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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, 19 January 2021

Middlebarrow Quarry conquered

 Monday 18th January 2021 - Middlebarrow Quarry

During First Lockdown I found a path partly following the northern rim of this disused quarry, but it then veered off to lead me back to Arnside Tower. I did try to get back to the northern quarry edge but this steep limestone scrub area was impenetrable.

From the railway level crossing near Waterslack the extent of this massive u-shaped bite out of the landscape is apparent. Imbued with my rock-climbing background I am always looking for "a good line." The southern edge sweeps upwards and then round to the back of the U-shape to join  the northern ridge. There is a path which follows that southern ridge but not closely and I have wondered if I could find a way nearer to the edge to follow a more aesthetically pleasing line.

The extract below comes from:

the website which invites people to record individual Ordnance Survey grid squares and in view of the copywrite note I've included that acknowledgement. The entry is from eleven years ago.

Middlebarrow Quarry
This stopped working in 2000 when permission to continue tearing the heart (and most other internal organs) out of Middlebarrow ended. There had been a plan to deepen the floor which may then have extended below sea level and possibly affected local watertables. More recently there have been plans put forward to "develop and promote a wide range of high quality leisure and tourism facilities" (God help us). As it stands the floor of the quarry has been planted with lots of spindly trees and even some buddleias - the local AONB team would have preferred it to re-generate spontaneously from natural seeding. It will take centuries for this hole to blend in!
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Karl and Ali and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Only a few hundred yards from home a dramatic view across the valley opens up with the entry of the river Kent into Morecambe Bay away in the distance. That view is always like a new little surprise to me and much appreciated, it is accentuated by the steep drop immediately in front of the camera looking down Swinnate Road.
Further on I have recently noticed enviously a little red campervan made even more attractive by its pleasing shade of red and curvy outlines.
I am soon following a public footpath alongside and below the railway. I knew it would be sploshy but it was more so than I have seen before and some ingenuity and care was needed to traverse a couple of mini lakes restricted on the left by barbed wire fence and on the right by an electric fence (I didn't test to see if it was live.) I think next time I am out and about locally I will try my welllies. Local walking here does not lend itself too easily to minor quiet lanes and one is compelled to use footpaths more.
After crossing the front opening of the quarry I ascended steeply roughly in line with the southern quarry ridge, but the path then veers off further south through Eaves Wood. I pressed on taking any minor paths to the right sometimes having to retreat  until there was no path but following limestone pavement interspersed with yew, bramble, thorns and all the other indigenous limestone tress and the like. After twenty minutes I suddenly found myself back at a previous point, having walked in an elongated circle. A wire fence barricades the edge of the quarry. I could see a narrow path on the the other side  avoiding all the trees, shrubs and limestone pavement and it was several feet wide and well safe enough, but there was the excitement of  perhaps a two hundred foot drop not far away. I was able to follow that all the way round the bottom rim of the u-shape and then eventually join the northern ridge on the other side. My mission had been accomplished.
Rough going across and down more typical limestone pavement and arboreal terrain had me back on a well established but rocky path skirting round the northern extremities of Holgates caravan park and down to Arnside Tower and then back home on the road.
That was a satisfactory outcome of a local exploration that has been on my list for a while. It would have been an unlikely denouement but for Lockdown Two.

Looking down Swinnate across to where the River Kent enters the bay

A new gate since my last outing here

I walked on the semi-submerged iron gate then did a sort of via ferrata series of moves holding onto the wire fence below the barbed wire and traversing with feet on the less gloopy grass 

I heard the familiar hoot long before. There are about four locations between Silverdale and Arnside stations where they are obliged to sound off

Another demand for invention. I managed without getting my feet wet, but only just

From halfway up the southern ridge of the quarry. You can see the extensive area of floods and reed beds further right recently acquired by RSPB to try and provide more reed bed habitat for bitterns

This and below on the airy path round the bottom of the u-shspe of the quarry:

Always something new. I have never seen this footpath sign before in my area despite me having combed 99.9% of local footpaths (I think.)

The blue dots show the path on the northern edge of the quarry I have previously explored, but it veers away from the edge. There is a good steep path not shown on the map from where it says Waterslack Wood up to where my wanderings are shown, but it then veers off to the south


  1. I remember walking past the entrance to Middlebarrow Quarry with you on one of our straight line walks, Longridge to Arnside. There was a dodgy character in camouflage regalia toting a rifle, we didn't stop to chat to him.
    Is there anything to stop you walking into the quarry from that eastern entrance? You may spot 'a good line'

  2. BC - On my map here if you look at the point where my circular wandering starts the main path branches off to the left into Eaves Wood. If you climb a few feet further you get a splendid vantage point overlooking the quarry and a ramp that leads down into the quarry bottom. I have it in mind to go and explore there next time I get out. The rest of the quarry, including the open end where we walked is fenced off with 12 foot high security fencing, so there is no access from there. It's a pity we are on lockdown, I'm sure you would enjoy coming to have a look when I explore further.

  3. Look out for a masked raider abseiling in at the far end.

  4. Interesting, Conrad. I'll enjoy exploring this little area ... one day...