Tag Archives: Lake District.

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 tresspass 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.

 *****

WHITBARROW SCAR – a day out with Poppy.

My diary records – 22 October 1988. Circuit of Whitbarrow, Chris and Matthew. Glorious day, sunny and warm. 6.5 miles. The weekend before I had been climbing on Castle Rock, Thirlmere, and the next I was off to Morocco, trecking in the Jebel Sahro. Those were the days.

Whitbarrow is a wooded limestone ridge towering above the Kent Estuary prominently seen from across the water on the road to Arnside and its crags driven under on the Barrow road. Wainwright gives it a chapter in his Outlying Fells book. I hadn’t been back since that day so I was pleased when Sir Hugh suggested it for today’s walk. I managed to persuade the Rockman and his dog to come along saying it would be a short trip as Sir Hugh is recovering from a broken elbow and is only just using his walking poles. The morning was dreadful with floods developing from the torrential downpour but by the time we met up at Mill Side there was a glimpse of something better. The keenest member of the party was Poppy the Airdale Terrier.

What followed was a switchback route through woods, steep slippery slopes, glorious open ridge walking and first class limestone scenery. The Rockman and I just followed the intrepid Sir Hugh who was obviously rejoicing in his new found freedom, at times we all had to be careful not to suffer any further injury. Some paths I think were known only to him. Poppy jogged along contentedly and took all the considerable obstacles in her stride, though she seemed happiest when we stopped for lunch at the highest point, Lords Seat,

We completed a figure of eight course which included a close encounter with the base of Chapel Head Scar, a bastion of limestone hosting difficult sports climbs. I had never climbed here and I never will when I realised the grades. However above the crag, reached by a precipitous path, is a beautiful meadow which seemed perfect for a summer bivi looking out to the west over the Kent Estuary. There are paths everywhere and the whole area is worthy of further exploration, I particularly would like to walk closer under the southern White Scar cliffs which we seemed to miss by being in the woods, hereabouts our legs and conversation were just beginning to drag for the last half mile.

 

LONG SCAR DILEMMAS.

“Lower me down” – I had reached my dilemma. I couldn’t figure a way directly up the groove which was threatening to push me off and I was having trouble pulling on the flake high to my right which was the alternative. I had only come for an easy day and that reach was paining my stiff shoulder, even stiffer later! Fortunately I wasn’t on the lead and had the luxury of a top rope which slowly deposited me back in a heap at the base of the climb which happened to be named Katie’s Dilemma, I know how she felt. Dave and Rod proceeded without me.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                         Dave solving Katie’s Dilemma.

 

I’m often accused of overusing the word super in my enthusiasm – well today was super. [excellent, first rate, remarkable, marvellous, wonderful, glorious, exquisite, perfect, splendid  —  I could try some of these in future.]  The sky was blue, the air clear, the sun was shining, the temperature was 24º and this is the English Lake District.

We had braved the tortuous narrow lanes up to the summit of Wrynose Pass and parked up next to the Three Shires Stone. This boundary stone marks the spot where historically the counties of Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland met. The stone has a history of its own. Cut in Cartmel from limestone in 1816 for a William Field, the Furness roadmaster but not erected until 1860. The front of the stone is inscribed with Lancashire and the reverse W.F. 1816, no mention of the other counties. Apparently it was smashed into four pieces in a car accident in 1997, restored and re-erected in 1998.  It shows its scars today and Cumbria has taken over.

A made up path winds its way up the fell across boggy ground on the skirts of Pike O’Blisco. This is an area where the carnivorous Sundew plant may be found, a fact I learnt one previous trip to Long Scar when botanists were scouring the ground on their hands and knees. We saw none today and I suspect they are quite rare. The crag soon comes into sight as an eponymous long scar below Black Crag. The rock looked clean and dry and we had the place to ourselves for most of the day. The volcanic rock is roughly textured although in the central popular area there is erosion, possibly from group use, and the climbs here are becoming a little shiny; nevertheless this is where like lemmings we started.                                                          Rod’s dilemma – which groove?

In the past we had climbed all these routes so we soon spread further along the crag and that’s how I found my dilemma. Anyhow we were basking in the sun and enjoying the views – the nearby Wetherlam range, Crinkle Crags, the far off Windermere, the hikers below us and the occasional plane flying low through the gap. More climbs were enjoyed and life was good.                                       Great Carrs, Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man.


                                                                      Crinkle Crags.

 

For the usual record —

Platt Gang Groove. VD. Rod had his own dilemma as to which groove was which.                             Direct Start Old Holborn VD.                                                                                                                Katie’s Dilemma MVS.                                                                                                                               Billy’s Climb MS.                                                                                                                                      Green Treacle HS.