Tour de Farleton Fell

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Being the further adventures of a taxi-Dad. A Monday night, dance lessons for A in Milnthorpe and I decided, once I’d dropped her off, that I would drive over and make another visit to Farleton Fell. It was a gloomy evening with odd spots of rain in the breeze, but too good an opportunity to pass up.

Though I make weekly visits to Milnthorpe, and have often been to nearby Holme, I’ve never driven between them before and I was inordinately pleased to discover that there’s a tiny hamlet named Whasset along the road. I’m not sure why it amused me so much*.

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I’m also quite chuffed with how well this capture from Mapmywalk shows my route, although, it’s annoying that Newbiggin Crags have somehow been labelled as Heysham Limestone Pavement.

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From the Clawthorpe Fell Road, I followed the right-of-way over towards Holme further than we did on our Easter visit, then turned right on a promising trod which didn’t fail to deliver on that promise.

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I’d originally intended to come up below the limestone edge, something I must do another time, but this path brought me on to a wide shelf, which gradually narrowed to a broad ledge, part way up the crags.

I followed a Green Woodpecker up the edge. I got one photo, but the bird was just a black silhouette against the sky. They almost always seem to elude my camera. Almost.

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Arnside Knott, Beetham Fell, Haverbrak, River Kent, Whitbarrow.

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The ledge at its narrowest.

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Middleton Fells and Ingleborough.

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Summit pano.

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Looking back along the edge to Warton Crag and the Bay.

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On our last visit, we turned right roughly where I was stood when I took the photo above. This time I carried on.

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It was a delightful choice.

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Ingleborough from Newbiggin Crags.

My path continued to the right, but the path heading downward looked attractive too and it was clear that the slopes below had several paths to explore.

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I’ll be back.

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There’ll be other Mondays.

This was quite a high level tour. I also would like to try a much lower one, incorporating a visit to Lupton Beck and Whin Yeats Farm

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…where they make two different cheese with their own unpasteurised milk. I’ve been eating a lot of cheese recently, and when I say recently I’m referring to any period during the last fifty years, but I’ve also been seeking out unpasteurised cheeses, because I’ve read that they are good for my gut microbiome, and any excuse will do me. Local unpasteurised cheese seems like an even better bet. I’ll report back.

*I apologise. This was completely disingenuous. I absolutely know why I was amused. It was the prospect of annoying the residents by getting the name wrong. Whass’at? Whass’up? Was it? Wha’at? No? I’ll get me coat.

 

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Tour de Farleton Fell

Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill

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A Saturday which, forecast wise, hadn’t promised much, suddenly brightened around lunchtime. Over our bowls of soup, I quizzed the family about their plans for the rest of the day, but for one reason or another they were all indisposed. I wanted to make the most of what was turning into a glorious afternoon, and it didn’t take me long to decide what to do: another hunt for Purple Saxifrage, having been a little too early for it on Ingleborough just over a week before.

I hadn’t actually made my mind up whether to tackle the walk on the western slopes of Ingleborough, which had been the original plan for my previous outing, or to head back to Pen-y-ghent where I first saw the saxifrage last year, but as I drove north from Ingleton I noticed that the Hill Inn was doing a roaring trade, likewise the Station Inn at Ribblehead. More importantly, there was a distinct lack of parking spaces and some of the roadside parking was decidedly dodgy, so I opted for Horton and Pen-y-ghent. As I drove down Ribblesdale towards Horton, I passed scores of walkers coming the other way up the road. Presumably, many of them were ‘doing’ the Three Peaks. They’d picked a fine day for it, but to these eyes at least, a lot of them looked hot and knackered and not particularly happy.

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Anyway, Horton was relatively quiet and I was soon climbing the nice steady Brackenbottom path, stopping regularly to take photos of the changing views of Pen-y-ghent.

There were still quite a few people about; mostly, but not exclusively, on their way down. I was quite surprised that there seemed to be a few parties following me up the hill, given that I’d only set-off from my car at around 3.30pm and most walkers seem to be fairly rigid about the times which are suitable for beginning and ending a trip.

As I was taking this photo…

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…a couple stopped to ask me if I was “walking or sight-seeing?” They also wanted to know about the zoom on my camera.

“It’s huge,” I told them

Although, in retrospect, it’s actually more true to say that, of its kind, it has a relatively modest zoom. I thought I might be able to demonstrate.

“You see that limestone cliff pretty much directly below the summit? I’m looking for Purple Saxifrage, and I think maybe I can see a bit of purple from here – the camera should tell me whether I’m right or not.”

I probably sounded like a pompous buffoon, but anyway…

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Taa-dah!

This not only impressed the punters, but also settled my immediate plans: I would stick to the path as far as the lower line of cliffs and would then traverse across beneath those cliffs in search of saxifrage to photograph. After that? Well, time would tell: maybe I could continue below the cliffs as far as the next path up to the summit; or perhaps I would retrace my steps; or maybe, seeing how broken those cliffs are, I could work out a route up through them to the top.

It can be a quixotic business this flowering hunting lark: when I got there, the slope just below the cliffs, which I knew would be steep, seemed maybe a bit steeper than I would have preferred…

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I don’t think it helped my aching calves and slightly wobbly knees that I kept staring up at the cliffs searching for purple…

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I think the sheerness of the rocks was magnifying, in my mind, the gradient of the mossy ground beneath.

At least the treasure I’d come seeking was there, in some abundance….

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I was just pondering on what might be pollinating these early flowers at this altitude when a Bumblebee buzzed over my shoulder in search of nectar.

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I suppose coincidences like this, when the workings of the old grey matter and events in the outside world somehow conspire to run in tandem, only seem eerily common because whenever they happen it’s striking and we remember it.

This bee might be a Buff-tailed Bumblebee, or a White-tailed Bumblebee, or a Northern White-tailed Bumblebee, workers of which species, I’ve just discouragingly read, are ‘virtually indistinguishable in the field’. Or maybe it’s none of the above. Bumblebee identification is very tricky.

Whilst I took these pictures, a second bee, some kind of Red-tailed variety, began to forage from the same clump of flowers, but proved too elusive for me and my camera.

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There seems to be something small and orangey-brown attached to the bees behind, and in this photo…

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…although they are hard to see, several more clinging to her neck. I wondered whether they might be mites, so did a little lazy internet research. Apparently Bumblebees do sometimes host mites, but, somewhat to my surprise, the mites are thought to be generally benign. They live in the bees nests, subsisting on honey and wax and then, at certain times of the year, piggyback a lift to flowers in order to jump a ride on another bee and find a new nest. Free-loaders! However, whether these are mites or not I’m still none-the-wiser.

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Whilst the airiness of my position had upped my pulse a bit, when I stopped staring up at the flowers, and stepped down a yard or two from the cliff I kept feeling that the next section didn’t look too bad after all. Once or twice I decided to descend to easier ground, but always shortly found easier going without that necessity. So, in fits and starts, I made it round to the base of the big crag where I had first spotted the flowers from below…

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Down below…

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…it seemed that Pen-y-ghent, like Ingleborough, has had a substantial landslip, something I shall have to come back to investigate another time.

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At first, I thought that this feature, on the left of the cliff, might be a tower, but in fact it’s a large fissure, what climber’s would call a chimney, I believe. Just beyond here the cliffs, which had always been rather intermittent, gave out altogether, at least for a while. Above I could see more steep slopes and then the second line of crags, presumably of gritstone. These were taller crags and fairly imposing, but on the left you can see the edge of a wide gully which looked like it might be a chink in the mountain’s armour.

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Close to the gully…

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I probably could have got up the gully, it was neither particularly steep or very exposed, but the first little scramble required a large step-up which, not as agile as even the clumsy, inept scrambler I once was, I decided not to attempt. Instead I contoured out on the ledge roughly half-way up the crag opposite.

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And turning the corner, found that I’d also turned the crags and was faced only with a short walk, admittedly up a steepish and unpleasantly loose slope, to the summit plateau.

A wall runs across the top…

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…and a clever S-shaped bend makes two shelters one facing east and one west. I sat in the west facing one, with the sun and a hazy Ingleborough in view.

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It was around 6.30 in the evening. I put a brew on and sat back to enjoy the fact that, after all the crowds I had seen earlier, I now had the top entirely to myself. It can be done, even on this most popular of hills.

Well, not entirely to myself: I could hear the accelerating croaky-rattle of grouse and then heard and felt, rather than saw, something whirr over my head. Thinking that the bird had been so close that it must have been intending to land on the wall until it saw my head, I stood to take a look around…

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Skylark.

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As I was finishing my brew, I heard a runner coming up the path behind me. He’d been surprised by the heat and was gasping for a drink. Fortunately, I had two bottles of water with me – far more than I was ever going to need, so I was able to help out.

Leaving the top of Pen-y-ghent I had to cross the end of this small pond…

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…but as I approached, something jumped from a nearby rock and splashed into the water. Only then did the constant rhythmic droning sound, which I had vaguely attributed to a distant tractor engine or perhaps an unseen drone or helicopter, properly come into focus. And looking along the pool, I could instantly recognise its source…

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My presence caused many of the Frogs to submerge and disappear, but some were not so easily discouraged and I watched, listened and took photos for around twenty minutes.

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I’ve seen this before, once in Wark Forest back in 1985 when my Dad and I were close to finishing the Pennine Way, and the other time at Lanty’s Tarn when we were staying in Patterdale YHA for a big family Easter get-together, which must be of a similar vintage.

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I did think I’d seen Frogs mating much nearer home at Leighton Moss a few years ago, and then again a year later, but now I’m completely convinced that those were in fact Toads.

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What the photos can’t capture is the singing and the frenetic activity, with balls of frogs rolling and surging and other frogs pushing and jumping to join in.

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Frogspawn.

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I think the Frog on the right here has his throat bulging pre-song like a tiny Pavarotti.

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Perhaps this photo, with the boiling surface of the pond and the indistinguishable welter of Frog flesh does go some way to capture their energetic couplings. Hmmm…perhaps ‘couplings’ is the wrong word?

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Some of the Frogs, meanwhile, held themselves aloof. This one seemed to be keeping a beady eye on me.

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Eventually, I dragged myself away. Daylight was short, I knew, and the extension over Plover Hill would add a few miles to my walk, but the light was glorious and it seemed churlish not to continue.

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Plover Hill.

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Red Grouse.

I think that the male, at least, has similar ideas to the Frogs.

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Looking back to Pen-y-ghent.

I suspect I’ve probably been up Plover Hill before, but if I have, I’ve forgotten.

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The descent towards Foxup Moor has one short steep section, but a cleverly constructed section of path cuts down across the slope at an angle, taking the sting out of it.

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Looking back up to Plover Hill.

With both me and the sun losing height, I knew that sunset must be imminent. I kept walking 50 yards or so and then taking another photo.

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Ingleborough on the left. Whernside on the right?

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The last of the sun.

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Afterglow.

Fortunately, sunset photographs can be misleading: I still had plenty of light to walk by…

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The path is Foxup Road, which, at first at least, gave excellent walking through what looked to be very rough and tussocky country. The stream is Swarth Gill Sike…

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…which looked to have waterfalls upstream and would make for an interesting route on to Plover Hill for another day.

At this point I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on getting as far down the hill as I could while the light remained. Sadly, the path eventually became fairly boggy, which was a bit awkward in the poor light. When I reached the end of the walled lane down into Horton, I realised that I couldn’t read the fingerpost and so finally switched on my headtorch. But I knew the walk from there would be relatively easy anyway. My final mile or so, in the gathering gloom, was enlivened by the lyrical calls of Pee-wits and a cacophony of squabbling Jackdaws settling down to roost in a nearby wood.

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Just over 10 miles and 500m of ascent. Not bad for a spur of the moment thing.

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Not that it’s the stats I will remember!

Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill

Let’s Get Lost

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The Bay, Grange and Arnside Knott from Middlebarrow Plain.

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The low, wooded, limestone lump which lies just north of the village has a whole host of names attached to it, not all of them on the map: The Pepper Pot, Castlebarrow, King William’s Hill, Jubilee Wood, The Ring O’Beeches, Middlebarrow Wood, Middlebarrow Plain, Middlebarrow Hill (surely a tautology?), Eaves Wood, The Coronation Path and Inman’s Road. These are the public titles; we have our own landmarks too – The Climbing Tree, The Witches Steps, The Balcony Path, Forest School. In its entirety, it makes sense to call it Middlebarrow, since it lies between the two larger hills of Arnside Knott and Warton Crag.

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It’s criss-crossed by paths, most of them not on the map, and is a fascinating area to explore, which, long-suffering readers will know, I often do.

The wall which runs roughly east-west across the hill is the boundary between Lancashire and Cumbria and more often than not I tend to stick to the Lancashire side of the divide when I’m in the woods.

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But Middlebarrow Plain is managed for butterfly conservation, and has permission paths running through it. I ought to visit more often. It gives new views and has an area of limestone pavement…

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The first time I stumbled across this feature it was entirely by accident, but these days I know where to find it.

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I suspect that this is a Yew, kept in this Bonsai form by the attention of Roe Deer who seem to love Yew.

Back on the Eaves Wood side of the wall, I decided to try getting a little lost again. I took a faint path past a fallen Beech…

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This tree must have been coppiced years ago and until relatively recently had five huge trunks, now, sadly, all fallen.

I knew that the path would eventually peter out, but rather than turning back, continued downhill, safe in the knowledge that eventually I would have to hit one of the paths below.

En route I discovered a huge Wood Ants’ nest and a large birds’-nest, maybe Ravens’ or Buzzards’.

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Hardly a major adventure.

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But it kept me entertained.

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I’m a bit stunned that I haven’t used this title before, given how much I like the song. Apparently it predates the Chet Baker version, but that’s the one I know…

Let’s Get Lost

Seasonal Markers

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It’s that time of year when I’ve generally been rushing around checking off signs of spring here, there and everywhere. This year’s been an odd one though – the Hawthorn is  coming in to leaf, but I can’t recall seeing any Blackthorn blossom. The Violets, Primroses and Wood Anemones are all appearing, but it still feels quite cold. I hear Green Woodpeckers yaffling on almost every walk, but I’ve yet to see any Swallows or hear any Chiff-chaffs.

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Some things remain constant though. Here’s one – at this time of year we often see Roe Deer in the garden. There were four this morning. But these photos were taken a while ago, the day after my birthday. My birthday, incidentally, was a very lazy day. We played some games of Code Names, the picture version, which was one of my presents and was great fun. We also climbed a hill, but only tiny Castle Barrow in Eaves Wood.

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This Roe Deer was quite near the house, seemingly finding both the bluebells and the shrubs equally appetising.

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She’s losing her dark winter coat, which is why she looks a bit tatty. She’ll soon be in her much more fetching, golden-brown, summer raiment.

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The Toothwort by the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood has also reappeared. Long-suffering readers will know that I have an ever-expanding list of flowers which I associate with particular locations and make a point of visiting each year, particularly in the spring: first Snowdrops in the woods by Haweswater, then Daffodils at Far Arnside, Green Hellebore along the perimeter of Holgates Caravan Park, Early Purple and Green-winged Orchids on the Lots…the list goes on and on and I’m enjoying mentally running through it.

One of the places I visit is a particular tree close to Haweswater which is a host to the parasitic Toothwort. I’ve surprised myself by feeling quite put-out by the fact that I can’t visit this year, what with the paths being closed to accommodate tree-felling work by Natural England. And by my consternation at the possibility that this particular tree might be one of the ones which gets felled. Whatever my political opinions, it seems that, when it comes to change on my home patch, I can still be conservative with a small c.

 

Seasonal Markers

No Jokers on Ingleborough

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Pen-y-Ghent in a winter suit.

I felt like I was holding all the aces. It was the day before my birthday, the sky was completely cloudless and the hills had a new dusting of snow. What’s more, I was driving along the A65 with an appointment with Ingleborough. The only thing I hadn’t decided was quite which route I would follow. I’d been perusing the map and some favourite websites the night before to try to make a decision. I hoped to find Purple Saxifrage flowering as we did last year on Pen-y-ghent. Now, Saxifraga Oppositifolia is rare in England, but I’d found several references to the fact that it grows on Ingleborough as well as Pen-y-ghent, not least in John Self’s online book ‘The Wildlife of the Lune Region’ which suggests that an exploration of the steep and fractured cliffs of the western face would be the best place to look. I also found an enthralling description of a route which would fit the bill perfectly.

But now that I could see those western slopes through my windscreen, I knew that they were in a deep shade and seemed likely to be so for some time to come. Knowing that I had to play the hand I’d been dealt, I decided to start my ascent from Clapham instead.

The first trick of the day was to find the right path out of the village and then a steepish pull brought me to Long Lane…

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Long Lane. The edge on the right is Robin Proctor’s Scar which I photographed last year during a walk from Austwick.

Long Lane climbed slowly but steadily and, although it was cold, it was wonderful to be out in the sunshine.

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Long Lane again.

I generally try to climb a hill on my birthday, but over the years I’ve learned to be flexible when work or other commitments have not allowed me to. This year I chose to take my birthday walk a day early, simply because the weather forecast was much better for that day.

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Rayside Plantation and Ingleborough Cave.

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Trow Gill.

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Pretty soon I’d reached the snow. At home we’d had rain the night before, but here it had fallen as a snow.

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Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

We see Ingleborough from Eaves Wood and on our daily drive in to Lancaster, and it has a very distinctive profile, so the view from the south-east was oddly unfamiliar.

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Pen-y-ghent.

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Looking back towards Norber. Distant Pendle Hill on the left-hand skyline.

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From the area around Long Scar I’d turned left on a marvellous green lane which made the going very easy. Even through areas of limestone pavement…

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Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

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Pen-y-ghent.

The breeze was only gentle, but still chilling, so I was pleased, after passing through the gate into the large field called The Allotment, to find a small hollow by a stream which afforded some shelter.

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It was a real suntrap! Everything was coming up trumps. I parked myself beside the beck: time to get a brew on.

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A prospect to warm the hearts ♥.

I felt quite warm and cosy sunbathing here, although there was plenty of evidence that I was kidding myself a little:

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Ice diamonds? ♦

I’d been listening to Meadow Pippits serenading the sun and I think I saw a couple of Wheatears, although I couldn’t be sure. It was great to hear some birdsong after the cold spring we’ve endured.

I sat for around half an hour in the sun, but then it was time to get going again. After the very gentle climbing I’d been doing, the next section was a little steeper, but brought the compensation of even better views.

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Pen-y-ghent and Ribblesdale.

Soon I’d reached the top edge of the great bowl between Simon Fell and Ingleborough.

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And then I was on the ridge itself, with new views to take in.

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Whernside and the valley of the River Doe. (Doedale?)

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The western edge of Simon Fell and Souther Scales Fell.

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Black shiver? The fissured boulder on the left is so distinctively gritstone that it had me thinking of all the rock features of the Dark Peak which still seem so familiar even though it’s many years since I visited any of them.

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Black Shiver from the other direction. I think.

The broad plateau of the top of Ingleborough was busy with walkers eating their sandwiches. I walked around the edges, thinking I could find some sort of shelter, but it seemed to be impossible to get out of the icy wind. Even the four way shelter at the very top didn’t seem to offer much protection, so I decided not to join the clubs ♣.

So I carried on, dropping down towards the prominent notch which is where, at some time in the past, a landslip has dropped down the slopes (hence Falls Foot on the lower slopes).

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My descent took me past a layer of broken limestone crags…

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Which is what I was looking for. So I began clambering around beneath those, in search of the, initially elusive, Purple Saxifrage.

I spotted these prominent plant stalks in a cliff…

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They were much too large to be saxifrage, but intriguing none-the-less. I shall have to return later in the year to see if I can discover what this is.

Eventually I found what I was looking for…

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…but the flowers weren’t quite open. Or not many of them were…

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I’d read that the flowers are purple when they first open, then gradually turn pink. There’s quite a contrast in fact, with the flowers we saw last year:

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Further exploration brought me to a dramatic spot…

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…where, with snow on steep ground, a limestone cliff above and another cliff, of a different rock, below, I decided that discretion was required and turned back.

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Panorama of Whernside. Click to see larger version.

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Whernside and the extensive limestone pavements of Raven Scar and Twisleton Scar, part of the Great Scar Limestone.

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Gritstone rockfall below limestone crags. To say that the geology of this area is complex is a massive understatement.

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The Yoredale Series are layers of sedimentary rocks – limestones, sandstones, shales and a cap of gritstone – which characterise the Yorkshire Dales. In the photo above you can see two sets of crags, the lower limestone, the higher gritstone with gritstone boulders below the limestone.

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The crags at the top of The Falls. In shade still.

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And, on the other side of the gully, free of snow.

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Icicles, in spades. ♠

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Still quite cold, then!

Just along the edge from the Falls there are two heaps of stones…

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…that looked likely to be the remains of some sort of manmade structures. There’s a long history of Ingleborough being occupied, with an Iron Age hill-fort and hut circles and, even more improbably, a very short-lived Hospice Tower built in 1830, the base of which can still be seen on the summit. What age or purpose these small rocky piles might have had, I don’t know, but it’s interesting to speculate.

I climbed part of the way back towards the summit, detouring once again to check out a couple more limestone crags and find some more saxifrage.

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One short climb brought me to the Limestone Load, a level shelf between the two sets of crags which had gritstone features on the surface, but also a long line of dolines…

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Some of which had obvious limestone features…

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I was heading for Little Ingleborough…

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Looking back to the summit.

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Little Ingleborough.

On the descent from Little Ingleborough I finally found somewhere sufficiently sheltered to make me feel inclined to stop for another brew and a late lunch.

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Gaping Gill – Fell Beck falls 98m into the largest underground chamber in England which is naturally open to the surface.

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Gaping Gill pano.

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Bar Pot, another entrance to the Gaping Gill system. An exit too: whilst I was taking the photo some scraping sounds augured the emergence of a lone caver.

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Trow Gill.

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The path descends through Trow Gill, apparently formed by a meltwater torrent at the end of the last ice age.

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Foxholes a cave where human and animal remains have been found.

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Clapham Beck Head where the water from Gaping Gill finally resurges.

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Clapham Beck is one of the sources of the River Wenning and so is another tributary of the Lune, so that this walk is another instalment of my exploration of the Lune catchment area.

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Ingleborough Cave. I haven’t been in there for years, but it’s well worth a visit. Must take the kids.

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Clapham Beck.

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Since I dropped into the shelter of Trow Gill it had been feeling much warmer, so in Clapdale Wood I stopped for one final cup of tea.

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The Lake. Imaginatively named, don’t you think? And – it’s a reservoir.

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Clapham Beck.

Scenes from Clapham…

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Market Cross.

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In ‘Walks in Limestone Country’, Wainwright wrote:

Of the many walks described in this book, the ascent of Ingleborough from Clapham is pre-eminent, the finest of all, a classic. A lovely village….charming woodlands……..an enchanting valley……natural wonders………a climb to a grand mountain-top. Oh yes, this is the best.

I can’t help feeling that in amending my plan for the day I made a good choice. You might say that I played my cards right. Or that I was dealing from a full-deck.

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What’s that? Which birthday was it? Haven’t you worked that out yet? Just to clear-up any ambiguity: I didn’t come across any humorous types on Ingleborough. No jokers, you might say. Which leaves?

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My mapping app gives 13½ miles and just over 2000′ of climbing. Not a bad little outing.

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No Jokers on Ingleborough

Little and Often: Progress Report

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Somehow the end of February slid by without any mention here of my progress, or otherwise, towards the target I’ve set myself of walking 1000 miles this year, above and beyond the pottering about I do at home and at work. This wasn’t because I’d fallen behind; I didn’t quite match January’s total, it’s true, but with a little over 120 miles logged, I had much more than I need to reach my, admittedly arbitrary, target.

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These photographs are from one of my ‘little and often’ strolls. The day after our friends left us was once again wet, but it briefly brightened up in the afternoon, so I took my chance for a standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots.

These are the benches where I sometimes sit to watch the sun set, currently graced by an entourage of Daffodils.

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I’ve been enjoying a website, Other-Wordly, “about strange and lovely words” and one of the words which I hope will stick with me is smultronställe, a Swedish term,

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Maybe these benches are not wild enough, or private enough, to match that description, but otherwise they’re a perfect fit.

The rain may have paused for a while, but the evidence of it’s recent ubiquity was everywhere to see…

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Even on the Lots, which usually stay reasonably dry…

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By the time I came back through the village, the skies were leaden again, presaging the imminent arrival of more wet.

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Here’s my calendar for February, from Mapmywalk…

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By contrast, March looks a little spartan…

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..and it’s true that illness and general busyness did hamper my efforts somewhat. In fact, at one point, I did find myself bitterly contemplating the possibility of a blogpost entitled something along the lines of ‘Too Little, Less Often’, but despite my misgivings, I still just about crept over the required mileage for a month, so that’s okay then. In fact, as of today, I’ve just passed 400 miles for the year so far.

In a similar vein: last night I was updating my ‘Birkett Tick List‘ page, essentially a list of the hills in the Lake District which I’ve climbed since I started to write this blog, back in 2008. I was engrossed in the technicalities of editing the page – something I’ve had trouble with, which is why it was almost two years behind, but it was quite enlightening to look back at two years of walks and realise that in that time I’d actually climbed far more hills than I expected. At one point, A was looking over my shoulder and pointed out to me that the list has become quite a long one. And she’s right: without ever really applying myself, I do seem to have accumulated a fair few ascents. Now, admittedly, the Lakes are compact and it’s often possible to tick-off several hills in a single walk. And also, it’s taken me 10 years to build-up a substantial tally, but I still feel like this is another victory for the steady , softly-softly, tortoise (rather than hare) approach.

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Blea Tarn Hill – somewhere I might never have visited without Birkett’s list to encourage me. Not a lot of effort being expended here, but we actually managed to claim a fair number of summits that day.

Little and Often: Progress Report

Scout Scar, Helsington Church, Brigsteer Woods

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Easter Monday was a bit of a wash out. We stayed in and played more games and chilled. Eventually, when the rain paused briefly, Andy and I set out on a wander around Eaves Wood. Of course, the weather had just been lulling us into a false sense of security and it was soon drizzling, and then chucking it down again. Everywhere was clarted up with mud again and, almost inevitably, one of my slips led to a proper both-feet-in-the-air-arse-in-the-mud pratfall. By that time I think we were both already considering giving up and heading home, but that banished any doubts and we made a beeline for dry clothes and hot tea with me looking and feeling like Swamp Thing.

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I didn’t take many photos. Just one in fact, of some puddles in our driveway…

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The Tuesday was forecast to start in much the same way, but then brighten up. We’d already arranged to meet The Tower Captain and his daughter S for a walk; the Surfnslide crew decided that they would stay another day to squeeze in one more walk and catch up with TTC. I didn’t fancy another walk in the rain (I’m not sure anyone else was all that keen either) so we elected to wait for the weather to improve before we set off. We were just finishing our lunchtime soup, watching it still rain through the kitchen windows, and cursing the forecasters, when the rain finally stopped, right on queue. We left a car at the southern end of Brigsteer Woods, piled into the other two cars and parked those in the smaller of the two car parks on the Underbarrow – Kendal road. That car park is in a small, old quarry. Almost inevitably, the DBs saw this as a brilliant opportunity to do some climbing and scare the wits out of the rest of us.

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A very small climb soon brings you out on the highest part of Scout Scar, which has marvellous views of the higher hills of the lake District.

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We were a sociable group of ten, or twelve if you count TTC’s two dogs.

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This…

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…is The Mushroom, a shelter built in 1912 to commemorate the Coronation of King George V. The inside of the rim of the roof has a pictorial topograph which picks out the many hills and places which can be seen from this relatively modest top.

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Scout Scar panoramas. Click on these, or any other photos, to see larger images on flickr.

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Almost inevitably (there’s a theme emerging here surely?), despite the sunshine, there was a cold wind blowing. Little S thought maybe he could use his coat to glide on it.

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Unlike Whitbarrow, on Scout Scar there’s a path right along the edge. We were walking south, away from the Lakeland fells, but the temptation was always there to turn back to admire the view along the edge back to those hills.

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Not that the view the other away was at all shabby…

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Scout Scar, Kent Estuary, Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott, Lyth Valley, River Gilpin, Whitbarrow. Meadow Ant mounds in the foreground.

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The ‘new’ wetland at Park Moss.

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St. John’s Church, Helsington, built in 1726.

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These painted Royal coats-of-arms are a feature of the small, rural churches in this area. Both Witherslack Church and St. Anthony’s on Cartmell Fell have them too. This one is the coat-of-arms of King William IV, crowned in 1830.

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Mural, painted in 1919 by Miss Saumarez.

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Park Moss and Whitbarrow Scar.

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The paths through Brigsteer Woods were something of a quagmire, not surprisingly after a day and a half of rain. But there was some compensation in the form of the daffodils which fill some parts of these woods at this time of year.

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A short walk, but one packed with interest.

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We had to rush back, not just because the Surfnslide party had a long homeward journey to undertake, but also because TTC had one final treat for our long-weekend planned, to wit a trip up the village church tower. I made it as far as the first floor…

 

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…but declined the rather spindly looking ladder and the balancing act around the bells above to get to the roof. The photos I took didn’t come out too well, but The Tower Captain really looks in his element here doesn’t he?

Scout Scar, Helsington Church, Brigsteer Woods

At The Water’s Edge

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When I quoted Heraclitus a couple of posts back, I already knew that I’d soon be posting again about pretty much the same walk – around the coast to Arnside and over the Knott on the way home. Here’s an alternative translation of that quote:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

My ancient Greek is not up to much, which is to say non-existent, so I don’t know whether this is more or less accurate, but I suspect the shorter, more pithy version is the correct one. However, this serves my purpose and works even better if I’m allowed some licence with the wording…

No man ever walks beside the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

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This walk, despite all the similarities with my trip with Little S, was also very different. We had more company, the weather was better and the tide was right in, which makes everything look different and requires some adjustment of the route.

We’ve done this walk many times, many, many times*, we’ve even done it on Easter Sunday before, although Little S won’t remember that since he was too little then to join us.

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It’s not often though that I’ve seen the tide this far in, the only occasion I can remember before was a fairly wild day several years ago.

 

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You can see from the shingle beach at White Creek that this is not a particularly high tide…

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We could see flotsam left much higher up the beach by previous tides, but it’s not often that we time it right to see it this way.

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Grange from White Creek.

The consensus opinion was that we should continue around the coast, although at times I wondered whether we would make it all the way round without getting our feet wet.

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At New Barns the road was clear; we’ve been there in the past when the sea was over the road.

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Closer to Arnside, we had to divert slightly into the small municipal garden because the water had completely covered the riverside path.

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And then we had to clamber along some rocks to reach the path by the Coastguard Station….

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We had a table for eleven booked at Gado Gado,  Little S and I having decided that it definitely passed muster after our scouting mission a few days before, and despite the high tide we timed our arrival perfectly. (I had booked the table pretty late, knowing full well what we are like.)

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Once again the food was excellent, or at least my scallops and tuna were. I tried A’s vegetable curry and that was also delicious, and it seemed that everybody else enjoyed their’s too.

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Once again, we took a circuitous route up Arnside Knott. The views were superb as usual, but it had turned quite gloomy so I didn’t take any photos. The Coniston Fells, and Fairfield and Helvellyn all had a good covering of snow and we could even see the snows on Skiddaw, over Dunmail Raise.

From the trig pilar, we decided to take the path around the south side of the summit, which skirts the top of the steep scree slopes and gives a bird’s-eye view of Arnside Tower Farm, Middlebarrow Wood and Holgates Caravan Park.

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Silverdale Moss and Ingleborough in the distance from the Knott.

*I love radio comedy and Little S and I have been listening to Round the Horne. He seems to have particularly latched on the Betty Marsden’s catch phrases ‘many times, many, many times’ and ‘allo cheeky face’. I shall be trying him on Hancock’s Half Hour next.

 

At The Water’s Edge

Farleton Fell – a long awaited encounter.

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“Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; they are the life, the soul of reading…”

Laurence Sterne quoted in I Put a Spell on You by John Burnside.

Some years ago now, I went to a meeting of the Mourholme Local History Society. I’ve only ever attended two of the meetings, one on the Silverdale Hoard and the other on maps of the area, and I enjoyed them both enormously, I really should make the effort to go again. Anyway, during the talk on maps I learned that on some early maps, before the concept of contours had been hit upon, hills were pictorially depicted, with the size of the picture presumably reflecting the perceived height of the hill in question.

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On Robert Morden’s map of Westmorland and Cumberland (1695), Farleto Knothill is one of the biggest hills, not just locally, but on the entire map. Oddly, it’s shown on the west side of the coach road through Burton, now the A6070, when it’s actually to the east. Since Morden relied on information sent by ‘Gentlemen of the County’, rather than carrying out surveys, these errors are perhaps not all that surprising. I assume that the prominence given to Farleto Knothill was precisely because it loomed over the coach road, dominating the view of travellers and appearing to be much larger than it actually is.

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These days it also looms over Junction 36 of the M6, the South Lakes turn, and has become a very familiar landmark to visitors who drive up to the Lake District from the South. Andy had often mentioned that he had never climbed Farleton Fell, although he has frequently driven past it. Time to put that right.

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We made a late start, but whether that was due to sleeping-in, board game-playing, poor weather, general indolence or a combination of those factors, I’ve already forgotten.

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What I shan’t forgot is how unseasonably cold it was. The wind was bitter and I was woefully underdressed. I ended up borrowing a hat from TBH who took pity on me and made do with her hood.

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Even on a gloomy day, the views are vast and we took advantage of that fact by heading west first to then follow the limestone edge up to the top.

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Looking toward Whitbarrow and the Kent Estuary.

Burnside uses the Sterne quote as an epigraph at the start of his book, which I suppose serves as fair warning that this memoir of a sort, is brim full of digressions. Since I finished ‘I Put a Spell on You’, I’ve been reading Graham Hoyland’s ‘Walking Through Spring’ an account of a walk from the Dorset Coast to Gretna Green all taking place between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The full quote from Sterne, which is taken from ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’ is:

“Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine;—they are the life, the soul of reading;—take them out of this book for instance,—you might as well take the book along with them;”

Which is undeniably true of Sterne’s great novel. It also applies to ‘Walking Through Spring’, which is very enjoyable but which sometimes feels like it is less about the walk than a patchwork of the research sparked off by each location or wildlife encounter along the way. Hoyland is a fan of W.G.Sebald so this wide-ranging style is perhaps no surprise. I should say however, that I’m enjoying ‘Walking Through Spring’ whereas I was completely underwhelmed by ‘The Rings of Saturn’. Perhaps I should give it another go.

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Enjoying the view.

This very digressive style of writing about a walk at the very least avoids the ‘I went through the gate and over a stile. It rained. I had ham sandwiches for my lunch.’ blow-by-blow account of a walk which some authors too often descend to. That was one of the many topics we discussed on one of our walks over the Easter weekend and maybe that’s another thing which Hoyland captures – the way that the steady, slow pace of walking allows for wide-ranging conversations and for people to get to know each other well. (He is walking with his partner and also often with friends and relatives).

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Following the edge.

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I’ve always called this hill Farleton Fell. The National Trust, who own the land, have it as Holmepark Fell. The Ordnance Survey have both of those names, as well as Newbiggin Crags and Farleton Knott which seems to be attached to the slightly lower top which lies to the North of the main summit and is seen in the photo above.

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Looking back along the edge to Clougha Pike, Morecambe Bay and Warton Crag.

At the top we hunkered down behind the crags, following the example of small group of cows which were using the same shelter from the wind, and enjoyed the views for a while.

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Andy was insistent that we should go over to Farleton Knott, and he was absolutely right because that gave a great view back to the limestone crags and also, apparently, if you went far enough over, down to the M6 and Junction 36, which he was inexplicably excited about. I decided to forgo that particular pleasure.

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Unfortunately, Little S had fallen on the limestone pavement and skinned his knees, even through his trousers, so we took the most direct route back to where the cars were parked on the Clawthorpe Fell Road.

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Our route crossed several more areas of limestone pavement and Andy and I were both trying to catch with our cameras the fleeting bursts of sunshine as they passed over the rocks. I wasn’t anywhere near quick enough.

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I find maps, old or new, endlessly fascinating. You can find the Robert Morden map here. It’s interesting to see what has been included and what left out. It’s no surprise that Silverdale is not there, in 1695, and that Warton is there. The spellings are interesting too: Armside Toure, Helvillin Hill; which is not as big as Farleto Knothill incidentally. It was Robert Morden who published, in 1672, a pack of cards each of which showed a map of one of the counties of England and Wales.

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I imagine original 1672 cards are hard to come by, but in 1972 facsimile sets were produced. Over the weekend we played lots of games, though I think it’s fair to say that King Domino was the most popular. I was grateful to TJS though for reminding me how much fun can be had with a few friends and a pack of cards. He introduced us to a game I’ve never played before, but with incredibly complicated variant rules which he remembered in stages as we played and which had me pretty much crying with laughter as had repeatedly said: “Oh, and another thing…”

Farleton Fell – a long awaited encounter.