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 March 2018

Wet Sleddale

Wednesday 28th March 2018

After churning through pathless, cow trodden quagmire a few days ago on Hollow Stones I vowed that future walks would be restricted to public footpaths as shown on the OS map in consideration of my knee recovery.

Today, with the best intentions, I set off on a circuit of Wet Sleddale. From the cattle grid start I walked up the Tarmac road and continued on the footpath to the north of the access road to Green Farm and Sleddale Grange. It was a completely pathless, knee twisting reed and moss swamp demanding careful navigation to find access points at the various field boundaries.  I emerged at Sleddale Grange and thankfully picked up the access road continuing to Sleddale Hall.

Sleddale Hall is famous because it featured in the film Withnail and I. I have visted before on several occasions. It seems that the buildings have been perhaps re-roofed and secured. As far as I could Google they are in private ownership and there seems to be no immediate plans for further refurbishment.

I descended to the stream where OS indicates the public footpath crosses. Here is a line of large boulders making for stepping stones, but with the final step at the other side missing. The stones were wet and green and projecting more than a foot above the fast flowing water and with not very flat surfaces. I had an immediate picture of me teetering from one to another then having an unpleasant fall into the stream which could have been more than serious. I opted for a Nick Crane and found a spot a bit higher up where the stream was not flowing so fast and just waded across at knee height. So much for my intentions of walking on benign footpaths.

Victorian post box at the end of the public road leading on to Green Farm

Across to the A6 and the Tata limestone crushing plant and the northern Pennines in the distance

Wet Sleddale reservoir from near Sleddale Hall

I think this is the actual current owner of Sleddale Hall. That sign has been there for years.

Sleddale Hall

I waded across avoiding almost certain catastrophe

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

For Frank and The Crow, and The Battle of Edgehill - 1642

In reply to the comments of Frank and The Crow on my previous post here we go:


The Battle of Edgehill

The other night I watched one of my favourite presenters, Waldemar Januszcak telling the story of William Dobson the puzzlingly forgotten court painter to King Charles 1st.

At one point Waldemar enters a castle-like building to look out of the high window of the tower overlooking the site of Edgehill, the first battle of the civil War in 1642. I recognised the building and then the view from the window immediately - it is now the  Castle Hotel where I stayed in that exact room on 29th May 2015 when I was walking the Macmillan Way.

From my journal, and the blog:

The Castle at Edgehill was brilliant. The only downside was the number of flights of steep steps to access my castle-top room, the final flight being a tight spiral staircase.

On the way to being shown to that room I tripped slightly on, I think, the third flight of stairs, and the staff member, recognising yet another geriatric grabbed my rucksack and continued up the remaining flights and the spiral whilst I struggled on behind with my rickety knees, and now a dodgy ankle.

I had arranged for a pre-prepared breakfast to take to my room because they only served from 8:00am. I was presented, in the bar, with a plate nearly a foot square with two slices of Chef's munchy cake, grapes, an apple, a bowl of fresh strawberries and raspberries, and a wine cooler containing two pots of fruit yoghurt on ice. If you had given me a thousand pounds I don't think I could have got that lot to my room in one go. The lady manageress took over and arrived with it all five minutes after me. That must have been an heroic carry.

During my meal a middle aged couple at the next table were choosing from the menu. Her main gripe was that all dishes seemed to include one small ingredient she didn't like, then she said, "I would really like to try samphire" then she ordered a rib-eye steak.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Tuesday 26th March 2018

I usually have lots of tea with my toast and marmalade breakfast, then an hour later I get the jangles for coffee. Today I set off in the car before coffee deprivation set in. After forty minutes drive Orton Scar Café came to the rescue. My coffee was accompanied by a slice of millionaires shortbread. Whilst the quality was fine the size and volume reminded me of laying some 3ft. x 2 ft. paving slabs many years ago. Those who know me are aware of me having a predeliction for cakes and a reputation for shifting large portions (my family nickname years ago was Daddy Dustbin) but I was beaten by this slab of confection. I surreptitiously wrapped the remaining third and stowed it away for future consumption on the hill.

Orton is situated beneath Great Asby Scar, a huge area of limestone pavement at about 1000ft - a glorious environment for walking, but today my route would only skirt below the steep fellside leading up to the plateau. I left the village by a an intriguing narrow walled path, across a couple of fields and then onto an old bridleway skirting the foot of the aforementioned limestone escarpment, but nonetheless with  extensive views in all directions.

There was a covered reservoir marked on the map only a hundred metres below the trig on Great Asby Scar and I pondered on the rationale for having this so high up - surely the best place for a reservoir is lower down where water accumulates - another of life's mysteries.

I stopped for a sandwich and more coffee (and the rest of my shortbread chocolate paving slab) at the furthest point north on the route shown on my map below before turning to descend back to Orton.

A pleasant 3.7 mile circuit.

I'm off for a coffee now.

Orton Scar Café

The narrow enclosed pathway leading out of the village

Great Asby Scar- click to enlarge - red dots show my route

It's a good job they didn't do the Channel Tunnel!

The old bridleway leading up to the reservoir

The high altitude resrvoir

The view to the Howgills from my luncheon spot

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