Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

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A cast of thousands (well a dozen or so) assembled for our winter gathering, this year held once again at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and, as ever, superbly organised by Andy. On the Saturday, The Tower Captain and I decided to tackle the two hills which tower over the hotel to the East – Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh.

The route was extremely simple: follow the path beside the Allt Coire an Dothaidh into the slightly forbidding looking Coire an Dothaidh…

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Turn right at the col for the long haul up to Beinn Dorain before returning to the col to nip up Beinn an Dothaidh via a circuit of Coire Reidh.

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Looking down Glen Orchy.

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Looking across Loch Tulla.

Towards the top of Corie an Dothaidh I was really surprised to see, emerging from the snow, the flowers of what I assume to be Purple Saxifrage, familiar to me from the limestone crags high on Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.

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We stopped for a while, behind a boulder near the top of the corrie, for a drink and a bite to eat.

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Lochan on the ridge, unnamed on the OS map.

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Beinn a Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach, with Beinn Sheasgarnaich behind TC.

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Looking up to the steepest section of the climb on Beinn Dorain.

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Looking back towards Beinn an Dothaidh.

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Across Loch Tulla again. Ben Starav, Stob Coir an Albannaich and Stob Ghabhar.

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Pano. Click on this, or other pictures, to view a larger image on flickr.

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Looking south-west, Ben Oss and Ben Lui prominent.

The weather was pretty changeable and we had a few showers of snow, hail and rain, but on the whole that just added to the drama of the views.

The false summit of Carn Sasunnaich came as a surprise, in mist I can see that it would be very easy to be fooled by it.

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I was feeling in particularly fine fettle along this section of ridge, like I was really in my element.

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In fact, here I am, feeling very pleased with myself. The Tower Captain took the photo, I don’t think he’ll mind that I’ve used it.

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Looking back along the ridge to Carn Sasunnaich.

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Across Loch Tulla again – the weather coming in.

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Looking toward Ben Oss and Ben Lui again.

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Looking South from the top.

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Ice formations on the slopes of Beinn an Dothaidh.

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Looking back to Beinn Dorain.

I was hoping that Beinn an Dothaidh would give us superb views across the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor, but, by the time we had reached the top, the weather had closed in again and our views were a bit limited.

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Looking down to Loch Tulla.

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Beinn Achaladair.

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Large cornices and the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh.

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The Tower Captain on the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh.

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Looking towards the hills around Loch Lyon.

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I’m not sure what kind of rocks the hills we climbed are composed of, but they seemed to glitter in the combination of damp and sunlight we had, with lots of silvers and golds on display. Eventually, it occurred to me to try to photograph them, but I only took one photo, which hasn’t really captured the effect very satisfactorily.

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When we got back down to Coire and Dothaidh the snow had mostly melted and the late afternoon light put a completely different aspect on the views.

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We sat by the same boulder as we had on the way up for one final rest stop…

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…before returning to the pub for food, drink and a convivial evening with old friends.

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Beinn Dorrain

Can’t be bad.

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Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

March Many Weathers (Take 6)

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Daffodil season is just about over and I don’t seem to have taken many photos of daffs this year. So here’s some which were sat in our porch – I noticed the light as I was setting-out for a wander and I couldn’t resist.

Of course, normally I fret about the fact that I continually post photos of the same old things over and over, ‘leaves and stuff’ as TBH has it; ironically, this year I’m worrying that I haven’t taken enough photos of daffodils, one of my usual spring staples. Something else I ponder from time to time is whether it’s best to restrict each post to a single walk and each walk to a single post, and whether or not I ought to cover every one of my walks on the blog. I realise that if these are the things I worry about then I’m a very lucky man, but even though these things are obviously trivial, and nobody really cares whether blogs have rules or not, these are still matters that I mull over occasionally. Not that I’ve ever reached any sort of satisfactory conclusion.

All of which waffle leads up to the fact that this is a portmanteau post which covers several mid-March walks whilst also ignoring a number of others.

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Several of those walks involved ascents of Arnside Knott. Multiple ascents on some occasions. Six in all.

One of them was with TBH, as you can see.

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It’s often said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only weather. So I’ll refrain from suggesting that we had some rotten weather in March, but I can at least say that we had a lot of weather. Some days, the weather was very changeable, with big clouds and showers blowing through.

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I like those kinds of days, because of the rainbows, dramatic lighting and impressive cloud formations which often accompany them.

Some days, however, just brought a lot of rain. B’s rugby was often cancelled due to water-logged pitches and the fields east of Arnside Tower farm and adjacent to Silverdale Moss were all flooded…

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Still, if it means we get days of high contrast, when louring skies…

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…clear…

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…but I can still see showers, falling on someone else, whilst I have sunshine…

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…then I’m quite happy.

The Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale…

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…was running very high and swift, but even that looked less threatening a few minutes later…

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…when the sun came out.

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The view from the Knott was also always changing. Sometimes there was hardly any view. At others times only the higher hills were obscured by clouds, or they were cloaked in snow, or both.

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Another spring staple of the blog, much shyer than daffs, is Green Hellebore…

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I made several visits on the way to and from the Knott to check that it was still there. It was. Very reassuring.

This is Davy Graham’s version of ‘Take 5’…

…it seems like he was in a hurry to finish!

March Many Weathers (Take 6)

Take 5

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The weather’s dreadful, the forecast is for worse to come, but you’re desperate to get out and put some miles beneath your feet and, perhaps more importantly, to include plenty of up in your route. What do you do?

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Climb Arnside Knott, obviously.

Five times.

Not that I’m obsessed or anything!

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The Pepperpot was barely beneath the low clouds and the Knott was hidden as I approached it, but began to clear after I’d arrived on the top for the first time.

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By the time I’d reached the toposcope I almost had a view.

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I didn’t set my camera phone to monochrome, this is just what the weather was like!

And down at Far Arnside…

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The sun was shining a little on the daffodils.

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Perhaps things were looking up?

But by the end of my second ascent, heavy snow was falling, somewhat to my surprise.

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Over the course of the six hours of the walk I had snow, hail and, as you can see, some pleasant spells too. But mostly I had rain, increasingly so, and lots of it.

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I did contemplate calling it a day at times, but mostly I was enjoying myself. I also found one or two bits of path which I’d not walked before.

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Eventually, I stopped taking photos, with the exception of a series of selfies by the trig point on the Knott. I’m not sure why. I’m not normally one for taking selfies at all, and since you can’t actually see the trig point in any of the photos, they don’t really prove anything at all. In the first couple I look a bit sweaty and more than a bit gormless, in the penultimate one I look quite wet, and by the last one it was clearly chucking it down…

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…but I still managed to look quite pleased with myself.

That’s my new coat, by the way. Picked up for a snip from Mountain Warehouse. It did surprisingly well, but by the time I got home I was saturated. No coat will keep you dry forever, especially not one that costs £35.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt! Maybe tomorrow, if I can swing it.

This is Val Bennet’s ‘The Russian’s Are Coming’, but obviously it’s actually a reggae cover version of Paul Desmond’s ‘Take 5’.

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Oh. 15ish miles and about 2600′ of ascent, according to Mapmywalk, for those of you who like stats. Which, I’ve just realised, puts me almost bang on Naismith. Almost. Hurrah. There’s hope for me yet.


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.

Take 5

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

The Green – Woodwell – Gibraltar Farm – Jack Scout – Jenny Brown’s Point – Fleagarth Wood – Woodwell – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack

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On the Friday of half-term my mum and dad were travelling home. Later in the afternoon I got out for a walk, I suspect my brother was with me and possibly TBH, but, to be honest, I can’t really remember.

I do remember that this calf…

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…had clearly only just been born.

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The Bay, Humphrey Head, Grange and the distant Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

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Quicksand Pool.

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Post-sunset sky from The Cove.

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

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On the Thursday of our February half-term week, we were looking to combine another ‘easy’ walk, which allowed the possibility of shorter or longer alternatives, with a lunchtime meal. We hit upon driving to the park and ride carpark, just off the motorway by Lancaster, which has the advantage of being free, then walking into town. We could then either walk back or catch the dedicated bus service if need be.

From the carpark, after crossing a couple of busy roads, it’s easy to access the path beside the River Lune. That took us to John Rennie’s 1797 aqueduct, which carries the Lancaster Canal over the river.

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We climbed up to the canal and then followed that into Lancaster.

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The River Lune and the (smelly) Carrs Billington plant.

We were heading for the Sun Hotel for lunch. The food was magnificent…

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I’ve included this slightly blurred photo of B instagramming his choice, because I know at least one reader of the blog who appreciates a huge burger.

The vegans were happy too…

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In fact, I think we all enjoyed our meals.

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After that enormous repast, we decided that we were all fit enough to walk back to the car. This time we followed the Lune rather than the canal.

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‘Little’ S and my nephew L. The latter wanted to pose in front of this cafe for some reason?

The dull cloud of the morning had cleared, so we had terrific views of the aqueduct reflected in the placid waters of the Lune to accompany our walk.

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On the way home, as we drove along Storrs Lane by Leighton Moss, I thought I saw a Starling murmuration, so we stopped to take a look. This is definitely a winter phenomenon and even in mid-February I suspect that there were perhaps less birds than we had seen earlier in the year, when we often saw people parked to watch the Starlings as we drove home from Lancaster in the late afternoons.

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The advantage we did have though was clear skies and good light.

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Still photos really don’t do this justice: the way the cloud of birds wheels together and pulses and fluidly changes shape.

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It was an unexpected bonus at the end of a very enjoyable day.

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Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

Half-term Happenings: Warton Crag

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On the Tuesday of the half-term week my brother took his kids to Kendal to see how far his Swiss Francs would go in British shops. (The answer being a very long way.)

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TBH had some reason to pop to Carnforth so I sponged a lift part of the way. She dropped me by the limekiln on the Low Road. From there a path climbs to the High Road. It’s a path I rarely use because the only way to get there is from a fairly busy road, so this was a good opportunity to reacquaint myself with this, albeit short, section of local footpath.

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King Alfred’s Cakes on a tree-stump.

From the High Road I took another path I don’t often use, which wends its way up to the top of Warton Crag.

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It was quite gloomy over the Bay, but the view from the Crag is always worth the climb.

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Warton Crag Beacon.

Whilst I often head north to climb Arnside Knott, it’s much less often that I find myself walking up the Crag. There are various sound reasons for that fact, but the bizarre thing is that I find myself feeling guilty for neglecting the Crag, as if it were an old friend to whom I’m showing a cold-shoulder. I have to remind myself that Warton Crag, site of a some sort of Bronze Age settlement, made of limestone laid down beneath a shallow, warm, pre-historic sea and subsequently scoured by glaciers, is probably not overly bothered by my choices!

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Down at Barrowscout Field the reeds had been cut and the trimmings burned; hence the smoke drifting across the photo above.

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I returned home via Quaker Stang, where there was evidence of a recent spring tide, then Heald Brow, Woodwell and Bottom’s Wood.

The following day we went Go-Karting on an indoor track in Preston, which was great fun, but unfortunately I have no photos of the action to share. Anyway, the boys were both quicker than me, so the less said about that the better.

Half-term Happenings: Warton Crag

Half-term Happenings: Back to Little Salkeld

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Addingham Church.

We were all keen to get out for a family walk, none more so than my dad, but he struggles with the cold these days and I wanted to find a route which had both the potential for a good walk, but also the option to cut the walk short if need be. After a bit of deliberation, I hit upon the idea of two shorter walks based around Little Salkeld in the Eden valley. We parked initially by Addingham Church near the village of Glassonby (curiously, the village of Addingham no longer exists).

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This walk, or variations on it, have become a firm favourite of ours. Here’s A beside the Saxon Cross in the churchyard…

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And here she is posing for a similar photo back in 2011….

A with Anglo-Saxon cross

In the intervening years the cross seems to have shrunk!

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I can rarely resist the temptation to have a peek inside any churches I pass and Addingham certainly repays the effort. The lady on the right here is St. Cecilia, an early Christian martyr. I thought that the instrument she’s shown playing seemed entirely unlikely, but apparently she is often depicted playing it and it’s a real instrument – a portative organ or organetto. My lazy internet research also revealed that St. Cecilia appeared on the reverse of the old Edward Elgar £20 note.

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There she is bottom left, beneath Worcester Cathedral. Presumably because she is the patron saint of musician’s. I can’t say that I’ve ever realised that she was there. How many times I have handled notes like this one, over the years, without ever really looking at them?

Then again, I didn’t know that King David is traditionally associated with the harp either, a fact which appears in the Book of Samuel, just before the more familiar story of David and Goliath.

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Talking of familiar stories, here’s Saint George and the unfortunate dragon in my favourite window at Addingham.

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Addingham also has two hogback gravestones, which, I’ve learned, were unique to the Viking settlers in Britain and haven’t been found in Scandinavia. The best preserved example is at St. Peters in Heysham, which I’ve walked past many times, but never been inside – an omission I must rectify soon.

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It’s a short downhill stroll from Addingham Church to the huge stone circle of Long Meg and her Daughters.

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I didn’t take many photos on this occasion, just these of my mum and Dad and my brother, but the stones have appeared on the blog many times before.

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Winter Aconites on a roadside verge.

Another short stroll brings you to Little Salkeld, where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch in the cafe at the Watermill….

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Steve and I then walked briskly back up to collect the cars and park them in Little Salkeld, whilst the rest set-off for a wander along the River Eden to Lacy’s Caves…

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We managed to catch them up at the caves themselves.

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By the time we had turned to walk back to Little Salkeld, an already cold day had become even colder, but that didn’t detract from a marvellous family outing.

Half-term Happenings: Back to Little Salkeld