King of the Hill

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Cowslips.

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Looking south along the shore from Heathwaite.

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Mayflower (hawthorn).

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Lancashire Whitebeam.

Whitebeam is a southern species in the UK, except the Morecambe Bay area has its own sub-species.

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Arnside Knott panorama.

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Early Purple Orchids.

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New Ash leaves.

Sunshine and blue skies have been at a bit of a premium for some time now – summer seems to have been postponed somewhat. Nice to look back then at these images from a Sunday in May when we did have some warmth and brightness. Naturally, I climbed Arnside Knott, my current obsession. The post title is a shameless excuse to squeeze in a song by my all time favourite band:

King of the Hill

Ben A’an

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Ben Venue seen across Loch Achray.

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Ben A’an – a short sharp ascent.

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Ben Venue and Loch Katrine.

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The view along Loch Katrine.

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The Tower Captain and Old Grandfather Sheffield at the top.

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Loch Venachar.

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A surprisingly sheltered spot for lunch. Ben Ledi in the background.

Tired legs and a very dubious forecast dictated a much easier day on the Sunday of our weekend in the highlands. Ben A’an is an up and down, rather steeply, giving superb views from the top. It was chucking it down for most of the drive to the start of the walk, which was a bit off-putting, but in the event we did pretty well with the weather.

It was extremely windy on the top, but, just off the top, a small hollow gave a wonderfully sheltered spot from which to enjoy the view whilst eating a bit of lunch.

After that we went our separate ways home after another great weekend together.

Here‘s my account of our ascent of nearby Ben Ledi from a similar weekend 4 years ago. We climbed Ben Venue 5 years ago, but the weather wasn’t much cop and I didn’t take many photos, so the walk only really got half a mention on the post about the walk from the day before when we climbed Leum an Eireannaich.

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Ben A’an

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

February Heatwave.

Castlebarrow – Arnside Tower – Arnside Knott – Arnside Moss – Hazelslack – Beetham Fell – Hazelslack – Silverdale Moss – Hawes Water – Eaves Wood.

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Lesser Celandines performing their salute to the sun.

Obviously, the words ‘February’ and ‘heatwave’ simply don’t belong together, at least, not in Britain. But this year we really did have a few days of genuinely warm weather at the end of that month.

My brother and his kids had flown home to Switzerland on the Saturday. We’d booked a family trip to the escape room in Lancaster to end our half-term on a high note. Since I’m in training, I wanted to squeeze in as many miles and as much ascent as I could in the limited time available.

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The forecast seemed to have brought out the crowds and the Pepper Pot was about as busy as I’ve seen it. Later, on Arnside Knot there were numerous groups sitting in the sun, apparently enjoying picnics or just sunbathing and enjoying the slightly hazy views.

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Arnside Tower.

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Arnside Tower Farm and Arnside Knott.

There were quite a lot of butterflies about.

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Red Admiral.

I didn’t want to hang about chasing them with my camera too much, but couldn’t resist this Red Admiral which was sunning itself by the trig pillar on Arnside Knott.

I’ve read that last summer’s long hot spell benefited some species of butterfly, but I can’t imagine that this spring, which continues to have alternate periods of unseasonably warm weather, followed by some very cold snaps, can have done our butterflies much good.

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There were lots of Crocuses in flower on the driveway of Arnside Tower Farm, but I was surprised to find them at the base of a sapling near the top of the Knott. Crocuses are not a native species, so either these have self-seeded here, or somebody has planted bulbs, but that seems like an odd thing to do. Either way, they looked fantastic.

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Arnside Moss.

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Hazelslack Farm and Tower.

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A path runs along the lefthand (west side) of these fields. It’s not one I walk all that often, but I used it on this occasion so that I could make a circular loop taking in Beetham Fell.

After this, it began to cloud up and by the time I was walking alongside Silverdale Moss towards home there was a nip in the air. It began to feel like February again.

Mapmywalk tells me that I had walked a little over 10 miles, with considerably over 1100 feet of ascent in a little under 4 hours. I was chuffed with this, since it’s the sort of pace I’ll need for the 10in10 challenge. Admittedly, that will involve a great deal more climbing, but this was a start at least.

At the escape rooms, I found myself handcuffed and apparently accused of murder. Fortunately, we were able to locate the key to the cuffs, escape from the police cell and even identify the actual culprit. I can’t say it was really my cup-of-tea, but it was an interesting experience and I think the rest of the family were much more impressed than I was.


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.

February Heatwave.

Dragons etc.

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Casterton Beck. (Actually unnamed on the map, so I made up an appropriate seeming name). Anyway, another Lune tributary!

B’s rugby training was switched to the playing fields at Casterton School. I forgot this was happening – B had some harsh words to say about that – but after we had wandered around cluelessly at Underley Park for a while, I remembered. More cluelessness followed, driving around looking for which part of the school we needed, and B was eventually deposited with his team. Since I’d forgotten about the change of venue, I hadn’t thought to look at a map for a suitable perambulation to wile away my time whilst waiting.

I decided to follow my nose to see where that took me and set off along some minor lanes which brought me round a loop and back to the village. Then I followed a track (I now realise, not a right-of-way. Oh well, never mind.) which brought me to an unusual bridge over the beck seen above and to an actual footpath.

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The Grange.

The path took me through some woods and then, after a right turn, to a rather spick and span looking Casterton Grange. No wonder it looks so neat and tidy: it’s currently up for sale, though I couldn’t find an asking price online; probably one of those cases where if you need to ask, then you can’t afford it! The house was built in 1848 for a vicar, David Barclay-Bevan. You might think a country vicar would struggle to afford such a palatial property, but he was independently wealthy, his father was a partner at Barclay’s Bank (source). The house was designed by Ewan Christian an ecclesiastical architect who restored Southwell Minster and Carlisle Cathedral and later went on to design the National Portrait Gallery.

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I’m not sure what tempted this ladybird out: it was cold and wet.

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Casterton Old Hall.

I think Casterton Old Hall is part of the school. This building dates back to seventeenth century. The Historic England listing makes me want to see the inside, especially the fireplace “with Tudor-arched opening, twisted wood, columns and overmantel with relief panels of busts, dragons, etc., probably of 1530-40 re-used”.

Later, I was out again for a short, local stroll in the fog.

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In Eaves Wood.

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Finally, this…

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…was taken a few days later when, looking out of the staffroom window at work, I realised that the sky was clear and the sun setting and so dashed out for a few moments, climbing the hill to the castle to try to catch the sunset from there.

Since that photo makes this a ‘Sunset Post’ I feel fully justified in appending a song. A Song of the Weather in fact:

I heard this recently on 6 Music. Not quite the stereotypical 6 Music tune perhaps, but then, I’m not sure what is. I remember Flanders and Swann for ‘The Hippopotamus Song’ which along with ‘The Runaway Train’ and a couple of Bernard Cribbins songs, ‘My Brother’ by Terry Scott, Alan Sherman’s ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ and, no doubt, numerous others, which will occur to me too late, once I’ve clicked on ‘Publish’, was a regular part of my Saturday morning radio listening when I was a nipper.

Bloody January again, indeed! Except, I quite like January: the sunsets are getting later, there’s snow, but also snowdrops and spring is on the way.

Dragons etc.