisham   112 367
Sydenham Hill Southwark   112 367
Westow Hill Lambeth   110 361
Nether Hall Leicester   110 361
Poll Hill Wirral   108 354
Heaton Park Manchester   108 354
The Slipe Bedford Borough   107 351
Havering Atte Bower farm Havering   105 344
Beacon Hill Norfolk   105 344
Appleton Park Warrington   105 344
Park Lane  Reading   103 338
Saxby Wold North Lincolnshire   102 335
Quarry Hill Middlesbrough   100 328
Knowsley Park Knowsley   100 328
Highgate Hill Islington   100 328
Halton Castle Halton   100 328
Boldon Hills South Tyneside   93 305
Wakemans Hill Avenue Brent   92 302
Wattisham Airfield Suffolk, East   91 299
Telegraph Hill Kingston upon Thames   90 295
Cabin Hill Redbridge   90 295
Woolton Hill Liverpool   89 292
Camperdown North Tyneside   86 282
Horsenden Hill Ealing   85 279
Langdon Shaw  Bexley   83 272
Boy Hill Stockton-on-Tees   82 269
Basset Avenue Southampton   82 269
Racecourse Road Peterborough   81 266
Boring Field Huntingdonshire   80 262
Corfe Hills Poole   78 256
Green Walk  Trafford   67 220
Ringwood Road Bournemouth   65 213
Heath Mount Southend-on-Sea   61 200
Richmond Park Richmond upon Thames   56 184
Lauriston Road  Merton   55 180
St John's Wood Park City of Westminster   52 171
Higher Newford Isles of Scilly   51 167
East Burnham Park Slough   51 167
Harrow Road Kensington and Chelsea   45 148
College Park Hammersmith and Fulham   45 148
Stock Hill York   44 144
Marks Gate Barking and Dagenham   43 141
Seven Sisters Road Hackney   39 128
Haddenham village Cambridgeshire, Isle of Ely   39 128
Melling Mount Sefton   36 118
The Vale  Hounslow   35 115
Warbreck Reservoir Blackpool   34 112
Chancery Lane/Holborn City of London 22 72
Wanstead Flats Newham   15 49
East Mount Kingston upon Hull   11 36
Pinchbeck Marsh Lincolnshire, Parts of Holland   8 26

Some counties such as Oxfordshire appear twice, this is because the historic county boundaries are different to the modern boundaries.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

6 - Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex - 3rd October 2012

The South Downs National park is a chalk ridge that stretches between Winchester and Eastbourne, for 90 miles the land flows up and down creating features such as Butser hill, Beachy head and the highest point in East Sussex - Ditchling Beacon.

St Margaret's Church, Ditchling
Now, before I tell you how my trip to Ditchling Beacon went I must point something out, something which has had me in a bit of a tizz for the past few days, you see I recently purchased a book which offers information to people wanting to visit the UKs County tops, an excellent find thanks to Nat, However on reading the book it seems that traditionally the only county tops to climb are the historic county tops. The historic counties are the UKs counties Pre 1970s and include such counties as Rutland, Huntingdonshire and a massive Yorkshire, After the 1970s many changes were made including splitting up Yorkshire, merging some counties and renaming others.
My first view of Ditchling Beacon

Now this is not a problem, however I now have 2 lists of county tops, Pre 1970s and post 1970s, each list with different hills and mountains in them, which list do I climb? in the Pre 70s list Ditchling Beacon does not appear but it seemed like it might be a good climb, The same with St Boniface Down on the Isle of Wight, the island used to be a part of Hampshire and so St Boniface Down was not classed as a county top, so I made the decision to combine the lists and climb all the county tops new and old. This WOULD mean a lot of extra climbs but I figured if I did them all then I can say I have done them all.

So, back to Ditchling Beacon, the first of the hills in MY list from the post 1970s county tops, I had decided a long time ago that I wanted to do some of my walks and climbs by public transport, this was actually an idea put into my head by my cousin Charlie who did a similar thing a few years ago with mountains. I packed my bag and got my waterproof coat ready and set off for the Station for my 10:04 train to Hassocks on the East/West Sussex border.

The path starts to climb
The train journey was . . well a train journey, how exciting can a train journey get? I sat in carriage number 3 of 4 and read my book, I changed at Brighton then got off at the town of Hassocks, what more can I tell you about a train journey.

On arrival at Hassocks I left the station and followed the road east past the shops (into the bakery for a sausage roll) and on towards the village of Keymer. After Keymer it was another 20 mins walk until the next village of Ditchling where I turned south towards the hills, up until now I has follows the roads but I was soon on to some off road footpaths now and into the countryside, for a short while I wondered whether I was going the right way as the path seemed to look like someone's back alleyway but it eventually went over a stream and then through some fields.
A sheep pond with Brighton in the distance
I was soon starting to notice how muddy it was walking through these fields and my lower legs and shoes were soon well covered in mud but this was not a problem, after the fields came a road and then back onto a path which started to climb up the hill, very quickly it became quite steep and I was shortly passing through a herd of cows, climbing higher and higher until I was on the top of the hill, at this point I was still not on Ditchling Beacon as I had to take a sharp left turn and walk along the top of several hills to get to Ditchling Beacon.

Ditchling Beacon gets closer
The path was now much better, coming up the steep hill it had been more of a rabbit trail rather than a path but this was now a real gravel track, easy walking for a while. I passed thro a gate, and then passed by a pond (built to give sheep a drink in the years before troughs were used), across another hill top and through another gate and then up the final small incline to the top of Ditchling Beacon.

Just before I reached the trig point on the top of the Beacon I stopped off to chat to a lady about her husband and his ankle (she was talking, I was petting the dog), I soon made my excuses and reached the highest point of West Sussex, it was 4.1 miles walking from the station in Hassocks and it had taken me around 90 mins to get there. I sat down, had a cup of tea from my flask and ate some sandwiches (cheese and pickle), the wind was really biting but I sat down next to the Trig point and used it as a kind of shelter.

I must have stayed up on top of the beacon for around 20-30 mins and I was slowly getting chilly so set off back towards Hassocks a slightly different route this time. Just after leaving the highest point I met the lady and her dog again and we stopped and chatted about the location of Brighton ("its just down there" I said as I pointed south) and Fishbourne Roman Palace (she talked and I petted the dog), eventually I said my goodbyes and headed back along the top of the hills with the wind full in my face.

After a while I turned north and started to head down hill along a new path (and through some new cows), I was soon out of the wind and it became a much more pleasant walk until my left knee started to play up, I sometimes get knee problems when walking a lot and I was hoping to avoid this but it decided to hinder me just as I was getting to a steep part of the path. The only way to cope with my knee pain was to walk without bending my left leg at the knee, as you may know this is quite easy to do on the flat, however walking down a steep slope with one leg straight is VERY difficult. I did however persevere and after a while the path flattened out. It was around this point I realised I was walking along the route of an old roman road, Its little things like this I get excited about.

At the bottom of the hill I crossed a small road then walked thro a very neat and tidy landscaped field with a beautiful pond, then into another field full of rabbits. The next field was mud glorous mud, I squelched my way through this mess and past the cows who seemed to be watching me (and laughing in their own bovine way) and finally out onto a country road (again part of the roman road) which led me back to civilisation.

Tradition hill climbing lunch
It was not long before I was back at the station (after a pit stop at Costa coffee for a Vanilla latte whilst I waited for my train) and I was shortly back on board a train back to Brighton when I changed trains to head back home. Something I did discover about travelling on the train is that when your legs are covered in mud up to your knees, other train passengers seem to avoid you like the plague, especially those business suit type people who talk loudly on their phones, one look at a muddy walking boot coming in their direction and they scurry away like beetles under a log, (note to myself - invent trousers with a mud effect pattern around the ankles to ward off people in suits).

All in all I had a wonderful trip to Ditchling Beacon, I got home pretty tired but happy to have reached the highest point of East Sussex some 248mtrs (814ft) above sea level.

Map of the route I walked