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


Saturday, 31 December 2016

Cumbria Coastal Way in sections - 3

Friday 30th December '16

Apart from waiting one hour and thirteen minutes for a train at Roose station this was a great improvement on the previous section of the CCW. I had walked 14.03 miles according to Memory Map and the GPX CCW route, setting off at 8:15 am from Ulverston and arriving at 2:15pm Roose - average speed including a stop for coffee and a sandwich - 2.34mph. Stopping after a six hour walk, especially when the temperature has dropped, soon has one chilled and I walked up and down the platform worrying whether I had misread the timetable -  that had taken some time to interpret; my record in that department is not good - no eletronic signage here as at Cark.  Ominously, underlining my worst fears, nobody else turned up to board the 13.28. A bad sign. Anyway the rackety diesel did come at last conveying me back home to a hot bath and watching The Rack Pack on iPlayer.

The film told the story of how Barry Hearn, the snooker promoter, adopted his players and groomed them into marketable personalities, but spurning to take on Alex Higgins (too much of a loose cannon - no pun intended), whose tragic story was intertwined along the way. The characters were depicted in what I would call cartoon fashion, but it was all entertaining stuff with comedy and sadness at the self destruction of Higgins. Star for me was Kevin Bishop as the natural extrovert  businessman Barry Hearn.

Back to the walk. Alighting at Ulverston it was just about light and I had a suburban march back down to near Canal Foot to resume on the CCW. A track and then muddy fields and stiles passing a strange, lone-standing chimney in the middle of a field eventually brought me onto the pebbly, bouldery, beach of Morecambe Bay. The light was still poor but interesting with sun striving to get through, and fairly distant views out to the open bay and across to Chapel Island. Going on the beach varied from softish fine shingle to dodging larger boulders, but not too difficult to cause frustration, and the bewitching light was a bonus only gained from winter walking.

From Newbiggin there was a long section of sea wall down to Rampside with the main road on the right, but the sea on the left - I had been watching the incoming tide all the way and it was now fully in making the familiar modest  crashing of waves on the concave rampart of the sea wall below me. I seem to have an inherent satisfaction from the sound and sight of the sea.

Rampside had a spectacular lighthouse stuck in the middle of the beach - how it has survived since 1875 is remarkable.

I was now following a Tarmac cycle track for the rest of the way with views across Roosecote Sands to the massive buildings where the nuclear submarines ar constructed at Barrow, and to my right the monster chemical plant sporting a bewildering complexity of pipework and gantries where gas is processed from the Morecambe Bay gas fields. How have human beings got themselves to the stage of developing stuff like this?

I left the CCW and as I climbed a field to get me to to the forlorn, cold and inhospitable Roose station, a distant non-stop siren started coming from the direction of the nuclear submarine buildings, and I wondered if I had managed to get myself into the wrong place at the wrong time, and envisaging people bolting from their houses to board the train that I was also now a little more eager to board.

The lone chimney  I later found it had been left over from a demolished brickorks to serve as a guide for ships coming to Canal foot. 

At last, back to the sea, Cartmell and Hampsfell hills in the distance

Out into Morecambe Bay

Chapel Island

The sun never quite made it

Wadhead Point

Zoom to Heysham power station

Note the slightly troublesome walking surface, and below...

...dodging the boulders

Rampside lighthouseFrom Wikipedia:
Rampside Lighthouse, also known as "The Needle", is a leading light (navigation beacon) located in the Rampside area of Barrow-in-FurnessCumbria, England.[2] Built in 1875, it is the only surviving example of 13 such beacons built around Barrow during the late 19th century to aid vessels into the town's port.[3] It stands 20 metres (66 ft) tall and is constructed from red and yellow bricks. Rampside Lighthouse was designated a Grade II listed building by English Heritage in 1991.[2]

The nuclear submarine buildings - Barrow

Gas treatment works on the way to Barrow

Click to enlarge - the blue routes are my start and finish connections to the stations

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas shopping done!

With daughter Jill (High Horse) I bravely managed to battle through the Christmas shop today after coming out the other side of what I thought was Norovirus although I had not suffered the symptomatic vomiting, but I was on the verge. Many of Jill's friends and colleagues have been afflicted and Jill has only just recovered - it seems to get passed on so easily.

I arose yesterday feeling groggy and battled on to have Christmas lunch with Gimmer and then back home to bed where I stayed until 9:00am this morning, but duty called and off we went to Asda, not my favourite venue. 

Here we are on the Asda escape route - six trolleys in front of us and the same down every aisle.

The expedition was brightened by Katie's presence - she was in high spirits and excited but on good behaviour - makes it all worthwhile.

For me, putting all the stuff away when you get back home is more trying than doing the shop, but when done it was a good excuse for Jill and me to have a large G&T made from the remains of a bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

For Christmas we have upped our price limit on the gin and bought a previously untried Caorunn - 41.8% - small batch Scottish gin. I am slightly concerned about this because my father, who was a conservative imbiber of chateau bottled Bordeaux, and bon-vivant in general, and not given to much parental advice or control did offer we three brothers the following words of wisdom:

"Always order something you haven't tried before from the menu, and never drink anything from funny shaped bottles."

Merry Christmas again to all and have a good New Year.

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

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Cumbria Coastal Way -1

Wednesday 14th December '16


Tuesday 13th December '16

After today's outing I spent a pleasurable and informative half hour finding websites that I would not otherwise have visited, which provided discoveries about flags and old street signs, to say nothing of the diversions one finds whilst browsing. So walking and blogging are, apart from their individual merits, catalysts for further fulfilment, and making new friendships - layers upon layers

I am an addicted browser, especially with maps. Although I was aware of the Cumbria Coastal Way, I found myself looking at it in relation to the railway. I have not yet plotted each stage, but I reckon I can walk this LDP (long distance footpath) in sections using the train, setting off from and returning to Arnside each time.

It was only a few hundred yards from home on the way to the station before I found the first item of interest. At the edge of the suburban road, nestling up to the kerb were two apparently stainless steel plates about three inches square and two or three feet apart carefully riveted into the Tarmac. I looked, pondered, and walked on, then after twenty yards turned back and took photos.

Arnside's unattended station has been equipped with an eerie loudspeaker, its location unidentified, but  sort of frightening as there was no one else about - all a bit Big Brother. Anyway, it gave me the predictable news that my train to Grange-over-Sands was running nine minutes late. The eerie feeling continued with only one or two other occupants in the one of two coaches creating a silence unusual for public transport. Nobody came to collect my fare; a ghost train? It is only a few minutes across the viaduct to Grange and I alighted guiltily, not having paid, then I saw the guard at the end of the train, and intending to offer payment I headed towards him, but he jumped back inside and off they went. I assuaged my guilt,  "Branson's Virgin Trains can afford it more than me, and it was nine minutes late."

A cloudy day was forecast but Grange, final resting place for well endowed retirees, drizzled. The long, posh promenade is furnished seaward with stout Victorian decorative iron balustrading, and landward well tended flower and shrub beds, sporting palms and other exotics surviving on the supposed Grange micro-climate.

Almost everywhere you go they tell you they have their own micro-climate.

At Kents Bank, Cart Lane had an old cast iron street sign with "Briggs, Barrow, 1883" inscribed. Internet research revealed only one reference: CLICK HERE , but I trawled through lists of other trades, retailers and manufacturers of services and goods long defunct from Victorian local authority publications in tight knit, hand assembled typeface - fascinating.

From a distance I saw an unusual flag flying at a private house - more Internet searching later, but I was disappointed with myself for not recognising for Greece

Drizzle, and more, persisted, on and off, for the rest of the walk despite a rainless forecast, so it was head down and battling on. I walked the whole ten miles without stopping in exactly four hours, arriving at the deserted Cark railway station at half past two - next train to Arnside - three fifty. There is an electronic sign board apparently sponsored by the BBC with a running band of updating BBC news to augment the arrivals and departures info. I sat damply in a lonely shelter and had my flask of coffee and munchies and played Freecell on my iPhone - should have brought a book.

After Kents Bank weather had restricted views, but there were still items of interest.  I passed an industrial estate close to Cark - despite its tiny village status, Cark is home to the nationally famous Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, seen on pub menus throughout the land, and also internationally famous Morecambe Bay shrimps - both headquarters were side by side on that industrial estate.

At the start of the long loop back to Cark on the seaward levee a tractor came past and trundled off into the sea. It was followed later by a few more. They went off, put-putting far out into the bay, where all was sea, but apparently very shallow - shrimp catchers - the sounds stayed with me almost all the way to Cark - there is always some sound on a walk.

The strange metal plates fixed in the road - see below for close up - any suggestions?

The normal approach to Arnside is under that railway bridge from where you see these well maintained shrubs  tended to by volunteer locals

The retirees promenade at Grange.
 It would have been a popular spot on a summer's day in Victorian/Edwardian times

What I might have seen but for drizzle and low cloud.
 Top right is Fleetwood and the Wyre estuary, venue of my recent Wyre Way walk.
Click to enlarge

A good and unique example of cast iron railway architecture

The last of the apples

Good fodder for Internet research

We band of outdoor bloggers collect tractors for Alan Rayner, an enthusiast. I try to keep mine to what I as a layman consider to be unusual - this one so qualifies if only for its colour - identify please Alan.

Unusual, off-set squeeze stile

Approaching the Greek flag

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding...

...and next door, Morecambe Bay shrimps

Huge zoom to tractor shrimping in Morecambe Bay.
 You will have to take my word for it - zoom was not very successful

Thin red line is Cumbria Coastal Way. I have walked the rest of it up to Arnside previously

Friday, 9 December 2016

Wyre Way in sections - 7

Wednesday 7th December '16

Fifty yards after parking at Fleetwood we found ourselves bent into wind and rain looking forlornly into distance down the diminishing vanishing points of the promenade, glistening with surface water and portentously deserted - not a soul to be seen anywhere. That last point causes one to wonder if one is embarked on folly.

But, I had the advantage of being with the ever optimistic BC with good cheer and new anecdotes about his recent trip to Austria and then pioneering an apparently non existent finish to the GR 131 accross theTenerife section of this GR which traverses the various Canary islands.

Within quarter of an hour the rain had stopped, but visibility was poor, and then the promenade was barred by active flood defence work. A drop off the wall onto the beach would have been suicidal and the wall on the landward side was too high to climb. We retraced our steps to find a ladder-stile over the landward wall where it would have been helpful to have a diversion sign.

Rossall public school  appeared, silent and gloomy - Bradford Grammar was not so good but it was better than going to boarding school.

Further down the western promenade we cut back east across the celebrated Blackpool/Fleetwood tramway to pick up a riverside footpath, now down the western banks of the Wyre. The tide was half out revealing mud flats glistening in the now improved sunlight, squirming and snaking like Barbara Hepworth sculptures.

Soon the path was bordered by large diameter pipes emanating from the ICI works. There was no indication what might be flowing through, but the vegetation around still seemed to be in natural colours.

As one who has had a fair go at DIY plumbing wrestling with15mm copper which tries to take its own path rather than the one you have planned, I was awestruck with the vast scale and multitude of intricate structures of  exposed pipework with many variations of diameter and connections. How on earth does something like that come into being, and is there any one person who has a global knowledge of how it all goes together and works?

At Stanah there were ramshackle jetties thrown together with random posts and stakes of wood in higgledy piggledy fashion in marked contrast to the regimentation of the ICI piping. These jetties provided moorings for mostly sorry looking boats which one would guess had long since taken their last trip to sea.

By now the skies had cleared, the sun was shining but as we approach the shortest day light soon fades, but that provided us with atmospheric views back to the Shard Bridge which we had crossed to finish the Wyre Way and a ride back to Fleetwood in BC's car.

BC photos fisherman's family anxiously awaiting his return. I don't think there is any fishing still operating out of Fleetwood

The deserted promenade - for the brave only, or the stupid in this inclement weather

Fleetwood lookout station - briefly from the website :

Wyre Borough Council acquired funds from the EU, and from local business champion, Doreen Lofthouse, of 
Fishermans Friend Fame, to develop the sea front at Fleetwood, including the Marine Hall and Gardens and Rossall Tower. Work started at the Marine Hall in early 2011. Work started on Rossall Tower in December, 2011.

This guy was blowing in the wind waving his arms acting like a drunken sailor much to BC's and my amusement

The Blackpool/Fleetwood tramway

Back to Fleetwood (left) and Knott End (right). click to enlarge to see the red ferry crossing


Anybody know a good plumber?

Close up of one of the oversize pylons carrying electricity across the Wyre.

I thought the OS maps depicted pylons at their exact location, but the map shows one in the middle of the river which is not there - I intend to check my possibly incorrect assumption when I am out and about again

See next photo...

Atmospheric end to a  more than usually interesting walk.
Both of us were somewhat dismissive about this  debatably odd extension to the Wyre Way but it certainly proved to be worthwhile.