A walk up Yoke and Ill Bell


The second full day of our stay in Kentmere and we’d planned a walk up to the top of Ill Bell via the Garburn Pass and Yoke. We’d had a good view of the two mountains from across the alley during our walk up Nan Gield pass the previous day.There was low cloud on the fells, so there was risk we’d finish in fog and miss the views from on the fells, but we set out anyway as we knew we’d still enjoy the walk.

The start of the walk – the road from the village leading to the Garburn Pass


We passed Shepherd’s Nook


and shortly afterwards we began to climb the path up the pass.


Passing the crags on our right


Reaching the top of the pass we took the path towards Yoke. There was low cloud on the fells restricting visibility but the top of Yoke looked clear.



Looking over the Kirkstone Pass we could make out Red Screes but visibility was poor restricting the view of mountains further away. But on a good day the views are stunning.

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Reaching the top of Yoke (2316 feet) , In the distance, the summit of Ill Bell was shrouded in cloud.


Looking over to the fells on the other side of the valley, the Nan Bield Pass was visible through a gap in the cloud. It was a little like a science fiction film – looking through a portal to another world!


Carrying on along the ridge there was a good view down to the reservoir



A short, sharp climb and we reached our final objective, the summit of Ill Bell (2483 feet)


Looking along the ridge to Frostwick, the next peak, and High Street. We were tempted to carry on but decided to stick to our plan. But, all being well, one day we’ll be back to walk the horseshoe!


This is the view over the valley to Nan Bield Pass and Harter Fell.


Looking back towards Yoke


Visibility was improving, and walking back along Yoke we could make out the whole length of Windermere

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and looking to the north west we had a decent view of Rred Screes on the other side of the Kirkstone Pass and over towards Helvelyn


We retraced our steps down the Garburn Pass. The sun lighting up the crags



Looking down on Kentmere village


It was a sunny afternoon when we got back to our cottage – and there were some new neighbours!


The Nan Bield Pass

Today Kentmere is a quiet, isolated spot. This wasn’t always the case. There are three passes that lead out of the valley (besides the road from Staveley) one to Mardale in the north, another to Troutbeck to the west and the third to Longsleddale in the east. So at one time, many years ago, the valley would have been a relatively busy crossroads for people and, in many cases, their animals, travelling between the Lakeland valleys. There was also industry in valley with slate mines to the north of the village and although they’ve been closed for many years now there is still evidence of the mining activity on the hillsides.


On Tuesday, the first full day of our stay in Kentmere, the weather forecast was for intermittent rain and we’d planned a low level circular walk up along the river to the reservoir at the head of the valley and back. But one thing we learned during our break was not to trust the weather forecast. It was raining heavily when I got up but by 10 o’clock the rain had stopped and the cloud was clearing. By 11 we had sun and blue skies. It was windy, though, and I expected that the wind would be much stronger on the exposed ridges of the high fells. So we set out with a plan to start out on the low level walk but if conditions looked promising to cut up the Nan Bield Pass at the north end of the valley and then loop back along Harter Fell and Kentmere Pike. For various reasons this changed plan didn’t work out but we did manage to climb to the top of the pass.

Setting out at about 11:30, we crossed the river and walked through the village, making our way along the road until we reached the well defined footpath which ran along the floor of the valley parallel to the river. There had been a lot of rain during previous weeks so the path was wet and frequently quite muddy.


We were soon into more open country with the high fells appearing on the horizon



Eventually we could see most of the high fells comprising the Kentmere Horseshoe


We had to cross numerous becks (the Cumbrian term for a stream) – only one of them was bridged so our boots got wet – not a bad thing as it washed at least some of the mud off them!


The path started to climb gradually. We passed Kentmere Pike


We spotted several old mine workings such as this one, high up on the side of the fell. What must it have been like to work here? P3140705

The workers would have lived in huts near tot he mines, making there way down the valley to spend their wages in the local pub on their day off. The mine workers were so rowdy that the local magistrates withdrew the licence for the pub in Kentmere  and the village has been “dry” ever since . The nearest pub is in Staveley.

Carrying on climbing steadily up the path. To our left the reservoir constructed 1848 to regulate the flow of the river which powered mills further down the valley. Ill Bell and Frostwick can be seen towering over the lake. The steep flank of the former plunging down into the small man-made lake.


Looking further up the valley towards High Street – it’s hard to believe that there was a Roman Road up on the fells.


The top of the pass was becoming ever closer, but still some way to go. So far the path had been a relatively easy gradient as height was gained gradually, but we could see that there would be a much steeper climb to come.



We eventually made it to the top where there were views down into Mardale, the next valley to the north. This had been flooded during the 1930’s creating a large reservoir – Haweswater – to supply Manchester with water. The small settlement of Mardale Green was submerged in the process.

Zooming in


It was extremely windy at the top as the wind funnels through the gap, making it difficult to stand up. We’d only made a the late morning start and the the sun would start setting at 6 o’clock. It had taken longer than anticipated to reach the top. So discretion being the better part of valour we decided to retrace our steps rather than risk walking in strong winds on an exposed ridge with a chance of not making it back down before it went dark.


Harter Fell and Kentmere would be there another day! In any case, it had been a good walk through some dramatic countryside, and as the top of the pass is just over 2,000 feet high, it was a decent enough climb!

Castlerigg, Great Wood and Derwent Water


Leaving Castlerigg stone circle we took the narrow metalled road heading south towards Castlerigg farm. Conditions were pretty treacherous underfoot through the fields but we persevered yomping though the gloop until we came to farm where we joined the path alongside Brockle Beck in the direction towards Keswick.

Views started to open up down to Derwent Water and Cat Bells on the western shore


We took a left turn and set off along the path which would take us through Great Wood and the lake.




Just after the National Trust Car Park we crossed over the Borrowdale Road and followed the path along the lake shore back to Keswick. – taking care to avoid the dangerous wildlife!





The rain held off until we reached the jetty near the Theatre by the Lake.  A little window browsing in the shops in Keswick and then we headed back up the hill to our B and B and a nice cup of tea!

A pleasant but not very demanding walk and a good start to the holiday!

A Cold, Grey Day at the YSP

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When we were over at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the new Year’s Bank Holiday Iwe splashed out and bought a print from Flights of Memory the exhibition of works by Angela Harding: Mid week, while I was working away in Ireland, I received a phone call telling me that it had come back from being framed and was ready for collection. So Sunday we decided to drive over to pick it up and have a walk round the Country Park. The Not Vital exhibition finished at the beginning of the month and there was nothing on at the Longside or Bothy Galleries either, but I fancied getting some fresh air and stretching my legs in pleasant countryside after a week stuck indoors working and travelling. And it’s always good to see the sculptures dotted around the park, even if they are quite familiar after our many visits over the past few years.

It was a cold, grey day but there was no wind or rain to speak of, so after parking up (on the overflow car park as, to our surprise, there were plenty of visitors) and having a bite to eat we set off for a walk down the hill towards the lakes at the bottom of the valley. We’d decided to circumnavigate them and then make our way through the park back up to the shop to collect the print.

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I like the decorative features on the bridge


The view up the Lower Lake

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Walking along the south bank of the Lower Lake we passed some highland cattle


Not so keen on those horns but she was placid enough.

This sculpture was relocated from the other side of the lake last year

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Woodland Spirit – Diana by Lucy and Jorge Orta

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We rather liked the new setting in the water.

We crossed the dam and carried on along the south shore of the Upper Lake, passing Red Slate Line by Richard Long




At the end of the Upper Lake we passed this landlocked boathouse


Inside was Eddy by JocJonJosch


This obelisk stands the woods on the north shore,


Tread Pad by James Capper at the bottom end of the Upper Lake by the Cascade Bridge.


We continued along the path following the north shore of the Lower Lake

Looking past Promenade by Anthony Caro towards Bretton Hall


A heron was perched on a branch in the Lower Lake


Reaching the two works by David Nash towards the far end of the Upper Lake

49 Square

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and Black Mound


Cutting back across the field where a number of sculptures by local lad Henry Moore are displayed

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Cutting across the lower fieldrh

Shogun by Philip King


However Incongruous, a three-dimensional rendition of Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros woodcut by Raqs Media Collective.


Almost back to the main building we passed a collection of Joan Miro sculptures


Time for a flat white before collecting our print from the shop and heading off home.

Now we need to decide where we’re going to hang it!

A Winter’s Day at the YSP


New Year’s Day being a Sunday, Monday was a Bank Holiday. We decided we’d drive back over the M62 to Wakefield, this time to combine art with some exercise at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. (and try out my new camera!)

We set off reasonably early, arriving about 11 o’clock as we wanted to make the most of the short hours of daylight. Parking up on the old car park we walked up towards the Underground Gallery and YSP centre, passing an old favourite, Barbara Hepworth’s Family of Man.


The Ultimate Form


It looked like the family had been given something of a makeover and in November it  had been d re-sited further along the Hillside, away from the now mature trees, in order to give an unobstructed view of the work and to protect the tree roots. The work had also been cordoned off, meaning it was not longer possible to get in amongst the individual pieces which could now only viewed from a (albeit short) distance.I hope this is only temporary while the newly laid turf beds in.

After some dinner, we set off for a walk down to Longside and back. A decent circuit taking in several notable art works on the way. It was a fine day. Cold, but sunny with a clear blue sky.


We headed across to the old Georgian chapel.


The current exhibition We Listen for the Future features four pieces of “sound art” by a South African artist, James Webb.

At one end of the chapel there was a large bank of speakers playing intermittent sounds made by fists banging on a door – Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016. It’s intended to

reference ancient law of religious sanctuary, as well as the current refugee crisis


I rather liked another of the exhibits – All that is Unknown, 2016. This comprised a pair of speakers facing each other across the length of the room in the upstairs gallery, which played the sound of a heartbeat very faintly so it could only be heard by putting your ear very close to the speakers.

While we were inside the chapel strong sunlight shining through one of the windows created an interesting pattern of light and shadow on the facing wall.


Leaving the chapel we set off down the hill, passing this work by Henry Moore


and further down the hill, Shadow Stone Fold by Andy Goldsworthy was occupied by a flock of sheep.


We crossed the bridge over the river at the bottom of the lake. Looking back we could see two works by David Nash49 Square (49 Himalayan birch trees, which, planted in seven rows of seven), and a collection of charred wood stumps, Black Mound.


We started to climb the hill towards Oxley Bank, via another work by David Nash,

Seventy-one Steps climbs from the lake up to the top of the bank, connecting the two sides of the valley and the four galleries. Seventy one huge oak steps, carefully charred and oiled, follow the lie of the land on the hill. The steps are completed by 30 tonnes of coal embedded between the steps to create a stunning installation that will erode and change over time.


These tree roots aren’t actually real


they’re another work of art. Speed Breakers by Hemali Bhuta are the roots of a fallen beech tree, cast in bronze and installed on the path up on Oxley Bank

Then another work by Andy Goldsworthy – Hanging Trees, three enclosures built into one of the estate’s historic ha-has


with sections of trees incorporated into the walls



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Further down towards Longside, in the woods, another Goldsworthy – Outclosure. A round stone enclosure, the walls too high to peer inside.



Approaching Longside, looking back across the valley towards Bretton Hall.


We passed a field of rare breed sheep


The Longside Gallery is currently closed so we set off across the fields back towards the main part of the Estate.

Reaching the Lake, a closer view of the old Hall


The two lakes were both partly frozen


We passed Anthony Gormley’s One & Other


Setting back up the hill we passed several works including  Ten Seated Figures. by The Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz


The bright sunshine really brought out the rusty red colour on the  rough surface of the bronze sculptures


Crawking one of Sophie Ryder’s giant hare/human hybrids


And then back up towards the Underground Gallery passing Barbara Hepworth’s Square With Two Circles


This was the last day of the Not Vital exhibition we’d seen earlier in 2016. That had been a dull day, but  Monday’s bright sunshine brought out the best of  the stainless steel sculptures displayed outdoors



We took the opportunity to have a final look around the works displayed in the Underground Gallery


We also saw some of the paintings by Kate Daudy on various walls around the Park for her work This is Water. The images are scattered around the park and it would have been interesting to seek them out, but unfortunately with limited hours of daylight time didn’t permit.





After a strong shot of caffeine via a “flat white” we took a final stroll along the Lower Lake


getting a closer look at David Nash’s Black Mound


and 49 Square

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Reaching the end of the lake


we set up back up the hill towards the YSP Centre. It was only 4 o’clock but the sun was beginning to set behind this work by Henry Moore.


A final look at the Not Vital sculptures in the garden by the Underground Gallery


and it was time to go back to the car, change out of our boots and set off back home after another good day at the YSP.

Bank Holiday Walk from Grasmere


With Christmas day being a Sunday, Tuesday was a Bank Holiday. The weather forecast sounded reasonably promising so we decided to get out for a walk up in the Lakes. We drove over to Grasmere and parked up. It was a fine sunny morning, although it was expected to turn cloudy during the afternoon, but it was still good to get out on the fells.

With the hours of daylight short at the end of December we weren’t going to attempt anything too ambitious so decided we’d climb Silver How and then head over to Loughrigg fell at the south end of Grasmere.

Setting out from the village we could see our first objective – Silver How.

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It’s a relatively easy, gradual climb with a few short steeper sections. Generally easy going.

We passed Allan Bank, a former home of Wordsworth.


Looking back to the Fairfield horseshow with Helm Crag on the left

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Looking over to Easedale

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The light wasn’t as good when we reached the summit of Silver How but there were still good 360 degree views

Looking down to Grasmere and Rydal Water


Looking over to Loughrigg (our next objective) with Windermere in the distance

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The Coniston Fells


Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes


Over to Fairfield and adjacent fells


After taking in the views and having a bite to eat we set out towards Loughrigg. There were clear paths over the undulating moorland, many of them not marked on the OS map.

Looking back to Silver How


Looking down Great Langdale


We eventually reached Loughrigg Terrace, a well used path overlooking the south shore of Grasmere and at the foot of the fell. It was then a short steep ascent up to the summit.


The view from the summit over towards Windermere


Looking over Great Langdale and Elter Water towards the Coniston Fells


Over to Lingmoor Fell and the Langdale Pikes. Cloud covering the tops of Crinkle Crags and Bowfell


Starting to descend and looking over Grasmere


with Silver How and the Langdale Pikes visible tot he left


We took the path through the woods


and then followed the road back to Grasmere village, arriving with about an hour of daylight left.


Time for a well earned brew before setting off for home.

Misty Coniston


The last day of our short break in the Lake District and the weather had changed. After the sunny skies of Friday the mist had rolled in over the fells. But it wasn’t raining (well, not significantly) so we decided we’d go for a walk along the shore of Coniston Water, following the path along the west coast of the lake as far as Torver and then doubling back.


Looking over to Brantwood


The Gondola sailed past




Returning to the Bluebird Café we finished off the morning with a welcome brew and a Cumberland sausage barm!