The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Some improvement thankfully.

Sheila wisely suggested that we do a dry run to the airport. So a few days before leaving for Greece we got the train and did the journey. Although I was apprehensive things went ok.
Come the day we were leaving properly, the trains were cancelled. Northern Fail again.
Luckily a neighbour took us to the airport.

I felt ok going through passport control but once through I felt disoriented. Even though I had been through the airport dozens of times I wasn’t sure where I was. Only when we sat down did things start to appear familiar.

Apart from a slight delay with the flight everything went ok. I think I slept quite a bit.
Our arrival in Greece was without incident and we were through arrivals and into the taxi within minutes.

The first couple of days we just chilled out and then decided to do a ferry trip. On the way back I didn’t feel good and couldn’t stop shaking. My uncomfortable feeling lasted for a day and a night.

I was determined to start running on this holiday even though my energy levels are still low and my muscles ache. The first run was about 2km. My breathing was awful and I was shattered when I got back. The next run was only a little longer but I actually felt a bit better and my muscles not as sore.

10 days into the holiday and I haven’t had another bad day, but even better my running has improved to 5 km and with my breathing improving. Still my energy level is about 50% of where it was before all this anxiety started but it’s mentally helpful to know that I am improving faster than I ever thought.
The medication is still controlling my emotions but I am learning to live with it.

Let’s hope the next 10 days improve too.

Friday, August 23, 2019

My ongoing battle with anxiety and panic attacks.

It's been a while since i was on the Internet, writing or reading. Its not easy to know where to start but i will try and hope that my situation might help other sufferers.

Myself i consider to be level head, adventurous, someone who has seen much of the world. I love challenges and problem solving and always take the hard route rather than the easy way. I have always pushed myself, so the following tale came as a shock to all my family and friends as well as myself.

I had a few minor panic attacks over the last 5 years or so, they didn't cause me any real problems and considering that i got shingles i put it down to this and almost forgot about them. Just occasionally an attack would come on but they were infrequent and short lived.

Over the last couple of years our lives and plans had more or less come to a stop because of the ongoing health problems with Dorothy, Sheila's mum. She had had heart and kidney problems which caused all sorts of other issues and meant that we supported her in every way on a 24/7 basis.
As you can imagine, this caused much stress and anguish and you don't realise how it affects you because it creeps up on you and becomes the norm.
Everyone says you need to look after yourselves, but what does that really mean?

Late last year i started to have uncomfortable sensations in the area of my solar plexus. I eventually went to the docs and had a scan and blood tests. All results came back clear.
The sensations became uncomfortable and more frequent so i went back and the doc sent me for a more comprehensive scan and more blood tests. All came back clear.

The panic attacks returned with a vengeance and i was having one or two per night. They were getting stronger and longer lasting and in some instances i wasn't sure where i was. I was in a right state.
Sheila helped me through them and i went back to the docs. She said it seems like anxiety and i pooh-poohed it, saying theres nothing mentally wrong with me. Anyway she stuck with it and convinced me to try some tablets called Sertraline, only a low dose of 20mg once per day.
She said that they are not good at first but after 2 weeks i should start to feel better. She said she would call me and that i had to see her again in 4 weeks.

The tablets were awful to live with, i thought i was going backwards. Those first 2 weeks must have worried Sheila to death. Again, i was in a right state. My energy levels were zero and the feeling of sea sickness was constant. At times i just lay in the reclining chair with my eyes closed and saying nothing. Sheila would convince me to eat but i could only manage a spoon full of soup and that was it.

During this period we decided that we couldn't get through this without professional help. I plucked up the courage and rang an organisation called Looking Ahead. I had an interview within a couple of days and the result was that i needed CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). The interview lasted 45 minutes and at the end said that there was a waiting list of 5 months. I needed help right now. I couldn't wait 5 days never mind 5 months. This really deflated me.

We decided to go private, whatever it cost. I needed help.
I managed to get an appointment to see a therapist at the Pall Mall clinic on King Street, Manchester within 5 days.
I was scared to death getting into Manchester on my first visit, but it was the best thing i could have done. It's not easy when you feel so bad but you need to have an open mind and a willingness to help yourself. I had both.

After an hour and a quarter i came out with a smile on my face. The first smile in weeks and weeks. This was only the first of many steps i needed to take but i was happy that i had made a start. I had been told that you do need to like the therapist and be able to talk openly. I was quickly put at ease and i found the therapist easy to talk too.

I was given homework and a training regime to retrain my brain which had gone back to the days when all we did was fight or run. I saw the therapist every week and gradually started to make progress.

My energy levels were still poor but i had to go for a walk on my own 3 times a day, just short distances and about 15 minutes. I had breathing exercises to do and muscle work. The short walks were a means of convincing the brain that i could do this and there wasnt a lion waiting around every corner. This will probably sound odd to readers but the brain rules everything and mine wasn't sending messages out normally, retraining the brain takes time.

After a few weeks of therapy and self training i felt that i could go out for longer walks with Sheila as well as doing the short walks on my own. The longer walks were only 30 minutes but they encountered friends and neighbours. I was dreading that and having to tell people. As it happens everyone has been so supportive even though they couldn't understand how i had succumbed to Anxiety.

We had been invited to a friends 70th birthday party but because we were going to Scotland for a month i had said we wouldn't be at home. Now that Scotland had been cancelled i felt we should go and show our face. It was the wrong decision.
I stood at the bar with a non alcoholic drink and friends were coming over for a chat, i could see their lips moving but the words were a few seconds delayed and i found that i was looking at them vaguely. I started to panic and told Sheila i had to get out, which we did. That night i had a panic attack and the following day was awful. I just crashed out.

Over the following weeks there were numerous similar experiences and taking on new challenges like going shopping or a quick trip to the pub was quite daunting. We met our local landlord one day when out on a walk and we told him what was happening. He couldn't believe it. I said to him that i needed to come into the pub and just have a coke. So that night i gritted my teeth and nervously entered. Straight away the landlord said "a coke Alan" and with some shacking i managed it.

The second time i went into the pub we met a person who told us his mum had just died and he was suffering anxiety. Well i just burst into tears and left immediately. That put me back a bit and i couldn't wait for the next therapy session.

A few weeks later and the tablets were controlling my emotions better i decided to go for a walk in Moses Gate Country Park, a place that i had never been before. When we got there i found that i had left the map at home and was so annoyed with myself i let it spoil the day. Usually this wouldn't have bothered me, an email to the therapist calmed me down.

Everyones anxiety is different and so i can only explain my experience. Anxiety is like waking up in a dark tunnel which is sloping upwards. I woke up somewhere near the bottom of the tunnel the route out is upwards but there are many obstacles to get out. I couldn't see the obstacles but the therapist and Sheila helped me overcome them. You cannot get through the obstacles alone you need help.
If you try and do this alone it's easier to slip out at the bottom of the tunnel and that's where you find the horror. The motorway bridge, the river, the cliff, your worst nightmare. The trouble is you don't know you are there or why.

At this minute i am not quite out of the tunnel but i can now see the hurdles i have to overcome. Its still not easy and i still need help. My therapy sessions are over but i can contact the therapist at any time. Sheila and I are going to Greece very soon and 3 months ago i couldn't see us going.

Hiking is a no no at the moment, i'm not allowed to plan anything that i might fail at. I had to stop reading blogs because of the frustration they caused. Backpacking is something i might never get to do again, i will just have to wait and see how i progress. Hopefully the change of scenery in Greece will assist me to get better.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive of me at this time. You know who you are.
Without Sheila and the therapist i dread to think where i would be. But i am making good progress.

Never stop believing, never give up hope, this is only temporary.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Testing post

I have found blogging on the go an absolute pain in the backside. All my devices are Apple and I have found that there is lots of things I cannot do with the blogger platform.
It became so bad that I gave up. I did find ways to fudge the program but it's tiresome and annoying.
I know some people find the same as me and others who seem to cope well. A mystery.

I decided to see how it went with an android device and so I bought a second hand Samsung T4 235 model with a 4000MAH battery and 4G sim. I didn't pay too much for it just in case it was a failure.

So today we set of in the rain to do a test post on the run.
I decided that I would use my OS mapping to create the route as we went.
I had a problem with this because I found it quite easy to accidently switch off the tablet whilst it was in my pocket and therefore it scrubbed the route recording. The tablet was not in a case and therefore it was my fault and after all, this is what the test outing is all about. Finding out the issues.
I took a few photos with the tablet and even though the camera is only 3mp I was pleased with the results.

Well I can tell you it's better than blogging on an Apple device. Text wise it's far better.  Adding photos is only just passable and there are limits to size of image. I suppose this will improve as I get more used to it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Salford Trail Part 2, in part, plus..

Friday 19th April, Good Friday, and it tuned out that way too.

Strange title, That's because the Salford Trail is a collection of linear walks that in total creates a circular walk. We did something like one and a bit sections and then plotted a loop circuit to get us back to the car.

The Salford Trail Homepage is here.

The bits we did was Clifton to Roe Green and then Roe Green to Linnyshaw Moss where the trail joins with the Rotary Way. We left the trail here and headed back to the start point at Clifton.

Today's route 10.35km.

We did this route in a clockwise direction starting from Clifton just as you leave the country park and cross the A666. We did want to park at the community centre but it had parking notices everywhere which we thought was a bit bizarre. Wheres the community spirit. 
So we parked down one of the side streets.

Across the road and to the right we found Moss Colliery Road within a short distance and turned into it. Then an almighty noise greeted us, it was a Peacock screaming from one of the houses. Who would want that as a neighbour i cannot imagine.

At the end of the lane a Rottweiler ran to us and that's a pretty scary thing to happen. As it turned out it was very friendly and just wanted to say hello. It would frighten some walkers though. (Including me).
It was just as we turned left to head through a small wood which leads to a footbridge over the motorway that i remembered that on this walk, which i did in February 2011, i met fellow blogger Martin Banfield for the first time. I must admit I don't remember too much of the walk. Maybe I was talking too much.
A couple of Roe Deer were spotted here but they were gone before we could get a photo.

Over the rather bouncy M60 footbridge, the path turns west and handrails the motorway on the right and open fields to the left, all the way to Wardley Grange Farm which is now a storage facility for caravans and cars and stables. One van which i thought apt for a photo below.

 Wardley Hall farm.
Once through the caravan site, the access road leads directly to the A6 where a right turn brings you to the motorway bridge. Here, cross over and walk down the lovely Wardley Hall Road which passes Wardley Hall (obviously), which is the residence of the Bishop of Salford. This is private but has lots of history, for instance it has the skull of Ambrose Barlow in a glass case. He was hung drawn and quartered and then boiled in oil on 10th September 1641in Lancaster. His guilt was that he was a Benedictine monk and was told to leave the country, which obviously he didn't.

A lovely tree lined avenue leads to the cemetery where just inside the gates can be found the grave of Joe Gladwin who's voice was used on the old Hovis adverts as well as many appearances in The Last of the Summer Wine tv series.

The trail goes around the left perimeter fence and is a pleasant walk along tree lined paths until the A580 East Lancashire road is reached. This is a very busy road and can be fast and dangerous to cross. We headed right up to the road junction where there are pedestrian lights and also on the other side of the road you will find the footpath signs and a stile. The text of the original trail is a little different here because the path through the woods is not a PROW (public right of way) but a permitted path. We chose this route which meanders over a couple of small stone bridges and eventually leads to Hawthorn Drive.

You pass some lovely houses and leave the road on the bend taking to a footpath which leads to Greenleach lane as it passes under the motorway. In a few hundred yards is the delightful Roe Green.
We stopped here for an early lunch break as the weather was wonderful. The Methodist church to the right of the green has a blue plaque on the wall commemorating Michael Vaughan the cricketer and his baptism.

A pleasant walk across the green, passed more lovely houses brought us to a busy junction of the East Lancashire road. Again we safely crossed at the pedestrian lights. On the other side is Ellesmere golf course where the path is shown to bisect the course and the main road. For what ever reason we couldn't find the "obvious " path. We jumped a steep stream and headed up through thick woodland and exited onto the golf course. We kept right and followed the perimeter of the course and picked up a path of sorts.
After a quick look at the map and getting strange looks from the golfers we headed through woodland again and stubbled across the right path which we couldn't work out where it started from and how we get to the start without encroaching onto the motorway slip road. A few ST signs around this area would help I'm sure.

We crossed a railway bridge and the path goes left or straight on. We guessed left and it was correct. We were soon passing quite a busy reservoir. Lots of anglers here, maybe because it was a bank holiday. At the A6 road we crossed over onto a gated road surface which leads onto some lovely green belt with expansive views. We all thought it was wonderful and so different to perceptions of Salford.

With a woods on our right we came to a crossroads where a quick look at the map showed we needed to go left, then over a style into open country. A kind of dyke gave us the obvious path to a signpost near a bungalow with probably horse stables. (guess). Here we took a 90 degree right to a very long footbridge over the motorway. We had now left the Salford Trail and joined part of the Rotary Way.
Traffic had backed up quite a way, we thought it was just holiday traffic but alas there was a 5 or 6 car  bump just under the bridge.
The view from the bridge was solar panels, thousands of them, I've never seen so many panels in one place before in the UK.

At the foot of the bridge we turned east and followed a good path, past a very nice property with a small lake or a big pond, until we came to what I think was old tennis courts. Attention is needed here as the well used path passes the left side of the courts but the path we needed to take goes to the right before the courts, across a small stream and into the grounds of Ryders Farm.

We found a nice grassy spot and stopped for a sandwich, the sun was hot and a pair of Buzzards were enjoying the thermals.

Ryders Farm provided a photo opportunity for me of 2 David Brown tractors, 2 friendly geese.
This was my first visit to Ryders Farm and it was a pleasant surprise to find out that it had a cafe which did breakfasts etc etc. We made a mental note for the future.

An easy road walk, brought us back to the car. 10.35km in total and a delight to walk this circular alternative.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Great Asby limestone pavement, cairns and an OS trig point at the Knott.

Wednesday 27th February.

This was to be the last walk of our short stay in Crosby Garrett. The weather forecast was good but not as good as the previous days. There was the possibility of a shower.
I picked a clockwise circular route starting from the road junction at NY68528 09120 Middle Busk, where there is plenty of parking and a new stone wind break.

We headed west across moorland on a footpath that was very hit and miss, more sheep trod than footpath. Ahead we could just about make out where the path crossed a field wall so we just took the path of least resistance. The ground inside the intake fields was in very good condition as is generally the case in these Dales.

When we reached the Dales High Way track we joined it heading north, hand railing the wall until it exits onto open moor. Just through the last gate we startled a Mountain Hare in summer guise. It shot off at a fair rate of knots and disappeared down between the limestone.

Views were quite restricted especially over Orton towards the Lake District, we could just about make out the shapes of the Mallerstang hills but looking northwards it was reasonable. There was a strong smell of grass burning being carried on the wind but we couldn’t see anything.

We followed the wall west and then south west heading for the 412 metre OS trig point on the Knott. At the last wall there is a stile but it doesn't get you over the wall to the trig point which I find a bit strange. A stile would stop potential wall damage from people climbing over. Anyway we managed it with a bit of a balancing act. Then once we had recorded our visit to the trig point we retraced our steps back.
 Good stile over the RH wall but the wrong wall to get to the trig point.
OS Trig 412 Metres on the Knott. Poor visibility over Orton.

 Over the wall is the prehistoric settlement of Castle Folds on the raised knoll.

All this route is on private land but the Coast to Coast route uses it too, so we are in good company. From our high point we had a great view of Castle Folds, an ancient settlement on a knoll surrounded by a limestone scar.
We walked past Castle Folds without climbing up onto the knoll. There are lots of cairns on the plateau and we did each one in turn and taking in High Pike. Why it’s called High Pike I don’t know because it’s neither. Walking wasn’t as easy as it seems on the map because of the limestone crevices which need to be crossed with care, especially if wet.

 One of numerous cairns on route with the mass in the background.
 Sheila on High Pike.
Back at the Dales High Way track we crossed it again and went to visit the two cairns on Great Kinmond. One either side of the dividing wall.

 Looking back from the track up Great Kinmond.
 Stile giving access to both cairns.
 Hazy view across Sunbiggin Tarn to Mallerstang.

Following the wall east until it curves south we left the wall here and walked along Grange Scar picking out natural breaks in the plateau until the car came into view. A good path off the plateau lead directly back.

Centre, the new stone wind break and Little Asby Scar beyond. The car just out of view to the right.

Friday, March 8, 2019


Tuesday 26th February 

After yesterday’s good weather it wasn’t hard for us to get out earlyish today. It was nippy because of the cloudless sky and the fact that we were in the shade at this time but the sun was there.
Walking through Crosby Garrett we felt as though we were the only folk around. So peaceful, it was just like stepping off the world, which we really needed to do right now.

The railway viaduct with its 6 arches at the south west end of the village dominates the view and made me stand and contemplate for a few minutes what the locals must have been thinking during construction in 1871 of this 55 ft high and 110 yds long stone and brick masterpiece. Did the locals have any say, were they happy or resentful. How noisy was it with all the workmen, cranes, deliveries of goods etc. Where did the planners and overseers stay. Lots of questions with no answers.
The architect and builders John Sidney Crossley built similar structures, as part of his task of building the Settle to Carlisle railway for the Midland Railway Company between 1857 and 1875. He did a fine job.

Passing underneath the arches you have to admire the brickwork which is classed as skew.

Just beyond the viaduct there is a small round stone structure which reminded us of the pinfold which we saw recently on our Loweswater walk. Whether it is or not is uncertain.
At the old Limekilns, which now seem to have another use, ie burning the village rubbish, the trail splits, one way to Bents and the other to Nettle Hill. Our path headed to Bents on a good bridleway. It’s a nice route, grassy with good views.

Bents Camping Barn and Camping field.
We came upon a new Coast to Coast signpost just before Bents. I must admit I cannot remember this part of the C2C route at all. I remember the limestone pavement and Sunbiggin tarn and the horrendous rain, but not Bents. Oh well.

My original plan, as shown on the map was to cross the disused railway and use the footpaths south of the old railway track to take us to Smardale Bridge. As it happened, I decided to stick with the railway path. I wanted to take a look at Severals which is a prehistoric settlement. It’s never been dug but there wasn’t much to see. It’s far better looking at it on Google Earth. Wainwright actually says as much in his C2C book.

Our Route plan.

 Disused Railway Path
 Whats left of the signal box.
The signal box was closed in 1931, this happened because the line was reduced to single track to Ravenstonedale. It was excavated in 2005 by the volunteers of the Stainmore Railway Company.

 Smardale Bridge and Scandal Beck.

Reaching the high point above Smardale Bridge I was glad I chose this route, the view of the bridge and beyond down Scandal Beck towards Ravenstonedale is very nice.  A little further on you pass a  couple of empty houses and then two more Limekilns which are huge and in decent condition. I read that they are to be preserved which is great. There’s an easy way up onto the top of the kilns by going by the quarry on the right hand side. At the top there is the derelict engine house which used to pull the limestone along an inclined plane. The tops of the kilns were collapsed and there was lots of vegetation growing.

The benefit of getting to the top of the kilns is the fantastic aspect it gives you of the Smardale Gill viaduct. Recently restored and looking good.
Being a sunny day the shadows were long and made for some nice photos and a place for lunch.

Smardale Gill Viaduct

We stayed on the railway path where Sheila found a Flugelhorn just lying around,  until the junction with Smardale Hall and where the old Smardale Station used to be. The station house is now a splendid home. Next to the station house we noticed there was lots of Private signs and No Parking notices. Obviously this very small car park which I guess was probably a yard or such like belonging to the railway company years ago is a busy place at weekends and probably a favourite with dog walkers.
Smardale station didn't serve a village, there isn't and never was a Smardale Village. It just served the numerous farms and business's that surround it.

I was hoping to have a look at the Hall close up as it was built in the 15th and 16th centuries on top of a 14th century Tower House. But it wasn’t to be as the sign says Private and also the sun was directly above the house meaning photographs were not great. Only later did I notice that a small lane passes behind the hall and we could have made the short journey to see.

As it was we headed off down the lane until we came to Scandal Beck again with a ford and pedestrian footbridge. Sheila headed for the ford and nearly fell in because it was so slippery. I was glad for the scout and headed for the bridge. On the other side the sun was very warm and so we took advantage of a stile for a seat.
We stayed for about 15 minutes just taking in the peace and quiet and listening to the mellifluous sounds of numerous birds in the bushes along the beck.

The footbridge and ford at Scandal Beck
It was indeed a shame to move but it had to be done. The field paths over the stile followed the river bank as far as the footbridge which if crossed leads to Smardale Mill. We didn't go to the "Mill", because today it is just a farm. We left the beck here and followed an old green pathway which leads directly to Crosby Garrett. Obviously many moons ago this would have been the locals way to work.

This walk was a fascinating one for us and we will extend it next time we are here. Hopefully soon.

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