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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


Monday, 11 April 2022

Someone stole my Thunder

 Sunday 10th April 2022 - 7 miles circular from Orton (NY 622 082)

I  bought the Cicerone Press guide: Walking in the Lune Valley and Howgills by Dennis and Jan Kelsall.

This first foray promised a couple of attractions as well as the trig point of Knott - 416m. (NY  647 092).

Temperature on a bright sunny morning as I departed Orton at 8:20 a.m. recorded two degrees. Later it rose to about 10 degrees. I wore gloves for most of the duration. I have gloves bought from Rohan with supposed fingertip control for an iPhone screen. Perhaps they were a prototype but even so they cost about £15 - a few days later I saw Aldi were selling similar for less than a fiver. The current upgraded version at Rohan are £40! Mine have only worked intermittently and today they were well behind parr for even that description. I took great pleasure in using the scissors on my mini Swiss Army Knife to naughtily cut a slit through the forefinger on the tip of the left glove so I could poke through and operate my OS mapping on the iPhone without fail and without removing a glove. That was one of the most satisfying things I have done for some time.

As I followed lanes out of Orton I noticed a couple of gates with the now ubiquitous yellow painted catches, but as I climbed and passed through Broadfell Farm gate fastenings reverted to pleasingly patinated ancient iron wire hooks and chains, so simple and foolproof compared with the modern gadgetry which only needs to become a fraction out of line to nullify performance. That happens easily because farmer's five barred gates are a design disaster from the start. Suspended on an inadequate post their length and weight soon lead to the gate dropping and misaligning those catches.

At the top of a fair climb the route coincided for about twenty yards with the summit of the main Appleby road at a cattle grid. Then I was off onto rough moorland but on well defined paths all sheep cropped with expansive views in all directions of this magical limestone country. At Beacon Hill I diverted slightly to look at the monument to Queen Victoria's jubilee (1887).

The next feature involving a there and back diversion was the Thunder Stone. I quote from the guide:

"...continue for  another 250m to find a large boulder, incorporated within it the Thunder Stone. It is an erratic boulder of pink granite which was carried from Shap Fell by an ice sheet."

At the precise spot, confirmed by GPS and inclusion on the OS map and relative to two adjacent walls there were various scatterings of boulders, none of them "large" relative to their neighbours and despite my efforts the Thunder Stone remained elusive. I assumed my Thunder must have been stolen, the disappointment being aggravated by a futile half a mile there and back.  After all, the missing  of seeing that piece of pink granite was hard to bear?

None of this, or my opinions on the next of the promised attractions detracted from my  enjoyment of this walk.

After retracing steps I continued with the route. After another half mile there and back diversion took me to Castle Folds - again I quote from the guide:

"An extensive Romano British settlement site...

...and suggest a thriving community..."

Access was gained after climbing a ladder stile and crossing a huge area of limestone pavement for about 300 yards to gain the location of the "settlement,"a grassy plateau. I sometimes have my doubts about archaeology. I found a low rubble wall about fifty yards by thirty which the guide said enclosed this "extensive" settlement. First of all I wondered what on earth would possess anybody to have a settlement out here in the middle of nowhere on a high exposed plateau made almost inaccessible by extensive surrounding limestone pavement. The size of the enclosure would only accommodate a modern house with a decent sized garden so how one could conclude that this had been an "extensive" settlement I do not know. One wonders.

My traverse of the limestone pavement with its grikes and clints had been bordering perilous with balance at my advanced years not as sharp as it once was. I was able to return by losing some height and crossing only a smaller amount of pavement.

Back at the ladder stile where its wall formed a T junction with another the guide pointed out that access to the trig at Knott could only be gained  by scaling the wall. However, a well constructed stile has been added to the wall since, so I made yet another 100 yard  there-and-back to the trig. I put my camera on top of the pillar and took a timer shot. The result (see below) depicted me leaning dangerously in imminent danger of going over sideways. Perhaps my balance was till affected by the pavement crossing?

Please note if visiting here do not to try and retrace steps on the trig side of the wall - it is eventually blocked by another wall, you must go back over the two stiles and return on the outward side of the wall which I did.

After re-joining the route from my Roman diversion a pleasant balcony path below the summit of Knott was enhanced by open views back down into Orton's lowlands. A cheery "hello" cane from behind and I was joined by a fell runner. She reduced her pace and I increased my walking pace and we walked together for quarter of a mile talking of fell running until she peeled off back into the hills. I carried on the descent and followed fields back to Orton having snatched the best weather window during the last few days and the not so good forecast henceforward.  An excellent round. I think there will be more to come from the guide.

Orton church

Yellow sneck and all that gadgetry that goes with it, see next but one photo

Broadfell farm and clapper bridge

Exquisite patination. I love this stuff, and so simple, inexpensive and foolproof

Lime kiln. I reckon limestone was quarried from the small crag behind

Looking back down to Orton from the Appleby road

Beacon Hill

Queen Victoria's monument (jubilee 1887.) Access, transport and construction must have been onerous back then when this spot would have been even more remote than it is now

Not your normal farmer's gate. Northern edge of Howgills on horizon

Distant Cross Fell and...

...zoom to same

Crossing the limestone pavement to Castle Folds - strangely located Roman settlement

Castle Folds - "extensive" Roman settlement?

New stile to access Knott trig. Trig is the small black mark on the horizon just above my poles. Looks a long way off but it is only about 100yds.

Yours truly in the process of enacting the famous Only Fools and Horses sketch without the lifting bar shelf

Knott trig

Just a sample of the kind of perfect walking surface for much of the walk. This is on the long balcony path below Knott where I met with and walked with the friendly fell runner

Start and finish at Orton. Clockwise. There-and- backs complicate and obscure some of the route detail.
NB. I seem to have included another walk from the book going south from Orton - next time perhaps?


  1. Interesting walk, here's to the new book.
    I know what you mean about field archaeology, but that walled settlement was more obvious than most.
    You didn't divert to visit that blue duck on High Pike.

  2. BC you're getting good at spotting colourful birds. I had noticed it but somehow felt obliged to stick to the guide.

  3. BC - I've just corrected my spelling of "archaeology."

  4. Very nice walk. One I remember well. The limestone was quite extensive and care was needed. We had good weather too except there was a huge smoke screen with a moor on fire in the far distance.
    Here is my version.

  5. Alan R - I had a look at your excellent post and see I commented vowing to be back there. That stile to access the trig must have been put there since your visit - it did look newly constructed. As we have all said: very fine walking country. Even if you stray off the paths the going is relatively easy and that limestone atmosphere is so special.

  6. You raise a point of etiquette which occurs when a shuffler like me (walking round the houses to ensure appropriate bowel action for the rest of the day) encounters someone engaged in rather more committed locomotion on a bike or clad in Lycra. I acknowledge their seriousness but I doubt this is reciprocated. Should I "hello" them or remain silent just in case they think I'm being sarcastic? Also they're often they're gasping for air; might my greeting trigger their syncope? A word that seems to have fallen into desuetude. Like that one too.

  7. RR I have also posted this reply in the body of my next post.

    I am not aware of any formal etiquette in those circumstances. I always say "hello" or "hi" to others approaching when in the countryside where such occurrences are usually infrequent and even in villages where meetings are still well spaced out. Conversation beyond that sometimes ensues especially when I recognise the other as someone embarked on the challenge of waking rather than a casual stroller, but I am aware that this can be unsound presumption because if you take the trouble to promote talk you nearly always find that others have something of interest to pass on. Taking that trouble is something I consciously try to develop given half a chance. If the other has a dog that can often lead to more conversation with relevant comments creating an opening to wider ranging chat.

    When I throw out a greeting and get no response which does happen now and again I do have a wounded feeling of rebuff mixed with annoyance, so you may bear that in mind with your own encounters unless you delight in pointlessly rebuffing fellow humans.

    All this reminds me o af French kind of etiquette when on occasions I have found myself slogging steeply up a road with a heavy pack sweating profusely under merciless Gallic sun and being hailed by the passenger of a passing motorist leaning from the window shouting "Courage!" I was never sure whether that was genuine encouragement, humour, or sarcasm, but prefer to believe it was the first of those.

  8. Nice one Conrad - and another Cicerone guide to get to grips with...