Uldale Force, Rawthey Gill, Baugh Fell

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Cautley Crag on Great Dummacks, partly obscured by cloud.

I haven’t ventured out on the hills on my own all that much this year. Of course, we were supposed to stay ‘local’, what ever that meant, for quite some time, then those restrictions were relaxed, but I don’t seem to have got back into the habit somehow. This walk, on the sprawling moors of Baugh Fell being the notable exception. It began inauspiciously, in the parking area just off the Sedbergh to Kirkby Stephen road, south of Rawthey Bridge, with low cloud obscuring the Howgill Fells and a light drizzle falling. I was heading for the path which cuts across the slopes of Bluecaster heading into the upper reaches of the River Rawthey.

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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell

Along the path I leap-frogged a group of three who had set-off from the same parking spot just before me. They were the last people I would see for quite some time.

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The Rawthey near Needle House and Uldale House.
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The Rawthey
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Whin Stone Gill

The waters of all of the streams which feed into the Rawthey ultimately end up in the Lune, and so fall under the remit of my Lune Catchment project. On the map, Needlehouse Gill and Uldale Gill look like an interesting alternative way up onto Wild Boar Fell. Whin Stone Gill, on the other hand, skirts Holmes Moss Hill, one of the boggiest places I have ever walked, so I might be leaving that one for a while!

Anyway, sticking with the Rawthey, as I continued upstream I passed a series of small cascades, including this one…

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Behind which, through the trees, you can just about make out Uldale Force, contained within it’s own little amphitheatre.

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It’s not Yorkshire Dales tallest, widest, or most spectacular waterfall, but it’s a smashing spot. At the back of my mind, when I’d planned this walk, I’d been thinking that I might manage a brief dip in the pool at the bottom of the fall, but it was still a bit damp, and quite cool, so I reluctantly abandoned that idea.

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I took solace instead in the abundance of Primroses growing on the far bank – this photo just shows one small section of an absolute mass of flowers.

From Uldale Force, it’s necessary to climb up above the river and it’s steep banks for a while, but I soon rejoined the watercourse further up.

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The Rawthey passes through a rocky little ravine for a while, where progress was quite slow, as I crossed and recrossed the stream. (Somewhere, the River Rawthey becomes plain old Rawthey Gill.)

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At some point the sun had come out. I came across a rather tempting little pool and hatched a new plan: make a brew, swim whilst the tea cooled a bit, get out and drink the brew to warm up. Perfect. Or it would have been had I remembered to pack a gas canister. So I abandoned that plan in a fit of pique.

At Rawthey Gill Foot, (perhaps where the name change occurs?) the landscape opens up and the feeling of space is immense. This would prove to be a feature of the day.

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As I climbed and the slopes on either side of the Rawthey began to rise again and enclose the gill, I came across a series of delightful little pools, just about large enough for a dip.

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I’m pretty sure this…

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…is the one I swam in, not that there was room for more than a couple of strokes. What was it like? It was the first of May, so it was pretty bracing, but the sun was shining, the views were great and there was absolutely nobody about, so I enjoyed it immensely.

Would have liked a cup of tea afterwards though.

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A substantial side stream – I think this might be Swere Gill..

All of the streams hereabouts look like they would repay exploration. It would be good, in dry weather, to camp in the vicinity of Rawthey Gill Foot and have a proper explore. Some of the streams drain the other way, down into Grizedale, and into the Clough River, but that’s another tributary of the Lune, so it’s a win win from my point of view.

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Plodding up the stream I was really in my element – following a watercourse into the hills has always been a favourite occupation of mine. Progress can be slow, but there always seemed to be another little fall just around the corner to keep me entertained.

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I’d been a bit concerned beforehand that the going might be very boggy, but in the event, it wasn’t (not till later in the day anyway). I’ve subsequently read some fairly disparaging things about Baugh Fell, one of them being that it’s essentially a giant sponge, so I think I picked a good time to visit, after a prolonged dry spell. I did eventually sink to my knees into a patch of hillside which I should have noticed was a slightly brighter green than the surrounding slopes.
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Looking back down the Rawthey toward Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell.
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As I approached the top of the gill, I was careful to keep left at every opportunity, thinking that would have me emerging onto the plateau of Baugh Fell near to the East Tarns. I must have left it too late to turn left however, so that I actually came out just below Knoutberry Haw. The ground ahead looked worryingly flat so I cut left where I could see rocks, eventually hitting the ‘ridge’ between Knoutberry Haw and Tarn Rigg Hill.

Now I had a view to the south, of familiar hills from a very unfamiliar direction.

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Whernside and Great Coum over Aye Gill Pike.
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Looking north to Wild Boar Fell and the Mallerstang Edges.
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Knoutberry Haw from Tarn Hill Rigg – Howgill Fells behind.

There was a couple by the trig pillar on Knoutberry Haw. I was so surprised to meet other people that I marched right past without taking a photo of the trig.

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The vast expanse of West Baugh Fell.
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Looking back up towards Knoutberry Haw.

You can see that there is a faint path, but it was surprisingly easy to lose.

Incidentally, although the sun was still shining, by now I had donned all of my clothing, including hat, gloves and cag to keep out the biting wind. The idea that I had been swimming a few hours earlier seemed preposterous.

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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell from West Baugh Fell.

Wild Boar Fell dominated the view all day. It’s far too long since I’ve been up there.

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West Baugh Fell.

West Baugh Fell was very firm and stony, I can’t imagine that this gets boggy. I was revelling in the space and the light and the emptiness.

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The Middleton Fells on the left, Morecambe Bay in the distance.
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The Howgills from West Baugh Fell. Cautley Spout in the centre.
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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell again, from near West Baugh Fell Tarn.
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Wandale Hill and Harter Fell from my descent route.

I elected to descend directly toward the car, down the shoulder named Raven Thorn on the map. Not my best decision. It was hard going – wet and tussocky. After rain I suspect it would be purgatorial. Eventually, I gave it up as a bad lot and dropped back down to the track I had started the day on.

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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell one last time.

Right near the end of my walk I met three trails bikers. I was all ready to be disapprovingly cross, when the lead rider popped up his visor, beamed at me and asked me how I was and where I’d been – it was one of B’s rugby team, who lives nearby. It was then that I realised that I don’t know whether to pronounce Baugh as ‘bore’ or ‘bow’ or quite possibly in some other way.

Thirteen miles and a little over 500m of ascent according to MapMyWalk. I once had the bright idea of attempting this walk in an evening after work. I’m glad I didn’t!

As you can see, lots of blue lines draining away from Baugh Fell, and all of them eventually feed into the Lune, so loads of scope for return visits.

Uldale Force, Rawthey Gill, Baugh Fell

Whinfell Common and the ‘Other’ Borrowdale

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Tebay Gorge.

As travel restrictions were relaxed, Britain’s new found fervour for getting into the outdoors wasn’t abating at all. Old certainties regarding parking could no longer be relied upon. In the past, car parks would generally have spaces before about 10 and remote and less popular spots would never fill up anyway. On this occasion, we were meeting at the small parking space just off the A685, close to Low Borrow Bridge in the Tebay Gorge. At 9 it was already full, but I managed to squeeze in by parking behind a couple of friends cars, blocking them in.

Between Little Coum and Great Coum on Grayrigg Pike, a few bends in the contours hint at the possibility of a pleasant ridge route to the top. I’ve become a bit obsessed recently about finding these off-piste routes. I knew this one was good because I’ve been this way before. And I’m not the only one to have noticed it, since there’s actually a faint trod following the ridge all the way to the summit cairn.

All along that path, and, in fact, generally along the subsequent ridge route, we saw regular grey curls of…

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Fox scat.

Full of tiny bones and hair and often situated on a prominent rock or small mound by the path. I was confident at the time that this was Fox scat and I’m even surer now that I’ve had a chance to do a little research. For some reason the EWO took exception to my identification. I don’t know why he chose to argue, it’s not like I ever disagree when he’s pontificating about his chosen area of expertise, the weather. Oh wait – I always disagree when he’s opining about the weather. Fair enough.

Actually, I realise, that’s what the EWO have always done when we’re out for a walk together, hashing over the latest news in politics, or conservation efforts, or the measures around COVID19, or the most recent stupid fads in education, or whether the midfield can accommodate both Gerard and Lampard (we’ve been doing this for a long time!). I think it’s only by adopting a contrary position whilst gently arguing with the EWO or UF on a walk, that I know what I actually think about an issue.

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Grayrigg Pike – the first of many tea stops.

It was my dad’s birthday, so I video-called from Grayrigg Pike and chatted with him and my mum and shared the somewhat hazy views whilst enjoying a cup of almond tea.

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The onward route – Whinfell Common.

The weather wasn’t brilliant, but it wasn’t dreadful either, and with such good company and the ridge almost to ourselves it made for a very fine day.

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Whinfell Beacon
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Looking back to Grayrigg Forest.
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Looking back again, Grayrigg Forest on the left, Whinfell Beacon on the right.
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The way ahead, Castle Fell and a tree-covered Mabbin Crag behind.
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Stone shelter on Mabbin Crag.
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Around the cairn on Mabbin Crag.

It’s a lovely ridge walk this, not spectacular, but little walked. I was highly amused by the Prof, by far the youngest member of the party, who skirted around Whinfell whilst the rest of us went up, and then moaned in disbelieve each time he realised we had another ascent to deal with over Castle Fell, Mabbin Crag and Ashstead Fell (which has a number of knobbles to be ascended).

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On Ashstead Fell, Mabbin Crag behind.
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On Ashstead Fell, looking into the upper reaches of Borrowdale.
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Borrow Beck.

Aside from a pleasant leg-stretcher in good company, I’d been looking forward to this walk because Borrow Beck is a tributary of the Lune and therefore a part of my Lune Catchment project. I’ve never walked along the valley before and it didn’t disappoint. We even squeezed in one final brew stop on the banks of the beck.

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Rough Crag and Castle Fell.
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Wandering down Borrowdale.

All-in-all, a grand day out.

Andy’s account of the day, with somehow slightly less grey looking photos, and a map is here.

Andy reckons 11 miles and 2,500 foot of ascent. MapMyWalk gives 12 miles, but only around 1,800 feet. I’m not sure which to believe.

Whinfell Common and the ‘Other’ Borrowdale

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

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Ruskin’s View

Mid-April. Most of these photos are from a single day, which started with rugby training for B in Kirkby Lonsdale. The measures around the pandemic almost entirely wiped-out B’s final season with his age group team, although knee surgery would have kept him on the sidelines anyway. Hopefully he’ll soon be fit to join his contemporaries in the Colts team.

While he was training, I took my usual stroll by the Lune and through Kirkby. It’s unusual to see the river so clear.

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St. Mary’s churchyard, full of daffs.
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The Manor House.
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The Lune.

In the afternoon, TBH and I were out completing a circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point for a change! The sunshine was still with us, but now there were very dark and brooding skies too, a combination I find irresistible.

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Hollins Lane.
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Warton Crag and a snow-dusted Ward’s Stone across the salt-marsh.
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Warton Crag.
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Quicksand Pool and the copper-smelting chimney.
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The Bowland Fells across Quicksand Pool.
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Jenny Brown’s pano (click for larger image).

The remaining photos are from odd days during the second half of our Easter Break.

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Cove sunset.
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Huge cloud.
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Post sunset from Jack Scout.

B often does his best to present himself as a bit of a Philistine, memorably dismissing a stunning cave in the Cévennes, for example, as ‘just rocks and water’, but secretly he’s a bit of a romantic after all. He likes a good sunset and often watches them from Heysham Barrows with his school friends. I think this photo was taken on one of a couple of walks we took together in an attempt to catch the sunset from Jack Scout. We were a bit late on this occasion.

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Saturday market, Dalton Square, Lancaster.

I’m not entirely sure why I was in Lancaster, possibly due to the return of BJJ training on a Saturday morning. What I do remember was how shocked I was to see market stalls and shoppers. Although I’d been back at work for a while, Lancaster always seemed to stay resolutely quiet and traffic free.

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Washing-machine tub fire-pit.

This photos is a bit of a cheat, since it’s from March. Our washing-machine conked out, and, having replaced it, over a couple of Saturdays I dismantled the broken one and salvaged the drum to use as a fire-pit.

It wasn’t until April that we put it to use, toasting some marsh-mallows…

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TBH got a bit carried away…

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Flambéed marshmallow.

Actually, this is typical TBH cooking – she would call this ‘caramelised’.

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

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X-Ray on the Lune Aqueduct, just before he produced a flask of tea and two cups from his bag. What a gent.

X-Ray has appeared on this blog from time to time over the years. He’s an old friend who is always great company on a walk. We play in a pub quiz team together, but the pandemic put paid to that and when he rang me over Christmas I realised that I hadn’t seen him since the start of lockdown. A get together seemed called for and we eventually agreed on a walk around Lancaster. It was a glorious sunny day, lots of other people had a similar idea to us and were out for a post Christmas ramble in the unexpected sunshine. I probably should have taken a few more photographs, but X-Ray and I had a lot of catching-up to do, and anyway, whenever we get together we seem to able to fill several hours with non-stop conversation. On this occasion, without really realising it, we managed eight miles of blether before we’d found our way back to X-Ray’s flat.

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Freeman’s Pools

We talked, among other things, about work; the pandemic, of course; pensions I seem to remember – probably an age thing; and about shoes. X-Ray had been reluctant to come for a walk from Silverdale to Arnside because he has no comfortable walking boots. For our walk he was wearing, I think, a pair of trainers with part of the toes removed. He finds it very difficult to buy shoes or boots which are wide enough for his feet, as do I. I told him about my Altberg boots, which I bought at Whalley Warm and Dry and which, after 5 years of use, are a little scuffed but otherwise as good as new. In fact, I’m wearing them more and more, as I find that they are consistently the most comfortable footwear I own. Anyway, X-Ray rang me last week and told me that he has an appointment next week at Whalley Warm and Dry to get some boots fitted. Hopefully, he can find something which is a good fit, and then we can get out for a walk somewhere a little further afield. Remembering our chat has also got me thinking about maybe going back myself to try a pair of Altberg shoes.

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Talking of kit, we were out for a family walk later that same day, after sunset, to try out a Christmas present, a wooly hat with an integral head-torch.

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As you can see, although the sun had already set, the light was rather nice.

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I was jealous of B’s hat which, as well as a light, incorporates bluetooth headphones. What a great idea!

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

Littledale and Ward’s Stone

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Udale Beck

Proper Fell walks have been few and far between for me, since the various lockdown restrictions began. This walk, from back in September, was a notable exception. To be honest, I don’t remember what the rules were at the time, and I was probably a bit vague about them even then, since the rules have always lacked clarity. I didn’t see any other walkers all day, just two mountain bikers in the afternoon, which makes me think that I must, at the very least, have been pushing the envelope a bit.

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Footbridge over Udale Beck

Anyway, it was a windy, overcast day. Cool with a few flecks of rain in the wind from time to time. But despite that, I enjoyed myself enormously.

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Gregareth, Whernside and Ingleborough.
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Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent.

I’d been perusing the map for quite some time the night before, always a dangerous occupation, and had hit upon the idea of combining two cherished ambitions – one was too explore the valley of Artle Beck and the other to have a walk along Hornby Road, a Roman Road which traverses the Bowland Hills

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Foxdale Beck

The first part of the walk took me firmly into the territory of my ‘Lune Catchment’ project. Sweet Beck, Udale Beck, Foxdale Beck, Artle Beck, Ragill Beck, Closegill Beck (streams tautologically named both gill and beck seem to be a speciality of the area), Bladder Stone Beck, Mallow Gill, the River Roeburn and Salter Clough Beck (again – aren’t clough and beck synonyms?) were all ticked off on my nominal list of tributaries of the River Lune.

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Littledale Hall.

I was quite surprised by Littledale Hall. It’s a Grade II listed building, dating to 1849 and possibly designed by Lancaster architects Paley and Austin. These days, it’s a residential centre for the treatment of addiction. I guess that it’s remote location makes it ideal for that purpose. It looked to me like a Victorian railway station marooned without a railway line.

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Artle Beck
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Looking down towards the confluence of Ragill Beck and Closegill Beck.
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Not sure what these are, but they were by the stile adjacent to Bladder Stone Beck.
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Haylot Farm.
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Melling Wood.
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A fallen tree in Melling Wood, on a slope much steeper than the photo suggests, was quite awkward to navigate. It seems odd that nothing has been done about it, given how much care has been taken with the path nearby…

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Mallow Gill.
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Either the River Roeburn, or Salter Clough Beck.
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High Salter.
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Hornby Road.

Given that I’d set off with fairly ambitious plans, I hadn’t started very early. I think I dropped off one or other of the boys, somewhere or other, before starting the walk. Anyway, I soon realised that I was quite short of time. I’d originally intended to stick with Hornby Road until I could take the path onto Wolfhole Crag, partly because I don’t think I’ve ever been up there. But that will have to wait for another day, since I decided instead to take the track from Alderstone Bank down to the River Roeburn and then back up via Mallowdale Fell. You can see the track on the photo below…

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Roeburndale
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River Roeburn.
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Looking toward the three peaks again.
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Shooting Cabin on Mallowdale Fell.
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Three Peaks and the hills above Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Ward’s Stone.

From Ward’s Stone the walk was on more familiar territory – over Grit Fell, past the Andy Goldsworthy sculptures and back to the Littledale Road, where my car was parked, via a stalker’s path and back to Sweet Beck.

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Morecambe Bay from Ward’s Stone.
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Looking towards home from Ward’s Stone.

I even had some occasional moments of sunshine, and the light out over Morecambe Bay was absolutely superb. My photos don’t really do it justice, but it was lovely to keep getting views of it as I descended.

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Looking back to Ward’s Stone.
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The River Lune and the Bay from Grit Fell.
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Spoil heaps on Grit Fell.
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Andy Goldsworthy sculptures on Grit Fell.
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Arriving back at the car park with not too much daylight left.

The route was around 17 miles, with a fair bit of up and down. I wish I could provide a map, but although MapMyWalk worked on the day, it subsequently lost the data. I’ve since uninstalled and reinstalled the app, which, touch wood, seems to have had the desired affect.

A great leg-stretcher, on a mostly gloomy day, which has left me with a number of ideas for further routes.

Littledale and Ward’s Stone

My Parents and Other Visitors

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Mum and Dad on the Lots.

My mum and dad spent a week at Thurnham Hall, on the other side of Lancaster. Very generously, they booked us a few nights there too. Little did we realise then that it would be the last time we would see them this year.

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The River Condor at Condor Green.

How nice then, to get to spend some time together. Most days we managed a bit of a walk, aiming for somewhere without contours, by the Lune Estuary near Glasson, across the Lots at home, or along the prom at Morecambe for example.

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Gatekeeper on Ragwort.

We did embark on one overly ambitious walk, from Thurnham Hall to Wallings Ice-Cream Parlour on the other side of Cockerham. The long-grass in the fields and the surprisingly sodden tracks which followed were energy sapping for all concerned. Fortunately, once we’d sampled the ice-creams, we arranged a taxi for a couple of drivers to collect our cars and then return for the rest of the party.

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The Marina at Glasson.

We played ‘Ticket to Ride’ and no doubt other games, and ate out a few times, now that ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was in full swing. After a curry in Lancaster I had a brainwave about walking back to Thurnham Hall, basing my intended route on a hazy memory of the map. It was much further than I had thought, and it was pitch black by the time I reached Galgate. Fortunately, TBH was happy to come out and pick me up.

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Bit low in the water?
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Roe Deer right outside our back door.
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The Lune Estuary.
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Sea Lavender (I think).
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Sculpture on Morecambe Prom, ‘Love, The Most Beautiful Of Absolute Disasters’ by Shane Johnstone. Locally known as ‘Venus and Cupid’. It commemorates the 24 cockle-pickers who died in the Bay in 2004.
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The view across Morecambe Bay.

Now, though we won’t see them over Christmas as we usually would, with the vaccines being rolled out, we have the real prospect of safely meeting with my mum and dad again to look forward to. Bring it on!

My Parents and Other Visitors

Bull Beck and The Lune.

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Small Tortoiseshells.

The day after my ascent of Clougha and A has another lesson. It was even hotter than the day before and I opted for a level walk in the Lune valley. I originally planned to park at Crook O’Lune, but it was heaving, so plan B was to start from the Bull Beck car park near Brookhouse.

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I followed a simple loop along the Lune and then finished along the old railway line, the Lune Valley Ramble, from Crook O’Lune.

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The Lune and Aughton Woods.

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This spot, with a nice view along the valley to Ingleborough and a mile from the car park, would be a good place for a socially-distanced swim. Another time.

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A juvenile Oystercatcher with parent.

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Waterworks Bridge – carrying water from Haweswater to Manchester.

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A pair of Goosanders – I think a female and a male in eclipse plumage.

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I was a bit confused by this umbellifer which had a very large flower and thick stem.

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I think it must be common-or-garden Hogweed; I didn’t think the leaves were right, but apparently they are very variable in shape.

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This little footbridge crosses…

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…Bull Beck, another tributary for my Lune Catchment collection.

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You can’t really tell from the photograph, but as I got close to Crook O’Lune both the river and its banks got very busy; plenty of people were enjoying the heat and the sunshine.

I’d faffed about finding a place to park and then dawdled taking photos on a walk which I had significantly underestimated. I was even later getting back into Lancaster to pick-up A. Fortunately, she’d found a bench to sit on in the sunshine and seemed quite sanguine about my tardiness.


Tunes, and a quiz:

Three brilliant tunes – what links them?

Bull Beck and The Lune.

A Picnic and a Swim.

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Around when the rules got really silly, well, when they started to get incomprehensible, I wouldn’t like to pretend that they are any more intelligible now, anyway, when they first stopped making much sense, we decided that if we could meet a parent singly in a garden, and, as we had been doing all along, could go for a walk as a family group and bump into another family group and then stand and have a socially distanced natter, then bending the rules a little to meet both of my in-laws together for a socially distanced picnic would be okay. We met at Tebay, where we were very politely, and understandably, ejected from the truck stop car park, which turned out to be a blessing, because we found a parking spot which, after maybe a 50 yard walk, brought us to an idyllic spot on the banks of the River Lune. Admittedly, we were very close to the M6, but the sun was shining, we had the place to ourselves and it was very pleasant.

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There were lots of white flowers at the margins of the river. I’d left my camera in the car, but I suspect a close up would have confirmed that they were Common Water-crowfoot. No photographs here of the focaccia I’d made to take for the picnic, which, due to an oversight on my part had turned out more like salty biscuits.

I’d held out the possibility of a swim after the picnic to the kids and they were very keen, A and B anyway, S had elected to stay at home and exercise his thumbs on his XBox. Now I needed to find somewhere that we could stop which was not too far off our homeward route. Luckily, I stumbled upon this blog post, which hinted at a perfect swimming hole in the Lune Gorge, so perfect, in fact, that the location is withheld, but which also has photographs of two bridges either side…

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…which rather gives the game away, with the aid of an OS map and a bit of patient sleuthing.

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It really was a great spot and clearly not well known; the only drawback was the stuff floating on the water, I’m not sure what it was, some sort of vegetation I think, perhaps due to the unusually dry weather we’d had? TBH chose not to join us, but three of us had a marvellous, refreshing dip and B even managed to find somewhere to jump in from, so he was happy.

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Goldenrod.

The next day, S, now, I think, regretting his previous decision, was keen to get out for a swim. I took the kids to Levens, for a dip in the Kent. We’d heard that it was busy, so we went late in the day, hoping that the crowds would have dispersed. I think they probably had, to some extent, there were very few people actually in the water, but the banks were exceptionally busy with some large groups obviously making no attempt to socially distance. In the end, only S and I swam – A and B were so incensed by what they’d seen that they decided to wait whilst we had a very brief dip.

Where could we go locally to avoid the crowds?

A Picnic and a Swim.

These Hills Are Ours

I’ve put the music at the top of the post for once: I think it deserves pride of place.

So, as advertised, finally, here it is. Back in March, I signed up for a brilliant project which combined singing and hill-walking. There were just two rehearsals, the second of which I couldn’t make because I was in the Tower Captain’s car on the way up the M74 for our weekend at Bridge of Orchy.

Actually, there was a third, very last minute, practice, on the morning of the event, in the Morecambe lifeboat station…

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…for which purpose, the lifeboat people had very kindly moved their hovercraft out…

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Then we wandered down to the end of the stone jetty for the first performance…

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It was wet and windy and  absolutely perishing. Sounded good, though, to my untutored ears.

And, through the wind and the rain, our destination, Clougha Pike, briefly appeared above the buildings along Morecambe’s seafront…

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“Breakers, rollers, pebbles, sand, Half at sea and half on land,”

Admittedly, it is a bit hard to pick out in the photo, but it is there.

I lived for a while in a third floor flat on the promenade and the views of the Bay in one direction and across Lancaster to Clougha in the other were superb.

Anyway, our aim was to climb Clougha starting from the sea front and then get down safely before it got dark, so there was no time to hang around. We passed the Midland…

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And joined the network of cycle tracks which connect Morecambe and Lancaster.

We crossed the Lune by Carlisle Bridge…

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And then set-off on a long loop along the quay and then a footpath to Freeman’s Wood, where we sang again.

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The graffiti is part of the lyrics from the song.

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Freeman’s Pools.

The route had been cunningly devised to bring us all the way through both Morecambe and Lancaster on either footpaths or very quiet bits of road.

An arrangement has been made with the Fox and Goose pub, on the outskirts of town, so that we could use their beer garden for a quick break and use their loos. We’d been walking for a few hours without really stopping and I was more than ready for a sit down, a drink and a sandwich.

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The next part of the walk was inevitably confined to the roads, there being an unfortunate lack of paths linking Lancaster to the hills above it. At least we could see Clougha more clearly now and the weather was improving too.

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We stopped again at the Rigg Lane car park, where the ascent would begin in earnest, and where we were offered an impromptu stretching routine…

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Some people had opted to miss some parts of the walk, and joined us again at the car park.

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“The brook is from a picture book”

An unnamed (on the OS map) tributary of The River Conder, which itself drains into the Lune near Glasson Dock; which makes this walk one of my Lune Catchment walks.

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Clougha Pike.

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Morecambe Bay.

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“Rocks like booby traps.”

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The going was pretty rough here and the pace predictably slowed. I’d been feeling a bit bushed, but picked up now that we were off the roads.

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Approaching the top.

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Most of the people I talked to seemed to belong to at least one of the, I discovered, many choirs in the Lancaster area. I used to sing with the Carnforth Community choir for a while, and enjoyed it enormously, but the meetings changed to an evening which I can’t really make. One positive outcome for me of joining this project, aside from the fact that I had a great time, is that I was told about a choir which sounds very welcoming and which meets in Lancaster on a night which is much more convenient. Well – used to meet in Lancaster and will, at some point presumably, be meeting again.

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“Rain will slick the stones, Wind will wind around your bones.”

We sang one last time on the top and then it was just a matter of wending our way back to the car park and then the logistics, thankfully well organised by Dan, of getting everybody back to their cars and/or homes.

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We were none too soon heading down – the sun was getting low in the sky.

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Some links to the creatives…

Daniel Bye who wrote the words.

Boff Whalley who wrote the music.

and Bevis Bowden who made the film.

Maps:

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Mapmywalk gave a little over 16 miles all told, from car to car. Dan told us that from the end of the stone jetty to the top of Clougha was 13 miles, which sounds about right. You could shorten it a fair bit by taking a more direct line through Lancaster, which would be pleasant enough, although that would also necessitate a fair bit more up and down I think.

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Have you ever climbed a hill with a choir? Or tried a sea to summit ascent?

These Hills Are Ours

Research Flat Earth

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The first weekend of February half-term. Pretty mixed weather to say the least. I was out several times none-the-less, first of all on my annual pilgrimage to see the display of Snowdrops near Hawes Water.

Later I was out in the garden and was astonished to see that a Brimstone butterfly had emerged from hibernation. Not something you expect to see on a cold, wet and windy day in mid-February.

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(The orange cables are fibre-optic, for a new broadband supply. Might be a while before they get dug in)

With all the rain we were having, the two big seasonal springs had appeared at the Cove:

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Between squalls it briefly brightened up…

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On the Sunday afternoon, I took B to a kick-boxing class in Lancaster, It’s a bit longer than some of the other classes he attends, so time for me to get in a slightly longer walk.

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I followed the Lancaster Canal, as far as the aqueduct…

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…where the canal had been drained whilst some work was underway.

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River Lune from the aqueduct.

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Carrs Billington plant catching the late afternoon light.

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Unnamed (on the OS map anyway) Lune Tributary.

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On the far side of the aqueduct I joined a slightly submerged riverside path.

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I found it quite exhilarating to walk alongside the river as it ran so high.

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Skerton Bridge.

The building catching the light here is new. We’ve christened it the ‘Shreddies’ building, which tells you more about the daft conversations we have in the car on the way into Lancaster in the mornings than it does about the building itself. (There’s another building nearby which looks like a Weetabix. No really, there is.)

 

Research Flat Earth