Reports of 'flocks' of Black Grouse in the Allen Valley had me heading up there on Sunday to try and find some but my usual spots only had good numbers of the red variety all calling and chasing as pairing was well underway.
An old stomping ground of mine in the seventies I spent many weeks at a friends house and we explored all the tracks, mines and brooks we could find along with extensive cycle trips in the days well before ligtweight clothing and for that matter bikes! Beats me how I ever managed to get my old contraption over the hill to Rookhope. That's it in the distance. Killhope Law taken up the Allen Valley from above Sinderhope. Later on, school trips with my excellent games master, Gosforth and England rugby prop Colin White, who sadly died last year saw me tramping the area often in the dark. I vividly remember him appearing out of the darkness as he ran two or three times round the route we were walking in the opposite direction.
On Sunday I chuckled as a group of modern day walkers equipped with all the gear approached me with puzzled looks as I scanned the horizon for my target species dressed only in casual shoes and sweatshirt (and trousers of course). It was almost summer weather but they were prepared for blizzards (as they should be going onto the moors) although some looked like they had already spent the day in the tundra and it was only 11.30am!
Anyway, I shouldn't grouse. Nice to be back there even if it's now overpopulated.