A walk from Kirkby Lonsdale

Untitled

I had a week in Ireland this week cancelled and as I hadn’t anything particularly urgent that needed doing, I thought that, weather permitting, we might get out for a walk one day. Checking the forecast, Monday looked the best bet as it was expected to be a decent day, so that clinched it. Where to go? Given the limited hours of light in December we decided not to go to far and stick to a low level route, limiting the mileage. We’d not been to Kirkby Lonsdale before, even though it’s not so far away (just over an hour’s drive, M6 willing!), so after a little research decided on a route starting from there.

Kirkby Lonsdale is a picturesque market town in Cumbria, close to the boundaries of both Lancashire and North Yorkshire and just inside  the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s noted for it’s olde worlde town centre, a viewpoint beloved of Ruskin and Turner and an old bridge. 

Untitled

There’s plenty of free parking on the edge of town, either side of the “Devil’s Bridge” but when we arrived on a Monday morning in December, I was surprised to see how many cars were parked up. However, there were a few spaces left so we parked up and donned our boots ready for a walk. I was expecting it to be muddy so we’d brought our gaiters and a couple of walking poles – it turned out that this was a good move!

PC033341

Before setting off we had a look at the Devil’s Bridge which was built in the 12th or 13th century, and is now a scheduled ancient monument.  At one time it was the only bridge over the Lune for miles around.

Untitled

There are quite a few Devil’s Bridges around the country, all built around the same period and all have a story associated with them explaining the name.  At Kirkby Lonsdale the tale goes that one night a cow belonging to an old woman strayed across the river and as there was no crossing point on the wide, fast flowing river, she couldn’t get it back. The devil then appeared and offered to build a bridge overnight t if he could have the soul of the first one across. However, the old woman fooled him by sending her dog across first. The devil was so angry he disappeared in a cloud of smoke never to return. 

Untitled

The bridge is a popular spot over the River Lune for “tombstoning”, which involves leaping from height into water. Over the years a number people have been killed here and there’s a local bye-law forbidding the practice, but, apparently, this doesn’t stop some foolish thrill seekers. So perhaps the Devil has had the last laugh.

Untitled

We set off , crossing the main road and then heading off south through the fields. There was a good view over to the Kentmere horseshoe.

PC033328

Passing a small group of cottages we followed the track which led towards Sellet Mill. 
The narrow footpath passed between two stonewalls and was clearly an old right of way which looked like it had been cobbled at one time. About a third of the way down a stream came in from the left and the path continued alongside it. “I wonder if it ever gets flooded?” We soon found out. Not much further on the path was covered with a fast running stream. Should we turn back or chance it and continue? We took the latter option. We almost regretted this decision as the water was quite deep in places and  it wasn’t easy to avoid getting our boots submerged or slipping and falling over. The walking poles now came in very handy and we managed to stay upright and not get too wet thanks to the gaiters. After what seemed a long way the path re-emerged on the right hand bank and we were able to continue on dry land until we reached Sellet Mill. 

Untitled

From here we took the path heading west through the fields until we reached the road and then followed a narrow minor road towards Whittington, a pleasant old village. There were good views over the fields across to Ingleborough and other hills in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Untitled
Untitled

and we passed some interesting old buildings.

Untitled

Reaching the old church, which stands on the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle, we decided to stop and have a bite to eat. We had a quick look inside the church. The oldest part is the tower, which dates from the early 16th century. The rest was largely rebuilt in 1875 in the usual Victorian Gothic revival style. 

PC033329
Untitled

There was some rather nice stained glass.

Untitled
Untitled

Afterwards we found a bench in the graveyard and sat down to eat our pork pies, taking in the view on a pleasant, sunny, afternoon.

Well nourished we resumed our walk, taking the road through the village and then followed a path that cut eastwards across the fields towards the River Lune.

Untitled
PC033334
PC033336
Untitled

After recent heavy rains, the river was deep and flowing fast and the banks were muddy and slippy. In a few places it was close to the river and we were once again glad I’d put our walking poles in the boot of the car that morning.

Untitled

We followed the river bank back to Devil’s Bridge and then continued on the riverside path as we wanted to have a look around the small town and also to visit the viewpoint known as “Ruskin’s View”.

Untitled
Untitled

After about a mile we reached the “Radical Steps” that would take us up to the viewpoint. The steps were built in 1819 by Francis Pearson, a local Liberal. The locals came to call them the Radical Steps on account of his political leanings. There are allegedly 86 stone steps, although we didn’t count them. They were rather steep and uneven and probably easier to go up than down.

Untitled

Untitled

At the top of the steps we reached the edge of the churchyard and were able to take in “Ruskin’s View”. Painted by Turner, in 1875, John Ruskin described the panorama as ‘one of the loveliest views in England, therefore in the world’.

Untitled

Even though the river valley was now in the shade, it was certainly a lovely view, but I think Ruskin was rather overstating it.

After taking in the view we walked through the church yard and had a quick look around inside St Mary’s church

Untitled
PC033352

and then wandered into town where we found a cafe to have a brew before heading back to the car for the drive home. It was only 5 o’clock but the winter sun having already set it felt much later. But we’d had a good day out.

Untitled
Untitled
PC033365

A walk on the Far Eastern Fells

After a good meal in the Brotherswater Inn on Sunday evening I settled down with a good book before bed. I woke to a beautiful, sunny, if frosty, morning. Down to a hearty breakfast with a great view over the fells.

Untitled

After checking out I drove the short distance to the car park at the end of Hartsop village. There were already a few vehicles parked up but the overnight stay meant I was able to get a decent start (and a car parking space) without setting off from home at an early hour and enduring the traffic on the M61 and M6 where the rush hour starts around 6 o’clock! The plan was to head up Hayeswater Gill and climb up towards High Street and take in the Knott, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike and High Raise.

It was a glorious morning as I set off on the steady climb up Hayeswater Gill. There were great views back towards Fairfield, Helvelyn and the neighbouring fells.
Untitled

But I could see thick cloud gathering over in the west.

On the way up the gill I passed this curious shepherd’s building with a moss covered roof.

Untitled

I reached the bridge that crosses the beck just before Hayeswater and stopped to take a photograph back down the valley

Untitled

I crossed the bridge and took the path up the side of the hill. It was rather boggy in places.

Looking down to Hayeswater as I climbed

Untitled

and another shot of the fells to the west

Untitled

The path climbed until it reached the track from Angle Tarn which is part of the Coast to Coast route. Consequently it had been “engineered” and much drier underfoot. Turning along this path I continued to climb heading up towards the Knott. I bypassed the summit (but would climb it on the way down), carrying on to the ridge known as the Straights of Riggendale.

Reaching the top of the ridge I forked off left heading towards my first summit of the day Kidsey Pike.

Untitled

The end of Haweswater, the most easterly of the Lakes, also came into view.
The lake is actually a reservoir, constructed by the Manchester Corporation back in the 1920’s and 30’s. This was highly controversial at the time as the remote Mardale was considered one of England’s most beautiful valleys. Originally there were two smaller lakes – High and Low Water – which were engulfed along with the village of Mardale Green by the rising waters after the dam was constructed at the end of the valley. This summer the long dry spell led to the waters falling and remains of buildings in the drowned village including the Dun Bull Inn, the Public School, Riggindale Farm became visible, attracting curious visitors.

This was the view to the east from the summit

Untitled

and over towards High Street

Untitled

To the south west I could see Raise, my next objective

Untitled

The cloud I’d seen earlier during my walk over to the west had finally blown over and the sky was now overcast and grey.

It was a relatively easy walk over good ground to the summit of Raise,

Untitled

where I stopped for a while to grab a bite to eat, taking in the views over towards Martindale and Ullswater.

Untitled

I set off to head along the ridge towards Rampsgill Head and on to High Street. Doing so I would be treading in the footsteps of the Romans who’d built a road, High Street, over the fells between their forts at Penrith and Ambleside, which is how the fell known as High Street got it’s name.

The summit of Raise is covered with loose rocks and as I was starting off towards Rampsgill Head I lost my footing. I couldn’t regain my balance and fell over, somehow cracking my mouth on a rock. As I regained my feet I realised that as well as a few minor cuts and scrapes on my hands and shin, a cut just below my mouth was bleeding quite heavily. I managed to staunch the bleeding with a tissue but decided my little accident wasn’t serious enough to warrant abandoning my trek (it was a long way back to Hartsop in any case) so I carried on, continuing to soak up the blood from the cut below my mouth with a series of tissues until it eventually eased. Anyone who saw me must have thought I’d been in a scrap! I guess I was lucky as a fall up on the fells can be much more serious.

Despite my little incident, I was still able to enjoy the views down Martindale from Rampsgill Head

Untitled

Untitled

Traversing the ridge towards High Street and looking down Riggendale towards Haweswater

Untitled

and view over Rough Crag towards Harter Fell and Branstree

Untitled

Looking back down to Hayeswater from the route of the Roman road.

Untitled

High Street is a long, broad ridge without a clear summit, but OI made my way to the trig point at the highest point of the fell

Untitled

Heading back, I decided to more or less retrace my route down to Hartsop, but followed the wall along the top of of High Street rather than taking the route of the Roman road. Walking along the ridge over the Straits of Riggendale I diverted slightly for the modest climb to the summit of the Knott. This was the view back over to High Street.

Untitled

It was downhill all the way now back down to Hayeswater Gill and the car park in Hartsop

DSC05287

A walk around Brothers Water

Untitled

A couple of weeks ago I managed to take a very short break up in the Lakes – just a Sunday afternoon and a Monday, stopping overnight on Sunday in the Brothers Water Inn on the Kirkstone Pass, a few miles south of Patterdale and Ullswater.

I set off around midday. It was raining but as I drove north up the M6 the rain eased off and it was a pleasant, clear afternoon by the time I arrived and checked into the small hotel around 3 p.m. It was the weekend before the end of British Summertime so the sunset was just after 6 p.m. so, after checking in and unloading the car I had time for a short walk. The obvious route was to circumnavigate Brothers Water – which can be considered to be either one of the Lake District’s smallest lakes or one of its largest tarns. The lake was once known as Broad Water but was renamed in the 19th century, apparently after two brothers drowned there.

Leaving the hotel a walk through the campsite and fields and past Hartsop Hall, an old farmhouse dating back to the 16th century, took me to the path on the west side of the lake. I followed it through pleasant woodland to the end of the lake, then took a diversion into Hartsop and part way up Hayeswater Gill. After retracing my steps back to the village I cut back towards the lake and following the path along the east shore back to the Inn.

Untitled

DSC05250

Untitled

DSC05255

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

DSC05260

DSC05262

DSC05264

DSC05267

A Walk up Red Screes

I managed to find a day to get out for a walk and decided to drive up to the Ambleside and walk up Red Screes. It’s a distinctive fell and its whale-back can be seen from across the south Lakes. I had intended to do this walk a few months ago but changed my mind when I parked up in Ambleside and did the Fairfield Horseshoe instead. This time I stuck with my plan on what was forecast to be a fine Autumn day.

Leaving Ambleside I took the path along Scandale and then climbed to the summit of Red Screes from the top of the pass, descending back down to Ambleside along the ridge. An easy ascent up the valley followed by a steep climb and then a gentle descent.

Leaving the car park I passed the bridge house

Untitled

It was bright and sunny as I started to climb out of the town, with great views over to Rydal Water and the fells

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Up through the woods

Untitled

I reached High Sweden Bridge

Untitled

It’s an old packhorse bridge dating from the 1700’s.

I carried on up the valley. This route over the top of Scandale Pass links Ambleside with Patterdale.

Untitled

I passed a herd of highland cattle who barely gave me a glance

Untitled

Carrying on along the valley;

Untitled

Reaching the top of the pass the sky had clouded over

Untitled

Now I had had a steep climb up to the summit of Red Screes

Looking down towards Patterdale and Brothers Water

Untitled

and over towards the Fairfield Horseshoe and Helvellyn

Untitled

I finally reached the summit

Untitled

Untitled

It was cold and windy and the wind shelter was occupied by someone wild camping. But I managed to find a sheltered spot to grab a bite to eat and take in the views.

Looking towards Yoke, Ill Bell and Frostwick and the Kentmere Horseshoe in the east

Untitled

over to Fairfield, Saint Sunday Crag and Helvellyn

Untitled

It was raining further west over the Coniston Fells, Langdale and the Scafells

Untitled

Time to start descending along the long ridge back to Ambleside. There’s Windermere in the distance

Untitled

Looking eastwards over the Kirkstone Pass and the Kirkstone Inn towards the Kentmere Fells

Untitled

It was raining heavily now over the fells to the west and north

Untitled

But it didn’t drift over as far east as Red Screes. Very typical of the Lakes where the weather can change from one valley to the next.

Untitled

There’s Ambleside ahead

Untitled

Looking north

Untitled

Getting closer to Ambleside

Untitled

Wansfell straight ahead

Untitled

Nearing the end of the walk

Untitled

the final half a mile or so was down the “Struggle”, the steep road from Ambleside up to the Kirkstone Pass

Untitled

Coming back into Ambleside I passed the old houses at How Head

Untitled

and crossed the river

Untitled

Time for a brew!

Red Screes walk

Walla Crag and Ashness Bridge

Thursday was the last day of our holiday and we decided that although rain showers were forecast we’d get out for a walk. We managed to persuade our son to come out with us so we decided on a route that wouldn’t be too challenging.

We drove over to the National Trust Car Park at Great Wood on the east side of the lake and set off up through the woods, heading for Walla Crag.

 Untitled

The path climbed up through the woods, eventually reaching a path where we turned right towards Castlerigg farm. Views opened up of Derwent Water and the fells to the west of the lake

Untitled

and to Skidaw

Untitled

and Blencathra

Untitled

Passing the farm we had a short sharp climb up the fell, but with great views

Untitled

It’s a relatively short climb up to the top of the crag, although it is classified as a Wainwright as the grumpy author of the classic guidebooks to the Lakeland fells gives it it’s own entry due to it’s popularity. It’s certainly a great viewpoint.

Untitled

The dark clouds threatening rain made it very atmospheric.

Untitled

Untitled

Bleaberry Fell, only a mile away, looked inviting

Untitled

but son wasn’t so keen on extending the walk, so we continued on our pre-planned route taking the path descending gradually down the hill towards Ashness Bridge.

Untitled

Untitled

Looking back over Derwent Water

Untitled

It didn’t take us too long to reach Ashness Bridge, a traditional stone-built bridge on the single-track road to Watendlath. It’s a very popular tourist spot as it’s easily accessible and is allegedly the most photographed packhorse bridge in the Lake District, so I had to stop to take a few snaps.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Rather than take the path through the woods from Ashness Bridge back to Great Wood car park we decided to follow the road down to the lake and walk along the shore to Calfclose Bay to have another look at the Millennium stones monument.
I’m not sure that this was a great idea because for a good stretch of the way back the path we’d walked along on Saturday was flooded as the Lake level had risen due to the on and off rain since Sunday.

Reaching the sculpture, this is what greeted us

Untitled

Untitled

So far, despite rain clearly visible falling over the fells, especially up Borrowdale and in Newlands Valley across Derwent Water, we’d avoided the showers. But now it started to rain – very heavily. It was only a short walk back to the car, but it was time to get the waterproofs out of the rucksack!

Reaching the car we changed out of our boots and chucked the wet coats into the boot of the car and then drove back to Portinscale. Another good walk.

Keswick Museums

The Tuesday morning of our holiday we went out on the lake. The offspring and Moss in a canoe, while I followed up on my Anglesey adventure by hiring a kayak – a “sit on” one this time as no “sit in” types were available. Photographs were difficult as we didn’t want to get our phones and cameras wet, but Mitch did manage to get a snap of Moss.

Untitled

After an enjoyable hour paddling on the water, we went back to the apartment to dry off, change and have a bite to eat. After that I went with J into Keswick for the afternoon. After looking around the shops for a while we headed over to the Keswick museum. It’s quite small, occupying only three rooms (not counting the reception / gift shop, but worth a visit. There’s a permanent collection – local fossils, geological samples, natural history, social and industrial history exhibits and objects reflecting life in Keswick and the Lake District. Old fashioned, but in a good way!

UntitledMy favourite exhibit was the large lithophone (a xylophone made of slate) which visitors could have a go at playing.

Untitled

There were also two temporary exhibitions – one devoted to female mountaineering in the Lake District and the other to the famous mountaineer, Chris Bonnington, who lives locally.

The other museum in Keswick is devoted to a product that used to be a mainstay of the local economy – the pencil.  We visited on the Wednesday, which had the worst weather of the holiday – it rained most of the day.

Untitled

Graphite was discovered down Borrowdale, near Seathwaite, way back in the 1500’s and a cottage industry of pencil making began in the area and this then evolved over time to with the UK’s first pencil factory being founded in Keswick in 1832. The Cumberland Pencil Factory was set up in 1916 and would have been a major employer in the town until it was relocated to more modern premises near Workington in 2008. The pencil museum is located on the site of the former factory, having moved there when the original site in the centre of the town was damaged during the devastating floods in December 2015. It reopened only last year at the new location.

It may seem a little odd having a museum dedicated to such an ordinary object, but we found it interesting and spent over an hour looking round. The entry “ticket” is an actual Cumberland pencil.

Exhibits cover the history of the industry and the manufacturing process, starting with the mining of the graphite itself. There’s also displays of the different products produced by the company over the years, as well as various objects related to the manufacture, promotion and use of pencils, including one of the largest colour pencils in the world measuring almost 8 metres

Untitled

and miniature pencil sculptures.

Untitled

Untitled

During WW2 the factory were commissioned by British Intelligence to create a special pencil with a hidden compass and maps. It was given to bomber pilots and sent to prisoners of war, the idea being that they could use them if shot down or trying to escape.

There were tables set out with the range of products manufactures by the company which visitors could use and try out. They specialise these days in high end products for artists with graphite products making up only a small proportion of their range. There was, of course, a shop where the products were on sale!

Definitely worth a visit for an hour or so on a rainy day in Keswick.

Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy

Untitled

The Monday of our holiday I set off for a more ambitious solo walk along the ridge of fells on the west side of Derwent Water and a little further along Borrowdale. The promised heavy rain arrived a little later than forecast on Sunday and continued into Monday morning so I hung around for a while, took the dog for “walkies” and set off around midday.

Untitled

I took the path to Hawes End and then started the steep climb up to the first, lower, summit of Catbells. It’s a relatively small fell (shaped like a mountain but not high enough to be counted as one) which dominates the skyline on the west shore of Derwent Water. It’s a popular climb and one extolled by Alfred Wainwright for the variety of the climb and the views. In his guide to the North Western Fells he tells us

Catbells is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. It’s popularity is well deserved: it’s shapely topknot attracts the eye, offering a steep but obviously simple scramble to the small summit.

Untitled

Looking over the Newlands valley as I climbed

Untitled

and back down over Derwent Water

Untitled
 
Given it’s proximity to Keswick (it can be reached easily by taking the launch to Hawse End) there’s always plenty of people making the way to the top and today was no different. This was the third time I’d climbed it myself. It’s a mile to the main summit and although it’s quite steep and there are a couple of sections where there’s a short scramble up bare rock it’s not too difficult.

Looking over to Hyndscarth and Robinson at the head of the Newlands Valley

Untitled

It was crowded at the summit when I reached it. Most people would be making there way back down but my plan was to carry on along the ridge as far as High Spy. I stopped for a bite to eat, taking in the views and people watching before continuing on, dipping down to the Hause and then climbing up to the next fell, Maiden Moor. It’s an easier climb than Catbells, the path being a little more gradual and less scrambling. It’s a broad moor rather than a rocky peak and there’s no clearly defined summit.

Untitled

On the way up I was surprised to see a JCB working on path improvement. The operator told me that they’d driven it up the hill! Took 3 days, apparently!

Untitled

Looking down over Borrowdale

Untitled

I carried on along the ridge passing Blea Cragg making my way to the summit of High Spy. On the way I was caught by a fellow walker a couple of times. In both cases they slowed down to match my pace for a while for a chat before speeding back on along the ridge. They were both quite a bit younger than me! One of them was from Kashmir – he was studying for a PhD – and as he’s grown up in the foothills of the Himalayas it was interesting to hear his view of our modest mountains.

Untitled

I reached the summit of High Spy and stopped to take in the view and grab another bite to eat.

A couple of views from the summit

Untitled

Untitled

I had a decision to make now. The ridge forms part of a horseshow with Dale Head at (as the name implies) the head of the Newlands valley with two other ridges – Hyndscarth and Robinson – across to the west. I could have continued round and made my way back along either fell, descending into the Newlands Valley. But I’d set out late and supplies were low (being diabetic I have to keep topping up with carbohydrates during walks) so I decided to save that for another, longer day and turned round to retrace my steps.

I diverted to Blea Cragg. This isn’t counted as a “proper” fell in it’s own right, but part of High Spy. But it’s a great viewpoint with vistas back towards Derwent Water and along the Borrowdale valley and the high peaks.

Untitled

Untitled

Returning to the main path I followed the ridge along Maiden Moor and descended down to the hause.

Untitled

Untitled

Rather than carry on back over Catbells, I took the path that descended into the Newlands Valley and then traversed along the bottom of the ridge back to Hawse End.

Untitled

The views to the east

Untitled

and west

Untitled

There were great views across the valley to the high fells including Causey Pike, although Grisedale Pike was hidden under a blanket of cloud.

Untitled

Looking back to the head of the valley

Untitled

and down the valley with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance

Untitled

Reaching the bottom of the climb up Catbells, I retraced my steps from the morning back to Portiscale, making a short diversion to watch the launch pulling in at Nichol End.

Untitled

Arriving back at the apartment it was time for a brew. I think I’d earned it!