For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Finter Gill, Dent

The Kendal Grufties are an enthusiastic mountain biking, adventure seeking couple I met on my recent walk in Kentmere, and they have since commented here, and in particular steered me to Finter Gill. 

The gill is a savagely deep cut ravine rising up the hillside south-west from the village of Dent.

Dent is a quirky village in the Yorkshire Dales, but a village with attitude which is impressed upon your feet with discomfort as you walk the mini-cobbled narrow streets. Here was the home of the Dent Knitters, also known as The Terrible Knitters of Dent operating a thriving home knitting industry for centuries. They employed a unique method with one of the needles fixed to a belt enabling these industrious women to demonstrate, so long ago, the ladies' ability to multi-task by additionally churning butter or whatever other pursuit suited. They were often in trouble for continuing to knit during the long sermons in church.

As if that wasn't enough for Dent it was also the birthplace of Adam Sedgwick in 1785 - he advanced the study of geology, but for a man of profound intelligence he let himself down (in my opinion) by opposing Darwin’s theory of evolution, but that doesn't seem to have had a major influence on his still acclaimed standing - here is part of a letter written to Darwin after the publication of Origin of Species - Darwin had been  a pupil of Sedgwick's, and surprisingly, despite Sedgwick's opposition to The Origin they remained friends.

"If I did not think you a good tempered and truth loving man I should not tell you that... I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous — You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction and started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkins's locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved. Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?"

The ascent of the Gill is by a steep rocky path. In recent days and weeks we have had more than our share of rain but the stream in the gill a hundred feet or more down was only a trickle. Considering the depth of the gorge and the force that must gave been required to carve it out today's lack of forceful water after so much rain was a mystery. Before the path rises above the stream there is a large  flatbed of limestone with the stream running over and a small plaque high up on a tree announcing "Dancing Flags".

Higher up there are gaunt and gnarled tees creating quite a spooky atmosphere especially in the haunted light of this dismal day. After topping out I was onto high level classic dales tracks taking me south-east with views across Dentdale where the sun was making a brave attempt to shine on the slopes of Aye Gill Pike. More track and footpaths descended to take me back to Dent.

Stone Close Tea Rooms provided welcome tea and cake.


On the way to Finter Gill out of Dent. Pity about the wheelie bin

There is to me something enchanting about drystone walling, here skilfully enhanced by a magical little well

The sign announcing Dancing Flags (see photo below)

Dancing flags

Where are the witches?

Lime Kiln

From top of Finter Gill - it drops very steeply after this - note lack of much water

This and next two looking across Dentdale to Aye Gill Pike and the sun's struggle to get through

The old dales tracks

Friday, 6 April 2018

From Barbon village

Thursday 5th April 2018 - Thursday walk with Pete

What a glorious spring day. I walked without gloves for the first time for many a month with Paramo jacket stowed away in my rucksack.

At our furthest point near Low Fellside I noticed the unmistakable signs of a disused railway and research has now revealed that there was a branch line running from Ingleton joining the main east coast route at Lowgill near Tebay. It must have been an attractive scenic route.

From Wikipedia:

The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway built the Ingleton Branch Line from the existing Ingleton Station to Low Gill.[2] By the time the branch was completed in 1861, the L&CR was operated by the London and North Western Railway (L&NWR).
After formal closure the line was still on occasions used for weekend excursions and to transport pupils to and from local boarding schools. Goods traffic continued until 1 October 1964. The line was maintained as a possible relief route until April 1967 when the tracks were lifted.[3]
Sheep and their lambs were abundant and more than usually voiciferous on both sides of our quiet country lane. On our return journey a couple of lambs had escaped onto the road and despite our best efforts we couldn't get them to go back, but a couple of hundred yards further on we told the farm lady who was tending sheep in the next field. Some of her sheep were almost black in colour the like of which I had not seen before - she told us they were Zwartbles.

 From Wikipedia:

The Zwartbles is a breed of domestic sheep originating in the Friesland region of the north Netherlands. There it was primarily used for the production of sheep milk as well as lamb and mutton. They were often kept alongside dairy cattle herds.

Low res. photo from Wiki

Barbon Low Fell

Waiting for spring

Middleton Fell

The old railway near Low Fellside

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Wet Sleddale

Wednesday 28th March 2018

After churning through pathless, cow trodden quagmire a few days ago on Hollow Stones I vowed that future walks would be restricted to public footpaths as shown on the OS map in consideration of my knee recovery.

Today, with the best intentions, I set off on a circuit of Wet Sleddale. From the cattle grid start I walked up the Tarmac road and continued on the footpath to the north of the access road to Green Farm and Sleddale Grange. It was a completely pathless, knee twisting reed and moss swamp demanding careful navigation to find access points at the various field boundaries.  I emerged at Sleddale Grange and thankfully picked up the access road continuing to Sleddale Hall.

Sleddale Hall is famous because it featured in the film Withnail and I. I have visted before on several occasions. It seems that the buildings have been perhaps re-roofed and secured. As far as I could Google they are in private ownership and there seems to be no immediate plans for further refurbishment.

I descended to the stream where OS indicates the public footpath crosses. Here is a line of large boulders making for stepping stones, but with the final step at the other side missing. The stones were wet and green and projecting more than a foot above the fast flowing water and with not very flat surfaces. I had an immediate picture of me teetering from one to another then having an unpleasant fall into the stream which could have been more than serious. I opted for a Nick Crane and found a spot a bit higher up where the stream was not flowing so fast and just waded across at knee height. So much for my intentions of walking on benign footpaths.

Victorian post box at the end of the public road leading on to Green Farm

Across to the A6 and the Tata limestone crushing plant and the northern Pennines in the distance

Wet Sleddale reservoir from near Sleddale Hall

I think this is the actual current owner of Sleddale Hall. That sign has been there for years.

Sleddale Hall

I waded across avoiding almost certain catastrophe

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

For Frank and The Crow, and The Battle of Edgehill - 1642

In reply to the comments of Frank and The Crow on my previous post here we go:


The Battle of Edgehill

The other night I watched one of my favourite presenters, Waldemar Januszcak telling the story of William Dobson the puzzlingly forgotten court painter to King Charles 1st.

At one point Waldemar enters a castle-like building to look out of the high window of the tower overlooking the site of Edgehill, the first battle of the civil War in 1642. I recognised the building and then the view from the window immediately - it is now the  Castle Hotel where I stayed in that exact room on 29th May 2015 when I was walking the Macmillan Way.

From my journal, and the blog:

The Castle at Edgehill was brilliant. The only downside was the number of flights of steep steps to access my castle-top room, the final flight being a tight spiral staircase.

On the way to being shown to that room I tripped slightly on, I think, the third flight of stairs, and the staff member, recognising yet another geriatric grabbed my rucksack and continued up the remaining flights and the spiral whilst I struggled on behind with my rickety knees, and now a dodgy ankle.

I had arranged for a pre-prepared breakfast to take to my room because they only served from 8:00am. I was presented, in the bar, with a plate nearly a foot square with two slices of Chef's munchy cake, grapes, an apple, a bowl of fresh strawberries and raspberries, and a wine cooler containing two pots of fruit yoghurt on ice. If you had given me a thousand pounds I don't think I could have got that lot to my room in one go. The lady manageress took over and arrived with it all five minutes after me. That must have been an heroic carry.

During my meal a middle aged couple at the next table were choosing from the menu. Her main gripe was that all dishes seemed to include one small ingredient she didn't like, then she said, "I would really like to try samphire" then she ordered a rib-eye steak.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Tuesday 26th March 2018

I usually have lots of tea with my toast and marmalade breakfast, then an hour later I get the jangles for coffee. Today I set off in the car before coffee deprivation set in. After forty minutes drive Orton Scar Café came to the rescue. My coffee was accompanied by a slice of millionaires shortbread. Whilst the quality was fine the size and volume reminded me of laying some 3ft. x 2 ft. paving slabs many years ago. Those who know me are aware of me having a predeliction for cakes and a reputation for shifting large portions (my family nickname years ago was Daddy Dustbin) but I was beaten by this slab of confection. I surreptitiously wrapped the remaining third and stowed it away for future consumption on the hill.

Orton is situated beneath Great Asby Scar, a huge area of limestone pavement at about 1000ft - a glorious environment for walking, but today my route would only skirt below the steep fellside leading up to the plateau. I left the village by a an intriguing narrow walled path, across a couple of fields and then onto an old bridleway skirting the foot of the aforementioned limestone escarpment, but nonetheless with  extensive views in all directions.

There was a covered reservoir marked on the map only a hundred metres below the trig on Great Asby Scar and I pondered on the rationale for having this so high up - surely the best place for a reservoir is lower down where water accumulates - another of life's mysteries.

I stopped for a sandwich and more coffee (and the rest of my shortbread chocolate paving slab) at the furthest point north on the route shown on my map below before turning to descend back to Orton.

A pleasant 3.7 mile circuit.

I'm off for a coffee now.

Orton Scar Café

The narrow enclosed pathway leading out of the village

Great Asby Scar- click to enlarge - red dots show my route

It's a good job they didn't do the Channel Tunnel!

The old bridleway leading up to the reservoir

The high altitude resrvoir

The view to the Howgills from my luncheon spot

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Kentmere brings a spring in the step

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Today seemed to herald a significant advance in knee recovery. I felt fine nearly all the way on this walk, and even though descents are stressful I know I am coping with them much better than on recent walks. Just by the end of the 4.4 miles I was feeling a fair amount of discomfort - it had involved a modest 455ft of climbing, but more importantly the equivalent amount of descent. Back home after a hot bath combined with my exercises both knees felt very stiff and quite painful during the evening. That doesn't sound so good, but my optimism acknowledges that this morning, as I write, both knees have recovered, and that is a sign I well recognise. On my backpacking trips I have the same painful symptoms after reaching my destination, but with that same recovery next morning enabling me to continue in comfort. But of course on recent trips that has been after 16 miles or so.

My intention is to still take things easy with  short walks and recovery days in between, and I know it will take time, but I am more hopeful now than I have been for a while. If I do get back to proper backpacking it will be b-and-b only, therefore not carrying camping and cooking stuff, and I would try and target 12 miles per day rather than 16.

I have walked this Kentmere round several times. Gentle climbing on well established bridleways brings one out onto open fellside at just under 1000ft: liberation and breathing space, and a sense that you may be much higher,  a perfect scenario for a frustrated hill walker.  I met a  pleasant couple who were mountain biking and we had a fairly long and enjoyable conversation. The going is often on cropped turf and the whole ambience was energising. I found a perfect little shelf to sit on right at the high point before descending back into upper Kentmere, and munched my ploughman's sandwich followed by a fruity bar and accompanied with my flask of coffee; all was contentment. The sky was blue, wind had dropped, sun was warming, remnants of snow littered the extensive views.

This had been the most enjoyable walk by a long way that I have had since aborting my Berwick-upon-Tweed to Castle Cary backpacking trip at Hellifield when my knee packed up on 20th August last year. 

River Kent, just off the road from the start

Black Beck

Sallows - 1681 ft.

Start of descent into upper Kentmere just after my lunch stop

Kentmere Tarn

Kentmere Hall 14th Century Pele tower, apparently undergoing some kind of restoration.
Below, as it was on a previous visit - 19th July 2012

Loads of info if you Google

Click to enlarge

Monday, 19 March 2018

Hollow Stones - Crosthwaite

Thursday 15th March

In November I had a walk in the Lyth valley CLICK and commented on a pointy peak I could see in the distance, vowing to myself to investigate when the knee improved.

The pointy peak is Hollow Stones with a spot height of 188m. I thought I may be able to continue north over Tarn Hill to Lord's Lot and return by the footpath, as indicated with red arrows on the map below.

I cheekily parked in the church car park below the Punch Bowl car park at Crosthwaite. None of this route (as walked) was on access land, so including the carpark this was an outing of total trespass. If you look at the map you will see that Tarn Hill is on access land, but there is no public access to that square on the map - what a nonsense!

Straight opposite the pub there is a small iron gate, easy to miss, leading uphill on an oppressively wall enclosed track. That leads through a private garden, and climbs higher onto open fell-side. I managed to get a shot of some deer which I know are numerous, but not often seen, so a little bonus on an otherwise less than inspiring day. The track gives way to cow trodden plodding making for potential ankle twisting. I saw the culprits herded together, sheltering from the vicious and piercingly cold wind and occasional spatter of rain in a hollow not far below the summit. I do feel sorry for livestock out in the fields in these conditions.

You can see from the photo the summit is indeed satisfyingly pointy, but the wind was so strong I was having problems remaining on my feet and quickly retreated to take stock of my intended extension. I could see the field boundaries, one after another barring the way to Lord's Lot and had no appetite for climbing walls and fences. So I descended to complete a circle of the upper slopes of Hollow Stones and then return via another non-right-ofway through Cartmell Fold Farm and back to the road.

This is a kind of walk I would have hesitated to bring anybody else on - it was just a whim stuck in my mind unlikely to be appreciated by others, but despite its curtailment I had a little glow of satisfaction at having pursued and concluded this mini exploration arising from that glimpse on the previous walk - perhaps the naughty trespassing provided added value?

Just off the road from the Punch Bowl

Cow trodden terrain leading up to the summit

The pointy summit - there was a three stone cairn