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!


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Dales Way (Bowston to a few miles from Bowness)

Saturday 13th August 2016

" I was just worried you might fall off".

Words from a lady motorist on the other side of a pair of nine foot high wrought iron gates with spikes on the top. Why oh why didn't I take a photo? I was high up trying to get my left foot over the spikes and in perhaps more danger than I thought.

The gates are at the entrance to Cowan Head.

 "Cowan Head is a luxury residential development of sixty apartments and cottages created on the site of an eighteenth century paper mill.

Look at the map below. You will see there are paths on either side of the river from Bowston, one is the Dales Way,  the other is not. I took the wrong one.

At Cowan Head less than a kilometre upstream I realised my mistake. There is a gate with a notice saying "strictly private, residents only, cctv in operation" and a bridge connecting to the luxury apartments on the other side of the river, and the Dales Way on the adjacent road. There is another bridge a few hundred yards upstream so I marched on only to find it has been washed away. I returned and went over the private bridge into the Cowan Head complex and set off walking to the exit only to be confronted by the huge, electronically controlled locked gates. There was nobody about. I decided to climb. It wasn't going well when the car approached from the other side. I descended with not much dignity and the gates hummed open. The lady was quite kind, more concerend about my safety than my trespass.

I managed to cull this from the Internet
I am often asked why I mostly walk alone. Well, I reckon it would be too discomfitting to subject companions too often to my ability to make the most mundane walks into embarrassing epics.

That epic took place long after my start at St. Catherine's Church when I elected to do the none Dales Way part first which again proved to be a super mélange of old country lanes and narrow roads, benign sheep-cropped fields, and mysterious streams bubbling off into dark enclaves. There is smug satisfaction in devising my own route from the map, especially when it turns out so well.

Towards the end of the route I met Julie and "?",  sorry the gent's name has gone from my head. They were backpacking the whole of the Dales Way and on their way to the finish at Bowness. We walked and chatted together for half a mile or so until I left the path to return to my starting point. These two were experienced backpackers and full of enthusiasm and interest, (they had just wild camped on Cam Fell) and I wish I had obtained an email address to maybe compare our future exploits. I did mention this blog to them and hopefully they will read this and get in touch (

St Catherine's Church. I parked in their car park, just off right of photo.
This was built in 1887 - the remains of the originsal are just up the hill - see next two photos

Crook Hall

Minor roads with views.
 Did I mention it was drizzly when I set off? In Scotland a "dreish" day.
It cleared up later

You know you are on the ancient paths

"...mysterious streams bubbling off into dark enclaves."

Just another relic

Old bridleways - a sense of history

Cowan Head, here  on the other side of the river from my route - scene of my encounter with the high gate.
All previous photos were on my outward route supporting my enthusiasm

After the gate episode. Tranquil walking on the Dales Way on the correct side of the  River Kent


Alan Rayner said...

Apart from the embarrassing climb, the history of the area was worth the effort. Some fine scenery too.

Sir Hugh said...

AR - Hi Alan It's good to know there's still somebody out there reading this stuff - sometimes I wonder. The stats say I often get over 100 pageviews a day. I know a lot of those arise from sources other than those interested in the blog, but you would think there would be more comments, even so. Some people say that other forms of social media have almost killed blogging off. Well I'm not tempted to enter into the mostly vacuous exchanges I see there when I make occasional forays, mainly to see what members of my family are up to, but generally I end up none the wiser.

afootinthehills said...

A nine foot spikey gate? Get back on those rocks Conrad - much safer than some of your walks and ladies in cars don't usually appear to cause embarrassment.

Sir Hugh said...

afoot - Thanks for the advice - food for thought.

gimmer said...

Well, I read all your posts 'avidly' as a form of vicarious exercise - but other than trivial inanities it is rare that I can find anything interesting, witty, erudite or intelligent to say - but life would be much the poorer if you gave up posting - to say nothing of the incentive you have referred to previously of going for the walk itself. And I would never go on so called (anti-)social media to find it there instead.
In fact, these two Bowston focussed walks reminded me of the two walks we did thereabouts - one up the Kent from Burneside on a crisp frosty December day - the first walk I'd done in Cumbria for years and which showed that one doesn't need to 'go high' to have a good day out - the other with Pete, from Staveley which went round part of the upper section of the former: both good walks that more than justify your pursuit .
That development of the old paper mill is supposed to be secure - a friend was thinking of buying a unit there as 'one could leave the place for three months on the Med and know it would be safe for one's return': your breaching the fortress (or jail, as it looks from the image) must shake that confidence - maybe next time it will be electrified razor wire and baying hounds that greet you !

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - I remember those walks well. On the way back on that December day we were nearly wiped out by a car coming round a corner and planing on ice straight towards us - it's a wonder we have survived so long. What about the desperate time we had on one of those gullies on Wastwater Screes finishing off in the dark as far as I recall?

As far as the fortress is concerned I hope there won't be a "next time". Even if I won the Lottery I wouldn't want to be holed up in a place like that.

gimmer said...

i think we should make a joint history book of all the scrapes and dramas we were lucky to survive - might be a best seller if we could get a writer with vivid imagination to jazz it up a bit . . . Alastair Campbell perhaps . . . but there again, there may still be more to come . . .

Frank5175 said...

Dear Sir Hugh

I do read your posts with interest. I do not always reply as I have very little to add that would enhance your hard work. I am not a "professional" walker and my legs do not carry me far nowadays but just because I do not comment on your fine blogs does not mean that they are not enjoyed.
We actually have another common interest as I have recently acquired a TZ60 - I am trying hard to keep the camera steady when it is in full zoom mode - judging by your shots (especially from Cornwall), you have mastered that.

Please keep the stories coming, may I assure you that they are being read.

Gayle said...

And I'm sure that you know that I'm reading everything you write (occasionally shaking my head, whilst smiling, at descriptions of incidents like climbing over 9' spike-topped gates!), even if I'm often delayed in commenting by a lack of power and internet.

Sir Hugh said...

Gayle - I am reading yours also and having same problems with wifi etc. I'll soon be asking you how many Ms you have left to do rather than how many have you done.