Orographic Fog Sunset Carn Fadryn.

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At some point this summer, when I’ve been watching a sunset from a high vantage point, it occurred to me that in all the years we’ve been climbing Carn Fadryn and enjoying the Llyn Peninsula’s fabulous sunsets, we’ve never thought to combine the two. So I arrived in North Wales with an ambition. When I suggested it to Andy, his response made me think that he had perhaps been thinking exactly the same thing. Most of the rest of our party were keen too.

We chose an evening for our climb, but on the day, the weather didn’t seem too promising. For much of the day, Carn Fadryn had been completely obscured by cloud. Then the cloud began to lift, but a persistent cap of cloud hid the top part of the hill. Briefly Carn Fadryn cleared completely, giving us a degree of hope, but by the time we set-off the cloud had once more enveloped almost all of the hill and we climbed in dense, wet mist…

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I suppose we might have abandoned our idea, but it’s a short climb and this walk, up Little S’s ‘Birthday Hill’, is a fixture of our holidays. He wouldn’t forgive us if we didn’t climb it at some point, although this was still a few days before his actual birthday.

As we approached the summit however, something in the light seemed to promise more than we could have anticipated…

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Maybe the cloud would clear…

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But it was a bit more complicated than that. I’m not sure whether I’ve ever wondered before about how, on a windy day, a hill can retain a permanent cap of cloud. In fact, that isn’t what was happening at all. The wind was driving moist air from over the sea and as that air hit the slopes of Carn Fadryn it was forced to rise – called, apparently, orographic lift – and cooled down in the process, causing moisture to condensate out and hence forming clouds. Those clouds were almost immediately dispersed by the wind, but were soon replaced by new clouds formed by the wind following on behind.

The effect, from our point of view, was of sudden clearing and disappearing views. The next three photos, taken in quick succession, give some idea of what we could see.

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I’ve enthused many times before about the wonderful views from Carn Fadryn; on this occasion we only had brief and partial views, but it was completely exhilarating.

Whilst it wasn’t raining, it might as well have been: the air was so damp that we soon realised that we were soaked.

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We couldn’t see the sun, a high blanket of cloud was hiding it, but we could see a line of light reflected in the sea, a sort of secondhand sunset.

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It was cold. The kids had sort-out shelter on the leeward side of the summit rocks and were agitating for a beginning to our descent. Inappropriately clothed in just t-shirt and shorts, I could see their point of view and eventually, reluctantly, joined them on the path back towards the cars. Only the Adopted Yorkshire Man and the Shandy Sherpa stayed on the summit, but as I walked away I heard more whoops of excitement from behind me.

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The sun had dropped below the high cloud and was suffusing the fog with colour.

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TBF and I turned back for the top, so that we could watch the show…

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It was all too brief, the sun soon dropping behind another band of cloud…

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But I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before.

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It wasn’t the warm, peaceful sunset viewing I had envisaged, but probably all the more memorable for that.

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Post sunset sky from the camp-site later.

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Orographic Fog Sunset Carn Fadryn.

Three Weeks Under Canvas: Kubb at Towyn Farm

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So, as the title implies, we’re recently back from three weeks of camping. The late-evening photo above shows our trusty Conway Countryman trailer tent, with Carn Fadryn in the background. Long-suffering readers will know that this was the thirteen annual get together at Towyn Farm near the village of Tudweiliog on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsula (although, only our twelfth, because we skipped 2009 to go to Germany for my aunt’s birthday instead.)

This year we were a party of 17, at least when everybody was there. Different members of the group arrived and left at various times, some only there for the weekend, others staying for longer. We were late, the boys and I arriving early on the Sunday after an early-hours start. We should have been there on the Saturday, but muppetry on my part, including not being able to locate the pump for the tap (it was in the sink) and not remembering, until B reminded me as we were about set-off, that the number plate on the trailer needed to match the ones on our new (to us) car. TBH and A arrived later still, on the train, having stayed behind because A had her DofE Bronze expedition that weekend.

Anyway, once we were safely pitched up, we had the usual marvellous time. The mornings were often misty and damp, but the weather always improved by the afternoon and we spent our afternoons on the beach. In fact, we settled into a rhythm of a late and leisurely breakfast, a late lunch and a very late evening meal, usually followed by one final visit to the beach, in the gloaming, and a late retirement to bed. I’m not sure whether the prevailing weather dictated our behaviour or if it just fit in conveniently with our lazy inclinations.

After so many visits, we have a routine for the beach too, alternating swimming with games of tennis, cricket and some frisby throwing. I don’t have any photos, because I don’t like to take my camera to the beach. After all of the fresh water swimming we had been doing, the temperature of the Irish Sea came as something of a shock – it was freezing. But that didn’t prevent some of the kids from spending hours in there.

The game of Kubb has become part of our regular routine too. My brother bought us a set several years ago, and it has to be one of the best presents ever (and he excels at presents). I’ve never seen anyone else playing it and our games always seem to attract attention and questions wherever and whenever we play. (As does Andy’s enormous space-age trailer-tent).

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It’s a good game for parties like ours, since up to twelve can play, in two teams. Essentially it involves knocking down wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them, which makes it sound rather dull, but it isn’t at all. When we play, it also involves a great deal of barracking, banter, gamesmanship and accusations of cheating and, in the case of the game in these photos, a fair deal of hubris too. The team on the right here, who had, in fairness, won once already, had been ahead in this game too, but are now on the point of losing.

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You can find the rules here. Andy will be disappointed to find that ‘kubbs that right themselves due to the momentum of the impact are considered knocked down’ since that happened to him and, despite his quite correct insistence, we overruled him and let the offending kubb stay upright. Disappointed is probably the wrong word. Disgruntled, unsettled, indignant, might all be closer. Indignation is one of his strong suits, though, in truth, his bark is much worse than his bite. Once he knows the truth, we will never hear the end of it, that’s for sure.

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During one of our late trips to the beach, I think on the same evening that I took this photo, we saw several seals popping above the surface briefly to watch us, watching them. I’ve seen seals along this coast before, but usually early in the mornings, and not by this relatively busy stretch of beach.

Three Weeks Under Canvas: Kubb at Towyn Farm

Lazing by Wastwater

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During our walk up Lingmell, we passed some very promising pools in Lingmell Beck. As usual B was very keen to swim. On the way up , we didn’t really have time, and on the way down we were also a bit pushed: I gave B an option and he chose a barbecue without a swim over a quicker meal with a swim. So, it would be a good thing if we could incorporate a dip into our plan for Sunday. A meanwhile, has problems with her knee at the moment, and it had swollen up and was uncomfortable, so a day without a walk would suit her. Once we’d packed up our tents then, we decided to drive down to where there’s parking close to the shore of Wastwater so that we could have a leisurely picnic and maybe a brief bathe. Having heard our plan, J, C and M opted to join us. For the picnic anyway.

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A and B chilling out.

We did a fair bit of loafing, picnicked, skimmed and threw a few stones…

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I watched a pair of Merganser’s out in the lake, hoping that they would come close enough in shore for me to get some half-way decent photos. They didn’t. Also on an ornithological front: I forgot to mention that I’d already heard my first Cuckoo of the year at the campsite, which is becoming an annual event.

B and I did go for a swim eventually. Wastwater is England’s deepest lake, and the water was very, very cold. Still it was fun, if short-lived. It was instructive to paddle across the mouth of the stream which you can see in the photo above – the water flowing in the stream was noticeably, considerably warmer.

Meanwhile, the girls had decided to give J a makeover. She demanded that I take her photo for the blog to ‘make her famous’. So….

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I’m not sure that J actually reads my blog, but all three followers and my Mum will now get to see her Pippi-Longstocking Got Married look. It’s sure to catch on.

Lazing by Wastwater

Piers Gill, Lingmell and the Corridor Route.

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B outside St. Olaf’s Church, Wasdale Head.

A’s DofE training finished earlier than I had anticipated and we were able to make a leisurely trip up to Nether Wasdale and still arrive with plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine and have a barbecue with some of our friends. Church Stile campsite was heaving, perhaps because of the excellent forecast, but we were able to squeeze in next to J and C and C’s schoolfriend M. It’s a good job that I’d decided not to bother with the trailer tent however, because the ‘large grass plot’ we’d paid for was far from large. Church Stile is a first rate campsite, but extra fields have been added and all of the fields were, frankly, over-full. It was still quiet and friendly, but hot water for showers or washing-up was hard to come by, there were too many people on the site for the facilities to cope with. Hopefully, this was a one off: we’ve been many times before and have always been impressed.

Anyway, rant over, back to the real business of this post: other friends of ours were scattered over the site, some in vans, some in caravans, although others were missing, and much missed.  After a very leisurely breakfast, some of us gathered together to set off for a walk. Driving down to Wasdale Head proved to be a bit of a trial, with some real muppetry on display on the narrow lanes and idiotic parking at the end of the valley, but we managed to find spaces despite our very late start.

First port of call on the walk was the tiny church at Wasdale Head. The church is very old, these roof-beams reputedly came from a Viking longship.

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One of the windows apparently has an engraving of Napes Needle, which I seem to have missed – I shall have to go back to investigate.

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The post title pretty succinctly summarises our route. On the OS map, there’s a dotted line which follows the twists and turns of the edge of the deep ravine of Piers Gill. In years of visits to Wasdale, I’ve never climbed that path even though the prospect has always intrigued me. Time to put that right.

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Great Gable from Moses’ Trod.

Great Gable would dominate the view all day, which is no bad thing.

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Gable again.

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Walking beside Lingmell Beck.

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Crossing Spouthead Gill.

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Great Gable again!

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Crossing Greta Gill.

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The deep cleft of Piers Gill ahead.

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Greta Gill.

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Piers Gill with Lingmell behind.

The ascent beside Piers Gill was steep and I was still suffering with a rattling cough, which is my way of saying that I was very slow and probably held the others up no end. But they should probably thank me for that: this is rough, inspiring mountain scenery which, in my opinion, has no equal, in England at least. I can think of hills in Scotland which are crag-bound and steep and as awe-inspiringly formidable as this area, but I can’t think of a match in the Lakes. There was even a little easy scrambling to be had – which was highly amusing, as the children were solicitously checking that the adults were ‘alright’.

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The path beside Piers Gill.

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Looking across one bank of the gill to Gable (of course).

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B admiring the ravine.

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The Adopted Yorkshireman on Lingmell.

We seemed to have numerous lunch stops, but I didn’t take advantage of any of them for a collective group photo. I think I was genuinely a bit worn out. Eventually, we made it to Lingmell.

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Gable and Styhead Tarn from Lingmell.

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Scafell Pike and Scafell from Lingmell.

Old Father Sheffield half-mooted the idea of continuing on to Scafell Pike, but his suggestion didn’t meet with any enthusiasm. Scafell Pike is always thronged, even on a rotten day, and today it looked like it was absolutely overrun. Besides which, A and B and I were up there relatively recently. And I was already cream-crackered.

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Red Pike, Pillar and Kirk Fell.

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The Screes and Wastwater.

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A filling our bottles from one of the streams which feed Piers Gill.

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By Piers Gill again.

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Heading down the Corridor Route. OFS seems to have a hankie on his head. I think it was actually an Eddy Merckx style cycling cap.

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Round How and Great End.

I suggested diverting to Round How and Lambfoot Dub, but then decided that was too much effort and left the AYM to do it on his own.

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Looking back down the valley towards Wasdale Head.

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Piers Gill and Lingmell from our descent route.

We came down a superb, well-made path, clearly very old, with nice easy zig-zags. I felt sure that I had been down this way before, perhaps it was with CJ when we stayed at the Wasdale Head Hotel.

Gable still dominated the view. Here’s some close-ups, using my camera’s zoom…

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Napes Needle on the left. (I think).

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Napes Needle?

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A superb day. I’ve been walking in these hills, with these same friends (well, the AYM anyway), for over thirty years. I hope that this day will live as long in the memories of the four children who were with us as many of my previous outings have with me.

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Later, back at the campsite, another barbecue. B and I had Church Stile’s own Herdwick burgers, which were delicious. Then, for the second night running, a chinwag around a wood-fire burning in the portable fire-pit which TBH bought me for Christmas. B tended the fire whilst I sampled some Ennerdale Brewery Beer. I didn’t know there was an Ennerdale Brewery until I saw some bottles in the camp site shop, but I can now report that their beers are very palatable. Marvellous.

 

Piers Gill, Lingmell and the Corridor Route.

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.