A short walk along the Rawthey

It was such a lovely afternoon that after my post walk coffee and cake, I didn’t feel like heading straight back down the motorway. Instead, I decided I’d have a short walk down to the River Rawthy.

Passing the church and Public School and a row of colourful cottages, I made my way to the Millthrop bridge where I joined the riverside path walking in the direction of the New Bridge further upstream.

The river was shallow – it would be much deeper and faster flowing after heavy rain and in the winter.

I passed a weir, after which the river became deeper and smoother

Reaching the New Bridge, I crossed over to the north bank, passing the picnic area

Carrying on just beyond the weir

Where the right of way along the river ended, so I cut up along the path uphill through the field and skirted Winder House, then making my way back to the car.

I rather liked the decoration applied to this window in one of the cottages I passed

I made my way back to the car via the Folly one of the the old “yards” which emerges on the narrow main street opposite the market square, by the side of the rather old fashioned ironmongers shop.

Like in Kendal, these are old, narrow passageways branching off the main streets.

This will be my last walk for a little while as the next Wednesday I had a minor op scheduled and I’ll be out of action for several weeks ☹️ (recuperating at home as I write this). However, I have a short break booked in Borrowdale in August, so something to look forward to – although I’m not sure I’ll be up to tackling the bigger fells by then.

Bog trotting to Dent

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I managed to take a day off work mid week to make the most of some decent weather and get out for a walk. I didn’t fancy driving too far so decided on Sedbergh. After my walk up Seat Sandal I realised I wasn’t “fell fit” so opted for a less strenuous walk exploring the hills to the south of the small town rather than attempting the Howgills and also explore an area I’d never been to before – Dentdale. I’d spotted a route on the Sedbergh town website and based my plans on that, extending the walk to start from Sedbergh town centre and taking in Dent village before looping back. It crossed the low fell of Frostwick but wouldn’t involve too much strenuous climbing. I should, however have taken more notice of a comment in the walk description

“The path, can be very boggy in places”

and taken a closer look at the Harvey map which is very good at showing boggy areas.

It was a Wednesday and I hadn’t realised it was market day in Sedbergh, but I managed to find a space in the Market Square Car park – the small town wasn’t exactly heaving. I had a quick look over the small number of stalls, mainly selling local produce – meat, cheese and vegetables – and wish now that I’d picked up some of the tempting goodies on offer!

I booted up and then walked through the town and crossed the “New Bridge” over the River Rawthey. I passed a snack van parked in the lay by just after the bridge and, although it was only about 11 o’clock, the aroma of the bacon was just too tempting, so I had to stop and buy myself a bacon buttie. Very good it was too.

I carried on along the A684 for a short distance and then turned up the lane that led up to Frostrow, passing a number of houses and farms.

After the last farm, the tarmaced lane turned into a stoney track and then, after climbing a ladder stile I was on the path that would take me up over the moor.

As i started to climb there was a great view back to Sedbergh and the Howgills

This part of the route was part of the Dales High Way and is was easy to follow on the ground. But there were substantial stretches of boggy land to traverse, despite the weather being reasonably dry of late.

It was impossible to keep my boots dry as I tried to hop from one patch of drier land to another, but for much of the way it was a lost cause. However, I didn’t get sucked in to the peat (well, not too often or too deep, anyway) and although my boots got wet they’re waterproof so my feet stayed dry.

It was quiet and lonely up on the moor. There wasn’t another soul up there. Real “social isolation”.

As I was walking up the moor, cloud had been coming in and patches of the sky looked pretty dark for a while. But the cloud didn’t persist too long and largely cleared during the afternoon.

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Enjoying the walk and deep in thought as I walked across the moor, I missed my turning that would take me down in Dentdale, continuing to climb Aye Gill Pike. I’d gone probably a mile walking through the boggiest section of the moor before I realised my mistake and had to retrace my steps. There was a sign by the path announing the start of the area of Open access land, and this is where I should have turned right and gone through the gate to start descending off the moor. I didn’t miss it again, though, as I came back down from the bog.

I could see Dent village down in the valley as I descended down the path, which was still part of the Dales High Way.

I passed a farm

where the path turned into a lane which then took me down hill as far as the road from Sedbergh to Dent

After walking along a short stretch of road I reached the bridge which took the road over the River Dee (not, of course the one that runs through Chester). However, I continued straight on along a minor road that ran close to the right bank of the river

Looking over towards Aye Gill Pike .

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After about a mile I took a path that cut across a field and then crossed the bridge and walked down the road into Dent. I needed to be careful now and keep my eyes open for one of those Terrible Knitters.

Dent is a small village and is one of those places that are frozen in time, with lots of attractive old cottages and other buildings and with minimal more modern development.

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I passed the old chuch of St Andrews, built in the12th Century but obviously having undergone several modifications since then.

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I spotted a branch of Martins bank. I was definitely in a time warp then, as Martins was taken over by barclays in 1969!

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After wansering around the streets of the village (which didn’t take long) I set off on the return leg of my journey. I’d now be following the Dales way back to Sedbergh which initially took me along the south bank of the river

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After a couple of miles the route left the riverbank and joined a quiet road for about a mile.

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At brackensgill farm I turned off the road on to a path through the fields

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and on to a footbridge where I crossed the river.

The path then took me to the Sedbergh to Dent road which I crossed and then took the track that started to climb the fell. The Dales Way, which I was still following, then veered to the left gradually climbing and contouring along the side of the hill heading towards Sedbergh.

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After a while Sedbergh, backed by the Howgills came into view

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I came down off the fell into the small settlement of Millthrop, a very pleasant former mill village

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I walked down to the road and crossed over Millthrop Bridge. Built in the 17th Century it’s a listed building.

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A short distance after the bridge I took a path that cut across the fields up to towards Winder House, which is part of the Sedbergh Public School

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The path then took me past sport fields down to the centre of the village.

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It was almost 6 o’clock now, so, as everything in Sedbergh shuts no later than 4 o’clock, there was nowhere to stop and treat myself to a brew. So it was off with the boots and back in the car for the drive home.

A walk in the Howgills

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Yesterday I drove up to Sedbergh to set out for a walk on the Howgill Fells. I had a route in mind that world tackle the Calf from the west side of the range of high hills, then walking along the ridge back into Sedbergh. I’d had it in mind to go for a wander on these quiet fells, just over an hour’s drive from home, for a while but I’d read a post on John’s blog, Walking the Old Ways just a few days ago which reinforced my decision.

Sedbergh used to be in Yorkshire, but since Local Government re-organisation in 1974 it’s been part of Cumbria. It’s quite a sleepy place, a little frozen in time, with some attractive little houses that I passed as I walked through the quiet streets, early on Sunday morning, heading towards Howgill Lane.

The first three miles of my walk entailed walking 3 miles down a lonely, leafy country lane, a good part of which follows the route of a Roman road.

There wasn’t much traffic to worry about other then the occasional car,a number of tractors pulling bales of silage and a couple of quad bikes.

Soon, good views over to the hills opened up over teh fields

After a couple of miles I passed Howgill church, built in 1838 to replace a small chapel on built around1685.

Howgill is a strange place. It’s not a village proper, being a series of scattered dwellings and collections of buldings. It’s rather odd that the fells are named after it rather than the larger settlements to the north and south of the range (not that they’re that big!) Apparently the Howgill Fells were so named by Ordnance Survey surveyors as the range of hills didn’t have a collective name.

About a mile further on I took a path across the fields heading to Castley Farm and then onto the fells

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I had to cross the fast flowing Long Rigg beck, which was a little tricky, but I managed to stay upright and make it to the other side

Then it was time to start the long, and in places steep, ascent up White Fell

As I climbed views opened up behind me of Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland Fells, silhouetted on the horizon.

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Since I left Sedbergh I hadn’t seen any other walkers, and during my slow climb up the fell the only other people I saw was a fell runner high up on the ridge across the valley, and a couple of walkers who passed me as they descended down the fell.

I carried on with my slow progress up the steep hill side until I reached the top of White fell and then made my way along the ridge towards the Calf, the highest point in the Howgills.

Looking north east from the top of the fell

The view west from the top of the Calf

There were a few walkers and fell runners on the summit, but it wasn’t exactly crowded. many of them seemed to have come up either from the north of the range or via Cautley Spout to the east

I set off south along the path to Calders

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Where I stopped for a bite to eat while I took in the view

Then it was time to set off again heading south, back towards Sedbergh.

As I walked I could see the Lakeland fells to the west

and the Yorkshire Three Peaks in the distance to the south

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– there’s Ingleborough

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I carried on, by-passing the summit of Arant Haw, but rather than head straight down to Sedbergh, I decided to walk on to the top of Winder

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Looking back from teh summit across to Arant Haw

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and down towards Sedbergh

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I retraced my steps a short way and then started the descent down towards the village. On the way crossing the only boggy stretch I’d encountered during the walk.

The final stretch was a little tough on the old knees, but I made it back down to the car where I loaded my backpack in the car boot before having a wander round the village. It was a brief wander as it’s only a small place and most of the shops were shut. But I did pop intot he Information centre where I bought a leaflet about the Quaker Trail, mentioned by John in his blog post – one for the future!

A calf, a sheepfold and a waterfall

….. and the site of an iron age settlement.

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Last Saturday I decided to make the most of a fine day and get out for a walk. As usual, the hard decision was where to go. This time I decided I’d drive up to Sedburgh and head out for a walk in the Howgill Fells. I had a route in mind – another longish walk with plenty of interest. Although part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and close to the Lake District, the Howgills (a group of high, grassy hills cut through with deep valleys ) are usually relatively quiet.

I parked up in the market square, got into my walking gear and set out. My route was going to start off fairly easily by following the river bank steady climb up towards Cautley and its waterfall. A steep (very steep, in fact) climb up beside the waterfall would take me up onto the fells and then I’d follow the ridge back to Sedbergh, taking in a few summits.

Leaving the car park I cut through the town centre (not that there’s much of it!), passing the Information centre and some interesting shops and old buildings as I made my way down to the river.

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I joined the path along the river bank at the New Bridge – well it was new in the 18th Century!

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The path followed close the river bank for a few miles

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With views of the Howgill Fells over the fields to the left.

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After a while, the path left the river bank and climbed up to a paved track by Buckback Farm. I had some trouble here. The right of way goes through the farm yard but I couldn’t get through the complicated set of gates so had to find an alternative way through the yard. I’m not sure whether the farmer was deliberately blocking the right of way or it was just my ineptitude and inability to work out how to get the series of gates open. Anyway, I finally got onto the narrow metalled road and followed it as it started to climb. The route ran more or less parrallel to the river but higher up and closer to the fells.

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The metalled road terminated at Thursgill farm and turned into a rougher track. The old stone farmhouse had an interesting neo-Gothic style entrance, added in 1885

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The path carried on along the valley, steadily gaining height. Some stretches were quite muddy and boggy but the views over the valley to the Yorkshire Dales were fantastic on a sunny morning.

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One of the local residents was wondering what I was up to.

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After a couple of hours, a little longer than I’d expected (the route was a little harder going than I’d thought), the path dipped back down to the river as I reached Cautley where I would turn off to climb up on to the fells.

This was the site of an iron age settlement. There was an information board with some details about the site, but to an untrained eye it would have been impossible to know anything had been here. Some scattered rocks on the raised ground were the only remains. The settlement had been built at the foot of Cautley Spout, a waterfall with the highest drop in England, at least for a cascading waterfall above ground. It doesn’t look much in the picture below but the water plunges over the top of the fells falling a total of 650 feet (198 m)  down a series of steps to the valley floor below.

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So now I started to climb up the VERY steep path up beside the falls. It had been raining of late so there was plenty of water tumbling down making it a dramatic sight as the path gets quite close to the water at some points.

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Looking back down to the valley floor – taking a photo was a good excuse for a short break during the steep climb!

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I finally reached the top – it had taken me about half an hour, and then followed the path along the beck (the same one which would tumble down to form the falls) heading towards my next destination, the highest point in the fells, the hill known as the Calf.

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After a short while I spotted this sheepfold – one of a series in Cumbria created by the renowned artist, Andy Goldsworthy.  Red Gill Washfold is a large restored washfold with a built-in cairn to celebrate sheep farming renewal.

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After spending a short while looking at the washfold I continued on along the path which followed the beck as far as the spring that fed the stream.

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Eventually emerging on the ridge that runs across the top of the fells. Visibility on the day was excellent and I was greeted by a fantastic view over to the high fells of the Lake District. There were the Coniston fells, the Scafells, Great Gable, Bow Fell and many of the other high mountains.

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A short climb and I was on the top of the Calf, the highest of the Howgill Fells. It’s a flat plateau which doesn’t have definite peak, but htere were great views in every direction.

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On a fine day like today the main fells in th eLake District would have been bustling with walkers, but there were only a few people up here on the Howgills. There were a couple of guys taking a break and after I’d asked one to take the obligatory photo of me at the trig point (I’m useless at taking selfies) we had a brief chat. They were wild camping over the weekend and were taking it slow, enjoying the walk, the scenery and the weather.

After a short while I continuing my walk, following the path that crosses the fells on the way back to Sedbergh. It’s relatively easy going but with some ups and downs. Other than a fence that crosses the range on Calders there are virtually no man made boundaries on the top of the fells which gives a real sense of freedom. It’s an open access area too, so you’re free to roam and although there are plenty of clear paths many of them aren’t marked on the OS maps.

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Looking over to the Yorkshire Dales. At one point I could see all three of the Three Peaks.

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Looking over towards Morecambe Bay.

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I’d been up here before when we walked up to the Calf from Sedbergh and then returned by the same route. Like then, I took in the summits of Bram Rigg top, Calders and Arant How. This time I decided to continue further along the ridge to take in the summit of Winder.

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Then I started the descent down the steep path back down to the valley. It was hard on my old knees. I find it much tougher going down than climbing up steep slopes these days.

On the way down I passed a small group of the wild ponies that live up on the fells. They didn’t seem to be bothered as I passed close by.

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I was fascinated by their long manes that cover their eyes and faces

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There’s Sedbergh down in the valley.

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I left the fell on the west side of the village, through Lockbank Farm and then made my way back to the centre wandering past a variety of old buildings through the narrow streets. As I expected none of the shops were open. For some bizarre reason they shut at 4 o’clock. Obviously they’re not interested in making money from walkers come back down from the hill. I was surprised to find a cafe that was still open, only shutting at 6, so I took advantage of this to stop for a well earned brew!

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I wandered back along the main street to the car park, passing some independent shops

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and the book shelter

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changed out of my boots and then set off on the journey home. It’s not too far and as the motorway was relatively quiet, it only took me an hour and a quarter.

Another long walk on a warm sunny day. I wonder how many more opportunities I’ll have before the end of the year?

Ingleborough – So good I climbed it twice!

(Title inspired by a comment by Mark)

Almost a couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, I decided I’d drive over to the Yorkshire Dales and walk up Ingleborough. I’d been up there before, a couple of years ago, from Ingleton, but this time I wanted to try another popular route, up from Clapham (no, not the district of London, but a small village in Yorkshire).

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Clapham is an attractive linear village which lies along both sides of Clapham Beck. Although there’s been a settlement here right back to at least Anglo Saxon times, the village we see today is largely the work of the Farrars, a local farming family who became Lords of the Manor in the 18th Century after accumulating wealth as London Lawyers. They remodelled the village, which became an ‘estate village’ where almost all the residents were tenants, many of whom worked on the estate.  They built Ingleborough Hall and created the Lake and gardens on their estate.

I set out from the village and took the path up through the Estate Gardens alongside the lake – after paying the £1 toll.

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Lots of wild garlic in bloom

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The path took me past Ingleborough Cave, but I didn’t stop to have a look (and pay another fee).

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The path started to climb and I was soon in Trow Gill, a narrow limestone gorge.

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It’s likely that at one time this was an underground passage carved out through the limestone, like the many caves in the area. The gorge was created when the roof of the cave collapsed.

Carrying on I turned on to open moorland. I’d noticed quite a few other people walking up through the Estate and the Gill and talking to a few of them discovered that they were only going as far as Gaping Gill, a a 98-metre (322 ft) deep pothole just below Ingleborough, which has one of the largest known underground chambers in Britain. The Bradford caving club “opens” Gaping Gill to the public for a couple of weeks in May, lowering people down on a bosun’s chair. This was the start of the two weeks.

As I got closer I couldn’t help but notice the “tent city” which had been errected close to the entrance to the system. I diverted slightly off the path to take a look.

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But I hadn’t planned to get lowered down a deep hole in the ground – I much prefer the open skies – so carried on towards Ingleborough which was covered with cloud.

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I carried on, climbing up the path towards the subsidiary summit of Little Ingleborough, walking into the low cloud.

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The path flattened off for a short distance but the climb up to the summit of Littleborough itself.

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It was still covered with cloud and was quite cold and windy on top. I made my way to the summit cairn and the stone shelter where I stopped for a coffee from my flask and a bite to eat. There were quite a few others arriving on the summit from different directions, many of them attempting the “Three Peaks Challenge“.

I had hoped the cloud would clear as the last time I came up here we’d started out at Ingleton on a warm day under a sunny blue sky, but by the time we reached the summit it was cold, windy and covered with cloud. Just the same as on this occasion.

I walked across the summit to start my descent on the path that leads towards Horton in Ribblesdale. The cloud was swirling in the wind and through a gap that appeared I glimpsed the rather magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct. But the cloud soon swirled back in.

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I descended down the steep path and soon reached flatter moorland.

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Carrying on walking there were good views towards Penyghent, the smaller of the Three Peaks.

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After a short while, looking back I could see that the cloud had cleared. If only I’d set out a couple of hours later I’d have had a view. That seems to be the story of my life at the moment (see my post about my trip up Great Gable). I could have turned around and climbed back up to the summit, but thought it best to carry on.

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After a few miles, after a ruined shooting hut, at Nick Pot , I turned off on the path that headed south, which would take me back to Clapham. Initially walking over moorland, I soon came to an area of Limestone pavement and “shake holes“.

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I carried on across the moorland towards Clapham, and looking across the moors there were good views towards the cloudless summit of Ingleborough.

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The path continued above the beck, on the opposite side to my route up through the Estate and Trow Gill. No toll payable on this side!

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The path descended steeply down hill and then passed under two tunnels, which had been built by the Farrers to prevent travellers along what was a major route wouldn’t have to cross the Ingleborough Hall Estate.

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I was soon back in the village

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and stopped for a brew and fruit cake with a slice of Wensleydale cheese in the cafe located in a very old building.. The cup was even in Wigan Warrieors colours!

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After a short wander round the village, I went back to the car and headed back towards home.

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It had been an enjoyable walk but I was a little disappointed that, yet again, when I was on top of the hill it was covered with cloud and I missed out on the view over the Dales.

The next Wednesday promised to be a sunny day and chance had it I was able to finish work early. I wanted to make the most of the sunshine and get out for a walk and had my boots in the car. It was a little late to drive up to the Lakes but as I was only about an hour’s drive away I decided to chance a climb up Ingleborough.

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Looking up towards Ingleborough – on a sunny day!

I parked up in Ingleton and set off in bright sunshine up the path towards Ingleborough. It took me a couple of hours to reach the summit.

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I was lucky this time – the cloud kept away, although it was windy and quite chilly. bUt I’d brought my soft shell and that kept me nice and snug. I stopped at the shelter for a while, chatting with a couple of retired walkers from Leyland and a Yorkshireman who was part of a group tackling the Three Peaks.

I took the opportunity to soak in the view which extended over to Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland Fells,

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Pendle Hill and the Bowland Fells in the west and over the Dales to the east. And, at the third attempt, I got a great view over towards the Ribblehaead Viaduct standing below Whernside, the highest of the Three Peaks.

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Satisfied that I’d eventually managed to climb the hill when it wasn’t covered in cloud, I made my way back down to the village, passing some curious locals on the way.

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Ingleborough is a grand mountain. A good climb in pretty countryside that’s quite different to that of the Lake District, which is not so far away. It’s certainly worth the effort to climb to the top even when the summit is covered with cloud. But I was glad I’d found the time to get up there when it wasn’t!

A walk from Kirkby Lonsdale

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I had a week in Ireland this week cancelled and as I hadn’t anything particularly urgent that needed doing, I thought that, weather permitting, we might get out for a walk one day. Checking the forecast, Monday looked the best bet as it was expected to be a decent day, so that clinched it. Where to go? Given the limited hours of light in December we decided not to go to far and stick to a low level route, limiting the mileage. We’d not been to Kirkby Lonsdale before, even though it’s not so far away (just over an hour’s drive, M6 willing!), so after a little research decided on a route starting from there.

Kirkby Lonsdale is a picturesque market town in Cumbria, close to the boundaries of both Lancashire and North Yorkshire and just inside  the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s noted for it’s olde worlde town centre, a viewpoint beloved of Ruskin and Turner and an old bridge. 

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There’s plenty of free parking on the edge of town, either side of the “Devil’s Bridge” but when we arrived on a Monday morning in December, I was surprised to see how many cars were parked up. However, there were a few spaces left so we parked up and donned our boots ready for a walk. I was expecting it to be muddy so we’d brought our gaiters and a couple of walking poles – it turned out that this was a good move!

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Before setting off we had a look at the Devil’s Bridge which was built in the 12th or 13th century, and is now a scheduled ancient monument.  At one time it was the only bridge over the Lune for miles around.

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There are quite a few Devil’s Bridges around the country, all built around the same period and all have a story associated with them explaining the name.  At Kirkby Lonsdale the tale goes that one night a cow belonging to an old woman strayed across the river and as there was no crossing point on the wide, fast flowing river, she couldn’t get it back. The devil then appeared and offered to build a bridge overnight t if he could have the soul of the first one across. However, the old woman fooled him by sending her dog across first. The devil was so angry he disappeared in a cloud of smoke never to return. 

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The bridge is a popular spot over the River Lune for “tombstoning”, which involves leaping from height into water. Over the years a number people have been killed here and there’s a local bye-law forbidding the practice, but, apparently, this doesn’t stop some foolish thrill seekers. So perhaps the Devil has had the last laugh.

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We set off , crossing the main road and then heading off south through the fields. There was a good view over to the Kentmere horseshoe.

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Passing a small group of cottages we followed the track which led towards Sellet Mill. 
The narrow footpath passed between two stonewalls and was clearly an old right of way which looked like it had been cobbled at one time. About a third of the way down a stream came in from the left and the path continued alongside it. “I wonder if it ever gets flooded?” We soon found out. Not much further on the path was covered with a fast running stream. Should we turn back or chance it and continue? We took the latter option. We almost regretted this decision as the water was quite deep in places and  it wasn’t easy to avoid getting our boots submerged or slipping and falling over. The walking poles now came in very handy and we managed to stay upright and not get too wet thanks to the gaiters. After what seemed a long way the path re-emerged on the right hand bank and we were able to continue on dry land until we reached Sellet Mill. 

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From here we took the path heading west through the fields until we reached the road and then followed a narrow minor road towards Whittington, a pleasant old village. There were good views over the fields across to Ingleborough and other hills in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

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and we passed some interesting old buildings.

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Reaching the old church, which stands on the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle, we decided to stop and have a bite to eat. We had a quick look inside the church. The oldest part is the tower, which dates from the early 16th century. The rest was largely rebuilt in 1875 in the usual Victorian Gothic revival style. 

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There was some rather nice stained glass.

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Afterwards we found a bench in the graveyard and sat down to eat our pork pies, taking in the view on a pleasant, sunny, afternoon.

Well nourished we resumed our walk, taking the road through the village and then followed a path that cut eastwards across the fields towards the River Lune.

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After recent heavy rains, the river was deep and flowing fast and the banks were muddy and slippy. In a few places it was close to the river and we were once again glad I’d put our walking poles in the boot of the car that morning.

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We followed the river bank back to Devil’s Bridge and then continued on the riverside path as we wanted to have a look around the small town and also to visit the viewpoint known as “Ruskin’s View”.

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After about a mile we reached the “Radical Steps” that would take us up to the viewpoint. The steps were built in 1819 by Francis Pearson, a local Liberal. The locals came to call them the Radical Steps on account of his political leanings. There are allegedly 86 stone steps, although we didn’t count them. They were rather steep and uneven and probably easier to go up than down.

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At the top of the steps we reached the edge of the churchyard and were able to take in “Ruskin’s View”. Painted by Turner, in 1875, John Ruskin described the panorama as ‘one of the loveliest views in England, therefore in the world’.

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Even though the river valley was now in the shade, it was certainly a lovely view, but I think Ruskin was rather overstating it.

After taking in the view we walked through the church yard and had a quick look around inside St Mary’s church

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and then wandered into town where we found a cafe to have a brew before heading back to the car for the drive home. It was only 5 o’clock but the winter sun having already set it felt much later. But we’d had a good day out.

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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.

Ingleborough

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Sunday morning the sun was shining. We got up early, loaded our boots and rucksacks in the car and drove over to Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales, which is less than an hour and a half away  (traffic willing), to climb Ingleborough. The mountain is one of the one of the “Yorkshire Three Peaks” and as we’d climbed Pen-y-ghent a couple of years ago we’d be able to tick off our second of the three.

It was a beautiful, warm sunny morning when we arrived in Ingleton. We parked up near the Community Centre and set off walking through the small town centre past the church

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After about half a mile we reached the start of the path up to Ingleborough

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It’s a good track and as it hadn’t rained for a while the path was dry underfoot (which meant I didn’t need to get my new boots muddy!!)

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There were good views over to Whernside, the third of the “Three Peaks” but visibility wasn’t as good as the previous week when we’d walked up Clougha Pike, over the border in Lancashire.

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The route involved a gradual ascent over a couple of miles along a well defined path followed by a short steep climb of the cliffs up to the gritstone cap at the end to reach the summit.

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About half way along the route we passed this isolated farmhouse – “the Little house on the Prairie”? It looked nice in the sunshine but it would be a very bleak setting for much of the year.

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As we were walking along the valley, looking back we could see cloud coming in from the north west and there was a strong breeze behind us. The wind became fiercer as we climbed the final steep section up the millstone grit cap that gives the mountain it’s distinctive shape. Luckily we’re reasonably sensible and had come prepared with jumpers, gloves and coats in our day sacks. It was time to put them on. Yet we passed quite a few people ill-equipped wearing t-shirts, flimsy tops and dresses and completely inadequate footwear. As a popular mountain in a National Park it attracts a lot of day trippers who setting out on a bright, warm, sunny day don’t realise just how quickly conditions can change.

As we climbed, the cloud had come in, engulfing the summit at almost the same time as we reached the top and the wind was blowing strongly enough to knock the unwary off their feet.

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Despite being a “peak” the summit is a flat plateau which, on a good day, has extensive views over the Dales and to Pen-y-ghent and Whernside.

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We managed to find a seat inside the wind shelter to take a rest, a drink and a bite to eat. And we chatted with some other walkers, some of whom were attempting the Three Peaks Challenge. Not for us though, one peak was enough for today!

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Unfortunately, the low cloud was obscuring the views

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We set back down retracing our route. A circular walk is possible but it would have meant either finishing with a long stretch on tarmac, which didn’t appeal, or navigating along unfamiliar territory without clear paths and we didn’t want to risk that in misty conditions.

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The countryside is a mixture of moorland and limestone outcrops

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Looking back the mountain had disappeared!

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Approaching Ingleton village

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A brew awaited in one of the many Cafés in the village. (I wonder what the Bristol ‘grammar vigilante’ would make of the sign!)

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So our second of the “Three Peaks” conquered. Whernside next!

Sedbergh

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We arrived back in Sedbergh after our walk up to the Calf just before 4 o’clock ready for a refreshing brew (and, possibly a cake!). While we were loading our rucksacks into the boot of the car a couple of coaches drove into the car park.. We’d better be quick, I thought, or we’ll not get in the cafés if we have to compete with 80 so day trippers.

We found a small café in the main street. The Three Hares  turned out to be a good choice. It was very pleasant, a little quirky and the tea and cakes were very good – and good value – I queried the bill as I thought they’d undercharged us, but they hadn’t. Their lunch menu looked interesting and they serve evening meals on Friday and Saturdays with a changeable, imaginative menu. Worth a try if we’re down that way over the weekend I think.

It was a good job we got there quickly as there weren’t many tables and those that were free after we had placed our order soon filled up. After that there was a procession of people trying to find a seat or looking in the window and walking past. We found out later that it was the only café open in the town. There were others, but they were all shut. At least one of them only being open 3 days a week.

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(Two cafés – both closed)

After finishing our brew we went for a wander around the small town. There were a number of interesting looking shops but they were all shutting up. They all seemed to only open at 10 and shut at 4:30. Even the tourist office shut at 4. There were a lot of disappointed looking day trippers wandering around the streets and sitting on benches waiting for time to leave! It was a good job it wasn’t raining.

Although today Sedbergh, which is only a few miles from Kendal, is in Cumbria, until 1974 it was in the West Riding of Yorkshire. That explains why it is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Historically, other than agriculture, the main industry was the production of woollen garments. Knitted clothing, including hats and socks was produced in workers’ own homes from yarn produced in nearby woollen mills, and then were sold on by local merchants . That industry is long gone. Today, the main employer is the public school which dominates the south end of the village.

It’s a small town which very much feels that it’s been left behind by the 21st Century.  We were able to walk around almost all of it in about 20 minutes.

The parish church dedicated to St Andrew dates from the 12th century, although, like many old churches it has been restored over the years. We didn’t have chance to have a look inside.

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The buildings were predominantly stone cottages, many of them clearly quite old.

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Like Kendal many of the older dwellings are clustered in “yards” – narrow lanes off the main street, running more or less perpendicular to it.

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The buildings here were both places to live and to work. This is a very typical example of an old worker’s cottage in, appropriately enough, Weaver’s Yard

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Never buildings at the north end of town which we passed on our way to and from the fells were also built in stone

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or with vernacular features, like the porch on this more modern house

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Sedbergh calls itself England’s official Book Town inspired by Hay on Wyre. There are a small number of dedicated book shops, but most other types of shops also had a selection of second hand books on sale.

All in all a very pleasant, attractive little town and it would be worth spending some more time there. It would be a good base for exploring the area and the fells and hills in the vicinity. And it would be interesting to have a mooch around the shops – providing we visited after 10 and before 4 or 4:30 on a day when they’re open!