Friday, 17 February 2017


Thursday 17th February '17 (Thursday walk with Pete)

Only just over three miles for this one and I wondered if there would be sufficient material for a post. One kilometre from the start I voiced my concern to Pete as we were passing St Peter's Church which in itself was a dull Victorian gothic revival nonentity, 1860 I think. We both started fantasising. I suggested there may have been a murder there. Pete thought somebody might be locked up in the tower.  My only further resort was to Google on my return. Despite chasing various links, and even being prepared to be inventive, I could find nothing of interest.

On the straight south-west to north-east leg of our triangle we had the ridge of Clougha Pike up on our right which is an extensive unatural jumble of millstone grit boulders; left over evidence of quarrying for quern stones (those used for grinding grain), hence the adjacent village of Quernmore. If that's all the quarrying was used for there must have been a lot of mills or the stones must have worn out quickly?

Next I spotted an unusually coloured, large bird just off the road about a hundred yards away. All of a dither I fumbled my camera from its belt pouch guessing that as always the damn thing would fly off before I could focus (don't laugh fellow blogger Mark). * I got a zoom shot, and we both went into stealth mode walking closer. The bird never moved. I took another zoom. Eventually we were about ten feet from the bird standing on the other side of a wall. It was motionless and I was convinced now that it was an artificial decoy or some kind of model. I shouted and it still didn't move, and then I saw the briefest twitch as it turned its head about three degrees and then back - I wondered if somebody was remote controlling - all very strange - reminds me, the RE teacher (Divinity at Bradford Grammar) put one word on my annual report: "inert."

Back at Café Ambio they seem to increase the size of my flapjack and Pete's apple crumble each time we go, and I would now define my more substantial flapjack as a challenge.
I used the Impressive Art setting on the Panasonic TZ60 again.

*Mark's blog: Beating the Bounds CLICK HERE/    His bird, wildlife and scenery photos are superb.

St Peter's Church Quernmore: plagiarised architecture, no murders and nobody locked up in the tower

The motionless one - those feet don't look a natural colour

This well-to-do farmhouse trashed with solar panels on the roof. The sight gave me a gut-wrenching feel - am I over reacting?
There was a perfect sloping field to the right between the house and the wall where these things could have been located.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Gone to Earth?

Over the last few months my posts have been frequent, but I see my last was on 27th January. I am now getting withdrawal symptoms.

Poor weather has coincided with the days when I had the opportunity to roam, but also, my central heating boiler takes some blame. I had it installed when I bought the house seventeen years ago, and on-and-off it has never been satisfactory. I have spent time researching the pros and cons of a replacement, and dithering about the cost.

One of my mandatory pleasures is to have a soak in a hot bath when I return from the exertions of day’s walking. This wretched boiler only heats water to arguably the required temperature, but only when the flow from the tap is reduced by half. Consequently it takes so long to fill the bath, water has cooled before the bath is filled. I have servicing and repairs covered and over the years had many visits from various heating engineers sent by the insurance company and the boiler is now like the hammer with a new head and a new handle, but still with its incurable, inherent failing. It reminds me of the vascular consultant who looked at my legs and told me the non-return valves in my veins were not living up to their purpose and in his written report to my GP used what is apparently the accepted medical description for this affliction: the valves being “incompetent.”

A new boiler was delivered over a week ago. I have a local plumber who has agreed to install, and it should have been done by now, but I have been waiting unable to cherry pick the good days for a walk.
Phil is an excellent plumber, and a good guy (he did not install the previous boiler) but he has had his own problems with a bad foot (plumbing is a ruinous occupation for the human body, bending, squatting, crawling and stretching in confined and often unpleasant places.) On top of that both his parents are seriously ill and he is having to tend to his father whilst mother is in hospital. Phil did come on Tuesday and fitted a new large radiator in the bathroom and put some wonder chemical into the heating system to dislodge and amalgamate all the gunge prior to draining and flushing. and he hopes to be back on Monday.

So I hope the old fox will be out again soon. It is only seven weeks now to the 10th April when I will be off on a self plotted backpacking trip in England lasting about a month (if all goes well.)

Friday, 27 January 2017

Cumbria Coastal Way in sections (5)

Wednesday  25th January '17 - Kirkby-in-Furness to Millom

Winter walking has its own ambience. I arise grumpily at 6:30 am in the dark. Breakfast gets me going. I only operate at half throttle unless I have breakfast so it is worth the effort. Sometimes when backpacking, especially if having camped and not pre-planned food it is not possible, and for me that is not a good start.

I trudge the fifteen minutes down to Arnside station still in the dark and catch the 7:52 sparsely populated, ancient diesel, which trundles, rattles and shakes its way to Kirkby-in-Furness with a change at Barrow. Kirkby is a request-only-stop, and I panic about getting that organised, but I catch the driver as he boards, and then double my chances by firming my request with the lady conductor.

At Kirkby it is now thankfully light. I take a photo from the bridge of the retreating train, and for comparison, another with that unusual colour setting used by mistake on the last trip.

Long straight stretches of narrow Tarmac get me to Foxfield, all a bit boring. An old bridleway is better, climbing high and going inland to Broughton-in-Furness with views across the Duddon estuary to my continuation of this coastal trek, but although it is bright and sunny distant views are hazy and hilltops shrouded.

I catch up a guy from Grange who has couple of visitors from Brazil with him, so they are getting a good sample of our attractive countryside - it is rarely I pass anybody these days, but this party are just ambling.

Having descended to Broughton I find a convenient bench and organise a planning meeting with myself because I have the feeling I am ahead of my schedule. I dead-reckon the remaining distance and time which unfortunately tells me I have a marginal chance of catching the 14:50 train from Millom direct to Arnside arriving at 16:05 instead of my planned train at 17:15 with a long wait at Barrow and arriving Arnside at 18:43. I hate this sort of thing. When I walked the Coast to Coast in 1990 I remember arriving at the finish at St Bees Head with three kilometres remaining to St Bees and the station for the train home. I had the timetable in my rucksack, but daren't look at it for fear of discovering a possible train time within questionable walking/jogging time - I just didn't want that hassle, but now, back in Broughton I had imposed that upon myself.

Even though I was walking in the magnificent Duddon estuary the views seemed limited and boggy fields were followed by a tedious Tarmac section to Lady Hall, then a long muddy embankment all the way to Millom. I got my head down and marched purposefully and arrived at Millom with five minutes to spare which was enhanced by another five minutes by the late running train.

These first three photos are experimental If you are interested click photos to enlarge
1. Normal "Scene" setting - "Sports Mode"

2. Same photo tweaked aa much as I could in Photoshop Elements

3.Seperate photo taken within seconds using "Creative Control" - "Impressive Art" as used by mistake on last CCW post.
Note the  well defined cloud formations which just don't show at all on the standard setting above and not even apparent when highlights reduced etc. in Photoshop.
 I like the rich colours this setting produces and will likely use it more in future.

Back to "Scene", "Sports Mode" again.
 Long Tarmac out of Kirkby, but you can see distant Lake District Hills are hidden by haze

Approaching Broughton-in-Furness

Duddon Iron Furnace - 1736 to 1866 for more info:

All Cumbria Coastal Way depicted by red line - my section today - Kirkby-in-Furness to Millom
Click to enlarge.


It's grumpy time again - two things:

1. On the TV news when there is anything whatsoever to do with medicine or health they show that hand using a multi dipping/dispensing pipette device which more often than not probably bears no relation to the actual subject, and has now become an out-and-out cliché.

2. The indiscriminate use of the word sexy. I am not a prude, at least I don't think so, but it is just plain nonsense used to describe some inanimate objects, or perhaps a scientific concept, or almost anything else inappropriate as sexy. It seems to be frequently used to convey some sort of accolade or suitability, or, getting closer, desirability.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Scotland and the Klan - BBC 4

Monday 23rd January '17

I have just watched Neil Oliver’s presentation of "Scotland and the Klan" on BBC4.

Here is another powerful example of how the freedom of the BBC must be protected. Where else would you have had the remotest chance of seeing such a production?

Neil charts the history of Scottish settlement in the southern states after The Clearances and its culmination in the development of slavery, and then the Civil War with the thread and the stomach churning history of the Klu Klux Clan running through right up to present day. This was a fearless production with Neil interviewing people on both sides of the still hugely prevalent problem of racism, and his conclusion, not optimistic, with athe observation that history is not the past, it is still the present. There was much footage of the activities of the Klan and their supporters and the business of segregation that I had not previously seen, and it brought to my attention the scale of this problem which still exists today.

This documentary showed the American Scots in the worst possible light, not only in history, but in present day celebration of much of this appalling history, and for Neil as a popular ambassador for Scotland that was a brave undertaking, as it was for the BBC.

Oh how this bodes badly with present day developments!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Cumbria Coastal Path in sections (4)

Saturday 21st January '17

I guessed this was going to be a good one and it didn't disappoint - a walk of contrasts with nonstop interest.

The train conductor obligingly advised me that it was cheaper to buy a return to and from Kirkby-in-Furness, my walk's finishing station, rather than buying singles from Arnside to Roose, and Kirkby to Arnside. At just over £8 with my Railcard I reckon that was a bargain.

I had to retrace my steps for thirty minutes to get back on the CCP. The sun had  just arrived and there was golden light over Barrow harbour from my high point.

Back at sea level, abandoned industrial wasteland with pylons, cheap red brickwork daubed with graffiti, and the bleak scatter of urban rail-side rubbish provided interest, especially in the morning glow. I don't mind a bit of that sort of thing, particularly when I know it is only going to be a small part of the day's itinerary.

Barrow must have been a fine town with its wide, straight streets and an abundance of elaborate Victorian and Edwardian architecture, but it has been trashed with the insertion of the worst kind of cheap and utilitarian modern mediocrity.

A long walk out of Barrow on the A 590 north was perhaps the low point. After that the rest of the route was nearly all on beaches with firm going and vast expanses of sand, distant sea, and huge blue skies - all shear pleasure. Halfway on this traverse of the eastern shore of the Duddon estuary I could see Lowsy Point marked on the map indicating a group of buildings in the middle of nowhere - intriguing? One of the delights of walking is to come across points of interest unexpectedly without having been told about them beforehand so that they become your discoveries, and so it was with Lowsy Point.

An unmade track led to this outpost:  a sort of shanty town of wooden huts, some homebuilt, and nearly all ramshackle with old cars, Calor gas bottles, mini windmills, derelict boats and general seediness. But, having said that, there was something attractive and mysterious about this community of weekend retreats, and I wondered if there was a common factor of eccentricity amongst the owners.

At Askam in Furness I found benches outside the unoccupied lifeboat station and settled down for munchies and coffee. Preparing to leave I found that a buckle on my rucksack had found its way through a slat in the bench. How stupid - I must have spent ten minutes extracting it making my lunch stop longer than planned with unfortunate consequences later.

As I approached the station at Kirkby-in-Furness the 14:59 train was pulling out. Without exaggeration I was only five minutes walk from the platform - that damned rucksack buckle.

I had anyway assumed that I would never be in time for that train, but it was peeving to have missed it by such a small margin. The next train was at 17:36.

I finished off the last of my coffee sat in the open-air shelter getting colder and colder and then, having stiffened up and approaching the point of hypothermia tottered off to the pub which by then had opened. I had a walk up and down the village, now in the dark, worrying about getting home - the 17:36 stopped at Kirkby "by request only" and I realised that if it didn't stop I could be stranded. I felt like a madman stood on the platform waving at the oncoming train. but all was well. A brilliant day except for the last two and half hours.


My camera became inadvertently switched to something called: "Creative Control, Impressive Art"

Morning sun over Barrow harbour

 Follow the pylons, ice puddles and urban sprawl approaching Barrow

Barrow town hall clock reflects the low morning sun

One of the many worthy buildings in Barrow - the old fire station - 1911

This overgrown circular, spiralling inwards wall I found alongside the A 590. The wall continues as a descending spiral inside the outer circle, but is difficult to see because of the vegetation - anybody any ideas?

Solar panels

Shoreline walking and distant Black Coombe

WW2 machine gun post. It has tumbled from above and now standing on its side - The Leaning Tower of Furness?

It says "Dateline" on the side - a forlorn hope now

Lowsy Point

Back across to Barrow (well endowed with pylons) from Lowsy Point

More of Lowsy Point shanty town

Askam in Furness across the Duddon estuary

Click to enlarge.
The blue route is from the station back to my last finishing point on the CCP

Friday, 20 January 2017

Photoshop painting (2) and Tebay Sedbergh Rd (2)

Here is the finished canal bridge picture together with a few I did earlier. I have published some of these here before but it was a long time ago.


Attermire Scar

From my "Relics" collection
I'm sure many of you will be familiar with this bridge on the way to Ben Alder etc.


  Thursday walk with Pete

Another dismal day and the first outing since I fell on the ice last Thursday, not because of the fall, but rather the dreary weather. At least it didn't rain. My twisted knee and jarred thumb have made a good recovery. We went back to the same Tebay Sedbergh road, but started from the other direction and walked back up to the scene of my accident, and then back again.

On a fine day the views of the river Lune descending through the gorge with the M6 carving its way high up on the opposite side would be worth the effort on this undulating road. I would certainly consider a return visit when in the mood for a road-only walk. 

We had the Howgills rising steeply straight above us and they do look tempting. I think this range of hills must be one of the least walked in England and I reckon I may be doing some exploring there in the near future.

Conditions for photgraphy were as bad as you can get, but here are a few which I have done my best to brighten up a little in Photoshop.

Blogger has decided to cut off some of the text in the stuff above. I have removed formatting and re-fomratted to no avail - will struggle on to try and solve, but as it is just about comprehensible I am leaving the post up for the moment.

Castley Knotts

Evidence of recent flood repairs. One of the many lively streams running straight off the Howgills

Three in one - the sign, the sheep, and the communications mast overlooking Borrowdale
I thought this lent itself to black and white - see below

Zoom to ponies high up on the hillside - Although not a horsey person I always feel sorry for them in this kind of weather
Camping pods, or "glamping" as they say on their Facebook site. I stayed in one similar on my Two Moors Way across Dartmoor. Google "Howgills Hideaway" if you want more info.

North up the River Lune - you can see what a dull day it was, but 'twould be different with the river sparkling in the sunshine
                     South down the River Lune. Vehicles high up on the M6 in view


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sir Hugh RA ?

Previous posts describe my walking the Cumbria Coastal Path in sections. The next stretch is probably the most scenic and I want to have decent weather - I am not inclined to compromise with the current sombre, grey, overcast, drizzly, depressing stuff,  so I have turned my energies to activity more creative and domiciliary.

"Painting" using Photoshop has been an intermittent pastime (well, Hockney does something similar with his iPad - he was a contemporary, albeit a year ahead of me at Bradford Grammar School).

This photo under a canal bridge was taken on a Thursday walk with Pete because the rich and varied colours and texture took my fancy.

I open the photo in Photoshop, then put a blank white layer on top. I reduce the opacity until the photo is just visible below so I can sketch in the main outlines. I then bring back the full white background and continue to paint without further use of the photo, except for looking at a copy for reference.

Here I show two stages of work-in-progress. I am not striving for an exact reproduction of the photo, or the exact colours. I would like to achieve something more loose, free, and artistic, but I don't seem to have that talent, so this will be a sort of halfway-house. The second WIP is nowhere near finished so please don't judge on it - I have just shown it to demonstrate how these creations are tackled.

Hopefully I will in due course up-date with progress or the finished item, unless my temporary wild Gulley Jimson temperament departs me. 

The lines on the outer left-hand side of the bridge and the straight water's edge lines remain (at the moment) from the sketch lines from the partly visible photo before bringing back the white background