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.

Round and round the Rabbit Rocks

Well, May has been a bit of a disaster for getting out and about. The weather ahs been particularly awful for the time of year with what seems almost like incessant rain, although there have been a few brighter patches. I’ve not been able to take advantage of those limited opportunities as I’ve been recovering from going under the knife at the end of April. But I’ve started to tentatively getting out for some exercise and last Sunday we were running out of milk so I decided to take the long route via the Plantations to the little Tesco on Whelley. I had in mind that if I felt up to it I’d extend the walk on a relatively flat route – and that’s what I ended up doing.

I followed the route of the old Whelley loop line over to the canal

and then headed north-east along the tow path past several of the locks of the Wigan Flight

up to Kirkless Hall and then crossed the bridge over to the other side of the “cut”.

Kirkless Hall

During the lockdown over the last year, as opportunities for getting out and about have been limited, I’ve been rediscovering and exploring areas closer to home that I’ve been neglecting. It’s quite a few years ago now but at one time I started making an effort to get some exercise by buying myself a hybrid bike and getting out for a ride in the evening after work several days of the week. One of my regular routes was along the canal footpath and I’d often cross over and ride around the footpaths that criss-crossed over what seemed like wasteland between the canal and the Belle Green Estate in Ince. This was the former site of the Kirkless Iron and Steel Works, which was owned by the Wigan Coal and Iron Company.

An aerial view of the Kirkless Iron Works. The site looks VERY different today – Source; Wigan World Website
Source: Wigan World Website
Blast Furnaces at the Kirkless Iron Works – Source: Wigan World Website
Source: Wigan World Website

I’ve been up here a few times this year, particularly during the winter months when it was icy and the canal and “flashes” were frozen.

A casual visitor wouldn’t realise that during the latter part of the 19th Century that with ten 65 ft high blast furnaces this was the location of one of the largest Iron works in the country and, perhaps the world. The site has been excavated and investigated by the Wigan Archaeological Society. The northern part of the site is now occupied by an industrial estate but the southern part is now a Nature Reserve. The industrial activity has left behind alkaline soils which, apparently, have encouraged the growth of plants that would be more commonly found in coastal areas like the Formby dune system.

Look closely and there are traces of the once massive iron works – particularly the slag heap at the south end of the site, known by locals as the “Rabbit Rocks”., littered with very distinctive cylindrical blocks of slag from the bottom of the furnaces.

I wandered along the various paths that criss-cross the relatively small site, passing a number of “flashes” (lakes left behind as a result of industrial activity)

At one point I sensed movement in the undergrowth. Glancing across I spotted a deer in amongst the trees. It stared at me for a while, long enough for me to snap a photo with my phone camera – you can just about make it out.

I carried on, looping around towards the Rabbit Rocks

and took the gently sloping path up to the top. It’s a short steep climb up there from the side closest to the canal, but I’m not ready to tackle that just yet!

Here’s another shot taken back in January on a cold day when the surface of the flashes were frozen over

There’s good views from the top over the site, across Wigan and over towards Rivington Pike and Winter Hill.

I doubled back and then walked across the bottom of the hill towards the largest of the flashes

Looking up to the Rabbit Rocks across the flash
The frozen flash snapped back in January

I mooched about for a while then walked over to the canal, following the east bank for a while before retracing my route back along the loop line path. I picked up the milk from the little Tescos and then made my way back hoe through the Bottling Wood and along the Dougie. Time for a brew!

A short walk along the Rawthey

It was such a lovely afternoon that after my post walk coffee and cake, I didn’t feel like heading straight back down the motorway. Instead, I decided I’d have a short walk down to the River Rawthy.

Passing the church and Public School and a row of colourful cottages, I made my way to the Millthrop bridge where I joined the riverside path walking in the direction of the New Bridge further upstream.

The river was shallow – it would be much deeper and faster flowing after heavy rain and in the winter.

I passed a weir, after which the river became deeper and smoother

Reaching the New Bridge, I crossed over to the north bank, passing the picnic area

Carrying on just beyond the weir

Where the right of way along the river ended, so I cut up along the path uphill through the field and skirted Winder House, then making my way back to the car.

I rather liked the decoration applied to this window in one of the cottages I passed

I made my way back to the car via the Folly one of the the old “yards” which emerges on the narrow main street opposite the market square, by the side of the rather old fashioned ironmongers shop.

Like in Kendal, these are old, narrow passageways branching off the main streets.

This will be my last walk for a little while as the next Wednesday I had a minor op scheduled and I’ll be out of action for several weeks ☹️ (recuperating at home as I write this). However, I have a short break booked in Borrowdale in August, so something to look forward to – although I’m not sure I’ll be up to tackling the bigger fells by then.

The Quaker Trail and Winder

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Just a few days after my walk to Dent I was back in sedbergh early on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was good and I had planned to take a walk following the Quaker Trail, a route I’d heard about on John Bainbridge’s blog (Walking the Old Ways). There isn’t any information about the route on the web, but after reading John’s blog post I got hold of the leaflet* showing and describing the route from the information office during a previous visit to Sedbergh last year.

Sedbergh along with other places in the North West of England was effectively the birthplace of the Quaker movement. In 1652 the movement’s founder, George Fox climbed Pendle Hill in Lancashire, where he said that had a vision of a “great people to be gathered” waiting for him. the next day he was up on Firbank Fell, near Sedbergh, preaching to a large crowd, many of them Westmorland Seekers, and this is said to have been the birth of the Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers. I’d be visiting “Fox’s Pulpit”, the site of this event, during my walk.

Now I’m not religious but I have a lot of respect for the Quakers with their stance on Peace and equality, and this walk would give me a perspective on their early history and porvide a focus for a walk that would take me to parts of the countryside around Sedburgh that I wouldn’t otherwise visit. I also had in mind a variation to the route to take me up Winder, the hill overlooking Sedbergh, rather than to just skirt the bottom of the fell, depending on how I felt.

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An early start meant that I arrived in Sedbergh at 9 o’clock so any idea of grabbing a coffee before I set off was a no no as the shops and cafes don’t open until 10. So I set out, walking down the high street, past all the shops (nearly all closed!)

towards St Andrew’s church.

The route started here and took me round the church. I should have then cut across the public rights of way across the sedburgh School playing fields but they were barred due to Covid restrictions, which necessitated a diversion on the road.

passing the school neo-Gothic style chapel.

My old secondary school didn’t have anything like this nor the grand extensive sports fields and facilties. But then I’m only a pleb. Just looking at the facilites is enough to see why those who attend Public Schoold have a head start in life. the buildings all looked very nice, mind.

I was soon walking down a quiet country lane heading for the small hamlet of Birks

Looking back there was a grand view of the Howgill fells towering over Sedbergh.

After passing through Birks I took the path through pleasant fields

and under the disused railway line

and arrived at the first Quaker related site, the samll hamlet of Brigflatts with it’s Quaker burial ground

and Friends Meeting house

This simple whitwashed stone building was built in 1675. It’s normally open to visitors but was closed due to you know what. It would have been good to take a look inside as it retains many of the original oak furnishings. Not surprisingly, it’s a listed building.

I sat for a while in the peaceful garden

The Modernist poet, Basil Bunting wrote a long biographical poem entitled From Briggflatts (notice his spelling of the settlement has an extra g). He was actually from Northumbria but he

visited Brigflatts as a schoolboy when the family of one of his schoolfriends lived there, and it was at this time that he developed a strong attachment to his friend’s sister, Peggy Greenbank, to whom the poem is dedicated.

Wikipedia

There’s an extract and critique of the poem on the Guardian website.

He wrote another, much shorter poem about the Meeting House itself

At Briggflatts Meetinghouse

Boasts time mocks cumber Rome. Wren
set up his own monument.
Others watch fells dwindle, think
the sun’s fires sink.

Stones indeed sift to sand, oak
blends with saint’s bones.
Yet for a little longer here
stone and oak shelter

silence while we ask nothing
but silence. Look how clouds dance
under the wind’s wing, and leaves
delight in transience.

(source Durham University ⇨ Basil Bunting Poetry Centre )

So a literary, as well as a historical and religious significance for such a small group of buildings.

Moving on I had to walk down the pathless A683 for a hundred yards or so – but it was very quiet and only one vehicle and a couple of cyclists passed by. I then joined a track that led to Ingmire Hall, a 16th Century house, modified during the Victorian period, that was built around the remains of a pele tower

The route passed by the grounds of the grand house which wasn’t visible from the path.

It now took a long “dog leg” through the fields that eventually led to teh banks of the Lune and the old Lincoln’s Inn bridge

I’d driven over this narrow bridge on the way to Sedbergh from the M6

I crossed the bridge carefully and after a short stretch of road, I climbed over a stile and was back on a footpath through the fields just after Lincoln Inn farm. There was a most excellent view of the Howgills as I crossed the field

After crossing another minor road I crossed a field of sheep and then there was a steep climb through woodland

and then through another field and a farm track to reach another minor road.

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About half a mile up the road and I’d reached Fox’s Pulpit

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It was here that George Fox addressed a gathering of Westmorland Seekers. There used to be a chapel on the adjacent site but

Fox wouldn’t go into the chapel to preach but instead waited until the people emerged from the chapel at lunchtime and then climbed on to the nearby crag ….. and for three hours adressed the gathered crowd.

The Sedbergh Quaker Trail leaflet

He had his desired effect, convincing a significant number of his listeners and the even is seen as the founding of the Quaker movement. An annual event takes place close to the anniversary of the 1652 Meeting. Afterwards attendess go over to Brigflatts for refreshments.

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The text on the commemorative plaque reads

Let your lives speakHere or near this rock George Fox preached to about one thousand seekers for three hours on Sunday, June 13, 1652. Great power inspired his message and the meeting proved of first importance in gathering the Society of Friends known as Quakers. Many men and women convinced of the truth on this fell and in other parts of the northern counties went forth through the land and over the seas with the living word of the Lord enduring great hardships and winning multitudes to Christ.

The site is in the middle of nowhere, up on Firbank Fell, exposed to the elements – the old chapel was badly damaged by a storm in the 19th century and was demolished.

The “pulpit” stands at the foot of a group of knobbly hills known as the Knotts.

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I clambered up to the highest point and was treated to a magnificant panorama over the Howgill Fells.

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Looking in the other direction, I could just make out the distinctive profile of Ill Bell but long range visibility in that direction was too poor to get a good view over the Kentmere Fells. But, hety, the view over the Howgills more than made up for that.

While I was standing taking in the view I noticed that a number of locals were looking at me

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The Rough Fell sheep found up here are one of the three breeds of sheep native to Cumbria. They always seem much less timid than most breeds and often wander over to have a look at strangers.

I made my way down to the path skirting the bottom of the Knotts, passed through a couple of fields and then there was a short walk along the quiet road to Goodies farm

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where I turned down a track which took me downhill,

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over the course of the disused railway line

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and then down to the River Lune, crossing over the wooden footbridge

Looking down at the river

Leaving the river behind a path took me up to join the route of the Dales Way, which I now followed for a few miles in the direction of Sedburgh, initially passing through a farmyard

and then through fields of sheep with their lambs

Looking over to teh Knotts

Reaching the farm at Bramaskew, I turned off the Dales Way and took a path through more fields of sheep, crossing over another minor road and then over a stile on the path that took me up to and through Crosedale Wood

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and then on towards the fell gate

which took me onto the bottom of the fells.

Looking over to Arant Haw

The published route now followed the fell wall back towards Sedbergh, but this is where I decided that I would go up Winder, one of the smaller Howgill Fells, which overlooks Sedbergh.

I have to admit that I didn’t find the climb easy going. I am definitely not “fell fit”, but it wasn’t a long haul and I made it to the top

I stopped for a break and a bite to eat and took in the views.

Looking towards Arant Haw

and over to the Dales

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I was a little tempted by Arran haw, but decided I’d done enough, especuially as climbing Winder had felt like hard work – I really need to get more in shape – so started to make my way back off the fells to Sedbergh.

I arrived back in the small town at 3:30 so had time to go over to the Four Hares to buy myself a fortifying coffee and to treat myself to a rather tasty raspberry frangipane. Yummy.

It was just as well that the shops shut at 4 o’clock. Sedbergh is a “Book Town” and most shops have a stock of second hand books. I did find time to browse for a short time in the Information centre where they have a large selection, but I managed to avoid temptation. Sedbergh might be Book Town but I live in Book House and I have rather a large “to be read” pile at the moment, not counting all the unread e-books on my Kindle!

I sat on a bench in the small garden by the Information Centre enjoying my coffee and cake in the sunshine, but I hadn’t done quite yet. It was far too nice a day to drive home just yet, so I decided to dump my rucksac in the boot and take a stroll through the town and along the river side. But this post has gone on long enough! 😉

p.s. Nobody tried to convert me during this walk!

*A booklet on the Sedbergh Quaker Trail with a route description, including maps, can be purchased from the Information Centre for the modest price of £1:50

Bog trotting to Dent

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I managed to take a day off work mid week to make the most of some decent weather and get out for a walk. I didn’t fancy driving too far so decided on Sedbergh. After my walk up Seat Sandal I realised I wasn’t “fell fit” so opted for a less strenuous walk exploring the hills to the south of the small town rather than attempting the Howgills and also explore an area I’d never been to before – Dentdale. I’d spotted a route on the Sedbergh town website and based my plans on that, extending the walk to start from Sedbergh town centre and taking in Dent village before looping back. It crossed the low fell of Frostwick but wouldn’t involve too much strenuous climbing. I should, however have taken more notice of a comment in the walk description

“The path, can be very boggy in places”

and taken a closer look at the Harvey map which is very good at showing boggy areas.

It was a Wednesday and I hadn’t realised it was market day in Sedbergh, but I managed to find a space in the Market Square Car park – the small town wasn’t exactly heaving. I had a quick look over the small number of stalls, mainly selling local produce – meat, cheese and vegetables – and wish now that I’d picked up some of the tempting goodies on offer!

I booted up and then walked through the town and crossed the “New Bridge” over the River Rawthey. I passed a snack van parked in the lay by just after the bridge and, although it was only about 11 o’clock, the aroma of the bacon was just too tempting, so I had to stop and buy myself a bacon buttie. Very good it was too.

I carried on along the A684 for a short distance and then turned up the lane that led up to Frostrow, passing a number of houses and farms.

After the last farm, the tarmaced lane turned into a stoney track and then, after climbing a ladder stile I was on the path that would take me up over the moor.

As i started to climb there was a great view back to Sedbergh and the Howgills

This part of the route was part of the Dales High Way and is was easy to follow on the ground. But there were substantial stretches of boggy land to traverse, despite the weather being reasonably dry of late.

It was impossible to keep my boots dry as I tried to hop from one patch of drier land to another, but for much of the way it was a lost cause. However, I didn’t get sucked in to the peat (well, not too often or too deep, anyway) and although my boots got wet they’re waterproof so my feet stayed dry.

It was quiet and lonely up on the moor. There wasn’t another soul up there. Real “social isolation”.

As I was walking up the moor, cloud had been coming in and patches of the sky looked pretty dark for a while. But the cloud didn’t persist too long and largely cleared during the afternoon.

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Enjoying the walk and deep in thought as I walked across the moor, I missed my turning that would take me down in Dentdale, continuing to climb Aye Gill Pike. I’d gone probably a mile walking through the boggiest section of the moor before I realised my mistake and had to retrace my steps. There was a sign by the path announing the start of the area of Open access land, and this is where I should have turned right and gone through the gate to start descending off the moor. I didn’t miss it again, though, as I came back down from the bog.

I could see Dent village down in the valley as I descended down the path, which was still part of the Dales High Way.

I passed a farm

where the path turned into a lane which then took me down hill as far as the road from Sedbergh to Dent

After walking along a short stretch of road I reached the bridge which took the road over the River Dee (not, of course the one that runs through Chester). However, I continued straight on along a minor road that ran close to the right bank of the river

Looking over towards Aye Gill Pike .

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After about a mile I took a path that cut across a field and then crossed the bridge and walked down the road into Dent. I needed to be careful now and keep my eyes open for one of those Terrible Knitters.

Dent is a small village and is one of those places that are frozen in time, with lots of attractive old cottages and other buildings and with minimal more modern development.

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I passed the old chuch of St Andrews, built in the12th Century but obviously having undergone several modifications since then.

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I spotted a branch of Martins bank. I was definitely in a time warp then, as Martins was taken over by barclays in 1969!

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After wansering around the streets of the village (which didn’t take long) I set off on the return leg of my journey. I’d now be following the Dales way back to Sedbergh which initially took me along the south bank of the river

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After a couple of miles the route left the riverbank and joined a quiet road for about a mile.

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At brackensgill farm I turned off the road on to a path through the fields

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and on to a footbridge where I crossed the river.

The path then took me to the Sedbergh to Dent road which I crossed and then took the track that started to climb the fell. The Dales Way, which I was still following, then veered to the left gradually climbing and contouring along the side of the hill heading towards Sedbergh.

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After a while Sedbergh, backed by the Howgills came into view

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I came down off the fell into the small settlement of Millthrop, a very pleasant former mill village

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I walked down to the road and crossed over Millthrop Bridge. Built in the 17th Century it’s a listed building.

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A short distance after the bridge I took a path that cut across the fields up to towards Winder House, which is part of the Sedbergh Public School

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The path then took me past sport fields down to the centre of the village.

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It was almost 6 o’clock now, so, as everything in Sedbergh shuts no later than 4 o’clock, there was nowhere to stop and treat myself to a brew. So it was off with the boots and back in the car for the drive home.

Seat Sandal

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Just two days after my wander over Winter Hill and the moors, I was off out again, this time to the Lake District. The weather forecast looked good, at least for the morning, so I set out early and arrived in Grasmere for a 9 o’clock start. I arrived to be greeted with a bright blue sky in an almost deserted village – the next stage of the easing of lockdown when shops could open was only scheduled for the following Monday.

After booting up, I set off down the quiet country lanes heading towards my destination, the valley of Tongue Gill and the path up to Grisedale tarn and then up Seat Sandal, the distinctive medium sized fell that overlooks the village. I’d been up this way the January before last – before you know what landed on our shores (or, at least, before the Government woke up to it).

I passed Helm Crag (the “Lion and the Lamb”)

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with Steel Fell (the last fell I climbed before the first lockdown) ahead

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but the road veered right towards the A591. I crossed the road and set off down the lane that started to climb up the gill. On a glorious morning I couldn’t help but to keep stopping to take int the views

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looking back to Silver How
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Looking East – Helm Crag, Gibson Knot and Steel Fell

Part way up the valley it’s divided in two by a hill – the Tongue. I took the right hand fork, following the Coast to Coast walk route

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Looking back

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I carried on climbing gradually up the valley

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Some locals were keeping an eye on me

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It had been cold for a few days due to the weather coming in from the Arctic and the ground was partially frozen

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Keeping on

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I eventually reached Grisedale tarn.

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I’d found the relatively modest climb hard going – after been away from any serious walking I clearly wasn’t “fell fit” – or is it just age catching up with me? In reality, it was probably a combination of both factors. So i was glad of a rest while I refueled and took in a fix of hot coffee from my flask.

A few people passed by, most of them heading up to climb the steep path up Fairfield and I could see quite a few people up on the summit, probably tackling the horseshoe. But that wasn’t for me that day. Instead I was going to make my way up the shorter, but still steep, climb up Seat Sandal.

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Yes Anabel, I’ll be going up that scree!

So suitabably rested I started to make my way slowly up the hill. The scree made the start of the climb a little tricky and then there was a bit of a scramble up the rock – taking care as there was ice, some of it quite thick, in places.

There were great views behind me, so I was able to punctuate my climb with a few short breaks for photos

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Dollywagon Pike to the left, Saint Sunday Crag to the right an Ullswater just visible down Grisedale

It didn’t take too long to reach the summit. Unlike the more popular (and higher) Fairfield, it was very quiet and I saw only two other walkers (and another two on the way down later).. It was a good clear day so there were good views over the Lakeland Fells and I could even see over the Solway across to Scotland.

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Looking North West
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Looking down to Grasmere. I could see the Coniston Fells and Coniston Water in the distance

I used my camera to zoom in for some shots

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There’s Bowfell and the Scafells
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Great Gable in the middle of the shot
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Skiddaw with Scotland on the horizon

I chatted with one of my fellow walkers (she’d come over Fairfield first and hadn’t enjoyed the descent to Grisedale Tarn down the long, steep scree slope), fortified myself with a sandwich and coffee and soaked in the views, before starting my descent back down towards Grasmere.

Cloud had been coming over the course of my walk, but Seat Sandal was still in the bright sunshine. Suddenly, I noticed some white flakes falling to the ground. Yes it was snow and it seemed to be falling out of a bright blue sky.

the little white dots you might be able to make out in this picture if youare snowflakes not marks on your screen!

Looking over to the south I could see that the snow was coming from a dark cloud over towards Fairfield and was drifting over. I’ve heard of four seasons in a day but never experienced what seemed like four seasons simultaneously! But that’s the Lakes for you.

I continued my descent.

Looking backwards

Grasmere village had been sitting under a cloud for mst of my descent and was in shadow.

The path rejoined the track I’d tken up from Grasmere near to the A591. I walked down the lane, crossed over the main road and retraced my steps back to the village, passing new born Herdwick lambs with their mother in the fields.

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It was still quite quiet when I arrived in Grasmere as none of the shops were open. There was a queue though at Lucina’s cafe, which I joined to treat myself to a take out coffee and cake. I sat on a bench on the small green to consume my purchases just as the snow began to fall, fairly heavily at first. But the shower soon moved on and the snow didn’t stick.

I had a little wander round the village, doing a little window shopping in Sam Read’s bookshop,but with everything being shut and weather becoming less pleasant it was time to head back to the car and set off back for home. It had been good to get back up to the Lakes. It will be busier now as we start to move out of the current lockdown. I’ve plans for a short break up there in the summer and I hope to get back up for the occassional day walk over the next few months – before the next wave hits us.

Winter Hill, Belmont and Anglezarke

Since the easing of lock down I’ve managed to get in a few walks, although I’ve been slow writing them up as being glued to the computer for most of the week means I’ve been reluctant to spend more time on it in my free time – I’d rather be out walking or relaxing with a book or film. But I’m going to be less shackled to the keyboard over the next few weeks so time to catch up!

I had to visit a clinic on the west side of Bolton a couple of weeks ago. This gave me an excuse to take the rest of the day off and drive over to Rivington on what was promising to be a decent day for a walk. I’d worked out a route up over Winter Hill, down to belmont village and then back over the moors.

I parked up on the drive up to the Hall barn, donned my boots and gear and set off. It was still during the school holidays so it was busy with families out for the day, but I’d picked a route to avoid the crowds who were mainly heading up to the top of the Pike. I skirted the bottom of the hill and then took a less frequented path and then a track on the southern boundary of the gardens.

I avoided the summit of the pike and walked down the track towards Pike Cottage where I planned to take the path up to Two Lads and then on to Winter Hill.

Looking over to the top of the Pike
There were a few people coming up and down the old road but it was still fairly quiet.

Reaching Pike Cottage I discovered that since I was last up here a snack bar had opened up. A good excuse to take a break with a brew and have a bite to eat and take in the views over to the Pike and across the South Lancashire Plain.

Time to set off again. I went through the gate and on to the path across the moor towards Two Lads

Looking back to the Pike

and on to the mast on top of Winter Hill

There’s Two Lads, a subsidary summit of Winter Hill, ahead.

There’s various theories as to how this little lump gets its name, but there’s two “lads” there these days, in the form of a couple of substantial cairns.

After a short stop to take in the views I set off over the moor towards the summit of Winter Hill. Fortunately the peat was reasonably dry so not too much clag to have to navigate!

On towards the TV mast – the cage is for maintenance workers – I definitely wouldn’t fancy going up in that!

I made my way across the top and then took the path that would take me down the east side of the hill and on to Belmont, my first time down this way.

It had turned into a lovely afternoon and as I descended there were great views over Turton Moor. Long range views were excellent and I could make out Pendle Hill, the Yorkshire Three peaks and, on the horizon to the north west, the Lakeland Fells.

Looking down to Belmont.

It was an enjoyable descent – not too steep (which is hard on the old knees these days) and with excellent views.

Towards the bottom of the hill I turned off onto the path that would take me to the main road and then on to Belmont village. It’s a small settlement that grew up around the cotton industry with a mill, dye works and other factories. When I was researching my family history I discovered that some of my ancestors lived there for a while, although I don’t have any connections there these days.

The stone cottages, which would have been home for workers in the mills and other factories, look attractive all cleaned up and, no doubt, would cost a packet to buy. I wonder whether any of my ancestors lived in one of them?

I turned up by the Black Dog pub – still shut due to the lockdown

and had a mooch around the graveyard of the Victorian neo-Gothic St peter’s church wondering whether I might find a gavestone for one of my ancestors. A slim hope of course as they would have been too poor to have a memorial.

I carried on towards Ward’s reservoir which was drained a number of years ago for safety reasons

and then crossed over the road on to a path that runs across the moors, heading west towards Anglezarke. I could hear the cry of a curlew and saw a lapwing and a couple of oystercatchers. Unfortunatly they’d flown off before I could snap a photo with my camera which I had to dig out of my rucksack, my phone camera not having an adequate zoom.

Arriving at Horden Stoops, I took a short diversion up the path towards Spitler’s Edge to take in the views northwards over to Great Hill and across Anglezarke,

and, in the other direction, over to Winter Hill

I’d orinially planned to take the Old Belmont Road along the bottom of Winter Hill and back to Rivington, but it was such a lovely afternoon that I decided to carry on west across the moor

The peat was reasonably dry and the going was good until I approached the ruins of Higher Hempshaws farm – it’s nearly always a quagmire underfoot here and it was true to form as I gingerly hopped across of clag trying to avid my boots becoming submerged in the morass.

I decided to stop for while in theruins. It’s always a good place to stop and sit, take in the view and contemplate life.

Someone else had had the same idea and was just setting off again as approached. As you do we said hello and exchanged a few words that chaned into a chat swapping stories about the moors and their history. Suddenly he changed subject and produced a leaflet from his pack. Turned out he was a Jehovah’s Witness and had decided to take the opportunity to try to convert me. A lost cause I’m afraid as I gave up on religion when I was about 13.

After a short break, I set off again, crossing over the young River Yarrow and following a path I’ve never taken before heading west towards another ruin known as “Old Rachel’s”.

There’s several ruined farms up on Anglezarke and the other nearby moors. It must have been a hard life up here, especially during the winter, but the farms were home for their occupants. However, they were all demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century by Liverpool Corporation as themoors are in the catchment area for the reservoirs at Anglezarke and Rivington they constructed.

The ruins of “Old Rachel’s

Looking back towards Spitler’s and Redmond’s Edges from “Old Rachel’s”

Looking over to Winter Hill

I carried on across the occasionally boggy ground until I reached the minor road near Wilcock’s farm. This old building certainly isn’t a ruin

There’s stables nearby (I passed a field of horses before I hit the road) and there’s also a small tidy looking campsite by the farm house.

Just past the farm I turned down a path that runs above Dean Wood – a wooded gulley that’s a protected Nature Reserve – and which took me to the end of the Yarrow Reservoir, ner to the dam. I carried on following the path through the woods and back to Rivington Village

A short walk across the fields and I was back at the car.

A decent walk – more than 10 miles with all my little diversions.

Back on the Moors

The 29th March was the start of the easing off of the latest lockdown. Outdoor activity was, to a limited extent, now allowed. “Stay at home” no longer required although “travel should be minimised”.

During the lockdown I’ve been following the rules and restricted walking to routes from the front door, but I’ve been itching to get back out into wilder country and, with a mini-heatwave forecast, on Tuesday I was up early and driving the few miles over to Rivington for a long awaited wander over the West Pennine Moors. Of course, plenty of other people had the same idea, but I was hoping by choosing my route I’d be able to avoid he crowds. I wasn’t completely succesful, though.

I parked up near the Hall barn and then set off to climb up through the terraced gardens. I’d gone about half a mile when I realised I’d left a bottle of water in the car. I had a couple of litres in my bladder ( the one in my rucksack, that is) but on a hot day I didn’t want to run out, so back to the car to collect the bottle.

I reached the track which ascends the side of the hill and at the 7 arch bridge I climbed up the steps

reaching the Italian gardens where I could see my first objective – the Pigeon Tower

Climbing up I stopped to take in the view over the moors

before setting off down the old Belmont Road. A few others had the same idea but I only encountered about half a dozen people along this stretch of the walk. Most visitors to Rivi were heading in the other direction towards the tower on the summit of the hill.

Looking across to moors I could make out Spitler’s Edge and Great Hill.

I took a short diversion to climb up Noon Hill, which is a subsidary summit of Winter Hill. It’s topped by a Bronze Age burial mound, which is a Scheduled Monument. The site was excavated n 1958 and 1963/64 by Bolton and District Archaeology Society (now Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society), when cremated remains of an adult male, an adult female and a child were found along with pottery and flint tools.

On a fine day, it’s a good viewpoint too. There’s the masts on the top of Winter Hill

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the summit of Rivington Pike

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and good views over the moors to the north

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I cut down back to the old Belmont Road and after a short while reached the modern road.

I walked along a short stretch of tarmac, taking care to avoid being hit by the idiots on their motorbikes and a sporty BMW (this is a favourite route for motorists and bikers who think they’re motor racing stars) until I reached the start of the path which would take me over to Great Hill.

I passed a muddy puddle that’s the source of the River Yarrow

and set off up the flagged path.

This route is over peat morrland and is notoriously boggy. But the flagged path makes it passable and it’s a popular walk, and on a sunny day I passed quite a few people coming the other way – possibly including a certain fellow blogger.

There’s several points on the route where flags haven’t been laid , or have sunk into the bog.

It’s a very plaeant walk along Spitler and Redmond’s Edges, with good views across the wild moorland. There was a distant hum from the M61 over tot he west, but the main sound was the song of the numerous skylarks as they climbed up into the clear blue sky.

I reached the stile at the bottom of the summit of Great Hill

and was soon on top.There were a few people sheltering fromt the wind in the shelter, but I managed to bag a seat and grabbed a bite to eat while I took ing the views.

Refreshed, I set off down the hill. I soon reached the ruined farm at Drinkwaters.

This is a popular spot to stop, have a bite to eat and take in the view, and a couple of groups of walkers were doing just that. But the old farm was looking a little more dilapidated than normal (I’ve been coming up here since I was a young teenager). Turns out that United Utilities – the company that owns the moors up here since our water was privatised – were responsible. They’d had some work taking place to create a truning space for emergency vehicles in case of a fire up on the moor and the contractors, either delibrately or accidentaly, demolished a section of wall. This has provoked outrage amongst the walking fraternity. United Utilities explanation is that it asn’t part of the contractor’s remit but as they deemed the wall “unsafe” they decided to knock it down. Not sure I believe them to be honest. They claim that they will have the wall rebuilt – so look out for pink pigs flying over the moor. (News reports here and here)

I carried on down the track reaching the Rambler’s signpost

There were quite a few people coming up the path from Chorley.

I decided on a diversion and turned north along the track across Wheelton Moor

There’s several old shooting butts along this track, reminders of when this was the grouse shooting domain of wealthy landowners. At one time, not that long ago, I wouldn’t have been allowed up here

I turned off the track and took the path down towards Wheelton Plantation

past a ruined farm and a small quarry

and entered the woods.

I walked down through the woods until, at the bottom of the hill, I reached the Goyt, the water course that links the Roddlesworth and Anglezarke Reservoirs. The path was busy with walkers, cyclists and families enjoying the fine day, with one large group of older walkers inconsideratly walking slowly and blocking the path.

It didn’t take long to reach White Coppice where I stopped and rested on one of the benches overlooking the cricket pitch.

The village is something of a honey pot so it was busy with groups of picknickers.

After my short break I carried on, taking the path along the Goyt towards Anglezarke reservoir,

where I took the path along the east side of the man-made lake.

I turned off and climbed up the slope past High Bullough Reservoir. Although the smallest of the chain of reservoirs in the valley, it was the first to be constructed in 1850 to serve the nearby town of Chorley (where I grew up). Today it’s no longer used and there was little water to be seen between the dams

I carried on up the hill emerging opposite the old Manor House Farm – originally known as High Bullough – hence the name of the reservoir.

A short walk along the tarmaced road and I reached Jepson’s Gate leading me back on to the fringes of the moor.

I decided to visit the memorial to the Wellington Bomber that crashed near here during the war

where there’s a great view over to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.

I had intended to take the path through the fields down to Parson’s Bullough and Allance Bridge but I could see the path was a bit of a quagmire in places, so decided instead to walk down into Lead MIne Clough. The river here is another honey pot and there were several family groups picnicking and getting their feet wet in the cool water on what had become a very hot afternoon.

Reaching Allance Bridge I looked over the ramparts at the the River Yarrow as it entered the reservoir – no longer a muddly puddle!

A short walk up the road and I crossed the stile and took the path through the fields to the east of the Yarrow Resevoir

I carried on along the path through the woods beside the small stream and then up through the fields

emerging at Rivington village, across from the old Unitarian Chapel

It wasn’t far back to the car now, through the meadow and passing the “host of daffodils” (even if I wasn’t on the banks of Ullswater).