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.
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 overgrazing and lack of trees contributing to the serious flooding. Everyone 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.
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 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.
Things became easier as we picked up tracks to picturesque Gurnal Dubs, with its boathouse, and then Potters Tarn. These waters are both dammed and originally serviced the paper mills at Burnside.
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 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.