Seasonal Markers

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It’s that time of year when I’ve generally been rushing around checking off signs of spring here, there and everywhere. This year’s been an odd one though – the Hawthorn is  coming in to leaf, but I can’t recall seeing any Blackthorn blossom. The Violets, Primroses and Wood Anemones are all appearing, but it still feels quite cold. I hear Green Woodpeckers yaffling on almost every walk, but I’ve yet to see any Swallows or hear any Chiff-chaffs.

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Some things remain constant though. Here’s one – at this time of year we often see Roe Deer in the garden. There were four this morning. But these photos were taken a while ago, the day after my birthday. My birthday, incidentally, was a very lazy day. We played some games of Code Names, the picture version, which was one of my presents and was great fun. We also climbed a hill, but only tiny Castle Barrow in Eaves Wood.

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This Roe Deer was quite near the house, seemingly finding both the bluebells and the shrubs equally appetising.

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She’s losing her dark winter coat, which is why she looks a bit tatty. She’ll soon be in her much more fetching, golden-brown, summer raiment.

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The Toothwort by the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood has also reappeared. Long-suffering readers will know that I have an ever-expanding list of flowers which I associate with particular locations and make a point of visiting each year, particularly in the spring: first Snowdrops in the woods by Haweswater, then Daffodils at Far Arnside, Green Hellebore along the perimeter of Holgates Caravan Park, Early Purple and Green-winged Orchids on the Lots…the list goes on and on and I’m enjoying mentally running through it.

One of the places I visit is a particular tree close to Haweswater which is a host to the parasitic Toothwort. I’ve surprised myself by feeling quite put-out by the fact that I can’t visit this year, what with the paths being closed to accommodate tree-felling work by Natural England. And by my consternation at the possibility that this particular tree might be one of the ones which gets felled. Whatever my political opinions, it seems that, when it comes to change on my home patch, I can still be conservative with a small c.

 

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Seasonal Markers

No Jokers on Ingleborough

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Pen-y-Ghent in a winter suit.

I felt like I was holding all the aces. It was the day before my birthday, the sky was completely cloudless and the hills had a new dusting of snow. What’s more, I was driving along the A65 with an appointment with Ingleborough. The only thing I hadn’t decided was quite which route I would follow. I’d been perusing the map and some favourite websites the night before to try to make a decision. I hoped to find Purple Saxifrage flowering as we did last year on Pen-y-ghent. Now, Saxifraga Oppositifolia is rare in England, but I’d found several references to the fact that it grows on Ingleborough as well as Pen-y-ghent, not least in John Self’s online book ‘The Wildlife of the Lune Region’ which suggests that an exploration of the steep and fractured cliffs of the western face would be the best place to look. I also found an enthralling description of a route which would fit the bill perfectly.

But now that I could see those western slopes through my windscreen, I knew that they were in a deep shade and seemed likely to be so for some time to come. Knowing that I had to play the hand I’d been dealt, I decided to start my ascent from Clapham instead.

The first trick of the day was to find the right path out of the village and then a steepish pull brought me to Long Lane…

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Long Lane. The edge on the right is Robin Proctor’s Scar which I photographed last year during a walk from Austwick.

Long Lane climbed slowly but steadily and, although it was cold, it was wonderful to be out in the sunshine.

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Long Lane again.

I generally try to climb a hill on my birthday, but over the years I’ve learned to be flexible when work or other commitments have not allowed me to. This year I chose to take my birthday walk a day early, simply because the weather forecast was much better for that day.

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Rayside Plantation and Ingleborough Cave.

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Trow Gill.

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Pretty soon I’d reached the snow. At home we’d had rain the night before, but here it had fallen as a snow.

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Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

We see Ingleborough from Eaves Wood and on our daily drive in to Lancaster, and it has a very distinctive profile, so the view from the south-east was oddly unfamiliar.

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Pen-y-ghent.

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Looking back towards Norber. Distant Pendle Hill on the left-hand skyline.

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From the area around Long Scar I’d turned left on a marvellous green lane which made the going very easy. Even through areas of limestone pavement…

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Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

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Pen-y-ghent.

The breeze was only gentle, but still chilling, so I was pleased, after passing through the gate into the large field called The Allotment, to find a small hollow by a stream which afforded some shelter.

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It was a real suntrap! Everything was coming up trumps. I parked myself beside the beck: time to get a brew on.

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A prospect to warm the hearts ♥.

I felt quite warm and cosy sunbathing here, although there was plenty of evidence that I was kidding myself a little:

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Ice diamonds? ♦

I’d been listening to Meadow Pippits serenading the sun and I think I saw a couple of Wheatears, although I couldn’t be sure. It was great to hear some birdsong after the cold spring we’ve endured.

I sat for around half an hour in the sun, but then it was time to get going again. After the very gentle climbing I’d been doing, the next section was a little steeper, but brought the compensation of even better views.

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Pen-y-ghent and Ribblesdale.

Soon I’d reached the top edge of the great bowl between Simon Fell and Ingleborough.

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And then I was on the ridge itself, with new views to take in.

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Whernside and the valley of the River Doe. (Doedale?)

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The western edge of Simon Fell and Souther Scales Fell.

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Black shiver? The fissured boulder on the left is so distinctively gritstone that it had me thinking of all the rock features of the Dark Peak which still seem so familiar even though it’s many years since I visited any of them.

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Black Shiver from the other direction. I think.

The broad plateau of the top of Ingleborough was busy with walkers eating their sandwiches. I walked around the edges, thinking I could find some sort of shelter, but it seemed to be impossible to get out of the icy wind. Even the four way shelter at the very top didn’t seem to offer much protection, so I decided not to join the clubs ♣.

So I carried on, dropping down towards the prominent notch which is where, at some time in the past, a landslip has dropped down the slopes (hence Falls Foot on the lower slopes).

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My descent took me past a layer of broken limestone crags…

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Which is what I was looking for. So I began clambering around beneath those, in search of the, initially elusive, Purple Saxifrage.

I spotted these prominent plant stalks in a cliff…

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They were much too large to be saxifrage, but intriguing none-the-less. I shall have to return later in the year to see if I can discover what this is.

Eventually I found what I was looking for…

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…but the flowers weren’t quite open. Or not many of them were…

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I’d read that the flowers are purple when they first open, then gradually turn pink. There’s quite a contrast in fact, with the flowers we saw last year:

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Further exploration brought me to a dramatic spot…

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…where, with snow on steep ground, a limestone cliff above and another cliff, of a different rock, below, I decided that discretion was required and turned back.

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Panorama of Whernside. Click to see larger version.

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Whernside and the extensive limestone pavements of Raven Scar and Twisleton Scar, part of the Great Scar Limestone.

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Gritstone rockfall below limestone crags. To say that the geology of this area is complex is a massive understatement.

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The Yoredale Series are layers of sedimentary rocks – limestones, sandstones, shales and a cap of gritstone – which characterise the Yorkshire Dales. In the photo above you can see two sets of crags, the lower limestone, the higher gritstone with gritstone boulders below the limestone.

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The crags at the top of The Falls. In shade still.

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And, on the other side of the gully, free of snow.

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Icicles, in spades. ♠

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Still quite cold, then!

Just along the edge from the Falls there are two heaps of stones…

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…that looked likely to be the remains of some sort of manmade structures. There’s a long history of Ingleborough being occupied, with an Iron Age hill-fort and hut circles and, even more improbably, a very short-lived Hospice Tower built in 1830, the base of which can still be seen on the summit. What age or purpose these small rocky piles might have had, I don’t know, but it’s interesting to speculate.

I climbed part of the way back towards the summit, detouring once again to check out a couple more limestone crags and find some more saxifrage.

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One short climb brought me to the Limestone Load, a level shelf between the two sets of crags which had gritstone features on the surface, but also a long line of dolines…

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Some of which had obvious limestone features…

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I was heading for Little Ingleborough…

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Looking back to the summit.

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Little Ingleborough.

On the descent from Little Ingleborough I finally found somewhere sufficiently sheltered to make me feel inclined to stop for another brew and a late lunch.

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Gaping Gill – Fell Beck falls 98m into the largest underground chamber in England which is naturally open to the surface.

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Gaping Gill pano.

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Bar Pot, another entrance to the Gaping Gill system. An exit too: whilst I was taking the photo some scraping sounds augured the emergence of a lone caver.

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Trow Gill.

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The path descends through Trow Gill, apparently formed by a meltwater torrent at the end of the last ice age.

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Foxholes a cave where human and animal remains have been found.

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Clapham Beck Head where the water from Gaping Gill finally resurges.

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Clapham Beck is one of the sources of the River Wenning and so is another tributary of the Lune, so that this walk is another instalment of my exploration of the Lune catchment area.

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Ingleborough Cave. I haven’t been in there for years, but it’s well worth a visit. Must take the kids.

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Clapham Beck.

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Since I dropped into the shelter of Trow Gill it had been feeling much warmer, so in Clapdale Wood I stopped for one final cup of tea.

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The Lake. Imaginatively named, don’t you think? And – it’s a reservoir.

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Clapham Beck.

Scenes from Clapham…

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Market Cross.

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In ‘Walks in Limestone Country’, Wainwright wrote:

Of the many walks described in this book, the ascent of Ingleborough from Clapham is pre-eminent, the finest of all, a classic. A lovely village….charming woodlands……..an enchanting valley……natural wonders………a climb to a grand mountain-top. Oh yes, this is the best.

I can’t help feeling that in amending my plan for the day I made a good choice. You might say that I played my cards right. Or that I was dealing from a full-deck.

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What’s that? Which birthday was it? Haven’t you worked that out yet? Just to clear-up any ambiguity: I didn’t come across any humorous types on Ingleborough. No jokers, you might say. Which leaves?

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My mapping app gives 13½ miles and just over 2000′ of climbing. Not a bad little outing.

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No Jokers on Ingleborough

Little and Often: Progress Report

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Somehow the end of February slid by without any mention here of my progress, or otherwise, towards the target I’ve set myself of walking 1000 miles this year, above and beyond the pottering about I do at home and at work. This wasn’t because I’d fallen behind; I didn’t quite match January’s total, it’s true, but with a little over 120 miles logged, I had much more than I need to reach my, admittedly arbitrary, target.

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These photographs are from one of my ‘little and often’ strolls. The day after our friends left us was once again wet, but it briefly brightened up in the afternoon, so I took my chance for a standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots.

These are the benches where I sometimes sit to watch the sun set, currently graced by an entourage of Daffodils.

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I’ve been enjoying a website, Other-Wordly, “about strange and lovely words” and one of the words which I hope will stick with me is smultronställe, a Swedish term,

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Maybe these benches are not wild enough, or private enough, to match that description, but otherwise they’re a perfect fit.

The rain may have paused for a while, but the evidence of it’s recent ubiquity was everywhere to see…

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Even on the Lots, which usually stay reasonably dry…

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By the time I came back through the village, the skies were leaden again, presaging the imminent arrival of more wet.

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Here’s my calendar for February, from Mapmywalk…

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By contrast, March looks a little spartan…

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..and it’s true that illness and general busyness did hamper my efforts somewhat. In fact, at one point, I did find myself bitterly contemplating the possibility of a blogpost entitled something along the lines of ‘Too Little, Less Often’, but despite my misgivings, I still just about crept over the required mileage for a month, so that’s okay then. In fact, as of today, I’ve just passed 400 miles for the year so far.

In a similar vein: last night I was updating my ‘Birkett Tick List‘ page, essentially a list of the hills in the Lake District which I’ve climbed since I started to write this blog, back in 2008. I was engrossed in the technicalities of editing the page – something I’ve had trouble with, which is why it was almost two years behind, but it was quite enlightening to look back at two years of walks and realise that in that time I’d actually climbed far more hills than I expected. At one point, A was looking over my shoulder and pointed out to me that the list has become quite a long one. And she’s right: without ever really applying myself, I do seem to have accumulated a fair few ascents. Now, admittedly, the Lakes are compact and it’s often possible to tick-off several hills in a single walk. And also, it’s taken me 10 years to build-up a substantial tally, but I still feel like this is another victory for the steady , softly-softly, tortoise (rather than hare) approach.

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Blea Tarn Hill – somewhere I might never have visited without Birkett’s list to encourage me. Not a lot of effort being expended here, but we actually managed to claim a fair number of summits that day.

Little and Often: Progress Report

Scout Scar, Helsington Church, Brigsteer Woods

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Easter Monday was a bit of a wash out. We stayed in and played more games and chilled. Eventually, when the rain paused briefly, Andy and I set out on a wander around Eaves Wood. Of course, the weather had just been lulling us into a false sense of security and it was soon drizzling, and then chucking it down again. Everywhere was clarted up with mud again and, almost inevitably, one of my slips led to a proper both-feet-in-the-air-arse-in-the-mud pratfall. By that time I think we were both already considering giving up and heading home, but that banished any doubts and we made a beeline for dry clothes and hot tea with me looking and feeling like Swamp Thing.

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I didn’t take many photos. Just one in fact, of some puddles in our driveway…

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The Tuesday was forecast to start in much the same way, but then brighten up. We’d already arranged to meet The Tower Captain and his daughter S for a walk; the Surfnslide crew decided that they would stay another day to squeeze in one more walk and catch up with TTC. I didn’t fancy another walk in the rain (I’m not sure anyone else was all that keen either) so we elected to wait for the weather to improve before we set off. We were just finishing our lunchtime soup, watching it still rain through the kitchen windows, and cursing the forecasters, when the rain finally stopped, right on queue. We left a car at the southern end of Brigsteer Woods, piled into the other two cars and parked those in the smaller of the two car parks on the Underbarrow – Kendal road. That car park is in a small, old quarry. Almost inevitably, the DBs saw this as a brilliant opportunity to do some climbing and scare the wits out of the rest of us.

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A very small climb soon brings you out on the highest part of Scout Scar, which has marvellous views of the higher hills of the lake District.

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We were a sociable group of ten, or twelve if you count TTC’s two dogs.

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This…

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…is The Mushroom, a shelter built in 1912 to commemorate the Coronation of King George V. The inside of the rim of the roof has a pictorial topograph which picks out the many hills and places which can be seen from this relatively modest top.

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Scout Scar panoramas. Click on these, or any other photos, to see larger images on flickr.

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Almost inevitably (there’s a theme emerging here surely?), despite the sunshine, there was a cold wind blowing. Little S thought maybe he could use his coat to glide on it.

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Unlike Whitbarrow, on Scout Scar there’s a path right along the edge. We were walking south, away from the Lakeland fells, but the temptation was always there to turn back to admire the view along the edge back to those hills.

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Not that the view the other away was at all shabby…

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Scout Scar, Kent Estuary, Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott, Lyth Valley, River Gilpin, Whitbarrow. Meadow Ant mounds in the foreground.

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The ‘new’ wetland at Park Moss.

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St. John’s Church, Helsington, built in 1726.

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These painted Royal coats-of-arms are a feature of the small, rural churches in this area. Both Witherslack Church and St. Anthony’s on Cartmell Fell have them too. This one is the coat-of-arms of King William IV, crowned in 1830.

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Mural, painted in 1919 by Miss Saumarez.

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Park Moss and Whitbarrow Scar.

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The paths through Brigsteer Woods were something of a quagmire, not surprisingly after a day and a half of rain. But there was some compensation in the form of the daffodils which fill some parts of these woods at this time of year.

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A short walk, but one packed with interest.

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We had to rush back, not just because the Surfnslide party had a long homeward journey to undertake, but also because TTC had one final treat for our long-weekend planned, to wit a trip up the village church tower. I made it as far as the first floor…

 

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…but declined the rather spindly looking ladder and the balancing act around the bells above to get to the roof. The photos I took didn’t come out too well, but The Tower Captain really looks in his element here doesn’t he?

Scout Scar, Helsington Church, Brigsteer Woods

At The Water’s Edge

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When I quoted Heraclitus a couple of posts back, I already knew that I’d soon be posting again about pretty much the same walk – around the coast to Arnside and over the Knott on the way home. Here’s an alternative translation of that quote:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

My ancient Greek is not up to much, which is to say non-existent, so I don’t know whether this is more or less accurate, but I suspect the shorter, more pithy version is the correct one. However, this serves my purpose and works even better if I’m allowed some licence with the wording…

No man ever walks beside the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

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This walk, despite all the similarities with my trip with Little S, was also very different. We had more company, the weather was better and the tide was right in, which makes everything look different and requires some adjustment of the route.

We’ve done this walk many times, many, many times*, we’ve even done it on Easter Sunday before, although Little S won’t remember that since he was too little then to join us.

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It’s not often though that I’ve seen the tide this far in, the only occasion I can remember before was a fairly wild day several years ago.

 

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You can see from the shingle beach at White Creek that this is not a particularly high tide…

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We could see flotsam left much higher up the beach by previous tides, but it’s not often that we time it right to see it this way.

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Grange from White Creek.

The consensus opinion was that we should continue around the coast, although at times I wondered whether we would make it all the way round without getting our feet wet.

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At New Barns the road was clear; we’ve been there in the past when the sea was over the road.

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Closer to Arnside, we had to divert slightly into the small municipal garden because the water had completely covered the riverside path.

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And then we had to clamber along some rocks to reach the path by the Coastguard Station….

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We had a table for eleven booked at Gado Gado,  Little S and I having decided that it definitely passed muster after our scouting mission a few days before, and despite the high tide we timed our arrival perfectly. (I had booked the table pretty late, knowing full well what we are like.)

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Once again the food was excellent, or at least my scallops and tuna were. I tried A’s vegetable curry and that was also delicious, and it seemed that everybody else enjoyed their’s too.

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Once again, we took a circuitous route up Arnside Knott. The views were superb as usual, but it had turned quite gloomy so I didn’t take any photos. The Coniston Fells, and Fairfield and Helvellyn all had a good covering of snow and we could even see the snows on Skiddaw, over Dunmail Raise.

From the trig pilar, we decided to take the path around the south side of the summit, which skirts the top of the steep scree slopes and gives a bird’s-eye view of Arnside Tower Farm, Middlebarrow Wood and Holgates Caravan Park.

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Silverdale Moss and Ingleborough in the distance from the Knott.

*I love radio comedy and Little S and I have been listening to Round the Horne. He seems to have particularly latched on the Betty Marsden’s catch phrases ‘many times, many, many times’ and ‘allo cheeky face’. I shall be trying him on Hancock’s Half Hour next.

 

At The Water’s Edge

Farleton Fell – a long awaited encounter.

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“Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; they are the life, the soul of reading…”

Laurence Sterne quoted in I Put a Spell on You by John Burnside.

Some years ago now, I went to a meeting of the Mourholme Local History Society. I’ve only ever attended two of the meetings, one on the Silverdale Hoard and the other on maps of the area, and I enjoyed them both enormously, I really should make the effort to go again. Anyway, during the talk on maps I learned that on some early maps, before the concept of contours had been hit upon, hills were pictorially depicted, with the size of the picture presumably reflecting the perceived height of the hill in question.

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On Robert Morden’s map of Westmorland and Cumberland (1695), Farleto Knothill is one of the biggest hills, not just locally, but on the entire map. Oddly, it’s shown on the west side of the coach road through Burton, now the A6070, when it’s actually to the east. Since Morden relied on information sent by ‘Gentlemen of the County’, rather than carrying out surveys, these errors are perhaps not all that surprising. I assume that the prominence given to Farleto Knothill was precisely because it loomed over the coach road, dominating the view of travellers and appearing to be much larger than it actually is.

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These days it also looms over Junction 36 of the M6, the South Lakes turn, and has become a very familiar landmark to visitors who drive up to the Lake District from the South. Andy had often mentioned that he had never climbed Farleton Fell, although he has frequently driven past it. Time to put that right.

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We made a late start, but whether that was due to sleeping-in, board game-playing, poor weather, general indolence or a combination of those factors, I’ve already forgotten.

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What I shan’t forgot is how unseasonably cold it was. The wind was bitter and I was woefully underdressed. I ended up borrowing a hat from TBH who took pity on me and made do with her hood.

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Even on a gloomy day, the views are vast and we took advantage of that fact by heading west first to then follow the limestone edge up to the top.

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Looking toward Whitbarrow and the Kent Estuary.

Burnside uses the Sterne quote as an epigraph at the start of his book, which I suppose serves as fair warning that this memoir of a sort, is brim full of digressions. Since I finished ‘I Put a Spell on You’, I’ve been reading Graham Hoyland’s ‘Walking Through Spring’ an account of a walk from the Dorset Coast to Gretna Green all taking place between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The full quote from Sterne, which is taken from ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’ is:

“Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine;—they are the life, the soul of reading;—take them out of this book for instance,—you might as well take the book along with them;”

Which is undeniably true of Sterne’s great novel. It also applies to ‘Walking Through Spring’, which is very enjoyable but which sometimes feels like it is less about the walk than a patchwork of the research sparked off by each location or wildlife encounter along the way. Hoyland is a fan of W.G.Sebald so this wide-ranging style is perhaps no surprise. I should say however, that I’m enjoying ‘Walking Through Spring’ whereas I was completely underwhelmed by ‘The Rings of Saturn’. Perhaps I should give it another go.

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Enjoying the view.

This very digressive style of writing about a walk at the very least avoids the ‘I went through the gate and over a stile. It rained. I had ham sandwiches for my lunch.’ blow-by-blow account of a walk which some authors too often descend to. That was one of the many topics we discussed on one of our walks over the Easter weekend and maybe that’s another thing which Hoyland captures – the way that the steady, slow pace of walking allows for wide-ranging conversations and for people to get to know each other well. (He is walking with his partner and also often with friends and relatives).

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Following the edge.

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I’ve always called this hill Farleton Fell. The National Trust, who own the land, have it as Holmepark Fell. The Ordnance Survey have both of those names, as well as Newbiggin Crags and Farleton Knott which seems to be attached to the slightly lower top which lies to the North of the main summit and is seen in the photo above.

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Looking back along the edge to Clougha Pike, Morecambe Bay and Warton Crag.

At the top we hunkered down behind the crags, following the example of small group of cows which were using the same shelter from the wind, and enjoyed the views for a while.

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Andy was insistent that we should go over to Farleton Knott, and he was absolutely right because that gave a great view back to the limestone crags and also, apparently, if you went far enough over, down to the M6 and Junction 36, which he was inexplicably excited about. I decided to forgo that particular pleasure.

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Unfortunately, Little S had fallen on the limestone pavement and skinned his knees, even through his trousers, so we took the most direct route back to where the cars were parked on the Clawthorpe Fell Road.

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Our route crossed several more areas of limestone pavement and Andy and I were both trying to catch with our cameras the fleeting bursts of sunshine as they passed over the rocks. I wasn’t anywhere near quick enough.

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I find maps, old or new, endlessly fascinating. You can find the Robert Morden map here. It’s interesting to see what has been included and what left out. It’s no surprise that Silverdale is not there, in 1695, and that Warton is there. The spellings are interesting too: Armside Toure, Helvillin Hill; which is not as big as Farleto Knothill incidentally. It was Robert Morden who published, in 1672, a pack of cards each of which showed a map of one of the counties of England and Wales.

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I imagine original 1672 cards are hard to come by, but in 1972 facsimile sets were produced. Over the weekend we played lots of games, though I think it’s fair to say that King Domino was the most popular. I was grateful to TJS though for reminding me how much fun can be had with a few friends and a pack of cards. He introduced us to a game I’ve never played before, but with incredibly complicated variant rules which he remembered in stages as we played and which had me pretty much crying with laughter as had repeatedly said: “Oh, and another thing…”

Farleton Fell – a long awaited encounter.

A Good Friday on Whitbarrow

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Chapel Head Scar.

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Robert Burns from  To a Mouse

Poor old Rabbie Burns obviously didn’t have a Plan B. Last year we decided that we would climb the three national highest peaks – Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike. We had a great day on the latter, but any plans we had for the other two went agley.

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Farrer’s Allotment.

When Andy got wind of our plans he was keen to gatecrash them, which, of course, he was more than welcome to do. And so we hatched a scheme to head up to Lochaber this Easter to add The Ben to our tally. However, we were concerned about camping over such an early Easter weekend, especially when forecasters started to mention a further return of the Beast from the East.

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So, a back-up plan was needed. We decided that, if the forecast didn’t considerably improve, then the Surfnslide crew would head up to ours for the Bank Holiday weekend instead.

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Thus it was that we parked on the old road parallel to the A590 close to Beck Head and then climbed through the steep woodland of Buckhouse Wood in a light rain. We hadn’t left the house very early (something of a theme when it comes to family outings, I know), so when we reached the plateau and the rain finally knocked off, we found a spot with an expansive, if somewhat gloomy, view for a brew and some lunch.

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As ever, once out of the house, the DBs forgot to resent having been dragged away from their computer games and raced around looking for small crags to scale, of which there were plenty.

The substantial summit cairn at Lord’s Lot…

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…also seemed to fit the bill as a small crag.

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Scout Scar from Lord’s Lot.

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Lord’s Lot panoramas. Click on any image to see a larger version on flickr.

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Once the rain stopped the weather continued to brighten, eventually giving us a sunny afternoon in stark contrast to what had gone before.

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The Helm near Kendal catching the sun. I’ve never been up there, a very odd omission.

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Scout Scar now catching the sun.

We decided to descend via Bell Rake, a route I haven’t followed for years. Beside the path we came across an old mine entrance, which I must have seen before, but have completely forgotten.

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Our kids can never pass up an opportunity like this..

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And had soon persuaded Andy to join them, he is, after all, an honorary DB.

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Apparently, after the low entrance it was possible to stand up and the passage went ‘quite a long way’ but was then a dead-end.

I was convinced that a bit of lazy internet research would unearth some details about the mine. I found a huge document, by Max Moseley of the Northern Mine Research Society which seems to have a lot about mining in this area, around Silverdale and Warton and which I shall peruse at some point. And also another file, this time a mineral reconnaissance report, commissioned by the Department of Industry.

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Spoil?

This one had what at first seemed like useful information.

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
Area I (Whitbarrow and Brigsteer)
There are no exceptionally high levels of copper, lead, zinc, barium or manganese recorded in this area. Some of the highest values for these elements, particularly lead and zinc, are recorded on the east side of Whitbarrow, where field investigation identified a disused iron mine [SD 4370 87751]. At this locality (Bell Rake) a 0.5 m wide vein of calcite possibly with some baryte is seen in the roof of an old portal. This isolated vein strikes 140° and is vertical. This is possibily the locality described in a transcript dated 1616 quoted by Wildridge (1975).

“The other place called Whitbarrow Hills, where several dead leaders appear, with hingett and liggett. This hath not been wrought to such profile as were fit, but some further trial were made about it some 10 fathoms deep…… undoubtedly a vein will be found, which by the nature of the stone of these works we conceive will come a lead oare mixt with copper.”

No copper, lead or zinc minerals were seen either at outcrop or in mine dump material during a visit to this site. It is probable that this site was excavated in the belief that it was associated with a metal-containing lode vein.

 

But Bell Rake is on the west side, not the east, of Whitbarrow. The map reference is spot on however. Also, the passage seems to contradict itself: is it an iron mine as stated at the beginning or an exploratory level as suggested at the end? Perhaps, since no copper, lead or zinc ores were found, this site simply wasn’t very important in a mineral reconnaissance report?

Calcite is a crystalline form of Calcium Carbonate, whilst Baryte is a mineral form of Barium Sulphate and is associated with lead-zinc veins in limestones. I can’t figure out what hingett and liggett might be.

The steep path down from Bel Rake rapidly brought us High Park Wood.

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The generally dry conditions underfoot came to an end here, which was no real surprise: previous experience suggests that this path, below the wonderfully named Black Yews Scar, is always fairly damp. I’m sure that I’ve read somewhere that the huge limestone plinth of Whitbarrow sits on a layer of Silurian slate, so that rainwater percolates down through the porous limestone and then rises to the surface as springs when it hits the slate.

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Chapel Head Scar.

Near Witherslack Hall, the path emerges from the woods, and with the sun shining, we now had superb views of the cliffs of Whitbarrow.

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A short walk, first along the road and then on a track, brought us to the outskirts of the village of Beck Head.

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Artwork on the wall of the former Hikers’ Rest Cafe.

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Sadly, the Hiker’s Rest Cafe there has had to close because it operated on an honesty box system, but people were not paying for what they took. What a shame.

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At Beck Head there’s a particularly large and impressive spring. The boys managed to pick their way across the stream and where keen to explore another cave they could see. Time was marching on however and it was time to return to the cars and then home for some homemade pizzas and an evening of games.

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Whitbarrow.

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Back at the cars.

Burns rounds off ‘To a Mouse’…

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Poor chap. He needed to get some friends round; share a walk, some games, some simple food, a few laughs. It’s a foolprooof recipe for a happy weekend.

A Good Friday on Whitbarrow