The weather over Christmas was a bit dismal. This walk, on the day after Boxing Day, had the most promising forecast, and in the event was mostly dry. We chose a route over smallish hills since that seemed to offer the best chance of some views. We’d parked in Orton. The stream we followed out of the village eventually becomes Chapel Beck and flows into the Lune so that this walk, although I didn’t realise it at the time, is part of my exploration of the Lune catchment.
TBH had come out without a hat and so is wearing my Aldi fleece hat which I’ve subsequently lost – a real shame since I really liked it. It was, however, too big for TBH. The farm behind TBH is Broadfell and beyond that is Orton Scar.
I was surprised by how busy Beacon Fell was, expecting to find it deserted. Knott, on the other hand, was very quiet – we didn’t see anyone up there and there wasn’t much of a path.
The long limestone knoll in the centre of the photo above is Castle Folds the site of a Romano British settlement – I shall have to come back to have a closer look – perhaps when it’s a bit warmer.
Back in the village, we discovered that a bus shelter had been turned into a charity secondhand bookstall, with an honesty box – so I came away with a couple of books. Yet another good reason to come back some time to this fascinating area.
We’d had an amazing couple of days – I suppose it was too much to expect a third day of blue skies and cloud inversions? Still, the weather wasn’t terrible, so it made sense to make the most of it and knock-off the third of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
We took what seems to have become my habitual route, starting at Horton in Ribblesdale, then up from Brackenbottom and back past Hunt Pot.
During the highest part of the walk we were subjected to a strong and very chilly wind, which severely discouraged hanging around.
I took a handful of photos, but I think these two are sufficient to capture the flavour of the day. At least this last one shows that there were some fleeting gaps in the cloud allowing a bit of sunshine to get through…
…not that we ever contrived to be in the right spot to catch any of those rays!
A bit of a drab day – but three hill-walks in three days to start the festive period – I’ll take that!
The next day, a Sunday, we were better prepared. Up and out! The early bird and all that. We were walking just before 11 – practically an Alpine start! We were a much smaller party, with many of the group having opted for a waterfalls walk from Ingleton. The weather was magnificent again.
As ever, the Ribblehead Viaduct looked stunning; even more so when a train crossed for some reason.
Andy had a cunning plan, we first followed the railway line as far as Force Gill. There we turned uphill – this is a route I’ve taken many times recently, but where a second left turn would have taken us up towards the Greensett Tarn and the top, instead we continued on, following the Craven Way path which curls around the shoulder of Whernside and down into Dentdale. This is where Andy’s cunning plan came into play – we left the path at it’s high point and struck across the moor to hit the ridge by the Whernside tarns.
Well, most of us did, UF and the Prof had some objection to this idea, I think they were worried about getting mud on their shoes, or something equally daft. Here they are…
We were constantly entertained by the mist on the move: flowing down Arten Gill’s steep valley and across the moors towards Ingleborough.
This chap was trying to take off, without much success, he would run toward the steeper ground, but then the wind would drag him and his chute back again.
It had been quite mild during our ascent, but it was really quite chilly on the top. The views were stunning – the air was so clear that we could pick out the Isle of Man and the hills of North Wales, both poking above the sea of cloud.
A couple of cracking days which will live long in the memory.
Our little group of friends has been getting together for a weekend before Christmas for donkey’s years. We know what to expect from the weather – rain, rain and more rain. But not to worry, it’s a social weekend really, a chance to catch-up, eat too much food, retell ancient stories of times long gone and maybe sink a few beers.
So, this year, when Saturday morning revealed clear blue skies and sunshine, I think we were a bit unprepared. How else to explain the fact that we didn’t leave our accommodation at Gearstones Lodge until nearly midday, after our usual gargantuan cooked breakfast?
We cut across the fields to Gauber, heading for a steep ascent of Park Fell.
From Park Fell we followed a minor tread which accompanied the drystone wall to Simon Fell.
The cloud inversion was superb, I took lots of photographs – we probably all did – but they all look a bit the same! At the time we also had great fun trying to identify the high ground which was poking through the fog, but, out of context, I’m struggling to do the same with the photos. Not that I was very accurate at the time anyway. I think I managed to find at least three Pendle Hills!
I’ve seen photos from Morecambe FC’s home match that day, some of the boy’s friends were there, and I’m surprised that the match wasn’t abandoned, the visibility was so poor. I doubt that the opposing goalkeepers could see each other. Had you been down in the fog, you might have no idea of the sunshine and clear air so close at hand.
I’d been left well behind as we completed the final climb onto Ingleborough. Just as I arrived on the huge summit plateau I encountered B running back to meet me. My heart sank, I didn’t think he would have good news.
“Have you got a first-aid kit? S has spilt his chin open.”
Apparently, S had slipped and broken his fall with his chin. His hands were scratched and grazed too. Fortunately, by the time I reached the wind-shelter on the top, UF had produced a first-aid kit and a kind passer-by had also provided a suitable plaster.
We cleaned him up as best we could and improvised a dressing with a plaster and a covid face-mask.
The injury wasn’t as severe as last time he spilt his chin, but it was quite a deep wound and I thought that he might need stitches, so he and I left the others enjoying the views and their lunches to make a rapid return to Gearstones.
S and I were talking about this walk recently and he described the light as ‘magical’. It’s good to know that he was still enjoying himself despite the considerable pain he must have been suffering.
B must have come haring after us, because he caught up with us as we descended towards Park Fell.
It was only as arrived back at Gearstones that I remembered that our car was trapped in due to the double parking necessary to get all of our vehicles into the available space. I would have to wait anyway and needn’t really have rushed. It did give me a chance to have a quick shower while we waited. Our friend Doctor F, who had remained at Gearstones, had a look at the gash and was of the same mind, that S needed to visit casualty.
AT Dr F’s suggestion, we phoned Westmorland General Hospital, in Kendal, to check that we’d be okay to go to their Minor Injuries Clinic, rather than the much bigger and much busier A&E at Lancaster. We were, and so S got seen very quickly. It was now several hours since his fall and the doctor told us that the wound was already healing well and that steri-strips would be sufficient. Anyway, S and I were even able to get back in time for the communal meal and subsequent festivities. (A lot of pool and table tennis in the games room, I think)
A stunning day, with just a little too much excitement for my liking. Accident prone Little S is very stoical about these things, perhaps because of all the practice he has had. He was bitten by a dog last weekend, whilst doing his paper round, and didn’t seem very bothered at all – in fact was adamant that we shouldn’t report the incident because the owner was “very nice and apologetic”.
Jump forward a week from our walk from Carperby and the forecast was reasonably promising, but with strong winds part of that forecast, I decided to stick to low fells and an exploration of Torver Common. I parked close to where the Cumbria Way crosses the A5084 Coniston Road. Initially, I followed the Cumbria Way down to the shore of the lake, with some light rain falling intermittently.
In Torver Common Wood a path (not a right-of-way) led uphill toward open ground. There were many fallen trees after the storm of a week before and it was necessary to weave a way through, around or under the trees.
I was surprised, when I emerged from the trees, to discover that the Coniston Fells were all cloud free. They would remain so for most of the day, and would dominate the view from that point on.
Andy has been telling me for ages that I ought to stump up for the OS Maps app. Of course, he was right all along. I’ve got it now, and it was invaluable on this relatively pathless terrain.
Although there had been a fair bit of blue sky about for most of the day, there had also been a blanket of cloud blocking out the sun and it had been really quite gloomy as you can see from my photos. Then, as I’d almost finished my walk, it began to brighten up…
The final part of the walk, back on the Cumbria Way, was delightful.
No big hills, but a great leg-stretcher, and another indication that neither Covid nor plantar fasciitis were holding me back. What’s-more, Beacon Fell and Yew Bank are both ‘Outlying Fells’ although I wasn’t aware of that at the time, or I might have diverted slightly to include Wool Knott to the south of Beacon Tarn, which is another.
Every year, at the start of December, I get a Monday off work. Actually, this year, it was the last Monday in November. It’s intended as a Christmas shopping break, which is anathema to me, and I habitually moan about it, but despite my indifference to the idea, since the inception of this one day holiday, I’ve had a string of great days out.
This year was no exception. Happily, TBH, being part-time, gets a Monday off every fortnight and this fell on one of those Mondays. So she had transferred the booking she made for a night away, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, to the Sunday night after Storm Arwen.
We stayed at the Wheatsheaf at Carperby, in the Yorkshire Dales, which was very welcoming and comfortable, with nice beer and lovely food (if somewhat limited for vegans). On the Sunday evening we sat in the bar watching the Ladies’ Darts Team play a match and played cribbage ourselves, before retiring to our four-poster bed. (Don’t think I’ve slept in one before – can’t say I noticed any difference!)
On the Monday, the landlady was happy for us to leave our car in their carpark whilst we went for a walk, so we set-off from there, across the snowy fields and through the snowy woods…
…to Aysgarth Falls on the River Ure.
I don’t think I’ve ever been here before, which given that it’s about a forty-five minute drive from home is a bit of an oversight.
TBH left me at Middle Force, because she didn’t want to watch me scuttling around on the snow covered banks taking photos – she was worried I would fall in. When I eventually tried to catch her up, I couldn’t work out where she’d gone. It turned out she’d found a rocky little scramble which took us down to the bank of the river. A broad shelf of limestone, wet, icy, snowy, uneven – essentially an accident waiting to happen – gave a route back up toward the falls.
Could I resist temptation? Could I ‘eck!
The steep, rocky bank here was dripping wet and where the water was running down the rocks anything below was liable to have acquired a thick coating of ice. Twigs….
Even blades of grass…
From Lower Force, we climbed away from the Ure and across the fields towards the village of Castle Bolton, which is dominated by Bolton Castle.
I’m almost as much a sucker for castles as I am for waterfalls, and so was once again snapping away like a loon.
Bolton Castle is remarkably well preserved for an English Castle, most of which were ‘slighted’ during the Civil War. I shall definitely have to come back to have a proper look around at some point. And a peek in the church too.
There’s a very direct route from Castle Bolton via West Bolton back to Carperby. The wind had picked up and it was now bitterly cold. I really should have stopped and put more layers on.
The tea rooms at Yore Bridge had not yet opened when we got there, and Castle Bolton didn’t have anywhere serving refreshments (though I think the castle has a restaurant in the tourist season), so once we got back to Carperby, we drove to Hawes for a very late cafe lunch, then hurried home to meet the boys from the train.
Not only had I enjoyed the walk enormously for its own sake, I was also pleased that I’d had no obvious Covid fatigue hangover, and I’d had no problems with my Plantar Fasciitis. I’ve had issues with it for years, on and off, but recently it had been much worse. I’d seen a physio who had me working on a programme of stretches and I was pleased that they were seemingly having a positive impact. (And continue to do so.)
A post to (almost) clear-up November. On three successive weekends TBH and I got out for short local walks. Here she is on what was evidently a glorious Sunday at the Pepper Pot.
The week before, the day after my exhausting wander around Gait Barrows in the sun, we completed our standard Jenny Brown’s circuit.
It was a grey day and the only photographs I took were of these large toadstools growing on a tree in Sharp’s Lot.
On the final weekend in November A had a challenging journey, during storm Arwen, to collect B and I from a do at Kirkby Rugby club. Then, at around 2am, TBH and I were out in the gale, dismantling the trampoline which had begun the evening at the bottom of the garden, but which was now flying around our patio (which is several feet higher than the lawn where it started). The storm did quite a bit of damage – knocking out the downpipe from our gutters, moving a shed a few inches, destroying a section of fence as well as a gate etc. What’s more, we were without electricity for a quite a while – not quite 24 hours.
The path through the fields behind the house was closed due to felled telephone and powerlines, but since I could see all of the fallen lines, and avoid them, I decided to go that way anyway. One of the line of oaks had fallen…
And another, larger oak was down in the fields between Bottom’s Lane and The Row…
It was quite sad to see these trees, which I’ve photographed so many times, so swiftly destroyed.
We were actually meant to be away on this Sunday – TBH had managed to transfer our hotel booking from our postponed anniversary celebration a month before. But we didn’t get off until after dark, because B had an emergency appointment due to a suspected broken nose – a rugby injury. We might as well have gone anyway: the doctor told B that, since his breathing wasn’t affected, he could get his nose straightened out when he stops playing rugby, but not before.
Anyway, we did eventually get away – more about our brief trip in my next post.
Hagg Wood – The Row – Challan Hall – Hawes Water – Challan Hall Allotments – Silverdale Moss – Back Wood – Leighton Beck – Coldwell Meadows – Coldwell Parrock – Gait Barrows – West Coppice – Hawes Water – Challan Hall – Waterslack – Eaves Wood – Inman’s Road
Covid laid me up for a little over two weeks. Not a pleasant experience, obviously, but it could have been worse. The first week of that fortnight was half-term, we’d planned to meet up with my Brother, who was over from Switzerland with his kids, and my Mum and Dad. We’d also booked a night away to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. All that went out the window. On the plus side, I did listen to a lot of radio dramas.
I also felt like I’d missed out on a half-term’s worth of walking. So, in mid-November, on the Saturday after my first week back at work, when the skies were virtually cloud free, I was itching to get out for a walk.
The autumn colours were splendid, and there was fungi in abundance, particularly in Eaves Wood. I very much enjoyed the views and the light and the sunshine and taking lots of photos.
A drystone wall between the woods around Hawes Water and the meadows by Challan Hall was festooned with Harlequin ladybirds. A non-native species, which arrived in the UK as recently as 2004, they are enormously varied in colour and patterns. The air around the wall was full of them too. As I paused to get some photos with my phone, they began to land on me too. Apparently, they hibernate together in large groups. I assume that this wall, with its many cracks and crevices, is an ideal spot for that.
Whilst I was enjoying the weather and the sights, the walking was another matter. After about a mile, I was already feeling quite fatigued. Anyone with any sense would have turned back, but I kept walking away from home, getting increasingly tired. In the end, I walked a little over six miles, but the last couple were pretty purgatorial – I felt so tired I was tempted to lie down by the path and have a nap.
After this walk, I took it easier for a couple of weekends and have been okay since, except it took a while for my senses of smell and taste to come back, and now that they have some foods which I formerly enjoyed now taste revolting; peanut butter springs to mind, which used to be a favourite. Almonds too. Curiously, the things which taste bad all have the same foul flavour.
Anyway, back to the walk – I was taken by the contrast of the yellow leaves of the Blackthorn thicket and the blue sky behind, but also by the abundance of Sloes on the Blackthorn…
This bench, near Hawes Water was very welcome and I sat on it for quite a while, although it was fairly wet.
There was an absolute riot of fungi in Eaves Wood, fascinating to see, but extremely difficult to identify.
Unusually, I think I’ve enjoyed this walk more in retrospect than I did at the time. Can’t wait for some more bright and sunny days.
We’ve reached October in the world of my blog now. I’ll soon be caught up!(?)
The photos here are from a day with two walks. In the morning, it was the usual wander around Jenny Brown’s Point. It looks like the weather was good, so I’m surprised that I hardly took any photos.
Later, B was kick-boxing, I think his first time back after an extended lay-off following his knee surgery and a long course of physio to deal with pain and stiffness after the opp and the muscle imbalances which probably gave rise to the problem to begin with.
Whilst he was sparring, I had a wander along the Lune. This…
…is the newish bridge built to facilitate the new junction 34 on the M6. I was surprised, when the bridge was built, both by the huge size of the prefabricated metal spans and by the fact that they were already rusted, assuming that is rust?
This is the older M6 bridge…
…built with parallel spans of concrete. There’s a fair bit of graffiti on those supporting walls above the arches. Whenever I see graffiti in inaccessible places like that I wonder about who gets up there to do it? And how? And why?
Just a little way upriver from the motorway, some houses in Halton have fabulous looking gardens sloping gently down to the river. I was particularly taken by this fetching boathouse…
…which looks like it might be a family home too.
Finally, the following photo, taken on the Friday evening after these two walks, is the only one I took during the Lancaster Music Festival.
I should have taken more, it was a fantastic event. By this point I’d already seen, and heard, a couple of other acts, having stayed in Lancaster after work. A met me in the White Cross, and we met X-Ray somewhere after that. Later in the evening, the Herefordshire Hoofers arrived to catch the Uptown Monotones at the Storey Institute (my highlight of the weekend). We caught lots of other acts the following day. After being confined to barracks for so long, it was great to get back to socialising and seeing bands and having a few beers. Having said that, a week later I had Covid. None of the rest of our party did, however, so it’s equally possible that I caught it at work. I’ll never know. What I do know is that the dates for this year’s festival are the 13th to the 16th of October and that I shall be in attendance once again. Any takers?