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