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!


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


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Bannisdale Horseshoe parking

This post mainly for Afoot in the Hills. (Gibson), or others wanting to walk around Bannsidale. 

I suggest using the start detailed below rather than Wainwright's suggestion.

After braving the tortuous single track road to Dryhowe Bridge one is now confronted with piles of road-stone hindering parking, which had not been the case when I was there before with Bowland Climber. The Bannisdale horseshoe was our excellent grand finale to our campaign to climb all Wainwright's Outlying Fells - CLICK

On my more recent visit to walk up the Bannisdale track CLICK - I gave in and drove to an alternative start wasting time and increasing my walking distance.

I later found that if I had driven another fifty yards or so down a little hill and through a gate I could have parked on the service road leading up Bannisdale.

See maps beleow.

That south/north bit of route at the bottom is Wainwright's start but I suggest drive to Dryhowe Bridge.
The red markers are W's Outlying Fells on the route.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Which way round?

Tuesday 13th March 2018 - Sizergh anti-clockwise

I think my main motivation for this walk was the thought of the café at the end. That was not to undermine the pleasure of the walk itself.  On a part-day outing it is debatable whether it is more desirable to have a café at the beginning, halfway round, or at the end. For this walk I could have arranged for any one of those by using a different starting point, but I reckon having a goal and a reward to walk to is part of the enjoyment so I rather prefer the café at the end.

This was just a variation of the walk I eulogised about recently CLICK HERE. For variety I went anti-clockwise. That is another decision one has to make on a circular walk: clockwise or the opposite? There is no definitive rule in my mind, each walk is different. I have noticed when walking with friends the opinion on this can differ, but the reasons seem to be so subjective as to be undefinable.

Sizergh Castle and its National Trust café is a popular launching point for walkers, and today the carpark was well used and there were many people wandering about wearing walking gear, or donning boots by their cars, but I only met two other couples on my walk, and the surrounding path variations are fairly limited - do some of these people just dress up in hiking gear to come to the café?

An initial flat section on a field track led to a rocky path climbing through a wood, then a rather unpleasant section up a quite steep cow trodden, tractor churned field took me to what would be the surprise view, if I hadn't been there before, across the Lyth valley to the distant Lake District hills with The Old Man of Consiton dominating - quite breathtaking the first time it is encountered. Sizergh Castle is now incorporated within the recently extended boundary of the Lake District national park.

Here one also finds Heslington church, and I took the trouble to investigate this modest establishment. It was built in 1762 from an endowment by the farmer at neighbouring Holeslack Farm, hence its isolated position a long way from prospective parishioners, but close for the convenience of the farmer, John Jackson, a strange mixture of altruism and selfishness.

Back at the café jam and butter scone and a pot of tea were taken as a row of oil paintings of the Sizergh Castle/estate owning Strickland family looked down on me from on high, I think they still live there but handed over to the National Trust a few years ago.

Distant Lake District hills across the Lyth valley

Zoom to The Old Man of Coniston

Helsington church

2.38 miles - 1.7mph including church viewing

Friday, 9 March 2018

Derby Arms* - Witherslack

Thursday 8th March - Thursday walk with Pete

If you want flat walking on Tarmac not far from my home you can't get much flatter than this. Our route followed the old A590* running below the Whitbarrow limestone cliffs, alongside the modern road, but with attractive scenery, and almost no traffic. Our start is at the Derby Arms* pub at Witherslack just off the modern A590* - a pub I would recommend for pretty good food.

We both felt we had walked a bit further than our recent outings, and when I measured up back home I found we had done 4.5 miles at an average speed of 2 mph. That may nor seem much by keen walker's standards but the speed and distance, and my own relatively fresh feeling at the end denote gradual improvement for me, and Pete also seemed to be going well.

*NB - corrections made to pub name and road number


Spring has a way to go yet...

...although this is a good sign

Hopeful entry for architecture of the year prize.
How do they get away with it?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Secret Crag visit

Wednesday 7th March 2018

This post for rock climbing enthusasts.

My post a few days ago mentiond The secret crag

Today I went to investigate. You can see from the map where I left the road onto a footpath that skirts underneath the crag. Cars could be parked on that unfenced road making access easier than Middlefell Buttress.

The central pillar must be at least 30 feet heigh, and most of the rock looks sound and fairly clean. I have little doubt that there could be some interesting routes on here that would be classified as proper climbs rather than bouldering. My days of such activity are over, but I would be interested to hear if anybody has been there, or of any visits that may be made inthe future.

I continued the walk, and round the corner there was another crag nearly on the skyline - see photo. It didn't look as promising from a distance and I settled for a zoom shot but it may be worth a look.


Zoom to the other crag

Seen along the way - where it says Spr where path meets road on map

Sunday, 4 March 2018


What would you do if you won the Lottery? A question that we all have a conversation about from time to time. Well, I am quite content with my present circumstances but there is one fantasy ambition that I would like to pursue, but only if I could do so with absolutely no worries about cost.

Years ago I built two boats, the second one designed by an eccentric American designer, Phil Bolger famed for eccentric designs that work. Phil Bolger died in 2009 but his portfolio of plans are still sold by Common Sense Boats Click for website 

I found that I gained more pleasure from sourcing materials, mastering the techniques of epoxy glue and glass-cloth finishing and other new skills than I did from sailing the boats.They were both hardly used and eventually sold at woefully less return than it had cost to build them, but I knew that would be the case beforehand.

At the time I was starry-eyed and snobbish about the purity of sail, but in the background was another design that itched away at me until I admitted to myself that it could be more fun than a sailing boat.

The design was Bolger's Micro Trawler - here is the description from Bolger:

Micro Trawler is a revolutionary boat! Before her introduction, it was assumed that you would need at least 24 ft. of length and a gas guzzling 150 hp to be able to go over 25 m.p.h. in a boat with two
6 ft 6" berths, two lounging seats, standing headroom in the galley and helm station with a comfortable helmsman chair. Yet amazingly, we accomplish all this with Micro Trawler's 14 ft 6" and 45hp!

Materials required - 16 Sheets of 1/2" Plywood, 2 Sheets 1/4" Plywood, Framing Lumber, Epoxy

Ok, I know it is an ugly little beast, but there is something about it that attracts me, and the thought of having that large outboard on the back appeals to my somewhat rebellious nature.

Add caption

Of course, after I moved to Arnside I had forsaken my large double garage and there was nowhere to embark on what was only a pipe-dream anyway. That's where my Lottery fantasy comes in.

I would buy or rent an industrial unit, or other suitable building ensuring it had good heating facilities, and for it to be as near to my present home as possible, and equip it with whatever woodworking machinery I needed. The kind of construction involved does not necessarily demand sophisticated equipment, but it is satisfying to make things easier, and to a better standard and also a good excuse to indulge "boys and their toys" addiction. The pleasure would be in as meticulous construction and finish as I could manage, and I would want to use all the best quality fittings, and have it  kitted out to a standard regardless of cost that may be disproportionate to the modest design.

You may think this is an unambitious looking boat considering I would have the funds to build something much more grand, but for me this would be a realistically achievable project that I know I could make a good job of, whereas anything larger or more complicated would become a toil rather than a pleasure, and could well be beyond my capabilities.

As for what I would want to do with the boat once completed I don't really know, except that I would like a brief experience of having it on the water, but that would not be the point. Suffice to say, that with unlimited funds I could  give it away if I wanted to, but I could also afford to keep it under cover which was a problem with the larger of the two boats I built before. I sold that boat partly because I could see that prolonged outdoor storage would take its toll and fairly quickly reduce its value. 


My two previous boats

My second boat: Bolger Micro at Coniston Lake prior to launching.
 My neighbour Dan stands by - he was also an enthusiastic boat builder who led me into these ventures.

I never got a photo of mine on the water - this is culled from Common Sense Designs website

My first build. a 14ft rowing/sailing skiff designed by Lilian Woods.