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, 18 December 2016

Cumbria Coastal Way in parts - 2

Saturday 17th December '16

Click to enlarge - start and finish in blue - Cumbria Coastal Way pink
This project has not started well.

Following occasional praise here for  increased accuracy of weather forecasts,  I feel I have now been let down. Last Saturday's walk on the CCW was forecast as "cloudy".  In reality I had a non-stop five hour march in drizzle, fizzle, penetrating rain and limited visibility .

Today "early fog clearing to a sunny day" was forecast.  I caught the earlier 7:52am train.

Arriving at Cark station at 8:05am, it had only just become light and fog was all present reducing visibility to a couple of hundred yards, but full of optimism for the promised clearance I pressed on, hands freezing so gloves donned. I walk with two poles with wrist loops. If I want to look at the iPhone map/GPS or otherwise faff I can let the poles dangle and trail behind as I continue to walk. The gloves also have wrist loops - in order to scroll on the iPhone map I need a bare finger, so gloves have to be removed (another faff) often involving pole and glove loops becoming intertwined, so putting on the gloves is a last resort.

Occasionally around eleven the sun made a feeble attempt to break through, but only succeeded in brightening the shroud of fog for a few minutes, otherwise the fog persisted for the rest of the walk, so disappointingly views were out for the whole day; even though I could tell I was walking through attractive countryside I was frustrated, and above all bored, and the aim became to get it finished as soon as possible.

One highlight was going to be Bigland Tarn, a delightful, almost secret gem I have visited before, but this time to be seen from a different angle, but even though I was within thirty yards of the water's edge I couldn't even see the water - just look at the forlorn photo below!

I never stopped for all fourteen miles. At one point I took a wrong turn on a lane for about fifty yards, discovered the error and walked back another hundred yards up the correct route checking with the GPS in my hand before discovering that one of the poles was no longer dangle-trailing behind. I had to go back and up the wrong path before finding it, a victim of the awkward messing with gloves, poles, wrist loops and objects held in the hand.

Shortly after that I arrived at Greenodd on the main A590. The previously ubiquitous CCW sign posts were no longer occurring and the guide just said vaguely "walk down the A590... " That is a very very busy dual carriageway, and I had to walk three kilomtres down the verge, tripping over Lucozade bottles, Macdonald's cartons, discarded pregnancy testing kit wrapping, chunks of plastic moulding fallen off badly maintained vehicles, lengths of double glazing framing and 15mm white plastic piping fallen from cowboy contractors trucks, no doubt on the way to fly-tip the rest.

On the way to Canal Foot the path descended to the edge of the Leven estuary and was barred by a huge sheet of polished, green slime covered limestone. There was no way I was going to walk across, it was more slippery than sheet ice. I toiled back climbing steeply up a wooded banking into fields and then became disorientated spending quarter of an hour finding a way through cow trodden mud to circumvent and get back on track.

I arrived at Ulverston station with 40 minutes to spare before the 15:41 train. As I approached the subway to cross to "southbound" a jobsworth in railway uniform demanded quite rudely, "ticket!"
I said I intended to buy my ticket on the train. "This is a pay before boarding station, you have to get a ticket." My immediate thought was that late on a Saturday afternoon the ticket office would be closed. I had to press this guy to tell me there was a ticket office open, and then he seemed irritated when I asked him where it was and could only elicit vague directions from him.

Arriving at the little window the office behind was unoccupied and I had to wait several minutes for someone to appear.

With time in hand I had just poured coffee from my previously unopened flask when the tannoy announced that the next train on "southbound" was the 15:15 going to Arnside - I had about two minutes to negotiate the sub-way, so collecting flask, stopper and lid, rucksack and walking polesl I managed to stumble-stagger across and board.

The train was an ancient diesel making ear splitting noise on setting off with portents of imminent disaster. At Arnside I was thankful that a local, familiar with this archaic rolling stock, knew how to get us out. You had to wait for a light, high up on the carriage wall, almost out of sight to function, then you could lower the window, and open the door using the huge brass exterior handle. As I stepped down Hillary from my reading group was boarding,  "it's like gong back to the fifties" she said.

I have to say that was not a good day.

Morning fog and cold out of Cark

A blogger's gift.
 A scout's woggle on top of a stone gatepost - he or she was  obviously not prepared.

A brief moment of illumination - a bit of typical Lake District stonework with the old wooden door, at least that was something I could see - click to enlarge

I converted the previous photo to black and white - there's not much difference!

Bigland Tarn - my anticipated highlight, are you having a laugh?
  Although that is the water's edge that is not water but fog

Leven Bridge near Haverthwaite

Footbridge across the Leven to arrive at Greenodd and the A590


Gayle said...

The silver lining is that the more sub-optimal the walk, the more memorable it is. That didn't sound a whole bundle of laughs, though.

Anonymous said...

That all looked a bit grim, didn't recognise any of it. I'm hibernating.

gimmer said...

that's an unfortunate episode - and oddly, you would be the more put out to learn that it although cold and murky in Appleby itself, up here we did have the sunny and mild weather as forecast most of the day - with a brilliant sunrise and lovely roseate sunset to 'book end' the day - with alpenglow along the Pennine escarpment: some hillsides had evanescent misty veils but the high tops were clear : maybe you should try to find an LDP up here that you haven't done - it 's often much nicer here than down in the valley or in the south Lakes !

Ruth Livingstone said...

Oh dear. When I did that walk (from Cark only as far as Greenodd in my case) it was glorious. The views from the ridge, on the way up to Bigland, were wonderful. The next day I walked from Greenodd and followed a footpath along the side of the hill, to avoid the road, and only had to struggle 100 yards or so along the verge, before heading down a minor road towards the coast. I did, however, get lost in a bog after that. Worth doing the Cark to Gennogg section again on a better day.

Sir Hugh said...

Gayle - quite right. Plenty of material for a good post.


Bowland climber - It seemed like a good idea at the time. I don't think hibernation is in your character.


gimmer - It was partly the fault of this LDP's makeup, but I'm sure the bits in between would have made up for the dross with decent weather - I am not daunted - as I said above I got good material for a post with a different slant.


Ruth - I was thinking of you and wondering how much of my route you had followed. You have my admiration for your persistence in sticking as close to the sea as possible which sometimes leads you into sections that are not so obvious on the map.

Roderick Robinson said...

I made a resolution, years ago, to avoid talking or (especially) writing about the weather. Your opening paragraphs remind me why. Not because weather is boring (it isn't) or for the fact that many people employ the weather as the oral equivalent of clearing their throat prior to conversation. The problem is weather induces unthinking reactions based on a supposition that it comes only in two forms: good and bad. With only these two options to hand what follows is, at best, predictable. Thus fog is bad because you're trying to get somewhere and fog is hindering you.

But fog has a beautiful effect on landscapes as the Chinese water-colourists have proved. You grumble that fog is denying you a view but this is untrue; fog has merely transformed a view you were already familiar with into something else. Fog also affects the nature of outdoor sounds, reducing their resonance and thereby altering many aural references. Fog reduces an observer's perceived world and - arguably - makes him more aware of his individuality. And so on.

There are all sorts of options here but none will be taken up if fog is - and always will be - regarded as a visible form of tooth-ache, or a flat tyre. A source of complaint.

Which is a shame since after a lengthy threnody, resumed when you get to the Tarn, you dare in between to risk opening a real can of worms in that going for a walk can under certain circumstances be boring. An excellent subject to raise. But don't jump to conclusions; don't assume I'm knocking walking. The point I'm trying to make is that because walkers automatically think of walking as a "good" thing, their reactions towards walking tend to be unquestioning and their accounts predictable. Their experiences emerge mainly as confirmation of what they were hoping for; the nature of walking is rarely examined. They march towards a view said to be "good", observe it in approving and often very limited terms; seemingly unaware that in rendering this service they might have done better to have stayed at home, taken out Roget's Thesaurus and produced a more vivid account.

I was going to say you spoiled this account by using boldface for the phrase "above all bored" but I'd have been wrong to do so. It was as if this was the first time it had happened and your innocence was now forever lost. That you'd have to take this possibility into account in all future walks. And so you should. Not because boredom diminishes the pleasures of walking (although it's probably true) but that walking is an activity performed by humans who are open to being bored as well as elevated and that this range of possibilities deserves blogo-examination as much as any other.

Far far too long, of course. Probably too boring.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I too generally avoid much reference to weather, but this time I decided it was going to be a main character. I agree with you up to a point about fog in that it can be bewitching and atmospheric, and with a cloud inversion, looking over the top with high points protruding dramatic, creating an entirely new landscape of wonder. This fog was none of that, it was just depressing, although I was quite taken with the early morning sombre, chilling bleakness of the photo on the road with the skeleton trees - it conveyed for me everything I was experiencing.

As a committed walker there is a tendency always to be defending that stance and trying to convince others how good it is, but as I was walking I searched hard for my true feelings, and admitted to myself that I was bored, a revelation few others would ever admit to, but I guess often experienced. Tiredness towards the end of a long day can extinguish all those uplifting feelings harboured in the earlier stages. In Blogger using italics to emphasise seems to reduce the size of the font, thus almost reversing the desired effect and using bold helps to overcome that. You may notice that I also employed a technique that I think can work if only used occasionally in employing the word “very” twice to overcome its almost meaningless effect from over use when used singly.

Well, you have now provoked me into writing here stuff that could have been used in the post.

Roderick Robinson said...

You might also have defended yourself by saying I have, in the past, urged you to concentrate on things that go wrong since they're more interesting to write about and to read. Had you done so I would defended myself by saying this post was something of a whinge and that the key to writing about disasters is (eg, Eric Newby) is to refer to them lightly.

In any case I had this other axe to grind: weather as good or bad. I might add that good weather is if anything badder than bad weather as a subject. I have from time to time used the phrase "emerging into sunlit uplands" as a means of being ironic, but no longer. Chances are it's likely to be taken at face value.

A sub-editor struck out "very" from something I'd written and explained: "Imagine every 'very' replaced by 'damn'." At the time I thought I knew what he meant. Years later I decided I had no idea what he meant. Not that it mattered: by then I'd learned to ration my 'very' usage.

You shouldn't think of your comments and re-comments as somehow being wasted. I'm heartened whenever there's proof that something I've written for your blog, and especially Lucy's, has been read by another commenter. If you're looking for a subject why not use what we've exchanged as the basis for a "What they really meant." feature.

You know the sort of thing: "a long hard pull to the top" (Breathing so raucous it blotted out his thoughts.)
"a refreshing pint at a local hostelry" (Taken back to his tent in a wheelbarrow.)
"the next move lacked even the merest rugosity" (Does most of his climbing in the university library.)
"I easily outdistanced both my colleagues." (Back at the campsite both tents and the car had disappeared.)

gimmer said...

This exchange brings to mind the opening words of Anna Karenina -
but luckily bad weather does go away - sometimes, of course, with fatalities (so the simile might have more to it than whimsy).
Epics rarely occur in fine weather - even our 1430 hours start on the Rum peaks circuit ended well due to unbroken sunshine until 2230 hrs - but if the weather had turned foggy, or if it had been November, there would have been much more to remember than 'merely' the strangeness of being in sunshine 'on high' at 2200 hrs !
Maybe this walk was one of those occasions when company would have made for a 'better' walk (whilst bearing in mind RR's views of the nature and value of walking) - but of course, the forecast deceived you and hopes were not realised - hence your disappointment - and boredom - of course. 'They' always say (those 'they' again) that boredom is good for children (and adults too) as it makes them get up and go -and 'do something' - legal one hopes, but a bit of gentle illegality can also be character-forming, I've heard, provided no harm is done, or comes of it.

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - the question of company is debatable. With most people I would have had added to my boredom the worry that the other person would not be enjoying it but politely refraining to say so, or at worst suggesting packing it in when my own dogged instinct is to finish what I have set out to do almost without exception. Bowland Climber would have been fine - he would have found the amusement in the whole situation and cheered me along in a more buoyant mood.