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!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Scottish Watershed (Peter Wright)

I recently reviewed Dave Hewitt's “Walking the Watershed” walked in 1987 (published 1994)  CLICK HERE .  Briefly I concluded that Dave gives a highly personal account and strong impression of what it is like to complete a long distance backpacking trip.

I have now read Peter Wright's “Ribbon of Wildness” which is his account of doing the same walk in 2005 (published 2010). There are significant differences between these two accounts. Dave's walk was continuous. Peter's was intermittent: “ was spread over a nine months period from January to October...the outings ranged from three days in winter to around two weeks in the height of the summer...” 

There is debate about the line of the watershed. Dave finished at Cape Wrath, and Peter at Duncansby Head. There is also debate about who first conceived the route. For anybody interested in these politics go to a thread on Chris Townsend's site: CLICK HERE . I don’t want to get involved in that debate here except to say that I was puzzled by Chris's partly dismissive comment on Hewitt's book, “... many years ago I’d read and enjoyed Dave Hewitt’s Walking the Watershed, about his walk from the Border to Cape Wrath, but this book hadn’t stirred any interest in the watershed itself or in doing a similar walk, perhaps because it was a personal account rather than about the landscape. Ribbon of Wildness is the opposite”, implying that Wright, was more inspirational for him in formulating his own intention of tackling the watershed. 

Wright's book is undoubtedly authoritative, and there is no doubt that to complete this demanding route in whatever format is a great achievement. Peter gives us a detailed account of the route including geology, flora and fauna, identification  of sections designated under many different conservation bodies, details of previous, ongoing and future conservation activities, and various historical folklore myths and legends, and lots of statistics. There are only about four occasions, with a few lines lines in the whole book where he gives us any kind of personal anecdote. There is no description of time parameters so you have no concept of how long he was taking over various sections or how the route was tackled on a day to day basis, or what equipment he used, and not much about his logistics. It is as if a helicopter traversed the route, non-stop, Hoovering up all the factual information and then presenting it on a very long scroll.

The final section describing The Flow Country does shine through, and Peter's obvious enthusiasm for this region is evident in these more subjective and uplifting descriptions.

If you are interested in conservation, history, geology and statistics, or perhaps if you are plotting the route for your own use this is the book for you. If you want to be entertained and to have an insight into long distance backpacking, and a vicarious personal journey along The Scottish Watershed read Dave’s.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lancaster Canal - Newsham to Blackleach

Thursday 21st February 2013

An uneventful section in good weather, slightly less gloopy mud, and a bitterly cold wind.

Start and finish at Hollowforth. Direction clockwise. Motorway at bottom is  M55 Preston/Blackpool

Barton Brook

Moon Bridge Marina with swing bridge which seems to have little reason for existence

Moon Bridge under repair. Traffic had been diverted and the narrow country lane from Cuddy Hill to Hollowforth on our return was chaotically busy with traffic

Woodplumpton Brook

Approaching Marina/café/chandlers at Swillbrook

It all looked a bit quiet here. We walked on leaving the canal at the next bridge a few hundred yards further on

Friday, 22 February 2013

"Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth to be young at heart"

After exchanging comments for several years with fellow outdoor bloggers I was pleased to accept Martin’s invitation to join his 12 mile walking-by-numbers plod round my own Arnside/Silverdale territory.

It was good to meet Alan Sloman and Alan Rayner, and all. Thanks for making me so welcome. In particular I was given much sound advice about my knees by a lady, whose name, I am sorry to say, I did not obtain, but whose career as a nurse, obviously vocational, cheerful, and optimistic, must have benefited many.

Having lived in the area for eleven years I thought I knew every footpath, but Martin’s route took me on several I had not walked before, and when put to the route finding test on a few occasions I was embarrassingly unable to help. Finding The Pepper Pot was like discovering Atlantis, you never really believed it was going to be there.

And here is the best part, (for the Young at Heart), for years I have enviously read about The Chocolate Brownies (that confection is a favourite of mine), and up till now first prize was held by Lucy’s on a Plate at Ambleside, but Martin’s have taken over, especially with the added value of sampling them whilst admiring the view across the Kent Estuary from Arnside Knott, which after eleven years I have never, ever taken for granted. Surprise surprise, brownies were served for a second time to celebrate locating The Pepper Pot.

My knee replacement recovery from last May has been a matter of very gradual improvement, and I have only been walking about 6 miles before it becomes stiff, uncomfortable and to some extent painful, and I had intended to shortcut  this walk halfway round, but the good company carried me along. Although the symptoms were apparent at the finish, recovery is now much more rapid, and I was out again the next day doing another six miles down the canal, so things are improving.

Once again thanks to all and especially Martin for an excellent, well organised, quality walk.

The start at Leighton Moss car park

Lambert's Meadow


Monday, 18 February 2013


Marilyn 280 - High Rigg - NY 308 219

The car park at 9:50 am at Legburthwaite (sounds like a Dickens character) was empty.There is a scale of charges which irritatingly makes you predict how long your walk will take so I had to choose between two hours or four, and had to opt for the latter - £4.50.

Within the first quarter mile I overtook a young couple, and then a group of elderly ladies. In the hills,"elderly" seems to be a relative term depending on how quickly people are walking. At 73 I must qualify for the definition, but I don't put myself in that category. The younger couple were in another familiar category. The man was walking quicker than the girl, and he had to keep waiting for her, so either she was extremely unfit, or just hated walking, and I reckon they would have gone another half  mile before turning back.

Surprisingly, especially as it was  a cloudless, blue-sky Sunday, I had the whole of the tops to myself until dropping steeply off the other end of the ridge. The complex massif of Blencathra scattered with snow dominated, and had me snap-happy. Given the perfect weather and the weekend timing, I had been fortunate - that is the potential reward for an early start.

As I descended to a miniature church I heard the organ playing. After the trauma of the descent, and in no hurry, the idea of a short rest was appealing. There was a convenient bench in the churchyard, and nobody else about, and as I sat music continued, tuneful, melodious, and at a gentle pace mirroring my increased relaxation. This ephemeral moment lasted for several minutes, but it seemed longer, until the music ended, and I heard the  distant sonorous voice of the preacher, slightly muffled and sounding as if coming from the bottom of a very deep well, and  so I moved on.

Low Bridge End Farm has a conservatory converted into a café, sometimes attended, and sometimes serve yourself. I  chatted to the farmer, a well spoken and educated guy in his sixties I guess. His family have been there since 1911, and his father continued walking on the fells until he was 97.

Back at my start the car park was now full. I had not refreshed at the café, and thought I would call elsewhere on the way back, but every lay-by, and pub and café car park was crammed with cars manoeuvring for the next available space, and hoards of people walking everywhere. It would have been more peaceful at Butlins in August.
Top left, Dale Bottom features, where, back in the Sixties The Yorkshire Moutaineering Club had a cottage. We spent many a weekend there. It was basic to the point of disgusting.

All these pics feature Blencathra. Here the summit of High Rigg is beyond the visible ridge

St John's in the Vale

St John's in the Vale church

St John's Beck

Castle Rock.
 One of the best climbing crags in The Lakes where I did a number of routes with Tony including Overhanging Bastion

Back home I managed to contact the organist at the church after a bit of detective work. The tune was Abbey Sunset written by Harrison Oxley  (decd. 2009) - organist at St Edmunsbury Cathedral, a bit of a maverick. For more info: click here

Friday, 15 February 2013

Circuit of Killington Lake

A good covering of snow from Wednesday had thawed by Thursday after heavy rain through Thursday night. We decided to give the canal a rest knowing it would be a mud slog.

I devised this route entirely on Tarmac. The M6 runs through the territory including Killington Services just south of Jct. 37 (the Sedbergh turnoff - gateway to some splendid walking country). Killington Services offer views over Killington Lake and above average architecture, so this is one of the more attractive versions of these facilities that we all have to visit from time to time.

Motorway roar and thunder was audible during most of our walk, and I must remember to avoid this in future; apart from that it was worthwhile for extensive views from high on the minor road above the western side of the M6.

Our route went anti-clockwise from Millholme

Despite the intention of avoiding muddy paths the Tarmac was running heavily with fast flowing water in many places on the very minor, and poorly constructed roads

Peasey Beck - the outflow from Killington Lake. This beck crosses the Lancaster Canal at Crooklands and then joins the River Bela flowing out into the Kent estuary at Milnthorpe

Mutton Hall. This unusually named, remote dwelling is up for sale - it is shown on my map above.
On instructions from Mr. T.K. & Mrs. B. Gorst, Killington, near Sedbergh. Particulars of the attractive and well built farmhouse, with 3 barns having planning permission for conversion into residential units and up to 34 acres of adjoining meadow and pasture land known as Mutton Hall, Killington, Kendal LA8 0NW. £450,000

Looking across to Killington Services on the M6 (worth clicking to enlarge). Our return journey followed a minor road above the line of trees

I suppose they thought we were daft for walking. They didn't speak - these guys rarely seem to. Perhaps they were frozen solid?

The wetlands north of the head of the lake

Looking north towards the Howgills. The line of the M6 runs through the trees at the bottom edge of the lake

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Barton Grange to Barton (Lancaster Canal)

Devising the route for our canal walks can be tricky.

Returning by the same route has always been a disappointing compromise on any walk for me.

We do have a time constraint in that Pete needs to be back in Arnside by 3:45 pm to rendezvous with his wife Liz at her painting class.

Preferring a circular route I try to finish walking the canal part at a road accessible by car so we can continue next week from the same place. This week I plotted two possibilities, the shorter via Cross House (see map) which didn't leave the canal at a road, but was a bit shorter than our normal distance, and the longer finishing at a road, and more than our normal distance. We opted for the latter and also added a longer finish. That resulted in us walking 9 miles compared with our usual 6.5 or so, and we both felt the difference. Having done walks on consecutive days (see my previous post) my knee was protesting, and ominously, so was the one that was not replaced. On top of that we didn't have time to go to the café for our customary brew afterwards. The café of choice at the moment is "No. 17" in Milnthorpe: superior coffee, waitress service, comfortable leather armchairs, and no riff-raff.

The forecast was for rain "later in the afternoon". The first specks appeared on the windscreen as we got back into the car.  Forecasts are getting better these days.

This and below: the marina at Barton. This is part of a huge, recently, purpose built garden centre called Barton Grange - an old Preston family business originating further down the road where they also own a posh hotel

Aqueduct over River Brock.
 The source is in the Bowland Hills.
 The only remote interest gleaned from Wikipedia, is that in its brief 15 km  length before joining the River Wyre, it has 22 tributaries

Guys Court Thatched Hamlet. An unusual, pub/eating place/shopping experience not far from Preston where my daughter arranged a surprise 60th birthday party for me (now many years ago). I thought we were just going for a meal and when we arrived there were about thirty of my friends there - 'twas a right good do.

The canal borders onto land owned by Myerscough College (Agriculture and Sport).
This is their golf course

More residential scenery. The photo reminds me of France, but that ambience didn't prevail on the spot


I just received this little video from daughter Jill. She called it:

Teacher Training

 CLICK HERE    Katie

I'm not sure who all my readers are, but for those that this may be relevant to I have  sad news of the recent death of Pauline Broadley. Funeral is on Monday at Nab Wood Cemetery, West Yorks - 10:50am.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Kirkby Moor, north of Ulverston

Wednesday - 6th February 2016

If you watch Grand Designs, slate walls or floors are sometimes featured. A major source of slate in the UK is Burlington Quarries in The Lake District.

Today's Marilyn, Kirkby Moor, overlooks the busy workings of that enterprise which has recently been further blighted with windmills. There are strange artificial little hills and older quarry excavations dotted around, and a spaghetti of footpaths and tracks.

I periodically make up foam applicators similar to paint pads for a friend who has a business manufacturing sealant for slate and other stone, and occasionally I assist on jobs where the sealant is applied, so I have more than a passing connection with Burlington slate.

Today I was able to combine delivering a new batch of applicators to the company's headquarters in Ulverston with ascent of Kirkby Moor which is only about fifteen minutes drive from Ulverston.


I can't resist showing most of the photos I took, although they are a bit repetitive; they are worth looking at as enlarged by clicking on one of the photos.

A sealant applicator - the black foam is glued onto the backing plate by me
The skull and crossbones is the icon I have used to indicate Marilyns on Memory Map

All snowy ones are left to right, Dow Crag then The Old Man of Coniston and Wetherlam behind. They are about fifteen kilometres distant belied in some pics by use of zoom

Looking down to the Duddon estuary.

That blip on the shadow line is my shadow