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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


Friday, 15 March 2019

Dry stone walls and canals

Thursday walk with Pete - 14th March 2019 - Stainton Bridge and Lancaster Canal

We had three blogger's gifts in only three miles today.

Although I have seen the Dry Stone Walling Association training school before I don't think I have photos, so on this bright sunny day I was able to get some decent shots.

We have walked on the canal bank before and over the Stainton Beck aqueduct, but today from the road we came across a notice forbidding access because of repair and restoration work. The aqueduct was damaged by a "seven foot wall of water" by Storm Desmond in 2015 - see a short well written account of all this from the Westmorland Gazette - CLICK HERE

Further on we were able to see the ongoing work and get a zoom shot, but there are much better close up photos on the link shown above.

Just after the aqueduct this section of the Lancaster Canal terminates at Stainton Bridge as a navigable waterway, but note: going back four kilometres the other way the canal is blocked again by the M6 motorway. From Stainton Bridge the Lancaster Canal Trust is involved with restoration, hopefully to the original terminus in Kendal. There is all sorts of information on their website:

I have gleaned the following to include here.

Canal & River Trust has recently announced that due to the problems encountered by the contractors work on the aqueduct is not expected to be 
completed until October.  Lancaster Canal Trust is disappointed but understand the difficulties of the work and conditions.

and: - read only if you are really interested in the details of restoration.

Meet at STAINTON at 9.30 each day
Dates: For the second time this year, starting this Saturday, 2nd March, a Waterways Recovery Group from the Northwest will be joining us, this time for a week.
Lengths 5 and the newly laid length 6 of the rubber liner has now been joined and sealed and is ready to bepulled out, another layer of geotexile laid over it and finished with blocks. The pumps have been kept running over the previous days so it should be fairly dry.
The contractors Wilson’s have cleared out the accumulated piles of material from just before B172 and finished‘profiling’ the banks the same as with the rest of the FF. They have taken away some 7 lorry loads of material but the very wet mud from the bed, referred to by the technical name sloppy stuff, which couldnt be moved by lorry has been pulled up underneath Br 172.
An early task will be to move this material from under the bridge and onto the car park from where it will be picked up by a local contractor and carted away. A 5 ton digger and a dumper have been hired to do this work and to re-instate the ramp down from the car park to the canal bed so that a telehandler can move the final load of blocks, which will be delivered later in the week, down onto the 6th length.
If all goes according to plan (and why shouldnt it!) it should be possible to clear the final length as far as the access ramp of significant stones and minor profile deficiencies and lay out the last of the liners.
Sealing the lining under Br 173 and along the wash walls with puddling clay is a further task as is back filling the profiled lengths once the liner is up to the correct height along the banks.
Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome. We will provide whatever protective clothing is required for the job in
hand (hard hats, hi-vis jackets and work gloves) if you don't have your own. We advise that you bring warm
clothes, waterproofs, sturdy boots or wellies and a packed lunch with drinks
PLEASE let me know if you can attend - this is important in case details change, a quick email to
page1image25224 is all that’s needed.

Click photo to enlarge

Blackthorn in blossom

Field End Bridge - lots of water coming down

Stainton aqueduct under repair and restoration - see better photos from Westmorland Gazette link above.

The start of restoration west from Stainton Bridge. We walked just a little further than you can see

Looking back down our route from Stainton Bridge and the current terminus of navigation

Sellet Hall bridge - as far as we went, and current limit of restoration

Our route there and back

It would be a massive job to restore navigation here, and also the canal is blocked again by the M6 a bit further south at Tewitfield. If all that was done the Lancaster canal could connect to the national canal network via a short pilot trip from the Ribble Link at Preston to join the canal network at Tarleton. What a boost for Kendal that would be!


  1. kendal grufties15 March 2019 at 17:36

    Interesting walk and pics as usual! It reminded me of a talk we heard at last year's Kendal Mountain Festival by Angus Winchester of Lancaster University, which dealt with the history of stone walls in the locality and gave some pointers for dating them (most of which have slipped out of my memory unfortunately!). We could do with a bit more wall expertise being applied here in the town, as we've recently had two major tumble-downs within a hundred yards of where we live, leading to road closures and all kinds of traffic mayhem. Some blame it on Storm Desmond, a sort of long-delayed aftershock, others on abnormal weight of traffic on minor residential roads, coupled with pavement parking. They have probably all contributed!
    On a lighter note, the boat has been launched and tweaked and is ready for action - I'll send some pics in an email. Ciao!

  2. A bit like coming upon a school devoted to breathing. I imagined dry stone walls appeared as a result of some natural process. For example, earth blown away by a century's winds leaving behind lengths of rocky spines. But why then the straightness and the symmetry? A desire to fool scientists?

    I am disturbed by the students' homework. Far too perfect. Now I'm having to accept this pedagogic approach my imagination stirs. In A-level dry stone walling students are handed four dozen stones - roughly shaped to resemble rugby and/or soccer balls - and told to get on with it. The ultimate in irregularity is paradoxically regularity. The wall need only stand up long enough for the examiner's scrutiny; it is then lightly touched and these stones, kept only for exams, redistribute themselves over the turf.

    Is it time the phrase was brought up to date, with a hyphen or (much more fashionable these days) word compression? Thus: dry-stone walls or drystone walls? I'm glad they came up with "dry" as a substitute for "mortarless" or is there some other reason?

    Is it possible that drystone walls had a secondary purpose? A test for A-level rock climbers? Disturb a single stone and you're docked five percentage points. Evoking that awful grinding noise familiar to walkers who are forced to bestride a wall rather than go round it; the fear that the whole shebang will give way to the domino theory and cease to be a wall.

  3. kendal grufties - We have similar occurrences around here. Part of the wall bounding the Dallam Estate just before Dallam Bridge has collapsed. We have had traffic lights and one way for about three months now with no apparent effort to put things right. Further back towards Arnside another wall was demolished. Hearsay tells me a car driver had no option but to go into the wall because of an oncoming car on the wrong side of the road and now the various insurance companies are disputing liability, again with no effort to repair. Poor old Storm Desmond continues to have a lot to answer for and could well be the culprit for the Dallam wall.

    I'm glad to hear the boat was launched. From what I saw of it I am sure its performance will be faultless.

    RR - I took my spelling from the notice board but my on-line dictionary has it as one word.

    I question your "straight line" reference - look at the photo from the Dropox link below. I think the Yorkshire, call a spade a spade labourers who did those walls had no connection with the word dry - the walls are so higgledy piggledy they must have been built under the influence of many pints of Tetley's Bitter.

  4. RR - if you click on the two arrows at the bottom when you open the photo, then increase the % to suit your screen you will see the photo to much better advantage.

  5. I want to climb that through stile in the stone wallers' wall in your picture.
    Is there access to the field?
    We could have a training day there for your knees, a dozen reps.
    RR's comment brilliant.

  6. Bowland climber - I bet you’ve been enlarging the photo to see where you could get some protection. I wouldn’t fancy going there today as I look out of the window at the most miserable weather I’ve seen for some time.