It’s been an adventure !

What is likely to be my final book has just been published this week. ‘Gone! – Yorkshire’s Long Lost Football Teams’.

The book covers over 50 teams that have existed over the years – ranging from former football league teams Leeds City and Middlesbrough Ironopolis down to local and county level teams such as Oakworth and Bradford Rovers, as well as the long gone colliery teams from the likes of Wombwell, Grimethorpe and Mexborough in South Yorkshire.

At the same time, two of my previously published books have been reissued in hardback format, including ‘Anorak on the Pennine Way’, which details my fund-raising efforts along Britain’s best known long distance footpath. It was originally published in kindle format in 2013, but due to popular demand was eventually published in paperback three years later. Steady sales since then have prompted the printing of a limited edition hardback edition in time for Christmas.

My first book was published as far back as 1998, and in the ensuing years I’ve progressed from concentrating solely on local sport to other subjects too. In 2007 ‘Anoraknophobia’ – a book about people obsessed with sport was a best-seller in the amazon sports book charts (kept off the number one spot by a biography of Brian Clough), and in 2016 only Bruce Springsteen managed to prevent ‘Is That The 12” Remix’ from hitting top spot in the UK Music book chart (it did top charts around Europe, however). That book was perhaps my most fulfilling to write, having enlisted the help of several 80’s pop stars in compiling the book, and indeed to promote it afterwards.

One of the funniest moments over all these years was walking into a bookshop several years ago and picking up a book by a prominent sports writer. A few seconds later, that same sports writer walked into the shop and picked up a book written by me. And there we were, having a natter while holding copies of each other’s books.

It’s been nothing short of an adventure over the past quarter of a century. I’ve written 16 books, met some fabulous people, made plenty of mistakes along the way, and enjoyed every minute of it, even if the books haven’t quite sold as many as those books about a teenage wizard called Harry Potter.

Details of all my books are available at www.robgrillo.co.uk and they available from all good bookshops as well as the usual online sources.




The Story of Fairbank United’s 2016/17 season by Akif Waseem

Senior men’s Grassroots football across the country seems to be dying out. That’s no more evident in the Bradford district by the fact that not only are there less teams playing on a Saturday and Sunday than perhaps any time since WW2, but the number of leagues itself is also falling sharply. On a Saturday, local teams would, until recent times, play in the Bradford (Red Triangle/Grattan) or Spen Valley Leagues, or, if they were a bit better, the West Riding County Amateur League. The former two leagues are now no longer in existence, and the latter will no longer exist at the end of this season.

akif cover

On a Sunday, there’s only the Wharfedale Triangle (hanging in there with 2 divisions) and Bradford Sunday Alliance, which haemorrhages a full division each season.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but one affecting all manner of other sports too. Local cricket and Rugby League are experiencing a similar decline as organised sports and pastimes are replaced by more sedentary forms of exercise that don’t have to put up with rising costs of pitch hire, insurance and conflicting interests of retail therapy, computer games and Premier League footy on the box.

There are a good deal of people – dwindling in number, I know – who are swimming against that tide. They might not be part of well oiled football league machine that attracts thousands of paying fans a year, but they part of the same thing. They will go that extra mile (and further) to keep their own teams battling along, the purely amateur ones that rent the local parks pitches and keep going through the paying of weekly subs, the ones that play week in, week out in front of the proverbial man and his dog, as well as a handful of WAGs who can be bothered to brave the weather , and yet provide an immense sense of satisfaction in that it’s THEIR team – the one THEY play for, the one THEY pay subs to, the one THEY run: THEIR team.

In recent years, Bradford’s very own Fairbank United have switched to the Yorkshire Amateur League, which, since renaming itself (from the ‘Yorkshire Old Boys League’) has mopped up many of the teams left over from the defunct leagues and consists of half a dozen or so divisions. This is the world of Norristhorpe FC, East Ardsley Wanderers, Churwell Lions and Leeds Medics & Dentists’ fourth team. Teams like this might not be front page news in the national press but they are the lifeblood of the game.

Akif Waseem is a player, secretary, supporter and mainstay of Fairbank. Nobody can say he doesn’t go that extra mile. Somehow, and despite a very busy job, he found time to pen his account of what turned out to be a rather eventful 2016-17 season for himself and his team-mates at Fairbank. It’s a hugely readable, passionate and often hilarious subjective account, written from his perspective as club secretary as well as second string goalkeeper and occasional outfield player. Fairbank are up for promotion. It’s overdue, but as with the very best footballing tales there are trials and tribulations a-plenty, dramatic last gasp equalisers, controversial offside winners, the odd car crash (quite literally), suspicious poaching of players, and – hopefully- a happy happy ending.

I had the advantage of knowing what the outcome was, I had a week-by-week blow of the highlights of each game on a Monday morning. The story in print is every bit as intriguing. Akif admittedly might not be as agile in goal as he once was, maybe a yard or two slower than he was in his prime, but he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the game. His well illustrated book is a testament to all the hard work he and his contempories put in for up to nine months a year. A photograph that depicts a dramatic late equaliser for Farnley Sports reserves is notable for the fact that it shows the wide open spaces of local league football, no sign of a huge cantilever stand or imposing Kop in sight. Or spectators come to think of it. And yet, to every one of the players in the photograph, this is what football is about as they play out their very own six-pointers, cup finals and local derbies with the same passion as those in an Old Firm of Manchester derby.

If nothing else, the book represents a dying breed of club, and club official, and amateur player, aspects of the nation’s favourite sport that we have always taken for granted, but that which we see less and less of every year.

Akif can be contacted at akif26@hotmail.com if you’re interested in a copy.



EKKOES, the London-based electro-pop trio, whose vibrant 80s feel has been much lauded, have come to prominence through their recent work with legendary producer Mark Reeder, a tour supporting the equally legendary Human League, and the release of a highly commendable debut album.

The band have just released their ‘Self Control’ EP. The title track of the EP was a huge hit, twice, in 1984 – firstly for Italian singer, songwriter Raf, and then internationally for the late, great Laura Branigan. The EP is available for download but also as limited edition CD, of which there are only 100 copies. This is your chance to win one of these limited edition CDs, and it’s really easy to enter.


To enter, all you have to do is tell us all what YOUR favourite cover version of all time is, and the reason why. It’s as simple as that. Just post your response either to this blog post (click on ‘leave a comment’ below), or to the post on ‘Is That The 12” Remix’ facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Is-That-the-12-Remix-601399720039018/

If you haven’t yet heard EKKOES debut album ‘Elekktricity’ then you can purchase it, as well as the Self Control EP, on download or CD here: http://ekkoes.com/

Closing date is Friday September 8th at 6pm UK time, the winner will be chosen at random from all the entries.

The best five Madonna remixes…


Another personal top five following last weeks’ INXS one. The only criteria I used is enjoyability, so the technical aspects of each remix (ie, how, where or by whom it was remixed, what instruments or digital effects were or weren’t added / removed, etc are not relevant)…it’s all down to how much I enjoy each track.

5.EVERYBODY (Rusty Egan UK 12” Mix) .Not on everyone’s list, especially not Madonna herself, as she didn’t particularly like what Rusty Egan did with her first single. His remix (and his dub mix on the flip side) isn’t a radical departure from the original, but differ enough to warrant more than the odd listen. His great mixes (along with the 7” edits) have still only ever been released in a small quantity in the UK and they are unlikely ever to get a CD release. The 7” Rusty Egan edit mixes are actually harder to track down that the 12”, and if you have a 7” pressing that has a Rusty Egan credit on it then you have the rarest pressing of all.

MADONNA Everybody Rusty Egan UK 12″ mix

4. BORDERLINE (U.S mix / New Mix). Jellybean extended his own mix for this 1984 release without taking away any of the beauty of one of Madonna’s best–loved tracks from her debut album. Surprisingly hard to track down if you’re wanting a CD copy of this, it was entitled ‘New Mix’ in the States, but renamed ‘U.S. Mix’ for its’ European releases. The mix on the ‘B’ side of the 12” has been called ‘instrumental’ and ‘dub’ mix in different territories and at different times.

MADONNA Borderline 12″ mix

3. OPEN YOUR HEART (Extended version) Steve Thompson pulls it off yet again. Everything Thompson touched in the mid 80s seemed to turn to gold, and here is an example from 1986 of a fairly decent single / album track being extended in conjunction with Michael Barbiero in all directions into an exciting, danceable extended version that lasts almost eleven minutes.

MADONNA Open Your Heart (extended version)

2. DRESS YOU UP (12” Formal mix) Another Jellybean mix that makes a decent 7” into a more exciting, danceable mix. The engineer on this mix, Michael Hutchinson, worked on several of his own remixes by acts such as INXS, Swing Out Sister & Jody Watley. If only we had some really good deluxe-issues of Madonna’s early albums we would be able to hear mixes such as this more often. Sadly there is little chance of these ever materialising.

MADONNA Dress You Up 12″ Formal mix

1.CAUSING A COMMOTION (Silver Screen Mix). Released in 1987 as the second single from the ‘Who’s That Girl’ album,, Causing a Commotion wouldn’t even make my top 10 individual Madonna tracks. However legendary remixers Shep Pettiboneand Junior Vasquez manage to make this otherwise forgettable hit into a freestyle (‘Miami disco’ if you live in the UK) classic. Much stronger than the other mixes released on 12”, this mix is also available on what was Madonna’s first cassette single to be released in the UK.

MADONNA Causing A Commotion Silver Screen 12″ mix

Also worth listening to, if you get chance, are the three ‘dub’ mixes of ‘Like A Prayer’ that only ever appeared on a U.S. promo 12”: Shep Pettibone’s ‘Instra-dub’ and ‘Bass-dub’ and Bill Bottrell’s ‘Dub beats’. Also, if you’re a Madonna collector in the UK then www.madonna-decade.co.uk/ is the most complete site you’ll ever need (along with discogs.com of course)



5.NEVER TEAR US APART (VIDEO SOUNDTRACK) There was a multitude of different formats you could choose from in the UK when INXS put out the umpteenth single from their mega-selling album ‘Kick’ in 1987: 7”, 7” picture disc, 12”, 12” gatefold, 10”, CD single & CD video- all of them containing the regular three minute album version. The video soundtrack however contains an extended instrumental introduction to complement the scenery in and around Prague where the clip was shot. This introduction entirely enhances the track and could easily have been added as an ‘extended version’ to any of the formats. To date, it still hasn’t seen the light of day on any of the subsequent single releases or expanded reissues of ‘Kick’. Come to think of it, there has been a truly complete ‘Kick’ ‘deluxe’ edition that contains ALL the mixes and remixes from that era (the two Nile Rodgers mixes of ‘Calling All Nations’ are still there in the vaults, somewhere)



Burn For You was never released as a single in the UK, but did receive a release in many other territories around the world, reaching number 3 on the Austrialian singles chart. Nick Launay, who worked on several INXS tracks in the mid ‘80s worked his magic on what was already a fine album track from ‘The Swing’, without ever deviating from the original.



After the single bombed first time round in the UK, the re-issued single included a fine seven minute extended remix by Julian Mendelsohn. This mix has since been overshadowed by another subsequent remix by Ben Liebrand, which is also a great mix, turning the three minute track into a dance-floor classic. Mendelsohn’s mix, however, retains the moody, sultry groove and is undoubtedly the best mix of any INXs song from the ‘Kick’ era. Interestingly, UK chart rules at the time limited single formats to 20 minutes in length in order to qualify for chart returns, so the CD single format contained a truncated 5 minute version of the Mendelsohn mix in order to fit two bonus tracks onto the CD. There is also a further shortened Mendelsohn 7” edit that first appeared on UK 7” promos.



Remixed by Andrew and John Farriss themselves, one of the stand-out tracks from 1982s ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ was extended into an even finer moody, synth-laden beast. The extended version was one of four tracks on the North American ‘Dekadance’ EP alongside The One Thing and Black & White extended versions and a ‘new version’ of Here Comes II (which itself was a ‘new’ version of Here Comes).



In an era when the ‘remix’ suddenly started to became all about some aspiring DJ turning a song into something that sounded nothing like the original (check out the dreadful ‘G-Force & Seijii remix’ of the Elegantly Wasted single. In my younger brothers’ words  ‘What’s that all about?’), Taste It was a breath of fresh air. Remixed by Youth (ex-Killing Joke, Brilliant), what was a fairly decent album track was transmogrified into a glorious thumping dance track that conversely never strays too far from the original mix. The UK 12” promo also contains a pretty decent dubby Youth ‘clubbed-twice’ mix that isn’t found elsewhere.


‘IS THAT THE 12″ REMIX’ postings

WELCOME TO THE DANCEFLOOR – RUSTY EGAN – 29th April 2017 – Facebook

The fanastic Rusty Egan, DJ & former member of Visage & The Rich Kids, has a whole page to himself in ‘Is That The 12″ Remix’. Less well known is the fact that he remixed Madonna’s first single ‘Everybody’ for its’ UK release (a massively sought after remix these days). CD copies of his album ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ are now available – featuring the likes of Peter Hook, Tony Hadley & Midge Ure and I can’t recommend it highly enough…it’s currently being played very loudly for the umpteenth time up here on top of the hills in rural Yorkshire. Available here 🙂 http://www.pledgemusic.com/…/rusty-egan-welcome-to-the-danc… (there’s a vinyl edition tooooo)


TOP 12″ SINGLES OF ALL TIME – THE LISTS – 22nd April 2017 – Facebook

For the new edition we were lucky to have CLASSIC POP founder & editor-at-large Ian Peel on hand to pen the afterword. Not only that, the magazine’s TOP 25 12″ SINGLES OF ALL TIME was able to be used alongside the fantastic existing lists from the likes of Rob Windle of Electronically Yours https://www.facebook.com/electronicallyyoursuk/ and Chi at The Electricity Club (full article here) http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/tecs-25-favourite-classic…/


THE MOOD – 20th April 2017 – Facebook

One band who are featured in ‘Is That The 12″ Remix’ are ’80s band The Mood (thanks to founder member Mark Fordyce). Their 12″ singles were awesome, as is their ‘Singles Collection’ CD that Cherry Pop put out a few years go. All the 12″ mixes are on there as well as the 7″ mixes & ‘b’ sides. Their UK vinyl collection – as well their North American mini-album – is in the photo below (courtesy of The Mood vinyl collector Rob Grillo 🙂 🙂 )
For more info about a long lost 80s synthpop band see http://www.themood.info/TheMood/Welcome.html
AND there’s an exclusive interview with Mark Fordyce at The Electricity Club too http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/missing-in-action-the-mood/


Kathmandu, Earthquakes & Westlife

I was last in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city some eight years ago. I’ve always wanted to go back and at last got the chance en-route to Tibet this summer.

On April 25, 2015, a violent 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. Weeks later a 7.3magnitude aftershock made things even worse. Almost 9,000 people were killed, with an estimated 22,000 injured, and some 800,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Kathmandu was seriously affected, with many affected housed in tents for months afterwards.

It was at the end of July 2016 when I landed at the airport. First impressions were good, as there seemed to be less damage remaining than I’d expected. Certainly the landscape looked very similar as the plane skirted over the capital before landing. Even the drive through the city to the hotel, and the walks through the heart of the city over the next couple of days suggested that those in the capital have taken little time to continue with their lives.

The effects were most noticable when we went to visit some of the ancient stupas and monuments. There were piles of rubble in some places, and extensive renovations afoot at some of the more prestigious Buddhist shrines. That was expected. What was less expected, and that’s probably nievity on my part is that many of those that needed help the most were not getting it. The city of tents is still there – we drove past a little too quickly for me to get a photograph, and virtually everyone I discussed the earthquake with had tales of government promises that had just not been met. Agencies that claimed to have rebuilt hundreds of buildings were found to have pocketed the money they had been given instead, and the slow machinations of an unstable government (one that is ranked well inside the world’s top 20 in terms of corruption) meant that many improvements were, at best, disorganised. Few of those I spoke with believed that any of the aid given by agencies and charities had reached those it was intended for.

The Nepalese are a friendly lot. They accept their situation, and are still proud of their country, their families and their everyday lives. Thamel is still a fantastic place to haggle with friendly shop-keepers, although it is far less busy than it was eight years ago. ‘Please tell your country that we are still here, that we want you to come to Nepal,’ one shop-keeper told me as I handed over 200 rupees for the Westlife CD I’d discovered in one of the few remaining shops that sells CDs. He was closing his shop for good at the end of the summer, but was happy that I’d found a foreign CD consisting of tracks that my better half doesn’t have in her collection.

Nepal is still open. They need visitors to return. Kathmandu hasn’t been flattened, it’s still there. It’s not a dangerous place to go, yes there’s corruption, but it’s friendly, it’s beautiful and it’s one of my favourite places on Earth.



They’ve still got it!

New Order  'Music Complete'

New Order
‘Music Complete’

I’m listening for the umpteenth time to the latest New Order release ‘Music Complete’ which dropped through the letterbox just 24 hours or so ago. The reviews both online & in print (‘Classic Pop’ et al) have been nothing short of positive, ‘their best album in decades’ and so on. I have to admit to being a bit sceptical about that because I’m a big fan of their last full blown release’ Waiting For The Sirens Call’ (‘The Lost Siren’s’ excluded). But the reviews are certainly not wrong ! Mr. Sumner and company have again produced a stunning album that certainly deserves the recognition it has received so far. There’s no shortage of reviews around, so I’m not going to discuss each individual track here, except to say that they haven’t strayed from that trademark New Order sound yet have still managed to sound fresh and modern. I couldn’t help thinking that the third track, Plastic’ could easily have been a Bobby Orlando masterpiece once upon a time though!

Duran Duran  'Paper Gods'

Duran Duran
‘Paper Gods’

The same could be said about Duran Duran’s newie, ‘Paper Gods’ (enjoyed once amazon logistics had finally managed to deliver a copy after having ‘lost’ the first one they claim to have delivered). This is another fine album that is trademark Duran yet sounding remarkably up-to-date. Both albums feature an extended list of ‘guests’, in New Order’s case the likes of La Roux, Iggy Pop and Brandon Flowers, and Duran with Lindsay Lohan, the remarkable Nile Rodgers and ex-Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist John Frusciante taking starring roles. I wouldn’t say this was a bad thing in these cases.

When you consider OMD’s last release, 2013’s ‘English Electric’, which is equally as impressive an album as any of their back catalogue, and the stunning ‘Big Music’, by Simple Minds (released last year) then it’s worthwhile considering that the bands that really ‘had it’ in the 80s have still got it now.

Another worthy mention must go to Blancmange’s ‘Nil By Mouth’, which is finally out on general release after having been limited to the band’s gigs & website in recent month. It’s an album of instrumentals but, as ‘Classic Pop’ says, is a ‘delightful little curio’ J I don’t have the latest A-ha or Alison Moyet albums yet, but even these, particularly the latter, are receiving favourable reviews in the music press.

OMD 'English Electric'

‘English Electric’

Blancmange 'Nil by Mouth'

‘Nil by Mouth’

With all this in mind, I really can’t wait for the promised new studio albums by the likes of Heaven 17 and Pet Shop Boys…if only George Michael could get his finger out.

Finally another mention for one of the best music sites anywhere online: www.electricity-club.co.uk/


My last Pennine Way post, all about an eventful evening up at England’s highest pub – Tan Hill – en route to completing the Pennine Way proved popular. So here’s another excerpt from ‘Anorak on the Pennine Way’ (which of course is available on amazon).

Chapter 9 – ‘Cross on Cross Fell’

“Getting lost is just another way of saying ‘going exploring.” – Justina Chen Headley (North of Beautiful)

The past few days had been utterly wonderful. Graham and Cherie had been a pleasure to walk with, my Achilles problems seemed to be behind me, and I looked forward to a right good slog up and over Cross Fell and beyond. Breakfast was consumed quickly, ‘unpooeyed’ trainers laced up, and I was on my way up to Knock Fell, the first of three summits along the same ridge – the final one being the all important Cross Fell. Lunch could be had at an old hut on the way down before an undulating stroll in further uncharted territory for me, the South Tyne Valley

A quick check the previous evening had confirmed that the compass was packed, thankfully, as the when I woke to see view of the tops obscured in mist I realised I might need it. Hopefully the sun would burn that off as the morning progressed – after all, things were going swimmingly and the finish line was mere stone’s throw or two away.

After a regulation youth hostel breakfast, served with the efficiency you would expect, it was time to continue my epic journey. It was a pleasant morning down here in the bottom of the valley, even if not so further up the hill, and there was nothing but the sound of bird-song to keep me company as I made all my checks on the village green before departing for good. Maybe the smell of my kit had rendered the possibility of anyone else passing my way right now pretty remote. However, once I had made my move, Dufton disappeared into the distance quickly as I strode out confidently in the direction of the hills ahead.

Cross Fell

Cross Fell

Following a gradual ascent at first, the climb up Knock Fell gradually became steeper, almost a hand and knees job at times, which I found I quite enjoyed. I’d not had a good slog up a hill on my own since Pen-Y-Ghent, and it was nice to have to work hard, makes you feel that your long adventure is more than a mere jaunt in the countryside. And then I looked up and saw the mist. The sun wasn’t, as I’d hoped, burning it off. Now Paddy Dillon is most insistent that this is a difficult place to navigate in the mist. It’s a doddle in clear weather, but in mist you could end up anywhere. I checked my jacket pocket, confirming that the compass was still safely tucked away, and headed on up past a number of cairns, as well as Knock Hush. This is one of several man made watercourses up here, the likes of which miners made good use of in order to wash away the soils to reveal bare rock in times past. Life as a miner was harsh here in the past as it had been back in Swaledale. Then it was onwards to the Old Man of Knock, who was waiting for me nearer the top – not actually an ageing gentleman who preferred to spend his twilight years up here, but a large well-known, imposing cairn marking the way to the summit of Knock Fell. After another short pull, there was at last the cairn that marked the top of the hill. This marked the lowest of several summits along this broad ridge – and all you have to do to get to the next summit at Great Dun Fell is to stay on the ridge. Given that there is a huge radar station on top of Great Dun then it’s pretty straightforward, unless of course there’s this pea-soup mist to contend with. In my case, that radar station could have been anywhere, I’d not seen any concrete proof so far that it actually existed.

Now, being a Geography teacher with a great sense of direction, I pride myself in not allowing myself to get lost. Ever. I have an acquaintance who is always getting lost on the hills; he can see what’s on a map but he can’t read a map. He knows what contour lines are, but can’t work out what they tell him, and ten minutes after setting off on a walk really hasn’t the faintest notion where he might be on his map. His usual excuse for getting lost is that the map is wrong and why haven’t ‘they’ (the people that designed the map) done something about it. So I avoid like the plague spending any time on the hills with him. I, on the other hand, am something of an expert in this line of work. Why else would I have got here so easily, with the only mishap of any note being that slight deviation on Kinder? No chance of me erring up here y’know. Plus, despite having left the GPS at home, I have the trusty compass to supplement Dillon’s instructions, and the precise ordnance survey 1:25000 scale map. I surely can’t go wrong.

So at the top of Knock Fell I sat down, enjoyed a quick snack, made a simple compass bearing and headed off in a straight line across the summit to search for Great Dun summit and some radar station. After a hundred or so yards the faint path faded away and I continued in my straight line for a minute or two longer. Being still enshrouded in the very deep mist, it was therefore pertinent to take another compass bearing. So I again sat on a rock and got out the compass. Text book stuff this.

Great Dun Fell from Cross Fell...a sight I would have loved to have seen! (courtesy of grough.co.uk...probably the bestest outdoor/walking site on the planet)

Great Dun Fell from Cross Fell…a sight I would have loved to have seen! (courtesy of grough.co.uk…probably the bestest outdoor/walking site on the planet)

At least I would have got the compass out had it been there. It seemed that it was no longer nestling safely in my jacket pocket, or any pocket come to think of it. Ok, something of a problem, but not to panic – let’s just see what Paddy Dillon would say about this…

No Paddy Dillon either. Not in the rucksack, not in my jacket pocket, not anywhere to be had. Missing, absent without leave.

It then dawned on me that Paddy and the compass were, in all probability, waiting for me to return on that same rock I’d taken the original bearing several minutes ago. Slightly not so text book stuff anymore. So should I return to that rock?

Yes….but hold on. In which direction, exactly, is that rock?

Now if you’ve ever been lost in thick mist you’ll know that once you become a little disorientated, it is damn hard become re-orientated again. I didn’t make it easy for myself either. My first idea was to head back in the general direction that I may have come – but after a while it was obvious that I was not reaching the intended feature. No summit cairn, no rock, no sign of a footpath, or anything else other than random stones, rocks, and lashing and lashings of black peat.

Then it began to rain. Quite heavily in fact.

I wandered around aimlessly for a while longer, looking for maybe another walker, a chance encounter with someone I might need to point me in the right direction, but with not an ounce of luck. Maybe an hour after making that compass bearing I was no closer the next summit, or Cross Fell, or Alston, than I had been an hour ago. Furthermore, there was little chance of me getting any closer to said destinations while I was still wandering around aimlessly up here. It wasn’t quite Mark Thatcher adrift in the Sahara out here, but neither did I wish to become another Amelia Earhart, who vanished forever without trace in her aeroplane. If I was going to get stuck I wanted to be found alive and well please.

At least I was well equipped if I was going to be lost for some time. I had full waterproof cover, of which I was making full use of right now, a bivvy tent and plenty of warm clothes and spare food, so in theory I could survive for quite some time should it be necessary to sit down and give up. It might be a problem if I suddenly find myself waist deep (or worse) in a peat bog. There was, after all, nobody who actually knew I was lost up here, my friends and family were going about their own lives regardless, and I couldn’t call for help because the old mobile phone signal was non-existent in this neck of the woods.

So, only one thing to do that made any sense. Sack the hill. I had a couple of ‘get out of jail’ cards I could play that would at least take me to somewhere I could find on the map, even if it was no closer to where I wanted to be. Once I knew I where I was I would be able to get myself back en-route, wherever that was, and despite the fact that Paddy had run off with the compass.

Get out of jail card #1: Head downhill. It’s safer than being on top, and you can see more than a couple of yards ahead because there’s currently no mist down there. It might not even be raining down there. Its common sense really.

So downhill I headed. Or I would have done had I been able to find downhill. No matter which direction I headed in the land just would not go downhill. In and out of bogs, peat hags, more bogs, further peat hags, things were starting to get a little irritating. It’s not as if I was still going up the hill, I wasn’t, I just seemed to be in an endless landscape of nothingness. Here I was right on top of a hill in the pissing rain, unable to find a way down. Never in all my years had I found myself in a position such as this – I mean, how hard is it to find downhill?

Without panicking, and in my utterly discombobulated state, get out of jail card # 2 was called for instead. Follow water. Water naturally heads downhill. Find a stream and it should, unless the usual laws of nature don’t apply up here, take me down the hill and eventually to some place where I could gather my thoughts and reschedule my day.

So, some minutes later, after wandering around like a right wally, I found a tiny stream, fresh and exuberant after emerging from some nearby spring. As tiny as it was, this would lead me back to the rest of humanity. I seemed at the time that I had discovered the north of England’s most twisty, winding little stream but it did, slowly, start to get a little wider and did at least begin to head slightly downhill. I really could have been anywhere by now, but at this stage of the day I cared not where I was as much as I did how long it would take me to work out how to get back to where I should have been. Frustration was starting to set in, but the stream was getting larger and I was beginning to think that some time later in the day I might be back on track. It was difficult going, with only short stretches of easy walking, much of time being forced to walk ankle deep along its channel in order to avoid particularly mudded banks – but I was consoled in the fact that it was at least taking me somewhere.

And then suddenly, right in front of me were the occasional mudded remains of human footprints in the peat on the edges of this ever growing watercourse. No sign of a footpath as such, but confirmation that there had been mankind in these parts in the not too distant past. As the stream took on the shape of a small river, the mist began to lighten somewhat, but not enough to allow me to work out where I might be…..and then, out of nowhere, a bridge.

The small, isolated wooden structure I had come across posed another dilemma. This obviously housed a public right of way as there were clear signs of a small, not particularly well trodden, footpath leading into the mist in each direction. There was also a sign warning that this was ‘Cow Green reservoir catchment area’.

What! This was most worryingly well out of the way. While this bridge was undoubtedly on my map somewhere, the catchment area of this huge reservoir rendered any accurate assumptions most inaccurate. Besides, the rain was preventing me from making anything like a studious perusal virtually impossible.

So, do you continue to follow the stream that seems to be taking you on a relentless journey, seeming to a huge reservoir I thought I’d seen the back of, or do I head off to the left – or to the right – where I might at last find humanity waiting, or where I could easily lose my way once again should the path vanish. Decisions, decisions, and nobody but myself to offer guidance. I decided to play safe (or as safe as you can get up here) and follow the stream a little further as it crashed through a narrow gorge before widening into a shallow bowl.

There was also something else to consider at this point. Legend has it that that when a storm breaks over Cross Fell, and the Tees, of which this was undoubtedly a tributary, is in spate, the swirling patches of foam are known as ‘Peg Powler’s Suds’. And you know what that might mean.

Then, as the mist began at last to clear, and the rain began to relent, there was a sight of a fellow walker, a few hundred yards off in the distance. A saviour, the first human being I had seen since waving goodbye to my hosts at the youth hostel several hours earlier. I could track him down and seek directions, I wasn’t too proud to admit that I was I was lost, I didn’t care if he laughed, and if he was friendly enough I might even kiss him. Old Peg wasn’t going to have her wicked way with this hardy wayfarer after all.

But before I had chance to break into anything more than the Grillo shuffle it suddenly dawned on me where I was. I was walking, sorry, shuffling, down the middle of the Maize Beck, and there, just on my right was a small Pennine Way marker post pointing in the direction of High Cup Nick a mile or so further on. I was back where I had been the day before and had, it transpired, just passed the ‘old’ Pennine Way bridge on the disused route over Maizebeck Scar. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, as I had managed, somehow, to survive crossing one of the wettest, most boggy moorland stretches in the country. All I could do now was retrace my steps back down into Dufton, except without the exceptional views I had enjoyed less than twenty-four hours earlier. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – back on track (of sorts) but facing a lengthy trek back to where I had been at the start of the day. I didn’t linger at High Cup Nick – not much to see today anyway – and the path downhill from there seemed even more eternal than it had before I sorrowfully sloped back into the village without having walked through any piles of cow poo. But what now? There was no chance of attempting the same range of hills again, the mist had not risen enough to allow me to get any further than I already had without the compass or guidebook, so I would have make emergency plans.

High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick

Being a small, rather out of the way country village, Dufton is not the kind of place where you can casually jump onto the next bus and head off in the required direction. No, I would have to locate the nearest town before I could even think about trying to get back onto the section of the trail I wanted to be on – which wasn’t that far away as the crow flies, but which had a bloody huge set of hills in the way.

Appleby-in-Westmoreland is about three and a half boring miles walk from Dufton. It probably isn’t boring really, but to me, on this particular day, it was very, very tedious. If only because it was a walk I really did not want to be doing. I was drenched, very tired, and most depressed as I crawled into Appleby, along the road, in search of the railway station. That bit wasn’t too hard, as remember I’m really good at reading maps and not getting lost.

Now. Consider this. Appleby railway station is on the famous Settle-Carlisle line, so popular among tourists in this part of the world. If you catch a train in the direction of Settle you can actually stay on the train a little longer and alight later at Keighley station. Keighley station being my local station of course. Being this fed up, I could quite easily take the easy option, sack the whole thing and head home into the arms of my family. So easy. After all, isn’t that what was expected?

But this was definitely not an option. Not now. Maybe this day was supposed to end this way in order to test my resolve. I’d come this far, had those bloody fantastic days, some cracking company and had been enjoying every minute, even the bits that had proved painful, and there was no way I was going to jack it all in because I’d taken the wrong turn, bruised my own ego, and had to take emergency action. Why, it was just part of the adventure. The proper and correct thing to do was catch a train- in the opposite direction of course – to Carlisle – and take it from there. It was, by now, late in the day but I just might be able to get to Alston, or Greenhead in good time. It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to get some of the South Tyne Valley done, but as I’d done several miles extra in the wrong direction it felt as if at least in spirit I’d covered that ground, or at least an equivalent distance.

It wasn’t until I got on the train that I realised I had a further problem. I reeked. I really, really smelled bad. If I’d thought the smell of cow-poo the previous evening was hideous enough, today it was the whiff of stale sweat, mixed in with the peaty grime of the moors, and washed in with the rain and damp I’d encountered for much of the day. This was far worse. The gore-tex trainers were saturated, they were after all this time now beginning to show their age, and had I a mirror handy I would surely have considered myself a pretty sorry, and most shocking sight.

Fumbling around in my by-now grimy looking and muddied rucksack, I found myself a spare top (clean, dry type) to change into. Unfortunately someone had moved into the nearest toilets and was staying there for quite some time, so the only option was to change in my seat. Another slight problem lay in the fact that an elderly lady was sat reading her book in the opposite aisle. She would surely not approve of this.

But for the first time today I had a stroke of luck. Said lady was not actually reading any more. No, she has dropped off mid-page, giving the impression that she was concentrating intently on the words in front of her, when in fact she was in mid-snooze. So it is not just the books that I have penned that can be used as a cure for insomnia! I seized the opportunity to make a double quick replacement of clothing, and hey presto, I was just a little bit less smelly than I had been seconds earlier. She never noticed a thing. The smelly bottoms would have to wait though. That would be pushing it. Should sleeping lady wake to find a man in his underwear sat opposite her then a right nasty scene might have materialised.

Once we had pulled into Carlisle I made haste for the men’s’ toilets and removed the smelly bottoms. That would have been an arrestable offence in many men’s’ lavatories across the country, but even the most ardent of constables would have recognised my predicament had he seen the sight of me, or even had he walked within a hundred yards or the smelliest gentleman in Cumbria. Changing pungent clothing I was, ‘cottaging’ I was most certainly not. Then, after a good wash down to supplement the uniform change it was time to work out what to do next, or rather where to go next.

Anorak on the Pennine Way is available for kindle here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ECHGTUW

Tan Hill part 1: https://robgrillo.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/there-be-no-laws-up-there-yknow-part-one/

Tan Hill part 2: https://robgrillo.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/there-be-no-laws-up-there-yknowpart-two/