Round Windermere II

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Sunday started a good deal brighter than Saturday had. I expected to be stiff and sore following the exploits of the day before, but actually felt fine, but for one slight issue. I’d chosen to wear the same rather worn-out pair of Clark’s shoes in which I do most of my walking. I realise that might seem an unusual choice and some people might even go as far as to disapprove, but the shoes have been very comfortable, pretty waterproof and have looked after me well. Until now. I bought them in a sale and have had them for quite some time now. I knew that they were past their best, but I didn’t realise the extent to which the soles had worn thin. As a result, I now had a blood blister on the ball of each foot. They weren’t excruciating. I managed to scrounge some plasters from reception at the hostel and decided to wear two pairs of sock by way of compensation.

My walk started through…

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…which was really rather wonderful. On both days of the walk, I was really struck by the immaculate and colourful gardens I passed, most of them stuffed full off flowering shrubs…

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Rhododendrons and azaleas?

A and I passed this way at the end of the second day of our walk from Silverdale to Keswick, but it was a bit dark by then to see the flowers, so I’ve wanted to come back.

This section of the route, via Jenkin Crag to Troutbeck, is an old favourite and is very familiar territory.

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Coniston Fells from Jenkin Crag.

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Claife Heights and Latterbarrow from Jenkin Crag.

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Looking down the lake to Gummer How.

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More Bluebells.

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High Skelghyll.

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Looking down the lake – Belle Isle seems almost to split the north and south basins into two separate lakes.

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Troutbeck.

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Townend.

I thought, this being a National Trust property, I’d definitely be able to buy a cup of tea here, but it wouldn’t open for hours yet.

I’ve always admired this rather fine bank barn across the road from Townend. I hope that the National Trust won this too, and that it’s being looked after.

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At this point, my route diverted, for a while at least, from the one A and I had followed. I dropped to a different bridge, well, bridges…

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…over Trout Beck. These must have been destroyed in the flooding a couple of years ago. The new bridges look very robust.

I’m glad I stuck with Mister Turner’s route, because this section of path was new to me, and very beautiful in a low key way.

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There are a number of houses here, above the RHS gardens at Holehird, which have the most amazing views.

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Next on the agenda was Orrest Head, which, as always I suspect, was absolutely thronged with people.

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The view north along the lake from Orrest Head.

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The view south along the lake from Orrest Head.

Busy at it was on Orrest head, I dropped down into Common Wood on a permission path and soon was completely alone again.

I thought that these distinctive looking flowers would be easy to identify…

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…but in fact they took quite a lot of tracking down. As usual, it was the excellent Wildflower Finder website which came up trumps. I think that this is Indian Rhubarb, an introduced species native to the western United States. Apparently the leaves, when they appear, are every attractive, which is why gardeners like it for damp shady areas in their gardens.

This field…

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…on the lane just beyond the wood, was brimful of Cuckoo Flower, which is native, tasty and the principal food plant for Orange-tip butterflies.

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Part of a stunning garden on the outskirts of Windermere.

The slopes of School Knott, above Windermere, proved to be extremely confusing. My map shows open fields, but trees have been planted, which are now growing quite large and there are paths everywhere, with some sort of de facto right to roam seemingly in operation. I stopped a couple of dog walkers and asked for directions, but ended up following my nose uphill.

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Windermere and beyond from School Knott.

It’s a lovely spot, with terrific views, and, like Orrest Head, is another of Wainwright’s outlying fells. I noticed that some walkers were also climbing the higher Grandsire, although the map doesn’t indicate any access is allowed. It looks worth a look though, so I shall have to come back.

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Grandsire and School Knott Tarn (?).

There is a path down to the little tarn though. So…

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…that’s the way I went. It was warm enough here for me to be regretting that I didn’t really have enough time to stop for a swim.

Just beyond this point, I met a party of four on the Dales Way path, who asked for directions. They told me that they were walking from Bowness to Staveley (the one near Kendal, not the one I’d passed through the day before) and back. Since they were barely out of Bowness, they decided to amend their plans.

A fair bit of road walking followed, some of it along a busy road past Windermere Golf Club, which was unfortunate. Once I’d turned into the much quieter Lindeth Lane, things improved again. I met another lost party, a large group of ladies. I gathered they’d been a bit confused for some time. The explanation for how they’d lost their way was rather simple, but, in fairness, they’d missed a turn on to a path which I’m not sure existed on the ground.

I’d taken many photos on the next part of the walk, although it was very pleasant, through a mixture of fields, woodland and wood pasture with bits of scrub.

This…

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…and this…

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…are Podnet Tarn. The track which runs past has, by this point, become a metalled affair.

Nearby, Great Ludderburn Moss…

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…Little Ludderburn Moss and Green Hill form a nature reserve owned by the lake District National Park Authority which, unusually, seems to have no online presence at all (the nature reserve that is).

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On the map, it looks like the paths here link perfectly, but unfortunately, due presumably to the intransigence of some local home owners, there’s actually a detour by road before it’s possible to pick up a path to get back on course.

The detour goes right past Low Ludderburn, one of the houses in the area where the author and reputed spy Arthur Ransome lived, but I’m afraid I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t take any photos.

Wood anemones.

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The next part of the route, a long steady ascent of Gummer How via a path beside Burrow Beck was an absolute delight. The path is obviously well-used, although it isn’t a right-of-way. The woods are full of moss-covered lumps and fallen trees.

There’s also quite a bit of…

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…this shrub, which I thought was Wild Privet, but clearly isn’t since I just read that only begins to flower in June.

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Oh. More research needed!

Edit: I’ve done a little more checking, and I now think that this is Bird Cherry.

It was late afternoon now and it had clouded up, the wind had picked up, there were a few drops of moisture in the air and when I emerged from the woods on to Gummer How, I realised that it had grown quite cold.

Still there were the views for compensation…

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It was very satisfying to look back on where I had walked for the last two days.

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Lakeside and Summer House Knott. Notice Bigland Barrow and Haverthwaite Heights behind – both long overdue a revisit from me.

Duncan Turner gives this day as 16¼ miles with 2891′ of ascent. It took me a good deal less time than the day before had, which probably puts some perspective on how long that was. I’d cut it slightly short by stopping below Gummer How, but MapMyWalk measured it as 28km which is actually a bit further. (But subsequently ‘lost’ the data, so I can’t include a bird’s-eye Google-earth map. (Andy thinks that this might be a problem with the antiquity of my phone, rather than one inherent in the app.).

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It is an excellent route, thoroughly recommended. If you had more time you might incorporate Black Crag and Wansfell on either side of the head of the lake. If you are contemplating following in my footsteps, then please consider buying a copy of ‘Windermere: Walking Around the Lake’, not just because it’s a handy and informative guide, but because royalties from the book are donated to Holehird which provides a home for people living with disabilities and which is just off the route.

Talking of charity appeals:

In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

A heartfelt thanks to those who have donated already. The event is getting frighteningly close, so I’ll shall soon stop pasting this onto the end of posts, I promise. I could really do with about another year, or maybe two, to prepare….

 

 

Round Windermere II

Round Windermere I

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Windermere and the Coniston Fells from the road south of Gummer How.

B was on a rugby tour to North Wales. I was originally signed up to go, but then had second thoughts. Much as I like watching B and his teammates play, and chatting to the other parents, I also fancied a weekend in the hills. After a great deal of deliberating, I decided I wouldn’t accompany the team to Llandudno, but get some wild-camping in instead.

But then, as the weekend approached, the forecast was pretty dire. Rain, wind, rain and a lot more wind was expected. I hastily changed my plans and opted for a lower-level alternative with warm and dry lodgings at the end of it.

My new plan was to walk around Windermere over the course of two days. That’s the lake, not the town – A was very confused by my plan and seemed to think I would spend the entire weekend wandering the streets of Windermere, presumably looking a bit lost whilst doing so.

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Looking down to Lakeside and Summer House Knott.

True to form, I started my walk in a light rain. I’d elected to leave my car in the small car park below Gummer How, which as well as being relatively near to the southern end of the lake has the huge advantage of being free.

I’ve long wanted to do this walk, since picking up a copy of ‘Windermere: Walking Around the Lake’ by Duncan Turner. He suggests catching the ferry from Fell Foot to Lakeside, which neatly avoids the main A590, but I was making an early start and the first ferry wouldn’t be until late morning, so I decided to string together footpaths and lanes to take me around the end of the lake.

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Dropping down the road towards Fell Foot, I could see the Saturday Morning Park Run taking place in the park. TBH has been a couple of times and has encouraged me to give it a go. One day perhaps.

Eventually, I picked up a delightful path through Beech woods carpeted with Bluebells…

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…which brought me out close to Staveley in Cartmel, a small hamlet which I’m not sure I’ve ever visited before. Which is perhaps why I’ve never heard of Millerbeck Light Railway before…

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St, Mary’s church is slightly outside the village.

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I hoped to pop in, but found the door locked. The church was restored in 1897 by Lancaster architects Austin and Paley, whose work I seem to encounter almost everywhere I go. Apparently, there’s a listed eighteenth century stone sundial in the churchyard which I missed, so I shall have to go back. I could hardly miss the huge lychgate…

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…which seemed a bit out of proportion with the modest church.

A footpath through a caravan park and then a minor road brought me to Newby Bridge. I had to cross the busy main road twice, but that didn’t prove to be as big an obstacle as I’d thought it might be.

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The five arch stone bridge from which Newby Bridge gets its name was built in 1651 and is really rather elegant, so I ought to have taken a picture of it. Next time.

I did take a picture of the Swan Hotel from the bridge.

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It was still early at this point – people were still eating breakfast inside.

Having come this way, I now had the option to include the small hill above Newby Bridge which is Summer House Knott…

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…or Water Side Knott…

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The OS map has both names. I took several photos of this map and various parts of it. It shows paths not marked on the OS map, so is very handy. I would go over the Knott, down to Finsthwaite, up to High Dam, down to the YMCA centre on the lake and then follow the lake shore path off the top of this map.

Incidentally, long-suffering readers might recognise the map since I used another photo of it to navigate on another walk in the rain, through Border Moss and Yewbarrow Woods, back in the winter.

A short climb brought me to…

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…Pennington Lodge Tower, or Finsthwaite Tower, depending on who you believe. It’s currently under repair, I think the work of the National Trust. The plaque high on the wall reads…

Erected to honour the officers, seamen and marines of the Royal Navy whose matchless conduct and irresistible valour decisively defeated the fleets of France, Spain and Holland and preserved and protected liberty and commerce 1799.

Originally it had three floors and a view, but the top floor has been removed and it is now surrounded by trees (source).

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It’s a listed building, so in theory should be being carefully preserved, but I can’t find any reference online to the repairs. The naval battles referred to, from 1797 and 1798, are apparently the Battle of St. Vincent, the Battle of Camperdown and the Battle of the Nile, decisive victories against the navies of Spain, Holland and France respectively. My knowledge of the Napoleonic wars is obviously very sketchy, since it’s only the latter, when Nelson was commanding the British Fleet, that I was aware of before. Hard to imagine now a situation where Britain could be at loggerheads simultaneously with so many of our European neighbours. Ho-hum.

Incidentally, Summer House Knott, along with Finsthwaite Heights, is on one of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells Walks, as are Claife Heights and Latterbarrow which will appear later.

Great Knott Wood, to the north of the tower, is now owned by the Woodland Trust, who are working to restore native deciduous woods here…

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As I approached the point where the path left the wood, I came across these…

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Another memorial of sorts, recording the areas industrial heritage, when it produced wooden bobbins for the Manchester cotton industry.

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It’s many years now since I visited the bobbin mill at nearby Stott Park, but I remember it as a fascinating tour. Our guide was a former employee of the mill, when it was still  a commercial enterprise, rather than a working museum, and he had lots of interesting and some times gruesome stories to tell.

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Finsthwaite.

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St. Peter’s Church, Finsthwaite.

I was hoping to have a gander inside this church too, but despite signs outside saying that the church is kept open for visitors, it also seemed to be locked. Which is a shame, because I suspect the inside is well worth a look. It’s quite a recent building, the work of, you guessed it, Paley and Austin.

Since I couldn’t go inside, I sat in the porch for a moment whilst I took on some water.

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The weather was really beginning to brighten up at last. It hadn’t actually rained all that much to this point, but had always seemed to be on the point of drizzling. Now there was sunshine and warmth.

Climbing out of Finsthwaite, I was taken by this blossom covered tree…

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An apple tree, I suspect?

A short ascent brought me to High Dam…

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…where we swam a couple of times last summer.

Whilst I’ve visited High Dam many times over the years, I’m not sure that I’ve ever followed this bit of path beyond the reservoir, which isn’t on my map. Nor have I climbed Stott park Heights, the high ground on the left here…

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…an omission I shall have to rectify another time.

The path dropped down the hillside via some deep cuttings which looked like they must have been blasted through the rock, which doesn’t make much sense on this seemingly little used track. There must be some explanation?

I had to walk a little way along the road, but was soon on the lake side path.

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I had my cag on almost immediately when, for the first time that day, the heavens really opened.

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In truth, the shower was short-lived, but with dark clouds scudding past and occasional further flurries of rain, I kept my coat on, probably longer than I needed to.

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It looked like there might be a wedding party underway at Greythwaite Old Hall, and I hoped the weather would improve, both for them and for me! The path was well-marked and very easy to follow, so on the whole I wasn’t really looking at my map much. For that reason, I was quite surprised by the short sharp climb past High Cat Crag. Sadly, I immediately lost all of that height again on the minor lane which eventually took me to another lake shore path.

By the time I passed through these wonderful Bluebell woods at Rawlinson Nab, the rain had just about done, for now at least.

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I’d been debating with myself about the options for the next section. I could stick to the shore, or take any one of a number of routes across Claife Heights, the most ambitious of which would divert to take in Latterbarrow. I’d pretty much decided that if the weather looked fine I would choose the Latterbarrow option and since I had some blue sky and plenty of sunshine, I took the minor lane and then a path into Far Sawrey, rather than dropping back down to the shore.

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I was heading for High Pate Crag and High Blind How, but before I reached either of those I followed a slight trod leading away from the main track, which brought me to a superb viewpoint.

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Belle Isle and Bowness-on-Windermere.

I’ve walked in Claife Heights many times before, but have always thought that the one downside of those walks was the frustrating lack of views, so this was a real revelation. I’d been walking for quite some time without much rest, so decided to sit here a while and eat the couple of apples I had in my bag.

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The weather still looked quite bleak in the hills around the head of the lake.

Whilst Gummer How and the southern end of the lake looked a satisfyingly long way away…

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A large area of trees around High Pate Crag had been felled. There ought to have been views of the Coniston Fells, but they had been swallowed up by clouds.

The area abounds with tarns. I’m guessing that this one in the distance…

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…with trees around it’s western shore, is Moss Eccles Tarn, once owned by Beatrix Potter and which I passed on a previous Calife Heights wander.

High Pate Crag, and the area around it, had good views across to the Langdale Pikes.

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Whilst High Blind How turned out to be appropriately named, since the trig pillar there is completely surrounded by mature conifers and has no view at all…

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At 270 metres, this was the highest point of the day.

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Unnamed tarn near High Blind How.

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Telephone mast? And the hills north of Ambleside.

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I was heading now for Latterbarrow, but the weather had finally caught up with me again and I had more rain.

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Latterbarrow, with a prominent cairn on top.

Fortunately, it stopped pretty much as I reached the top…

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I stopped again here, for another drink and to take lots of photos.

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The views were changing all the time, with clouds and showers constantly on the move.

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I was even treated to a bit of a rainbow over the lake…

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Paths exist here which aren’t on my old map. They were evident on the ground and I trusted that, since they seemed to be going in a convenient direction, it would be a good idea to follow them.

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Blelham Tarn with Black Fell behind.

The paths took me down to High Wray, from where I was anticipating a long road walk.

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Looking back to Blelham Tarn and Latterbarrow.

However, new paths…

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Have been created which either shadow the road, or, in one section, leave it altogether.

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The weather was looking decidedly grim again.

In Pull Woods…

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..it had started to rain a little and it soon started to absolutely tip it down.

It continued to rain as I diverted to cross the river Brathay by the footbridge opposite…

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Holy Trinity Church, Brathay.

Another unusual looking church. Having come out of my way to see the church, I decided against climbing the hill to see if the church was open. It was getting late and was still chucking it down.

Fortunately, by the time I reached Ambleside it had finally stopped, so I could enjoy the view down the lake before hobbling to the Youth Hostel, seen on the left here…

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…for a shower, some dry gear, food and a couple of hard earned beers.

Duncan Turner gives this side of the lake as 13¾ miles with 1816′ of ascent, but I tacked on extra bits around the southern end of the lake, over Summer House Knott and over High Blind How and Latterbarrow, which made it, well…quite a long way.

Maps: Start at the bottom and work up! (Some of the paths are missing from this 1:50,000. You really need OL7 to track the route)

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Technical notes:

The photos were taken on an old (in digital camera terms) Fujifilm camera, chosen because it’s very compact and because my Panasonic is too bulky in my rucksack if I’m carrying overnight gear.

There’s no Google-Earth map of my route because the app decided, as it does from time to time, that I had logged out, and I couldn’t log back in again because I don’t use mobile data. The next day it worked fine, except that somewhere on the drive home the data for the day disappeared into the ether.

 

Round Windermere I

Best Little Retread?

Sow How Tarn – Middle Tarn – Heights Cottage – Raven’s Barrow – St. Anthony’s Cartmel Fell – The Mason’s Arms – Whinny Knott – Birch Fell Forest – Gummer’s How.

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Sow How Tarn.

Heading towards the end of October now and it’s the start of our half-term. What better way to begin a holiday than with another visit from Andy and family? They were up to drag TJF out to celebrate his birthday.

On the Saturday afternoon, despite some dodgy weather, Andy was keen to get out to climb Gummer’s How. He assures me that this preceded his relatively newfound obsession with Marilyn bagging. Maybe the prospect of a visit to the nearby Mason’s Arms played a part in his enthusiasm? TBF, TJF and myself were daft enough to join him for a wander in the damp and the drizzle.

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Height’s Cottage – once a Friends’ Meeting House.

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Panorama from Raven’s Barrow.

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Pool Garth.

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We sheltered under these large brollies for lunch at the Mason’s Arms. I had a salad which featured chorizo quite prominently and was very tasty.

Andy is a bit out of focus here…

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…possibly something to do with the Raspberry beer we were both enjoying?

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After our stop at the pub, the climb up Gummer’s How felt quite stiff. At first it seemed we wouldn’t be rewarded with any kind of view.

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But eventually the cloud lifted at least a little.

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Gummer How pano.

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Windermere.

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Windermere and Finsthwaite Fell.

It was a shame about the weather, but I think we made the most of a dreary day. This is a great walk for that purpose, or for a half day in nicer conditions. I did almost exactly this walk, but in reverse, with MM and Dr F a few years ago. Gummer How, Raven’s Barrow and St. Anthony’s have all featured on the blog quite a few times over the years. There’s a search tool hidden away in the top right hand corner if you want to know more.

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This is the map I used for my post back in 2011, which includes a diversion in search of the summit of Birch Fell via an entirely spurious pair of very straight lines; in reality we were slaloming between densely planted conifers. Otherwise, I think that this is reasonably accurate.

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In 2011, MM’s GPS gave this route as 10km. Mapmywalk tells me that it was 11.58km. I prefer to believe the latter, but who knows? Andy’s, far superior, account of the day is here.

Best Little Retread?

A Winster Valley Bluebell Walk.

Witherslack Hall – Lawns Wood – Knot Wood – Low Low Wood – River Winster – Stang Hill – Cow Head Wood – Way Beck – Crag Wood – Thorphinsty Hall – Low Loft Wood – Little Thorphinsty – Spannel Beck – Gateside Plantation – Rankthorns Plantation – Raven’s Barrow – Cartmell Fell Church – Hodge Hill Hall – Lobby Bridge – Broomer Dale – Coppy Beck – Pool Bank – Low Park Wood – Witherslack Hall.

Featuring: many wildflowers – fine old buildings – a sundog – a raptor attack – an ascent to a viewpoint – a tiny church – stained glass.

Make a cup-of-tea, it’s going to be a long one.

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Whitbarrow.

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when the evenings are long, and even sometimes sunny, and my post-work walks can be further afield and longer than they are during the rest of the year.

On this evening, I parked in a convenient little off-road spot, close to Whitbarrow and Witherslack Hall. I wouldn’t be climbing Whitbarrow, but heading the other way, across the Winster Valley, where I remembered from previous trips, years ago, woods that would be brimful of Bluebells at this time of year.

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Witherslack Hall and Witherslack Hall Farm (an equestrian centre).

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Witherslack Hall. Built in 1874 for the Earl of Derby.

The path took me into Lawns Wood, where there were some Bluebells, but not in great numbers.

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The path through Lawns Wood.

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Unfurling ferns.

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Hoverfly.

Near the edge of the wood though, the path was lined with that other great spring carpet-forming  flower – Ramsons, or Wild Garlic.

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The verges on the lane I soon reached, on the far-side of the wood, were rich in a variety of spring flowers. Here’s a sample of some of them…

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Stitchwort.

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Water Avens.

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Jack-by-the-hedge.

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Summer Snowflake.

This is a new flower to me, but the striking similarity of the flowers to Snowdrops made it relatively easy to find in ‘The Wild Flower Key’ and then, once I had a name to put to it, to check on the very comprehensive wildflowerfinder website. I get the impression that this is a plant more often found in the south of England and I wonder whether these might have seeded from a local garden.

I often tell my students that one of the things I love about mathematics is that there are always new things for me to learn*; usually after one of them has asked me an awkward question to which I don’t know the answer, or has just solved a problem in a novel way, or had some insight which is either genuinely new to me, or at least is sufficiently obscure for me to have forgotten about it.

I feel much the same way about the flora and fauna, geology, weather phenomena and local history which I encounter on my walks: there’s always something new to see, or to learn about, or at least to ponder on.

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Low Low Wood.

Judging from the OS map, this farmhouse is genuinely called Low Low Wood and further north can be found Middle Low Wood and, better yet, High Low Wood. You couldn’t make it up! Although, having said that, Low Wood, or rather Lowood, has pedigree as a name in English Literature having been the name of the squalid school in Jane Eyre. (A photo of the actual model for that fictional school can be found at the top of this post.)

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I’ve been watching for the emergence of oak and ash leaves this year, so that I can check the validity of the old saw…

“Oak before Ash, we’re in for a splash, Ash before Oak, we’ll have a soak.”

It’s been pretty clear that, on the whole, oak leaves have been emerging earlier than ash. So does that mean that we’re in for a hot, dry summer? Well, since the beginning of May, the weather has been unusually fine; in fact, last night I overheard a conversation in which a chap reported that, in fifteen years of living in the North-West, this had been the best weather he had ever experienced+.

Sadly, it seems that Oak leaves usually emerge before Ash, although there does appear to be some correlation between warm springs and the early arrival of Oak foliage.

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The Winster Valley and Cartmel Fell.

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The River Winster.

The map doesn’t indicate a bridge over the river, but I had a feeling that I’d crossed a bridge here in the past and, fortunately, there was a bridge.

The woods of the western side of the Winster Valley, on the slopes of Cartmel Fell, did not disappoint: they were every bit as crammed full of Bluebells as I’d hoped.

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Cow Head Wood.

I took no end of photos, but, in honesty, they are all a bit of a letdown. There’s an amazing intensity in the colour of a wood carpeted with Bluebells; a smokey, purple-blue which my photos just don’t replicate. It’s always the way.

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What the photos also lack is the heady scent of a mass of Bluebells at the end of a warm, sunny day.

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Welsh Poppies.

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A mown path through the woods!

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Thorphinsty Hall.

Glorious old buildings litter this area. Thorphinsty hall is a Grade II listed buildings and the two cottages and barn nearby are also listed. Now that I know about the Historic England website (thanks Peter!), I can always find reliable, if somewhat dry, details about old buildings like this one. Not that I always understand what I’m reading. Thorphinsty Hall, for example, has a ‘catslide roof’ and a ‘heck post’#. The lintel over the door is marked 1708, but the according to Historic England the building is ‘probably earlier’.

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A parhelion or sundog.

In Gateside Plantation I watched a Buzzard land in a nearby tree and then begin to screech in a way which is becoming familiar. I had a fair idea what was coming.

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This time, I would hold my nerve and get a prey’s-eye view of a stooping raptor.

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Well, I tried…

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It was moving pretty fast and and I already had the zoom lens fully extended, which probably wasn’t ideal. Presumably, there was a nest nearby. This is the fourth time I’ve been ‘warned off’ by a Buzzard now.  This one wasn’t anywhere near as alarming as the first, when a Buzzard made several, close feints at my head, but it was a much closer and more threatening approach than the two times it happened last spring: once near Crummack when the tiercel – it always seems to be the tiercel, the smaller male bird – flew towards me a few times, but on each occasion turned back before getting too close; the other time in woods above the Wenning Valley when both birds circled menacingly but didn’t get any more aggressive than that, a ‘warning’ so undramatic that I subsequently forgot to mention it in the relevant post.

That first dive having come pretty close I retreated behind the small Hawthorn…

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…in this picture. Both Buzzards were now in the pines opposite. As I moved on the tiercel came back to make another, rather half-hearted swoop.

I’ve been admonished in the past, probably quite rightly, for being too specific about the location of Badger setts, so I shan’t say quite where, but I did pass some I haven’t seen before during this walk. I didn’t see any Badgers, but plenty of evidence of their recent presence.

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Yewbarrow, Arnside Knott, Winster Valley, Cartmel Fell.

I climbed a little here, up to Raven’s Barrow…

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This large cairn, which has a small seat built into it, doesn’t mark the top of a hill, but it is a magnificent viewpoint, despite it’s modest elevation.

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Looking north to the higher hills of the Lake District.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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Raven’s Barrow pano.

I’d originally planned to stop here to make a brew, but there was quite a cold breeze, so I dropped down to St. Anthony’s instead…

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This tiny church is in a wonderfully peaceful spot. There’s a photo of it in this post, from a walk at an earlier time of day, when the sun was still shining on it. It must have been an earlier time of the year too, because the churchyard was still full of Daffodils.

Time was marching on, but I decided that I had a moment for a quick peek inside the church. It was built in 1504 and inside there’s a plaque naming all of the priests back as far as 1520.

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This unusual, triple-decker pulpit…

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…has been used by a few of those priests, having been added in 1698.

This box pew…

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…is even older, having been fashioned from the chancel screen in 1571. Whilst this one…

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…known as the Cowmire Hall Pew, is Seventeenth Century. I haven’t walked past Cowmire Hall, I don’t think, I shall have to add it to my list of places to visit.

It struck me that much of the stained glass looked very old.

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Apparently, much of it is Fifteenth Century and originates from Cartmel Priory which also once provided the priests for this church. I haven’t been to the Priory for an age either, something else I need to put right.

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The East Window.

The figure on the left of the East Window, who has a bell, a staff, a book and a small pig, is St. Anthony. Amongst other things he is the patron Saint of charcoal burners, an industry once very much identified with this area and perhaps the reason for the Church’s dedication. Apparently, the window contains some Coptic symbols associated with this desert hermit, but I’m not clever enough to pick them out. The figure on the right is St. Leonard, patron saint of prisoners and the sick.

I have a little book, “Lakeland Country Churches’, by Sheila Ricketts, from which I’ve gleaned much of the preceding information, but there are many other features which the book doesn’t mention.

This for example…

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…which I assume is St. Anthony again. And his pig.

This…

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…is Hodge Hill Hall, like St. Anthony’s, another listed building. ‘Possibly dating from 1560’.

I had had an overly ambitious idea that I might recross the valley and climb Whitbarrow, but I decided that I’d already packed enough in for one day. The sun was sinking fast and seemed to be in agreement…

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At Pool Bank there are a number of superb old buildings, but they were in shade, so I shall have to come back some time to take more photos.

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As I approached Witherslack Hall again, on the minor road through Low Park Wood, I came to an open field where a horse, presumably one belonging to the equestrian centre, was rolling on its back with what seemed to me to be obvious relish. A pair of Greylag Geese ushered their tiny, fluffy brood across the field and shooed them past the horse. Time for me to go home to check on my own brood.

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Around 8 miles with 250m of ascent.

*This is an understatement of such magnitude that ‘understatement’ isn’t really a strong enough term to describe it. There’s a vast ocean of known mathematics, of which I have glimpsed into a tiny rock-pool, and beyond that there are presumably yet more, as yet unexplored and unimagined, oceans of new mathematics waiting to be discovered (or invented – there’s a debate to be had there, but not here and now). If this seems like false modesty, it isn’t, and you should bear in mind the fact that Henri Poincaré, who died in 1912, was dubbed, by the historian of maths E.T. Bell, ‘the last universalist’, i.e.the last mathematician who understood all of the mathematics which was known during his time.

+He has a short memory: we often have a protracted fine spell during the spring.

#I looked them both up, and sadly the actual meanings are rather prosaic – a catslide roof is a roof which continues below the line of the eaves of a house and a heck is a northern term for a short panel between the fireplace and the door, usually ending with a heck-post. Does this, I wonder, explain the origins of the phrase ‘flaming heck’?

A Winster Valley Bluebell Walk.

Whitfell and Devoke Water.

Or: Three Brews with Views.

Birker Fell Road – Rough Crag – Water Crag – White Pike – Woodend Height – Yoadcastle – Stainton Pike – Holehouse Tarn – Whitfell – Woodend Height – Devoke Water – Seat How – Birker Fell Road.

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Hesk Fell, Woodend Height and Stord’s Hill seen across Devoke Water from Rough Crag.

It was our turn to do Kitchen Duty at rugby and TBH offered to go in my stead. I didn’t need to be asked twice. The MWIS forecast gave hill fog, with the best chance of some sunshine in the west, so I drove out to Ulpha in the Duddon valley and then up to park on the Birker Fell Road. Pike How, just above the road is a marvellous view point and one to bear in mind for future reference. It didn’t take long to reach Rough Crag either and I found a comfortable spot out of the chilly wind blowing from the north…

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…and settled down for an early brew stop.

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Water Crag from Rough Crag.

Water Crag was also easily and quickly ascended.

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Looking back to Rough Crag from Water Crag.

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This rocky little knoll is Brantrake Crags. It’s off modest height and probably doesn’t appear in any guide books anywhere, but I thought it looked worth climbing. The stream beside it, Linbeck Gill, which drains Devoke Water, also looked like a good place to explore.

After Rough Crag and Water Crag, Birkett suggests a lengthy traverse to take in The Knott. For once, I’d done my research in advance and discovered that Wainwright, in his Outlying Fells book, has a separate walk which takes in the Knott, but also the ancient settlement at Barnscar and the waterfall of Rowantree Force. That seemed like a more sensible option to me, so I skipped The Knott and climbed directly to White Pike. After the previous two, very easy, ascents, this one seemed like a long way. It was well worth it though. The prominent cairn…

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…marked a spot with excellent views.

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Whitfell and Stainton Pike from White Pike.

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Cumbrian west coast from White Pike.

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Eskmeals viaduct and Isle of Mann.

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Woodend Height and Yoadcastle.

All of the peaks on this walk had stunning views. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but Woodend Height would be hard to beat; from it’s top you can have great fun picking out all of the big hills of the western Lakes, across Devoke Water.

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Yoadcastle, Whitfell and Stainton Pike from Woodend Height.

Aside from the minor difficulty of surmounting a wire fence with a top strand of barbed wire, the walk around to Stainton Pike was delightful. This was yet another good view point.

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Looking back to Yoadcastle from Stainton Pike.

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Holehouse tarn and Whitfell from Stainton Pike.

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The estuaries of the Irt and the Esk from Stainton Pike.

It seemed like another brew was in order, and I found a wonderfully sheltered spot to sit to enjoy it.

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The Irt and the Esk and the dunes of Drigg nature reserve.

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Muncaster Castle.

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Isle of Mann and Eskmeals viaduct.

From there then, on to Whitfell.

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Large summit cairn on Whitfell.

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Looking back along my route.

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Duddon Estuary, Black Coombe and Buckbarrow.

On Whitfell you are a bit further away from the hills of Wasdale and Eskdale, but if anything, I thought this enhanced the view. I took several panoramas during the course of the day. Sadly, none of them were very successful, but I’ve included this one, if for no other reason than to remind myself of the great sweep of hills from Whin Rigg in the west round to Caw at the southern extreme of the Coniston Fells.

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Despite the forecast hill-fog, the higher fells were often clear…

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Scafells, Esk Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags.

I’d flirted with the idea of descending from here, via Biggert to Hole House, then climbing The Pike and Hesk Fell on my way back to Devoke Water. This now seemed overly ambitious, and Hesk Fell looked every inch the tedious lump which Wainwright bemoans. So I wandered back to Woodend Height, skirting the other summits on my way.

Dropping off Woodend Height toward Rowantree How, I found another comfortable, sheltered seat and settled down for another brew.

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The view from my final brew stop.

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The same view from a little lower down: the rocky knoll on the left is Rowantree How. Note Seat How to the right of Devoke Water.

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Devoke Water and Seat How.

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Devoke Water boat house.

Seat How is another modest little top, but it is gratifyingly craggy, giving a satisfying scrambling finish to the round

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Devoke Water from Seat How.

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The pastures around Woodend, Hesk Fell behind.

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Harter Fell, Crook Crag, Green Crag, Great Crag.

I’ve often pontificated about the elements which come together to provide a good day on the hoof; I shan’t start again here, except to say that a really good walk might not just leave you wanting to come back and do it again someday, but may also fill your head with ideas for other walks you’d like to do soon. That was certainly the case with this one: not only did I find myself wanting to return to reascend many of the familiar hills I could see around me, but I also now plan to head round to the west coast to grab The Knott, and to explore the dunes at Drigg; I need to bag Buckbarrow, and The Pike, and even Hesk Fell; I spent large parts of the day thinking about a Duddon watershed walk and also wondering how to continue a high level route which would begin with Black Combe and then head north over Whitfell and these Devoke Water tops. Speculating about these more fanciful routes was great fun….in fact: where are my maps? After Harter Fell, where next?

Whitfell and Devoke Water.

Black Combe

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Painted Lady.

A hot and slightly sticky evening, after a hot and slightly sticky day at work. The forecast was for the weather to deteriorate, but not out in the Western lakes, so I’d driven round for an evening ascent of Black Combe. There’s a spot to pull off the main road just by Beckside (see map at the bottom of the post) and from there I’d followed the path to Fox and Goose Cottages and then uphill on a path between two hedgerows which seemed in danger of disappearing under the greenery; I wondered whether I might end up regretting the fact that I was wearing shorts and not armed with a machete, but I managed to emerge relatively unscathed. (It’s not just nettles that I need to avoid – I tend to react quite badly even to grass seed-heads).

A surprisingly broad track curls up around the hillside and I was very glad of it’s reasonably gentle gradient. The bracken was busy with insects, among them many small butterflies or moths, but none were obliging when my camera was in hand. Not, that is, until I reached more open ground close to the ‘summit’ of White Hall Knott (spot height 311m on the map). In that area a couple of Painted Ladies were displaying quite cooperatively.

White Hall Knott is one of those Birketts which, with only a single, solitary contour to call its own, looks, on the map, like a rather arbitrary choice. In the flesh, it’s quite appealing…

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White Hall Knott.

And, even on a hazy evening, it has a pretty admirable view down the Whicham Valley…

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…and across to the Duddon Estuary…

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Some aspects of the ascent had put me in mind of another hill, a firm favourite of mine, Carn Fadryn on the Llyn Peninsula – a broad and gentle path, bracken busy with orange butterflies and day flying moths, some hints of bilberries (although not nearly as abundant as on Carn Fadryn), views to the sea and Painted Ladies at the top.

As I plodded up White Combe…

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…I was wondering about Painted Ladies. These were the first I’d seen this year. Although we get them in our garden at times, in previous years my first sightings have often been on top of Carn Fadryn. Painted Ladies, like Monarch butterflies in North America, migrate over several generations. Although the migration of Monarchs is more famous, Painted Ladies migration is much further, beginning in Africa and ending north of the Arctic Circle. The existence of a return migration was only confirmed in 2012, it had been missed because the butterflies can fly quite high, at an average altitude of over 500m on their southbound trip. This made me wonder whether they use coastal hills, or maybe just hill-tops generally, as navigational aids, or maybe just as staging-posts on their mammoth journeys?

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Looking back to White Hall Knott.

As well as the butterflies, the hillsides and skies around were busy with birds – Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. I think that this…

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…was the latter. Not a very sharp photo I know, but it does demonstrate their steep, singing, display flight which is so characteristic of the hills at this time of year.

White Combe is not really a summit at all, just the end of a long broad shoulder, but it does have a substantial cairn…

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And guess what, at least two resident Painted Ladies…

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The Red Admiral is another migratory butterfly, a close relative of the Painted Lady.

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They don’t seem to share any familial affection however: every time the Red Admiral landed, one of the Painted Ladies would fly at it and drive it off. Which is something else I’ve previously observed on Carn Fadryn.

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There were quite a number of hoverflies about too. This one might be Sericomyia Selintis. But, then again, it might not.

From White Combe a longish and levelish and very enjoyable plod followed, heading for Stoupdale Crags.

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Thin, but pronounced, paths made the going easier than it might otherwise have been…

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Stoupdale Crags turned out to have one of those plateaued tops where every knoll looks slightly higher than the one you are currently occupying.

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Buck Barrow and Whitfell from Stoupdale Crags.

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Meadow Pipit (I think) amongst Cotton Grass.

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For another Day: Stoneside Hill, Kinmont Buck Barrow, Buck Barrow, Whitfell, Plough Fell.

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The way ahead: Whitecombe Screes, Blackcombe Screes and Black Combe from Whitecombe Head. The left-hand skyline would be my descent route.

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A shiny ground beetle (which I can’t find in my field guide).

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Looking back to Stoupdale Crags.

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Black Combe summit.

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Black Combe South Summit.

I’m pretty sure that the last time I was up here, I camped by this little tarn. That was another summer-evening, post-work outing, but on that occasion a Friday night and hence the freedom to camp out and stop to have breakfast on Black Combe.

Tonight, I still had tea in my bag – a humongous pasty I’d bought, on the drive over, from the excellent bakers in Broughton-in-Furness. (A Community not a Shortcut say the signs on the edge of the village).

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I sat by this enormous and slightly ramshackle cairn to eat it, with a view of the blanket of low stratus stretching away over the Irish Sea and sending a finger of cloud up over the River Duddon.

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Sadly, it was much too murky to really appreciate what would have otherwise, I suspect, been a pretty spectacular sight.

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I know that this is already a relatively long post, by my modest standards, but I’m going to digress slightly to recommend another book which seems to me at least tangentially relevant to a blog about walking; I recently read ‘The Invention of Clouds’ by Richard Hamblyn; it’s ostensibly a biography of Luke Howard the amateur scientist who devised the familiar nomenclature used for clouds, but it digresses into the previous and subsequent history of nephology – the science of clouds – the status of the great Nineteenth Century populisers of science, like Humphrey Davy, the early history of ballooning and much more. I found it absolutely fascinating.

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Looking back to Stoupdale Crags and White Combe.

On my descent I initially followed the edge of the crags heading almost due East, but then found quite a good track, I would guess quite an old one, which made for easier walking, but which took me further south, down towards Hallbeck Gill (a tautological name). Eventually I had to contour round the hillside to get back on course for Whitecombe Gill. Next time I come this way, I’d like to try the ridge between Blackcombe Screes and Whitecombe Screes, which according to the OS 1:25000 is called Horse Back. (And incidentally, I wonder what kind of feature is Eller Peatpot, also named on the OS map?)

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As yet unidentified moth.

Black Combe

Black Combe

A Family Outing to Whitbarrow

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The title pretty much says it all, so I could just let the pictures do the talking, but I rarely miss an opportunity to pontificate, so: no such luck.

When I lived in Arnside, I could see Whitbarrow Scar from my living room window. Not that surprising then, that I used to come this way often. Far more surprising, is the fact that, since I moved back to Silverdale, I’ve rarely been back, and until just after Christmas, the kids had never been at all. The path in the picture above, not a right-of-way and not shown on my OS map, but as you can see, extremely well made, winds it’s way up the steep hillside without, mercifully, ever becoming steep itself. Leading to…

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…an old bench with a bit of a view…

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…presently of flooded fields. The hillside here was, long ago, the coastline. The river in the distance is the Kent, with Arnside Knott and Beetham Fell beyond.

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A short climb from the bench, and then a slight detour from the main path, leads to the top of the scar and even more expansive views.

I was playing with the panorama function again…

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We found a sheltered spot for a brew and some left-over goose sandwiches and then continued across the plateau towards Whitbarrow’s highest point.

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The view behind of the Kent Estuary was magnificent. (You probably need to click on the photos to see bigger versions in flickr to get the full benefit of the panorama shots.)

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Looking towards the top.

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Eastward: floods in the Lyth valley.

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At the top.

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Heading for the descent route…

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…which cuts very steeply through the trees.

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Two more panoramas. Light a bit too low at this point I think.

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On the outskirts of the hamlet of Beck Head we found this…

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…very well appointed self-service cafe with honesty box.

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I shall have to contrive a walk which arrives here in the middle, rather than near the end, so as to feel justified in partaking of what’s on offer. (Purely for research purposes you understand).

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The boys were very taken with the actual Beck Head, where the stream appears from underground.

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A slightly longer version of this walk appears in Wainwright’s ‘Outlying Fells’ and he says of it:

The walk described is the most beautiful in this book; beautiful it is every step of the way.

Can’t say fairer than that.

A Family Outing to Whitbarrow