Monthly Archives: December 2015

Pottering on the fells.

In his chapter on Potter Fell, in the Outlying Fells guide, Wainwright states – “it behoves a walker subject to sudden maladies to endure a companion on this expedition” As I seem to be now inflicted with ‘sudden maladies’ I called upon Sir Hugh to accompany me, besides he has a more suitable car for navigating the presently troubled lanes in The Lake District. So we found ourselves parked up on a lane north of the River Kent near Staveley. A flooded beck [a lovely north country term] had devastated a bridge on its way to join the Kent, we have just experienced storms Desmond and Eva. Today is clear but tomorrow along comes Frank!

A man and his dog were walking by and I broached the subject of the local flooding, shaking his head he told me of the farmer from the fellside above who, whilst tending his sheep, had slipped into the said beck and was washed away into the Kent. His body was found near Kendal – a sobering thought to start the day. Our walk started up the lane to his remote farm and as we passed I would have doffed my cap if I had been wearing one, its a hard life farming these fells.

Its a hard life.

Its a hard life.

The first top was surprisingly craggy [a taste of things to come] and we gazed south to Sir Hugh’s house at Arnside. Onwards to Brunt Knott we met a local  Xmas family outing, stopped for pleasantries and were soon quite rightly involved discussing the problems of over grazing and lack of trees contributing to the serious flooding. Every one up here is becoming concerned  and are conscious of a lack of guidance or even sensible practical will from our southern politicians.

There was a stone trig point on Brunt Knott [427m] from where we tried to identify the surrounding hills of Kentmere and Longsleddale. One has a different perception of the supposedly familiar landscape from these lesser fells. Looking north we couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t included a higher top of 429m in Sleddale Forest in this round, miles later we were glad we hadn’t.

Approaching Brunt Knott.

Approaching Brunt Knott.

The whole area is rough craggy fellsides which we found difficult to navigate, even with Sir Hugh’s electronics. Intervening walls unfortunately had to be  climbed, our increasing inelegance becoming a source of mirth. Photos deleted.  Passing over an unnamed summit on the list we focused on the prominent  cairn on Ulgraves and deviously  eventually reached it. What a surprise. It is perched on the very edge of these Potter Fells and looked straight down and up into an unfortunately mirky Longsleddale.  To the south the Howgills were prominent once we had orientated ourselves in this complex terrain.

Longsleddale.

Longsleddale.

Distant Howgills.

Distant Howgills.

Things became easier as we picked up tracks to picturesque Gurnal Dubs, with its boat house, and then Potters Tarn. These waters are both dammed and originally serviced the paper mills at Burnside.

In the maze towards Gurnal Dubs.

In the maze towards Gurnal Dubs.

We found a way down alongside a rampant beck to the road and a rendezvous with our transport as the daylight disappeared. So much for an easy half day, this was a proper Lakeland Fell walk. I had forgotten my altimeter but reckoned on climbing 1500ft.  Tomorrow I could be be clinging to Preston climbing wall or shopping in the sales as Frank passes by, guess which wins.

 

 

As usual check out http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/ for the true story.

Don’t let the sun go down on me – Knipescar.

Knipescar.

                                                                            Knipescar.

Having descended to Askham from a good half day’s walk on Heughscar Hill I was not keen to risk again the flooded lanes around Penrith and chose to drive south to Shap. The distinctive Knipescar appeared up to my left, I pulled into a layby  to consult Wainwright and the map – an ideal quickie. Parked at the bottom of the lane to Scarside Farm I was in too much of a rush in the late afternoon and had gone well up before realising I’d forgotten my camera. Running back down I greeted four others going up for a late visit. Once camera reunited and relaxed on the lovely limestone promenade along the scar I could take in views of Haweswater, Cross Fell and now distant Blencathra. To my right was a substantial wall, the boundary of Lowther Castle estate. I soon reached  the summit in a maze of limestone pavement with several contrasting erratic boulders dumped by retreating glaciers. Those other four seem to have disappeared – where could they have gone at this time of night?

Erratic boulder, Knipescar and distant Blencathra.

                                          Erratic boulder, Knipescar and distant Blencathra.

My search in the limestone pavements for the stone circle/enclosure marked on the map was fruitless, I couldn’t even locate the Ministry of Works sign mentioned by Wainwright and as the light faded I didn’t fancy braking an ankle up here. So I headed back as the shadows lengthened and the temperature dropped. The sun went down as I reached the farm lane.

Where is the 'stone circle'?

                                                          Where is the ‘stone circle’?

 

Evening Shadow.

Evening Shadow.

The sun goes down.

                                                The sun goes down.

The end of a beautiful day.

 

HEUGHSCAR ANTIQUITIES.

The Summit Of Heughscar looking to Ullswater.

                                                     The Summit Of Heughscar looking to Ullswater.

Escaping from local flooding on the Calder and Ribble I headed up the M6.  It wasn’t as easy to  get to the little village of Askham as I thought, every lane after the motorway seemed to be closed due to floods or damaged bridges. I was doubting my wisdom of driving into the Lakes, such was the devastation from the recent heavy rain. But the day was sunny and dry and an ideal time for more limestone walking amongst Wainwright’s Outlying Fells, my project for this winter. I avoided the quick dash to the summit and back and enjoyed his suggested walk around Heughscar Hill. The area had abundant Bronze Age cairns,  stone circles, a Roman Way and medieval quarries to explore. Paths went everywhere  which helped the wandering. From the summit and a limestone escarpment were views into Ullswater and surrounding mist topped hills. Blencathra’s ridges could just be discerned.   As it was the Sunday after Xmas the area was popular with crowds of friendly walkers, going in all directions, and despite Wainwright promoting this Fell for old gits like me families and young children were in the majority.

A wet Roman Road, Heughscar and distant Pennines.

                                              A wet Roman Road, Heughscar and distant Pennines.

Moor Divock with a couple of Bronze Age picnickers.

                                                   Moor Divock with a couple of Bronze Age picnickers.

Blencathra.

                                                                          Distinctive  Blencathra.

I ended up at The Cop Stone, a standing stone, with views down to Shap with the Howgills behind. As I returned to Askham the ornate Lowther Castle acted as a foreground to Cross Fell throwing off its mantle of cloud, the Radar station on adjacent Great Dun Fell shining in the sunshine. As an aside I remember well as a teenager camping up there on The Pennine Way and experiencing the full force of the local Helm Wind. I survived the night, or rather did my Black’s Tinker cotton tent, but I retreated the next morning with my tail between my legs. This area also brings to mind an expedition I did along that Roman Way, High Street, between the forts of Brougham and Ambleside, a 25mile stroll worth doing if you can sort out the transport logistics.

The Cop Stone with distant Shap and the Howgills.

                                                    The Cop Stone with distant Shap and the Howgills.

'Burial site' with Heughscar Hill above.

                                                               ‘Burial site’ with Heughscar Hill above.

Askham, Lowther Castle and the Cross Fell group.

                                        Descending to Askham, Lowther Castle and the Cross Fell group behind.

So for pleasant walking, all round views and interesting antiquities Heughscar takes some beating, a real Lakeland gem. Lets just hope the worst of the rain is over and this part of Cumbria can start to return to normal.

 

A quickie – Cartmel Fell.

Having dropped out of the gale from Hampsfell

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/calm-before-the-storm-hampsfell/

I was rattled and in no mood to go high again. Scanning my map I thought the lowly outlier Humphrey Head would be ideal for a quick ascent. Having driven towards it I realised the flooded access road was no place to be in my low clearance car.  A quick turnaround and I was navigating the complicated narrow lanes up to Cartmell Fell Church. This is an isolated church built in about 1504 as a chapel of ease to Carmel Priory. It has a squat functional construction, at one with the surrounding fells. The interior is welcoming with notable ornate wooden pews.    On the walls of the chancel are boards painted with the Lords prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments.

From here it was an easy dash up the rough fellside to the prominent stone cairn [The Old Man] on Raven’s Barrow. The highest point of the fell was a few metres SW. There were views to the Coniston Fells and over the still waterlogged Winster valley. The sun was beginning to set and the wind becoming colder so I didn’t linger. Better get home for Christmas and before little Eva arrives.

 

‘Calm’ before the storm – Hampsfell.

Desmond has passed, but left it’s toll of flooding in Cumbria, and now little Eva is approaching. After a night of more rain the day improved so I had a late drive up to the Lakes. Consulting my Wainwright Outlying Fells I chose Hampsfell as today’s destination. I now realise there is a ring of limestone to the south of the Lakes and in this rain soaked month they hold the promise of better walking underfoot, several of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells occupy this region. Having said  that there were some muddy paths out of Lindale but once on the fell things improved. This was a land of limestone pavements and miniature edges with paths going everywhere. I chose one that led me to the summit and walked up into a gale, with constant battering I wondered whether any of my photos would be in focus. There were birds’ eye views down to the Kent estuary with Arnside and Ingleborough in the distance.The highest point has an unusual ‘Hospice’, built in 1846 under instruction of a vicar of Cartmel  as a shelter for travellers. The substantial structure has a flight of steps leading to the roof and an unusual view finder, an alidade, which act as a pointer to the surrounding fells. Today it was virtually impossible to stand on the roof let alone line up the views. Back in the calm interior of the  shelter I was able to read the cryptic poems displayed on the walls. Above the entrance is a Greek inscription which translates as ‘rosy-fingered dawn’, a phrase apparently used by Homer  referring to Eos, goddess of dawn.  According to Greek mythology, Eos’s task was to open the gates of Heaven each morning to allow the sun to rise, a romantic idea which could be put to the test by spending a night in here and witnessing the phenomenon. Today I could only view Morecambe Bay to the south and the misty Lakeland Hills in the rest of the compass.  I forced my way along the ridge in the gale force wind in a northerly direction, the Cumbrian Fells in front of me. Dropping off the ridge field paths took me back to Lindale. My only problem was a large bull in one field, I trespassed in the adjoining field to avoid it, I would rather face an angry farmer than an angry bull.

Catch it while you can … a Ribble Round.

Perception of our weather can sometimes belie reality. It seems as though it has rained for a month, in fact it largely has but there have been a few windows of brightness. The forecast, why are we so dependent, hinted at a dry Sunday morning but with worse to come. Catch it while you can.  So a quick dash for a couple of hours walking by the River Ribble from the graceful bridge at Ribchester. This was once a favourite walk with my young family and later with my ageing father.

Perversely within a few minutes of starting it was raining  but within a few more minutes there was blue sky and rainbows were appearing.. This is part of The Ribble Way. The banks of the river show the aftermath of recent flooding, debris washed up 2 or 3 meters above the normal level. Unfortunately plastic seems prominent along the ‘high’ water mark.

The path is forced away from the river edge after a mile or so. There is an anglers’  track continuing but we are denied it, although I have on previous occasions followed it. Having spent some time this year in Bavaria and Austria, where recreational paths seem to have higher prominence, I ponder what damage we could inflict on the angling community. How have the privileged classes hung on to this injustice, higher up the river things get worse where ‘public’ paths have been closed. This is supposed to be The Ribble Way. The only benefit was that as you climbed away from the river views opened up to Pendle and the distant Dinkley footbridge.

Soon I was crossing that bouncy Dinkley suspension bridge back over the turbulent Ribble, the floods last week must have been a few inches below the bridge. Previously there was a ferry at this spot until the bridge was opened in 1951.  I walked back along the river bank with a chatty lady and four dogs. Before the road is Sail Wheel where the river does a dog leg and interesting currents and eddies develop below the rocks.

 

The road back passes  grandiose gates giving access  to  extensive meadows which  occasionally host the Royal Lancashire Show. The success annually depends upon the amount of summer rain and mud, not possibly the best site. White Elephant springs to mind……

Rain settled in again as I reached my car and probably will continue to the end of the year. At least I caught a little sunshine.