Tag Archives: Long Distance Walks

VIRTUAL WALKING.

Since the successful weekend away with Sir Hugh walking our straight line, coast to coast, on Northing 438  there have been some sunny days and the forecast is for several more soon. I would expect to be posting some interesting walks. But no I have developed one of those annoying twinges in my right knee. I’ve strapped it up and I’m hobbling about trying to keep off my legs as much as possible. There goes the phone again and by the time I’ve reached it, the line is dead, probably a nuisance call anyway.

This gives me time to think about future trips but first I have to sort out some National Grid conundrums. Sir Hugh and I set off from Blackpool last year on the Northing 438  line, I called it the SD 38 but hadn’t realised that it would take us into the SE and then the TA squares, There were more 38 crossings in Britain so I had to be more exact. A little revision on the National Grid site was used to resolve the nomenclature.  I needed to re-evaluate my title. SD38 to SE38 to TA 38 was too cumbersome and inaccurate so I dropped the letters and used numbers only arriving at the more precise 438 Northing.  Interestingly I have an app on my phone that gives me my precise grid reference at any one point with the touch of a button, but that uses the lettered 100K squares, ie SD. Using ordnance survey maps if I click on a point I’m given both the latter and additionally the all number reference. I’ve also the app ‘whatthreewords’ which pinpoints my position in a more literary way. I didn’t realise I had so much technology at my fingertips. I should never get lost, if only life was so simple.

Anyhow now I know where I am – where am I going? Well, nowhere at the moment but I’m always dreaming.

I don’t want to be away for long as I have certain commitments at home. The LDWA has a very good, nigh on encyclopedic, index to any walks you may aspire to. The search system allows you to choose any length of walk in any area of the country. My two latest searches for three or four days came up with St. Hilda’s Way in North Yorkshire [40miles and designed as a pilgrimage visiting sites associated with St. Hilda] and The Cuckoo Way along the Chesterfield Canal from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire [46miles along the 240-year-old canal.] A quick click on Amazon and the guide books are coming to my postbox. I think the latter may be most suitable for walking at this time of year. If my knee settles I should find a window of opportunity for the canal walk whilst Sir Hugh is occupied and then we will be able to complete our coast to coast.

Time for another Brufen and then I can continue following the routes on my maps.

NORTHING 438. SKIPWITH COMMON TO FOGGATHORPE.

The correct carpark was found this morning, 50metres down the road. We were the first arrivals and waited for a torrential downpour to pass. The start couldn’t be delayed any longer and waterproofs were needed for the light rain. We headed due east on a good track into the woods, mainly birch at this end with Scots pines further on. All around was heathland, waterlogged at this time of year, giving a pleasant start to the day despite the dampness. The information board states that this is one of the last remaining lowland heaths in the north. Longhorn cattle, Hebridean sheep and Dartmoor ponies graze it to help maintain the habitat. It must be a joy in the summer when the heather is in bloom.

Good progress was made on the easy tracks and soon we were in North Duffield, a rather undistinguished village though it did have a village green and pond. Down a side street was a hut adverting woodcrafts, Stan was busy inside and offered to make us anything from a pillbox to a Welsh Dresser. It would have been good to purchase something from this craftsman who had previously worked in church restorations.

We had been dreading the 2K walk on the busy A163 road, there was no pavement but most drivers gave us a wide birth and by now the sun had come out. In the distance to the south was the massive Drax power station one of several in this area of Yorkshire presumably established when the coal industry was at its peak, what future now?

Over to our left was another nature reserve, the Lower Derwent Valley, and we wondered whether we could have found a way by the river. People were walking their dogs along the embankment and bird watchers scanning the flooded fields [header picture]. Our stint on the road came to an end at the elegant bridge over the Derwent.

Bubwith had some period brick houses and an old church started in Norman times.

Whilst looking around the churchyard we found a seat overlooking the River Derwent for lunch. Looking at the map I notice that this river comes all the way from the North York Moors near Scarborough on its way to join the Ouse. There was a good view back to the bridge with its flood arches.

Originally when plotting a route I thought we would be stuck on the A163 a lot further but Sir Hugh had spotted an old railway line now converted into a trail. We gladly went slightly beyond our ‘mile either side’ limit to access it.

This was the route of the Selby – Driffield railway which closed in 1965. Work has been done recently to unearth Bubwith station platforms. On the way, we met a chatty man walking his dog who worked part-time counselling rugby league players at Castleford Tigers, sounds an interesting job. We steamed into Foggathorpe station ahead of the time table.

That was the end of our three-day jaunt on the 438 line, good walking each day and not a hill climbed or a Harry and Meghan mentioned.

*****

NORTHING 438. CHURCH FENTON to SKIPWITH COMMON (ALMOST)

In this area are scattered some delightful small villages of which we knew very little, a combination of limestone and red bricks giving each one a friendly feel. We are getting to know them and today visit several.

Church Fenton is a long village street with a community shop and a couple of pubs, one doing better than the other. My thoughts today were to photo all the pubs we passed but I kept forgetting. More importantly, there is a railway station. East Coast mainline trains rush through but there is a stopping service to Leeds and York adding to our thoughts that these villages are commuter dormitories.

We opt for a quiet lane rather than muddy fields around an old RAF aerodrome, there is no sign of life this morning.

Rather out of the blue in this flat landscape, we climb stairs to cross that main rail line, a couple of trains thunder through shaking the bridge alarmingly.

A quieter stretch through ploughed fields but fortunately on good tracks and we enter Cawood on the Wolsey Way, more of him later. The village is built around an old medieval manor site, the Garth, which the village own as an open space. We wander into it over a ditch which despite its modest size was used to transport limestone out of the area for buildings in Southern cities. The outline of a moat is clearly seen on the ground. Hidden behind trees is the original gatehouse to the castle and adjacent banqueting hall, the only traces remaining.  An information board tells the history; how the Archbishops of York owned it, how Cardinal Wolsey was arrested here for high treason and the link to Humpty Dumpty, and how the Garth was saved from development by the crested newt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawood_Castle

Through the town with its brick houses and narrow streets, two pubs with different fates.

We cross the River Ouse on a fine metal swing bridge which won’t be used for shipping very often.

Once across we use a path on the raised flood embankment into Kelfield with its closed pub and seemingly inadequate flood defences. Lunch is taken in a very comfortable bus stop. Several of the older buildings in this locality have moats and there is one to see just along the lane.

We progress on continued good paths alongside the prosaically named Main Drain, the water flow is considerable given the lack of a discernable incline. One has to be on the alert to mischievous gates. The Watermill Bridge is a bit of an anticlimax. Riccall is another interesting village with a large church.

Once on King Rudding Lane all we have to do is walk back to the car but there is more about this place than is obvious. An information board tells us of its ecology, coal mines, and a wartime aerodrome. The country park car park where everyone is heading is not where we parked this morning so we have more to find tomorrow.

Our walk is finished just after 3pm, ideal to drive back to our comfortable hotel in Hambleton, The Owl.

*****

NORTHING 438. BARWICK IN ELMET TO CHURCH FENTON.

It has taken us nine days to walk on our straight line, 38, Blackpool to Barwick last year. We are back in the maypole village this morning hoping to progress further along the grid line. It turns out to be worthwhile, unfrequented walking country, virtually all new to us, ideal for a short trip.

A quiet lane leads to Potterton where we pick up a bridleway heading across fields. On the map, there are numerous ridges marked as antiquities. People were building defences or just marking their boundaries from the iron age.  Our path goes along one of these ridges which are obvious on the ground, a ridge and maybe a ditch. The ridges have been taken over by trees and would probably be better seen from the air as is the case with most earthworks. Rather than keeping to the public footpath, we keep to the ridge as close as possible. Walking harmlessly along the edge of a field of cropped maize we are accosted by an angry gamekeeper. We plead innocence but he suggests that we have ruined the shoot for tomorrow. We actually only saw one pheasant fly out of the cover but we were not prepared to argue, we just accepted – mea culpa. Fortunately, we were by now almost back on the right of way. Close by guns could be heard loudly blasting away, enough to disturb any birds in the vicinity. Putting aside the question of shooting beaten birds we had already enjoyed the glorious sight of buzzards and red kites, hopefully flying without danger of being shot.

We emerged on an access road to Becca Hall, probably the owners of the fields we had been trespassing in. Another ridge, Becca Banks was followed into Aberford; this ridge probably protected the important ford during Roman times. The village once lay astride the Great North Road equidistant between London and Edinburgh.

A curiosity was the uniquely named Arabian Horse Inn.

The C19th  bridge, replacing the ford, over the River Cock is far larger than the present water flow warrants.

Further through the village, we should have visited the Gothic-styled Almshouses built by the Gascoigne family who had made their money from coalpits in the area.

Wikimedia

We couldn’t find a way under or over the motorway and ended up on a lengthy diversion to rejoin our route.

The fields are large here and planted with cereal crops. The soil had a tendency to stick to one’s boots. We found a rickety bridge crossing the fast-flowing River Cock which we then followed seemingly flowing uphill.

I wanted to visit the little church of St. Mary abandoned in a field where previously there had been a community. The chapel was open and exhibited some old wooden pews, a triple pulpit, an ancient font and old gravestones. It was a peaceful place and we took the advantage of a bench for some lunch in the sun, I’d forgotten to mention what a beautiful day it was.

The nearby Crooked Billet pub set us off on a debate as to the derivation – I suggested army beds, Sir Hugh pieces of wood. We were both correct, but why crooked?

Open fields headed towards Saxton and past a quintessential English pub next to the church.

This area is steeped in history but no more so than the Battle of Towton, in March 1461, a War of the Roses struggle that is said to be the bloodiest battle in English history.

Once we crossed a busy road a quiet lane through a golf course continued on a wide, open grassy trail.   We had to contend with the wettest field yet to enter Church Fenton where we failed in a roadside boot cleaning operation.

*****

 

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.

 

*****