Greenburn: Mines and Ridges

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Slater Bridge and the River Brathay.

Every year I get the first Monday in December off work. I used to think that this was a rotten idea: give me a day in May or June over one when the days are short and the weather likely to be poor, I thought. But now I know better. Last year I had a terrific walk around home, with the icing on the cake being a close encounter with one of our local otters; the year before a tarn bagging day above Grasmere.

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Little Langdale Tarn with Lingmoor Fell behind.

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Langdale Pikes peeking through the gap.

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Heading towards Greenburn.

This year, my plan was a simple one – park at Little Langdale, head up Greenburn as far as the old mine-workings, climb up to Wetherlam Edge from there, seeking out the abandoned adits as I went and then a circuit of Greenburn’s ridges taking in Wetherlam, Black Sails, Swirl How, Great Carrs, Little Carrs, Hell Gill Pike, Wet Side Edge and Rough Crags.

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And that’s exactly what I did. It’s a little over 10 miles, with around 2800′ of up and down. With hindsight, it’s quite an ambitious plan for a short winter day, by my standards anyway, and much tougher than what I felt I could manage two years ago for example. Although, I did finish in the dark, of which more later.

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Greenburn.

As I walked up the valley, the early cloud was clearing rapidly, although I still didn’t have the promised sunshine.

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Greenburn Mine.

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From the mine I took a very direct, and steep, line of ascent following a route up the hillside which I don’t think was a path exactly, but must have been a grassed over feature dating back to the days of the mines.

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Lingmoor Fell, Little Langdale, Fairfield behind.

I was still in the shade, but the expanding views gave me plenty of excuses to stop and take stock.

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Wet Side Edge, Crinkle Crags, Pike of Blisco, Bowfell shrouded in cloud.

I passed three adits, the Pave York Levels. This…

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…is the most imposing entrance of the three, the top level.

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Copper Oxide was extracted here in the past. If you’re interested, it’s not hard to find photos from inside these mines online. The whole Greenburn Mine area is a scheduled ancient monument. The listing is here. Sometime I shall have another poke about in this area and seek out the Long Crag Levels too, which extend quite close to the summit of Wetherlam.

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Looking down Wetherlam Edge to Birk Fell Man.

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From Wetherlam: Scafell, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Pike of Blisco.

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Swirl How and Great Carrs from Wetherlam.

Although there was now quite a cold wind blowing, the sun was shining too. I hunkered down behind some slabs, which I can pick out on the photo above, and broke out the stove to make a brew. Out of the wind, the sun was really quite warm and I sat comfortably for perhaps 40 minutes just enjoying the situation.

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Looking south-east to Windermere.

Eventually I moved on and climbed Black Sails.

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The main path bypasses Black Sails and, whilst I’ve been up Wetherlam many times over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever bothered with Black Sails before. My loss, and one up for Bill Birkett and his hill-list, this was one well worth making a detour for.

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Prison Band, Swirl How, Great Carrs.

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On Prison Band.

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Looking back to Black Sails and Wetherlam from Prison Band.

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Great Carrs and the hills around Upper Eskdale from Swirl How.

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Wetherlam and Black Sails from Swirl How.

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Looking along the ridge to Coniston Old Man.

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The remains of Halifax LL505.

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The Scafells, Little Stand, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Cold Pike.

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Harter Fell and Eskdale.

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Harter Fell from Hell Gill Pike.

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The sun was dropping rapidly towards the Irish sea and giving the hills a lovely alpenglow. Which was great, except I still had a fair way to go.

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In the event, the light lasted long enough to take me down Wet Side Edge and over Rough Crags, but I wanted to cross Greenburn Beck and didn’t really trust in the right-of-way marked on the map, since there was no accompanying actual path shown. I remembered seeing a bridge over the beck in the morning, but couldn’t recall exactly where, so I aimed off and hit the stream well above where I needed to be, then followed the beck down. That bank of the stream turned out to be slippery, wet and boggy and quite difficult to judge in the failing light. When the footbridge eventually hove into view I was quite relieved. All that remained was an easy stroll along the track back to Little Langdale as the stars appeared and the frost began to bite.

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Greenburn: Mines and Ridges

Yewbarrow Woods and Boretree Tarn

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Rusland Pool and Border Moss Wood from Crooks Bridge.

The prospect of this day, and the one to follow, had loomed large in my thoughts ever since B’s rugby fixture list was sent out back in September, because this Sunday showed no match and no training. A day off! In the few days running up to the weekend I kept sorting through weather forecasts and maps and guidebooks; dizzy with the countless possibilities, but also concerned that the weather was expected to be universally dreadful.

As the day approached and the forecasts for persistent rain didn’t improve, I decided that I better find something which didn’t venture too high into the hills and settled on visiting a couple of places between Windermere and the Rusland Valley which I’ve had my eye on for a while.

I drove up to the Lakes in very wet and grey conditions, wondering whether to call it quits, turn tail and head home again. After I’d found a spot to pull off the road in the Rusland Valley, I realised that I’d managed to come out of the house without my OS map. Fortunately, I’d spent a long time during the week staring at this part of the map and had a pretty clear memory, I thought, of the route. When I found an information board featuring this map…

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…my mind was made up: I took a photo on my phone, donned my waterproofs, girded my loins and embarked.

This is the map I should have been looking at…

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…although my copy doesn’t have the green dotted line through Yew Barrow Dale and Skinner Pastures which must be a recently created right of way.

My route took me along that path to Border Moss Wood, where I did an out-and-back in order to visit Rusland Pool and Crooks Bridge. Rusland Moss, a little further up the valley, is a good place to see Red Deer and I hoped I might see some on this occasion too. As I stood on the bridge, admiring the misty views, three deer ran down to the river, swam swiftly across and quickly bounded away again.

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The woods on this walk were an absolute delight, even in the rain, and I’m really looking forward to revisiting in the spring and the autumn.

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I’m afraid my photo doesn’t convey how impressive this tree was: it must have fallen down a long time ago and now four of its branches have grown strong and tall like individual tree trunks in their own right.

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Yewbarrow Woods.

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A tiny unnamed tarn in the mist.

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Boretree Tarn.

I’ve never been to Boretree Tarn before. It’s not too far from High Dam and I’m wondering whether it might be just as good for swimming when the weather and water temperature are both more clement. On this occasion, I found a comfortable spot by the edge of the tarn and tucked in to some very welcome cabbage and chorizo soup. There were a couple of swans and a few ducks to keep me company, but otherwise it was a quiet and tranquil spot.

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The view, such as it was, from Rusland Heights.

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Approaching Hall Brow Wood.

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Skowbarrow Beck.

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In Hall Brow Wood.

It was a relatively short walk, about six and a half miles, and by the time I got back to the car I was drenched, but I’d enjoyed my self none-the-less. I shall think of the trip as reconnaissance for future visits in better weather.

Towards the end of the walk the cloud had been lifting a little and beginning to show signs of breaking up. Just as I started the engine to set-off home, literally as I turned the key in the ignition, the windscreen was suddenly suffused with lovely golden light from the low winter sun, and I wondered if the weather was going to play a dirty trick by improving now that I’d finished walking, but I needn’t have worried: the sunshine was extremely short-lived and it was soon raining again.

I’d managed a good walk, despite the weather, and still had another iron-in-the-fire….

Yewbarrow Woods and Boretree Tarn

Whirlybird

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It was an overcast Sunday afternoon almost at the end of November, it had been a busy weekend but now I was moping about the house, not tackling any of the work or chores which needed doing and not getting out for a walk either.

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Fortunately, Little S and TBH were walking to the Wolfhouse to indulge in tea and cake and dragged me out too. We didn’t have to go too far before we were in the woods, ankle deep in fallen leaves and Little S initiated a leaf fight. It’s hard to be glum when you’re kicking piles of leaves into the air and I was soon perking up.

Leaving the other two to their culinary delights, I continued over Heald Brow and then dropped down to the salt-marsh, and hence to Jenny Brown’s Point as the sun disappeared across the Bay.

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Four of these helicopters went past, flying very low. Is this an Apache? They seemed very incongruous in the quiet of a winter sunset.

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I generally tack some music onto my short sunset posts and I wondered, given the helicopters and the rather apocalyptic sky, whether to use ‘The Ride of the Valkyrie’ or The Doors’ ‘This is the End’. Instead, I’ve gone for…

‘Helicopter’ by the massively underrated XTC, from their brilliant ‘Drums and Wires’ album. I’m fond of The Doors too and ‘The End’ might have been more in keeping with my sombre, November Blues mood, prior to the walk, but ‘Helicopters’ is more upbeat and will remind me of Little S’s ‘laughing giggly whirlybird’ leaf fight.

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Remember, remember…

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Grey Heron.

B had a match in Kirkby, but for once not at Underley Park and not playing for KLRUFC: he was playing for his school against Kirkby School, a team stuffed full of team-mates and friends from club rugby. I’d had to drop him in Lancaster to get the team mini-bus, but followed along behind so that I could watch the game. On route, I stopped briefly in Hornby for a short walk beside the River Wenning.

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Wenning weir.

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Hornby Castle.

I’ve always assumed that Hornby Castle was a Victorian fake, but apparently the castle has been here for a very long time, although it was extensively remodelled by Lancaster architects Sharpe and Paley in the nineteenth century. The castle has an interesting history, having been captured and occupied during the Civil War. William Parker, fourth Baron Monteagle, was born here according to some sources; the castle was certainly owned by his father. Parker was the peer who was warned about the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, which led to the discovery and thwarting of the scheme.

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Hornby Bridge.

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Grey Heron.

I wandered a little way along the river, photographing two herons who were both unusually placid about being closely watched.

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Two more views of the Wenning.

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Drinking fountain, Hornby.

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This decoration was apparently removed from a railway bridge, the Rat and Cat Bridge. The strange symbol above the date is a design combining P and D, denoting Pudsey Dawson (great name!) High Sheriff of Lancashire and another former owner of the castle, in fact, the same one that commissioned the late nineteenth century alterations.

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Later, I was out again, catching the sunset from Castlebarrow.

Remember, remember…

Crumbs of Comfort.

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Once I’d taken Little S home, I returned to Lancaster to collect B who was back from his trip to Twickenham. Later, I sneaked out one last time for a walk in the final embers of the weekend’s lovely light.

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Sun dropping behind a Morecambe Bay wind farm.

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Someone had left a pile of crumbs on the wall alongside the clifftop path by The Cove and this Robin rather personably dropped in to share the crumbs and the view of the sunset.

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Now that I’ve squeezed five posts out of this one weekend, I can let you in on a secret: at the time, at least at the beginning of the weekend, I felt slightly aggrieved not to be getting out for a ‘proper’ walk on such a fine weekend. With hindsight and a little perspective, that seems, well, more than a bit churlish. I didn’t do too badly, living off the crumbs, did I?

No tenuous link to this haunting song, it’s just been stuck in my head since I first heard Marc Riley play it on 6 Music.

Crumbs of Comfort.

Leaves Online

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Having dropped Little S off for his climbing session, I was hoping to get out for another short wander and, to that end, had been poring over maps the night before, looking for a likely route. Blessed with paths, as we are near home, it always comes as a bit of a surprise when I’m looking for routes elsewhere and find that options are limited or nonexistent.

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It’s quite hard to see much in the way of possibilities for walks directly from the University campus, but my eye was drawn to an area on the map with several largish splodges of blue and I eventually settled on a short circuit from Scorton Picnic site.

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What it lacked in length it made up for with charm.

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The River Wyre.

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I shall guess that this small area of water, and the many others close to the motorway nearby, is a former gravelpit and probably dates back to the building of this stretch of the M6.

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I went a little off-piste at the far end of the walk, in order to get a photo to show just how close to the M6 this little scrap of woodland is.

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TBH has sometimes described my blog, to the uninitiated, as “photos of leaves and stuff”. Whilst I was selecting photos for this post, it occurred to me that I could rebrand my blog as ‘Leaves Online’.

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I don’t know what kind of tree these very large, yellow leaves came from, but they were a real tonic. So much so that I picked one up and waved it around, like a flag.

Better yet, as I neared the end of my walk I spotted a butterfly in a sun-warmed clearing. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo sadly, but I was quite impressed to have seen one at all at the tail-end of November.

I’ve been enjoying thinking about matching tunes to posts, however tenuously, so….

I’m not sure how big the audience is for the juxtaposition of photos of leaves and the sounds of the Wu-Tang Clan? Perhaps a bit of a niche market, do you think?

Leaves Online

A Little Piece of Heaven*

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Sunrise from Castlebarrow.

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Actually – it wasn’t quite sunrise, this is ‘the climbing tree’ taken a few moments before the previous photo and clearly already catching early rays.

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It wasn’t that early of course – the sun likes a long lie-in in this neck of the woods in November.

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But now that the sun was up, it was providing some lovely light, here bathing the Pepper Pot.

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Castlebarrow.

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Sun seen through the trees.

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Beech trees.

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In Eaves Wood.

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The Ring O’Beeches.

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And again.

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The ruined cottage. Might the MBA be interested?

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Oak trees, Eaves Wood beyond.

These pictures were taken early on the November Sunday morning, on the day after the walks in the previous two posts. As you can see, the weather was glorious again. With B away there was no rugby, but S has climbing sessions on Sunday mornings, in the sports centre at Lancaster University, so I was taking him to that. That still left time for a respectable trundle prior to breakfast though.

A Little Piece of Heaven*