Tag Archives: Lake District.

STAY LOCAL PLEA. CONISTON MRT.

This is a copy of a Facebook page for Coniston Mountain Rescue today.

It is worth reading in full and disseminating widely in the outdoor community. 

 

Hello All,

Hopefully, you’re all managing to stay safe and healthy through the Covid-19 pandemic.

We know that many of you will be desperate to get back on the fells and trails, and to get your Lake District “fix”. The relaxation of the Coronavirus lockdown may have been music to your ears when the Prime Minister stated that it is now Ok to drive any distance to take your exercise. This came as a total surprise to us as a Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), Cumbria Police, Cumbria Tourist Board, The Lake District National Park and also The National Trust. Simply, the Lake District is NOT ready for a large influx of visitors. The hospitality sector remains closed, some car parks may be re-opening, along with some toilet facilities, but this is an enforced opening due to this announcement to cater for those that do decide to come, rather than an invitation.
Why are we, Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, so concerned about the relaxation of the travel to exercise rules? Maybe if we talk you through what happens it may explain why we’re worried.

Firstly, we are all volunteers – most of us have day jobs from which we take time off to deal with incidents during work hours, or time out of the rest of our lives “out of hours”, and secondly most of us have families who we need to protect.

How a rescue might play out during the Covid-19 pandemic:-
1. Paul and Sarah came up from Preston, and have summited the Old Man of Coniston, had their lunch and set off down towards Goats Water.
2. Paul slips and hears a crack from his left ankle, Sarah tries to help, but Paul can’t put weight on his ankle which is at a funny angle anyway. Paul is 15 stone and 6ft 2 tall. Sarah is fit but no way could she help Paul back down.
3. Sarah dials 999, remembers to ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue, the operator takes the details and asks a lot of questions to assess the Covid-19 risk posed by both Paul & Sarah to the MRT, and subsequently to Ambulance and medical staff that will need to treat Paul.
4. In the meantime, four groups of people come by, they all say they’d love to help but haven’t got any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and must socially distance themselves by at least 2 metres.
5. The Police alert Coniston MRT to the incident via SARCALL, and the Duty Team Leader (TL) calls Sarah, having sent her a link by text for her to click on to confirm their exact position, and asks more questions, to work out the resources needed.
6. The TL then calls other members of the Leader Group to discuss the requirements and decides a 10 member group is required on the hill and alerts the Team to that requirement.
7. The Team numbers are depleted anyway, we have a number of people who contribute massively to the Team generally but are over 70 years old, i.e. higher risk group, we have people who may be shielding a family member, or at risk themselves due to underlying medical conditions that normally wouldn’t be an issue. So a team of 10 assemble at the MRT base, plus someone to run the base – this person is important as it helps with coordination of other services letting the hill party get on with the job.
8. All members are briefed regarding the incident, and check all are happy with the unknown invisible risk posed by the incident; the risk of walking up the fell is taken as read and a baseline anyway. All PPE is checked.
9. Team members climb aboard two of the Team’s three vehicles. Why only two when social distancing could be better in 3 vehicles? The need to decontaminate the vehicles on return probably outweighs the advantage of social distancing, and it leaves another vehicle able to respond to any other incidents.
10. Normally the Team would mobilise within 10-15 minutes of this type of call, due to all the pre-checks, personnel checks etc., the time elapsed thus far is 45 minutes.
11. The vehicles arrive at the road head, one last check on PPE and kit for the incident, including radios, and the Team sets off for the casualty site. Walking time to site is around 45-60 minutes.
12. The Team can’t call on the Air Ambulance for support as they’re off-line for this type of incident due to staff being redeployed elsewhere in the NHS or due to other priorities and risk factors so cannot support. Similar with Coastguard Helicopters…
13. On site, one casualty carer and one assistant will approach the casualty with as much PPE on as possible, and may well apply PPE to the patient before carrying out a full primary survey, in this case that’s simple, Paul’s ankle is (probably) broken, and there are no other underlying medical factors like a head injury, multiple other injuries or catastrophic bleeding.
14. The casualty carer and helper would normally give Paul some Entonox (pain killing gas) while they straighten his ankle to ensure a pulse at the foot and also maybe a pain killing injection. The injection takes 15 mins or so to work, but Entonox is not given because of the potential risk of contamination. However, the foot needs straightening ASAP to restore the pulse in Paul’s foot. Paul screams as the casualty carer re-aligns the foot (it’s called reducing the injury) to restore circulation and allow for splinting.
15. Paul’s ankle is splinted and although he’s still in pain, it’s less than it was and the painkilling injection is starting to take effect. Time elapsed since Paul fell is now 2 hours 15 mins.
16. The Team moves in and helps Paul on to the stretcher, the stretcher is made of stainless steel and heavy, it is about 2.5 metres long and maybe 0.6 metres wide, usually it takes 8 people to carry a loaded stretcher, they cannot socially distance.
17. The Team carries Paul down to the Walna Scar road, where they’ve asked a North West Ambulance Service land ambulance to meet them to reduce potential contamination at base. The carry down has taken 2 hours, so now it’s 4 hrs 15 since Paul fell. Paul is transferred to the Ambulance and taken to Furness General Hospital. Sarah can’t drive, but can’t go in the Ambulance either. How can the Team get Sarah re-united with Paul and then how do they both get home to Preston when Paul is fixed? What happens to their car? In normal circumstances we can fix these issues, not so easy in the Covid-19 pandemic.
18. The Team returns to base and starts to decontaminate the stretcher, the vehicles, the non-disposable medical equipment, the splint and themselves. Jackets and other clothing are all bagged ready to go in their washing machines when they get home, which takes a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Total time elapsed 5hrs 30 minutes. Total man-hours 10 folk on the hill plus 1 running base = 60.5 man-hours.
19. Paul is admitted to Furness General Hospital after a wait of 1 hour at A&E. He is taken to cubicles and X Rayed to understand his ankle injury better. He is also routinely tested for Covid-19. Paul’s ankle needs an operation to pin it as the break is a bad one.
20. Paul’s Covid-19 test comes back positive. Oh dear! Paul is asymptomatic, he has the virus but is either naturally immune or has not yet developed symptoms. The message is passed back to Coniston MRT, who then have to check the records of those on the incident. Every one of them, the ten people on the incident and the base controller, must now self isolate and so must their families, so now we have maybe 35 people all having to self-isolate. Plus possibly the Ambulance crew and their families.
21. Three days later Eric from Essex decides he wants to come to Coniston to do the 7 Wainwrights in the Coniston Fells. He sets off, and completes Dow Crag, the Old Man, Brim Fell along to Swirl How and Great Carrs and across to Grey Friar, then on up to Wetherlam. Eric puts his foot down on a rock, the rock moves and Eric is in a heap on the floor, his foot is at a funny angle…he gets his phone out and dials for Mountain Rescue… but there are only three people available from the Coniston Team now, so the decision needs to be taken by the Coniston MRT duty leader which Team to call to support, Neighbouring Teams are Langdale-Ambleside and Duddon & Furness MRT’s. The issue is, they’re in the same situation as Coniston with people self-isolating due to potential contamination, or their members are keyworkers in the NHS and can’t deploy on MRT incidents.
So – we’re asking you to think twice, even three times before you embark upon travelling to the Lake District for your exercise. The risk, however small, is real, and I write this as an MRT member for over 30 years with probably around 1000 incidents under my belt, I know, accidents happen.

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 14. Ulverston to Furness Abbey.

                                                                          Furness Abbey.

I’m away early from Ulverston station, the footpaths are slippery with ice. Houses are soon left behind as I take a well-worn track down into a small valley and up the other side to Swarthmoor Hall. This C16 house belonged to Judge Fell and his wife who befriended George Fox, founder of the Quaker Movement.  Fox bought a property around the corner to be used as a Quaker Meeting House with an associated burial ground. The hall was closed today but I was able to wander into the grounds, it has an impressive set of bay windows on the east side. The Meeting House was also closed and I could only peep through the gate.

Back on the route, a quiet lane, I have time to look around. There is that iconic tower above Ulverston with the southern Lakeland Fells behind and down there is the Glaxo works and the Leven Estuary. Annoyingly the low sun is directly in front of me obscuring lower Furness. Once into fields, I look out for an Iron Age fort on Skelmore Heads to my right, I just about make it out on top of a low limestone escarpment, what a view though. Down below me is a large tarn and the village of Great Urswick. On the way in I chat to a farmer with a cage of ferrets, I haven’t seen one for years yet all my uncles used to have them for catching rodents.

The village consists of lots of interesting cottages surrounding the tarn, a well-hidden gem off the beaten track. I knew of the church but I first came across one of those ‘tin tabernacles’ erected in 1915 and now used by the United Reformed Church.

The Parish Church of St.Mary and St. Micheal was along the way hidden in trees. It is reputedly the oldest church in Furness, maybe 10th Century and predating Furness Abbey. The outside looked old but inside was much changed. When I entered there were two local ladies giving the church a good clean, hoovering and polishing. Work stopped as they gave me a guided tour of the interior. Of note was an ancient C9th cross, wood carvings by Alec Miller in 1910s, a triple-layered pulpit with a sounding board, some interesting stained glass and a C18th painting of The Last Supper by local artist James Cranke who was a tutor to a young Kendal artist George Romney. Onwards, this is going to be a long day, I take old byways to Little Urswick and then climb the limestone escarpment of Urswick Crags I’m interested in the ancient settlement marked on the map and need GPS to locate it. Two areas of stone walls are found, one squarish and the other circular amongst the limestone outcrops.

Great Urswick and Tarn with Skelmore Heads and my descent track behind.

Ancient track.

Ancient settlement.

Once over the crags, I pick up an enclosed track ahead with Black Coombe in the distance. The soil now has changed to the red colour normally associated with Furness and it sticks to your boots. Changing direction to Standing Tarn. The water level is high.

 

I’m glad to escape the heavy red soil and walk on roads into Dalton. Rows of cottages were built for the iron ore miners back in the late C19th, now upgraded with satellite dishes and cars.

The middle of town is a conservation area but many of the old buildings have been mutilated by commercial development. Things are better from the Market Square upwards with the castle tower and church dominating the scene. Lots of cottages with several courtyards. The Castle Pele Tower was built by the monks of Furness Abbey in 1330 as a place of refuge. The  Church of St. Mary was designed on the site of a much earlier church by that well known architectural firm, Paley and Austin, 1885. Built with sandstone with chequerwork decoration. The lane by the church takes me out of Dalton through fields towards my final destination, Furness Abbey. I walk down a road to an entrance gate into Furness Abbey. It is closed but I can walk around it on a public road. A Savignac abbey was established in Tulketh, Preston in 1123 but moved north to this Furness valley and was later absorbed by the Cistercians. To reach here the traveller had to cross the tidal sands of Morecambe Bay and the Leven Estuary. The abbey provided guides for these crossings. Despite the aspirations of the Cistercians to lead a simple and austere life acquisition of wealth, property and trade soon had Furness Abbey second only to Fountains Abbey in riches. At Dissolution the land was given to Thomas Cromwell and later transferred to the Cavendishes of Holker Hall. Now the ruins are in the hands of English Heritage. The main ruins are the church and cloisters as well as dormitories, infirmary and lay buildings, all laid out in classical monastic style.

The setting in this valley and the extent of the remains make this a fitting end to my Monastic Way through the ‘old’ Lancashire. Well, almost for I have to walk further south to a rail station. A green valley has a fine little stream and over it is the medieval three arched Bow Bridge built for the monks to access a mill. I’ve explored many unknown areas, met some very friendly people, learnt a bit more history, visited fine religious sites and completed before the year’s end. Here’s to 2020.

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WALK. 13. Ulverston and Conishead Priory.

                                                            Chapel Island Leven Estuary.

I avoided crossing the Leven Estuary sands by taking the train from Cartmel to Ulverston.  In the estuary is Chapel Island. In the 14th century, Augustinian monks from  Conishead Priory built a small chapel on the island to serve the needs of travellers using the ancient crossing from Cartmel to Conishead.

But first a little tour of Ulverston.

The station was designed by the renowned Lancaster architects Paley and Austin for the Furness Railway in 1873. This railway was independently operated between 1846 and 1923, originally conceived as a mineral line supplying iron ore to Barrow but soon passengers were using the service from Carnforth to Barrow and beyond. Prior to this, the only road to the area crossed those treacherous Morecambe Bay tidal sands. The station itself is red sandstone with some ornate metal and glass awnings. Inside the waiting room are two original cast iron seats with the squirrel motif from the Furness Railway. The crest of the railway was based on Furness Abbey’s seal. Interestingly throughout Ulverston are placed 50 seats, all numbered, based on the same design donated by Glaxo to commemorate 50 years production in the town.

The most celebrated statue in town is of homeboy Stan Laurel with Oliver Hardy and a dog. It was unveiled by Ken Dodd in 2009.      Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into !” Ulverston’s maze of streets has many fine Georgian and Victorian listed buildings. The market area seems to have lots of small independent shops which attract tourists and locals alike, not to mention all the old inns.

Close to the centre is the run down Hartley’s Brewery closed in 1991 after 236 years brewing, bought by Robinsons and production transferred to Cheshire. Nearby is Oddfellows Hall in an old church with a link to Furness Abbey. Looking up as you walk through the streets there is the sight of a 100ft  monument on Hoad Hill. Built in the style of a lighthouse in 1850 to commemorate Sir John Barrow, born in Ulverston and a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society.Walking down the elegant curving Sunderland Terrace brought me to the basin of the Ulverston Canal. This straight mile and a half canal was opened in 1796 to transport iron ore, shipbuilding was also an important trade based on the canal. The stroll down the canal was a popular walk this morning with the locals. Along the way are large metal sculpture relating the history and several of those numbered blue seats.

Glaxo seat number one.

Halfway down was the rusting rolling bridge, a complicated structure that carried a rail line into the ironworks but could be rolled aside to allow ships to pass. It was on the site of the ironworks, closed in 1938, that Glaxo started producing antibiotics in 1948 and whose large factory dominates this end of Ulverston.

At Canal Foot are the sea locks and access across to the Bay Horse, an old coaching inn from when the route was across the sands. A bridleway sign pointing to the sands and sea states “This route has natural hazards” an understatement. There are views across the sands to Cartmel with the Leven Rail Viaduct. Down the estuary is Chapel Island mentioned above.

A detour around the Glaxo works and on past the slag heaps from the ironworks and I was on a pebble beach opposite Chapel Island. Permissive paths ran from the beach into woods, the grounds of Conishead Priory. Conishead was originally founded by the  Augustinians in the C12th as a hospital for the poor and was a priory until Dissolution, nothing is left of it now. The present Gothic building dates from 1821 built for a Lancashire family, the Braddylls. The house passed through several hands before in the thirties being used as a Durham Miners convalescent home. It was sold on and fell into disrepair before being purchased in 1975 by a Buddhist community who have slowly carried out restoration. There is a lively cafe and a shop on the ground floor.

In the grounds of the house, the Buddhists have built a modern ‘Peace Temple’. Prayers were in progress so I didn’t go inside. My curiosity satisfied I walked back along the road into Ulverston with the  Hoad monument as a constant beacon ahead of me.

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 12. Grange to Cartmel and Cark.

                                                     Hampsfell Hospice.

There are brown signs off the motorway now for the Lakeland Penninsulars. What are they? – well, presumably Cartmel, Furness and Copeland. Lancashire previously hosted Furness and Cartmel and hence they are included in this walk. Today I’ll briefly cover the Cartmel Peninsula which I reached by train although travellers of old, on foot, would have taken the perilous crossing of the Kent Estuary. From the station at Grange, I walk into the bustling town, but only as far as  S Cafe in one of the Victorian Arcades, opposite the duck pond. Once that coffee pleasantry was over a short walk up Windermere Road and I took a signed path into Eggerslack Woods. Hampsfield rather than Hampsfell though I hoped they would be the same. This is limestone country encircling the southern Lake District. For about a mile I followed a good path through trees; birch, holly and yew. I suspect that this area would have been heavily coppiced in the past perhaps for bobbins for the textile mills and for wood for charcoal burning,

Climbing a stile suddenly brings you out onto the open fell with paths going everywhere. I select a well-walked route that fortunately steers me directly to the Hospice on the summit. I kept looking behind as views over the Kent Estuary opened up with Arnside Knott dominating the coast. I was last here whilst exploring the ‘Wainwright Outlying Fells’  4 years ago almost to the day so I won’t repeat all the information. For more history look here. The shelter was erected in 1846 by a vicar from Carmel for the benefit of walkers so is not a hospice in the traditional sense. From up here, I can see down into Cartmel with the Priory prominent and behind Mount Barnard where perhaps the first priory was established. That visit 4years ago also included an ascent of Cartmell Fell from a little church that happens to be a Chapel of Ease to today’s priory.

 

A steep descent brings you into the back of the village and directly to Cartmel Priory. As I  entered through the graveyard I noticed that a large fenced off area of graves is grazed by sheep, unusual. The priory was established by William Marshall in 1188 and now all that remains is the church and a gatehouse. The Augustinians had allowed the locals to worship here and at Dissolution, the church was spared even if its roof was destroyed. A benefactor, George Preston of nearby Holker Hall, reroofed the church in the C17. The exterior of the priory is noted for the upper tower built diagonally on the Norman one.

Once inside the grandeur of the church is revealed – a massive nave with a dominant East Window containing medieval glass. The choir stalls from the C13 – 14 are famous for their mouldings and inventive misericords. The wood has an ancient feel to the touch.

Elsewhere is the elaborate tomb of Lord Harrington who may have slain the last wolf in the kingdom. at nearby Humphrey Head. There are graves to people lost in crossing the sands of Morecambe Bay. At one time the Priory was responsible for providing guides for those crossings. Skull and crossbones decoratives are on several graves.

In a corner of the church is an alcove with a loaf of bread bequeathed by Rowland Briggs in the C18 to the poor of the parish and the tradition is maintained to this day.

Completing the interest is Cromwell’s Door which shows bullet holes either fired by villagers on the Roundheads or by the visiting army itself.

The only other original remnant of the priory is the Gatehouse on the edge of the village square. Everywhere was busy with festive celebrations.

From the village square, with its ancient cross, I walked across the racecourse to join a track going all the way to Holker Hall. Holker Hall was closed and nothing can be seen of it from the road although the estate buildings are of interest. Down the road, I walked into Cark alongside the River Eea on its way from Cartmell to the Leven Estuary. The station at Cark was soon reached concluding a short but enjoyable stroll of considerable interest.

 

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 14. HONISTER TO BUTTERMERE.

  Haystacks.

Haystacks didn’t make it into A Wainwright’s top ten fells but he loved the place so much that he had his ashes scattered by Innominate Tarn on its flanks. And so our journey through his life and works comes to an end. Looking back on Nick Burton’s Wainwright’s Way, from Blackburn to Buttermere, I can say every day has been enjoyable and would highly recommend it to anyone regardless of the AW associations. A journey through northern hills as varied as any.

The car park at Honister is packed, people having left early to reach the summit of Great Gable for the Fell and Rock Climbing Club remembrance service. We have the track up into the abandoned mines virtually to ourselves. At 11am we hear the atmospheric bugle call from Gable.

Across the way are more abandoned levels and inclines next to the rather spooky climbing venue of Buckstone How, in centre of the picture. Looking back snow-topped Helvellyn shone out.

Our way came past an MBA bothy in an old mine building, Dubs Hut. We wondered if it had been occupied the night before. We did meet one chap who had spent the night camped atop Fleetwith Pike, seen going down the track. As we followed the old mine tramway we got our first glimpse of Haystacks with Pillar and High Crag behind.

There was a drop in height to cross Warnscale Beck and then begin the winding path up the flanks of Haystacks. Top of Haystacks arrowed.

From time to time to distract us, there were stunning views down to the Buttermere valley.

A Wainwright. 1973.

The way was rough and undulating until suddenly we were on the shores of Innominate Tarn, AW’s last resting place, his ashes having been carried up by his widow, Betty, with Percy Duff and his two sons. March 22nd 1991. A beautiful place with Gable and Pillar as a background. His famous quote from Fellwanderer reflecting his often hidden humour – “And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me.”

A Wainwright. 1973.

Cleaning our boots we scrambled up onto the summit ridge of Haystacks to be joined by many more enjoying the splendid clear November day. There were paths everywhere through the rocks and there was, surprisingly, a tarn almost at the summit. An unexpected view down Ennerdale from the top. Most people had come up from the Buttermere Valley via Scarth Gap and several scrambles to the top. We were now faced with this steep dropoff which Sir Hugh’s two mechanical knees objected to. As stoical as ever he made the descent slowly but surely, onlookers were impressed.  Once down the worst, we stopped in Scarth Gap for a bit of lunch.

Crowds going up.

Sir Hugh coming down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The long descent from Scarth Gap, across the side of High Crag, went on forever but our route around the west side of Buttermere Lake was a joy. Eyes kept looking back to the rocky Haystacks and its neighbour Fleetwith Pike.

Our final destination was to be the little church of St. James to view the Wainwright Memorial window but we were thwarted by a remembrance service taking place.

VisitCumbria image.

VisitCumbria image.

We were content to stand outside listening to that evocative bugle call –

*****

WAINWRIGHT WAY. 13. ROSTHWAITE TO HONISTER.

A wintery interlude.

This was a short walk, not necessarily in sequence, bridging a gap in our WW progress through the Lakes. It had been a wild night with snow falling on the tops and we were in full waterproofs when we left the tiny village of Rosthwaite following AW’s Coast to Coast Walk. 

Field paths soon had us alongside the River Derwent at Longthwaite. All these ‘thwaites’ in the area derive from the Norse meaning of clearing or meadow. In the meadow here were some camping pods alongside the YHA as well as a collection of boots.

There was a short stretch of rocky scrambling by the river protected by chains, not quite a Via Ferrata. You have to go up to Honister for a full Via Ferrata experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn colours accompanied us to Seatoller. We passed above the Glaramara Hotel where we had spent a very comfortable night. In the background were Glaramara Fell itself and Seathwaite Fell leading to Esk Hause in the clouds.

Seatoller was sleepy and the 17th Century Yew Tree Inn seems to have become holiday accommodation. Cottages here were occupied by German miners back then digging for graphite seams.

A Wainwright. 1973.

We were to join the old toll road leading to the Honister Green Slate mines. A steep stepped path gained height quickly and we were then above the modern road making good progress against the wind and rain.

The old road was intact for most of the way and lead us straight into the quarries at the pass.

Honister Mine still produces green slate but has diversified into an ‘adventure experience’ with mine trips and Via Ferrata. That steep track ahead is our way up to the final day on Haystacks.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 12. LANGDALE TO ROSTHWAITE.

Zigzagging to Borrowdale.

I walked the Cumbria Way with one of my sons in 1988. It follows a mainly low-level route for 70 miles through the Lake District from Ulverston to Carlisle. We had enjoyed a traditional, comfortable night in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and then the next day walked over the Stake Pass down into Borrowdale and on to Keswick. The route passes from what was Westmorland into Cumberland and that is what we had in store for today, albeit only as far as Rosthwaite. The clocks have gone back and day light is getting short. Add to that we have created for ourselves an awkward drive for two cars – one at either end of Borrowdale and Langdale. Sir Hugh loves to be up and away before light but I’m a night owl and like my mornings to start slowly, preferably after a cup of coffee at 9am. So it was a shock for my system to be getting out of bed at 5am and on the road 30minutes later.

Once again beautiful early light shone on the Langdale Pikes as we started the route up the valley.

The last time we were both here was the sad occasion of scattering our friend Tony’s ashes. A little ‘ceremony’ involving flasks of tea and muesli bars with family and friends in the valley bottom below Gimmer Crag had some of his ashes duly scattered. This was followed by myself and Sir Hugh taking Tony’s son, Robert, with the remaining ashes in his rucksack, up a climb on Gimmer, Tony’s favourite Lakeland crag. I chose what I thought was an easy route for the occasion, a three-star VD, Oliverson’s Variation and Lyon’s Crawl. A long rising traverse in a superb position. We placed Robert in the middle and set off on what turned out to be an exciting exposed and in parts tricky climb right across the West Face. To help progress Sir Hugh says he had to pretend he wasn’t frightened as we coaxed an ashen-faced Robert across and up. Nevertheless, we accomplished our mission, and Tony is up on the top of Gimmer looking down upon us today.

Pike O’Stickle with Gimmer Crag further right.

Our route continues along the valley floor for about two miles and then starts a zigzagging ascent alongside the beck on a well-reconstructed stone path, Stake Pass.

Great Langdale with Bowfell up left, Rossett Gill centre and our route Stake Pass in mist right.

Heading to Stake Pass.

Looking back down Langdale was a geology lesson – U-shaped glacial valley with moraine debris.

A Wainwright. 1974.

We reached what we thought was the top just as clouds piled in from the west. There followed a strange endless hummocky plateau before we finally crested the pass and looked down into Langstrath. Down we went on a series of superb zigzags taking us right into the valley bottom. I have no recollection from the Cumbria Way of this unique path.

Alongside the path, as we descended was the lively Stake Beck cascading down rock slabs.

Sitting on rocks, enjoying lunch, we tried to make out features across the valley, there were crags everywhere but we only identified Cam Crag Ridge correctly. The track down the valley was rough and we made slow progress, enjoying the scenery and reminiscing. I had forgotten how much of a slog up the hillside on the right it was to reach Seargent Crag Slabs and lower in the valley BleakHow Buttress seemed to be disappearing under vegetation.

Bleak How.

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A Wainwright. 1973

Another enjoyable day on our Wainwright Way, not so many AW connections today but he would have appreciated those zigzags.

 

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 11. MILL BRIDGE, GRASMERE TO ODG, LANGDALE

Into the heart of Lakeland.

Today was like a walk down memory lane as the Great Langdale Valley is one of my favourites. From early days camping at the head of the valley, long hot summer days circling the fell tops, hours on the crags and leisurely pints in the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub – it all came flooding back. I’m sure that Sir Hugh and my reminisces would have been utterly boring to most of you.

What has changed over the years is the amount of traffic and people. Every car park and grass verge was full of vehicles and the villages packed with tourists. AW was complaining about the crowds back in his day and advised going out of season, the season now apparently extends throughout the year.

We started the sparkling day with a gentle stroll down lanes alongside the River Rothay passing whitewashed Lakeland cottages.

In Grasmere, we joined the throngs of people on a Wordsworth pilgrimage. Sir Hugh headed straight to Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread shop which has been trading since 1854, the shop was previously a small school where incidentally the Wordsworths had taught in the early 19th century

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Alongside is the parish church and in the graveyard are buried William Wordsworth and his family under the shade of a yew tree, one of eight planted by William,

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A Wainwright. 1974.

A lane out of the village leads to Allan Bank. This was the home of Wordsworth from 1808 to 1811 and later Canon Rawnsley, cofounder of the NT in 1895.

A Wainwright. 1974.

Our thoughts were now on the fells and the steep climb above us to reach the summit of Silver How. AW devotes a chapter to ‘a delightful’ fell in his Central Fells, Book Three of the Pictorial Guides. [my 1969 copy cost 15/-]

A Wainwright. 1958.

Silver How from Elterwater earlier in the day.

The path is well-trodden and goes through bracken and then a band of twisted juniper trees.

There are ample opportunities to rest and admire the views down into Grasmere, with Helm Crag and the Grisedale fells of yesterday in the background. A scramble into and out of a miniature rocky gill leads to the summit cone, there are more walkers approaching from several directions.

The blue sky from this morning has dulled and the sun disappeared but the views south over Grasmere, Rydal Water and Windermere and then round to the Lakeland Fells are outstanding.

It’s too cold to linger on the summit so we set off, rather too hastily, on our descent. This whole upland area is a confusion of humps and bumps with paths in all directions, we were not taking the long high-level route but the valley alternative suggested in the Wainwright Way guide. Nick Burton’s instructions, normally very clear and accurate, are a little vague and in the mist would be useless. Before long we had lost the path supposed to be besides Megs Gill and were on a compass bearing down a steep rocky hillside to pick up the path going into Langdale. The views up the valley with the Langdale Pikes were appreciated more once we were back on the way.

“All humps and bumps”

Our steep way down in red.

Great Langdale Valley.

 

What followed was a lovely stroll up the centre of the Great Langdale Valley away from the busy road with time to take in all the views and what’s more, the sun had reappeared.

As I said our attention was taken by the climbing venues above, tales of past climbs from years ago were related and no doubt repeated. Raven Crag Walthwaite, Scout Crags, White Ghyll, Pavey Arc, East Raven Crags, Raven Crag, Middle Fell Buttress, Gimmer and Bowlell all were revisited.

A Wainwright. 1974.

Scout Crags, there are climbers on the upper crag.

Dramatic White Ghyll.

East Raven Crags with Harrison Stickle behind.

Raven Crag.

To cap it off we popped into the Climbers Bar at The Old Dungeon Ghyll for a drink. Not much has changed in this room with its warming open range and wood-panelled walls. We were envious of two climbers just setting off for a couple of routes on Raven Crag directly above the pub.

The drive home through Ambleside and Windermere will be glossed over – there is no ‘out of season’ anymore.

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 10. PATTERDALE TO MILL BRIDGE, GRASMERE.

A taste of A Coast to Coast Walk.

My copy of AW’s Coast to Coast Walk is dated  1973, I backpacked it with two of my cousins in April 1979. We started on the East coast finishing through the Lake District and having lots of fun along the way:  lost tents, freezing nights. dodgy pork pies etc. I noted that our three nights camping on farm sites cost 95p in total, the rest were wild. Today’s walk follows a section of that C to C and there were plenty of people out on the footpaths enjoying the sparkling weather. It is difficult to know how many of them are walking the C to C as many now use a luggage transfer system so the sight of heavily laden backpackers is rarer. AW was keen to point out that the route was an example of what can be achieved linking public rights of way and open country to create a route of your own choice. Most people opt for ‘official’ long-distance routes but Sir Hugh and I concur with his premise, both of us having completed many miles of our own device.

There was a ground frost, snow on the tops and not a cloud in the sky as we left Patterdale before most people were about. The Post Office has the following plaques …

Round the corner was the imposing Patterdale Hotel where Sir Hugh had spent his honeymoon, he couldn’t remember which room but says he has the receipt still. Perhaps he will show it on his blog of today. Next was the church with its unusual clock tower and its new banner.

A Wainwright. 1974.

The little lane leading into Grisedale where we used to park whilst climbing or walking in the area is now a no parking zone. Pay up in the pay and display carparks. We walked on past Elmhow Barn deeper into the valley. On the left is St. Sunday Crag where I once climbed Pinnacle Ridge pursued by mountain rescue dogs thinking I was lost or dead. On the right is Eagle Crag, which I’ve climbed on several times, with some good solid middle-grade multi-pitch routes. On one occasion I left a bunch of large ‘hexes’ [pre friends] on a belay ledge and had to go back a week later to reclaim them.

Dollywagon Pike and Eagle Crag below Nethermost Pike.

Eagle Crag.

We started ascending more steeply to the old climbing hut of Ruthwaite Lodge, once I think it belonging to Sheffield University Mountaineering Club, but now restored after a fire [1993] in memory of two climbers from Outward Bound Ullswater, who lost their lives climbing Mount Cook, NZ. Up above on the slopes of Dollywagon Pike was a cliff [?Falcon crag] with a dramatic looking chimney.

Falcon Crag.

Pausing for a break we had a perfect view down Grisedale with Place Fell in the distance.

A Wainwright. 1973.

By now more people were appearing all heading to Grisedale Tarn.

There was more climbing to reach the high point of the hause, now in a bitter wind. Dropping down the other side we found a sheltered spot in the warm sun for lunch. An assortment of walkers kept passing us on the way to the top.

The route onwards was rocky and awkward but with great views to the west. Morecambe Bay and the lower end of Windermere glistened in the sun. Looking back was equally scenic with the waterfalls we had passed a feature.

We slowly reached the road as the sun dipped early with the clocks having changed this weekend. Grasmere was glimpsed our next port of call.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 9. TROUTBECK TO PATTERDALE.

A splendid Lakeland day.

We now embark on a climb from AW’s Book Two of the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells – The Far Eastern. This book was published in 1957 and my copy is well used from my days tramping these fells in the early 1970s, ‘Doing the Wainwrights’ was high on my list of activities.  He dedicates his Book Two to “The men who built the stone walls” and we saw plenty in evidence today, walls that’s to say.  AW followed this route with friends on the second day of his first holiday in the Lakes, 1930.

A Wainwright. 1957.

Our objective, High Street, was way up in the clouds as we left Limefit Park on the bridleway in Troutbeck Valley.

We had walked two and a half miles, passing The Tongue, before we were faced with any significant ascent and then the climbing began up the fellside to reach a grooved track, Scot Rake. We were now in the cloud and is was heads down for a mile of climbing with little to detract from our exertions but the skidding tyre marks of some kamikaze cyclist.

Scot Rake, much steeper than it looks.

For the first time, people were met on the ridge from Froswick to Thornthwaite Crag. Omitting the latter we wandered a bit aimlessly towards High Street with hounds sprinting surreally out of the mist. Once a wall was reached it was a simple matter to follow it to the trig point, not a place to linger with a cold wind blowing and complete cloud cover.

Only when we were further down the north ridge in the Straits of Riggindale did views start to appear and the rest of today’s walk was spread out in front of us and what a scene. Lakeland at its best. At one time I knew every fell in the Lakes but today we struggled to identify many of them.

Coming out of the clouds towards the Straits of Riggindale.

Down to Haweswater.

Hayeswater.

AW would not have approved of this ‘improved’ path.

Seclusive Martindale.

It was late when we found a semi-sheltered spot for lunch around the back of The Knott, Sir Hugh still struggling with his ill-fitting gloves. The onward track was awkwardly rocky and the strong gusts of wind made things worse so I think we made slow progress to Angle Tarn.

Angle Tarn, one of AW’s favourites.

By now most of the clouds had lifted and we could see back up to High Street and our descent route.

There were flashes of sunshine onto Brothers Water and Harsop but we kept to the higher path which weaved around rocky outcrops and along a delightful balcony path to Boardale Hause, a meeting of paths. A popular well-reconstructed path took us down into Patterdale where our car was parked opposite the White Lion.

Boardale Hause and Place Fell.

A truly enjoyable eleven miles in the footsteps of AW.

Patterdale with Grisedale, our next valley, heading into the fells.

A Wainwright. 1974.

*****

 

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 8. MITCHELLAND TO TROUTBECK.

Into Lakeland.

Autumn has come overnight with the bracken dead and leaves falling as we followed the rough moorland track towards Crag House. The infant River Gilpin is crossed on its way down to the Lyth Valley, famous for its Damson blossoms, to join the Kent into Morecombe Bay.  I’ve been here before on the final day of the Dales Way,1981, but I don’t remember or like the gaudy signs.

Next, we were heading for a group of little hills above Windermere which we last visited as part of mopping up Wainwright’s Outliers. Today we only summited School Knott. Passing on the way Schoolknott Tarn.

A Wainwright. 1974.

A rainbow heralded our arrival.

Up here one is directly above Windermere, town and lake, for a bird’s eye view but the Lakeland hills have a cloud covering.

All paths lead down towards the town which we skirt near the railway station and Windermere Hotel for a brief brush with the traffic.

WW’s next objective is Orrest Head which gave AW his first glimpse of the Lake District on the 7th June 1930 on a visit from Blackburn. “the first time I had looked upon beauty, or imagined it, even”  So this was the inspiration for his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

There were plenty of people climbing this hill today to look upon that beauty, unfortunately, the clouds marred the view. There was a glimmer of brightness way down in Morecambe Bay, most of Windermere was visible but the tops of the Coniston Hills, Langdale Pikes and the Kentmere ridge were obscured. Still, it was a good spot for lunch with its AW viewfinder. 

A Wainwright. 1974.

Grass slopes, cropped by the sheep, lead down onto a backroad near Crosses Farm. Looking at the map we realised there was no need to drop to Troutbeck Bridge as here was a  footpath signed Troutbeck. This gave easy walking via Far Orrest, where in a barn, a lad was tuning up his hillclimbing motor.

More fields passed and we were back on route at Longmire Lane heading into the hills. The tops of Coniston and Langdale were almost visible as was the western branch of the Kentmere Horseshoe. Parallel to us were the scattered white houses of Troutbeck across the valley, many sketched by AW in Westmorland Heritage. Once above Limefit Park, [seen in the above photo], we came down to the car we had parked earlier this morning. This is a luxury chalet park with all facilities, it was a farm caravan park in AW’s days. My last picture shows our way next time into the fells proper, passing the small rounded Troutbeck Tongue on its right to gain the HIgh Street ridge.

A Wainwright. 1974.

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY – A KENDAL INTERLUDE.

A Kendal snapshot.

Nick Burton’s book Wainright’s Way is far more than a walking guide as he incorporates so much well researched biographical detail of AW. Already I’ve have covered his early life in Blackburn which included a look at the town where he lived from 1907 – 1941.

Now having reached Kendal, where AW lived from 1941 until his death in 1991, Nick takes a short tour of the town pointing out places AW was associated with and I found much of interest on my stroll around. Kendal Civic Society has placed green information plaques everywhere marking historic buildings, far too many for me to mention here, all I can say is that Kendal is worth a days visit.  It was not a town I was particularly well acquainted with, in the past queuing through the main street on the way to and from the Lakes, now it is thankfully by-passed.  Visits to the climbing wall in an old milk processing mill on the outskirts gave no time for exploring the town and anyhow the traffic is awful and parking difficult.

Today I start above Kendal Green, a lovely open space, at the end of a culdesac where AW had a house built in 1949. He lived here with his first wife, Ruth, and then with his second, Betty until his death. Being elevated he had good views to the Kentmere Fells. What a contrast to Audley Range in Blackburn.

AW would walk down past Kendal Green on his way to work, this is a large open space with mature trees. Halfway down is a plaque commemorating an oak planted in 1864 to celebrate Shakespeare’s 300th birthday. I wasn’t sure that oak was still standing but there is a further plaque for one planted in 1964, 400 years since his death. The link is explained in the first plaque.

At the lower end, you arrive at Windermere Road where AW caught buses to the Lakes on a Sunday. Here also is the corner shop where he stocked up on pipe tobacco.

The long straight road into the town is  Stricklandgate leading to the distinctive Town Hall where AW worked from 1941 to 1967, becoming Borough Treasurer in 1948.

To get here I passed the  Library, Stricklandgate House, and ‘Wainwright’s Yard’ The latter a newly developed shopping arcade made more memorable by the present-day premises of Westmorland Gazette who published most of AW’s books.

The ‘yard’ is one of the dozens off the main street that at one time hosted small industries and shops, most have been altered over the years but all are numbered and can be located with a leaflet from the tourist information. One nearby is named Webster Yard after the architect who designed much of 19th-century Kendals’ prominent housing. Another is C17th Sandes Hospital built with wool money, it now encloses rebuilt almshouses designed by Webster’s firm. Apparently many of the properties AW would have known were demolished in the 1970s.

 

Sandes Hospital

I wandered into the back yard/garden of The Brewery, formerly a Vaux brewery and now an arts centre and Yough Hostel, and was delighted to see the Leyland clock which I’ve discussed in a previous post about the A6 over Shap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further on are some ornate gates that lead to Holy Trinity Church. Built when Kendal was prosperous from the wool trade it is one of the widest churches in the country with five aisles. What an amazing church.

There is the Old Grammar School and Abbot Hall and I’m on the banks of the Kent for a riverside walk. A small park had a plaque referring to K Shoes, once one of Kendal’s largest industries. Howard Somervell of Everest fame, 1920, belonged to the family running K Shoes and naturally wore Kendal-made boots on the mountain. Nearby is a record of historic flood levels.

MIller Bridge, Webster designed, was built in 1818 as part of a complex of warehouses serving the terminal basin of the Lancaster Canal. Aynam Mills were originally for the wool trade but in AW’s time were the premises of a well-known tobacco and snuff manufacturer, Illingworth’s. I became a little lost in the maze of lanes amongst all these warehouses, many being put to good use.

My route took me along an elegant Georgian terrace the home of the all-encompassing Kendal architect George Webster. A little further was another terraced area with an open space where the residents dry their clothes to this day.

I passed another church and then Castle Dairy one of the oldest occupied houses in Kendal. Apparently, the Elizabethan interior is worth viewing as part of a meal in the restaurant now in the building.

 

 

 

 

Round the corner is the town’s Museum where AW was heavily involved for the time he was in Kendal. It was closed today so I was not able to view a collection of Wainwright memorabilia.

Over the busy Victoria Bridge with associated sympathetic warehouse accommodations alongside the Kent. Ahead back on Stricklandgate was the third of Kendal’s parish churches. On the next corner are the premises of Titus Wilson, printers since 1860, AW’s first publisher.

It was now a short walk back up the side of Kendal Green.

Kendal is certainly worthy of further exploration.  I can appreciate it would be a good place to live and did I mention Kendal Mintcake?

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 7. HAWES BRIDGE TO MITCHELLAND, B5284.

Westmorland Country.

Sir Hugh and I are progressing on our Wainwright Way journey, over halfway now. We’ve been able to do at least one trip a week between other commitments and weather windows. Today we pass through Kendal, AW’s hometown from 1941 to his death in 1991, featured prominently in his Westmorland Heritage book, 1974. Then we climb Scout Scar one of AW’s The Outlying Fells, 1974, “ a pictorial guide to lesser fells .. of Lakeland written primarily for old age pensioners…”  We were hoping for good views from this fell into Lakeland and in particular the Kentmere fells leading to High Street our objective in a couple of day’s time.

The day starts well with a gentle stroll along the River Kent into Kendal, we chose a riverside option over the suggested canal route which we have both very familiar with. Perfect, sunny and clear, boding well for the day ahead. The filled-in Lancaster Canal was joined on the edge of town as it headed for defunct wharves and warehouses at the heart of a previously industrial Kendal, the coming of the canal improved the supply of coal from Lancashire to those industries. However today we were diverted up past an enormous cemetery to visit what remains of Kendal Castle on its elevated hill. AW, when he first moved here lived in a council house just to the north-west of here.

Castle Grove AW’s first house in Kendal.

Many of Kendal’s dog walkers were up here this morning enjoying the weather and views, Scout Scar was prominent to the west whilst looking north to the Lakes there were some ominous clouds on the summits. The castle has guarded over Kendal since the C12th and has apparently strong links with Katherine Parr, the 6th wife of Henry VIII.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Heading down we walked through neat Victorian terraces, crossed the River Kent on a footbridge and joined the crowds on Kendals high street. The town hall where AW was Borough Treasurer stands proud at the top of the street.  When I explored Kendal recently I was unable to find Collin Croft one of the sites sketched by  AW in his Westmorland Heritage, I tried a little harder today and we found our way into a hidden maze of alleys typical of the town.

We then walked up leafy streets heading out of town. A sign above a gateway alluded to links with a previous Presbyterian Chapel. An obelisk appeared without any information. Over the Kendal bypass, interesting milepost,  we entered fields that are marked as an old racecourse and also the start of the Lake District National Park. The sky was clouding over despite the optimistic forecast. Scout Scar, or more correctly Underbarrow Scar, is a limestone escarpment popular with the people of Kendal and today walkers and joggers appeared from all directions.  We arrived onto the ridge near a large cairn with the trig point to the north. It was then that the heavy rain hit us, views disappeared and we walked on grimly towards the ‘mushroom’  shelter. Any semi-shelter was already taken and it was too cold to hang about so we just carried on to the end of the fell, a slight anticlimax to what should have been a memorable situation. The shelter was erected in 1912 in recognition of George V’s coronation. It has a 360-degree indicator which I had been interested in viewing but all that was lost in our haste to get off the fell.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Calmer sunnier conditions returned as we walked off nearby Cunswick Scar on Gamblesmire Lane, a bridleway we followed down into a different landscape. Undulating green fields, stone walls, sheep, whitewashed squat farms all make up the Cumbrian landscape, of course in AW’s time it was Westmorland. Gamblesmire Lane, almost Quagmire Lane in parts continued through this landscape. In sections it was a unique, hedge defined rollercoaster.

We eventually found somewhere to sit and eat and then it was field after field heading towards an isolated tower. A farmer was sorting out his sheep for market and seemed keen to chat, he must lead an isolated life up here. Eventually, we reached the restored bell tower of the C17th St. Catherine’s Church, the rest of the church was demolished and a new one built a short distance away, seen in the picture below.

A Wainwright. 1975.

 

More idyllic fields were traversed and we were soon back at the car and a drive home in lovely low sun.

*****

WAINWRGHTS WAY. 6. HOLME TO HAWES BRIDGE [NATLAND]

 

 

A bit of limestone.

This walk gets better and better. We are lucky today with the weather, sun and heavy showers. We only had a few of the latter, whenever Sir Hugh put his waterproofs on the sun came out. The walk out of Holme was easy along a couple of quiet lanes which brought us to Holme Mills the linen mill I mentioned in my last post. A delightful spot with its mill pond but we had taken the wrong way and were well off course. Rewind back into Holme and we started again, this time picking up the path alongside Holme Beck with a series of squeeze stiles. These iconic stones become a feature of the day linking fields together.

We then had a few flooded fields to negotiate to reach the A6.

Safely across the floods with Farleton in the background.                                         

Now little lanes, between occasional characterful cottages, ran parallel to the A6 but in a different time zone. This is limestone country.

 

We passed the fortified farmstead of Beetham Hall, built to defend the locals from marauding Scots.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Next, we were in Beetham, a little hamlet with a long history from the Doomsday Book. I didn’t know about the village stocks until today but I’ve spent many hours in the village pub, the C17th Wheatsheaf Inn. What made Beetham prosperous was the corn mill dating from the C12th and we passed it on the River Bela.

What followed was a promenade through the parkland of Dallam Tower with its Fallow Deer wandering freely. We exited by a bridge over the River Bela before it slides into the Kent Estuary.

Milnthorpe was bypassed on an enclosed path climbing a little ridge with superb views of the Kent Estuary and the Lakeland fells ahead. Across the way was St. Anthony’s Tower a ‘folly’ erected in 1832 as a memorial to the passing of the Great Reform Act, they did things like that in those days. A folly to remember ‘Brexit’  would be very appropriate – but where would you erect it?

A Wainwright. 1975.

We popped out onto the A6 and walked down the pavement until a lane going right. Paths were followed into Heversham, crossing at one point the disused Furness rail line linking Arnside to the main west coast line at Hindcaster. We passed Dallam school, a well-respected establishment. Lunch was taken on a seat in the churchyard of St. Peter’s. There was an ancient cross [?C8th] in the porch but the inside of the church was uninspiring Victorian, having been ‘restored’ by the Lancaster firm of architects Sharpe, Paley and Austin. They were responsible for a large amount of work on churches and country houses in the north-west.

Avoiding the A6 surprisingly steep paths over little hills gave good views down the Kent Estuary, ahead to Scout Scar above Kendal and distant Kentmere with the HIgh Street range we have to tackle. Eventually, we dropped down to Levens Hall, its topiary hedges hidden behind high walls. I was looking forward to the walk alongside the River Kent in Levens Park as I have passed it so many times without venturing away from the car. It didn’t disappoint. It was a delight. Competing with Dallam Park the path climbed above the winding river through mature trees, Bagot Goats walked past us and Black Fallow Deer sprinted by.

Don’t get in my way.

 

Leaving the park we had a short stretch on the line of the Lancaster Canal with its incongruous field bridges. We left the canal at the aqueduct and skew bridge in Sedgwick visited on another occasion.

Today we walked down past Sedgwick Hall, the previous home of the Wakefield family, of gunpowder fame, to rejoin the River Kent.

A Wainwright. 1975.

A lane brought us onto its banks at a suspension bridge. The original bridge here was built in 1858 to take workers across the river to the gunpowder works on the west bank [now a caravan site] it was washed away and replaced by the current bridge,1875.

The river could be heard roaring ahead and soon we were above a gorge with great views down to the rushing waters.  The river then had a short peaceful passage before rushing once again under Hawes Bridge, all very exciting and a fitting end to today’s walk.

 

 

 

A Wainwright. 1975          

For videos of the river in spate have a look at Sir Hugh’s http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2019/10/wainwrights-way-holme-to-crowpark-bridge.html

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 5. HORNBY TO HOLME.

Let it rain.

The good weather had to end – it had been raining all night and I was half expecting a ring from Sir Hugh to call off today’s walk. No, not really, he is far more resolute than that. And anyhow it would be drier by late morning, I do miss Dianne Oxberry giving us the NW forecast but there are some interesting successors.

 

The River Wenning in Hornby was probably running a good two feet higher than when I finished my last walk.

Hornby was short-lived and we were on a lane passing the motte and bailey of  Castle Stede, C10th, somewhat obscured by trees and rain. Down below was our first view of the River Lune which we crossed on the graceful Loyn Bridge. Wainwright sketched thsese in his Lune edition. It was here we left Bowland which has provided some excellent walking in a thankfully relatively unknown backwater.

A Wainwright. 1980.

We splashed our way through soggy fields, struggled over slippy awkward stiles, jumped or waded through little temporary rivers; all the time the rain came steadily down. Everywhere was drowning.  After the Gothic style Storrs Hall a tarmacked lane gave some respite although it was more like a river in parts [damp heading photo]. It climbed over pleasant hills but the views were minimal, vaguely ahead was Hutton Roof an area of limestone outcrops which we regularly climbed on. My camera was safely stashed most of the time.

Unhelpful.

Storrs Hall.

I’d never heard of the River Keer before although I must have crossed it many times by road, rail and canal as it winds its short way onwards through Carnforth to Morecambe Bay. Today it was a raging stream barring our progress but hidden in the trees was a small bridge. Unfortunately, a sign stated it was closed as it had been partially washed away in floods, we had no option but to trust it as we couldn’t have waded the fast-flowing water.  I sent Sir Hugh across first.

Pleased with ourselves for overcoming that problem we were nearly run down by a train whilst crossing the Morecambe to Leeds line.

Oh! and it was still raining into the early afternoon. More importantly, we had just left Lancashire and entered Cumbria, formerly Westmorland. Westmorland was a county of the Lake District until in 1974 it along with Cumberland and bits of Lancashire became Cumbria. Wainwright must have had a soft spot for Westmorland because he brought out an academic book on its history and villages – Westmorland Heritage, 1975, now out of print and expensive second hand.

More ups and downs followed on paths that receive very little usage. Eventually, there was a glimmer of blue sky as we reached a better path on a ridge, it was nearly two before we found somewhere dry to sit and eat a spot of lunch.  Here our topic of conversation turned from Brexit to Sir Hugh’s flask which he was convinced was not his, maybe the top was but certainly not the body. It seemed to pray on his mind as he was still debating it as we started on our way.

My camera had not been used much in the wet weather but now as things cleared we had views of Morecambe Bay, Arnside Knott and the southern Lakes. When I use the term ‘Lakes’ I am really referring to the Lake District and particularly its hills, odd that we use such a  contraction.

The distant ‘Lakes’.

Arriving at a familiar road leading out of Burton up to Hutton Roof, we are less than a mile from the former but WW climbed a wall and took us on a circular tour of the land around Dalton Hall [which we never glimpsed]. There didn’t seem to any logic for this but I suspect Nick Burton is taking us on a voyage of discovery based on AW’s Westmorland book. No complaints, except the extra mile, as the estate was quintessential English parkland of a certain era. A wonderful selection of trees planted way back when.

Dalton Old Hall Farm.

A pair of ‘kissing trees’.

We eventually arrived in Burton-in-Kendal, to give it its full name. People drive, too quickly, through its narrow main street, I’ve probably been guilty of that, but on foot you realise the wealth of architectural buildings in the village. At one time Burton was an important stopping off point on the Lancaster to Kendal carriageway. It became an important corn market in the C17-18 and its wealth is reflected in its houses. The canal and then the railway took all its trade to Kendal and it has not really improved since then. I was sorry to see the Royal Hotel, in the centre next to the market cross, looking closed and derelict, we used to drink a pint or two here after a climbing evening on Hutton Roof or Farlerton.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Our next objective was to join the Lancaster Canal for a mile or so into Holme. We followed a lane signed from when Burton had a station, the mainline trains just fly through now……as does the motorway with Farleton Crag above.

We took to the more sedate towpath of the Lancaster Canal for our final mile into Holme. I have walked this stretch before and the towpath was just as muddy. No boats use this northern section which has been cut off from the rest of the system by the motorway. Below us at one point is Holme Mill with its lake, at one time a flourishing C19 linen mill with flax grown locally. On the other side of the canal are some well-preserved coke ovens.

At bridge 149 we climbed out into Holme which we will have more time to explore on our next stage of WW. Apart from some dampness of my socks I had coped with the day’s rain and floods which had given us an extra perspective to a simple walk.

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY – AN INTRODUCTION AND A VIEW OF BLACKBURN.

Wainwright’s Way is a 123-mile long-distance route linking the place where he was born, a Victorian terraced house in Audley Range, Blackburn, with his final resting place, by Innominate Tarn on Haystacks in the Lake District.

The walk follows in his footsteps linking his youthful walks, the sights he sketched and wrote about in Lancashire and Westmorland, time in Kendal before entering the Lake District, land of his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

I have obtained a guidebook written by Nick Burton which as well as giving a route description goes into detailed aspects of Wainwright’s life. Nick’s first chapter is devoted to AW’s time in Blackburn and suggests a short tour of the sights that he would have been familiar with. I have already made a ‘pilgrimage’ to his Memorial on the hills above Blackburn and now I’ll explore the town centre.

Wainwright lived in Blackburn from 1907 until  1941. How different the town would have been when he went to school and from the age of 13 worked as a clerk at the Town Hall. Blackburn had been a boomtown based on the cotton industry which was slowly contracting, mills were still dominant and the pollution and noise must have been all invading. Rows and rows of basic housing accomodated the workforce of which many faced poverty in the slumps of the 20s and 30s. The town centre reflected its former glory with buildings of Victorian splendour and daily AW would walk to work at the Town Hall in the centre. So much has changed as Blackburn has been redeveloped but Burton tries to show you a glimpse of AW’s time. There’s not much left. The town seems to have suffered from the bulldozer more than others.

Nick Burton.

The bus station from where he departed for adventures further afield has been moved and the station forecourt ‘modernised’.

The Cathedral stands centre stage, the land around it has become a pleasing open space. There are tombs of past notaries such as the Fielden and Peel families. Queen Victoria’s statue occupies one corner while closer at hand is a modern statue.

Variety theatres have disappeared from hereabouts and the centre is dominated by a large shopping mall cum market. On Darwen Street is the old Post Office now a thriving Wetherspoons.

On a corner is the ornate old Lloyds Bank and then the remains of a Victorian Exchange Arcade. Northgate survives but with a poor selection of shops. Ahead is Gladstone’s statue pointing to King George’s Hall and courts.

Across the way is the impressive terracotta Technical School and behind is the shell of Blakey Moor Higher Elementary School where AW was briefly a pupil in 1919-20 before leaving for a job at the Town Hall.

The Italianate Town Hall is still standing and now connected to a multistorey extension overlooking the statue of W H Hornby a cotton baron who became Mayor in 1857.

Nearby are two other Victorian buildings from AW’s time. The scruffy Cotton Exchange, a cinema in the early 20th century,  and the former Library now a museum.

Georgian Richmond Terrace is mainly legal offices but was built for rich local gentlemen before they moved out to the countryside when the railways came.

James Street retains its cobbles if nothing else.

Alongside St. John’s Church is the earliest church in the town, started in 1789.  Recently run as an arts centre it was gutted by fire earlier this year and looks lost and forlorn. Somewhere in the grounds is a memorial stone to the Thwaites family, local brewers.

Speaking of which their town centre brewery is being demolished since they have moved away. The sight of dray horse waggons a memory. Past the bingo hall, Penny Street has become a large soulless car park next to the new bus station.

Nick Burton suggests a diversion up Old Eanam Road past the old Soho foundry to view a few remaining canalside buildings and wharves. Despite the coming of the railways, there would have still been commercial canal traffic in AW’s time.

 

In Nick Burton’s book, AW’s sketches from his many books are used to supplement the descriptions. I can find none of Blackburn.

Back to the station and time to escape to the country.

 

 

 

 

 

UP THE SPOUT. CARLIN GILL IN THE HOWGILLS.

A walk of two halves, coming with a health warning.

I’ve tagged this post ‘Lake District’ which is not correct but the motorway skirting the Lakes gives most people their only view of The Howgills and that’s as far as it goes for the majority. I would imagine for every thousand walkers setting foot in the Lakes there will be barely one in The Howgills. That view from the motorway shows extensive rounded hills with deeply divided valleys, long fingery ridges radiating from the central mass. The Lune Valley and Mainline Railway share that Western Boundary with the motorway, there is one particularly conspicuous, twisting deep valley leading intriguingly into hidden depths – this is the Carlin Gill.  Photo above.

I arrange a walk with Sir Hugh and suggest The Howgills for somewhere different, he says he has always wanted to explore Carlin Gill. The die is cast.

I have vague memories of walking up the gill to take a look at Black Force and The Spout, two hidden waterfalls. Out comes Wainwright’s ‘Walks on the Howgill Fells’ for guidance,  a few chapters cover parts of our intended route.

Carlin Gill – “The walk cannot be done if the beck is in flood. A half-mile section is a battle against nature in the raw and ends in a desperate scramble. Nonagenarians should think twice before attempting it.”

Part one.

Having parked up by the Gill we are not certain whether ‘the beck is in flood‘ or not, there seems a lot of water in it after recent heavy rain. We set off debating which side we should be on, the best path often on the other bank and sufficient water to deter wading. Sheep trods are followed with slippery rock encountered on steep obstructions. But progress is made, we marvel at the sunny weather, our solitude and surroundings.

The start of Carlin Gill.

The way ahead.

Easy going…

Deeper into the valley we are forced alongside the beck where care is needed to avoid a slip. Soon [it was over an hour] we are alongside the impressive Black Force, a waterfall tumbling down a gully opposite.

 

Getting awkward.

Don’t slip now.

Approaching Black Force.

 

 

 

 

Black Force.

We do not like the look of the scramble up it which is one of our escape routes! So we persist up the gill a few more hundred yards until stood under The Spout, the 30ft waterfall blocking our exit. An impressive place to be. I’m pleased we penetrated so far and would be happy to return the way we came but there are primitive stirrings from Sir Hugh to climb out ‘now we are here’.

Onwards.

In the beck.

Let’s look round the corner.

Wow!

 

 

The Spout.

Wainwright says to climb a crack in the rib to easier ground above the fall, a steep scramble. Neither of us likes the look of the slippery crack or the steep ground above it. The other side of the gill looks as steep. Curiously we don’t think of retreat but convince ourselves of a better way just to the left of Wainwright’s option, some steep grassy rakes avoiding the loose rock. It is only when 15ft up with Sir Hugh clinging to grassy handholds and feet skidding on wet moss that I have a change of heart – “Why don’t we go down?”    “I can’t”  came the reply.

 

Grassy rakes.

Getting steeper.

“I can’t go back.”

Fast forward and I’ve coaxed Sir Hugh back to relative safety and we progress to better handholds – heather rather than moss. The angle eases and we have time to sit and have a team talk about further progress.  Soon we are traversing on sheep tracks above an ever-increasing drop and then it is all over as we arrive at Blakethwaite Bottom a boggy basin.

As exposed as it looks.

Easier ground.

Part Two.

Having defied death all was plain sailing from now on except that we were only halfway up onto the tops. A vague track led up to a vague col where we turned right and were able to stroll alongside each other, discussing the day so far, onto Docker Knott. The views were staggering particularly to the north. Undulations led to Wind Scarth where we had to be careful to keep right avoiding a well-trodden track to The Calf. There are no walls, fences and few cairns up here to help navigation but that is one of the attractions of these open fellsides. An upwards path heads towards a visible cairn on Fell Head at  623m the highest point on the Western Howgills. A couple of fell walkers passed us on the ridge without any conversation, the only people we saw all day. At the cairn, we sat and had some lunch and took in the 360-degree views. Everywhere was clear Morecambe Bay, The Lakeland Fells, distant Galloway, Cross Fell and the Northern Pennines, the Three Peaks, Bowland Hills and possibly far away Snowdonia. Sir Hugh was having a great time with his long zoom lens.

Upwards on Docker Fell.

Looking north.

The Calf.

Heading for Fell Head.

Fell Head looking south to Morecambe Bay.

West towards the Lakes.

Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Careful compass work made sure we were on our way towards the lesser top of Linghaw and onwards over Back Balk with the motorway in the background to arrive back directly to the car parked ironically on Gibbet Hill, we had escaped the gallows on this memorable day’s walk.

Heading down.

The Lune Valley and our car insight.

Well done Sir Hugh, mission accomplished – it will be less steep in The Broads next week!  Check out his post for further photos.

I am now keen to return to the Howgills and explore further but perhaps not in Carlin Gill.

A footnote.

I didn’t mention that a tree at the base of the spout was festooned with Tibetan Prayer flags and strangely a climbing helmet. There were also some ashes scattered on the rocks. Our imaginations ran wild  – was this someone’s favourite retreat or was somebody fatally injured on these rocks?

I’ve just ‘googled’ Carlin Gill Accident without a lot of success except for one accident that happened to Sir Hugh, who had posted that he slipped heavily on a patch of ice near the bridge at the start of the Gill whilst on a simple walk along the lane in winter January 2017. https://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2017/01/tebat-sedbergh-road.html

*****

*****

 

 

 

 

 

NOT THE BEST OF DAYS FOR AN ARNSIDE WALK.

 

As I came off the motorway my car radio was tuned into Radio Lancashire but as I approached Milnthorpe it automatically retuned to Radio Cumbria. This used to be Lancashire, today Arnside is in Cumbria [South Lakeland] whereas Silverdale is still in Lancashire. All very confusing and not very logical geographically. Poor old Westmorland disappeared altogether.

I was greeted with a cup of coffee and a custard pie from the local bakery on arrival at Sir Hugh’s house. It had been my suggestion that we walk around the coast from Arnside to Silverdale and back by Arnside Tower and Knott. It would be a good chance to catch up on recent trips and news.

 

We started on the promenade by The Albion where there is a ‘drinking’ fountain erected in memory of a Richard Moberly Clayton Grosvenor by his grandparents. Aged 4yrs sadly appendicitis killed him in 1903. In the background is the railway viaduct over The Kent.

This is a walk I did on past occasions with my young family and friends usually having lunch in the pub on the shore road in Silverdale. It all seemed different today, the coast has changed and where there were sand and grass there is now mud, and where there were a few caravans there is now a caravan metropolis. The first caravan park at New Barns seemed rather ramshackle but we found a way through, possibly not the most direct, We kept seeing the coast, the tide was out, as we followed woodland paths that came out onto small limestone cliffs.  The slippery limestone was unnerving at times but I followed my guide as he sped off into the mist and rain. At one point we came out onto White Creek, a bay with grassy foreshore. The path through the woods was good and we eventually emerged into another far superior caravan park which went on forever. I reckon that the holiday site is larger than Silverdale itself, it has its own pool, gym, bowling, play areas, bar and shops etc so I wonder how much the Arnside/Silverdale area benefits.

Arnside.

New Barns across the mud.

White Creek

Slippy when wet.

Holgate’s caravan city.

Caves in the Cove.

Silverdale Cove with Morecambe Bay beyond.

Humphrey Head with distant Walney Island.

The day had promised brightening skies but we had by now been walking in light rain for a couple of hours. We started to meet people out walking when we arrived in Silverdale, always a popular spot. A few streets later and we were heading back into fields towards Eaves Wood. As we entered the woods my local guide muttered that he [I wasn’t implicated] might not be able to find the Pepper Pot, a prominent landmark. We did and it was a good spot to stop for lunch whilst it was briefly dry giving good views south over Morecambe Bay and the fells to the east of the M6. The Pepper Pot was built in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, she must have more monuments to her name than any other royal. Also on the escarpment was a view indicator from our present Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, shame they didn’t build a salt cellar.

Artisan gate.

Eaves Wood.

Pepper Pot and viewfinder.

There were paths in all directions, many new to Sir Hugh, and we blundered northwards through trees to suddenly arrive at Arnside Tower one of the medieval Peel towers in the area. [The Scots liked raiding hereabouts] It looked in perilous condition and we gave it a wide birth. The nearby farm had one of the largest herds of cattle in one field that I’ve ever seen.

Head North.

Arnside Tower.

Herds.

Back into the woods and we make our way slowly up Arnside Knott. Nearing the top there is a seat with the best views northwards over to Grange and the Lakeland hills if they had been clear of cloud. We made an obligatory visit to the trig point, one that has been adopted by Arnside Ramblers and given an unusual paint job. There are too many trees up here for views. We found an open field to drop back into Arnside.

Across the Kent to Grange and hidden Lakeland.

Knotted trees.

Adopted Trig

Heading home.

It wasn’t that bad but I need to return when the sun is shining.

*****

 

DEEPER INTO THE FURNESS FELLS – RUSLAND.

From my bedroom window this morning a rainbow greeted me but the weather was set fair for November, the day promised well.

We let Sir Hugh drive us to Rusland Church because he knew the way.  This time it was my idea to visit waterfalls marked on the map in the upper reaches of Hob Gill which feeds into Force Beck, a lonely tarn and remote tracks on a circular route. That was the brief and JD agreed to sacrifice his family fun for the day to join us.

Of course, the weather was perfect as planned. We were straight into the woods on a steeper than expected track over to Force Forge, a group of cottages by Force Beck. In hindsight, this was the most impressive fall of the day. There may have been a forge here but certainly, there were bobbin mills, now holiday lets in an idyllic situation. The surrounding woods had provided charcoal and other woodland products from coppicing and oak bark for tanning. There is an old tannery down the road.

Crossing the road we found an even steeper forest track but were distracted by the Autumn colours. There was a pleasant mixture of ancient woodlands and conifer plantations. The waterfalls I had highlighted on my route turned out to be a small flow falling gently a few feet down the rocky hillside largely hidden by vegetation.

My next objective Wood Moss Tarn was thankfully more dramatic which rescued some of my reputation. Situated in a clearing providing reflected autumn colours across its still surface. We walked around it enjoying different views. The tarn is not present on earlier maps and was created by damning, 1964, for the possible reintroduction of beavers which hasn’t happened, yet.

The forest track we were following disappeared below the fallen leaves but we came out onto a little road as planned. The second half of the day was a contrast with easier walking in walled lanes through pastoral Cumbrian low fell scenery.

Collin Pit Barn.

We took to fields on little-used paths and dropped down to a marshy area where a boardwalk saw us safely through. Signs proclaimed Greenwood Walks which turn out to be part of the interesting ventures of http://www.ruslandhorizons.org/

Coming full circle we crept round the back of Rusland Hall, built 1720, without seeing much of its grounds or facade and past the 1850 stable block.

Only a few fields to cross now but we were faced with a ford over our old friend the Force Beck, where it becomes Rusland Pool, but hidden away in the trees was a small footbridge which gave us safe passage. A stone circle was spotted in an adjacent field, it is not marked on any map and is presumably of modern origin but why?  A final trespass and we reached the road close to the car.

A  hold up on the motorway coming home marred what was a beautiful day’s walk.

 

*****

DEEP IN THE FURNESS FELLS – BETHECAR MOOR.

Between Windermere and Coniston Water is a maze of narrow country lanes and this morning Sir Hugh was navigating skillfully to a parking place deep in the forest. By now I was disorientated, that was part of his plan to take me somewhere new. I was issued with a scrap of paper map with some pink dots on it. Where we had parked was Rusland Church, typical of these small Lakeland parish squat churches. In a quiet corner of the graveyard is the burial-place for Arthur Ransome (1884-1967), and his Russian wife Evgenia. [she had once been Trotsky’s secretary]    He found the churchyard one of the most peaceful places, and asked if he could be buried there under a particular tree, with the sound of the wind in the pine needles. Of course he is most well-known for his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series of children’s books inspired by this area.

An old track took us over a raise to the next of Sir High’s secrets – Force Mills, a cluster of buildings alongside Force Beck which here divides into two as it tumbles down the hillside. Delightful.

A little way up the road we discovered a waymarked trail following the lively beck and avoiding the tarmac and traffic. We were forced onto the road for a stretch and I realised I’d been here before, Bowkerstead Farm was where my son and grandson camped last year.

Back into the woods on tracks and less used trails where concentration on navigation was needed. The larch trees were beginning to go yellow and lose their needles which gives some variety.

Out of the forest we headed up onto Bethecar Moor. Open fellside with craggy outcrops, views to the Coniston Fells, over to Ingleborough and down to the Leven Estuary, the perfect Lakeland scenery on this perfect sunny autumn day. And there was not a soul in sight.

The spring in our step was slowed when a large bull stood in our way, as I’m cowardly [sensible] we made a marked diversion to avoid it.

On our return leg along little lanes we continued to soak up the atmosphere whilst we chatted away. I can only thank Sir Hugh for the mystery tour I’d just completed. I already have plans to return to the area and delve deeper into the secrets of these forests.

 *****