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
Red Scree (another distinctive whaleback of a mountain) and the Fairfield group
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.
We walked up to and past the Mushroom (it’s pretty obvious why this shelter has been given that name!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.