Freshfield to Southport

Well, 2020 has been a real “annus horriblus” so far. First the storms in February which more or less kept us indoors, no walks no gallery visits, no theatre, no cinema. And now, to top it all, the Corona virus. At the moment I’m stuck inside on a nice day, work in limbo, wondering how our small training and consultancy company is going to survive, and pondering whether I should go out for a walk while maintaining “social distancing”. Oh well, an opportunity to catch up with all sorts of things I’m behind on, reading, watching some films and TV, DIY (ugh!) and, of course, writing up some blog posts.

Walking during February was mainly restricted to local walks around the Plantations during any “weather windows” that occurred. Just 2 weeks ago I took a week off work, as our son was using up some holidays, intending to get out for some family days out. The weather was awful on the first couple of days but the Wednesday afternoon was looking reasonably promising in South West Lancashire so I decided to get out for a walk by the coast near Southport. The family declined to join me preferring to stay indoors.

I travelled over by train (on reflection that might not have been such a bright idea) over to Freshfields, which is at the northern end of Formby. Leaving the station, I followed the path that runs along the east side of the railway line. I was soon walking through some woodland.

I crossed over the railway line

and was soon crossing the golf course (watch out for flying golf balls!) towards the extensive pine forest on the sand dunes.

There’s a network of paths in the woods and although I had a rough idea of where I wanted to end up I decided to wander randomly, taking twists and turns as I fancied. There were a few other people walking through the woods and several cyclists riding solo or in groups.

Eventually I came out of the woods and started following the path through the dunes in the direction of Ainsdale.

That was a bit of a mistake. Expecting relatively easy going I’d come out in my walking shoes rather than my boots and I started to encounter lengthy sections of the path which were flooded, too deep to consider wading through.

and most of the sections didn’t have conveniently placed (if rather wobbly!) stepping stones to cross on. I persevered, finding ways around the worst of the flooding and boggy areas and I eventually crossed over the dunes on to the beach at Ainsdale.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue but there was a strong southerly wind whipping across the beach so although I’d originally intended to walk back along the beach to Freshfields I decided I’d carry on in the direction of Southport. A little longer but, I thought, it would be easier going with the wind behind me.

The going wasn’t as easy as I thought

and eventually I reached an impasse where a wide channel of fast running water blocked my way. I had to retreated turning back along the beach walking into a strong head wind.

After about 20 minutes, when I was half way back to Ainsdale, there was a path into the dunes which headed in the direction of Southport. I set off through the dunes, thinking I’d either divert off to catch the train at Birkdale or, if I felt up to it, carry on to Southport.

Walking was reasonably easy on a good path sheltered from the wind, but I could see dark clouds looming out at sea which seemed to be rapidly approaching, driven by the strong wind. No worries – I had a waterproof coat in my rucksack.

I carried on, deciding to continue past Birkdale and on to Southport. It’s somewhere with a lot of memories for me as we had regular days out there when I was a child. My fathers parents both came from the Victorian sea-side town and we had family there, including great grandparents, who we used to visit. I think another reason for visiting Southport, through, was that it had fewer costly attractions than the brasher Blackpool further up the coast!

As I got closer to the town I was amazed just how much of what had been a sandy beach had silted up and had turned into salt marsh.

Reaching the outskirts of town I passed Pleasureland, looking rather sad and forlorn being closed for the winter

but then reached the Marine Lake.

Southport was always famous for the sea being a long way out, so the Marine Lake was created to compensate for this and give visitors a chance to promenade alongside the water, so that’s what I decided to do!

I walked along the lake as far as the pier, and took the steps up on to the deck. The wind was still blowing so I decided against walking down to the end (the tide was way out, anyway) and set off towards the Prom, but I took a shot down the pier

Reaching the prom I took some shots of a couple of the sculptures held up high on top of long poles.

(Southport used to be famous for it’s shrimps. I used to pester my parents to buy a cone of them during our days out there when I was young!)

Facing the end of the pier is Nevill Street, where my great grandparents used to live in a flat with a view towards the pier, upstairs in this building

I remember looking out past the statue of Queen Victoria which used to be in the very centre of the road – they’ve moved her over to one side now

At the end of Nevill Street is Lord Street, a long boulevard which some people believe inspired Napoleon III to create the boulevards of Paris (he was exiled there for a while living in lodgings just off Lord Street). I stopped to take a look at the War Memorial. My Great Grandfather’s name is inscribed on it, along with many others. (My great grandmother remarried after the war so the Nevill street great grandfather was my grandad’s step father)

It was starting to go dark now and finally beginning to rain, but it was only a short walk around the block to the train station.

Great Hill in Winter

Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy at work and not had much opportunity to get out and about. The last two weekends have been awful with Storm Ciara and then Storm Dennis sweeping in bringing high winds and torrential rain. So plans have had to be postponed. However, a couple of weeks ago, before the storms, I did manage to get out for a walk up on the moors. I drove over to White Coppice, on the outskirts of Chorley, and set off towards the moors to climb up Great Hill.

It was a chilly, grey winter’s day and very wet and muddy underfoot. But it didn’t rain and some broke through from time to time. In any case, it’s always good to get out on the moors. They might be bleak, but I like bleak.

I passed the cricket pitch – no matches there for a while yet!

and then took the path along the Goyt towards Brinscall

On and up through Wheelton Plantations

until I emerged onto the moor

There’s a rough track across the moor, so I didn’t have to wade through mud towards the ruined farm at Drinkwater

Looking towards the summit of Great Hill from the ruins

A short climb and I reached the wind shelter on the summit where I stopped for a brew from my flask

I took the path down in the direction of Spittler’s Edge and then cut across the foot of the hill towards another ruined farm

No sheep up on the moor at this time of year. They’re all down in the fields.

I managed to take a few atmospheric shots with my phone.

I’ve never been to Howarth, but I reckon the Brontes’ “wild and windy moors” aren’t much different than up here.

Looking back towards the top of Great Hill as I descended down the very muddy path towards White Coppice, trying to avoid the worst of the slutch.

Looking over towards Anglezarke Moor

Reaching the bottom of the hill, I took a short diversion up the brook to look at the old mine workings

Rather than go straight back to my car I decided to add on a couple of miles or so to my walk by diverting through Black Coppice towards Anglezarke reservoir

There’s Waterman’s Cottage

Looking across the reservoir towards the cottage

I followed the road along the bottom of Healy Nab heading back towards my starting point. Looking back over towards the moors – the cloud was starting to clear.

The sun was out when I reached the village, it’s rays lighting up the stone of the old cottages

Back at the car I changed out of my muddy boots and trousers (fortunatelyI keep a spare pair in the boot of the car) and set off back towards Chorley and then onwards to home.

A good day on the moors.

Win, Lose and the Mother Hill

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Last Saturday I managed to get out for a walk, this time in the Peak District. I took the train into Manchester, changing to catch the train to Hope at Piccadilly. The journey time was an hour and a half, comparable to the time it would have taken to drive there and without the bother of having to find a parking space. I was risking the unreliability of Northern Rail, but all worked out on the day.

The Peak District hills are more modest than those in the Lake District, and the landscape isn’t as dramatic, but has its own beauty and attractions. The area is part of the Dark Peak where Millstone Grit covers the underlying limestone. North of Edale lie bleak, largely deserted, moorland covered with peat bogs. But to the south of the Vale of Edale, the landscape is a little more forgiving and is dominated by the “Great Ridge” running from Mam Tor to Lose Hill. For this walk I’d decided to climb up Win Hill, just to the east of Hope. I’d never been up there before, although I’d walked the “Great Ridge” to the west of the village a few times, most recently back in September, with my friend Pam, from Tasmania. I reckoned it would take me about an hour to reach the summit and then I had a couple of options in mind for the rest of the day, making a decision based on the conditions I’d encounter.

Disembarking from the train, there’s a path through the fields directly from the end of the station platform towards the small hamlet of Aston

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From Aston I took the lane up towards the hill

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and then up the path over the open moor

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There’s the summit – Win Hill Pike – up ahead.

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It was windy up on the summit, but there were good views all around

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Looking down to Ladybower reservoir

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Lose Hill and the bulk of Kinder Scout over the Vale of Edale

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I found a sheltered spot out of the wind where I had a bite to eat and some hot coffee from my flask. Then I had a decision to make. I would have liked to carry on along the ridge and then walk over Kinder and descend to Edale. But given the conditions – a strong wind and muddy underfoot (and I reckoned it would be even worse on the higher hill, well known for its peat bogs) I decided to make my way down to Hope and then climb up Lose Hill and then walk along the “Great Ridge”. So I took the muddy path north along the ridge, heading towards Hope Cross

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before descending down to Fulwood Stile Farm and Townhead Bridge. From there I took the path up towards Lose Hill.

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I reached the summit of Lose Hill, which was busy with other walkers, many having made their way along the ridge from Mam Tor. I stopped to take in the view but there was a strong, cold wind blowing across from the north, so not a good spot to rest and grab a bite to eat.

I snapped a panorama across to the great mass of Kinder Scout.

and then took the path along the ridge towards Mam Tor.

Looking back over the valley to Win Hill

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Looking towards Black Tor and Mam Tor

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The view back towards Lose Hill

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Looking back as I descended the steep path down Black Tor

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I reached the “cross roads” at Hollins Cross. There’s MamTor ahead, silhouetted by the low sun

The wind seemed to get stronger as I climbed up to the top of Mam Tor, but it didn’t take too long to reach the summit. It was busy up there, but I managed to snap a photo which makes it look like I was up there on my own. I wasn’t though!

I decided I’d retraced my steps down to Hollins Cross and then descend from there into Castleton. There were plenty of walkers making their way up and down the path

From Hollins Cross, I set off down the hill towards Castleton

Reaching the valley floor, I looked back towards Mam Tor

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and across to Lose Hill

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I soon reached Castleton.

It’s something of a “honeypot” so was busy with walkers and day trippers. I stopped for a short while to browse in some of the shops purveying “Blue John” jewellery and to buy a bottle of Coke to slake my thirst. Then I set out to take the path back to Hope to catch the train back to Manchester. I could have walked along the road, but there’s a much pleasanter route through the fields. That seemed like the preferable option.

It’s a low lying path, running parallel to the river. But after all the rain we’d been having the fields were drenched and for most of the way the path was so muddy it felt like I was walking through the trenches on the Somme (I’d been to see the film 1917 a few days before and the conditions brought that to mind!)

I was glad I was wearing my gaiters. They kept the bottom of my trousers clean but my boots needed a deep clean the next day!

The muddy conditions meant that it took longer to get across to Hope than I’d expected and the train station is a good kilometre out of the village. It looked like I’d miss my train and have to wait an hour for the next one. But checking the National Rail app on my phone I could see that the train was running 10 minutes late, so I had enough time to get to the station with a couple of minutes to spare! For once I was grateful for Northern Rail’s poor punctuality. The train was busy but I got a seat. It filled up at Edale, the next stop, and it was standing room only until Manchester.

I had a tight connection at Piccadily and thought I’d miss it and have to wait another half hour for the next train. Arriving at the station I legged it across to Platform 12 to find the express to Windermere via Wigan was standing at the platform so I jumped on. 50 minutes later I was back home.

I’d trudged through mud and had been battered by the wind, but I’d enjoyed the walk. I’ve a few more routes in mind around there so hopefully I’ll get back across to the Dark Peak before too long.

A walk up Sheffield Pike

I was keen to get out to break in my new boots. Fortunately work at the beginning of January is usually fairly quiet and as there was a “weather window” forecast for last Friday I was able to take the day off and drive up to the Lakes. Checking out the walking sites on the web I’d read that there had been some snow which was likely to still be up on the high fells above about 400 metres. But the going wasn’t expected to be too difficult, except, perhaps, on the higher mountains.

As the daylight hours are short at the moment, I decided to drive over to Ullswater and tackle one of the more modest fells close to the lake – Sheffield Pike. I parked up at the Glencoyne National Trust car park, donned my walking gear and set off to head towards the fells via the pretty valley of Glencoyne. I’d walked up the valley back in July when I took the path that passes through the garden of Glencoyne farm, right under the farmhouse window! This time I’d decided to take the track past the row of former miners’ cottages known as “Seldom Seen”. This entailed following the Ullswater way a short distance along the lake before crossing the road and then joining the old cart track up through the woods.

Walking through the fields from the car park I could see up the valley and across to Sheffield Pike. Yes, there was definitely snow up there, but it didn’t look too bad. Hopefully my normal gear would be adequate to cope with conditions. Fingers crossed!

Looking down Ullswater from the lakeside path

Setting off down the track towards Seldom Seen

Looking down to Glencoyne farm with it’s tradition Cumbrian round chimney stacks

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Approaching the row of cottages

The cottages were built in the 19th Century to house lead miners who worked at the Greenside mine, near Glenridding. It would have been a long,walk to work to the mine, 3 km away across the fell. Just one aspect of the tough lives of the miners. Today the houses are holiday cottages (as any search for “Seldom Seen, Ullswater” will confirm).

Most Greenside miners would have lived in the village of Glenridding and it seemed odd that the houses were built such a long way from the mine when there must have been plenty of land available much closer. According to the following little video, they were built for miners who were Catholic and were housed here to keep them well away from the predominately non-Conformist fellow workers.

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I carried on climbing up the path

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Looking back there was a great view down to Ullswater

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As I climbed I started to see snow on the ground

getting deeper

and deeper as I climbed

There was plenty of snow on the ground at the head of the valley

When I reached Nick Head at the top of the climb, I’d been hoping to get a view of Helvelyn, but the summit was covered with cloud.

I’d not seen another soul since leaving the car park, but now I could see a couple of walkers heading up the path towards Stybarrow Dodd, which I’d followed myself back in July. I hope they were well equipped as the snow would be deeper as they climbed higher. Zoom in on the next photo and you might see them, about two thirds up the hill

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I turned in the opposite direction to start the climb to the summit of Sheffield Pike.

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Still plenty of snow on the ground, obscuring the path. But there were footprints in the snow, probably from the two walkers I’d spotted who must have come over this way from Glenridding. I used their footprints as a guide. The snow was soft and it was possible to walk through it without the need for crampons (just as well as I don’t have any!) but it obscured the conditions, covering what was boggy ground. I soldiered on, passing another walker coming down the hill, and eventually made it to the summit.

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It was cold up here, probably around freezing but with a stiff breeze adding to the wind chill. There was ice clinging to the rocks, but the snow was still OK to stand and walk on and only a couple of inches thick.

Time for a coffee from my flask and a bit to eat while I took in the views.

There was still cloud covering the summit of Helvelyn

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and over St Sunday Crag and the fells to the south

It was clearer looking down towards Ullswater

A couple of walkers appeared coming from the opposite direction from myself. They stopped for a while to chat. They were from Newcastle way and were regular walkers in the Lakes. We swapped stories and I asked them which route they’d taken. They’d come up from Glennridding, taking in Glenridding Dodd and then coming up the steep climb to Heron Pike before walking over to the summit of Sheffield Pike. They confirmed that it was OK – with conditions similar to what I’d experienced coming up from Glencoyne.

After saying our goodbyes, I ploughed on through the snow, which once again was largely covering boggy ground, until I reached Heron Pike at the eastern end of the summit plateau.

I stopped to take in the dramatic view down to Ullswater and chatted with another solo walker who was sheltering while he had a bite to eat.

Looking down on Glenridding Dodd with Place Fell over the other side of Ullswater. The High Street Fells were largely obscured by cloud

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It’s a sheer drop down over the edge here so a little backtracking was necessary to locate the path that would take me down into the coll between the Pike and the small hill of Glenridding Dodd.

It was a very steep descent and I needed to take care where I placed my feet as if I slipped it was long way down! I came out of the snow about a third of the way down, but I was aware that the rocks would be slippery with ice and, where it had melted, water. No scree though! I passed a couple of groups of walkers coming up the path – keen to get their boots into the white stuff.

Looking back from near the bottom of the descent.

Reaching the coll I decided to take in the modest hill of Glenridding Dodd. This small fell was very popular with Victorian visitors as there’s an excellent view down to Ullswater.

Looking back to Heron Pike from the path up Glenridding Dodd

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It didn’t take long to make my way up the path to the summit of the small fell

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but I had to carry on a little way across the top of the hill to get the view over Ullswater. (You’ll need to click on the panorama to get a better appreciation of the view)

and looking in the opposite direction back towards Heron Pike

Looking south east there was a lot of cloud over High Street and the nearby fells

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There’s Glenridding and the Steamer pier

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I made my way down towards Glenridding, which didn’t take too long. Looking back up to the Dodd from the village

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I didn’t stop in Glenridding but passed through the village before joining the path along the lake shore, part of the route of Ullswater Way., for the walk of a mile or so back to the Glencoyne car park.

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Getting close to car park I looked back over to Glencoyne and Sheffield Pike

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Back at the car I changed out of my boots. They’d had a good christening – gravel paths, rock, mud, bogs, snow, ice and a little tarmac!

Driving back along the lake I stopped a mile up the road at the National Trust Aira Force car park. There’s a cafe there which was still open.

Time for a well earned brew with a view of the fell I’d climbed

A walk from Todmorden to Hebden Bridge

After a week in the flat, flat, flat Netherlands, I was itching to get out into the hills. So on the Monday between Christmas and New Year, I decided to get out for a walk – my last for 2019. Checking out the weather forecast the South Pennines looked a good bet, so I took the train over to Todmorden from where I set out for a walk over the moors to Hebden Bridge. It was a continuation of a walk I did at the end of August when I walked from Littleborough to Todmorden on a hot, late summer day. This time it was also bright and sunny and although obviously colder, it was milder than I expected.

The start of my route this time meant retracing my steps from my August walk, from the train station in Todmorden as far as the small, former textile manufacturing, village of Lumbutts. Leaving the station I passed the ornate, neo-Classical town hall which straddles the former border between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Since Local Government reorganisation in the 1970’s it’s been entirely in West Yorkshire, but remnants of the old loyalties remain. 

I crossed over the Rochdale canal. If I’d wanted I could have followed the towpath to my destination, a much flatter and easier route than the one I’d chosen over the hills and moors – but that would have rather defeated my objective.

Following the Calderdale Way I climbed up out of the town and into the countryside. Looking back over the fields I could see back to Todmorden and the moors to the west. I’ve plans to get up there some time in the near future.

Carrying on Stoodley Pike, surmounted by the monument erected after the Napoleonic and Crimean wars, came into view.

I passed a number of old farm houses, many of them restored as desirable, and expensive, modern homes. Most retain the old windows. In the past it was hard to make a living from farming out in this bleak landscape and, before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, farming families would supplement their earnings by spinning and weaving. The rows of narrow windows was to allow in light for these activities.

After a while I reached Lumbutts, passing the site of the old mill with it’s tower that used to house three water wheels which powered the machinery.

I carried on past the village chapel

and then started to climb up on to the moors via the old packhorse trail.

I reached the top of the hill and turned off the packhorse trail, which now descended down the other side of the moor, and turned north, following the well trodden path, which is part of the Pennine Way, towards Stoodley Pike.

There were quite a few walkers and mountain bikers up on the moor heading to and from the summit. It was still bright and sunny, but there was a strong, stiff cold breeze.

I made my way along the path through the peat until I reached the monument. The current stone tower was completed in 1856 at the end of the Crimean War, replacing an earlier tower erected in 1815

The viewing platform 40 ft high can be reached via a spiral staircase of 39 steps inside the tower, accessed by this door.

I made my way up, using the light of my phone as the steps are in the pitch black. On a sunny day there were good views across the moors from the elevated position.

including the path I was going to take to head towards my final destination.

After a hot coffee from my flask and a bite to eat I carried on along the route of the Pennine Way across the moor, but then turned off to Follow the Pennine Bridleway through the fields and then, after a while, turning off the bridleway to take a path through some pleasant woodland towards the town.

As I got closer to Hebden Bridge I could see the old textile village of Heptonstall over the other side of the valley lit up by the sunshine. But dark clouds were gathering and the bright day started to gradually turn grey.

Turning on to a cobbled road, I started to descend steeply down into Hebden Bridge.

The tall terraced houses were built with 4 or 5 storeys and are “over and under” houses built due to the limited space in the narrow Calder valley. In most northern industrial cities and towns workers’ houses were often built “back to back” – i.e. two houses sharing a common rear wall. This wasn’t so feasible in Hebden Bridge so they built one house on top of another. One house occupies the upper storeys which face uphill while the secon house in the lower two stories face downhill with their back wall against the hillside.

With the decline of the textile industry in the 1950’s and 1960’s Hebden Bridge, like many northern textile towns, became depressed and dilapidated. However, in the 1980’s it started to attract “incomers” – mainly people who favoured a more “alternative” lifestyle – who have regenerated the community.

Today the town is very picturesque and a desirable place to live, as well as being something of a honey pot. But in the past there would have been sulphurous smoke belching from the chimneys of the textile mills which would have filled the valley and it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant location.

I reached the Rochdale canal (the same waterway I crossed in Todmorden) and joined the footpath and walked towards the town centre.

I passed the Trades Club, a socialist members cooperative, club, bar and music venue built in 1924 as a joint enterprise by half a dozen local trade unions. Today it’s been revived and has been described as “the hippest venue in the North” by The Guardian. Many major artists, including  Patti Smith,  Laura Marling, The Fall The Unthanks, Curved Air,  Nico, Thurston Moore, Slaves, Lee Scratch Perry, Marc Almond and Donovan have played here.

I had a wander around the town centre, which is full of small, mainly independent, shops.

There are two independent bookshops in the town and I couldn’t resist calling into one of them, the Bookcase, which looked particularly good, for a browse. The shop had a good selection and I ended up buying a copy of a guide book to the West Yorkshire Moors.

Written by a local author, Christopher Goddard, it includes hand drawn maps of the moors and walks, in a style reminiscent of Wainwright’s guides to the Lakeland Fells, togethor with information about the moors, their history, geology and wildlife. A good buy.

I set back towards the main square over the old bridge

and then made my way back along the canal towpath

to the train station where I was able to catch a direct train back to Wigan Wallgate.

Dusk had fallen and it began to turn dark during my journey home. But I was able to relax and read my new purchase, finding inspiration for some other walks around Todmorden and Hebden Bridge for the near future.

Grange to Cartmel and Cark

After several weeks of grey and damp conditions we finally have had a few days of sunny, but cold (!) weather. I had to take advantage of it to get in at least one walk.

I decided to avoid driving so took the train over to Grange over Sands for a walk I’d planned that would take me to Cark via Cartmel, where we’d stopped earlier in the year. From the train station in Grange I set off up the hill towards Eggerslack woods.

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In the past, these old decidious woodlands – with Ash, Hazel, Sycamore, Birch, Larch and Yew – were coppiced to provide bobbins for the textile mills and wood for charcoal burning.

“Eggerslack” comes from the Norse word ‘eiger’ (which means ‘bore’, or incoming tide) and ‘slack’ highest point reached by the tide  – and this was the case before the railway embankment was built in 1857, when Grange became developed as a seaside resort.

I carried on through the woods and then passed through the stile onto Hampsfell

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with it’s stretches of limestone pavement.

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I soon approached the Hospice – a folly that the Pastor of Cartmel had built in 1846 “for the shelter and entertainment of travellers”.

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On a clear day like today there were extensive views in every direction – over to the Coniston Fells

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(here’s a close up)

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The Eastern fells of the Lake District

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Over to the howgill Fells, across Morecambe Bay (there’s Ingleborough in the distance)

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I stopped for a brew and a bite to eat and then carried on along the fell. Looking back towards the Hospice

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and then started to make my way down the hill to Cartmel

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I walked through the pleasant, small village passing the Priory

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through the main square

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and across the Race Course.

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Walking through the fields – the ground in the shadows was still frosty

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There’s my next objective, the modest hill of Howbarrow

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Reaching the summit

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more magnificent views over very attractive countryside to the Lakeland Fells

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and Morecambe Bay

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After a rest to soak up the views I set of down the hill.

Looking back

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Then I took the path through the woods

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Looking over the fields to the Bay

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There’s Hampsfell

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I followed the path and the minor roads until I reached the small village of Cark

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passing Cark Hall

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I made my way through the village towards the train station. There was a little time before the train was due, so I walked a little further along the road to Flookburgh

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then back to the train station. There’s a direct train from Barrow to Manchester airport every couple of hours which stops at Wigan North Western, so I didn’t need to change at Lancaster. That was handy on a cold day as there was no need to wait on a cold platform for the connection.

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I grabbed a few shots from the train over Morecambe Bay as the sun started to set

A grey day around Rivington

Last week I was in Ireland working, but knew that with the short hours of daylight I was going to be stuck indoors in the hotel most evenings, so the Saturday before I set off I decided to get out for a walk. It was a grey day and as I had a long drive the next day decided to go somewhere local. So I drove the few miles over to Rivington.

Parking up near Rivington School I set off for a walk along the Rivington Lower Reservoir and see where I ended up.

Heading along the path from the car park towards “Liverpool Castle”

Then along the east shore of the reservoir

At the top end of the lake I crossed the dam and then took the path along the west shore of Rivington Upper Reservoir. Looking across the water I could see the tower on top of the Pike , the Terraced Gardens and the Pigeon Tower. The light wasn’t great and certainly not good for photos, though.

At the top of the second reservoir I crossed the dam and, deciding not to carry on along the Anglezarke reservoir took the path by the overflow waterfall up to the Yarrow Reservoir.

I then turned south, making my way along the side of the reservoir and then down through the woods to Rivington Village.

I stopped for a bite to eat and a brew from my flask on the village green and then had a quick look at the Rivington Unitarian Chapel

I spotted this plaque in the chapel grounds.

Intrigued, after I got home, I did a little research to find out more. According to Wikipedia

The Eagle Street College was an informal literary society established in 1885 at the home of James William Wallace in Eagle Street, Bolton, to read and discuss literary works, particularly the poetry of Walt Whitman,

There’s more information about this group here and here.

I carried on towards the Hall barn and then up the hill and through the terraced gardens (or “Chinese Gardens” as we used to call them when I was young). A lot of work has been done restoring the gardens and making the structures created for Lord Leverhulme safe and accessible. It was the first time I’d been up through the gardens since the restoration was completed a few months ago. They really have done a great job.

Looking up towards the “Pigeon Tower”.

I made my way along the track above the gardens and climbed up to the summit of the Pike.

There was low cloud over the top of Winter Hill hiding the television and communication masts.

On my way up the Pike I’d been passed by a procession of runners. While taking a break for a brew I had a chat with one of the Marshalls who told me that the runners were taking part in a marathon that would take them up and down the Pike 5 times. Rather them than me I’d say, but well done to them!

After a short break I set off back down the hill and back into the gardens, passing through the Japanese Garden. I’ve been through them many a time over the years but they been well spruced up by the restoration team. They would look better on a sunnier day in the Spring or Summer, but were still impressive in the murk.

I descended down through the gardens and then took the path through the woods at the foot of the hill and then onwards and back to the car park.

I’d ended up walking further than expected and I reckon that the fresh air had helped with my cold. It was only a short drive back home – less than 20 minutes. I had to pack my bag ready for my trip over the Irish sea the next day.

I’ve been running week long training courses in Ireland for about 15 years – including 4 or 5 a year for the past 9 years. But I’ve started to find them too tiring and so, as part of my plan to start slowing down, I’ve finally decided that this would be my last one. It’s not going to be the end of my trips to Ireland, though. I’ve promised to go over to Galway in March to run a half day seminar at the University (but that’s really an excuse to visit some friends!) and we’re planning to take some holdiays over there and explore more of the country as I (hopefully) start to have some more free time.