A walk around Kentmere and Longsleddale

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The weather forecast for the day after we got home from Shropshire promised good weather. A pity we hadn’t stayed there longer as we would have been able to get out back on to the hills. I was still on holiday from work so I decided to make the most of it and took the train over to Staveley to get out on the fells. Last time I was here a few weeks ago I’d worked out a couple of circular routes that would take me from Staveley over to Longsleddale and back to the Kentmere Valley so I thought I’d give it a go. This is a very quiet part of the Lake District National Park. During the walk, after leaving Staveley, I saw only 4 other walkers on Brunt Knott, two locals in Longsleddale and a mountain biker during a 5 hour walk.

Leaving the staton I picked up a every tasty pork pie at the Bakery in the Mill yard, took the path along the river and walked to Barrley Bridge and was soon heading up into the fields.

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Views of the Kentmere valley and mountains soon opened up to my left.

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I headed towards Brunt Knott passing Brunt farm

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and, although it was a slight diversion, decided to climb to the top. I took a rather direct steep route up to the summit – there’s the trig point dead ahead!

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The views from the summit, on a sunny day, are outstanding in every direction

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Looking south west I could see as far as the Kent estuary and Morecambe Bay

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and looking east there were the Coniston fells

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the Langdales, Crinkle Crag, Bowfell and the Scafells

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Red Scree, Helvelyn (I think!), Yoke and Ill Bell to the north

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Kentmere Pike and and Harter Fell

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Looking towards the east

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the Howgill fells to the south east

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After enjoying the views for a while, and grabbing a bite to eat, I set back down the hill and continued along the path east towards Longsleddale

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It was starting to get rather wet and muddy underfoot

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The fells to the left

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Getting closer to Longsleddale

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Starting to descend into the valley. Looks stunning

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I followed the path north along the floor of the valley

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Looking over to the other side of the valley I spotted an old Pele tower incorporated into a farm house – Yewbarrow Hall.

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A little further along a lonely church – St Mary’s

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Getting closer to the head of the valley

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At the farmhouse at Hollin Root, I turned off taking the path up the hill heading back to the Kentmere Valley

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Looking back down the path

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and south, back down the valley I’d just walked along

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It was a modest climb and I soon reached the relatively flat moorland. There were good views of the fells to the north east and Gatesgarth Pass at the head of the valley.

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After a short while I could see Skeggle’s Water, a small tarn, to the north. No time to divert to take a closer look though. I needed to keep moving as I wanted to catch the train that left Staveley just after 6 o’clock (otherwise a two hour wait for the next one).

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Carrying on across the moorland. It was a lot drier underfoot than the path I’d taken between Brunt Farm and Longsleddale.

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Approaching the Kentmere Valley

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Starting to descend off the moor

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Cutting across the fields

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Heading towards Low Elfhowe in the Kentmere Valley. ONly a few miles back to Staveley now.

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The weir at Barley Bridge

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Another kilometre to the station. I made it with about 15 minutes to spare before the train arrived.

This was an excellent walk in beautiful countryside in an extremely quiet part of the Lake District.

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Where Romans marched

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Cumbria must have been one of the most wild and remote areas of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless they built forts at Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith and at Ambleside (Galava), no doubt to keep restless natives under control. And being Romans there had to be road to connect them – High Street. Rather than route it along the bottom of the valleys, which at that time would have been covered with thick woodland and were likely to have been boggy underfoot, and where they would have been susceptible to ambushes, they built it over the top of the fells. The high point of the road was on the gentle slopes of a fell with a flat summit plateau, now known as “High Street”. At 2,718 ft, its summit is the highest point in the far eastern part of the Lake District National Park, and that was our destination last Sunday.

We drove up to the small hamlet of Hartsop and managed to find a space in the car park at the far end of the settlement. We’d left home in t-shirts but it was chilly when we arrived mid morning and there was low cloud on the fells.

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We set off following the path along the valley heading towards Hayeswater. Thick cloud was hanging in the valley ahead.

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We passed this interesting old building, covered with vegetation and almost dissolving into the landscape

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After half an hour or so we reached the glacial lake of Hayeswater. The tops of the fells still covered with cloud.

 

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We took the hillside on the path heading up towards “The Knott”, heading into the mist

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Looking back we began to wonder whether we’d made the wrong decision of where to go walking, with sun shining on the fells to the west.

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Looking back Helvelyn and Blencathra were free of cloud and the former was lit up with sunshine.

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We carried on heading up into the mist. We passed the Knott and soon High Street was visible (with cloud covering the summit)

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Starting our climb up the slope there were good views of the dramatic crags on the path towards Kidsey Pike

 

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Looking east along Riggindale towards Haweswater

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Zooming in on Haweswater

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Looking towards Riggindale Crag

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Walking along the ridge, looking north west we had a good view of Hayeswater – the cloud was beginning to clear.

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Not long after we reached the trig point of the top of the fell.

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There’s no distinct summit as it’s a broad, flat fell. At one time locals from the surrounding valleys used to meet up here on 12 July to return stray sheep to their owners and held a country fair with sports including wrestling and horse racing. In fact the summit area is still known as “Racecourse Hill”.

Cloud was still hugging the fells to the south and east, but there was a good view of the mountains to the west and north

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After taking a break for some food we set off south along the ridge – looking backwards over Hayeswater, Gray Crag and the Knott

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Our next destination, Thornthwaite Crag with it’s beacon, visible through the mist.

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The summit is marked by Thornthwaite Beacon, an impressive cairn,14 feet high.

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Looking back towards High Street.

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A clearer view over to the west with the Coniston Fells, Crinkle Crags and The Langdale Pikes clearly visible

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as well as the Fairfield Horsehoe, the Helvelyn range and Blencathra.

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Unfortunately, the summits to the south and east were covered with cloud.

We started our descent towards Threshthwaite Mouth. Two fell runners bounded past us.

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Our route took us down a very steep scree slope. Quite hairy at times with a steep drop to the left in places and with our feet slipping underneath us – we were thankful of our walking poles which provided some stability during the descent.

This is a shot looking back up the slope

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The compensation were great views down towards a sunny Ullswater and Patterdale

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and in the other direction, as the cloud had cleared, down towards Windermere with the summits of Ill Bell and Yoke (which we’d climbed back in March during our break in Kentmere) now clearly visible.

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We finally reached the bottom of the path. Here’s view looking backwards – the path was a lot steeper than it looks in the photo!

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Looking down the next part of our route, Pasture Bottom, with Ullswater in the distance.

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It was another steep descent, but on a much better path.

Looking backwards from the bottom of the descent

 

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The path followed the beck downstream back towards Hartsop. There were some interesting glacial features – with a collection of drumlins along our route

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Two thirds along the valley the path levelled out

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Looking back along the valley

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We passed some old Myer’s Head lead mine buildings. The stone walls once supported a wooden ‘launder’ or chute,  which carried water to drive a large water wheel located in the pit in the foreground of the photo.

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Being interested in industrial history and archaeology I found some information on the mine here and here.

Not far to go now

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back in the car park there was a much clearer view along the valley than when we set out!

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St Margaret’s Tower, Staveley

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St Margaret’s tower stands in the centre of the village of Staveley in Cumbria. It’s all that’s left of a church that used to occupy the site, which was demolished in 1865 when a new church, St James’, was opened on drier, higher ground. Since then the tower has stood proud in the small graveyard. The clock  at the top of the tower, was added in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

St James’ has a stained glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by Morris and Company. I really must go and have a look next time I’m in the village.

Pike O’ Blisco and Crinkle Crags

The mini heatwave was over but the weather last Sunday was forecast to be quite decent up in the Lake District, so we set out early and headed up to Great Langdale. It took less than 2 hours to drive up the M6 and across to Dungeon Ghyll and we arrived by 10 o’clock giving a good long day. The plan was to climb Pike o’ Blisco then, depending on how we felt, tackle Crinkle Crags. This was an ambitious walk for us but after our adventure walking (most of!) St Cuthbert’s Trail we were keen to keep up with some relatively serious walking.

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We parked up on the National Trust Car Park near the Stickle Barn and the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. We booted up and set off through the fields, our objective, Pike o’ Blisco clearly visible.

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Getting a bit closer

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Looking over to Crinkle Crags across the meadow

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We had to walk along the narrow road that heads over to Little Langdale and the Wrynose Pass for a while. Looking back there was a good view of the Langdale Pikes and towards Bowfell and the Crinkles

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The start of the climb up to Pike o’ Blisco (2,313 feet)

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Looking back towards the Langdale Pikes. Skiddaw can be seen in the distance on the left and the Helvelyn range to the right.

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Initially it was a gradual, fairly steep, climb up a clear path which had been paved to prevent erosion (it’s a popular route)

The summit dead ahead

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Closing in on the rocky summit

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We had to tackle a few scrambles requiring the use of hands and feet

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We finally made the top. It was quite windy, but not so bad that it was unpleasant. Good visibility meant there were great views all around

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Looking across to Crinkle Crags and Bowfell

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The Coniston Fells

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Windermere in the distance

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We’d made reasonable time and were feeling good. Next objective Crinkle Crags, then!

Heading down towards Red Tarn

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After a long, but relatively easy, gradual climb up a grassy slope, we reached the first of the rocky “Crinkles”

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Crinkle Crags consists of a series of five rocky rises and depressions (crinkles): the second, “Long Top”, being the highest at 2818 feet. The ridge is about a mile long and crossing it involves several scrambles using hands as well as feet. Crossing it is well worth the effort, though, with magnificent views and a little excitement. According to Alfred Wainwright

For the mountaineer who prefers his mountains rough …this is a climb deserving of high priority

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The view down Great Langdale

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The “second Crinkle” . We decided to take the easier (a relative term!) route to the left, avoiding the “Bad Step”.

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Looking over to Scafell and Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountains.

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Looks like we’re on the Moon!

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Looking back to Pike o’ Blisco with Windermere in the background

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Carrying on along the undulating ridge

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Looking towards Bowfell

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We reached the Three Tarns, with a final look over to the Scafells before we started ours descent back down towards Langdale

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We set off down the Band, a relatively easy descent down to the valley

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It was hard on the knees, though. I was glad of my walking poles.

Looking backwards to Crinkle Crags

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Pike o’ Blisco dead ahead

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The Langdale Pikes to our left

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The view down Great Langdale

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Some of the locals

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Looking back towards the Crinkles and The Band

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Crossing

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We passed the Old Dungeon Ghyll

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and carried on along the path for the last half a mile or so to the Stickle barn car park where we’d parked up

Feeling hungry, we decided to eat at Stickle barn before driving home

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Yummy – Herdwick Shepherd’s pie and  Herdie pulled lamb on a bun

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A side order of rather excellent sweet potato chips

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A proper brew!

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And a view of Lingmoor Fell while we ate.

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A long, butt very enjoyable day and a great walk.

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Silver How, Sergeant Man and Easedale

Our friend Pam from Tasmania is over in Europe for a few weeks, touring around. She was staying in Grasmere for a few days so we arranged to meet up with her on Saturday to go for a walk. We got up early and drove up to the Lakes, arriving just before 10. We’d planned a walk that gave us a few options, allowing us to decide how far to go depending on conditions and how we felt. Although we’d walked in the same area a few times over the past year, it was all new to Pam and with great views, we knew it wouldn’t disappoint.

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It was a grey day, chilly and a little windy on top, but visibility was good and conditions underfoot generally dry (but this was the Lakes so there were some boggy patches).

We started by heading up Silver How –  grey skies but still great views all round

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We cut across the moorland over to the top of Easedale

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We had the option of descending down towards Easedale Tarn and then back to Grasmere, but decided to continue along the ridge and tackle Sergeant Man. We hadn’t made it that far during previous walks in the vicinity so a new challenge. And talking about challenge, there was an orienteering race taking place which took in Silver How and Sergeant Man, so there was a constant stream of runners, as skinny as greyhounds, passing us we walked at a much slower pace along the ridge.

Reaching the summit, more good views greeted us. Looking over to Bowfell, the Scafels and Great Gable

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Pavey Arc and Harrison Stickle with the Coniston Fells in the background. The Langdale Pikes looked quite different from this angle.

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A couple of orienteerers checking in

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A panorama looking over to the west

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Looking east towards the Fairfield range

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We set off back along the ridge, retracing our footsteps

Looking over to Helvelyn and the Fairfield Horseshoe with Codale Tarn and Easedale in the foreground

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Pam taking a breather – waiting for us to catch up!

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Then the steep descent down towards Easedale Tarn – Blea Crag in the background.

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Getting a little closer to the tarn

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Looking back towards Blea Crag  and Eagle Crag from the end of the tarn

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Setting off down Sour Milk Ghyl towards Easedale

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The last of the waterfalls

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Easedale

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Looking down towards the old sheepwash

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Reaching the bottom of the valley it was a relatively easy walk back to Grasmere village where a brew awaited us!

We said our goodbyes promising to visit Tasmania sometime in the future (!) and set off for home. Another good day walking in the Lakes and really nice to combine that with catching up with a friend we don’t get the opportunity to see so often.

The Raisbeck Pinfold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A walk in Limestone Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Howgills to the south

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

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and the northern Pennines to the north and east

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

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

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

We carried on along the bridlepath.

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Some curious locals

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A view over to the Pennines

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

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As we stared to descend the Howgills came back into view

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

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

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

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

A short while later we reached Orton

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

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