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.

A day in Cartmel

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Last Thursday, was a special birthday for J . After most of May had been cold and wet, we woke up to a warm sunny morning and a blue sky. Someone was smiling on her!

We’d planned to go out for the day with a special family dinner time (midday up here!) meal booked in Rogan’s bistro in Cartmel. So after J had opened her presents everyone got ready and we set off up the M6.

It was a beautiful day in Cartmel and as we had 30 minutes or so before our booking, we had a short stroll around the village. There were quite a few people around enjoying the sunshine and it seemed that some had arrived a couple of days early before the traditional Whit race meeting which started on Saturday. Spectators were allowed this year.

The village shop
Cartmel Priory church

Then on to the bistro

Rogan and Co. is branded as the “relaxed neighbourhood restaurant in the magical village of Cartmel“and is part of the culinary empire of Simon Rogan which includes L’Enclume, which is just round the corner, and which featured in second episode of series one of The Trip which starred Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.  L’Enclume would have been pushing the budget a bit, but Rogan and Co., with it’s Michelin Star, was still a special birthday experience.

All the courses were nicely presented and were very tasty. These were my choices

Non-alcoholic G & T
Freshly baked bread
Roasted lamb, pickled jasmine, pea & mint – chunks of lamb shoulder immersed in a pea based sauce (veloute?)
Roasted skate wing, asparagus, turnip & mussel cream
Mascarpone sponge, gooseberry, yoghurt & woodruff
Fudge, accompanying the after dinner coffee
J’ pud – Dark chocolate fondant, celery milk & maldon sea salt

After I settled the bill, feeling full, but not over stuffed (the sign of a well balanced meal) we went for another wander around the viallge, across the racecourse and through the woods, making the most of the start of summer – especially as we’d been rather starved of sunshine during May this year.

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The former Priory gate house
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The old village lock up
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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.

A walk in the Westmorland dales

A couple of weeks ago I drove up the M6 to the Westmorland Dales near to Orton, which I’d last visited back in June. I fancied a walk somewhere relatively quiet and I knew this area in the north of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (despite being in Cumbria) would fit the bill. It was forecast to be a fine day and I knew that the Lakes and the more popular parts of the Dales were likely to be busy. It’s not far off the motorway and only just over an hour’s drive from home – at least when the traffic isn’t so heavy on the M6.  The terrain is different from most of the lakes too – it’s limestone country. I parked up in a small rough parking area a couple of miles north of Orton village, donned my boots and set off. I had a route in mind, longer than during my last visit, treading over some of the same ground.

It was a fine, bright morning – a little chilly after a cloud free night in autumn. Looking over to the Pennines in the distance there was cloud over Cross Fell (the highest point in England outside of the Lake District), Great Dun Fell and High Cup Nick.

I walked over the moor and turning south and made my way over the limestone pavement towards the monument on Beacon Hill.

There was a small group of cyclists sitting by the monument. I sat down a few metres away from them and had a coffee from my flask.

Looking back over the limstone pavement towards the Pennines

and over to the North Lakes – there’s Blencathra with its distinctive “saddeback” in the distance

I carried on down towards the extensive limestone pavement of Grat Asby Scar

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There were very few people about.

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Quite a few sheep, mind

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After a while the path turned into a track and then joined a minor road. I continued along the tarmac about half a kilometre then turned south along a path through the fields. I watched a couple of shepherds herding a small flock into the back of their trailer. There were more sheep further on and some cattle too.

Looking over farmland towards the Pennines

At the end of the fourth field my I turned right beside the drystone wall heading south west. Last time I was up here there were cattle in the field close to the path that were eying me up. I’d felt a little nervous. There were cattle here again, with their calves, but further back from the path. One of them was making quite a bit of noise so I made my way briskly to the gate into the next field. I carried on eventually reaching more limestone pavement. Reaching a junction I turned south down the route of the long distance trail, the Dales High Way – a path I hadn’t followed during previous visits.

I carried on down the Dales High Way, through fields

passing stunted trees

heading towards Sunbiggin tarn, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

with views of the Howgill Fells in the distance

Time to stop for a little while to eat my packed lunch and drink another coffee. It’s quite a lonely place, off the beaten track. There were a couple of horse riders just up the hill and a couple of cars parked up on the road, but their owners must have been off on a walk.

I retraced my steps for about a kilometre and then turned west towards the small settlement of Sunbiggin

I was now on the route of the Coast to Coast path and passed a few walkers heading in the opposite direction, at least some of them following the long distance route.

I walked on a short section of tarmac before turning west across more fields.

I spotted these unusual spotted sheep in a field from the road

I’d never seen sheep like them before and a little research on the Internet revealed them to be Dutch Spotted Sheep. An unusual breed in the UK.

There were good views over to the Howgills

Back onto softer ground which was muddy in places, especially by the gates, following some recent heavy rain.

There were sheep in some of the fields I had to cross, which wasn’t a worry. I could see some cattle in adjacent fields, and was hoping I’d be able to avoid them. However, there were a few young beasties along with sheep in the final field I had to cross. It looked like they might have been bullocks and they weren’t so far off the path. Half way across the field I made the mistake of turning my head to check were they were and met the eye of one of them which immediately started to charge directly toward me! Definitely a bullock then. I stared to shout and wave my arms and, fortunately, it veered off a short distance from me. A close shave as I would certainly have sustained some injuries if it had made contact. I didn’t hang around but made my way as quickly as I could across the field, through the mud and over the stile onto the track on the other side of the wall.

My route required a right hand turn now but I made a short diversion. Turning left, in the field to the left of the track there’s the Gamelands stone circle, one of the largest circles in Cumbria.

The last time I was over here, in April 2017 it wasn’t possible to access the stones and we had to peer at them over the wall. However, since then a gate has been installed and it was possible to get in amongst them for a closer look.

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Unfortunately the stones have all been knocked over and some have been removed but the circle was impressive enough and definitely worth my minor detour.

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Back on the track I headed north, passing an old lime kiln

and then making my way through more fields (no cattle this time, only sheep!)

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The cloud had really come in now, killing the bright light from earlier in the day.

Looking west towards the Shap Fells

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I made my way back over Beacon Hill and then took the path across the limestone untoil I reached a gravel track. Turning left, a short walk and I was back at the car.

After changing out of my boots and dumping them along with my rucksack into the boot of the car I set off down the road to Orton. Rather than head straight down to Tebay and the the Motorway Junction I decided to take the minor road towards Shap and joined the Motorway at the junction there. This allowed me to pay a visit to the Tebay services and stock up with some goodies from the farm shop.

The traffic on the M6 was quite heavy from Lancaster down to the M61 Junction, so it took me a little longer to get home than my morning journey up to the start of my walk. But I was still home in good time for my tea!

The weather wasn’t so good last Sunday so I didn’t get out and since then Greater Manchester has joined Lancashire County by having Tier 3 Covid restrictions placed on us. This half baked lockdown means that it looks like it’s going to be local walks for a while.

Mungrisdale sheepfold

One of the main impacts on my lifestyle due to this damn virus (besides working from home) has been that we’ve been unable to get out and about visiting galleries and exhibitions. So this blog has become a little more one dimensional than usual focusing almost exclusively on my walking. However, during my walk from Mungrisdale a couple of weeks ago I remembered reading somewhere that there was one of Andy Goldsworthy’s Cumbrian sheepfolds near the village. Luckily I had 4G reception on top of Souther Fell and a quick internet search took me to a site that revealed that there was indeed not just one, but two, in fields near Redmire Farm. So, as I expected to get back down to the village mid afternoon and was in no hurry to drive home on a fine day, I decided to see if I could find them. As it transpired, I wasn’t entirely successful.

Reaching the car I decided to dump my walking poles in the boot as I didn’t think I’d need them crossing the expected flat terrain. Following the directions on the website I walked about half mile walk down the road and then turned off down a farm track, and climbed over a stile to take a path across a field. Looking ahead I could see that there was a small herd of cows with their claves standing halfway across the field right on the route of the path. Well, cows might seem fairly docile most of the time but can get aggressive if they think their calves could be threatened and there have been some incidents where people have been injured when charged by the beasties. I decided to be cautious and veered off the route of the path to maintain my distance from them. They looked at me suspiciously as I crossed the field and as I drew level with them they all suddenly started to charge in my direction. Now I was wishing I’d kept hold of my walking poles! As it happened they ran past me stopping at the other side of the field.

Reaching the drystone wall I climber over the stile and there was the sheepfold.

Unlike the others from the project that I’d seen, it was relatively plain – a perfectly round structure, built using traditional dry stone walling techniques, with a narrow entrance.

The instructions to reach the second sheepfold were not so clear but I carried on across the fields to look for it. I’d read that this work appears to be just a heap of gathered stones but that it contains a finished sheepfold concealed among them.

I saw this pile of stones in the next field, overgrown with vegetation. It looked a little underwhelming.

But when I checked the project website on returning home I discovered that I hadn’t gone quite far enough – it was a little further on in the next field. Ah well, at least I managed to find one of them and enjoy the opportunity to get a “fix” of sculpture and tick off another one of Goldsworthy’s structures. I’ll be up that way again, and hopefully there won’t be cows in the fields next time I decide to try and find it!

(I had to cross the field of cows again retracing my steps. They kept their eyes on me again, but this time they stayed put)

A walk from Mungrisdale

The forecast for last weekend was for warm sunny weather – perhaps the last this year – so wanting to take advantage of the good weather I headed up to the Lakes. Still wanting to avoid the crowds, I drove up to Penrith on the M6 and then down the A66 turning north just before Blencathra and followed the minor road to Mungrisdale where I parked up by the Village Hall. I laced up my boots, hoisted my rucksak on to my back, posted my £2 for parking in the honesty box and set off towards the fells.

Through the fell gate – that’s Tongue ahead. I’ll be going up the path that ascends the left hand side of this hill to reach Bowscale Fell. Apparently Wainwright claimed that this was the easiest way in the Lakes to ascend above 2000 feet! But that will do for today.

The path originally hugged the banks of the Glenderamakin river, but storms in recent years have washed a good stretch away. An alternative route has been created across the notorious bog in the valley bottom – fortunately flags have been laid – floating on the morass – to help hapless walkers keep their feet dry.

Cimbing gradually up the side of the fell

There’s a good view of Bannerdale Crags

and as I reached the top of the ridge there was a great view of Blencathra. It looks very different compared to the usual perspectives from the south and west.

Looking over to Skiddaw and Great Calva

A final pull would take me to the summit of Bowscale Fell

Here’s the summit shelter

Excellent views all round – there’s Carrock Fell and, on the horizon, the south of Scotland.

More Northern Fells

After taking the obligatory photos and refuelling, I set off on the path towards Bannerdale Crags. It was rather wet and boggy underfoot.

Looking down the crags over the valley and to Souther Fell.

One of the locals. Not sure what breed the sheep up here were but they were a lot less timid than the Herdwicks.

The summit cairn is rather different.

Looking back over to Bowscale fell,

down towards the Tongue and Souther Fell

and, in the opposite direction, there’s Blencathra

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I followed the path towards Blencathra. Reaching the col I was tempted to change my plan and divert up the iconic mountain. But as I wanted to avoid the crowds I thought better of it and turned down the Glenderamakin valley (an option for another time, I think)

As I descended down the valley there were great views of Blencathra’s notorious sharp Edge, particularly looking back.

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Here’s the bridge over the river at White Horse Bent, and the path that would take me over Souther Fell.

Looking back as I climbed up the fell – Blencathra behind Bannerdale

and the crags

It was a relatively easy, gradual climb up Sother Fell. It’s known for a mysterious event in 1745 when a “spectral army”, was seen marching along the fell on Midsummer’s Day by several witnesses. Wikipedia takes up the story

On the evening of Midsummers Day 1745, a line of marching troops, cavalry and even carriages was seen travelling along the summit ridge of Souther Fell. The ground over which they appeared to move was known to be too steep for such transport, but the procession continued unabated for some hours until night fell, constantly appearing at one end of the ridge and disappearing at the other.

26 sober and respected witnesses were assembled to view the proceedings and later testified on oath to what they had seen. The next day Souther Fell was climbed and not a footprint was found on the soft ground of the ridge.

Wikipedia

I think I’ve worked out what happened to this mysterious troop – they were clearly weighted down by their arms and armour and sunk down deep into the bog that covers the fell. 🙂

Unlike during my last visit up to the North Lakes, visibility was very good and from the top of the fell I could see right over to the end of Borrowdale with Bowfell, the Scafells and Great gable clearly visible on the horizon,

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and this is the view across Ullswater to th Far eastern fells, including High Street and Ill Bell.

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Souther Fell is a popular spot for hang-gliders and there was a large flock of them taking advantage of the thermals on a sunny day.

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After watching them for a while I set off down the ridge back towards Mungrisdale.

A gradual descent at first with a bit of a sting in the tail with a steep slope at the end where the path more or less petered out.

There’s a dry stone wall at the bottom of the fell with the village just a short hop across the field on the other side. However, the local farmer had erected a sign making it clear that walkers were not welcome. So I had to take the path that ran parallel to the wall which eventually reached the minor road from Scales to Mungrisdale. A short walk down the road and I was back at Mill Inn where I crossed the bridge over the river bank to my car.

It was mid afternoon and still very pleasant so I wasn’t inclined to set off home quite yet. I had something else in mind.

Scout Scar

I’ve recently finished reading The Blackbird Diaries by Karen Lloyd, who lives in Kendal. Written, as is made clear in the title, in the form of a diary, the book describes the wildlife and countryside in and around her home, elsewhere in Cumbria, and during visits to Shropshire and the Hebrides.

The day after the last Bank Holiday before Christmas I woke to blue skies and sunshine and decided to knock off work early and take half a day off. Where to go? Well having read the description of the author’s walks up Scout Scar that’s were we went. We’d been up there before, over a year ago, so a return visit was long overdue and my appetite had been whetted by Karen Lloyd’s descriptive prose.

We drove up to Kendal and then took the road to Underbarrow, and parked up in the small car park in a disused quarry at the top of the hill. Crossing over the road and through the old kissing gate, it was a short climb to the start of the limestone ridge.

We weren’t disappointed. Visibility wasn’t perfect but we could still see over the Lake District Fells, the Shap fells and even the Howgills.

It was a little hazy over to the fells in the west but I could make out Black Combe, the Coniston Fells, the Langdale Pikes (they’re very distinctive) Bowfell and the Scafells, silhoutted against the sky.

There were particularly fine views towards the Kentmere fells

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Red Scree (another distinctive whaleback of a mountain) and the Fairfield group

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The scenery on the Scout itself is quite different to that of these Fells. It’s limestone country. Vegetation was sparse, and although there were a good number of tree, they clearly had a hard time growing in the thin soil on a ridge exposed to the elements in every direction.

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We walked up to and past the Mushroom (it’s pretty obvious why this shelter has been given that name!)

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We carried on along the path for a while. Views over to Arnside and Morecambe Bay opened, although the atmosphere was rather hazy in that direction, so not so good for photography.

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Before the path began to descend we turned around and took the path closer to the edge of the steep cliff on the west side of the scar. It’s a fair drop down to the valley below.

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When we reached the Pavillion we stopped for a drink and to soak up the scenery. the panorama which used to line the inside of the pavillion roof had gone, but I’m familiar enough with the fells to be able to identify most of what i was looking at.

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After a while we set off back along the ridge, returning to the car. It had been, for me, a much shorter walk than normal, but J hadn’t been out walking for a while so the shorter jaunt suited her and I’d enjoyed the views and the opportunity to put into context the words I’d been reading.

The Blackbird Diaries and Karen Lloyd’s other book The Gathering Tide, about Morecambe Bay, are both a good read if you’re interested in the wildlife, landscape and the context of this part of the world. they’re both published by Saraband Books, an independent publisher based in Salford, and their catalogue is well worth exploring.

There’s another book about this landscape and its flora and fauna About Scout Scar: Looking into a Cumbrian Landscape by Jan Wiltshire, which was recommended to me by fellow WordPress blogger, Mark of Beating the Bounds after a previous visit and blog post. Jan continues to write up her observations in her blog.

Reaching the car we drove back down to Kendal, parked up, had a wander around the town (which was very quiet) and picked up some shopping before the drive back home.

During our obligatory visit to Waterstones I picked up a leaflet about the Wainwright Prize. In it I found an advert for Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

This has been out of print for years and difficult to get hold of, but it’s been recently revised and reissued by the Wainwright Society. I ordered a copy when I got home and it arrived a couple of days later. The first fell in the book is Scout Scar.

The long way round to Lattrigg

After a pretty glorious afternoon on Tuesday, the final day of my little break in the North Lakes wasn’t looking so promising, with rain forecast. But I wasn’t going to stay indoors all day so decided on a low level walk. I’d been up on the high fells for a couple of days so an easier walk wouldn’t go amiss.

I set out about 9:30 straight from the cottage and took the path that would take me down the east side of the valley of Glenderaterra. It wasn’t raining when I set off, but dark clouds were looming in the sky and looking across Lattrig, down over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale and Newlands Valley, I could see what would soon be coming my way! Not a good day for photos with grey murky skies.

The path climbed gradually and there was a good view over to Lonscale Fell to my left, at this point with it’s summit free from cloud, with Great Clava visible further up the valley.

It was very quiet other than the cry of a buzzard hovering over the valley before swooping down for its breakfast.

The Cumbria Way main route passes along the path on the other side of the valley on the flanks of Lonscale Fell and I could see a few people making their way along it.

I passed several waterfalls

Looking behind down the valley towards High Rigg

My path eventually crossed the river over a footbridge and climbed to join the Cumbria Way route

Carrying on I passed a couple of fell runners, one who’d taken a tumble and who was being tended to by her companion. I enquired as to how she was and was told her injuries were minor scratches and grazes, so carried on my way.

Eventually I could see Skiddaw House ahead by the copse.

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Cloud had been sweeping in over the fells behind me

but the rain hadn’t reached the upper valley

I reached the Skiddaw House, the UK’s highest Youth Hostel, 1550 feet above sea level. I hadn’t realised just how high I was – the climb had been very gradual

It’s a lonely place with no other buildings for quite a few miles and no access road.

It was tempting to carry on, but I’d had a couple of long walking days and cloud was now coming in over Great Clava

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so I decided to leave that peak for another day and turned around to follow the Cumbria Way back down the west side of the valley to Lattrigg

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The path traversed the flanks of Lonscale Fell

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After crossing a section of slippery slate underfoot, the path bore right, heading north

with High Rigg to my left although the higher fells were shrouded in low cloud

I carried on, heading towards the modest fell of Lattrigg

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The summit is an excellent viewpoint, overlooking Keswick, Derwent Water, the Newlands Valley and Borrowdale. Today it was obscured by the weather but it was still an atmospheric view despite the rain (and I was getting rained on now).

After taking in the view I set off east along the path that crosses the top of the fell. There was a respite in the rain. This was the view towards Blencathra

Coming down off the fell I crossed the river

following the path towards the cottages at Derwent Folds

and then climbed the hill back up to the Blencathra centre and my accommodation.

I’d really enjoyed the walk. I’d encountered very few people, which was partly due to the the weather but I expect that the Glenderterra Valley, being between two high “honeypot” mountains attracts relatively few visitors. I enjoy the thrill of making it to the top of the high fells but a quiet walk in wild, lonely countryside can be just as rewarding, even when the weather isn’t so great.