Whin Rigg, Illgill Head and Burnmoor Tarn

Well, fairly astonishingly, we did it. Not only did we do it, but we did it in time to get down and (thankfully) get the train back to our studio apartment.

After some debate, we decided to take Wainwright’s advice, and instead of just heading up to Burnmoor Tarn, which had been plan A, we instead took ourselves up through Low Holme, and the Miterdale Forest before making our way up to Whin Rigg and across The Screes, before creating Illgill Head and making the (it turns out) incredibly steep descent to Burnmoor Tarn.

By this point we were both pretty tired, but there’s no point to bring pretty tired nine hundred feet and a few miles from your destination. So down we went the rest of the feet, our feet complaining intermittently and my sodden five fingers squelching away (to be fair, they started squelching in the Miterdale Forest).

To our amazement we did the whole thing in about seven hours, which means we got to knock the last couple of miles off the walk by taking the train again from Dalegarth to Eskdale.

We did, however, opt to treat ourselves to dinner at The George IV pub, which was…pleasant. Not amazing, but solid pub food.

Ravenglass, Muncaster and Mary

Tomorrow we’re planning a longer walk, so today we planned a more relaxed day of not walking.

Which meant that we didn’t walk as much, and also didn’t wear appropriate shoes for walking. Which may have been an error. At any rate we went to check out Ravenglass, where there stands the highest Roman wall in England. Part of what was once a Roman bathhouse, adjacent to what was a fort, although the evidence for that is mainly underground (and indeed under a railway line) – although a plaque conveniently tells of its existence and of the 1976-1978 excavation that revealed a little more of its secrets.

As it often is, it’s amazing to stand in these places that feel so human and so recognizable, and yet are so far distant in time from us. The stone arch way and block work making spaces that feel very relatable, despite the many centuries that have passed since it was constructed.

From there we headed up to Muncaster castle, a seemingly slightly tired attraction (well, some of the less popular bits). We watched them flying some birds of prey from their hawk and prey bird center, something I’ve never seen before which really drove home the beauty of these animals. They explained how poachers in various parts of Africa are poisoning corpses to posion the vultures, because the flocks of vultures reveal the poachers activity. That is a terrible side effect of poaching which is driving the vulchers to extinction — vultures, incidentally are incredibly beautiful. Anyhow, they explained about their breeding programs (hey, it’s okay that we’ve got animals in captivity! We’re doing good things! (Which was actually good to hear)).

The rest of the gardens were pleasant, but mostly seemed to be rewilding themselves. The old orchard looked like they’d put new trees in a few years back but now seemed to be unmaintained, and the gorgeous collections of Rhody’s are gradually disappearing into a more native woodland.

…except for the bamboo, which seems to be as per usual on a rampage.

Having meandered all over the grounds we headed to the church of St Mary’s in Gosforth. Home to a number of Norse artefacts (a Nordic cross with pagan imagery on the side, one free leaflet inside went to great lengths to explain how this was most deffo in celebration of the one true God — although several other leaflets in the church (which weren’t free and for which we sadly did not have money on hand) seemed to have a more measured tone that explored the presence of pagan and Norse religions.

Anyhow, that was a brief visit since the leaflets were something we only discovered after wandering around and looking at the objects which seemed to have little information attached, so we were just admiring them for their naieve beauty :)

Tomorrow is the day we’ve currently scheduled for our long walk. There’s been some debate, but we’re both tempted by one of Wainwright’s suggestions. Risky because we’re neither of us terribly fit. But it looks quite, quite stunning.

So we’ll see how that goes.


So, despite my best efforts – well, perhaps my it turns out inadequate efforts to bring a keyboard to spur me into writing, it turns out my grotty cheap Bluetooth keyboard is dead or faulty. Its always been a bit odd, but connecting it today on day 7, I think, of our holiday – the first time I got around to getting batteries was yesterday – and it seems to be dead. It’s sending continuous zeros to the phone which doesn’t work very well for writing.

I mean maybe if you’re into a long string of zeroes, but for writing some kind of journal entry it’s kinda inconvenient. Also a bit annoying because I was hoping to get a bit of actual writing in and I’m unlikely to tackle that on my phone.

Annnnyhow, we flew over to Heathrow, with our fancy n95s on, because COVID. That, it must be said, really added to the je ne sais quoi of flying economy. After 9 hours of basically no sleep, no eat, occasional drink, we made it to London and forked out the nearly 100 quid for a taxi to Finchley where our hotel was. That was us trying to avoid another plague tube trip, especially given that we arrived on a 40 C day – record breaking again (actual wildfires in London), and didn’t really want to haul our cases through London on the tube, then on the train, in that kind of temperature.

The next morning our adventure began in earnest. A little late because the rental car arrived an hour and a half late, but we did eventually make it up to our Airbnb at Birley Farm in Derbyshire. From our base there we struck out on a couple of walks, the longest being about 5 miles, exploring a bit of the peak district I don’t think I’ve seen, and to which Kathryn had never been before. We took the time to visit Chatsworth House, which I don’t think I’ve been to in the past. Just the gardens and the grounds, obviously, although the weather was bad enough early in the day that we probably could have got away with a quick inside tour without it getting too COVIDy. The gardens are expansive and quite lovely, and in the grounds they had an interesting exhibit of Burning Man related sculpture. I’m still a little unclear on the exact relationship between the sculptures and burning man. There seemed to be some collaboration with Burning Man folks and local schools and artists, but the information they provided was pretty limited.

Then yesterday we brought the little rental EV up to the Lakes over Wrynose and Hardknott passes, which was a bit of an adventure, after stopping at Booths to get some provisions for our stay.

We’re minimizing inside time and contact with other humans in an attempt to reduce the risk of carrying COVID to my mum, and holed up in a little studio apartment in Eskdale, just above The Green station. Having done a couple of pretty long walks by our standards while we were in The Peaks, today we promised ourselves a gentle walk. Following along the banks of The Esk, we thought we’d meander to Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall if we felt up to it. Sadly one of the paths – the one to the lower viewing point – was lost to a couple of rock falls and is currently closed (possibly permanently, according to the sign). The upper viewpoint, which is very new and posh, was open though so we continued our treck up to the top. Of course it being us we decided not to come back down the way we went up, and taking our selectedly-revised-in-1980 OS map we decided to chart a course around the top and back down the other side.

That didn’t work – it’s possible that those paths were lost to rock falls at some point in the last 40 years, I suppose – but rather than do the sane thing we then decided to track across to Low Ground and then headed across to Whincop before following something that optimistically started out as a path before becoming marshland and then becoming “is this a sheep track”, and then experimenting with being a former path (the stile/climbey-over-wall thing was missing several rungs and looked thoroughly unmaintained and led to an area which was mainly just bracken and willful us going “well downhill is good”), before popping us out by a rather beautiful area that looked like it might once have been a small settlement now hidden beneath a woodland canopy.

Then a rather more intact stile later we found ourselves back on a clearly demarked path. All rather longer than we’d intended, but worth it to enjoy the remarkably good weather and the beautiful scenery.

Having survived our expedition we treated ourselves to a coffee / tea / cake at Brook House Inn before catching the Li’l Ratty back from Dalegarth. Something I think both our feet are grateful for.

I’m still – as always – struggling with the fact that while I adore this place, the scenery is stunning and I just feel so – settled – in this environment, it’s also incredibly painful that the TERFs have made it clear that I cannot come back to live here, at least for the foreseeable future. Maybe Scotland, if they become independent, since the TERFs seem to have not caught on in the same way. But England? It’s simply not going to happen. And I never like having choice taken from me.

Add to that that the Republicans in the US have reportedly advanced a plan for legislation to forcibly detransiton trans adults if they get into power and things get a little angsty in my head.

Anyway, enough of that and back to looking at the pretty views.

Wow, that was a ride

So I decided that it would be nice to check the chickens aren’t hanging out on the ladder, stuck, if the automatic door closes early, which has happened before.

I’d like a second camera that shows a more wideangle view, and frankly, a third camera that is inside the coop. All of which are possible (although the power demands may be…pushing it a bit).

So, I thought, I’ll install a nice fresh OS on my Raspberry Pi 2B which is sat around collecting cruft, and I’ll pop my old USB webcam on it (because the PiCam I got draws too much power which is why this hasn’t happened ’til now). Easy.

Only no.

It’s taken most of my spare time from two days.

First up, the venerable Pi2 doesn’t have on-board WiFi. Easy, I thought. I’d already got a plan for this – I had a USB WiFi dongle. Only…when I added it, it didn’t work. After combining multiple things, and trying a wide variety of configurations (basically you need to configure both the network and wpa_supplicant and then fuck around for ages) eventually it randomly seemed to work.

It kept working through several reboots including a couple of power-cycles so I declared it okay. Then I installed Motion. That went okay. Except that for some reason with this camera, when it first starts if it’s in the boot process or running as a daemon, the image is corrupt. If you stop the service and restart it it’s fine. If you start manually it after booting, it’s fine. But if you start it as a service or within the boot process – it doesn’t work.

After about an hour of trying to work out what was going on or find some fix that would work, I gave up and decided that maybe I should just install motioneye which is what Nikki uses. Unfortunately, when I imaged the SD card…I actually imaged the SD card reader.

I didn’t realize, because I’m a pillock, so then I nuked the card to install MotionEye, which it turns out doesn’t talk to WiFi dongles. Doesn’t even give you a chance to configure a WiFi dongle. Just endlessly reboots.

So then I tried to put the stuff I’d done back on the card – and discovered that lo, I’m an arse. So then I started again this morning (after epically failing to get it working last night). After several hours of failure it randomly started working – and seemed to be working…and then I installed Motion, and it stopped working. Then it stopped detecting the USB WiFi. Then it would detect it but not connect to the network (which is what it was doing before).

After an hour or so of swearing at it I decided that maybe the WiFi dongle was faulty, and off I went to get a new dongle. I did a bunch of other errands, came home, and discovered that no, the WiFi dongle isn’t faulty.

Eventually I gave up and decided to pull apart my Mycroft prototype to yank its Pi3. That has *on board* WiFi.

Yay, I thought. I have a solution – only, yeah, it did work better. Configuring it through the raspi-config did work in the end. Getting Motion up and running was the same – and ended at the same point. It would be corrupt when it started.

Eventually my ‘solution’ to this (if you can call it that) was to add a script which starts motion, stops motion, then starts it again. Yes, it’s very very stupid.

However, it works.

Then I threw it into some food boxes. I have done some pretty ropey prototypes over the years, but this may take the biscuit. Or possibly the hummus and microgreens.


But when all’s said and done, it is working.


The chickens are, still, refusing to eat food from the feeder though, which is frustrating and concerning.