Tag Archives: Wainwright

LECK – a day out with Tilley.

Things don’t always work out as planned, today’s walk was one of those.

In the past I have often explored Leck Beck from the village up to Ease Gill and remember the dramatic scenery particularly in Ease Gill Kirk. We would often finish the day with some simple cave exploration on the fell, Short Drop and Lost Johns Caves stand out in my memory. So when the Pieman and his little brother Will [all is relative] suggested a revisit I was keen to join them. Out came Wainwright’s Limestone book with the relative chapter, maybe we could also throw in an ascent of Gragareth.

The day started well as I parked up next to the church and donated them a pound , cheaper than those car parks in the Lakes. We met up promptly but there was an unexpected addition to the team – Tilley the spaniel, Will’s beloved dog. This didn’t seem a problem as she was on a lead and appeared docile enough. Off we went catching up on events in our separate lives and reveling in the lovely weather. Tilley trotted alongside. Only when we into more open country did I realise that Tilley could run Will a merry dance, despite being on one of those retractable leads when she decided to explore off route Will seemed to have to run after her.  Hilarious.

The valley was longer and more beautiful than we remembered. Certainly longer for Will dragged aside by Tilley. By the time we reached the interesting Ease Gill Kirk my plan to drop into it to explore further didn’t resonate with the brothers plus dog and they left me to it. Feeling rather abandoned my visit was only cursory and I didn’t see what I wanted. The whole place seemed overgrown and unreconisable, I’ll have to return without any pressure.

Reunited for lunch we discussed the way on, the dog team won and we climbed up the hillside, now resplendent in purple heather, towards the road near Leck Fell House. This must be one of the loneliest places in Lancashire, yes we are still in an outpost of Lancashire despite the ‘dales’ feel to the area. I didn’t have the heart to inform the other two they were not in their beloved Yorkshire, they might have panicked. Potholes were all now fenced off and I didn’t have the time to find my favourite, Short Drop Cave. I used to enjoy dropping into it, it was only a short drop once you knew it, and going down the water worn passage was easy for some distance.  Apparently the dog was tired so our ascent of Gragareth was dismissed. At least we made a cursory exploration of the area of Lost Johns Cave, a stream entrance was obvious but today there was too much water  and too little enthusiasm for further probing.

Back on the road it was a delightful walk back down to Leck with Tilley showing no further signs of fatigue lead the way. The scenery hereabouts triumphed over my frustrations as we arrived back early at the car.

I would like to make it clear I have no malice towards the lovely Tilley, as they say it’s not the dog’s fault  it’s the owner’s.

A map of where we did and didn’t go…

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.

 

Wainwright’s Outlying Fells – The Final Chapter.

The Bannisdale Horseshoe.

Lonely tramping.

By pure serendipity Sir Hugh and I had left this circuit to finish off our Winter tramps around these fells, it was AW’s last chapter also…  “take a companion who is agile enough to run for help… God be with you.”

With careful planning we parked up the hidden Bannisdale valley at Dryhowe Bridge reducing the day’s mileage. But six hours later we had tramped across eight and a half miles of grass with 3000ft of ascent. The ridge was broad and tussocky but the ground is thankfully drying out. A few cairns marked the indistinct tops and our view most of the day was northwards to the higher Kentmere fells. On the return leg a trig. point appeared on White Howe and from here were views over Kendal to the coast at Arnside, I think I could spot Sir Hugh’s house. These are remote fells and will not see many walkers. At last the temperature has improved and we enjoyed sunshine all day, you wouldn’t want to be here on a rainy or misty one.

Bannisdale.

Bannisdale.

Longsleddale and the distant Kentmere skyline

Longsleddale and the distant Kentmere skyline.

"agile enough"

“agile enough to run for help”

South from White Howe.

South from White Howe.

A few words about Sir Hugh – a good friend of several years initially climbing together, a fanatical long distance walker, dependable and enthusiastic to the end,  despite his dodgy knees I just manage to keep up with him. The Outlying Fells have been  a worthwhile project and given us good times out together, my appreciation of the area has been definitely broadened. May I have a rest now?

 

The completed Wainwright Outlying Fells.

The completed Wainwright Outlying Fells.

 

OPEN SKIES OVER SWINDALE.

Today’s fells really need to be experienced in person, preferably in the gorgeous weather we were blessed with. Photographs hardly do justice to the feeling of the wide open spaces which we even compared to the skies over the Broads. There are endless miles of undulating hills sitting on the very edge of the Lakes.  AW writes – “a worthwhile expedition on a clear day, not so much for the views, which are dreary and uninspiring, as for the exhilaration of new territory, solace of solitude and beneficial exercise”    Exactly.

Sir Hugh’s choice of parking proved to be fortuitous as other approach roads seemed blighted by works. A simple climb over our first Outlier – Langhowe Pike – with its views down Swindale, where we picked up the corpse road which climbed its way from Mardale into this valley and then on to the church in Shap and consecrated burial ground. I was on another corpse road last week which came from Wasdale, past Burnmoor Tarn to Eskdale.

NW Water are undertaking a lot of work in the Swindale catchment area and things are a bit of a mess still. The last time  I was here to climb on Gouther Crag the footbridge was being lifted away in front of our eyes,   [ https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/getting-better-gouther-crag-climbing/ ]   its replacement is completely out of place. Thankfully higher up the original stepping stones are still there. Chatting to a local man it seems that not everyone is happy with the Swindale works, the two higher farms have been bought by the waterboard and are now unoccupied, there has been a lot of fencing erected on open ground and much tree planting on the fells. I would have thought that the latter is good for the environment and should visually be of benefit in a few years.

Swindale from Langhowe Pike.

Swindale from Langhowe Pike.

Anyhow on with the walk up beautiful Swindale. A cyclist was masochistically pushing a bike up the corpse road as it climbed to Mardale. We entered a world of drumlins at the head of the valley before a brutal 1000ft climb up to Nabs Moor and onto Howes.  My altimeter ran out of juice at this point so I couldn’t confirm the days total, I suspect about 3000ft. From up here we had views down to Mosedale and its MBA cottage. A lazy lunch was taken by a playful stream, the sunshine delaying our departure.

Drumlins at the head of Swindale.

Drumlins at the head of Swindale.

Mosedale.

Mosedale.

Looking back to Howes.

Looking back to Howes.

 

The next group of hills High Wether Howe, Fewling Stones, Seat Robert and Great Ladstones proved a tiring round with many boggy depressions but the blue skies made up for it and we chugged along but were nonetheless pleased to see the car in the late afternoon.

Onwards from Higher Wether Howe.

Onwards from Higher Wether Howe.

Contemplating past glories from Seat Robert.

Contemplating past glories from Seat Robert.

 

'The Road goes ever on and on' Lord of the Rings.

‘The Road goes ever on and on’   Tolkien  Lord of the Rings.

 

Crookdale Horseshoe to the west of Shap summit.

From the Crookdale Horseshoe looking north yo the Longsleddale fells.

From the Crookdale Horseshoe looking north to the Longsleddale and Mardale fells.

 

More Wainwright Outliers with Sir Hugh.

I refer to the Shap summit on the old A6. This was the major route up to Scotland on the west coast before the Motorway opened in 1970. On our drive up from Kendal we recalled the infamous Jungle Cafe once popular with the HGV drivers, I think the site is now a caravan sales. The ‘Leyland Clock’ which stood by the roadside nearer the summit has also gone and is now restored in the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal. I hadn’t realised that it stood at the halfway point from Land’s End to John O’Groats. We parked up in a layby, near the summit, where there is an interesting memorial mounted on a substantial lump of pink Shap granite.

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures taken from http://www.trucknetuk.com

 

 

My diary from 1974 shows that on August 26th I did a similar round as today’s but also including the more distant Harrop Pike. 12 mile in 4 hours in cloud and showers, I have no recollection whatsoever. Our more leisurely 6 hours today must reflect on the 40 odd years I’ve accumulated.

The walk today was in sun with clear views. The going could only be described as heavy most of the way. We combined AW’s Wasdale and Crookdale circuits which effectively was a true Crookdale Horseshoe. The northern leg was Whatshaw Common, Little Yarlside and Great Yarside, the latter just under 2000ft. We then had an interesting traverse across the head of Crookdale successfully avoiding the worst of the bogs. This brought us on to the southern ridge of Lord’s Seat, Robin Hood and finally High House Bank. Vast expanses of grass with the odd little crag to break up the monotony. Good conversation filled in the gaps. Views into the Lakes were restricted by the closer Longsleddale and Mardale Fells  but there were extensive views to the Pennines and Howgills. Most interesting were birds’ eye glimpses into the hidden valleys of Wasdale, Crookdale and the larger Borrowdale.

Great Yarlside from Little Yarlside.

Great Yarlside from Little Yarlside.

Unusual Trig. Point on Great Yarlside.

Unusual Trig. Point on Great Yarlside.

Upper Crookdale.

Upper Crookdale.

View into Borrowdale from the last summit - High House Bank.

View into Borrowdale from the last summit – High House Bank.

We never met another person.

P.S.  16 to go.

Wet Sleddale Horseshoe – the clue is in the name.

 

Sleddale Hall and reservoir.

Sleddale Hall and reservoir.

Sir Hugh and I were  the first on the carpark next to the damn of Wet Sleddale Reservoir. Thankfully the day was bright and clear, this would be a miserable place in the mist or rain. At one time there was a plan to flood the whole valley – I can see why. Forget about any tracks shown on the OS map the way up to Wasdale Pike was one long squelch. Grouse butts accompanied us and a ‘lunch hut’ passed to relieve the monotony. The summit of Wasdale Pike had a decent cairn and views over Shap to Cross Fell and in the other direction to High Street, the snow melted from these slopes as the day wore on.

Pathless to Wasdale Pike.

Pathless to Wasdale Pike.

Shap with Cross Fell behind.

Shap with Cross Fell behind.

Over the bogs to High Street.

Over the bogs to High Street.

Our next objective was a prominent pink granite block – named Gray Bull. It was duly mounted in recognition of our distant bouldering venue of Great Bullstones in Bowland.

Gray Bull.

Gray Bull.

 

More squelching and Sleddale Pike, Great Saddle Crag and Ulthwaite Rigg were ticked off, it was that sort of a day.

Bog hopping in WET Sleddale.

Bog hopping in WET Sleddale.

 

You don't fall in here, it really was that colour.

You don’t want to fall in this, it really was that colour.

Then with some relief we quickened our pace on the bridleway coming out of Mosedale and heading down to Sleddale Hall. Below here were walled deer enclosures [according to AW]  a packhorse type bridge over a lovely narrow gorge and a clapper bridge from older times.

Old Deer Enclosures?

Old Deer Enclosures?

New packhorse bridge.

New packhorse bridge.

Old Clapper Bridge.

Old Clapper Bridge.

AW’s Outlying Fells was “written primarily for old age pensioners” yet this was a tough walk for anybody. About 9 miles and 1700ft ascent.  I can hardly believe that Sir Hugh used to run round this circuit in days gone by – but he has the evidence…                                                               http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/wet-sleddale-horseshoe-plus-wasdale.html

In my evening bath I thought I could discern webbing developing between my toes.