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The Raisbeck Pinfold

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Before we went up to Orton for our walk around the limestone pavements I’d spotted that there was one of Andy Goldsworthy’s sheepfolds not so far away near the small hamlet of Raisbeck.

SHEEPFOLDS is Cumbria County Council’s major county-wide sculpture, landscape and environment project by the internationally renowned artist ANDY GOLDSWORTHY. The project started in January 1996 for the ‘U.K. Year of Visual Arts’ in what was then the Northern Arts Board region. Beginning as part of this programme Andy Goldsworthy has created a body of environmentally responsive sculptural works across Cumbria using existing sheepfolds, washfolds and pinfolds.

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Although each fold is an individual piece, the project should be seen as a single work of art .

The one at Raisbeck is one of the artist’s cone pinfold’s. Pinfold appears to be a northern term for a pound, where stray animals were kept until claimed by their owners who would have to pay a release fee. If unclaimed, the animals would be sold.

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In each of his cone pinfolds, Goldsworthy has built a conical stone structure – hence their name. On the project website he explains how the shape of these structures was inspired by the Nine Standards, stone cairns on Hartley Fell near Kirkby Stephen, and describes how they were constructed. He tells us that

The form is full and ripe – an optimistic expression of the power of growth and that even out of stone comes life. They are strong yet the form appears precarious – not unlike the nature of growth itself.’

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Their are nine cone pinfold cones around Kirkby Stephen, reflecting the Nine Standards

The Raisbeck cone features in a book about the sheepfold project. In it we learn that it was an existing, ruined structure that Goldsworthy rebuilt over a period of two weeks in May 1996 using stone from a redundant wall from a nearby farm. The cone took three days to construct, using limestone and sandstone from local sources.

In the 20 years since it was built a number of trees have started to grow around the structure. So, although it is located very close to the narrow road, we managed to drive right past. But we realised pretty quickly so stopped, parked up on the verge and walked back to take a look

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A short distance down the road, next to a disused quarry, there’s another interesting stone structure – an old lime kiln – a fairly intact relic of a bygone age.

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This leaflet about the limestone landscape on the Orton fells tells us that

There are 23 small quarries and 20 lime kilns recorded in the local area. Most of these were used over the course of the last 500 years for processing lime for agricultural and domestic use.

The limestone, calcium carbonate, was “burnt” in the kilns to form “quick lime” (calcium oxide) which was then used in mortar, to render stonework and decorate walls (“whitewash”), to improve the fertility of acidic soils and to improve land drainage.

Looking at the project website, there’s a number of other Goldsworthy sheepfolds in the area around Tebay and Kirkby Stephen. Another reason to revisit the area.

A walk in Limestone Country

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The day after the long Easter weekend I took an extra day off work and we headed up the M6 to Tebay where we turned off the motorway and after a short drive arrived at the small village of Orton. It’s in Cumbria but last year the attractive village and the surrounding area to the north of the Howgill Fells was included in the Yorkshire Dales National Park when the boundaries were extended. It’s not a well known area and so not crowded with tourists, but the countryside is very beautiful and extremely peaceful. Hard to believe it’s only a few miles from the busy M6.

I’d read a few blogs with reports of walks in the area so we decided on a route based on some of these which would take us past and through some extensive limestone pavements around Great Asby Scar.

We parked up in the small car park in Orton (managed to get the last space!) and set out

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We soon reached open countryside. Only relatively gentle hills today,

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with distinctive limestone rock formations, drystone walls and plenty of sheep.

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As we started to climb, there was a good view of the Howgill Fells to the south.

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After a couple of miles we reached a crossroads. Our route would take us straight on but one arm of the sign posts pointed towards the monument up on Beacon Hill above Orton Scar. We decided to go and have a look.

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The monument on top of the modest hill was erected to mark Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee

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It was worth taking the short diversion as the views in every direction were outstanding.

The Howgills to the south

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the Lakeland fells to the west with the distinctive profile of  Blencathra (Saddleback) clearly visible in the distance

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and the northern Pennines to the north and east

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We headed back down the hill to rejoin our planned route.

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Great Asby Scar has one of the most extensive areas of limestone pavement in England and a section of it has been designated as a National Nature Reserve.

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There was a heavily fortified Romano-British site – the Castle Folds Settlement – on top of one of the limestone scars. It’s possible to walk over the open access land on the Reserve to look at the site, but we decided to stick to the route we’d planned. But I think it would be worth another visit to the area to walk over the limestone pavement to take a look at the site.

We carried on along the bridlepath.

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Some curious locals

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A view over to the Pennines

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A short distance before Great Asby village we too a path south west across some fiels and then picked up the path heading south west which would take us back towards Orton across some more limestone pavement.

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As we stared to descend the Howgills came back into view

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We descended into pastoral countryside, the fields fresh and green.

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We reached the road at Sunbiggin and walked along the tarmac a short distance before joining a path that took us back over the fields.

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A mile or so before Orton we passed the Gamelands stone circle in an adjacent field.

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It’s one of the largest circles in Cumbria. Unfortunately the stones have all been knocked over and some have been removed.

A short while later we reached Orton

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Time for some refreshment in the Chocolate Factory. It’s always good to have a refreshing view (and some cake!) after a good walk

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We’d timed our walk to perfection – they stopped serving a little while after we arrived. Now that would have been disappointing.

Kendal Castle

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After our visit to Abbot Hall to see the Julian Cooper exhibition we had a wander round the town centre and then, as it had turned into a pleasant afternoon, we decided to walk up to Kendal Castle. The Castle was built in the early 12th Century on a glacial hill left behind from the last ice age, to the east of the town. It was more of a fortified manor house  for the local barons, than a military stronghold, but it would have dominated the town, looking over it from it’s prominent high position. And it would have been a potent symbol of their wealth and power.

Crossing the River Kent near to Abbot Hall, it’s a short walk to Castle Hill.

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It’s then a short, if steep, climb up to the castle.

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I didn’t have my camera with me, but the good light meant I was able to get some decent shots using my phone.

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Visibility was good so there were great views over to Red Screes and the Kentmere fells.

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We could clearly see Yoke and Ill Bell that we’d climber only a few weeks before.

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We had a quick look round the interior of the ruined castle

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Julian Cooper at Abbot Hall

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On Easter Saturday we drove up to Abbot Hall to take a look at their latest exhibition – a mini-retrospective of the work of a Cumbrian artist, Julian Cooper.

The paintings on display could be divided into four periods

His earliest works, shown on the landing at the top of the main staircase are quite abstract, although clearly based on vegetation and geological formations. The paintings from the second period, displayed in the first room, were figurative. A number of them based on Malcolm Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano and feature characters from the novel. But dominating the background are mountains, which later became the primary focus of his work.

The work then evolves again into a unique form of representation that is frequently near-abstract in its emphasis on the texture, shadow and irregular surfaces of rock and ice.  these mature period works

These mature period works were my favourites.

The second room was dominated by two large paintings of the Tibetan holy mountain, Mount Kailash which he visited in early spring 2006. One painting shows it’s north face, the other, the south.

A unique mountain, Kailash is worshipped by Hindus, Jain and Buddhists alike as the home of their Gods yet is so remote and difficult to get to that it is visited by only a handful of pilgrims each year. (Art Space Gallery Press Release)

The majority of the other paintings in this and the third rooms are close ups of rock faces, many of them from quarries in Italy, Tasmania and his native Cumbria.

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They are very detailed and standing back they are very realistic – particularly the Cumbrian works. However, they also have an abstract quality particularly when viewed a little closer.

A number of his paint brushes and palettes give an insight into his method of work. He works on large canvases yet despite this many of his paintings are started “plein air” and supplemented by photographs and then finished back in his studio Working in a large scale he uses large paint brushes with long handles, sometimes extending them to make them even longer.

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It must be something of a challenge to get his large canvases up into the relatively inaccessible locations in the mountains.  I found this interesting article by the artist, describing how he went about painting the holy Mount Kailish in Tibet.

Ingleborough

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Sunday morning the sun was shining. We got up early, loaded our boots and rucksacks in the car and drove over to Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales, which is less than an hour and a half away  (traffic willing), to climb Ingleborough. The mountain is one of the one of the “Yorkshire Three Peaks” and as we’d climbed Pen-y-ghent a couple of years ago we’d be able to tick off our second of the three.

It was a beautiful, warm sunny morning when we arrived in Ingleton. We parked up near the Community Centre and set off walking through the small town centre past the church

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After about half a mile we reached the start of the path up to Ingleborough

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It’s a good track and as it hadn’t rained for a while the path was dry underfoot (which meant I didn’t need to get my new boots muddy!!)

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There were good views over to Whernside, the third of the “Three Peaks” but visibility wasn’t as good as the previous week when we’d walked up Clougha Pike, over the border in Lancashire.

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The route involved a gradual ascent over a couple of miles along a well defined path followed by a short steep climb of the cliffs up to the gritstone cap at the end to reach the summit.

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About half way along the route we passed this isolated farmhouse – “the Little house on the Prairie”? It looked nice in the sunshine but it would be a very bleak setting for much of the year.

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As we were walking along the valley, looking back we could see cloud coming in from the north west and there was a strong breeze behind us. The wind became fiercer as we climbed the final steep section up the millstone grit cap that gives the mountain it’s distinctive shape. Luckily we’re reasonably sensible and had come prepared with jumpers, gloves and coats in our day sacks. It was time to put them on. Yet we passed quite a few people ill-equipped wearing t-shirts, flimsy tops and dresses and completely inadequate footwear. As a popular mountain in a National Park it attracts a lot of day trippers who setting out on a bright, warm, sunny day don’t realise just how quickly conditions can change.

As we climbed, the cloud had come in, engulfing the summit at almost the same time as we reached the top and the wind was blowing strongly enough to knock the unwary off their feet.

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Despite being a “peak” the summit is a flat plateau which, on a good day, has extensive views over the Dales and to Pen-y-ghent and Whernside.

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We managed to find a seat inside the wind shelter to take a rest, a drink and a bite to eat. And we chatted with some other walkers, some of whom were attempting the Three Peaks Challenge. Not for us though, one peak was enough for today!

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Unfortunately, the low cloud was obscuring the views

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We set back down retracing our route. A circular walk is possible but it would have meant either finishing with a long stretch on tarmac, which didn’t appeal, or navigating along unfamiliar territory without clear paths and we didn’t want to risk that in misty conditions.

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The countryside is a mixture of moorland and limestone outcrops

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Looking back the mountain had disappeared!

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Approaching Ingleton village

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A brew awaited in one of the many Cafés in the village. (I wonder what the Bristol ‘grammar vigilante’ would make of the sign!)

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So our second of the “Three Peaks” conquered. Whernside next!

In the grounds at the YSP

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A few shots taken while walking around the grounds at the YSP during our visit last week. Set in a Country Park which was once the Bretton Hall Estate. In 1949 the Hall became the site of Bretton Hall College, a teacher training college and later, After the college was closed in 2007 the Bretton Campus was purchased by Wakefield Council and today is the home of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

There’s 500 acres of fields, hills, woodland, lakes and formal gardens. During our visit we walked round only part of the grounds on our way up to the Longside Gallery and back.