A Sunday Stroll


Well, I’m not sure it would classify as a stroll, but last Sunday, to make the most of the good weather we’ve been having (which, surely, can’t last much longer) I decided to head up to the Lake District and tackle Skiddaw, England’s 4th highest mountain.

I set off early and drove up the M6 to Penrith and then across to Keswick (takes about an hour and 45 minutes) where I parked up on the edge of town, close to the path towards Skiddaw. I initially followed the route that skirted  the smaller hill, Latrigg, which we’d climbed last March. This is the well trodden “tourist route”, which some bloggers are quite sniffy about. But I’m not that bothered about their opinions, it was the most convenient way up. There were certainly plenty of other people taking the route.


Skiddaw is an attractive mountain when viewed from Keswick. Walking up, certainly the first half, is a bit of a steep slog with the views behind you rather than ahead. But looking back over  to Keswick, Derwent Water and nearby hills gave an excuse for a bit of a break.


Unfortunately, some weather was passing through, with cloud and rain over Helvellyn, Borrowdale and the Newlands valley, and visibility wasn’t that great. 

When the climb levels out there’s a summit ahead. But it’s not the final destination. Rather a subsidiary peak, Skiddaw Little Man, something of a “false summit”. Although there’s a path to the main summit that avoids them, in a moment of madness I decided to “bag” it.


It was a very stiff, steep climb to the top, but didn’t take so long and there were good views from the top.


A steep descent then it was time to climb again, this time to the main summit plateau.


It didn’t take too long to climb the final stretch up to the top – a flat plateau with some cairns, a windbreak shelter and a trig point.



I stopped a while to take in the hazy views down to Bassenthwaite


and over to Blencathra

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After a short rest I set on back down the mountain, by-passing the Little Man.  Now I was facing the views so in many ways the descent, was more pleasurable.



Getting close to the bottom of the mountain another moment of madness overtook me, and I decided to extend the walk a little by climbing to the summit of Latrigg to take in the views as the haze was beginning to clear.

Looking over Keswick and Derwent Water



over to the Newlands Valley, Causey Pike and Grisedale


and back to Skiddaw


After a short while I made my way back down to where I’d parked the car. All in all it had been a 9 1/2 mile walk with 3925 feet of ascent. But I hadn’t quite done. The sun was shining and I felt in need of some caffeine, so I dumped my rucksack and walking poles in my boot and walked down into Keswick. There’s a nice little coffee shop I know in the main street (Java)!



A walk up Pendle Hill


As .. I .. travelled, …I …came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved …….. to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. (George Fox, 1624-1691)

Trying to make the most of the long days and good weather (while it lasts), last Tuesday I started and finished work early so that I could get out for a walk. It took me about an hour to drive over to Barley in Pendle where I parked up and set out to climb Pendle Hill. The area has two major claims to fame. It was there that George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, had a revelation which led to the founding of the Society of Friends. But it is probably best known for its association with the Pendle Witches who were executed 400 years ago in 1612.


It’s an interesting curiosity that “Pendle Hill” actually means “hill hill hill”. The following explanation is from Wikipedia

In the 13th century it was called Pennul or Penhul, apparently from the Cumbricpen and Old Englishhyll, both meaning “hill”. The modern English “hill” was appended later,


The summit is 557 metres (1,827 ft) above mean sea level. So it doesn’t qualify as a mountain, but it’s a stiff climb up the steep main path from Barley. The hill doesn’t have a distinct summit. Its a long ridge. There’s a trig point at the highest point which is known as the “Big End”.


Reaching the trig point there were extensive views down to Barley and beyond to the east


and over to the Bowland fells to the north with glimpse for the Yorkshire Three Peaks through the haze to the north east.

I set off along the plateau, following the Pendle Way, to descend by Boar Clough. (“Clough” is a local term used for a steep valley or ravine.)


Usually this route would be much more difficult underfoot but the recent warm dry spell meant that the ground was firm, rather than wet and boggy, and the stream that has carved the clough in the hill side was  just about dry.


I descended down into the larger ravine of Ogden Clough


Following the valley I reached the first of the small reservoirs


I carried on down the track and just before the second reservoir cut across the valley through some woods. I was still following the Pendle Trail but the section also forms part of the Lancashire Witches’ Walk, a 51-mile (82 km) long-distance footpath between Barrowford and Lancaster, opened in 2012 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the trials of the Pendle witches. The poet laureate,  Carol Ann Duffy, was commissioned to write a poem for the trail and Ten cast iron tercet waymarkers, designed by Stephen Raw, each inscribed with a verse of the poem the have been installed at sites along the route. I passed the second of these.


Looking closer at the inscription


The whole of the poem is inscribed on one side of the waymarker, but it’s not so easy to read, but you can see it here.

My route now took me up  the hill on the opposite side of the stream

Looking back


and up through and then besides Fell wood before following a path eastwards through the fields towards the small village of Newchurch in Pendle.

There was a good view across the valley to Pendle Hill


Continuing to follow the Witches’ Walk


On to Newchurch


I paused to take a look at the “new” church (well, it was new in 1740).


I passed the souvenir shop (which was closed as it was now well after 5p.m.)

I love the inscription above the door. It’s in Lancashire dialect. “Gerrit Spent” looks like a Dutch gentleman’s name but it translates as “get it spent”. The rest of the transcription meaning “they don’t put pockets in shrouds”.

The final leg of my route took me across the woods and fields towards Barley


with Pendle Hill in view as I walked along the track back to the village


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Another good, varied walk (just over 6 miles)  during the late afternoon and early evening on a fine day.

Chiharu Shiota: Beyond Time in the Chapel at the YSP


As well as the sculptures on show around the magnificent Country Park, the YSP has a number of really excellent indoor exhibition spaces. One of our favourites is the old Georgian Chapel building which is a really beautiful space and the YSP use it for some inspirational installations.


The current exhibition features a work created by the Berlin based Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota. Many of her works are large scale webs of threads, often filling entire rooms, that frequently incorporate everyday objects such as keys, , dresses and shoes. . The main work in the Chapel is one of these. Beyond Time is a web of white thread almost filling much of the space from floor to ceiling, (2,000 balls of thread were used to construct it),  and incorporating photocopied pages  of sheet music from the YSP’s archives.



The artist usually uses crimson or black  thread, but in an interview for the Studio International website explains why for the Chapel white thread has been used

“For purity. And death.” White is the colour of mourning in Japan, which seems appropriate, given the simple gravestones and marble memorial slabs embedded in the site. But it also represents renewal.

Visitors can walk around and through the installation and view it looking down from the seats in the balcony

Photographs can’t do it justice. It needs to be seen and experienced

Giuseppe Penone: A Tree in the Wood at the YSP


Last Sunday we decided to drive over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A new exhibition had opened the previous week that we wanted to see and it’s always nice to combine seeing good contemporary art with a walk through the Country park, especially on a sunny day.

The new exhibition is devoted to the work of an Italian artist, Giuseppe Penone. I’d seen an exhibition of his work in the gardens of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam a couple of years ago so was familiar with his work. Rather like David Nash, much of his work is created from trees, often integrating with other natural materials like rocks and marble. Like Nash he also casts trees and wood and bark in bronze.

As usual with the major YSP exhibitions, works were displayed both outdoors around the park and gardens and inside the Underground Gallery.

Pathway 6 (1986) – a bronze work of a human like figure made of bark growing out of a tree


Bifurcation (1991) – a bronze sculpture of a tree trunk with a handprint from which water flows – I’d seen this one in Amsterdam



Stone veins between the branches (2015), another work I’d seen in Amsterdam. A bronze tree trunk supporting a large granite block which has two smooth faces while the other two bear the drill marks made during the extraction of the block from the quarry


Lighting Struck tree (2012) – yet another work I’d seen  in Amsterdam


One of the first works we saw in the Underground Gallery was  In the Wood (2008). Here the artist had taken a block of wood and cut into it, carving back to a single tree ring so it appears as if a young sapling is emerging from the block.


The centrepiece that straddled the three rooms in the Gallery, Matrix (2015)was a large pine tree split in half along it’s length and then with the middle carved out following a tree ring. The two halves facing each other.

Other works in the first room were two marble works. Body of Stone – Branches (2016) has bronze branches that seem to be growing out of the stone


In a companion piece – Body of Stone – Grid (2016), the marble is covered by a metal grid which appears to eat into the stone


The works in the second room included With Eyes Closed (2009), a picture in which the artist’s eyes are rendered in thousands of acacia thorns.

img_7184 and Skin of Graphite (2012) where graphite has been used to reproduce the pattern on the surface of the artist’s skin. Inspired by a visit to a Yorkshire coal mine in 1989, the work was produced by taking an impression directly from his skin, projecting the pattern formed onto a larger canvas and tracing over it, so magnifying the pattern.


Moving into the third room, the back wall was dominated by To breathe the shadow (2008) consisting of a collection of laurel leaves held in a mesh cage, with a bronze sculpture of a branch and an impression of the artist’s face in the centre



The left wall was covered with a drawing, Propogation (1998/2018) with an enlarged impression of the artist’s fingerprint at the centre


Another marvellous exhibition. We’re never disappointed by all of those we’ve seen at the YSP since our first visits about 10 years ago. And there was more to see (and write up!). The days always seem to disappear when we’re there. I’m certainly not a Telegraph reader, but looking at the review on their website I have to agree that

It all adds up to perhaps the best day out in British art. 

The Fairfield Horseshoe


The weather has been cracking for most of May so I’ve been trying to take advantage of it as much as possible and get up on the moors and fells. Travelling over a Bank Holiday weekend can be a bit of a trauma, but I decided I’d extend the recent long weekend by a day and drive back up to the Lakes. I set off early (07:15) and as traffic was lighter than usual due to the school holidays I was parking up in Ambleside before 9 o’clock. In a moment of madness I’d decided to tackle one of the classic Lake District walks – the Fairfield horseshoe. Leaving from and returning to Ambleside it’s an 11 mile walk that takes in a total of 8 peaks.

It was an easy start. A short stretch along the busy Amblside – Grasmere – Keswick road before turning off along a gentle path towards Rydal.


Passing Rydal Hall, where I popped into the garden to get a view of the Georgian mansion house


and then Wordsworth’s former home at Rydal Mount.


Then the climb began up to the first of the 8 peaks, Nab Scar. A hard start up a long, very steep (seemed almost vertical!) hill. BUt as I climbed great views staryed to open up, looking back to Windermere


and west to Loughrigg


Rydal Water, and the Coniston Fells


Grasmere, the Langdales and even the Scafells


It was hard work on what was turning into a hot day and I was beginning to doubt my sanity, but eventually I reached the top of the climb and started to head towards the next peak, Heron Pike. That meant some more climbing, but a lot easier than the initial ascent.


As I started the climb up to the next peak, Great Rig, the wind was picking up and it was becoming cooler. A welcome breeze even if it meant I had to hang on to my hat to stop it blowing away down to Grasmere!

Looking back to Heron Pike from the windy summit of Great Rig, where I stopped for a bit to eat,


and looking on to the next summit, the mid point and highest point on the walk – Fairfield at 2864 feet.


It’s more exposed and some cloud was blowing in from the east on the strong wind. I kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be too misty on the top.

After some more climbing I reached the top of Fairfield. It’s a broad flat plateau littered with rocks without an obvious summit.  The cloud was blowing in and out and it was windy and much colder than when I started in Ambleside.


Halfway round, I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat, sheltering behind a cairn where I chatted with a couple of other walkers. Then it was time to set off to complete the second half of the circuit.

There’s a number of paths from the top of Fairfield leading to different directions. But the cloud dispersed and i had no problem finding the right one that lead towards Hart Crag.  As I followed the path I got a good view  along the valley towards Windermere and both of the ridges – the one I’d just walked and the one I was to follow back to Ambleside.


Heading towards Hart Crag


After reaching the summit there was a steep descent before the next climb up to Dove Crag

Now views opened up towards High Street and the Kentmere Horseshoe with the distinctive shape of Ill Bell standing out on the horizon


Reaching the top of Dove Crag I stopped for a short while, sheltering from the easterly wind behind the summit cairn where I chatted with a couple from North Wales I’d been following round the route.


Another steep descent and there were two more peaks – High Pike and Low Pike to traverse. There was a drystone wall all along the top which the route followed.


The wall walks the fell –
Grey millipede on slow
Stone hooves;
Its slack back hollowed
At gulleys and grooves,
Or shouldering over
Old boulders
Too big to be rolled away.
Fallen fragments
Of the high crags
Crawl in the walk of the wall . . .

(extract from Wall by Norman Nicholson)

Apparently, the official right of way is on the right of the wall but the path seemed to be better on the left hand side. As we’d had good weather with little rain for the past few weeks, the going was good over the peaty ground, but it was clear that for much of the year sections of the walk would something of a quagmire.

Looking across Scandale to Red Screes


and back to Scandale Head


Looking down towards Ambleside and Windermere


back to High Pike from Low Pike


It was all downhill now into Scandale.



At the bottom of the valley, with not much further back to Ambleside, looking over to my right I could see the fells I’d climbed that morning at the beginning of my walk


Another half an hour and I was back in Ambleside


Time for some caffeine!


It had been a long but very rewarding walk in generally good conditions. 11 miles and just short of 4,000 feet of ascent. I was tired, but glad to have completed it and be able to tick another item off my bucket list!

Wythburn Church


My recent walk up Helvellyn started and finished in the car park next to Wythburn church.


It’s a small, but attractive building with white rendered walls and a green Lakeland slate roof.  Originally constructed in 1554 on the site of an earlier chapel, it was rebuilt  in 1640, and again in 1740 with some additions in the 19th Century. It’s a Grade II listed building

The church used to serve a small, isolated, rural community but the local population was severely reduced once Thirlmere was turned into a reservoir to provide water for Manchester at the very end of the 19th Century. Despite this it is still in use with services held during the summer months.


After I had finished my walk I went to have a look around the outside of the church and noticed that it was open. So I had to go inside to have a peek inside.


It was surprisingly light inside and clearly well looked after.

The church was well known to the Lakes poets. Hartley Coleridge (the son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge) called the church a ‘humble house of prayer’, while William Wordsworth saw it as a ‘modest house of prayer.’

Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike


What a change May has been. After an awful start to the year the weather has been much better during this month so last Sunday (20th) I set off early and drove back up to the Lakes. I’d decided I’d climb Helvellyn, England’s third highest peak.  I’d decided to take the less adventurous route (I was going to type “easier” but it was anything but) up from the Thirlmere side rather than tackle Striding and Swirral Edges. I’ll save that for another day.


Saturday had been a glorious, sunny day. Unfortunately Sunday wasn’t quite so good. The morning started rather grey and visibility wasn’t great. And it was windy on the top.

I parked up in the small car park by Wythburn church


and donned my boots and started the steep climb up through the forest. Although it was still early, it was quite warm and I was only wearing a t-shirt and a light fleece I was soon unzipping the latter. I had a windproof / waterproof jacket and gloves in my rucksack, though. I had over two and a half feet to climb and the temperature was certain to drop. I needed my jacket by the time I reached the top.

I gained height quickly and looking back I soon got a good view of Thirlmere with Skiddaw on the horizon to the north


I carried on climbing, taking a rest at Comb Crags to grab a bite to eat as my blood sugar had dropped. This was the view looking back


The path skirted the flanks of Nethermost Pike before ascending up the ridge to the summit of Helvellyn

Reaching the hawse before the final ascent I could see the south face of Striding Edge


A short climb and I had reached the summit. Helvellyn is a broad plateau so it’s not so easy to decide exactly where the summit is! But I grabbed a bite to eat in the shelter, snapped a few photos and then walked along  the plateau, taking in the views.

Red Tarn and Striding Edge. There’s still some snow in a sheltered spot the sun doesn’t reach.


Swirral Edge and Catseye Cam with Ullswater  in the distance


Gough’s monument


It was windy on the top so I didn’t stay too long. Retracing my steps for a while before branching off up towards the top of Nethermost Pike


Looking back towards Helvellyn


Nethermost Pike is another flat topped mountain. There were great views over to the west where I cold make out the silhouettes of the  Coniston Fells, the Langdales, Bow Fell the Scafells and Great Gable. Pity visibility wasn’t better


My route would take me over Nethermost Pike, High Crag and on to Dollywagon Pike


Looking down to Grisedale


Looking back at High Crag


Another climb took me to the summit of Dollywagon Pike. Here’s a few views from the top

Down Grisedale towards Ullswater


towards Fairfield


Now it was time to start my descent, initially down the south side of Dollywagon Pike down to Grisedale Tarn


A steep descent down the path


Reaching the tarn I followed the path and skirted the south shore, resisting the temptation to climb Seat Sandal

Looking over the tarn back to Dollywagon Pike


and over to Fairfield


Now for the worst part of the walk, the descent down the steep path beside Raise Beck.


I always find descents harder work as it’s hard on my knees. But I persevered and eventually reached the main Grasmere to Keswick road.


It was just over a mile back to the car park, but fortunately the route didn’t entail walking on the tarmac as there was a path that cut across the fields


and then through the forest


A view over Thirlmere


A steep descent down through the forest and I was back at the car park