Very nearly the exact same route as the walk in my last but one post, but with better company. I didn’t take many photos, I was probably whittering too much. We only had a brief window, as the Jones clan needed to drop off the Prof and get home; I suggested this route over any others because I knew the daffs at Far Arnside would still be worth seeing. The view from the Knott takes some beating too.
The end of March, and another meet up of our little group of hill-walking friends, expertly organised, as ever, by Andy, even down to finding a perfectly situated little parking area just off the Fair Mile Road in the Lune Gorge. TBH had driven and, as navigator, I had chosen to bring her the most direct way, over the very, very narrow Crook of Lune Bridge*, a choice of which she thoroughly approved, in no way castigating me for my decision or filling the car with invective as she gingerly inched across.
(*Confusingly, there’s another Crook of Lune, near to Caton, much further down the river)
Andy had a box-ticking exercise in mind, wanting to visit a couple of tops which were new to him, but fortunately his route was also a very pleasant walk, so we’ll let him off.
Little S had joined us, mostly, I think, due to the promise of a slap-up meal in Lancaster after the days exertions, and he was appalled by our determination to stop approximately every ten yards for a natter/breather/photo opportunity.
Little S wasn’t overly impressed either with the long stop we had on Linghaw, ostensibly for drinks and snacks, but quickly becoming a sunbathing/snoozing stop.
The hill behind our little group here is Grayrigg Forest, which we visited together not so long ago, on what was probably another box-ticking exercise. The weather had been a bit grey that day, but this time we had struck it lucky with plenty of sunshine and blue skies.
I think of Fell Head as a favourite spot because it’s a great viewpoint, and I used to bring a packed tea up here after work during the few years I lived in Arnside. In my head, I did this many times, but since I only lived in Arnside for four years and the window when the evenings are light enough is quite short, and because I think of other hills with much the same affection, for the same reasons, I suspect I only actually did it a couple of times.
Anyway, back then I would sit and eat my tea, and watch the traffic far below on the M6 and then head back to my car, but we had a ridge to traverse…
We had an even longer lunch/nap stop on Height of Bush Howe, which was very relaxing, but which had the consequence that, with a table booked in Lancaster, we didn’t have time to include The Calf in our circuit, and we also needed to get our skates on to get back to our cars.
A great days walking, in fabulous company. The meal later, at Molly’s in Lancaster, was equally good. The night before, TBH and I had been at a Northern Soul night with our neighbours, and the day after a few of us met for another sunny walk. A perfect weekend!
MapMyWalk tells me that we walked 10.39km, but the map itself seems to be implying more like 12.4 – I’ve noticed discrepancies like this before. Maybe it’s my fault for pausing the app. It also gives 560 metres of ascent, which seems about right.
After their exertions of the day before, The Prof and The Tower Captain were both in need of an easier day. Obviously, I was up for another Big Day On The Hills, but felt that they needed my company. Well, okay, I was a bit tired too. I was also put off by a forecast which sounded like the winds would be even fiercer than they had been on the Saturday. I found a circuit on my OS maps app which looked ideal and wasn’t too far out of our way home.
We had a little drizzle, but the wind was quite mild, and later in the day, TC and I were both down to just a t-shirt – pretty mild for March!
With hindsight, we should have climbed Dunmore Fort which is not only a little higher than Bochastle Hill, but also has some very impressive looking defensive structures on its western side. Next time.
We chatted to one of the marshals who were out on the course for the Callander 10K which would be running later in the day and then walked down a road with a sign declaring it to be ‘a walking and cycling friendly road’. A nice idea, but it’s drivers that need to be friendly, not roads.
As the track through Coilhallan Wood descended towards Callander, there were tantalising views towards Ben Ledi, always partially obscured by trees…
We climbed Ben Ledi back in 2015, on another day with a ropey forecast, which I enjoyed enormously, despite the forecast proving to be largely correct.
We found a bench on the outskirts of Callander and sat by the river to eat our lunch, and watch runners coming by near the end of their 10K. They were of all shapes and sizes, ages, and speeds. Some were struggling, some clearly very happy. It made me feel quite nostalgic for the days when I used enter races of this kind myself.
From Callander, we walked back to the car park along the course of the former Callander to Oban railway line. In the field next to the line there are earthworks which betray the site of a Roman Fort. This is even further north than the Antonine Wall which stretched between the Clyde and Forth estuaries. It was built in AD85, which means it predates Hadrian’s Wall.
The next day it was back to work sadly, but at least I had some welcome company during my breakfast…
Our annual walking weekend in Scotland was back on the menu, after a Covid absence last year. On the Saturday, with a mixed forecast, but with the potential for clearing skies later in the day, most of the party were heading for Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, opposite our accommodation at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. The Tower Captain and I had ticked those off on a previous visit, and he was keen for fresh ‘bags’, so instead, we parked down by Loch Tulla, intending to climb Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar.
As we were on the bridge over the Abhainn Shira, four Red Deer stags waded across up stream – you can just about see them in the photo.
We started out in a light rain which quickly became a bit of a downpour. Not to worry, the scenery was still pretty spectacular despite the weather. Particularly the waterfalls…
…of the Allt Coire na Muic.
All of the streams seemed to be running pretty high, including the ones we had to cross…
The ascent route has some excellent zig-zags, which took some of the sting out of a steep slope. The rain desisted, but we soon into the cloud and a fairly strong wind.
By the time we reached the top of Stob a’ Choire Odhair it was extremely windy, the sort of wind which has you staggering about, and the wind was driving icy precipitation – either soft hailstones or hard snowflakes – into every nook and cranny of our clothing.
It was pretty fierce, and given that our ascent had taken rather a long time, I wasn’t at all keen on continuing to Stob Ghabhar. I was quite surprised, when I mentioned this, that TC immediately acquiesced.
We decided to drop down the ridge towards Stob Ghabhar, giving us a slightly different descent route. At one point, we dropped down a fairly steep, rocky section of path and suddenly the howling gale was stilled. The absence of the noise and the buffeting felt quite odd. We took advantage of this sheltered haven and stopped for hot drinks and butties.
The respite was short lived however, as soon as we resumed our descent we were back in the powerful hold of the storm and staggering about again.
And then we dropped slightly below the bealach into Coire Toaig and relative peace and calm…
Despite the fact that we had a couple more showers, the descent was delightful.
Our enjoyment was only tempered by the realisation that the others were probably enjoying superb views from their chosen hills, which had cleared and were bathed in sunshine, whilst our own route, or at least the higher part of it, remained stubbornly in the cloud…
What’s the opposite of schadenfreude? Rather than pleasure found in the misfortune of others, pain occasioned by another’s good luck? Of course, the Germans have a word for it – Gluckschmerz, literally luck-pain. You can see that TC is upset by it here…
Actually, I think we were both enjoying this part of the walk, now that it wasn’t raining and the views and scenery were rather good.
The shed behind TC is the Clashgour Hut, a corrugated iron monstrosity which belongs to Glasgow University Mountaineering Club. It’s bookable. Maybe it’s much more comfortable on the inside than the exterior suggested, but, frankly: rather you than me.
We saw a number of Red Deer stags as we neared the end of our walk, including one in the garden of one of the remote houses we passed.
Then, as we sat in the car gently steaming and finishing off the contents of our flasks, one wandered through the car park…
The day after my Sour Howes and Sallows walk, and I’m going back to Kentmere, this time parked in Staveley. A get-together has been organised, TBH is joining the group. B has a rugby match, but the Colts kick-offs are generally in the afternoon, so I decide that I can join for at least part of the walk.
After much faffing in Staveley, we didn’t get all that far before I had to reluctantly leave the group and head back for the car.
Craggy Wood was purchased, relatively recently I think, by Cumbria Wildlife Trust. I’ve had my eye on a visit there for many years, having seen it so often from Staveley.
The path initially climbs steeply through a felled area – the felling I suspect to remove non-native conifers – then rocks-up on the top edge of the wood, giving views over Spy Crag.
The path weaves its way through the trees and along the edges of some small crags. Now I need to go back in the summer, when the trees are in leaf and, of course, in the autumn when no doubt the colours will be magnificent.
More by luck than good judgement, I arrived home at almost exactly the time I’d told B I would. True to form, however, he wasn’t ready anyway. Still, we made it in plenty of time for the match.
Andy’s account of the rest of the group’s longer walk is here.
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”.
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?
UF was up from Manchester since we had tickets to see Martin Simpson and Martin Taylor at the Brewery Arts in Kendal. I invited TC to bring his dogs out for a walk around the village with us. We started in Eaves Wood with a visit to the Pepper Pot, then walked through Burton Well Wood and across Lambert’s Meadow. The fact that I have no photographs is, I think, a good indication of how poor the weather was. In the photo above, we are at the now decrepit bench at the top of the hill at Myer’s Allotment. Even on a wet day there was a bit of a view over Leighton Moss…
We dropped down through Fleagarth Wood to Jenny Brown’s Point, where, since it had stopped raining and the sand was reasonably firm, we decided to walk around the coast back to the village.
It was bracingly windy and rather splendid.
The next morning, a Sunday, UF made an early exit to make a prior engagement. Usually, when he makes a Sunday flit, he’ll be playing snap – the variant that has ‘seven no trumps’ and the like – or watching City play, but, if I remember right, on this occasion he was meeting friends for a walk. It might have been a good one, because the weather was much brighter, with big clouds, plenty of sunshine and heavy showers tracking in off the Bay. Having said that, I didn’t set out for a walk until late afternoon, so it’s possible I’d been waiting for the weather to improve.
I managed to string a five mile route out over nearly three hours. Tea breaks to sit and watch the showers falling elsewhere were the order of the day.
At Far Arnside, I spent some time looking for the fossilised corals in the rocks on the edge of the Bay; something I hadn’t done for quite some time.
I was surprised to get to the top of Arnside Knott without being caught by any showers. Perhaps I celebrated too soon: as I began to descend, it finally started to rain on me.
It was short lived though, and brought a rainbow with it.
Here’s the two Martins, performing a song from Martin Simpson’s repertoire, written, I think, by his father-in-law. It seems highly appropriate for these ‘Eat or Heat’ times.