Ride Your Pony*

Shanks’ Pony of course.

Kent Estuary and Lakeland Fells from Arnside Knott

Years ago I used to do a lot of my hill-walking with a chap called Chris Taylor. We were colleagues, but as so often happens, became friends too: as well as walking together and the usual post work beers, we played football, squash and tennis; sat in the stands at Blackburn Rovers; played in a pub quiz league. We walked after work in the Lakes, stole away for weekends in Scotland Munro-bagging and eventually climbed Mont Blanc together.

A promotion tempted Chris away to the bright-lights of Chorley, but that wasn’t so far away and things continued pretty much as they had. But then Chris and his young family moved again. To Hong Kong.

 Silverdale Moss and Ingleborough from Arnside Knott

They only went for a couple of years, but that must be around 10 years ago, and they don’t seem inclined to move back any time soon.

We’ve kept in touch. Chris is still a keen walker, in fact, during their frequent visits back to the UK, Chris has managed to overhaul and far surpass my Munro total. But in addition, Chris and his family have been busy exploring the world.

Howgill Fells from Arnside Knott 

In particular, Chris decided that he would visit all 33 provinces of China. Subsequently, he’s written a book about the experience which will shortly be published. Extracts from the book and news about publication can be found on Chris’ blog Riding the Dragon. I’m really looking forward to reading the book, and if it’s as erudite and witty as it’s author then I shan’t be disappointed.

Arnside Tower, Middlebarrow, Warton Crag, Bowland Fells from Arnside Knott 

In hindsight, it seems as though, as Chris’s horizons expanded, mine shrank. When I started this blog, it was my intention to record short walks from my doorstep, principally because that was just about all I had the energy to manage.  As blogging became a habit, I began to have grandiose ideas about adding pages which would build up to make a sort of gazetteer of the area. I even got as far as adding two of those pages (see above), but since then seem to have stalled.

Fortunately, the health problems which caused my lack of energy are behind me, and I’ve gone from obsessively chronicling my exploration of a very local patch to reporting on my obsessive pursuit of the Lakeland Birkett Fells. It has even been suggested that I’ve been neglecting my old favourite local walks.

Topograph on Arnside Knott

But, with the evenings getting lighter, I’ve just begun to take advantage and get out locally a little more often. There was a muddy plodge in Eaves Wood with the family. And a near dark ascent of Warton Crag with the boys’ Beaver Scout group. I stomped down to Leighton Moss one evening, on the look out for frogs and frogspawn, but found a nesting mallard instead….

Nesting Mallard

The rest of the photos were taken last Thursday, when bright sunshine and the prospect of snowy views enticed me out to climb Arnside Knott.

Now, we’re holidaying at home.

I had an idea for a holiday project: a sort of ironic homage to Chris’s mammoth enterprise – a Lilliputian counterpart. I would spend the Easter holidays visiting 33 local……Hmmmm, well, 33 what? I considered trying to draw up a list of my 33 favourite trees, but couldn’t get that far. Perhaps…’Places To Visit In The Arnside and Silverdale AONB’? I put the proposition to the rest of the family – would they play along? Everyone was keen, except, perhaps predictably, for little S, who greeted the prospect with disgust: “I don’t want to go for that many walks!”

So here’s our list. After everybody had chipped in, there are more than 33 entries, but less than there might have been: the kids were keen to list several different spots within Eaves Wood for example. We’ve made a small start to ticking some of them off, but I think it may be a project for the year rather than just the Easter holidays. Of course, they’ve all appeared here before, but we’re starting with a clean slate. Expect many more local posts!

  1. Arnside Knott
  2. Warton Crag
  3. Beetham Fell / Fairy Steps
  4. Haverbrack
  5. Cringlebarrow
  6. Thrang Brow
  7. Middlebarrow / Eaves Wood
  8. Heald Brow
  9. Summer House Hill
  10. Heathwaite
  11. Limestone pavement Gaitbarrows
  12. Leighton Moss
  13. Silverdale Moss
  14. Hale Moss / White Moss
  15. Woodwell
  16. Deepdale
  17. Hawes Water
  18. Bank Well
  19. Lambert’s Meadow / Bottoms Wood
  20. River Kent
  21. River Bela
  22. River Keer
  23. Jack Scout
  24. Jenny Brown’s Point
  25. Allan / Morecambe Hides
  26. The Cove
  27. White Creek
  28. Grubbins Wood
  29. Arnside Tower
  30. Hazelslack Tower
  31. Beetham Hall
  32. Beetham Church
  33. Warton Old Rectory
  34. Dallam Tower / Deer Park
  35. Heron Corn Mill
  36. Three Brothers
  37. Coldwell Parrock
  38. Hyning Scout
  39. Yealand Allotment
  40. Trowbarrow Quarry

We may have forgotten places. I wanted to include Dog Holes cave, which I’ve never visited, and which has a fascinating history, but it’s on private land.

Incidentally, this list of local delights feels almost topical, what with the area having featured in the Guardian’s ‘Let’s Move To..’ column this weekend.

*With apologies to Lee Dorsey

Ride Your Pony*

8 thoughts on “Ride Your Pony*

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I’m not at all surprised Conrad that you instantly see a challenge here! When I lived on Plantation Avenue my next door neighbour was involved in organising an LDWA ‘Heron Walk’ which took in all of the hills. I believe it was 30 miles. A similar circuit would probably take in all of my list, with several substantial detours. I shall try plotting them all on a map and see how it looks!

  1. Erudite, moi? You are too kind old friend but thanks for the plug for my book. Its funny that you refer to expanding and shrinking horizons….you might be right geographically but happiness is all in the head and those years tramping the Lakes and Silverdale with you seem just as happy and adventurous as China and when I read your blog it feels more meaningful than dashing around Asia. In fact it makes me want to come home…

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Hi Chris,
      Unfortunately, my plug is unlikely to attract hoards of readers, but I’ve done my best for you!
      Obviously, you’re right: happiness is a state of mind. I think I am generally happy and I love it here, so I’m not bemoaning my lot, our divergent paths just make an interesting contrast!

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