Archive for the ‘Lake District’ Category

A Damp Day in the South Lakes   19 comments

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TJS had only been away at University for 3 weeks but as it was his Birthday we decided to go and see him. Mark and his family were kind enough to let us stay, mess up their house and eat all their food – again! The forecast for Saturday had looked pretty decent but alas it dawned grey, dreary and overcast with a light drizzle in the air. Not a day for a high level walk as I’d planned and it was left to just me, Mark TBF and TJS to form a hike party

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We planned a route around the small hills and pastures near the south end of Windermere to take in the small but very prominent summit of Gummer’s How which despite hundreds of visits to the Lakes, I’d never been up. As it was in the cloud when we parked up near the base we decided to save it for the end of the walk hoping it would be out of the cloud

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Despite the gloomy conditions it was a really good walk. What the area lacks in mountainous peaks it more than makes up for with interesting stuff.  The forest is packed with small tarns like this one, Middle Tarn

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Whilst this may look like a barn it is in fact a Quaker meeting-house, Heights Cottage

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From there its a short walk across to Raven’s Barrow and its prominent cairn overlooking the valley of the Winster river and down to Arnside, Arnside Knott and beyond to Morecambe Bay. The line of brightness shows the split in the weather beyond which all was blue skies further south and east. Despite our hopes it never reached us

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On our way to a lunchtime stop we passed the church on the slopes of Cartmell Fell (Mark will step in and give out its real name when he reads and comments I hope. He knows the area very well and is a useful companion on these walks to take you on a tour of the interesting sites like this.)

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Its been rendered on the outside and looks quite plain but on the inside its stunning. It’s very, very old and the stained glass contains fragments taken from other churches

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I particularly liked the wooden roof beams

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The area is packed with wonderful converted farm buildings and cottages and wanted to live in every one. This one in particular caught my eye although I suspect I’d need to perform a Hatton Garden style robbery to afford it

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Of course its proximity to one of Lakelands finest pubs had nothing to do with my enthusiasm to live here. The Masons Arms is an old favourite serving a range of beers that includes Belgian fruit beer (raspberry today). Very tasty it was too.

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The food was also very good and we enjoyed a light lunch of Black Pudding, Poached Egg and Potatoes. We sat outside under cover and our stay coincided with a spell of heavy drizzle that stopped as we packed up to leave.

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From there a steep climb up Whinny Knott

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And into the Birch Fell Forest (or should that be Fanghorn Forest, home of the Ents)

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From there we had to bash through the undergrowth and very wet grass and Bracken to reach the top of Gummer’s How

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We were just out of the cloud so its famed views were somewhat limited. Still, there were great views down over the southern end of the lake.

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The line of brightness had crept a little closer but not close enough

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Despite that, I enjoyed our visit to the summit and look forward to a return sometime in sunshine. It is only a 15 minute walk from the car after all

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Gummer's How

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A fine walk regardless and one where we never donned waterproofs which seems pretty miraculous considering the weather. Back home for a slap up takeaway curry to finish the day

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Belated Birthday Weekend – Coniston Fells   17 comments

Another day in Lakeland but this one without the glorious blue skies of the previous day. Still a fine day though, high cloud, watery sunshine and no sign of rain or mist shrouding the summits. We planned a walk from the door of our hotel in Torver up on to the Coniston Fells. Nice to do a walk without using the car (if you don’t count the 4 hour drive home at the end of the day)

We followed what looked like a little used but rather nice path out over Torver High Common, following Ash Gill Beck (plenty of nice wild camp spots) and then off piste cutting up to the Walna Scar Road. Our first peak of the day, Brown Pike, gave us some fine views of the first part of our route for the day.

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I don’t recall ever seeing this small tarn before, perhaps that’s why it’s called Blind Tarn. Perhaps it meant that I’ve never been up Brown Pike before and I had another new summit bagged

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Onwards to Dow Crag, another classic Lakeland peak and another of my favourites from my youth

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A dark and brooding set of sheer cliffs cradling Goats Water below, the Old Man of Coniston on the other side

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The crags and gullies are impressive and I’ve had a few adventures in my youth trying to find a way up some of the ravines in both summer and winter conditions. Most of them ended in scary situations I seem to recall. Probably why I never went up Brown Pike. Probably why I should have done. I also recall a day in wild winter conditions when I was blown clean off my feet and deposited several yards further along the path, the only time I’ve ever been picked up by the wind. Mind you I was a couple of stone lighter in those days. Need more than a gust of wind to do it now! 🙂

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The summit of Dow Crag is impressively rocky and it takes a little scrambling to reach its top perched on the edge of the crags. TBF enlivened proceedings by stumbling over her feet and poles – twice just to set me on edge again

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A fine spot for lunch, so good that several annoying black flies came to join us at our table

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There was much walking to do so we were off again to climb the Old Man. Fine views back across the cliffs of Dow Crag as we went

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Ask we approached the top the sun came out and we were treated to some fine views along our next ridge and the lakes of Levers Water and Low Water and across to Wetherlam

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We didn’t linger long as it’s a popular and busy summit but the views from its relatively isolated position are superb

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What’s also superb is the long ridge that runs out to Swirl How. An undulating passage the offers a grand high level stroll with not much effort

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Views over Great Carrs to our route in Langdale the previous day and the Scafell range

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The descent down Prison Band to Swirl Hawse is a steep and rocky one and needs a little care in places to avoid a tumble and places where certain hikers stopped in full view of the col to have a pee

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Levers Water is, I assume, an artificial creation of the copper mining industry but still a grand spot for a rest and a brew (if you haven’t run out of gas of course)

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Said copper mines are extensive and deep and I’ve read reports that the area around is undercut with monstrous caverns ready to collapse at any time. I never linger long by the massive holes in the landscape

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We were still facing a lengthy walk home but the old mine tracks make for a steady and easy gradient to eat up the miles while the mountains receded behind us

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I took this photo as it seems to indicate mining is still very much active here. I’m sure this is a recent change as I don’t recall seeing these new-looking scars on previous visits. It seems to me to be something of a contradiction to have working heavy industry scarring the landscape inside a National Park

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Back to finer views as the day started to draw too a close. This fine rocky peak above the lush and verdant farm-land caught my eye

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We still had a few miles over the moorland below the Walna Scar Road to cover to reach Torver

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It was a lovely peaceful stroll along some paths that I suspect see’s few visitors. The late afternoon brightened by flowering gorse, always a pleasure to see and smell

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A last lingering look back to the Old Man and Dow Crag before dropped in Torver to finish off a long and highly rewarding walk

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Another 14 miles and 4,500 feet of ascent to add to the rest of the weekend

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An amazing weekend of long walks numerous summits, great weather, nice pubs and excellent food. Now That’s What I Call a Birthday Weekend

Belated Birthday Weekend – Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell   18 comments

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Sometimes you just feel that the stars have aligned and everything is right with the world. A superb walk on the Langdale Pikes, a splendid meal, a night in luxurious room in a pub, Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Life was pretty good and I thought things could not get any better. Then we pull into the car park at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to these views.

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Added to that the fact the car park ticket machine was still broken so we avoided another parking charge and I was in birthday heaven and bouncing around like a kid. We were ready to go early (by our standards anyway) thinking the car parks would be rammed full on such a magnificent day but they were pretty empty and the valley sleepy and quiet as we set off.

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One of my all time favourite walks is Bow Fell (also one of my favourite mountains) via Crinkle Crags. Today we were adding in Pike of Blisco as its one of the few recognised peaks in the Lake District I’ve never done. The steep climb up from the campsite revealed more utterly breathtaking views.

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The panorama shows our route for the day. The skyline from the left through to left middle and down the ridge in front

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We decided to try to follow a route away from the main path and it was wonderful. Never too steep and a feeling of exploring small hollows and crags of Bleaberry Knott and Wrynose Fell that most don’t see from the main path

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The views from the summit of PoB were immense

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TBF bags our first summit of the day

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We took our first extended stop of the day. Much like the Langdale Pikes (below) of the day before, PoB is relatively small in stature but big in expansive views as its relatively isolated from the rest of the range

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Langdale valley and the Eastern Fells

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Panorama looking West and North

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One thing that has dramatically improved since my last visit here are the paths. Huge effort has been made to create these wonderful stepped paths with a mosaic of grass between the boulders. They are in equal measure a delight to look at, a pleasure to walk on and protective against erosion. I take my hat off to all the people who put in hard work to build them

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Progress onwards towards Crinkle Crags was effortless and a joy as PoB receded into the distance behind

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Crinkle Crags is itself a superb summit – or should that be summits, it has lots of them.

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We found a quiet spot with a sloping back-rest rock for a very long lunch. Further smiles were in order as I realised the pub made sandwiches as good as its breakfasts and bar meals

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Moving on towards a succession of Crinkles. You can see in the photo below the gully and “bad step” before the highest point. We wanted to tackle the ethical line but there was a crowd of people making a fuss of getting down it so we walked around it

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We found our own little crag to climb which was obviously a much more satisfying route

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The summit of Crinkle Crags reveals the classic view of Bow Fell and its Links (the line of gullies and crags below its summit

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Cairns always seem to make good foreground subjects

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The Scafell range

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The rocky walk across the knobbly summits of Crinkle Crags was just superb. To walk it on such a clear day was exceptional. The hills were alive with the sound of music, in my head anyway

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And so to the day’s final summit. I took a side route to take a look across the huge slabs on the north side of the ridge

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The slab is huge and seems to fall away to infinity with the famous crag of Bow Fell Buttress as a backdrop

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The panorama from the top was immense.

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TBF looking very pleased to be out on such a superb day

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Skiddaw and Blencathra in the distance

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Looking back along our route over Crinkle Crags and PoB

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The birthday boy

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Bow Fell is probably my favourite Lakeland summit. The views from it and its own aspect I find irresistible and I have many fond memories (now including this one). One in particular prompted the photo below. Me and Mark once slept out on the summit in the two obvious spots you can see, back in the early 90’s. It had been hot day down in Eskdale (we were wild swimming and generally lazing about), too hot to sleep so we decided to sleep on the summit. We watched the thunderstorms over the Pennines and slept little in such a magnificent setting under clear skies (and ready to run like hell if the storms came our way!) They never did although we managed to be asleep as the sun came up! A day/night that has a special place in my memories.

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Enough of such reveries. It was time to go down. Another one of those moments when I just wanted to sit and admire these views forever

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We followed the ridge of The Band back to the valley. A long laborious route of ascent but a perfectly angled route of descent for tired limbs

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PoB and the deep ravine of Browney Gill

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Pike of Stickle

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And the ever green and pleasant land of the Langdale valley

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The walk across the pastures of Oxendale back to the car was a final delight to end a truly memorable day

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A long day at around 14 miles and 4,500 feet of ascent but totally rewarding. I had in my mind’s eye a day that pretty much matched what we actually experienced. I still can’t believe my birthday wishes came true

Bow Fell

 

Belated Birthday Weekend – Langdale Pikes   20 comments

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Last few years birthday presents have been replaced with birthday nice weekends away in Cornwall. For my birthday treat this year I fancied a change and wanted a a trip to the Lake District, probably to replace the weekend in Wasdale we missed a couple of weeks earlier. Visiting northern England is always a risk of a washout but we struck gold and as you can see from this and next couple of posts we had three superb days out.

We reached the area with time for a Friday afternoon walk. What better than a round of some of the Langdale Pikes. Short but steep.

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I’d forgotten just how steep the walk up to Stickle Tarn was. I’d also forgotten just what a fine walk it was as well

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It rekindled a whole host of great memories from the many times I’ve walked this classic route although this is the first time for maybe 20 years

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Stickle Gill is wonderful companion on the steep climb and as it was a week day it was relatively quiet.

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The weather was rather hazy but the views were still fabulous and the setting at Stickle Tarn is magnificent

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Across the lake to the cliffs of Pavey Ark

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And Harrison Stickle

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Time for a short rest to take it all in

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On a whim I decided to tackle Jacks Rake for the first time in ages. You can see it slanting up across the face of Pavey Ark from right to left in the photo below

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I love this photo from the shore of the tarn below the face off Pavey Ark

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In my younger days (when I was a couple of stones lighter, more nimble and with fully functioning knees) Jacks Rake was always seen as an easy scramble route, a sort of training scramble not much more than a rocky walk. As the years have progressed scrambling is something I rarely do and I was out of practice to the extent I found I was close to my limits

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I found the route exhilarating and a little intimidating. I used to take risks of all sorts when I was younger but no so any more. I’m not sure whether its an awareness of my own mortality or whether its having a family to be responsible for but I feel so much less at home on rock now

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The route is in fact technically very easy but with a feeling of exposure out of character with most scrambles in the same grade. TBF is more lithe and agile than me and I think she was enjoying herself immensely, thriving on the challenge. I was just nervous for both of us

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I still enjoyed it of course, just with a little less of the carefree attitude of my youth. It was also good to enjoy the route in dry weather as it becomes a little greasy and slippery in damp conditions. If you are keen to try a more adventurous route up a mountain its a pretty good one to start with. Its a long steep ledge/gully with loads of holds, steep enough and exposed enough to be interesting but never difficult

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TBF in full rock athlete mode

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Enough photos of TBF, so here’s one of your truly smiling after conquering the climb

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After a cuppa on Pavey Ark summit we headed off to Harrison Stickle. The steepness and rocky terrain of these peaks gives them a big mountain feel despite their relatively low height

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Pike of Stickle in the distance but we ran out of time (we had an appointment with a fine bistro in Coniston)

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We headed down via the spectacular path that traverses high above the deep ravine of Dungeon Ghyll

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The Coniston Fells in the distance (more on those in a later post)

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The view along the green fell-lined valley is one of my favourites, quintessentially Lake District

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A fabulous afternoon revisiting old mountain friends. I can’t believe it had been so long since I’d done this walk. A day further enhanced by dodging the scandalous £8 parking charge and one of the best meals I’ve had in quite a while. And there was even better to come

Langdale Pikes

A New Favourite Introduced   12 comments

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It seemed that the theme of the weekend was South Lake District Limestone. As the weather was so bad on Easter Monday (me and Mark managed a very short and very wet walk in the rain), we decided to stay an extra day on the basis of a decent forecast for the Tuesday afternoon. There was scepticism aplenty but right on cue the weather cleared after lunch to abundant sunshine and we all headed out en-masse to meet with the Tower Captain, Captain Faff or whatever one of his many nicknames was in use on this day.

This time it was to be the Limestone edge of Scout Scar, across the Lyth Vally from Whitbarrow Scar where we’d been a few days earlier. After a bit of messing about with cars  so we could do a linear walk we were parked up at the northern end and we were off

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Another quite superb piece of quiet and undiscovered Lakeland, helped by the bright warm sunshine and clear expansive views

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There had been some quite heavy snow in the Lakes the day before but it seemed to have all melted back

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On Whitbarrow Scar the paths run quite a way back from the edge. On Scout Scar you can walk right along the cliff edge.  It’s a spectacular walk

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Views back across towards the Pennines and Howgills

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A Dangerous Brother in full flow

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TC had his two dogs with him, very bouncy they were and seemed thrilled to have a whole gang of people to throw them sticks. Made me remember how much fun walking with a canine companion is

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Across the Lyth Valley and Kent Estuary, Arnside Knott in the distance

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We took in this small church on our way down. No idea what it’s called as its doesn’t have name on the map (I’m sure Mark will add that detail when he comments)

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It’s certainly right up there, high on the list of Ecclesiastical buildings with a great view. Another book maybe?

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We finished the walk through the woods of Brigsteer Park to see the Daffodils. Have to say I found that stretch a bit tiresome as it was relentlessly muddy. It didn’t spoil either the walk or indeed what had been a tremendous weekend with great walks and great company. A proper holiday indeed

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And yet there was one more treat to come before the long drive home. TC is so named as he’s involved in the local church as a bell-ringer. He therefore has access to the tower and asked if we’d like to take a look. Absolutely

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After climbing the very steep and narrow stairs he showed us how to ring the bells and how it all works, nothing like how I imagined

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Then  it was time to climb up to the tower roof. No spiral staircases, just a ladder, a very exposed move across the rafters above the bells and then a steep metal stairway. The younger me would have relished the adventure, the older me was scared witless by it

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The views were superb and even though it had clouded over a bit we had a sunset to admire

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The Tower Toppers

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I found the roof a bit scary as well, probably due to the low wall and the fact I had two Dangerous Brothers skittering about the top

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A view of the bells, when in “storage” they are facing upwards. I never knew that.

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We thanked TC profusely for letting us make the visit. Something special, almost felt wrong or rather naughty in a way and we felt smug waving at everyone else below. A fine way to end the weekend

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A final sunset over the garden before we headed home. Massive thanks to Mark, TBH and the family for making us so welcome and of course as is tradition, trying to add several pounds to my waistline 🙂

A dream fulfilled on Farleton Fell   15 comments

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I’ve probably driven along the M6 in Lancashire and Cumbria hundreds of times heading for the Lake District and beyond. As you approach junction 36 for the South Lakes, Farleton Fell dominates the view to the east of the motorway, a massive limestone escarpment that catches the eye and begs a walk. Despite having driven up this way for over 30 years I’ve never been up there. Time to put that right.

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I’ve always known this as Farleton Fell but the map seems to show that applies to the northern slopes with Farleton Knott the most prominent, if not the highest point (that doesn’t have a name) with reference to Holme Park Fell and Newbiggin Crags as well.

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The road climbs pretty much to the highest point and we set off into what was a very keen and very cold wind. Another beastly one.

The first thing that caught my eye was view across Lancaster and Morecambe Bay to what looked like Blackpool tower far in the distance. There was much scepticism from the kids but I think this proves I was right. You can see the massive rollercoaster in the Pleasure Beach as well on the left of the skyline

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It was a pretty gloomy day but we did have some shafts of bright sunlight and as you can see this area of Limestone is rather splendid such that even on a cold grey day its a fine spot

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Another one for the much talked about but never to be published “small hills” book

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Striding out for the summit

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Panorama across the bay

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It’s actually quite a distinct edge with some impressive limestone pavements and crags. The DBs were in their element. Until the elder DB banged his arm and DB Junior fell over onto his knees, a painful experience on hard angular rock

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The top was colonised by cows sheltering from the wind so we joined them for a short rest. No-one but me seemed all that keen to climb to Farleton Knott but I convinced them

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I’m sure, like me , they were glad they did as the views and the limestone scenery were superb

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Looking back to the highest point

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From summit I could look down on the M6 South Lakes junction that had me excited for reasons probably only I truly understand. Dreams fulfilled we headed back down. It really was bitingly cold

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On another day the full circuit of the plateau looks a really rewarding stroll. DB Junior was still deeply unhappy and it looked like everyone else had had their fill so I’ll have to save that for another day. There were some glorious sunny spells that lit up the trees with moody skies behind but I was never quick enough to catch them. This was my best effort

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A nice happy photo to finish off

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Probably able to round this up to 4 miles if our recent discussions of the accuracy of various mapping methods is anything to go by

Farleton Fell

 

Whitbarrow Wander   16 comments

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Easter normally involves a trip to Scotland for some backpacking. TJS is now a regular but college commitments meant that would be tricky to organise. An alternative plan for some trailer camping near Fort William was invoked to join my good friend Mark and his family in bagging Ben Nevis (TJS hasn’t climbed it and neither have I for over 20 years – I think). However with Scotland still in the grip of winter (and not wishing to take the Dangerous Brothers into a Scottish white-out on Britain’s highest mountain) we needed an alternative, alternative plan, a plan C if you like.

We sort of invited ourselves to Marks place for a few days and as always they welcomed us with open arms, fed us like kings and queens and tolerated our bad habits and boorish behaviour. A weekend of serious mountaineering was replaced with some more laid back easy walks, eating, games, eating, more eating, games and eating. And many laughs. Just what a hard-working project management professional needs in fact.

Our first outing took us to the Limestone eminence of Whitbarrow Scar. There are several of these low escarpments in the South Lakes and they make for excellent family walks. Views are expansive and they are always quiet while the masses head to the more famous peaks.

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We parked up at the south end and climbed the steep slopes via a very well-made path through Buckhouse Wood. It was a little gloomy and we had a spell of rain.

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Mark’s TBH wanted to stop in the rain – when she’s hungry she’s focused! We managed to convince her to walk on a short way until the rain stopped before settling down for lunch. A good call as we had some watery sunshine while sat and scoffed. A very fine lunch stop in the end

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As we walked along the broad ridge the weather, while still chilly, showed promising signs of brightness

Panorama looking across Morecambe Bay

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And approaching the summit

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The DBs found endless small crags to play on and made short work of a short climb to the summit of the cairn on Lords Seat

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As we began our descent down the very steep slopes of Bell Rake we found this mine adit. Needless to say that the DBs were straight in there and even convinced DB Senior, namely me to join them

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It was a surprisingly long tunnel although there was no evidence of whatever the people who excavated it were digging for. The DBs were as happy as pigs in muck as you can see

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I tried a couple of shots in the passage but it was, unsurprisingly, a little dark

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Mark did some dedicated research and you can read about his findings and his take on the day here

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Once back at the base of the escarpment, the terrain turned from dry rocks to soggy mud as the water that permeates through the Limestone emerges as springs where it hits the impermeable rocks underneath

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The sun was becoming more apparent and we were treated to some fabulous views of the striking cliffs as we emerged from High Park Wood

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These are the cliffs of Chapel Head Scar

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And a panorama of the same

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We were well pleased that such a gloomy start turned into a sunny finish. The views from the car of the end of the ridge while thoughts turned to home-made pizzas

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My map shows around 7 miles although the other route tracking apps seems to show 8 miles so I’ll accept the longer estimate for the purposes of morale

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Great start to what was a cracking weekend

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