A walk from Winster

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The final day of my short break in the Peak District I followed another route from the Vertebrate Day Walks in the Peak District guide. Setting out from the former lead mining village of Winster, taking in woodland, heath, an ancient stone circle, gritstone rock formations and Elton, another former mining village. For at least part of this walk I would have been walking in the footsteps of some of my ancestors – my family history research had revealed that a great x 7 and great x 6 grandfathers had been born in Elton and my great x7 grandmother had been born in Winster. It’s likely that this branch of my tree originated a little further north, near High Wheeldon where I’d climbed two days before.

The family were lead miners and at one time, this part of the world, on the boundary between millstone grit and limstone geology, was lead mining country. My research revealed that, like a number of Derbyshire miners, moved to work in North Wales, in their case at the Minera mine near Wrexham. The father of the family died relatively young by modern standards at about 50. The nature of the work meant that lead miners were exposed to toxic dusts and other dangers and this was typical life expectancy.

I parked up in the free car park on the outskirts of Winster near the local school and after booting up and after a short walk along the road I climbed over a stile and set off across the fields, the grass still wet after the downpours the day before. No rain was forecast and although the sky was grey it brightened up towards the end of my walk.

I passed through a gate and entered the broadleaf woodland

The trees were quite dense and I had to duck under their branches in places.

After climbing up along the path I reached a track and then the route doubled back taking a dog leg through along a path higher up in the woods.

I passed the remains of of water wheel which would probably have been used to drain a former lead mine

I carried on along the path which emerged from the woods meeting a track. After a mile I turned off through fields of cattle and then past a farm and camp site before reaching the edge of Stanton Moor.

Stanton Moor is owned by Stanton Estates and managed by English Nature . The area has been occupied since prehistoric times and there are a large number of ancient monuments scatttered across the landscape, most of them hidden in the heather and undergrowth.

I crossed the moor

passing a number of millstone grit outcrops

passing Victorian folly, built to commemmorate the Reform Bill in 1832.

I eventually reached the Nine Ladies stone circle, an ancient monument in the care of English Heritage.

The names of the monuments derive from their associations with folk traditions, in which it is said that nine women were dancing on the Sabbath to a fiddler – the King Stone – and were turned to stone.

English Heritage
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Time to stop and take a rest and a bite to eat, perching on a gritstone outcrop, and then carried on across the moor passing an old disused quarry

until I reached the “Cork Stone”, on of a number of “megaliths” found on the moor, Supposedly associated with ancient rituals.

The Cork Stone is certainly associated with one more modern ritual – the footholds carved into the rock are evidence of the Victorian version of “bouldering“.

A right turn and a short walk along a path took me off the moor, joining a quiet road. After a relatively short walk on the tarmac , I turned off opposite a stone works, crossed a car park and took a path through the woods until I reached the small village of Birchover.

I took the track past the Druid Inn, which looked like a god place to stop – but I carried on.

The track took me through pleasant farmland

and finally a path through a field.

Crossing the road and then through a field I reached a track which was part of the Limestone Trail. Turning right I follwed this route heading through fields up towards Robin Hood’s Stride.

I took a slight diversion to visit the Hermit’s Cave at the bottom of the Cratcliffe Tor gritstone outcrop

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To be honest, I found it rather underwhelming!

Leaving the cave it was only a short walk to Robin Hood’s Stride, a large gritstone Tor.

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The legendary Robin Hood is supposed to have between the towers at either end of the tor. He must have had extremely long legs!

Time for another rest before carrying on across a field before meeting a minor road. I then had to tread the tarmac for about a mile before climbing over a stile and descending down and then up a path crossing fields of cattle heading towards my ancestral village of Elton.

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On reaching the village, the sun was shining. Given the family connection I had to explore a little. I had a look in the church graveyard but I couldn’t see any gravestones for possible family members. Not so suprising really as they lived in the early 18th Century and being poor lead miners it’s unlikely any ancestors buried here could have afforded a headstone.

I had a wander round the village . There were plenty of old houses, some of which may have been miners’ dwellings, although today they’re desirable and expensive stone cottages.

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The village isn’t very big so it didn’t take long to explore. I carried on along the road before rejoining the Limestone Trail heading towards Winster.

My route took me through the older part of the village, which used to be a market town and larger than Elton

I passed attractive stone cottages that were probably originally the home of the better off miners.

I had a wander down the main street

The village shop is owned by the local Community

The old Market House is in the care of the National Trust and was the first property they aquired in the Peak District back in 1906.

The NT website tells us

The House itself is two storeys high and rests upon a massive stone base. It follows the traditional pattern of such buildings, originally having the whole of the ground floor open with the upper storey supported by five arches. The date at which these arches were filled in is not known but it was probably during the decline of the market, between 1795 and 1855. The upper chamber is mainly of brick resulting in an attractive contrast with the stone arches and facings.

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and the building is listed by English Heritage.

I was starting to feel tierd by now so made my way back to my car. It had been a cracking walk with lots of interest and a good end to an enjoyable break. I headed home hoping to get back in time to watch the England v Germany match on TV. I hadn’t realised it was an early kick off but managed to get home in time to catch the end of the first half.

Down by the Dove

The second day of my little break in the White Peak I’d decided on another walk from one of the little Vertebrate Publishing guide books of walks in the Peak District that would take me along the banks of the Dove, as far as Milldale then back via Alstonefield before returning to Hartington on a higher stretch of the Dove. The weather forecast was a little iffy with rain promised for Hartington late afternoon

The sky was looking moody as I set off along a track directly opposite the hostel, then through a field,

across a narrow road and down another old track (what would have been called a “lonning” in Cumbria)

This is dairy country

then around some fields and down a path leading down hill to the river

and emerging at Wolfscote Dale, a very attractive deep sided valley in the care of the National Trust, runs northwest to southeast and is deep and steep-sided with a series of weirs along the crystal clear waters of the River Dove. A riverside path runs along the Derbyshire bank of the Dove.

The scenery, even on a dull day, was impressive, as I passed a succession of massive limestone outcrops,

and through pleasant meadows and woodland.

At the end of Wolfscote dale the river is diverted west by a limstone mass known as Shining Tor. Search for this on the net and you’ll find plenty of references to a more well known hill of the same name on the moors not far from the Cat and Fiddle on the pass between Macclesfield and Buxton. there was a road crossing a bridge over the river and then running parrallel to it forking with one branch going up hill to Alstonefield.

Although my next waypoint was the attractive riverside village of Milldale, and the easy option was to follow the road, I took the harder, but more attractive option. Turning left I took a path running parallel to the road wending my way in the opposite direction to the village. After a short while Iturned right to take the path up hill to the top of Shining Tor. It was at this point that the heavens opened.

The wet weather was coming up from the south and as that was the direction I’d been walking I’d hit it as it was making it’s way towards Hartington. I expected that I was probably going to get rained on for the rest of the walk.

I donned my cagoule (expecting rain I already had the rain cover over my rucksack) as the rain came down in cats and dogs.

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Reaching the top the path turned west along the top of the ridge. Despite the rain, grey skies and cloud the views down the valley were still pretty good.

Approaching Milldale the path descended steeply. I needed to take care as the limestone rock underfoot can be treachourously slippy in the rain. Time to take my poles out to give me some stability.

A narrow bridge crossed the Dove and led into the small village. An old packhorse bridge known as the Viator’s Bridge, it’s apparently mentioned in The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

Milldale is the start of Dovedale, allegedly the most attractive stretch of the river which attracts a million visitors every year and there were quite a few people milling around. I was getting very wet at this point and needed to consult my guidebook. There was a stone shelter but it was already occupied by a few people, a couple of whom looked rather like motor tourists. Being careful of social distancing I tried not to get close and ended up trying to keep my guidebook dry as I consulted it standing half in and half out of the shelter. None of the occupants made any effort to make a little room for me. Rather selfish I thought.

As you’d expect from the name, there used to be a mill here. It wasn’t used to grind corn, though, but minerals mined in the area. Looking at the quaint scenery these days it’s difficult to imaging that this was once an industrial area, as indeed was the case throughout the Peak District. Indeed, even today industry isn’t far away, with a number of large, modern limestone and millstone grit quaries that scar the lanscape in some other parts of the Peak District

Carrying on I passed the attractive stone houses

I knew I had a stretch of road to walk along. It was very quiet, though and passed through a very attractive valley

I’d walked over a mile before I realised I’d gone wrong. There were two roads out of Milldale and as I hadn’t consulted my guidebook properly as I’d tried to keep it dry down in Milldale, I’d taken the wrong one. Consulting the OS map app on my phone (my paper map would have got soaked) I could see the road I’d taken would involve an extra mile than the “proper” route but it seemed that the best option was to carry on as returning to the village to take the other road would have involved a longer distance overall. So I had and extra mile to wlak on tarmac in the rain all uphill -yuk.

Reaching Alstonefield, wet and hungry I was feeling a little demoralised as I still had about 5 miles before I’d be back in Hartington and a dry room in the hostel. I lost the will to take photos and, in any case, the small town wasn’t so photogenic. I stopped and huddled behind a wall to grab a bite to eat and then set back off down the road. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the tarmac before I reached a stile and the path over the fields.

It might have been wet but the scenery lifted the heart and the rain started to ease off.

I descended down Narrowdale, by-passing narrowdale Hill. On a nicer, drier day, I’d probably have climbed up to the summit, but today I carried on descending down the dale.

After a while I joined another “lonning”

I reached the footbridge over the Dove at the point where I entered Wolfscote Dale in the morning.

I crossed over and followed the path heading upstream along Beresford Dale towards Hartington.

It hadn’t been raining for a little while but the wet long grass brushing against my trousers ensured they didn’t dry out as I walked.

The path cut across the fields away from the river, reaching Hartington near the car park I’d parked on the day before. And then the heavens opened again.

I called in the cheese shop to purchase some Stilton to take home, queing outside in the rain while I waited my turn – it’s a small shop and only 2 people allowed inside at any one time. Then I had a walk up the hill to the hostel as the sheets of rain descended. I was glad to get back into my room where I could discard my wet clothing and dry off.

I was glad to get back but despite the soaking, which wasn’t completely unexpected, I’d enjoyed the walk (well, most of it!). And tomorrow the forecast was more promising!

Hartington to Longnor and back – via High Wheeldon

It was the start of Wimbledon fortnight – time to escape the constant tennis on the telly!

I had a couple of free days at the beginning of last week and a search of the YHA website found me a couple of nights cheap accomodation in the grand setting of Hartington Hall in the Peak District so last Sunday I was up early and driving to the southern part of the Peak to set out on a walk.

The Peak District isn’t so far from here, but getting there is a bit of a pain. I can catch the train to the north eastern part of the National Park but for other areasmeans a stop starty drive along the A6 (made a little easier by the link road from the airport that cuts out the need to drive through Stockport) or via Knutsford and Macclesfield. It’s so much easier to get up to the Lakes. But I fancied a change and the more gentle landscape of the White Peak compared to the rugged fells would certainly provide that. The area I was visiting was not so familiar to me but I’d discovered something that meant it had a personal significance – my family history research had revealed a connection with a main branch of my family tree.

The long range weather forecast had initially promised sunny skies during my short break, but it changed the nearer I got to Sunday, and now I was expecting grey skies and rain. But hey, ho, what’s the bother with a little water falling from the sky!

Hartington is an attractive old village and, consequently something of a “honeypot” for both walkers and motor tourists – but it still maintains an element of authenticity – much more so than bakewell where I stopped briefly on my way home at the end of my break. It’s one of the places where it’s permitted to produce Stilton , although it’s some distance from the village in Leicestershire that the cheese is named after, and there’s a popular Cheese Shop in the centre of the village opposite the pond and green.

Although I arrived reasonably early in the morning, the “free” parking spaces were already taken, but there’s a large car park on the edge of the village so I parked up, coughed up, booted up and set off. I was basing my walk on a route in the second volume of the Verterbrate Publishing Day Walks in the Peak District. I was doing it in the reverse direction, went higer on access land for part of the walk and added a diversion up a steep hill which probably has a family connection from a long time ago.

Hartington Village green

A short walk on tarmac out of the village passing the old church

and after climbing over a stile I was out on open country climbing the hillside on the east side of the Upper Dove valley

The skies were grey and gloomy, but it was good to be out on the remote hillside

This was limestone country (hence the “White Peak”) with rounded hills cut through by deep dales with outcrops of rock and dry stone walls.

Keeping to the higher ground, which was open access land, I diverted from the route a little, by-passing the small hamlets of Pilsbury (and the remains of its Motte and Bailey castle) and Crowdicote – although I have in mind another route where I’d take them in if I return to the area, which I’m certainly tempted to do.

In the distance I could make out the limestone reefs of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill (hard to see on the photo given the poor visibility) and also High Wheeldon

Looking back across the Dove Valley

and looking across the vally in the other direction

Keeping to the high ground above Crowdicote the summit of High Wheeldon was dead ahead

And now there were better views of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill to the north.

These distinctive “dragon’s backs” are the remnants of coral reefs formed when the land that became England was submerged beneath a shallow tropical sea around 340 million years ago.

After a short, steep climb, I reached the summit of High Wheeldon

The land was donated to the National Trust in 1946 and ther’s a war memorial attached to the trig column

I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat and, despite the gloom, enjoyed taking in the views

Looking north towards the village of High Sterndale

I decided to take the path down the north side of the hill. It was a very steep descent and I was glad I had my walking poles with me to keep me steady. But it didn’t take too long to reach the foot of the hill, facing a dramatic limestone cliff

I carried on and now rejoined the guidebook route, taking a path across the fields towards Longnor.

Looking back across the fields to High Wheeldon
Chrome hill and Parkhouse Hills to the north

Reaching Longnor I’d left Derbyshire and was now in Staffordshire

Longnor church

Longnor is another old village of old stone buildings with alleyways and passages leading to the old market square

The car park in the village centre was full

and although there were not too many people around the little cafe on the square was busy and there was no room for a lone walker.

After a short rest on a bench on the square I carried on, passing through the village

and then taking a path past a farm and through the fields to join the Manifold Way

I was now following the course of the River Manifold in a valley separated from the Upper Dove Valley by a ridge of hills. The countryside was “pastoral” and the route passed through flat fields, running parrallel to the river, which made for easy walking.

The landscape becam more rugged to the south

By the small settlement of Brund the route left the Manifold way, following paths through fields back to Hartington via the hamlet of Sheen.

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Back in Hartington
Old farm buildings in Hartington

For a short while the cloud cleared above the village and I topped for a brew, sitting outside the village Post office which had a shop and cafe

Then it was time to return to the car, change out of my boots and drive up to the hostel to book in

A rather grand Youth Hostel

The hostel was in Hartington Hall, which dates back to the 17th Century and is a Grade II listed building. It’s been owned by the YHA since1948.

Anglezarke circular

A couple of weeks ago, on Saturday, I fancied another walk, but didnt feel like driving too far, so the obvious choice was to head over to the West Pennine Moors, only 20 minutes drive from home. I reckoned the peat would be dry so I worked out a route that included going “off piste”, keeping fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get bogged down!

I parked up at Rivington near the barns and set off at about 9 o’clock. It was grey and cloudy but sunshine was promised – although it arrived later than forecast.

I cut across to Rivington village and then through the field and by the brook, cutting up the path alongside Dean Wood Nature Reserve

up to the campsite at Wilcock’s farm.

I crossed the road and climbed over the stile and followed a less well used path onto the moor. After the dry weather he going was good, although it wouldn’t necessarily be like that in the winter.

I followed the path across the moor towards Old Rachel’s, one of a significant number on ruined farms on Anglezarke Moor. At one time people lived here. It must have been a bleak setting in winter, but it was a family home. However, the farms were bought and demolished by Liverpool Corporation after the Anglezarke and Rivington reservoirs were constructed, allegedly to protect the water supply.

On reaching Old Rachel’s I stopped for a while for a rest and to take in the views

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Old Rachel’s today
and how it used to look (source Wikipedia)

and was treated to the sight of a large flock of lapwings flying overhead.

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I carried on to Hempshaws and then on towards Horden Stoops.

There was only a mini-quagmire after Hempshaws – it’s usually very boggy here – which agured good for later in the walk. I got a close up view of a lapwing flying above the moor as I neared Horden Stoops.

Then I turned north following the path over Spitler’s and Redmond’s Edges over to Great Hill. The high cloud hadn’t cleared and there was a stiff breeze and I was glad I’d brought a fleece with me.

I climber to the summit of Great Hill and then stopped for a while in the shelter out of the wind for a bite to eat.

I descended down the path towards Drinkwaters but before I reached the ruin I took the path down towards another ruin, Great Hill Farm.

I doubled back along the Bottom of Great Hill towards the Edges,

getting close up views of a curlew. It flew over head a few times and then landed on the grass not far from the path. I must have been close to its nest. I tried to get a close up with my phone – this is the best I could do

Reaching the stile at the bottom of the path up to the top of Great Hill I turned onto the open moor and more or less followed a path over the pet heading towards Round Loaf. It was squidgy in a few places, and the path wasn’t always easy to trace, but it was generally OK.

There was plenty of bog cotton blooming

I stopped for a break on top of the tumulus

Winter Hill and Rivington Pike across the moor
Looking back to Great Hill

and then set off again across the peat towards Hurst Hill.

Looking back towards Round Loaf and Great Hill
The cairn on Hurst Hill

After enjoying the views for a while I headed down the path towards Moor Road.

Looking towards Healy Nab

Joining the road I walked along the tarmac for half a mile or so past Manor Farm

until I reached Jepson’s Gate where I took the path that headed back towards the moors.

The cloud had begun to disperse and is was getting hotter, especially in the sun.

I joined the path that cut across the fields towards Parson’s Bullogh and Allance Bridge.

The Yarrow at Allance Bridge

Reaching the road, I decided to walk back to Rivington beside the reservoirs so follwed the road a short distance before taking the path along Yarrow Reservoir.

Looking over Yarrow Reservoir towards the moors

I cut down the path down past the overflow (which, given the dry weather of late, wasn’t flowing) and then crossed the dam to join the path along the north side of Lower Rivington reservoir.

I crossed the dam between the two Rivington reservoirs stopping to watch the dingys sailing on the water of the Upper reservoir.

I follwed the the lake side path back to the Saxon barn and then up the road to my car.

The route

Along the Hodder – Part 2

So, it was time to set out again following the Hodder in the opposite direction to my morning jaunt – upstream this time.I was following a route I’d seen on Bowland Climber’s blog. It wasn’t as long and looked a little easier than the downstream route.

So I set off in the same direction as during the morning, but turned off the track over a stile and into the fields just before the bridge over the Hodder at Thorneyholme Hall.

It would be wet and boggy underfoot during the winter and when the weather had been wet, but we hadn’t seen much rain for a few weeks.

The path ran parrallel to the river through the fields

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At Boarsden, the path passed a farm house with a very tidy garden of flowers

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and emerged on the quite Dunsop Bridge to Newton road. The route included a walk on the tarmac for about half a mile before I was back in the fields.

I spotted some cattle at the bottom of the next field – it didn’t look like there were any bulls this time! The path led down to teh river and a rather rickety looking suspension footbridge (I’d passed another one earlier in the walk

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This was the view looking down at the river from the middle of the bridge

and looking back at the bridge from the other side

I crossed another field until I reached a minor road heading back in the direction of Dunsop Bridge. I carried on until I reached the curiously named Giddy Bridge where I stopped for a break to top up my blood sugar.

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Carrying the track passed through fields of sheep heading towards Knowlmere Manor

approaching the river bank at one point

The Hall came into view

Doing a little research after the walk I discovered that it’s a private house but I couldn’t find anything else about the occupants. It has a plethora (a good word that!) of chimneys. The original owners must have needed to keep the house warm given it’s remote location close to the moors which must be pretty wild and windy at times. I wouldn’t like to have to shell out for their heating bills.

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The track carried on past the house through more fields

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I should have branched off as I got near to Dunsop Bridge, but missed the junction and found myself passing Lower Thorneyholme Farm. Realising my mistake and trying to minimise the diversion I cheekily followed the farm track back towards the river. I then took the riverside path a short distance towards Thorneyhome hall and crossed the bridge over the Hodder and walked the short distance back to the car park.

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The cafe had closed, so I had to make do with a drink of water from my reserve bottle in the car boot! Time to change out of my boots and drive home. It had been a good day in beautiful countryside. I don’t think it will be too long before I’m back in Bowland.

Along the Hodder – Part 1

On Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, only a few days after my little break in the Lakes, I was up early and drove over to Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland. The fine weather was continuing and I fancied getting out for another walk. At one time I used to be up on the moors in Bowland fairly regularly, but I hadn’t been up that way for a few years. Reading posts by Bowland Climber overthe past few years had given me an appetite to rediscover the delights of this Area of Outsatnting Natural Beauty again.

I’m still not fell fit but had sussed out a low level walk following the Hodder starting from the small honeypot village. I parked up in the car park before 9. There were already a number of vehicles parked up and there seemed to be a rush of cars arriving. It was a walking group gathering for a wander on the fells.

I booted up but before setting off decided to get myself a shot of caffeine as the Puddleducks cafe was already open. The smell of bacon frying was tempting, but I resisted the siren call.

Dunsop Bridge is a tiny place but has the distinction of being declared as the geographical centre of Great Britain and its associated islands by the Ordnance Survey. BT, celebrated this by the installation of a telephone box, its 100,000th payphone, in 1992. In fact the “true” centre is 7 km north west of the Village, by Whitendale Hanging Stones on Brennard Farm

The claim can be disputed – it depends on how you define the British Isles and whether you only include the main island. In that case the OS gives the location as 4 km north west of Calderstones Hospital near Clitheroe.

Refreshed and energised I checked the map and set off. At first a short walk beside the River Dunsop to where it joined the Hodder at Thorneyholme Hall

then the route followed the left bank of the river to Whitewell.

It’s an attractive river with clear water and a backdrop of some of the high fells of Bowland

The first obstacle of the day was a group of calves clustered around the stile I had to cross. Luckily they shifted as they saw me approach.

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Looking back at the little herd of calves after I’d crossed the stile.

After Burholme Farm the route became less interesting following a flat farm track and then a stretch allong the tarmac to Whitewell after Burholme Bridge.

It didn’t take long to reach the small hamlet of Whitewell where there’s a small cluster of houses, a church and the Inn at Whitewell

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The building used to be a manor house but was converted into a hostelry sometime during the 1700’s according to the Inn’s website. Today it’s not exactly a humble tavern, but an upmarket restaurant and hotel. It was the first place visited by Steeve Coogan and Rob Brydon for one of their gourmet meals during the first series of the Trip. No time to stop and indulge for me, however!

I did stop to have a quick look at the little church, though. According to their website there’s been a church here since sometime between 1478-1521. The current building, however, was re-constructed in 1817. It’s quite a simple structure with some, no doubt Victorian, Gothic Revival touches.

Tomb with a view!

I had to cross the river here but there was no bridge marked on the map. There was a simple explanation for this – there isn’t one! Instead I followed a sign descending down through a field to the riverbank where I reached a set of stepping stones.

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Knowing how unstable I am these days, I’d brought my walking poles with me. However, the river was quite shallow after a dry period and running quite smoothly. I still used my pole to make sure I didn’t end up getting wet.

The route now climbed up through the fields, passing the farm at New Laund

and then crossing over a minor road. Then crossing another field on a path up towards Tunstall Ing I heard the distinctive call of curlews, and there they were circling above me. I’d never seen so many in one place at one time. I reckon they must have been nesting in the fields and had been disturbed by my presence.

A tarmac track took me through the fields where I saw and heard yet more curlews. There were good views towards Totridge, on of the high fells.

After about a mile I stopped for a bite to eat, taking in the views on a beautiful day

and then followed the path through a plantation of pine trees

From gaps in the trees I could see down to the Hodder and across to the fells

I emerged at Whitmore into more open countryside.

A view across the valley

Looking ahead I could see Mellor Knoll. Unfortunately “out of bounds” on private land not included in the Open Access area. The path on the map skirted across a field below the hill which would block the views across the valley.

Any thoughts I had of tresspassing up to the top of the small hill were soon discarded. I had to climb a stile to get into the field and approaching it I spotted a herd of cattle including some calves.

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One of the group looked a little different than the others – well, actually considerably different. Bigger, more muscular and with a ring through its nose.

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What was a bul doing in a field with a clear right of way? There wasn’t even a sign warning of its presence. The Health and Safety Executive have clear guidance for farmers about bulls

However, Apparently

The general rule set out in statute is that it is an offence to allow a bull in a field crossed by a public right of way, but there are exceptions to this.

No offence will be committed if either: the bull in question is under 10 months old or it does not belong to a recognised dairy breed and is at large in any field or enclosure in which cows or heifers are also at large.

Farmer’s World Website

So as it was with cows and calves the farmer may not have actually been commiting an offence, but there was no way I was going to take a risk so took a diversion following the other side of the wall around the field rejoining the path further up.

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Crossing the moorland I was treated to the sight of a lapwing circling above me, calling out in its distinctive peewit cry.

The path descended down through a field towards Hareden farm and the Trough of Bowland

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After a short walk allong the farm track I crossed over Langden Brook

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and reached the road

I had a short stretch allong the road, which ran parrallel to the river

The road went back to Dunsop Bridge, but just after a sheep fold

I clambered over a stile and followed a path through a field of sheep (no bulls thank goodness!)

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towards Closes Barn where there was a small group of dwellings that looked as if they had been converted into holiday lets.

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I followed the track that took me back to the village.

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On such a fine day the village was heaving with visitors gathered around and in the river. There were cars parked all along the road through the village

However, after quite a long walk I was in need of refrehment so decided on another visit to Puddleducks

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I was lucky. there was one person in front of me so I soon got served and found myself a table to enjoy my tea and a (naughty) cake.

Straight after a lengthy queue had accumulated

It was only about 1:30 and I wanted to make the most of a good day. So after my brief rest, rather than head back to the car I set off again – I had another walk in mind.

Claife Viewing Station

I’ve not written an architectural post for a while, mainly because restrictions over the past year have largely precluded visits to National Trust, English Heritage, Cadw and other properties, and I’ve been avoiding visits to towns and cities. However on the first day of my recent mini-break up in the Lakes I did have the opportunity to take a look at a historical curiosity close to the start and finish of my walk near the ferry terminal on the western shore of Windermere – the Claife viewing station.

This neo- Gothic style tower was built in the 1790s as a viewpoint over Windermere and became paricularly popular during the late Georgian and early Victorian period when viewing “picturesque” sites became the thing to do amongst the wealthy visitors to the Lakes.

It’s only a short walk from the ferry terminal, and is well signposted from there. You first reach the castellated wall at the entry to the site.

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A short way along the path and the tower comes into view up on the hillside. There’s stiff, but short climb up some steps to reach the tower.

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The original building on the site was constructed for one Reverend William Braithwaite in the 1790’s. He comissioned an architect, John Carr, to build a summer house a two storey octagonal tower in a neo-Classical Style. On his death, the land was purchased by John Curwen, the wealthy owner of Belle Island, the largest island on Windermere, which is visible from the tower.

The Curwens had the tower enlarged and modified in the neo-Gothic style which was becoming fashionable. They entertained their friends in the tower holding landern lit parties. Visitors were encouraged to enjoy the views.

The Picturesque is an aesthetic ideal popularised by William Gilpin in 1782., which he defined as

‘that peculiar kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture’

According to the early 20th Century architectue critic, Christopher Hussey, a Picturesque view has elemnts of

“roughness and sudden variation joined to irregularity of form, colour, lighting, and even sound”

Hussey, Christopher (1927). The picturesque: studies in a point of view.

Following popular guide books of the time, the visitor, on reaching a recommended viewpoint, such as the tower, would turn their back on the landscape, looking at the reflection in the Claude Glass. The National Trust website tells us

many amateur artists and tourists used a ‘Claude glass’ to frame the landscape. These small, tinted, convex mirrors were used to make a natural scene look more like a picture by the celebrated seventeenth-century landscape painter, Claude Lorraine.

National Trust

Pin by Corey Ackelmire on Too Old | Claude glass, Picturesque, Claude

Over the years the building fell out of use and deteriorated. Along with the nearby land it was left to the National Trust in 1962 and they have worked to partially restore the tower, making it accessible to visitors to get a taste of the views experieinced by the original visitors.

There’s views over the lake from both the ground and first floors

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On the first floor, the National Trust have inserted samples of coloured glass. The Curwens had

windows tinted with coloured glass, designed to recreate the landscape under different seasonal conditions. Yellow created a summer landscape, orange an autumn one, light green for spring, dark blue for moonlight and so on.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hawkshead-and-claife-viewing-station/features/claife-viewing-station-National Trust
View towards Ill Bell and the Kentmere Fells
View over the lake
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Interesting shadow effects

There used to be “viewing stations” throughout the Lakes, with seven around Windermere. As far as I know, Claife is the only one remaining.

Following the Coffins Part 2

I sat by the lake for a while enjoying the view and the sunshine and refueling. Then it was time to set off again. Not surprisingly it was busy as I walked along the lake shore with plenty of families enjoying messing about beside and in the water. Only after my trip did I discover via social media that Shazza of Sunshine and Celandines was also in Grasmere that day as well as a former collegue I knew through my work. It’s a small world as they say! Mind you, there were plenty of other people around.

At the foot of the lake I took the path alongside the river towards Rydal Water and carried on along the lower path along the lake shore. I’d made the decision to carry on to Rydal village and then return to Grasmere along the Coffin Route.

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On a hot sunny day during half term it wasn’t surprising that, like Grasmere, the lake shore was heaving with families.

Reaching Rydal I passed the church

Climbed the hill and turned off and cut through the grounds of Rydal Hall

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and then stopped at their cafe for a brew and get my water bottle refilled (they’re happy to do that for you). My blood sugar had now dropped so I munched on one of my energy bars.

I’d managed to bag a seat outdoors overlooking the river

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and this was the “view from the bridge”

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Rested, I walked up the hill and next to Wordsworth’s former home,

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and turned off down the Coffin Route.

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It was moderately busy as it’s a popular route that’s not difficult so attracts a range of people of varying abilities and there are good views across Rydal Water to Loughrigg and some of the higher fells beyond.

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Approaching Grasmere village towards the end of the walk I passed another of Wordsworth’s former homes – Dove Cottage.

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I arrived back in Grasmere which was now very busy with day trippers with queues outside the Gingerbread Shop and all the cafes and food shops. I sat for a while on a bench taking in the views of Stone Arthur and the other hills across the vally before returning to my car for the drive home (via Keswick Booths and the Tebay services farm shop where I did some shopping for a few tasty treats!).

Following the Coffins Part 1

After a night in the hostel I woke to another fine day with views over the fields to the high fells. After breakfast I loaded up the car and made an earlyish start, driving over to Grasmere. I’d had a think about a low level (or lowish if that’s a real word 😁) that would be too strenuous. I’d read in a book I’d purchased last year about the Cumbrian “coffin roads” about the route locals Chapel Stile in Langdale had to use to carry thei dead to be buried in the church in Grasmere. I’d decided to park in Grasmere and walk over the fells below Silver How over to Chapel Stile and then return by the coffin road. It seemd like it would be a decent circular route I’d not followed before, matching my requirements of something not too strenuous. As it happened I pushed myself a little harder than intended and also made some off the cuff changes to the planned route.

It was quiet in Grasmere and before I set out I grabbed myself a coffee in the Heaton Cooper Gallery (Lucia’s Cafe wasn’t open but this turned out to be a good substitute – a decent coffee with tables outside on a sunny day with a view over to Stone Arthur (and good cakes, sandwiches and breakfasts, too)

Energised by the caffine, I set off. This, right at the start, is where I made one of my decisions to vary the route, deciding to climb to the summit of Silver How rather than passing it lower down.

At first I felt pretty good climbing the lower slopes

and looking back, on a particularly fine morning, there were most excellent views over Helm Crag, Seat Sandal and Fairfield

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About half the way up (maybe a little further) my lack of fitness began to tell – not helped by a high blood sugar level (which explained why I felt so thirsty) caused by being tempted by the tea loaf at the cafe and not compensating with some insulin. Consequently I needed to stop a few times for a “blow” (in the Scouse parlance I picked up when in lived in Liverpool while at University this means a rest, not some illegal narcotic!). Being stubborn, I wasn’t going to let it beat me even if everyone else climbing up (not very many people I have to say) were overtaking me!

I eventually made it to the summit – time for another rest to soak up the views in every direction.

Down to Grasmere and Rydal Water

Farfield, Great Rigg and Seat Sandal

Pike o’ Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes

and the Coniston Fells

Rested and refreshed, I set off down from the summit on the path towards Langdale.

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Another change of mind now. I was enjoying being high up enjoying the great views. So rather than descend into the valley and climb back up again, I decided to saty up on the ridge and walk over to pick up the Coffin Route path as it crossed the top of the fell. I’m never one to stick to a plan if a better one becomes evident during the walk.

This is the path I’d have descended down into Langdale if I hadn’t changed my mind.

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Instead I carried on up and down on the hummicky fell (I probably made that word up too, but it seemed to describe the nature of the ridge), enjoying the walking and the views

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Looking back to Silver How

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Back to the Langdale fells

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and south to Elter water with Windermere visible in the distance

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I reached the coffin route towards the edge of the ridge and turned eastwards to folow it down to Grasmere. The descent here was extremely pcturesque – initially with views across to the fells and Grasmere

The route took an old “lonning” (a Cumbrian term for a lane or track) through the Hammerscar Plantation

The shade from the trees was most welcome. I expect that this would be a good walk during the autumn when the trees were wearing their coat of red, gold and brown leaves.

The lonning emerged on the road above the lake. Now to complete the Coffin Route I’d have followed it back to teh village. But the lake was tempting me so another change of plan and I walked down to the lake shore where I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat

It was about 1 o’clock now and I didn’t feel like calling it quits for the day, so another decision – I’d follow the shore of Grasmere and then on to Rydal Water where I decide whether to carry on to Rydal Village and return to Grasmere by another Coffin Route (one I’d walked a couple of times before). Alternatively I could miss out Rydal Water and cut across from White Moss and walk half of the route.

But this post has gone on long enough. part 2 to follow when you’ll find out which options I took!

West of Windermere

After most of May had been a damp squid, the last few days, including the Bank Holiday weekend, were very different. Hot, dry and, mostly sunny. The period of miserable weather coincided with my convelesance from my op, so I wouldn’t have been able to get out walking in any case. But I had seemed to recover well and was itching to get out so, despite my usual reluctance to travel on a Bank Holiday Weekend, when I saw there was the opportunity for a one night stay in a Youth hostel up in the Lakes on the Monday evening, I decided to go ahead and book. I certainly wasn’t ready for anything too strenuous, but had worked out some lower level routes that would allow me a gentle re-introduction to walking on the fells.

An early start on the Monday morning meant that I reached Bowness in about an hour and 10 minutes, and I parked up on the large car park on the southern edge of the town. It was largely empty so there was no trouble finding a parking space! I had some fun with the ticket machine. After it had taken my £8 payment I could hear it printing the ticket, but nothing came out. Looking carefully it seemed as if it was stuck. It took some fiddling but suddenly I managed to pull out what turned out to be a little collection of tickets, where other people had clearly had the same problem. Rooting through them I found my own so I was able to put it on my dashboard, clearly visible through the window and avoid what would probably be the hassle of ringing the help line number printed on the ticket machine.

Having sorted that out I set off. My plan was to catch the ferry over the lake and take a walk on the western shore of Windermere. I had an easy 6 mile route planned with options to extend it depending how I felt. This was new territory for me as I normally head for the higher fells.

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Leaving the ferry my first objective was the Claife Viewing Station, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. More about that in another post, I think. I’ll concentrate on the walk in this one.

After taking in the views from the viewing station I descend back down and set off allong the lakeside track heading north.

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This section of the lake shore is a popular spot for visitors wanting to muck about in boats on the water, to do some swimming or just lounge around by the water. There were already quite a few people doing just that.

After a while the track enters the woods so there were fewer people around other than fellow walkers and cyclists.

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Reaching Belle Grange, it was decision time. The easy option was to carry on towards Wray Castle but instead I turned left, taking the path up hill through the forest. And then another decision. I could have turned left and head south on the high level path through the forest, but I feeling OK I decided to turn off and summit Latterbarrow, the small hill that’s the high point on the ridge. The path was generally good. there were a few muddy and boggy sections, but they weren’t too bad and the worst bits were easily by-passed. It would be different in winter, though.

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It didn’t take too long to reach the summit (244 metres, about 800 feet).

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The views in every direction were amazing, even if visibility was a little hazy due to the heat. The Coniston Fells, Pike o’ Blisco Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes could all be seen to the west.

With Loughrigg, Silver How, Helvelyn, the Fairfield Horeshoe, Red Screes, Wansfell and the western side of the Kentmere Horseshoe as well as Windermere to the north and east.

I stopped for a while admiring the views and having a bite to eat to top up my blood sugar. Then I descended down the northern slopes of the hill and back into the forest, doubling back to head south towards Sawrey following the “Tarns Route”.

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After winding through the forest the path emerged from the woods into scrubby terrain with rocky outcrops

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I soon reached Wise Eens tarn.

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The view over this still stretch of water, backed by the high fells from Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man over to the langdales rather took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting something so picturesque. I just had to stop for a while to take in the view.

Carrying on south down the path I reached Moss Eccles tarn, which used to be owned by one Beatrix Potter, purchased just after her marriage to William Heelis. It was a favourite spot and they used to take evening walks up to here. they aslo kept a boat on the tarn. Today, like most of her property, the tarn is owned by the National Trust.

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Further on, I reached a fork in the path. The options were to head right to Near Sawrey or Left to Far Sawrey. Starting to feel tierd after a lengthy walk, I opted for the latter as it was nearer to the lake and the ferry terminal.

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Reaching the village,

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I weedled around trying to avoid walking on the main road too much, and after heading down a mix of minor roads and paths across the fields, I ended up on the Lake shore, south of the ferry terminal. looking across the lake I could see a favourite building (and tea shop!), Blackwood, the Arts and Crafts style house where we’re regular visitors (well, except for last year).

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I followed the track and reaching the road crossed over and took a path which climbed up to the Claife Viewing Station. It was interesting to see how the view had changed since the morning.

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Then it was back down to the Ferry terminal. there was a long queue of cars waiting to boardand I was glad I’d left the car over at Bowness. Rather than jump on the ferry that arrived soon after I reached the terminal, I decided I needed some caffeine, so bought myself a coffee and an ice cream from the little cafe and had a sit down while I waited 20 minutes for it to return.

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Disembarking, it was too early to head to the hostel, where I could only check in at 5 o’clock, which was 2 hours off, so I decided to have a mooch around Bowness. Not surprisingly, really, it was absolutely heaving with day trippers. There were cars parked everywhere, including on double yellow lines and on the pavement in places, with more cars arriving all the time (and not so many leaving). I saw a traffic warden with a big smile on his face as he was busily slapping tickets on car windscreens!

I wandered along the lake shore to the town centre, but it was absolutely madness so decided to cut my losses and set off back to the car park. It wasn’t empty any more – it was over full with vehicles parked up in stupid places, almost blocking the way in and out. As I was changing out of my boots, there was somebody waiting for me to drive off and take the spot.

After queing in the traffic to get through Bowness, I drove up towards Troutbeck. the road was lined with cars parked up – mainly illegally and dangerously – effectively turning the road into a single track. Madness.

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I arrived at the hostel, which although named “Windermere” is at Troutbeck Bridge, an hour early. So I sat on the terrace for a while taking in the great view of the lake and fells.

I was feeling pretty good. I’d survived my first “expedition” for a while and was looking forward to a second day in the Lakes.