Red Screes

A week last Sunday I fancied getting out to stretch my legs so headed up to the Lake District. At this time of the year the daylight hours are short so I wanted a route that would get me back to the car before darkness descended. I decided to drive up to Ambleside and walk up Scandale and then climb up Red Screes. It’s a route I’d done before and although not the most popular way up the mountain – most people seem to take the steep climb up from the Kirkstone Pass – I’d enjoyed the walk up the quiet valley. This time another solitary rambler was following the same route and we kept passing each other. We eventually walked together and chatted for a while, until I had to stop to top up my blood sugar.

I arrived around 8:30 and parked up in the main car park and booted up. There were quite a few other people also getting ready to head off onto the fells, either walking or cycling. I walked through the town centre and was soon setting off up the lane that led up Scandale Pass.

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Looking across the valley
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Carrying on up the “lonning” (the Cumbrian term for “lane”
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Looking across the valley – Rydal Water just about visible
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The picturesque Sweden Bridge – the subject of many photographs!
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Carrying on along the valley. The other solitary walker a short distance ahead.
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The lonely valley!
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Through the gate – not too far to the top of the pass now
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Looking back down the valley as I approached the top of the pass. From there there was a steep climb up to the summit of Red Screes. There was a path that followed along the side of a dry stone wall but after a while we (I’d teamed up with the other walker by now) strayed off and found our own way up the hill side.
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Looking down towards Patterdale and Brothers’ Water
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Getting close to the summit. The temperature had dropped and there were several patches of snow.
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The small un-named tarn at the summit had frozen over
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The summit with its trig point and shelter dead ahead. Time to stop, grab a bite to eat and a hot coffee from my flask while I admired the views
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Looking across to Dovedale and the Fairfield horseshoe
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The view over Middle Dod down to Patterdale
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Looking across the Kirkstone Pass to Hartsop Dod (I think!)
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Across to Ill Bell and the west side of the Kentmere fells

It was time to start making my way back to Ambleside down the long whale-back ridge of Red Screes. There were great views all the way as I descended.

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Zooming in on the Kirkstone Inn and the car park
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Ill Bell again – I can’t resist taking snaps of this mountain!
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A good view along Windermere opened up. The photo is rubbish, though as I shooting into the sun
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Looking across to Rydal Water and Grasmere
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Yet another shot across to the Kentmere fells – Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke
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Looking across the “Struggle” to Wansfell
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A herd of Belted Galloways and Highland Cattle
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Windemere and Ambleside ahead – still shooting into the sun!
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Descending down the last stretch of the fell

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Through that gate is the steep road down from the Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside, known as “The Struggle”.
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Looking across to Wansfell from The Struggle
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Coming into Ambleside
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I made my way down to the town centre and had a mooch around the shops picking up a few items in the sales before returning to my car.

Passing Bridge House on the way to the car park – it’s obligatory to take a photo!

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Sunset on the cliffs at Whitburn

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Last week I was up in the North East with work. An intersting project for my second, part time academic job! I used this as an opportunity to visit some of my relatives up there and they were kind enough to put me up (and put up with me 😉) for a couple of days. I drove up on the Monday planning to arrive before sunset. As it happend I got there quicker than expected so decided to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after a long drive.

I parked up near Souter lighthouse and strolled along the cliffs. During the walk the sun began to set and I was treated to a glorious sky lit up red and gold, reflected in the sea. My photos, snapped on my phone, don’t really do justice to what I saw.

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First walk of 2022 – Rivington and Anglezarke

You have to make the most of any good weather during the winter months and last week, Tuesday promised to be a fine, if cold day, so I decided to get out for a walk on the moors. I had considered travelling further afield but the hours of daylight are short in January and I wasn’t up early enough to travel up to the Lakes or Dales.

I drove over to Rivington and parked up near the barns. I hadn’t decided on an exact route, but had in mind several options, taking into account how bad it was underfoot. The moors are notoriously boggy after wet weather and we’d had plenty of that recently. But it had been cold with a hard frost for a couple of nights and I had hopes that would reduce the risk of sinking into the mire, which is how it largely, at least, worked out.

I’d decided to start by climbing up to the top of the Pike through the Terraced Gardens, knowing that would be dry underfoot on the paved paths.

I branched off the main haul, which was quite busy, opting to follow a path I’d never been down before, which led tot he South Lodge

Carrying on I reached the rather stunning Ravine. I know these slopes pretty well after many years of wandering through the gardens, but I’d never seen it before. Looking at the information board I could see that it was an “enhanced” natural feature, part of the original design by Mawson, that had fallen badly into disrepair, but had been restored during the major renovation of the gardens in recent years. The restoration team had certainly done an excellent job.

I crossed the ravine part way up and snapped photographs looking up

and down!

I carreied on and climbed the hill up to the Japenese gardens with its lake, that acts as a reservoir feeding the waters of the ravine.

I carried on and took the old road, walking round the top of the Pike

and climbed up to the summit from the south – an unusual route for me.

On a sunny, if cold day, there were quite a few people on the summit. I stopped for a while for a brew and a bite to eat taking in the views. Long range visibility wasn’t so good but there were good views over the moors towards Winter Hill

and towards Noon Hill and Anglezarke.

The moors looked tempting but in winter tend to be something of a morass of wet, boggy peat. However, it was cold and the ground was partially frozen, especially on northern facing slopes shaded from the sun, which gave some support and minimised the risk of sinking too deep into the bog, so I chanced it, taking the path over the moor towards Noon Hill.

As I expected, there were some significant stretches of bog but with them partially frozen, my boots didn’t get too wet and muddy.

The summit of Noon Hill is crowned by a cairn on top of a prehistoric burial mound which is a Scheduled Monument.

I stopped for a while sitting on a convenient rock to drink a hot coffee from my flask and admire the views over the moors.

I took the path down to the old Belmont road and walked a short distance along the rough track back towards the Pike before descending down a steep path towards the new road.

The road is a favourite run for motorcyclists, particularly at weekends when they zoom along at speeds well above the legal limit, but on this ocassion ti was quiet with very little traffic. I walked a short distance along the road before taking the path across the moor and headed towards the ruined farm known as Old Rachels.

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View over the moors from Old Rachel’s

After a brief rest I carried on westwards turning off down another path across the peat towards Simms, where there’s the remains of another two farms.

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Looking back across the moor towards Winter Hill from Simms

From there I joined the track towards Lead Mine Clough

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Lead mine clough

Then down the valley besides the river and then on to Yarrow Reservoir.

The view across Yarrow Reservoir over to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

along the reservoir and descended beside the overflow down to Anglezarke Reservoir. I crossed the dam and then took the track along Higher Rivington Reservoir then made my way to Rivington Village. It’s a small collection of dwellings with a couple of churches, and more of a hamlet really, but quite attractive

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The village stocks
Rivington Congregational church

I finished off my coffee sitting in the sunshine in the Congrational Church graveyard. It was then only a short distance back to the car.

It had been a grand walk on a sunny winter’s day, and I’d explored a few paths I’ve never been down before despite my long aquaintance with these moors. The weather turned the next day and since then it’s been mainly wet, grey and miserable. But the sun pops out now and again and I’ll be off out again, work permitting – you’ve gt to make the most of it in the winter.

Christmas in York

In 2018 and 2019 we spent Christmas away from home, staying in Haarlem where our daughter was living at the time. We’d enjoyed the experience but last year’s lockdown meant that Christmas 2000 was spent at home in the house watching the telly, reading, and eating and drinking. This year, though, we decided to get away. Despite the resurgence of the lurgy with the Omicron variant, we were all fully vaccinated and boosted and decided we’d get away, booking a rather nice apartment in Fossgate in the centre of York. Like Haarlem, it’s an old city with plenty to see (although only a couple of hours drive from home – M62 willing, of course!) while being careful to minimise the risk of picking up the virus.

Our apartment on Fossgate. The top 2 floors of an old Georgian building above a shop

We arrived late afternoon the day before Christmas Eve returning the day after Boxing Day. After a relatively trouble free drive over the Pennines, we unloaded and then set out to explore the streets of York. It was the last day of the Christmas market and we managed to catch the last few hours before it shut down.

Christmas tree on Parliament Street
The Christmas market

After a mooch around the market and town centre we returned to the apartment and settled in, adding a few Christmassy touches (I was surprised that the owners hadn’t put up a few decorations)

After a few hours relaxing we went out again, but not so far. We’d booked a table in a Polish restaurant, the Blue Barbakan, just a few doors down the street.

Afterwards we had a short stroll around the now quiet streets

The Shambles. It’s usually jammed with tourists!
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The MInster

On Christmas Eve I was up fairly early before the rest of the family and popped out to stock up with some supplies for our traditional Christmas Eve buffet. Later when everyone one was up we set out to explore the city in the daylight. Son and daughter did there own thing but we all met up later for a coffee.

Low Petergate

West end of the MInster

St William’s College
One of the many Medieval churches
St Crux Parish Room
The Kiosk – an excellent coffee shop just across from our apartment

We returned to the apartment and spent the late afternoon watching the live stream of the service from the Minster while preparing and then eating our meal. Lots to eat and plenty of leftovers for Boxing Day!

Everyone (with one usual exception!) was up bright and early on Christmas morning. When everyone was up it was time to open our presents. A few hours later it was time to prepare our Christmas dinner. No turkey for us – we’re not fans and – but we’d bought some good quality steaks. We hadn’t been sure of what the cooking facilities would be like so had opted for a relatively easy approach. The steaks would only need frying and we’d bought mainly pre-prepared veg that only needed heating in the oven.

My Christmas dinner main course – with a smoked wild salmon stater preceding and follwed by Christmas pud

Afterwards we sat and chatted before going out for a short mooch around the quiet streets to walk off some of the carbs! Most of the evening was spent eating, drinking and watching TV. Not much different than at home but the change in surroundings made it a nice change. And later on I went out for a short walk around the quiet streets.

Tree dressed up with lights in York Castle square
The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall at night
Bootham Bar
The Minster central tower
East end of the Minster

Boxing Day was spent on more sightseeing along the walls and around the streets of the small city.

The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall

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Monk Bar
On the walls
Looking towards the Minster from the walls
Foundations of the original Roman Walls
The Merchant Taylor’s Hall

A number of the shops were open for the post Christmas sales.

We returned to the apartment and spent the evening finishing off the food and drink left over from the previous two days while watching Christmas films on TV before turning in for our last night of our short Christmas break. We’d enjoyed it – it was good to get away for a change of scenery. All being well we’ll be doing it again in 2022.

A brief visit to Knaersborough

Last week we’d been up to the North East for a few days. I had a work commitment up there so we took the opportunity to stop over a couple of nights and visit some family. On the way back home we decided to break the journey and stopped off at Knaersborough, somewhere I’d never been before.

It’s an old town, going back to Norman times, if not before, with the remnants of a Norman fortress. Although in the middle of Yorkshire it used to be part of the Duchy of Lancaster. It’s very close to Harrogate (which I have visited several times for work and pleasure) and was the main centre in the locality until mineral waters were discovered in the latter leading to it’s development of a spa resort and subsequently outgrowing it’s older neighbour in size and importance.

We only had a few hours to spare – especially with the short hours of daylight during this time of the year, but that was enough to get a flavour of the small town. We parked up in a car park on the edge of the town centre and then made our way down to the market square. It was market day, so we had a mooch around the stalls before looking for a suitable hostelry to grab a bite to eat. The small town isn’t lacking in cafes and the likes, and we decided on the Six Poor Folk a cafe bar located in a former hospital for paupers, dating back to 1480. It was quite small and could only “cater” for a small number of patients, hence its name.

It was very cosy and nicely decorated inside (with appropriate spacing and other Covid precautions)

and was even frequented by the Town Crier

We bought ourelves a tasty light lunch (I had the steak sandwich) and J treated herself to a glass of mulled wine

Well fed, we wandered over towards the ruins of the Norman castle, taking in the view over the River Nidd far below.

There were dark clouds in the sky, but some sunshine kept breaking through lighting up the keep.

The castle was held by Royalists during the Civil War but was captured by Parliamentarian troops. As with other Royalist strongholds, it was subsequently dismantled leaving the ruins we see today.

Inside the grounds there’s an impressive Tudaor building which today houses a small museum

with displays, including furniture from when it was used as a courtroom during Tudor times, and exhibits about the castle, the town and notable former residents.

After visiting the interesting little museum (entry fee only £2) we had a mooch around the small town centre. The buildings looked to be largely Georgian. I noticed that quite a few of them had tromp d’oiel paintings on their exterior.

Knaresborough used to a centre of the linen industry and there’s a number of old textile mills that have been repurposed, like the one below which is an art gallery and framing shop

The most famous person associated with Knaersborough is Ursula Sontheil, better known as Mother Shipton. Born in 1488, during the reign of Henry VII, she found renown as a prophetess, allegedly foretelling the future of several monarchs, the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. the cave where she is supposed to have been born is a popular tourist attraction, which include a petrifying well which “turns everyday objects into stone” by the precipitation of minerals onto their surface when submerged. There’s a statue of the prophetess in the Market Square

close to a second celebrating another former resident, Jack Metcalf, better known as Blind Jack, who lost his eyesight due to smallpox at the age of six. Despite this he found fame as a musician, tourist guide, soldier (who was present at the Battle of Culloden) and road engineer.

After purchasing a couple of slices of Yorkshire curd from a local baker’s to take home with us, we headed back to the car and then set off on the journey home. It was only 4 o’cock but was already starting to go dark.

We enjoyed our brief stop in the town and may find ourselves back there again to explore further in the furture.

Sunset on the Knott

So, I didn’t catch the 3:30 train. At this time of year it’s going dark at 4 pm and I thought I’d spend a little more time in Arnside and then watch the sunset over Morecambe Bay from the top of the Knott. I reckoned I’d still have time to catch the direct train at 5:30. It was a good decision.

I took a break for a while followed by a short walk along the shore. Then I turned inland and set up the hill towards the Knott. The sun was already starting to go down and the temperature was dropping but my down jacket was keeping me nice and snug.

Leaving the streets of Victorian houses behind, I walked through woodland and then, emerging on tot he open fell, looking behind me the views opened up over the estuary towards the mountains of the Lake District

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and to the east, there was Ingleborough on the horizon

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Reaching the top of the hill I walked along the ridge to a viewpoint overlooking the Bay. The sun was beginning to set

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The sun slowly slipping below the horizon

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Until the sky and the sea were on fire

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I made my way back down the hill and after a final look along the estuary

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walked back to the station in good time to catch my train back to Wigan.

What a marvelous end to the day.

Over the years Arnside and Silverdale and the Cartmel penisnsula on the other side of the Kent estuary have become favourite haunts when I fancy a moderate expenditure of energy and an easy (usually) journey on the train. It’s less well frequented area than the Lakes as visitors zoom past on the M6. I hope that doesn’t change as since my visit it’s turned up twice on the TV. Arnside was the subject of an episode of the BBC series “Villages by the Sea” and it also featured as a “Winter Walk” on BBC 2 last week. Both on iplayer for a few weeks, I suppose.

Arnside, Storth and the Fairy Steps

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At the moment, looking out of the window, Storm Barra is arriving and it’s wet and windy outside. Not a good day for a walk. But it was quite different a couple of weeks ago when I took the train to Arnside for the second walk of my long late autumn weekend.

Although I’ve been walking around Arnside and Silverdale quite a few times over the years, I’d plotted out a route where I hadn’t ventured before, to the east of the village following the old coffin road to Beetham. It was a beautiful sunny day, cold, but with no wind so I soon warmed up as I set off walking.

Leaving the station I turned left instead of turning right towards the prom. After a short stretch of road I turned left down a track and then over the level crossing.

There was reasonable path throught he fields, although a bit muddy underfoot.

The next stretch, however, was more than a bit muddy. The clue was in the name really – Arnside Moss. Although agricultural land this would once have been part of the flood plain of the River Kent and I found myself wading through boggy land, sinking at times so that the mud covered the top of my boots. Luckily I got across this stretch unharmed except for boots completely coated with muck. (Perhaps I should have got some advice from Mark of Beating the Bounds – this is his patch!)

I crossed a couple more fields, much drier underfoot, heading towards Hazelslack Tower, an old, ruined Peel Tower, one of several in the area (I’ve passed another, Arnside Tower, many times during my wanders around here)

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I walked past the tower, which is next to a farm, took the path across a field and then passed through a gate into the woods, following the signs for Beetham and the Fairy Steps.

I was in limestone country now so much drier underfoot.

After walking through pleasant woodland, I reached what looked like a dead end

but there was a way through – I’d reached the Fairy Steps – a flight of naturally occuring stone steps in a narrow passage between two sheer rock faces. Allegedly if you you climb or descend the steps without touching the sides of the narrow gully the local fairies will appear and grant you a wish.

Well, you’d have to be a lot slimmer than me to achieve that. It was a real squeeze – I had to take off my rucksack or I wouldn’t have got through! There is a diversion to avoid the steps for those of wider girth, or who otherwise don’t fancy the challenge. Amazingly the steps are part of the “coffin route” between Arnside and Beetham.

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Before Arnside had a church and graveyard, the dead had to be transported to Beetham for burial in consecrated ground. In those days there wasn’t a road alongside the river and this would have been the main route between the two villages. It seems impossible to get a coffin up through the narrow gap but I suppose that in those days the corpse would have been wrapped in a shroud rather than put in a wooden box. But I certainly wouldn’t have liked the job of carrying the body.

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I stopped for a bite to eat and a hot drink from my flask at the top of the steps with views through the trees across to the Kent Estuary and Arnside Knott on the other side of the moss.

Refreshed, I carried on through the woods, down the hill in the direction of Beetham

but turned off in the direction of Storth. I reached a minor road and followed it a short distance before turing onto a path through more woodland

eventually emerging near the small village of Storth

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I passed through the village arriving on the banks of the Kent Estuary.

It was still a glorious bright sunny day and the Lake District Fells from Coniston to Red Screes were clearly visible in the distance

I joined the path that followed an old railway line along the banks of the river towards Arnside. The bright sun was very low preventing me from taking photos in th edirection I was walking, but I grabbed a few snaps looking back towards Storth and across the river.

There were sheep grazing out on the marsh. Salt Marsh lamb is a delicacy yet, along with flounder and shrimps from Morecambe Bay, you never see it on the menu of the local hostelries in Arnside which serve up the usual formulistic “pub grub”.

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The path terminates behind the station and as it was about 3 pm there was a direct train back to Wigan due in less than half an hour. But I had an idea. So instead of waiting on the station, I crossed the footbridge and headed towards the prom.

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To be continued….!

Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell and Ashness Bridage

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Last weekend Saturday was a washout but Sunday and Monday were looking promising, so I cleaned up my boots and planned a couple of walks.

Sunday, I was up early, defrosted the car and set off up towards Keswick. I’d decided on a not too demanding walk east of Derwent Water rather than heading out onto the higher fells. Daylight is short at this time of the year and I didn’t want to push my luck and have to end up coming down off the fells in the dark.

I arrived at the National Trust car park at Great Wood. There were a few other cars there when I arrived at around 9:15 and I was getting myself booted up, several more stared arriving. Not surprising as it was a fine, sunny morning.

Boots on, I set off on the path through the woods.

As I gained some height views of the lake and fells started to appear through the trees

I looped round through the woods past Castlerigg farm and then started the climb up to Walla Crag. I never tire of the views obtained on this route

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Skiddaw
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A short steep climb (a bit muddy underfoot) and I reached the summit of Walla Crag. Not so high, but a great viewpoint over the western fells, especially on such a bright late autumn morning. Time to take a break and for a coffee from my flask.

Looking west towards Cat Bells, Causey Pike, Grizedale Pike … and the rest!
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Looking over towards Bassenthwaite Lake – there’s Scotland in the distance.

After a short break it was time to get moving again. I set out for my next objective, Bleaberry Fell. An easy, gentle walk on a good path across the boggy moorland at first with a bit of a bite at the end.

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Looking back as I neared the summit

Reaching the top it was time for another brew break. It was cloudier over to the east, but there were still good views over to the Dodds and the Helvellyn range

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Clough head and the Dodds
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Looking towards Helvellyn
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Looking South West down Borrowdale – Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Glaramarra, Bowfell and Esk Pike all visible on the horizon

The last time I was up here I made my way over to High Seat, which is only a short distance from the top of Bleaberry Fell. That was in May a couple of years ago and it was something of a bog fest even then. I thought better of it this time – I didn’t fancy getting sucked down into the murky depths of the soaking peat! Even Wainwright reckons that “this is a walk to wish on one’s worst enemy“. So I retraced my steps down from the top and along the path heading back towards Walla Crag

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But part way down I diverted onto the path that descended to the popular beauty spot of Ashness Bridge.

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The old pack horse bridge, with the view over Derwent Water to Skiddaw, is a very popular “honeypot” and there were quite a few people, including a few “serious” photographers, all trying to snap photographs and selfies. I stopped for a brew and a bite to eat but you have to take a photo don’t you?

There’s a car park here but to reach it the cars had to cross the narrow bridge. It was fun watching all the overlarge “Chelsea Tractors”, which everyone has to have these days, trying to manoeuvre over the bridge without scratching their paintwork on the sides – no doubt with their parking sensors going into overdrive! Shouldn’t laugh though, I’ve a smaller car and would be cautious!

It was time to move on and I set off down the path through the woods back towards the my car.

passing Raven Crags

Before reaching the car park I cut off down a path towards the lake and then after a scramble down to the shore, I walked on the lake side path towards Calfclose bay

It’s become something of a tradition when I’m over this way to check out the Hundred Year Stones to see whether they’re submerged in the lake. They were dipping their toes in the water this visit!

The stones were created by Peter Randall-Page to mark the centenary of the National Trust in 1995

I made my way back to the car. It was clear that it had been full earlier on in the day but now it was later in the afternoon people had started to leave

Time for me to leave too. After debooting (is that a word?) I drove into Keswick to have a quick nosey round the town and pick up some treats from Booths’ supermarket.

It was busy in Keswick, so I didn’t stay long, but did pop into Bookends for a nosey

Returning to my car after picking up my supplies from Booths I could see Skiddaw lit up by the setting sun. The car park wasn’t the best viewpoint for a photo, but I snapped one anyway.

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The drive home wasn’t fun. It was fine until I got to around the Sedbergh junction on the M6 then I was stuck in slow moving (sometimes stationary) traffic all the way down the rest of the M6 and the M61. Not surprising as lots of people had clearly had the same idea as me and been out on a sunny day, setting for home at sunset.

But that was a minor inconvenience. I’d had a great day out. The forecast was sunny for Monday too and I’d decided to take the day off!