Yewdale, Holme Fell and Tarn Hows

The second day of my mini break in Coniston I’d decided on a lower level walk. I checked out of the hostel at about 9 and walked the short distance to Shepherd’s Bridge to set off down Yewdale. It was a gey start to the day, with low cloud up on the high fells, but the weather forecast looked promising for later in the day.

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Holly How YHA

The walk down this very scenic valley is one of my favourite low level walks taking me through pleasant fields and woodland with good views over to the fells to the north.

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The Yewdale fells over the fields to the left
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Holme Fell ahead
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through the woods
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Holme Fell
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Cloud over Wetherlam
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I turned down towards Yew Tree Farm. Owned by the national Trust the farm featured in the film Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter starring Renée Zellweger. In the film it stood in for Hill Cottage where the author lived, but, although she owned the farm, she never actually lived there. The current tennants sell their Herdwick Hogget (young sheep between 1-2 years old) and Belted Galloway beef. They’ve been on TV a few times recently (including Countryfile on the BBC) – a good advert for their business I bet! We’ve bought their meat several times via the internet and I have to saya that we all think that their “Beltie Burgers” are the best burgers we’ve ever eaten.

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Yew Tree farm – a very picturesque setting

Here’s some of their Herdies!

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I took the path behind the farm and began the climb up Holme Fell

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a couple of curious Herdies!

It’s not one of the bigger fells – just over 1000 feet – but it was a sharp, steep ascent.

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but there are great views from the top. It was still grey and overcast but there were still 360 degree views

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There was some peeking out over Wetherlam

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Holme Fell is probably one of the best viewpoints for looking over Coniston Water

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I stopped for a while, taking in the view and trating myself to a snack and then I started to make my way down the other side of the fell. This is the second time I’ve been up here but I still haven’t worked out the best way down. The path I took metered out and whichever way down I’ve taken inevitably results in some bog hopping.

This used to be slate quarrying country and there was plenty of evidence of the industry between the fell and Little Langdale.

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My route followed a track that eventually headed east, over High Oxen fell (which isn’t very high!) back towards the Ambleside to Coniston road. The views over to the fells from this road was outstanding, especially as the cloud was clearing and the sun beginning to appear.

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Reaching the main road I crossed over and took the track following the Cumbria Way towards Tarn Hows

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Looking across to Holme Fell

I had considered walking over to Black Fell – another small fell that’s a great viewpoint – but decided against it for two reasons. My knee was starting to give me a bit of trouble and I was also keeping my eye on time as I had to catch the bus from Coniston back to Windermere at 4:30 to make sure I connected with my train back home. So I carried on following the Cumbria Way to Tarn Hows where I stopped for a bite to eat.

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I deviated from the Cumbria Way following the western side of the tarn with the extensive views over to the Coniston Fells

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At the end of the Tarn I followed the metaled track back towards Yewdale. The weather had really changed now with plenty of sunshine, and it was getting warm.

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Making my way back down Yewdale I passed through a field on unusual Dutch spotted sheep

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Carrying on down Yewdale Coniston Water came into view

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Reaching Shepherd’s Bridge on the edge of Coniston, I had a couple of hours before my bus was due so I decided to walk over to the lake

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Looking across to the fells from the path to the lake

On a sunny afternoon there were a lot of people enjoying themselves out on the lake

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Time for a brew and a slice of cake in the lakeside cafe!

After enjoying people watching for a while by the lake, I headed back towards the village

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had a mooch around and then joined the group of people waiting for the bus back to Windermere. It was running late but I had a chat with a couple of liverpudlians who were heading back to Bowness via Ambleside.

I arrived back in Windermere an hour before my train was due (I’d bought an advance ticket for the last direct train) so bought a few supplies from Booth’s supermarket and then sat and ate my purchases on the platform. The direct train ended up not being so direct. It was due to terminate at Manchester Airport but signalling problems (had somebody been nicking the copper cable again?) meant it would now terminate at Preston. Luckily it was only a short wait there before I was able to find a connection which got me back to Wigan only 15 minutes later than originally scheduled.

I’d had a good couple of days in Coniston and despite the slight delay on my way home using public transport was a welcome change from sitting in traffic. I’d have liked to stay another night given the fine weather, but I had a meeting the next day. September’s going to be busy, but I have a family holiday to look forward to at the end of the month

https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/10078471/Yewdale-Holme-Fell-Tarn-Hows

Ripon Cathedral

It can a long, tedious drive back home from the North east. I didn’t fancy the chaos of the M62 after a bad, traffic jammed journey the previous Friday, so we decided we’d drive back across the Pennines on the A59 via Harrogate and Skipton. Not a fast route but likely to be more pleasant than the alternative. We also decided to break the journey so stopped at Ripon, somewhere we’ve never visited before. It’s quite a small town, and the major attraction, besides nearby Fountains Abbey, is the Cathedral.

There’s been a church on the site since the 7th Century, originally a wooden structure, which was replaced by a stone building in 672, one of the earliest stone buildings erected in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. It’s been twice destroyed (first by the Vikings and then by the Normans) and rebuilt. It’s been modified many times over the years, resulting in the building we see today. Like many of the old Cathedrals it incorporates several different styles of architecture, mainly Gothic but with some traces of Romanesque style. There’s even a remnant of the first stone church – the crypt.

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The west front is a very impressive example of the early English Gothic style, with it’s lancet windows

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Entry was free although you are supposed to buy a pass, costing £3, to take photos. I stumped up but there were plenty of people snapping away who clearly hadn’t.

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Looking at the lancet windows from inside the building

The first thing we noticed on entering the Cathedral was the installation suspended high up in the ceiling

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The Cathedral’s website tells us

Since May, 10,000 origami angels have been made by 100 volunteers and 300 school pupils, who have helped to create an inspiring host of angels in the nave of Ripon Cathedral. Each angel represents a dedication made during the COVID-19 pandemic to key workers and loved ones. Our volunteers range from 3 – 90 years old and are located across the region.

Cathedral website

The Nave was in a later Perpendicular Gothic style

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This is the old 15th Century stone font

I liked the impressive Arts and Crafts style pulpit, made by Henry Wilson in 1913 a.

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At the end of the nave, we descended down these narrow stone steps into the crypt

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This is the only remaining part of the original stone building and would hold the “holy relics” which are so important in the Catholic Church. It’s a tiny space and was only reopened recently, entry having been stopped during the height of the Covid crisis.

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The transept is one of the oldest parts of the main building, with elements of both Gothic and, with the rounded windows, the earlier Romanesque or Norman style.

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The highly decorative roode screen leads to the Quire (or Choir – take your pick as to the spelling!). The stone screen is medieval, but the stautes of Kings, bishops and saints are Victorian

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There’s a massive stained glass Great East Window – an example of Decorated Gothic – at the end of the Quire, behind the high altar. The glass is Victorian – the original glass was destroyed by Puritans during the Civil War.

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Looking back down the Quire (the light made it difficult to get a decent photo

The misericords on the choir seats were carved between 1489 and 1494 and depict various mythical figures. It is alleged that some of the figures influenced and inspired Lewis Carroll who visited the Cathedral (interesting as we were returning from Whitburn where there definitely is a Lewis Carroll connection.)

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The same workers also carved the misericords at Beverley Minster and Manchester Cathedral.

The massive spaces of the Nave and Quire in cathedrals can be overwhelming and I often find the smaller, more initmate, side chapels the most interesting. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit is on the south side of the quire and has a modern look. The striking screen, meant to resemble lightning bolts, screen was designed by Leslie Durbin, a jeweller who designed the rear of the first pound coins and the Stalingrad Sword that was presented to Stalin by Churchill at the end of the Second World War.

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The altar frontals were designed by the (female) textiles expert Theo Moorman
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St peter’s Chapel, on the other side of the Quire, has a more traditional look

The altar is made of a reused font, possibly dating back to the medieval period. The painting behind the altar is a reproduction of a work by Reubens.

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The Chapel of Justice and Peace is located at the west end of the church, to thee north of the entrance

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Behind the altar are words of the poet Wilfred Owen, who spent his last birthday here in 1918, words that speak of tragedy and loss through war.

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It’s been a while since I’ve indulged my interst in art and architecture, so it was good to have the opportunity to visit this excellent example of a grand Gothic church. We spent a good hour looking round but had to hit the road. I’ll have to find time to take another look sometime, perhaps combined with a visit to Fountain’s Abbey. I’ve not been there for a while. And I do have coneections with Ripon – my family history research suggests I have a family connection – but I don’t shout that out, it’s hard to accept I might have some Yorkshire genes 😬

A walk along the cliffs

Last Monday, before setting off on the long drive home, we took a couple of hours to go for a walk on the cliffs north of Whitburn near Souter lighthouse.

The lighthouse opened in 1871 and was the first in the world with an electrical powered lamp. It was decommissioned in 1988 – but not before the foghorn kept me awake during my first visit to Whitburn, when it operated throughout a foggy night, while we were staying at J’s auntie’s house (the house where she was born!).

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Battered by the sea and the elements, the cliffs are eroding, a process being accelerated by climate change. Since we were last here, sections of the coastal path have been diverted due to safety concerns

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The cliffs are home to sea birds, including Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Cormorants, Shags and Guillemots.

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To the south of the lighthouse, the coastal path descends and there is access to a small cove known as the Wherry, a popular local recreation spot in the past when fishing boats were kept in and launched from the cove.

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There’s a lot of history in the area. Although today the coast between Whitburn and South Shields are owned by the National Trust the top of the cliffs is a pleasant lawned area not that long ago they were dominated by industry with a coalmine (Whitburn colliery) lime kilns and a railway running along the top of the cliffs. There’s no sign today of the mine, (where my wife’s grandfather used to work) but the old lime kiln just over the coast road still remains as a reminder of the industrial past.

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The Marsden Banner Group have some good information on the history of the colliery and the village on their website.

The shore at Seaburn

Last weekend we were up in Sunderland for a family wedding. We hadn’t been up to the North East for about 4 years, visits delayed due to lockdowns and travel bans, so it was good to have an opportunity to catch up properly with family, rather than relying on posts on Facebook and Instagram.

We drove up on Friday, the day before, and stayed in the new Seaburn Inn hotel on the sea front. Although it’s very much an industrial town, Sunderland has a fantastic beach and coastline stretching from Roker through Seaburn and then on to Whitburn. We had paid a little extra for a room on the front with a balcony, hoping to enjoy the views over to the sea. The weather was rather dull when we arrived and it rained on Saturday (but, I’m glad to say, this did’t spoil the wedding), but it brightened up for the next couple of days. I’m always up early and was out for a walk along the Prom each morning irrespective of the weather.

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A dull morning, but it’s still enjoyable to walk along the Prom

And on Sunday afternoon, after a family gathering in the morning, we were able to enjoy a walk along the beach in the sunshine, from our hotel as far as the start of the cliffs at the boundary with Whitburn.

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We then spent a little time on the balcony reading and enjoying the view before an earlyish tea in the hotel bar. After that we enjoyed an evening walk along the shore towards Roker and back, finishing off with a drink on the balcony.

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Castleton

For the last day of my little break, I’d hoped to slot in another walk before heading over to Hope to catch the train back home. The weather forecast was, however, not looking so promising. Although I woke up to bright sunshine heavy rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. So not wanting to get caught up on the hills in a heavy downpour a change of plan was in order. I decided I’d wander over to Castleton village and have a mooch. Although I’d been to Castleton a few times I’ve never looked around the village properly, so that seemed like a good option before I walked back across the fileds to Hope station.

Castleton is located at the end of the Hope valley, on the boundary of the Millstone Grit plateau of the Dark Peak to the north and the limestone landscape of the White Peak. hemmed in by the “Great Ridge” to the north and limestone hills to the west and south, it would be a dead end except for the dramatic Winnats Pass and Cave Dale, steep sided valleys cutting through the limstone.

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A close up shot towards Winnat’s Pass

It’s an old settlement, going way back to before the Norman Conquest. There were certainly people around here before the Ronans, with the remains of an Iron Age fort still visible on top of MamTor. After 1086 the area came under the control of William Peveril, allegedly an illigmitate son of William the Bastard, who had a castle constructed overlooking the village – it’s ruins remain today under the stewardship of English Heritage.

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Peveril’s castle on the hill overlooking the village

Although today it’s a “honeypot” attracting droves of tourists, walkers, cyclists and cavers, it was originally a working village, the main industry being mining for lead, other metals and the fluorite banded mineral known as “Blue John“. There’ several shops selling jewellry and trinkets using the attractive blue and yellow stone.

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It was a relatively short, pleasant walk through the fields from the hostel on a sunny morning. I fancied a coffee, but none of the cafes opened until at least 9:30, so I had a wander around the narrow streets of the village. There were plenty of attractive stone cottages that would have once been the homes of miners and other workers.

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The war memorial cross
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A closer look at the memorial

When you’re in the village, you can’t fail to notice a huge cavern set back in the hillside. This the Peak Cavern, one of the four show caves near the village, although that’s not it’s original name. Until a visit by Queen Victoria it was known as the ‘Devil‘s Arse’. In the past the cave system was mined and later there was a rope works here. In more recent time, as well as being opened as a tourist attractions, it’s been used as a concert venue and a cinema.

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After wandeing around I was ready for a coffee so indulged at the cafe attached to the Visitor Centre, by the main car park. There were several frustrated motorists looking for change as the car park doesn’t accept payments by card and since the events of the past 18 months people are less likely to be carrying coins in their pockets.

Refuelled with caffeine I set off on the walk back to Hope to catch the midday train.

Menacing clouds were gathering over the hills to the west

It’s a pleasant walk through the fields with views over to the Great Ridge.

The clouds continued to move in and were starting to look menacing as I approached the train station. This was the view looking back

I boarded my train just as the cloud moved in. The train headed straight towards it and as it emerged from the tunnel at Chinley the heavens opened.

We’d passed through the cloud by the time we reached Manchester Piccadilly where I just made the connection to Wigan. It was sunny by the time I got home. But that was the end of the good weather for a while – all changed the next day!.

Bamford Edge and Win Hill

Trying to make the most of a quieter period at work during the summer months, I took a chance and booked another short break in a Youth Hostel, this time in the Peak District. Although not so far from home, I’ve never enjoyed driving there. I need to get round Manchester on what is usually a busy Motorway (due to everyone commuting into the city) and then the drive down the A6 through a number of Stockport suburbs and former industrial villages on the edge of Derbyshire can be a pain. It always seems easier driving north up to the Lakes, the Howgills or the Westmoreland Dales and, to be honest, the landscape is more interesting and the walking is better. But the Peak District has it’s attractions and the Edale and Hope Valleys are accessible by train avoiding the drive and the need for finding a parking spot (although, that does require changing at Manchester Piccadilly) and I’d taken that option a few times over the years. So, having managed to book a room at the Lose Hill Hall hostel near Castleton, and as the family car wasn’t available, I packed up my larger rucksac, boarded the train from Wigan Wallgate and set off for a couple fo nights. I was lucky with the weather and manged to get in a couple of days good walking before the black clouds and heavy rain arrived on the Wednesday.

The area is on the boundary between the peaty moors and millstone grit edges of the Dark Peak and the limstone landscape of the White Peak so the hills and valleys are different in character to those up in Cumbria. There isn’t the equivalent of the “Wainwrights” – although the Great Ridge and parts of the Kinder plateau can rival the popular Lakeland fells for the number of walkers. As usual, I’d pored over the OS map and consulted a few guidebooks in advance of the trip and had plotted out a couple of routes with an option for a third day. I’d walked the Great Ridge from Lose Hill (close to Hope station) to Mam Tor a few times, so this time wanted to do something different. I’ve found the two little Vertebrate walking guides very useful along with another book, The South Yorkshire Moors by Christopher Goddard with it’s hand drawn maps and interesting snippets of information. Of course, the Peak District is mainly in Derbyshire as is the area covered by the book! Now isn’t that just typical of someone from Yorkshire. Not satisified with it being the largest county in England they have to cheekily purloin parts of other counties and claim them as their own. 🤣 (I’d also recommend his book on the West Yorkshire Moors – which, in that case, actually are in Yorkshire!) I don’t necessarily stick rigidly to the suggested routes, but use them to give me ideas and inspiration.

I booked a return ticket to Bamford. I’d be returning from Hope but it was cheaper than buying two singles. My plan was to walk up across Bamford Edge, then over Win Hill down to Hope and then on to the hostel at Castleton. (Route). Alighting at Bamford station it was actually almost a mile down the road from the village. So a walk up the tarmac was required having decided against extending the route to avoid it. At the village I turned down a road that would climb steeply up towards the Edge. I hadn’t gone too far up the road when I spotted a sign telling me that the road and path were closed. It was being resurfaced. The workmen were having their dinner in their cabin so I had a quick word and, fortunately they told me that they’d completed the work that morning and I could proceed without a diversion.

The road was very steep and I was carrying a larger than usual ruscksack as I had packed for a two night stay. But I managed to keep on going taking the occassional stop to take a look at anything that caught my eye – like this sculpture by the side of the road (any excuse for a blow!).

Looking up towards the Edge. Grey cloud was looming but the forecast was reasonable. It was warm, but not too warm, and the risk of rain was low despite the thick cloud cover.

Reaching the road that runs across the lower reaches of the hills I crossed over the stile aonto the moorland proper

and carried on climbing.

These grit stone edges though, are flat topped hills flanked by steep gritstone cliffs, so after a relatively short climb it was easier going.

It was quite busy with groups of families and friends, many of them who probably parked up on the road below the edge so hadn’t had to climb too far and were clustered at the two major cliffs at the top of the path..

Looking across the valley I could see Win Hill and over to mam Tor and the Great Ridge as well as the great bulk of Kinder.

Carrying on along the path I was soon away from the crowds, encountering only the occasional walker

Looking down I had a good view of Ladybower reservoir

and straight ahead I could see Derwent Edge.

But my route wouldn’t take me over there, I was looking for the path that did a bit of a dog leg and descended down to the end of the reservoir. There was a lot of bracken which made it difficult to actually find the path. Reaching a stream (they’re not “becks” down in Derbyshire) the map told me I’d gone too far. Retracing my steps I spotted a trace of a path through the bracken so took my chance – it was the right one.

I descended down thick bracken and then more pleasant woodland

until I reached the main road directly across from the Ladybower dam.

Looking back towards Bamford Edge

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I crossed over the dam and there was another one of those carved stones.

I took a path through the woods. It was easy going at first but then a sharp right turn and I was climbing very steeply up the flanks of Win Hill.

It was tricky in places and I wouldn’t have been keen on coming down this way. I eventually emerged onto moor land with the summit of Win Hill in view. Black cloud was looming. Rain was defintitely coming my way.

I reached the summit

I’d been up here once before, climbing up from Hope station, back in January 2020, when the Covid was just something in China that we’d heard about in the news. Nothing to worry about (if only). Despite the grey skies and flat light that wasn’t so conducive to photography, the views were excellent in every direction.

(We’ll pretend the Hope cement works isn’t there!)

As I stopped to take in the views and have a bite to eat, the rain arrived. It wasn’t heavy but it was time to put on my waterproof coat and attach the rain cover to my rucksack.

After a while I started to make my way down the hill towards the village of Hope with views of the Great Ridge under dark cloud before me. It was a steep descent in places, hard work on the knees.

Reaching the village the rain had eased off and I stopped of at a cafe for a brew and a flapjack. Rested I set off towards Castleton, passing the old Pinfold before taking the path that follows the river in the direction of Castleton.

Pinfolds were used to hold sheep that had strayed from their owner’s land. A fine then had to be paid for their release. The one in Hope is in good condition and was in use as late as 1967.

The path travered pleasant fields with good views over to the hills. The last time I’d been down this path the fields were drenched and for most of the way the path was so muddy it felt like I was walking through the trenches on the Somme. But it was quite different this time

Reaching Casltleton, a short walk along the road and then a long driveway and I’d arrived at my digs for the next couple of nights

A Summer evening in Grasmere

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After a hot day in Borrowdale I drove over to Grasmere for a fianl night in the Lake District. After checking intot eh hostel, showering and having a bite to eat, it was far too nice to stop indoors, so, making the most of a beautiful, warm Summer’s evening I went for a mooch around the village.

In the daytime it is usually heaving with day trippers, but in the evening, although the pubs and resterraunts were busy, it was quiet in around the lanes around the village.

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Stone Arthur
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Helm Crag
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Stone Arthur and Heron Pike

As the sun started to go down I went back tot he hostel and sat outside for a while with a bottle of Nanny State and then turned in for the night. I had a good walk planned for the next day!

A walk from Winster

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The final day of my short break in the Peak District I followed another route from the Vertebrate Day Walks in the Peak District guide. Setting out from the former lead mining village of Winster, taking in woodland, heath, an ancient stone circle, gritstone rock formations and Elton, another former mining village. For at least part of this walk I would have been walking in the footsteps of some of my ancestors – my family history research had revealed that a great x 7 and great x 6 grandfathers had been born in Elton and my great x7 grandmother had been born in Winster. It’s likely that this branch of my tree originated a little further north, near High Wheeldon where I’d climbed two days before.

The family were lead miners and at one time, this part of the world, on the boundary between millstone grit and limstone geology, was lead mining country. My research revealed that, like a number of Derbyshire miners, moved to work in North Wales, in their case at the Minera mine near Wrexham. The father of the family died relatively young by modern standards at about 50. The nature of the work meant that lead miners were exposed to toxic dusts and other dangers and this was typical life expectancy.

I parked up in the free car park on the outskirts of Winster near the local school and after booting up and after a short walk along the road I climbed over a stile and set off across the fields, the grass still wet after the downpours the day before. No rain was forecast and although the sky was grey it brightened up towards the end of my walk.

I passed through a gate and entered the broadleaf woodland

The trees were quite dense and I had to duck under their branches in places.

After climbing up along the path I reached a track and then the route doubled back taking a dog leg through along a path higher up in the woods.

I passed the remains of of water wheel which would probably have been used to drain a former lead mine

I carried on along the path which emerged from the woods meeting a track. After a mile I turned off through fields of cattle and then past a farm and camp site before reaching the edge of Stanton Moor.

Stanton Moor is owned by Stanton Estates and managed by English Nature . The area has been occupied since prehistoric times and there are a large number of ancient monuments scatttered across the landscape, most of them hidden in the heather and undergrowth.

I crossed the moor

passing a number of millstone grit outcrops

passing Victorian folly, built to commemmorate the Reform Bill in 1832.

I eventually reached the Nine Ladies stone circle, an ancient monument in the care of English Heritage.

The names of the monuments derive from their associations with folk traditions, in which it is said that nine women were dancing on the Sabbath to a fiddler – the King Stone – and were turned to stone.

English Heritage
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Time to stop and take a rest and a bite to eat, perching on a gritstone outcrop, and then carried on across the moor passing an old disused quarry

until I reached the “Cork Stone”, on of a number of “megaliths” found on the moor, Supposedly associated with ancient rituals.

The Cork Stone is certainly associated with one more modern ritual – the footholds carved into the rock are evidence of the Victorian version of “bouldering“.

A right turn and a short walk along a path took me off the moor, joining a quiet road. After a relatively short walk on the tarmac , I turned off opposite a stone works, crossed a car park and took a path through the woods until I reached the small village of Birchover.

I took the track past the Druid Inn, which looked like a god place to stop – but I carried on.

The track took me through pleasant farmland

and finally a path through a field.

Crossing the road and then through a field I reached a track which was part of the Limestone Trail. Turning right I follwed this route heading through fields up towards Robin Hood’s Stride.

I took a slight diversion to visit the Hermit’s Cave at the bottom of the Cratcliffe Tor gritstone outcrop

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To be honest, I found it rather underwhelming!

Leaving the cave it was only a short walk to Robin Hood’s Stride, a large gritstone Tor.

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The legendary Robin Hood is supposed to have between the towers at either end of the tor. He must have had extremely long legs!

Time for another rest before carrying on across a field before meeting a minor road. I then had to tread the tarmac for about a mile before climbing over a stile and descending down and then up a path crossing fields of cattle heading towards my ancestral village of Elton.

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On reaching the village, the sun was shining. Given the family connection I had to explore a little. I had a look in the church graveyard but I couldn’t see any gravestones for possible family members. Not so suprising really as they lived in the early 18th Century and being poor lead miners it’s unlikely any ancestors buried here could have afforded a headstone.

I had a wander round the village . There were plenty of old houses, some of which may have been miners’ dwellings, although today they’re desirable and expensive stone cottages.

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The village isn’t very big so it didn’t take long to explore. I carried on along the road before rejoining the Limestone Trail heading towards Winster.

My route took me through the older part of the village, which used to be a market town and larger than Elton

I passed attractive stone cottages that were probably originally the home of the better off miners.

I had a wander down the main street

The village shop is owned by the local Community

The old Market House is in the care of the National Trust and was the first property they aquired in the Peak District back in 1906.

The NT website tells us

The House itself is two storeys high and rests upon a massive stone base. It follows the traditional pattern of such buildings, originally having the whole of the ground floor open with the upper storey supported by five arches. The date at which these arches were filled in is not known but it was probably during the decline of the market, between 1795 and 1855. The upper chamber is mainly of brick resulting in an attractive contrast with the stone arches and facings.

National Trust

and the building is listed by English Heritage.

I was starting to feel tierd by now so made my way back to my car. It had been a cracking walk with lots of interest and a good end to an enjoyable break. I headed home hoping to get back in time to watch the England v Germany match on TV. I hadn’t realised it was an early kick off but managed to get home in time to catch the end of the first half.

Hartington to Longnor and back – via High Wheeldon

It was the start of Wimbledon fortnight – time to escape the constant tennis on the telly!

I had a couple of free days at the beginning of last week and a search of the YHA website found me a couple of nights cheap accomodation in the grand setting of Hartington Hall in the Peak District so last Sunday I was up early and driving to the southern part of the Peak to set out on a walk.

The Peak District isn’t so far from here, but getting there is a bit of a pain. I can catch the train to the north eastern part of the National Park but for other areasmeans a stop starty drive along the A6 (made a little easier by the link road from the airport that cuts out the need to drive through Stockport) or via Knutsford and Macclesfield. It’s so much easier to get up to the Lakes. But I fancied a change and the more gentle landscape of the White Peak compared to the rugged fells would certainly provide that. The area I was visiting was not so familiar to me but I’d discovered something that meant it had a personal significance – my family history research had revealed a connection with a main branch of my family tree.

The long range weather forecast had initially promised sunny skies during my short break, but it changed the nearer I got to Sunday, and now I was expecting grey skies and rain. But hey, ho, what’s the bother with a little water falling from the sky!

Hartington is an attractive old village and, consequently something of a “honeypot” for both walkers and motor tourists – but it still maintains an element of authenticity – much more so than bakewell where I stopped briefly on my way home at the end of my break. It’s one of the places where it’s permitted to produce Stilton , although it’s some distance from the village in Leicestershire that the cheese is named after, and there’s a popular Cheese Shop in the centre of the village opposite the pond and green.

Although I arrived reasonably early in the morning, the “free” parking spaces were already taken, but there’s a large car park on the edge of the village so I parked up, coughed up, booted up and set off. I was basing my walk on a route in the second volume of the Verterbrate Publishing Day Walks in the Peak District. I was doing it in the reverse direction, went higer on access land for part of the walk and added a diversion up a steep hill which probably has a family connection from a long time ago.

Hartington Village green

A short walk on tarmac out of the village passing the old church

and after climbing over a stile I was out on open country climbing the hillside on the east side of the Upper Dove valley

The skies were grey and gloomy, but it was good to be out on the remote hillside

This was limestone country (hence the “White Peak”) with rounded hills cut through by deep dales with outcrops of rock and dry stone walls.

Keeping to the higher ground, which was open access land, I diverted from the route a little, by-passing the small hamlets of Pilsbury (and the remains of its Motte and Bailey castle) and Crowdicote – although I have in mind another route where I’d take them in if I return to the area, which I’m certainly tempted to do.

In the distance I could make out the limestone reefs of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill (hard to see on the photo given the poor visibility) and also High Wheeldon

Looking back across the Dove Valley

and looking across the vally in the other direction

Keeping to the high ground above Crowdicote the summit of High Wheeldon was dead ahead

And now there were better views of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill to the north.

These distinctive “dragon’s backs” are the remnants of coral reefs formed when the land that became England was submerged beneath a shallow tropical sea around 340 million years ago.

After a short, steep climb, I reached the summit of High Wheeldon

The land was donated to the National Trust in 1946 and ther’s a war memorial attached to the trig column

I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat and, despite the gloom, enjoyed taking in the views

Looking north towards the village of High Sterndale

I decided to take the path down the north side of the hill. It was a very steep descent and I was glad I had my walking poles with me to keep me steady. But it didn’t take too long to reach the foot of the hill, facing a dramatic limestone cliff

I carried on and now rejoined the guidebook route, taking a path across the fields towards Longnor.

Looking back across the fields to High Wheeldon
Chrome hill and Parkhouse Hills to the north

Reaching Longnor I’d left Derbyshire and was now in Staffordshire

Longnor church

Longnor is another old village of old stone buildings with alleyways and passages leading to the old market square

The car park in the village centre was full

and although there were not too many people around the little cafe on the square was busy and there was no room for a lone walker.

After a short rest on a bench on the square I carried on, passing through the village

and then taking a path past a farm and through the fields to join the Manifold Way

I was now following the course of the River Manifold in a valley separated from the Upper Dove Valley by a ridge of hills. The countryside was “pastoral” and the route passed through flat fields, running parrallel to the river, which made for easy walking.

The landscape becam more rugged to the south

By the small settlement of Brund the route left the Manifold way, following paths through fields back to Hartington via the hamlet of Sheen.

Brund
Back in Hartington
Old farm buildings in Hartington

For a short while the cloud cleared above the village and I topped for a brew, sitting outside the village Post office which had a shop and cafe

Then it was time to return to the car, change out of my boots and drive up to the hostel to book in

A rather grand Youth Hostel

The hostel was in Hartington Hall, which dates back to the 17th Century and is a Grade II listed building. It’s been owned by the YHA since1948.

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!