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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


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Birkbeck Fells, north-west of Tebay

Monday 8th April 2019

I usually decide on a walk on the same day whilst watching the news and updating on blog posts and comments on my computer. An unpredicted urge can take over and I look at Memory Map for something appealing. I favour this impromptu approach. It only takes a few minutes to put up a sandwich, fill a flask, chuck my gear in the car and depart.

Weather can influence. Only a week ago I set off for some easy, near-the-road trig points, but in view of glorious weather changed my mind halfway to Tebay on the M6 and drove twice as far to climb some proper hills.

Today I set off with cloudless blue sky and sunshine apparently set for the day. As the Howgills came into view broody clouds were hanging on the tops with leaden sky. I was tempted to change plan, but heading back south seemed to me, perhaps illogically, undesirable. I pressed on.

Broody weather persisted, with just a couple of half hour interludes of sunshine. There was a perishing wind and I had not brought gloves. I found a sock stuck to the Velcro on my shell jacket so used that on one hand with the other in my pocket and only using one walking pole for much of the walk.

Greenholme is not easy to get to, but I sneaked out of the back door of the Tebay Services on the M6 - a bit of local knowledge.

The road followed the attractive Birk Beck, a tributary of the river Lune, with limestone bedrock slabs and clear see-through water the colour of a good pint of bitter, tumbling and sparkling in the intermittent sunshine, and I sighted a dipper. From Scout Green I was onto sheep grazed pasture with occasional well built stone stiles contrasting with many rickety versions I have encountered recently.

From Salterwath there was only the hint of a path as I climbed steadily up rough moorland towards a prominent tall red and white pole. That turned out to be a marker for a gas pipeline. Shap pink granite quarry was now in view on the horizon and by the noise of crashing and banging still in production. The old A6 below the quarry was busy with modern traffic flying by contrasting with memories of the lorry drivers of old who toiled over that highway and had desperate times in winter. There is a plaque commemorating them on the summit.

After Old Wasdale Bridge I climbed again onto the tops of the moorland, now with views into the heart of the Shap quarry. That may be a promising climbing venue some day. Out on the moor a track made a small detour to the cairn on Crag Hill: a mini peak, but significant in its surroundings.

I was happy with my decision to continue rather than retreat southwards - this was a satisfying walk including variety and the discovery of new ground

I drove over the two M6 carriageways and immediately sneaked back onto the Tebay Services South ignoring the "For hotel guests only" sign.

Birk Beck, and below...

Scout Green

Pleasant pasture, but broody skies

Well constructed stiles

A short burst of sunshine

Still with Birk Beck - at Salterwath

Shap pink granite quarry - the old A6 running below

Old Wasdale Bridge - the A6 above - I waited for a car to come into the photo

Zoom into Shap quarry - some likely looking "lines" here

And we now complain about windmills

Crag Hill

At Ewelock Bank Farm - looks like he's a Del Boy fan

Ignore blue line. That is Route 145, one of many scattered around on my Memory Map - I have no idea why or when I drew this straight line route.


  1. A Jolly good day - and I’ve just had a Jolly good laugh. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss that poem having followed you since you started blogging.

  2. afoot - worry not. I only put it up there a few weeks ago.

  3. To "whoever" - I think I deleted a comment by mistake - I just saw a glimpse asking if " was one of my trig points" Applogies and I hope "whpever" will re-post.

  4. Looks like a great walk, and dramatic views of the quarry. By coincidence, I stopped at Tebay service station for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and was impressed.

  5. That's an area I've rarely visited, I really should try harder.
    I'm impressed with your access route via the (very excellent) Tebay services area!

  6. Ruth - Uf I set off in the morning to drive to Scotland, although it is only about half an hour from home, I stop there for coffee. On the wasy home I stop aon the south side and buy goodies from the excellent fsrm shop theree. They hsve been consistently voted as best services in the Uk for years.


    JJ - You obviously know about the quality of the the services there. The tiny villages in that area have remained unchanged for over 250 years.


  7. Was it this one from Bowland Climber that you accidentally deleted:

    "Is that one of your OS Sheet 91 trig points?
    Keep getting out whilst this weather lasts.
    I've just noticed the Causey poem in your side panel - very amusing, almost non pc but a good reflection on the hunting classes One for JD to learn by heart."

  8. Got there before me Gayle. It was Bowland Climber.

  9. Gayle and BC - A good team effort there - thanks.

    BC - no, that wasn't a trig just a cairn - proves I'm not just a list ticker.

    Gayle - I can see JJ putting that to music and giving it some wallop at one of his gigs - perhaps to the tune of D'ye Ken John Peel?

    Here's a jolly recording from 1918 - you can switch off after the first one or two verses.

  10. Afoot, sorry, should have included you in the thanks as well.

  11. Have you ever considered a series of walks that follow rivers? Last week I watched a TV programme in which the Trent was explored in a punt. Obviously I'd heard of the Trent but knew nothing about its historical development. In fact the Trent is something of a disappointment and its banks are a memorial to commercial failure. All the better for interesting prose. But the point is Britain has lots of shortish rivers, less well-known than the Trent, and a river has a natural geographical logic which a route fabricated from map study may lack. Also, a collection of river walks would be an ideal subject for a book. Another bonus: the river becomes a "character" in your posts, a continuing presence which has the further benefit of not talking.

  12. RR - I have walked The Severn Way from Shrewsbury to Bristol, a large part of The Ribble Way, a large part of the River Wharfe, The Kennet and Avon Canal, The Monmouth and Brecon Canal, The Lancaster canal and the Cheshire Ring canal circuit. Locally I have also followed as closely as possible the River Sprint, and St. Sunday's Beck. The River Bela has hardly any public access. There remains the river Gilpin which I may have a closer look at.

    Many rivers do not have footpaths or public access that are sufficiently continuous to be able to claim you have walked that river, but there are still some others that I could do.

  13. RR - Here is an extract from today's post by my friend BC which illustrates a typical aspect of river walking:

    "Here we joined the Ribble Way which goes upstream alongside the river as you would expect but before long is diverted away from it because of anglers 'rights'. This has been a problem for this long distance path in several places thus depriving the walker of beautiful stretches of the river, an access problem that was never resolved and I think resulting in the walk never gaining the popularity it could have. It feels a little neglected now."

    The pros and cons of who has the "rights" moral or legal are not part of the issue we are talking about here. But river walking can be like doing a classic climb and missing out some of the pitches. You may argue that this would be grist to the mill if you are writing about it, but not particularly satisfying for the wslker.

  14. "If you are writing about it..." Well you do, don't you? You seem to imply you can only write about things you enjoy. That dissatisfaction doesn't deserve description. In fact enjoyment almost always generates dead unimaginative prose (eg, "the views were pleasant") unless you work at it. Communicating enjoyment requires an expansion of the vocabulary and active avoidance of out-of-tune bells like "nice", "the sun shone", "the flowers were pretty" and "I was uplifted by the sight of Ben Cruachan."

    Think of the opportunities. "When it rains motorcyclists get wet. So what? Ah. Drops also hit the eyelids with cumulative force, strength departs and the eyes start to close. Bad news on a bike!"

    It's not a sin to be unexpected.

  15. RR - I don't think I implied that - I even acknowledged that such things would provide fodder. It still wouldn't encourage me to set off on a route which was obviously fraught with irritating and worthless obstacles (rather than challenges) from the start. I usually recognise and welcome what I call "blogger's gifts," and I have often written about my own errors of judgement, getting lost, and suffering injuries etc., but I don't often go that step further which you encourage and invent them, and ok I accept a bit more speculation and the like would make posts more interesting.

  16. You miss the point, several of them. "Seems to imply" is not the same as "imply". Disasters must arrive randomly; to seek them out (as Bear Grylls appears to do) presumes different aims. I never suggested you should invent facts, only that there's a world of options in how you react to them and some might be fanciful.

    Your last sentence grabbed me. How important is it to you that your posts should be interesting? By which I mean something other than via the bare bones of what happens and what is seen? "Speculation" (your word) sounds a bit forced, a bit mechanistic. I had in mind something more akin to passing thoughts. Especially if they are, as I suggest, unexpected. Thus to see a flower and record that you find it pretty is not worth inclusion. To say that its prettiness makes it seem out of place in such a harsh location hints at a functioning mind. To condemn the flower because you're sweating from your exertions could be distinctly puckish. To insist that all walks should be a bed of nails may be a lie but won't necessarily be taken at face value. Many walks do not differ materially from other past walks. Your state of mind does. Or if it doesn't, write about that.

    As you walk you think, you can't help yourself. Your thoughts are affected by what you experience. The results may surprise you. Thoughts plus physical phenomena are a recipe for...