A Walk from Claughton

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Claughton Hall Farm.

A mid-week, post-work stroll. I wanted a shortish walk and not too much of a drive, so that I could guarantee an early finish. For one thing, I wanted to get back to take B to Lancaster for a late start to a school-trip to France. And for another thing, the forecast was for the weather to finally break, with rain expected as the evening progressed and gale force winds in the early hours. So I’d been poring over the map, looking at Lune tributaries close to my work-place in Lancaster. The slopes behind the villages of Caton and Claughton have several streams – Mears Beck, Westend Beck, Barncroft Beck and Claughton Beck – to which there is, frustratingly, little or no access. However, whilst inspecting these I inevitably noticed the gothic script close by denoting Claughton Hall and was instantly intrigued. A quick search on the internet and I knew that this was something I had to go and see for myself – “Large house, c.1600 with C15th remains, moved to present site and rebuilt 1932-5.” (from Historic England).

The house, which used to be in the village of Claughton, was dismantled and rebuilt half way up the moors above the village. One wing was left in situ however, now called Claughton Hall Farm and seen in these first two photos.

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Claughton, incidentally, is pronounced Klaften by locals and probably a hundred and one other ways by the rest of us.

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St. Chad’s Church.

St. Chad’s Church is next to the farm. There has apparently been a church on this site for almost a thousand years, although the current building only dates back to 1815, so it’s a shame to see it locked-up and abandoned and disappearing behind thickets of weeds and saplings.

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There’s only one path from Claughton which heads up into the hills so I decided just to do an out and back. There look to be a couple of other good options, but both require a little more time and effort.

I hadn’t gone far up the track before I came across this…

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…by a path which was shadowing Claughton Beck. This seem to me like a kind invitation to visit the falls, so, pleasantly surprised, I left the track and set-off by the beck, but didn’t get far before I came across a tangle of fallen trees blocking the path and elected to turn back again…

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Honeysuckle.

Despite the gloomy skies, I was enjoying the views down the valley to the hills around Kirkby and, dominating the view, Ingleborough.

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I was also intrigued by the low, partially wooded hill in the middle distance, which I now know to be Windy Bank, behind Hornby and between the Lune and the Wenning, and which is now on my list of places I need to visit for a walk.

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Lune Valley pano.

Sadly, behind me there was no view of Claughton Hall, only a dense hedge of Leylandii, or something similar. I reflected that the impulse which drives somebody to move their home away from a village and half-way up a hill might also lead them to screen themselves completely from the outside world, but I’ve since discovered that the hall could still be photographed from the track relatively recently. The gateway was open and I suppose I could have taken a wander down the drive, but I’ve settled instead for a photo of the hall, from around 1910, before it was moved…

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From this point on, the walk turned into a bit of a birding excursion, as these Lune Catchment walks have often been prone to do.

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Juvenile Wren, at least I think it’s a juvenile.

It may partly be to do with the time of year: there are lots of fledglings about and they don’t seem to share the caution of their parents. Then to, the parents themselves are busy fussing over their brood, providing food and guidance.

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Along the track there were several more of these curious headstones and I began to think that perhaps they weren’t an open invitation to the hoi-polloi like me. Maybe they’re for visitors to the hall?

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Hedge Woundwort. The gorgeous ginger bumblebee just wouldn’t pose for a photo.

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This strikes me as unusual, although I’ve no real idea whether it is or not: Claughton has a brickworks which is supplied from a clay-pit (essentially a large quarry) on the hillside above, via this aerial ropeway.

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Skylarks.

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I passed Moorcock Hall, a farm, and then the wind-farm on Caton Moor. The towers are huge and, up close, a bit oppressive.

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I was convinced that this must be a juvenile Stonechat. I’m not sure why I was so sure, since I can’t recall ever having seen one before.

Perhaps stupidly, I’d set off with just my camera and a map for company. No bag, or coat, or other kit. To the north I’d seen the hills of the Lake District slowly disappear in a miasma. There’d been odd drops of rain in the air and I’d wondered about the sanity of continuing. But when I reached the summit of Caton Moor, which I’ve never visited before, it brightened up and I was even treated to a little weak sunshine.

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The Three Peaks from Caton Moor.

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Ward’s Stone from Caton Moor.

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There were clear paths heading off towards Littledale and Roeburndale, which would be the two other possible walks I could envisage on Caton Moor. I was particularly taken with the path towards Roeburndale. Another time.

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Small Heath butterfly.

I saw loads of these on my evening walks last summer, so I was pleased to finally see one this year.

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Walking back past the wind-farm I kept seeing a pair of Painted Lady butterflies. I couldn’t understand how I kept losing them and then seeing them as they flew up apparently from almost under my feet. Then I spotted one with its wings closed…

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Beautiful, but also cunningly disguised.

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I also saw a family of the same kind of birds that I seen on the wall when I was on the way up…

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But this time with an adult male Stonechat initially with them on the wall…

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…though he soon flew off.

A lovely outing and the rain held off until I was safely ensconced in my car. By the time I got home it was raining hard and when I dropped B off it was pelting down. The wind also eventually arrived, if anything even worse than forecast. There was a lot of debris on the roads the following morning and we drove past the end of a lane which was blocked by a fallen tree.

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A Walk from Claughton

High Dam and Thornton Force.

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We didn’t visit High Dam and Thornton Force in the same trip, but on two consecutive days over half-term. The Wednesday was overcast, but still warm and sticky and the boys and I decided to check out High Dam. It’s above the southern end of Windermere near Finsthwaite.

As the name suggests, it’s a reservoir, with a dam…

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…but don’t worry, it’s not drinking water.

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Columbine on the dam.

The water is relatively shallow (but deep enough to swim in), peaty, and was surprisingly warm – in other words: not freezing.

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We started from the small bay southwest of Roger Height…

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…and swam across to visit the two little islands. On the second a fallen tree, laying out over the water, gave the boys a chance to jump in, which seems to be essential. We swam back, and then back across again, by which time Little S was worn out. So we swam to the southern shore exiting close to the western end of the dam (which looks further on the map than back across the lake would have been, but Little S was happy with it).

Having said the water was warm, I should perhaps qualify that admitting that Little S’s fingers were a bit blue by the time we got out of the water.

As well as being a bit muggy, it was a windless day and I had been surprised that we weren’t attacked by midges when were changing to get in the water. We weren’t so lucky when we were changing back again. Overall, though a great place to swim, which is not too far from home.

Talking of which…

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…this is Thornton Force, on the River Twiss above Ingleton. My cousin R is lucky enough to own a house nearby and generous enough to invite us to visit during half-term. The invite was an open one, but since his sister, my cousin K, was also visiting with her family on the Thursday we decided to crash their family get together. It was great to see them again.

I’d already bribed the boys with the possibility of a walk to Thornton Force and Little S almost immediately started to drop not so subtle hints like: “I’ve got a good idea – we could walk to the waterfall and have a swim.”

Eventually, we let him have his way. The pool below the force turned out to be of a good size and ideal for swimming. The photo was taken when I visited one evening last summer. It was much, much busier this time. But we were the only ones swimming and the falls had a lot less water coming over them so that we could duck our heads into them, which was very bracing. I entrusted TBH with the camera, but she took lots of close-ups of peoples heads – all very well, but not really showing where we were swimming.

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That evening TBH got a fire going in our new fire-pit and the kids lit sparklers and tried making campfire popcorn (not entirely successful, well, actually, not remotely successful, but maybe the fun was in the trying)

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Those are both swimming spots we will visit again, I’m sure.

High Dam and Thornton Force.

Devil’s Bridge

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Another Kirkby evening stroll. The heron was there, fishing in much the same spot as last time.

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The water looked cool and inviting. I watched as fish jumped from the water to take flies. I felt sure that I would be able to see them swim away under the water, but I couldn’t. Just once I managed to follow the fish briefly, but it was soon lost against the background of rocks and pebbles.

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Under Devil’s Bridge some lads were swimming. Very wise.

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Barbondale, Brownthwaite Pike, Casterton Stone Circle

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St. Bartholomew’s Church, Barbon.

More glorious May weather and another post-work Lune-Catchment wander. This was on a Thursday evening, the day after my photos from Kirkby Lonsdale in the previous post. You remember that I pointed out how Brownthwaite Pike dominates the view from Kirkby? Equally, Brownthwaite Pike has a great view over the Lune Valley and Morecambe Bay.

Years ago, when I was single, my evenings walks rarely took me any further than I could get, under my own steam, from my front door, but just occasionally I would pack up a meal and head out for a picnic on an easily accessible hill with a good view. Brownthwaite Pike was, I think, the place I visited most often: I could park high, at Bullpot Farm, and it was an easy walk from there.

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The lychgate.

This time, I would do it properly, starting from the village of Barbon.

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Female Blackbird.

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Barbon Beck, another tributary of the Lune.

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Bluebells!

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The right of way initially follows a track which is heading up to Barbon Manor. It’s metaled and even has barriers. I presume that this is the course used for the Barbon hill-climb, an annual motor-sport event.

Soon though, the route parts company with the race-track and heads into the woods of Barbondale and more bluebells…

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Better yet to emerge from the woods into the sunshine…

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I initially assumed that this…

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…was a Hawthorn, covered in Mayflower, but it wasn’t…

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I think it might be an apple-tree. There were a couple more close-by. Maybe there was an orchard here once, when valleys like this one were more populous?

High on the hillside to my left, I spotted an unusual cairn, apparently with a chamber inside it…

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It wasn’t to be the last unusual cairn on the walk.

I chatted to a birdwatcher, who asked me if I had seen anything good? He reported Pied-flycatchers and could hear Willow Warblers nearby. I had nothing so interesting to share. But, soon after passing him, spotted a pair of Reed-buntings and then…

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…a Red-start. This was only the third time I’ve seen one and my best photo yet, although, obviously, still room for improvement. I waited to tell my new bird-watching friend, but then felt guilty because we couldn’t find it again among the trees.

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I also briefly glimpsed a raptor in pursuit of another bird just above the hillside, but soon lost sight of both. This heron…

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…sailing purposefully by, was much more obliging.

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Barbon Beck and Barbondale.

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A warbler. Could be one of those Willow Warblers?

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I heard some strange, harsh bird calls, which made me think of grasshoppers, and so thought perhaps they came from Grasshopper Warblers. I saw a few of the birds, low in the vegetation, but this is the only photo I managed. Having looked in my guide, I’m pretty sure that this is not a Grasshopper Warbler, but apart from that, am none the wiser.

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This stream, which feeds into Barbon Beck and is therefore another one of the Lune’s vast tree of sources, is not named on the map, but is, in turn, fed by several smaller streams including Hazel Sike, Little Aygill and Great Aygill. The road bridge which crosses it, however, is called Blindbeck Bridge, so I suppose this must be Blindbeck.

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Castle Knott and Calf Top.

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I was impressed with the situation of Fell House, in a remote position above Barbondale.

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I’ve seen lots of butterflies this month, but have struggled to photograph any of them. This one looks like a female Orange-tip, but has confused me because it has no wing-spots.

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The top of the beck obviously changed in nature, becoming steeper sided with outcrops of rock, I think because the underlying rock was now limestone.

I watched this bird of prey,…

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…presumably a Kestrel, hovering in roughly the same spot for ages as I climbed beside the beck. Later I watched a pair swoop across the hillside and both alight in the same tree, where I assume there was a nest, although I couldn’t see it.

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Bullpot farm.

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Cuckoo Flower.

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Female Wheatear.

The short road walk from Bullpot Farm was enlivened by numerous birds, mainly Wheatears and Meadow Pipits which were flitting around the drystone walls on either side. Also by the expansive views…

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Gragareth and Leck Fell House.

And by the calling of two Cuckoos. In fact, the sounds of Cuckoos had accompanied me most of the way up Barbondale too.

The highpoint of Barbon Low Fell is unnamed on the OS map, but I notice online that other walks have used the name Hoggs Hill, which is nearby on the map. In the absence of any better suggestions, I shall do the same.

As I approached Hoggs Hill then, I noticed another raptor, a Kestrel again I think, sat calmly on a wall, watching me.

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I scrabbled to get my camera pointing in the right direction and focused, but the bird was away before I managed that…

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Hoggs Hill.

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Middleton Fells from Hoggs Hill.

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Crag Hill and Great Coum.

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Forest of Bowland.

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Brownthwaite Pike.

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Close to the top of Brownthwaite Pike there’s an absolutely huge cairn. It’s so big that you can see it from Kirkby on the far side of the valley below. I can’t find any reference to it on the Historic England map, but there’s plenty of speculation online about the possibility that it might be ancient and perhaps a burial cairn.

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You can see why this spot might have been chosen as it commands clear views over the Lune Valley, the Bowland Fells and Warton Crag , where there was a hill-fort.

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I descended by this…

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….arrow-straight lane.

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Looking towards the hills of home.

From the lane I could look down on an ancient site which is recorded on the Historic England map…

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Casterton Stone Circle.

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Here’s another view of the henge from a little further down the lane. I’ve read that the stones only protrude slightly above the surrounding turf, but it certainly stands out from a distance.

Closer to hand, on the verges of the lane, there was lots of Lady’s Mantle coming into flower…

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And also many spears of Bugle…

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But what I appreciated particularly was the way the two were frequently growing together, intermingled…

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There was also a bit of what I think was Sheep’s Sorrel about. This one…

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…growing on a tree trunk.

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The leaves certainly had the refreshing, citrusy flavour characteristic of both Common and Sheep’s Sorel, and I munched on a few as I walked.

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The track brought me to the minor road which lead, ultimately to Bullpot Farm and I turned to follow it in the opposite direction, downhill.

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Crosswort.

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I think that this must be the wind farm which I photographed last summer from Burns Beck Moss.

I turned on to Fellfoot Road, another track, and found…

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…several small sheepfolds each with a large boulder inside.

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They are Andy Goldsworthy sculptures.

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There are sixteen of them in all, but I only passed four of them on this walk.

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I’m a big fan of Goldsworthy, but don’t know quite what to make of these. I’ve walked past some of them a couple of times before. One day, I suppose I will walk the entire lane and collect the full set.

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It was getting rather late now.

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So I was hurrying to get back to my car in Barbon and didn’t stop for long to admire Whelprigg…

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…a rather grand house built, apparently, in 1834.

Another glorious evening outing.

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Barbondale, Brownthwaite Pike, Casterton Stone Circle

Dolittle.

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Ruskin’s View.

Another Wednesday evening with training at Underley Park. Once again I walked down to Devil’s Bridge and here I am posting the same views as I have before. But…here’s my excuse – look at the view above: right in the centre is Brownthwaite Pike, the most prominent hill in the view. It’s illusory, Brownthwaite Pike is not half so prominent as it appears to be: there’s higher ground just behind, and much higher hills behind that, but remember Brownthwaite Pike for a forthcoming post.

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Here’s the church again, because….well, because the lengthening evening meant that I was there to see it with the sun still shining on it.

In the Lune, I watched a Heron fishing…

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…seemingly quite unperturbed by my attention, and I wished that I didn’t only have my phone with me. I don’t learn, the same thing happened a week later.

The village center had been closed to traffic and there was clearly filming going on…

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The square looked to have been dressed to hide any modern features with crates and market stalls. The tarmac was hidden under a layer of soil and several horse-riders were whirling around the small space. They must have finished just after I passed, because the horses and their mounts came past me on their own way back to Underley Park…

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I shall look forward to the film.

Dolittle.

Little and Often: Lilydale

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These photos are from a couple of weeks ago now. The dying embers of a beautiful sunny evening. As usual, I was in Kirkby Lonsdale for the boys Rugby practice on a Wednesday, and went for a wander along the Lune…

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…past Ruskin’s View, through the churchyard and on to Devil’s Bridge. The display of Daffodils by St. Mary’s, and other flower strewn churchyards I’ve seen since, have had me digging out Francesca Greenoak’s book ‘God’s Acre’ which is about the flora and fauna likely to be found in a British churchyard, and, in turn, the title of that book put me in mind of the 10,000 Maniacs song ‘Lilydale’.

Come as we go far away
From the noise of the street
Walk a path so narrow
To a place where we feel at ease

Strange how my mind works: I haven’t listened to that album, ‘Songs from the Wishing Chair’, for years, but, at one time, I listened to it so frequently that I seem to be able to play it mentally on demand on some kind of internal radio.

Meanwhile…

 

April’s milage keeps me on course for my arbitrary 1000 mile target for the year. Once again, I didn’t match the early enthusiasm of January or February, despite the lighter evenings, but a couple of bouts of illness go some way to account for that. Not to worry, as of today I’ve clocked just over 450 miles so far, so I’m still ahead of schedule.

Right – off to find ‘Songs from the Wishing Chair’, time to get reacquainted with an old favourite.

Steep is the water tower
Painted off blue to match the sky
Can’t ignore the train
Night walks in the valley silent…
Little and Often: Lilydale

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.

Joker

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