Walks and days in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District (mostly) – 2011

Great Gable by Barrie

A valley walk in Grisedale from Patterdale – Thursday 15 December

Left:   Looking down Grisedale with Place Fell in the distance

Right:  Looking up Grisedale to Deepdale Hause with Cofa Pike prominent on the left

For our last walk of 2011 it had to be the Lakes. But would it be a fell walk or something a bit gentler? There was plenty of snow on the mountains and it wasn't very pleasant as Barrie and I drove over Kirkstone Pass. But the valleys looked green and pleasant. Our minds were made up and we opted for a low-level walk round Grisedale. Grisedale is one of my favourite Lakeland valleys. You are in amongst the big mountains without making much effort! Just what was needed on one of the shortest days of the year. Being earlybirds we got our usual parking place at the George Starkey Hut in Patterdale. As we set off up Grisedale there were occasional spots of rain which at times were a bit heavier. But we braved it as far as the footbridge where we crossed and returned down the north side of the valley. The walk was a bit over 5 miles so for a short and chilly day we were happy enough with the length. We'd been a bit concerned that if the weather had deteriorated during the day Kirkstone Pass would be closed and we'd have to return via the motorway. But everything was fine although the road down to Ambleside from the top of the pass – The Struggle – was closed. The usual trip to Lakeland followed.

The cost of fuel, walking more in the Dales and other commitments have meant that I've only managed four visits to the Lakes this year. My increasing interest in wildlife and birdwatching also means that walks nearer home are enjoyed more. In 2012, as long as work and family allow, I'll be getting out on my own as much as possible. I've always liked my own company and walking without companions is a good time to think. Don't get me wrong, I do like walking with others but have always been happy with my 'self'.

More photos from the walk can be seen here

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Cautley Spout near Sedbergh and Hardraw Force – Wednesday 17 November

Left:   The River Rawthey at Cautley

Right:  Cautley Crags with Cautley Spout in the distance

For some time we've said that we'd do a walk in the Howgill Fells. But somehow we always ended up in the Lake District, or latterly in the Dales. But today we made it intending to climb The Calf from Cautley as our route would pass Cautley Spout – a waterfall I hadn't visited since my youth when it was a pleasant run out with Mum, Dad and my younger sister. The weather was good and the walk as far as the waterfall is easy with improving views of the waterfall as you walk up the valley. The path up the side of the gill is fairly steep and after a while my knee started playing up. I knew it might be worse on the descent so we cut our losses and ambled back to the car. By now we'd decided to have a leisurely day with a possible short walk by the river from Sedbergh. After a look around the Sedbergh shops we changed our minds and headed for Hardraw Force, another place not visited in many years.

Hardraw Force is unusual in that you have to pay a small fee and go through the pub (Green Dragon) to walk the short distance to the fall. But it's worth seeing although the path was rather muddy in places after all the rain we've had recently. We then had a look round the shops in Hawes followed by a pleasant drive over Fleet Moss and down to Buckden then down Wharfedale and so home. It was a very leisurely day out and very pleasant. My knees have been causing me a bit of worry. The last few times I've been going uphill they have started hurting quite badly on the kneecap making walking very painful. Perhaps my fellwalking days are coming to an end. You don't have to go up high to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Perhaps I will concentrate on the lower dales. We'll see.

More photos from the walk can be seen here

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Bolton Abbey circular – Tuesday 1 November

Left:   A lovely coaltit at the Harrison Ford shelter near Bolton Abbey

Right:  The beautiful River Wharfe near Bolton Abbey

Until mid March there is free midweek parking at Bolton Abbey and I intend to make use of it. Getting there for just after 9 meant it was still very quiet at Sandholme car park (Cavendish Pavilion). It's hard to believe when you see it like that how busy it does get there. I'd brought some bird food with me so I made for the Harrison Ford shelter on the east side of the river and had the place to myself for about 20 minutes. However, there wasn't much birdlife about apart from a few chaffinches and bluetits. The nuthatch made a brief appearance but not long enough for me to get a good photo. Luckily the coaltit – another of my favourite birds – was more obliging. By now it was starting to get a bit busier so I carried on to my favourite bridge, Barden, where I crossed over the river and returned down the other side. I enjoyed watching a gull devouring a fish dinner mid-river then watched some goldfinches flitting in and out of the trees near the aqueduct. There were now too many people about so I left eating my lunch till I was back at the car. The walk is about 4.5 miles but is one of the most beautiful short walks in the area. But better to get there nice and early when you can have it more to yourself. Much better for seeing the birdlife too.

More photos from the walk can be seen here

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Bowscale Fell – Friday 14 October

Left:  Bowscale Tarn from the rough and steep grassy path to the ridge

Right:  The River Glendaramackin with the slopes of Souther Fell on the left

I was getting Lake District withdrawal symptoms having only been there twice this year so far. I love the northern fells and hadn't been up that way for several years so Bowscale Fell and possibly going onto Bannerdale Crags was our target. We parked at Bowscale – always a nice peaceful place – and took the good track which goes up the west side of Mosedale. The weather was cool and dry but the cloud was very low and it looked early on as if views higher up would be not forthcoming:-( But it was good to be walking in the Lakes again and in one of my favourite parts. It didn't seem to be too long before we arrived at Bowscale Tarn. Legend has it that there are two immortal fish in the tarn and it used to be a favourite walk for Victorian ladies. I was glad I was walking in trousers and boots and not a crinoline. We didn't see the fish.

From the tarn we took what looked like an innocuous grassy rake to the ridge. The alternative was a longer part back track to reach the ridge lower down. Our path started off fine but as we got higher it turned into a steep and rocky scramble. I usually like those sort of paths but this one wasn't pleasant at all. And on reaching the ridge, visibility was down to about 20 feet. We ate a viewless lunch in the stone shelter before deciding not to carry on to Bannerdale Crags as we'd only have had more of the same view – or in this case, no view at all. Our return route took us down the valley below The Tongue, which is a pleasant route where we did at least have views across to Souther Fell. The track then crosses Bullfell Beck just at its confluence with the river Glenderamackin. I think we had our best views of the day from here. Then it wasn't far down the track to Mungrisdale then a road walk of about a mile back to Bowscale and the car. A lovely walk, just a shame that it was such a murky day. Never mind, at least we'd seen the views before and knew they were there!

More photos from the walk can be seen here

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Attermire circular from Malham Tarn – Saturday 1 October

Left:  Attermire Scars

Right:  A lazy local

I knew my legs weren’t too bad and I needed a good lengthy walk to see what my fitness was like. The weather was unseasonably warm – in the high 20s – and I’m not normally a very good walker in the heat. But it was too good to miss. Who knows when we’d get any more warm weather. The walk started at Malham Tarn. The terrain is fairly straightforward, grassy walking and the views, although hazy in the heat, were good especially to the three peaks of Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. The route took us along the Attermire Scars with the impressive opening of Victoria Cave. It was pleasant to spend a couple of minutes in its gloom to cool down, as the weather was getting increasingly warm. From here we turned back east and our way back along Stockdale Lane, passing the remains of Nappa Cross and so back to the tarn and the car. The walk was 10.5 miles approximately – longer than I’ve walked before in such heat. I was certainly glad to see the car and a comfy and shady seat. A grand walk all the same.

More photos of the walk can be seen at here

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Black Pots, Nab End and the cool forest – Thursday 29 September

Left:  The Doubler Stones

Right:  Looking back to Black Pots as I walk through the cool, shady forest

I'd been having a lot of pain in my left leg (hip and groin) and had been worried that it might be something to do with my new (2004) hip. Although think really it was just muscle pain after using the lawn mower the wrong way!! I wanted to see how my walking would be as I was hoping to do a long walk the following Saturday. I love Nab End and Ilkley Moor and it isn't far from home, but I wanted to explore a part where I'd never walked before. So from Nab End and the Doubler Stones I carried onto Black Pots (renovated farmhouse, and where there were some very noisy guineafowl disturbing the peace and quiet) then through the cool forest – it was a hot day – to come out by the radio mast on the back road from Silsden to East Morton. Unfortunately, the map, which I'd carefully marked out with my return route., was still sitting on my dining room table! My leg was giving me a bit of discomfort and it was rather hot, so rather than risk getting lost, I decided to return the same way. Coward or sensible? Sensible I think, under the circumstances.

The walk was about 5 miles, with no uphill apart from the short sharp pull up Nab End. But I think I'll be OK for Saturday. I know it's going to be a long winter and we need to make the most of the warmth, but I do hope it's a bit cooler for my walk on Saturday.

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Flasby Fell ridge (Sharphaw plus) – Thursday 15 September

Left:  Sleeping Lady and Sharphaw in the lovely sunshine

Right:  Female wheatear

My friend and fellow OFC member, Jill Rowland was over visiting family not too far away and we'd been talking about meeting up for a walk sometime when she was over. This time we managed it. It was a beautiful and warm and the Sharphaw ridge fitted the bill perfectly - not too far, not too steep and with super views in all directions. Our first target was Sharphaw itself. I don't think I've ever been on Sharphaw when it hasn't been windy. Today we were lucky and it was nice to point out the landmarks to Jill without having to hold onto the trig point to keep myself upright. From there we walked north to the summit of Roughaw then back to Sharphaw for lunch. After a leisurely lunch, where I pointed out more landmarks to Jill, we came down over Sleeping Lady and so back to the car. The walk was about 4 miles, taken at a leisurely pace as we'd loads of news to catch up with. And both of us puffed and panted a bit at the uphill bits. We might both be fit but walking uphill is a completely different ballgame to walking on the flat! It was lovely to see Jill again and I hope it won't be as long before we meet up for another walk.

More photos of the walk can be seen at here

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Bolton Abbey kingfisher spotting – Saturday 27 August

Left:  The Strid at Bolton Abbey

Right:  A rather friendly female mallard

I've seen kingfishers quite a few times but have never managed to get a photo of one. Hopefully this would be today. Parking at Barden Bridge I set off down the east side of the river &ndash. I'd been walking 5 or so minutes when one flew up river and landed on a branch just across the river from me. I couldn't believe that it would stay there long enough for me to get some photos, but it sat quietly for a good 5 minutes, or so it seemed. Was I pleased? You bet I was!! After that I don't think anything could have surpassed seeing the sheer beauty of the little bird and actually getting it on my camera. But I carried on and had a very pleasant walk down to Bolton Priory and back along the other side of the river, apart from the last stretch when I crossed back to the east side, hoping to get another glimpse of the 'halcyon'. No, I didn't see it again. But I wasn't complaining. It was a lovely walk of about 7 miles.

More photos of the walk, including one of the kingfisher, can be seen at here

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The Doubler Stones and Nab End with Hollie – Tuesday 9 August

Left:  Hollie on her mushroom stone – or Doubler Stone

Right:  Looking up Wharfedale from the moor above Addingham

I asked Hollie where she’d like to go and take a picnic – the river at Bolton Abbey or Burnsall, or along the canal to see what wildlife we could see. She wanted to go up Nab End again to the ‘mushroom stones and see the fireman’s helmet’. We’d already done this walk in April but she loves it up there and keeping her happy was the main objective this time. To make it a bit different we decided to do a reverse of our previous walk.

It was a lovely sunny but breezy day but Hollie had a lot of fun climbing about on the Doubler Stones, although we were plagued by thousands of horrible flies, which turned out to be heather flies – the heather was in full bloom. This was also our lunch stop. A short walk across the moor brought us to the howling wolf sculpture where we stopped for a while and Hollie had another clamber about on the rocks below. Then it was back along the ridge to the bench with the super view for the rest of our picnic. It isn’t far from there back along to the top of Nab End and then down to the road and the car. Only a couple of miles but great fun for a 5-year-old – and also for a somewhat older Nana.

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Barden Moor to Burnsall and back along the river - Saturday 6 August

Left:  On Barden Moor looking down towards Burnsall, after the storm!

Right:  Looking across the River Wharfe to misty Burnsall Moor

The weather forecast wasn’t very promising but it was fine as I set off across Barden Moor from Barden Scale. The walking is pretty easy on a good track and good progress was made. At Upper Barden Reservoir I turned east then north, still on a good track, still no rain . However, looking south, the storm clouds were gathering and not long after, the first rumble of thunder was heard. Waterproofs were quickly donned and put away our as the rain started, soon becoming torrential. The thunder and lightning also arrived with us but we just kept walking, our pace being now much quicker. Luckily it wasn’t forked lightning, although one large flash not far in front of us was a bit too close for comfort and it was hard to tell whether it was forked lightning or sheet. The storm eventually passed over us and the rain eased for a while. We’d found a bit of shelter in the quaintly named Garrelgum (a wood but not referred to as a wood on the map) before dropping down into Burnsall and welcome coffee at the kiosk on the car park. I’ve never seen Burnsall so deserted and on an August Saturday too.

Our return route was along the riverbank. It’s a beautiful stretch of the river but sadly our walking was at a faster pace than we’d have liked with not much lingering to enjoy the views as the rain was either with us or threatening to be with us. Not much wildlife seen but a lovely walk all the same. Not many photos taken either! And the walk was about 10.5 miles, which I think was pretty good in those conditions. I love a good thunderstorm but I’d really rather be watching it from the safety of somewhere other than high up on an open moor.

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Great Whernside – Tuesday 12 July

Left:  Lovely tree by Dowber Beck in Dowber Gill

Right:  Me at a rather misty Great Whernside summit

I’ve attempted Great Whernside on several occasions over the years but, for one reason or another such as torrential rain or too much wet cloud, I’ve never made it to the summit. This time was going to be different. I was walking with Barrie this time and our route was from Kettlewell up Dowber Gill following the beck (see my walk in January this year with OFC members Dave Dimmock and Simon Howard) to Providence Pot. Then we took a different route to the one taken then and zigzagged back on a lovely path that took us across the fellside to Hag Dyke and then a plod to the summit. For some reason, someone has decided that I shouldn’t have a good view from the summit when I do get there, as the cloud came down just as we got there and it started to rain.

We never like going back the same way if we can help it so we carried on north, finding some shelter to enjoy lunch then down to meet the Kettlewell-Wensleydale road at Little Hunters Sleets A very short bit of road walking then cross-country past the derelict East Scale Lodge then down Park Gill – where we took a short detour to Dow Cave. A mile or so of road walking – a very quiet road – found us back in Kettlewell.

After hot drinks at the car, and getting some pix of a very obliging young blackbird, we had a wander round the village including visiting the lovely St Mary’s Church then beer for me and chips for Barrie at the Bluebell. A lovely day, and I’m so pleased to have got Great Whernside ticked off at last. Now what other Dales fells haven’t I done?

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Malham Meander – Wednesday 15 June

Left:  Malham Beck as it flows through the village

Right:  The view down to Malham and Airedale from the top of Malham Cove

The second walk of the Yorkshire editors' walking group found five of us taking in the delights of Malham. As it was the first visit to Malham for two of the group we decided to take the 'tourist' route, which takes in the three main 'sights to see in Malham', namely the lovely waterfall of Janet's Foss, the chasm of Gordale Scar and the massive ampitheatre of Malham Cove. The peregrine falcons are nesting on the cove and the chicks had hatched on a couple of weeks ago. Our only sight of them today was one of the adults flying over the valley being chased by a crow and making a raucous noise. The RSPB are keeping watch on the birds from below the cove and one of them told us that the chicks had fledged that Monday. The weather was fine and stayed dry apart from a few spots of rain as we crossed the top of the cove. No bright sunshine but a glimpse of blue sky was very welcome.

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Trollers Gill and River Wharfe – Friday 10 June

Left:  The River Wharfe near Barden Bridge

Right:  In Trollers Gill, reputedly the home of a barguest – a troll with eyes as big as saucers.

It is my aim one day to walk the Dales Way. I don't know quite how yet, I have a lot of planning to do. But one of the nicest parts of it is that between Bolton Abbey and Burnsall. I've walked the Bolton Abbey to Howgill stretch quite a few times but not from Howgill to Burnsall. Today was the day but with a detour to Trollers Gill. Starting from Barden Bridge, the aim of the walk being wildlife spotting also. We stopped shortly after we started to get some photos of the sand martins, who are nesting in the banks along the river. We left the riverbank at Howgill and crossed lovely green fields to Skyreholme then pleasant tracks and paths up behind Parcevall Hall (a Christian retreat with beautiful gardens sometimes open to the public) to Trollers Gill. This is a narrow limestone gorge, similar to Trow Gill above Clapham but longer and with no steep climb out of it. Last time I was in Trollers Gill there was a very strange ominous atmosphere and I was glad to get back into the open. Could have had something to do with the 'barguest'. We didn't see it this day but had to shelter for a while as the rain had started. Conveniently, it was also lunchtime.

After lunch we were out onto the open fell which we crossed accompanied by lapwings and curlews before dropping down to Hartlington then a short stroll along the road to Burnsall. Coffee was very welcome at the kiosk on the car park (great value and good coffee) before we set off back along the riverbank.

It was a grand walk of about 10 miles. And another stretch of the Dales Way completed. Perhaps I'll do it in stages like this although the more distant parts will be harder to do. But lots of planning before then. Great fun.

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Short walk above Silsden – Saturday 4 June – This was just a short walk to stretch the legs. There was a very cold wind - not nice after a couple of lovely hot days but it was good just to get out for some fresh air. I only walked a couple of miles from Cringles above Silsden toward Addingham down Parsons Lane. I was lucky to see two curlews on the ground and got some photos of them but not clear enough to put on here. I must do some more exploring around the lanes and paths up here.

The photo is looking toward Ilkley. The sky was rather grey but I like the contrast with the green grass and the light over Ilkley. Luckily it didn't rain until I got home.

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Wharfe wander and Posforth Gill – Thursday 19 May

Left:  A beautifully marked heron by the Wharfe

Right:  The rushing water of the Wharfe

The forecast was good and I was in the mood for bird spotting so I enjoyed a wander by the Wharfe from Barden Bridge down to the Cavendish Pavilion. One was spotted not long after setting off but a rather noisy angler spoke too loud, at which, the kingfisher flew away!! Never mind, there’ll be plenty more chances to see them.

We then took a detour up Posforth Gill to the lovely waterfall. A beautiful place to sit and have lunch. Then back along the river for more bird spotting, stopping at the Harrison Ford shelter, where I got a nice pic of a nuthatch. It was a lovely walk of about 7 miles. Beautiful scenery, lovely weather and some lovely birds. What more could you ask for?

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Online Fellwalking Club 10th Anniversary weekend – 6-7 May

Left:  Mellbreak and Loweswater

Right:  Skiddaw seen above Derwentwater from the Ashness landing stage

It’s hard to believe that 10 years has passed since Lancastrian Peter Burgess, who lived and worked in London, founded the Online Fellwalking Club. Peter started the group at the height of the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001, to bring together lovers of the great outdoors, when walkers were unable to get out on their beloved fells. In those 10 years I’ve met and walked with many and have made some great and lasting friendships.

A walk on Saturday followed by a meal at the Mary Mount Hotel by Derwentwater was the plan. I was staying again with my dear friends Ann and Roger Hiley at their lovely cottage in Loweswater. Twenty members met at the Mary Mount for the walk, which started with a boat trip on Derwentwater from Ashness landing stage across to Hawse Point – rather windy and grey but not raining. Feeling not too energetic and not wanting to get too wet, I joined Barrie on a less strenuous walk round the lakeside, ending up back at the Mary Mount – in the rain – where we enjoyed tea and muffins while getting some lovely photos of the coaltits and dunnocks just outside the window.

Thirty seven members were at the hotel in the evening, where more members who, for various reasons, couldn’t be there for the walk had arrived, and enjoyed a wonderful meal and a night of catching up with old friends and making new friends. A super weekend. Here’s to the next 10 years.

More photos of the weekend can be seen here

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Malham circular taking in Malham Tarn, the Cove, Janet's Foss and Gordale – Wednesday 4 May

Left:  Malham Beck as it flows through the village

Right:  The impressive amphitheatre of Malham Cove, where peregrine falcons are nesting

The popular village of Malham, with its impressive limestone scenery, is only about 30 minutes drive from home. We parked by Malham Tarn then set off south through dry limestone valleys and down the quaintly named Watlowes before coming out on top of Malham Cove. Care was needed on the stone pathways. It was as if someone had been out with Mr Sheen – they were polished smooth and rather slippery! We were hoping to see the peregrine falcon, which is nesting on the cove, but we weren’t lucky today. But read on for something we were happy to see and my first sighting of one ever.

From the cove we walked along the east side of the beck down toward Malham village then through fields and woodland thick with wild garlic to the fairy waterfall of Janet’s Foss. After the longish spell of dry weather we’ve had recently there wasn’t much water flowing over the fall but it’s a magical place to be. Now did I see a fairy? I’m not telling.

We didn’t go right up to Gordale Scar but branched off across Gordale Beck and went the short but steep way up to New Close Knotts. Before we set off up there we found a nice spot for our lunch and had a half hour of amazing birdlife, which included wheatears and my first ever redstart. A beautiful little bird, although in my excitement I didn’t focus properly and my photos didn’t turn out too well. From New Close Knotts there is a great view down into Gordale. It was then easy grassy walking back to the road at Street Gate and so to the car. A lovely walk of about 8 miles in a very touristy area but managing to avoid the busy bits. Perfect.

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Conistone and Mossdale in Wharfedale – Saturday 30 April

Left:  Conistone Pie

Right:  Pretty Conistone village

I joined Dave and Josie Dimmock and another OFC member, Lorraine Barks for a walk in Wharfedale from Conistone. I'd done part of this walk back in December with Dave but wanted to see Mossdale - a wild unfrequented area with acres and acres of open moorland. Mossdale was also the scene of Britains' worst potholing accident when 6 young men lost their lives in Mossdale Caverns in 1967. We set off up Conistone Dib - a miniature Gordale Scar - fighting against a very strong wind, which meant that at times conversation was impossible as keeping upright was more important. Perhaps I shouldn't have lost that extra weight after all!

The walk took us across wild open moorland, but on good tracks and paths - I don't think I'd like to be in the mist up here if there weren't any paths. A lunch spot had to be found out of the strong wind - it was very deceiving as we were so nice and warm where we sat that it was tempting to take off outer clothes, but we knew we'd be straight back into the strong and cold wind.

From Mossdale we turned north across the moor to Capplestone Gate, with its trig point and super views up and down Wharfedale before turning south to Conistone Pie, passing various evidence of past leadming activity, and then a pleasant downhill stroll back to Conistone village. A lovely walk of about 8 miles with good friends - perfect. Could have done without the wind though!!

More photos of the walk can be seen here

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Kildwick circular over Farnhill Moor and back over the tops to Silsden – Friday 29 April

Left:  The Leeds-Liverpool Canal between Silsden and Kildwick

Right:  Inquisitive lambs in the fields above Silsden

When you're your own boss Bank Holidays aren't so important as you can take time off as and when you want, depending on the work you have. But this Bank Holiday was the Royal Wedding and the weather was good so I decided to have a day off and go for a walk. It's only 5 minutes from home to the canal bank so my route took me along there as far as Kildwick. The recent warm weather has meant that everything is bursting into life sooner than usual. My new camera meant that I could take better photos of the wildlife and plant life so there was no hurry.

I crossed the canal by Kildwick Church and took the old Parson's Walk path, which links the old rectory with the church, up the hill then crossed the road to join the popular path to Farnhill Pinnacle. I decided not to visit the pinnacle today - I've been there umpteen times and it can be very busy up there (although it looked pretty quiet today with lots of people watching the royal wedding) so I went cross country across Farnhill Moor and through woodland before coming out by fields. The wind was very strong and at times it was difficult to keep upright. I found a sheltered spot by a wall to eat my lunch before heading back into the gale. I met a lovely group of inquisitive lambs then was joined in one field by a rather large and handsome horse who followed me down the field. I eventually arrived at the unusually named ruin of Tar Topping then a lovely downhill walk and back into Silsden and home. The only problem I have with walking from home is that my house is on a hill with 2 ways into it, both of them uphill. Never mind, it keeps me fit. The walk was about 5 miles but with all my stops to take photos, it was a very leisurely stroll. And congratulations to Will and Kate.

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Nab End, Windgate Nick and the Doubler Stones – Tuesday 19 April

Left:  Hollie on top of her mushroom stone

Right:  The unusual but impressive howling wolf

I'd been promising to take Hollie up Nab End for a while but wanted to wait till it had dried up a bit as it can be very wet in places up there. This day was perfect, warm and sunny with a nice breeze and we'd had no rain for a while. At 5 years and 6 months she's a strong walker and we were soon up the initial steep bit and onto the ridge. We had to stop for her to clamber up any suitable rocks but were fairly soon at the bench with a super view up and down Wharfedale. A lovely place for our picnic. Suitably refreshed we carried on a little way but just before our junction, where we would turn right, we were surprised to see a rather strange animal perched on a rock. Closer examination revealed it to be a stick sculpture of a howling beast, possibly a wolf. It might not be to some people's taste but it looked pretty impressive to me as it loomed over the valley below.

From there we took the path south to the Doubler Stones, a bit like a mini Brimham Rocks, where Hollie had fun climbing about on them. It was then just a short walk along the farm track back to the road (a quiet back road) and the car. Only a couple of miles but great fun and good to get Hollie out enjoying the countryside. She was spotting birds for me to photograph. I think she'll be wanting her own camera soon!

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Sharphaw, Roughaw, Flasby Fell and the canal bank – Saturday 2 April

Left:  Looking back to Sharphaw from Roughaw

Right:  The Leeds-Liverpool Canal looking west toward Gargrave

I joined OFC friends Dave and Josie Dimmock and Richard Ratcliffe for a very pleasant walk over some low fells, through some green fields and along the canal bank. The weather started grey and cloudy and Sharphaw (1171’) summit was very windy – is it ever anything but windy. Quick photo call then we were off to our next summit of Roughaw. From Roughaw we backtracked a bit then found the rather boggy path that would lead us down eventually to the pretty hamlet of Flasby. After a false start we found the right path out of the village and walked through lovely parkland and fields to reach the Leeds/Liverpool canal just east of Gargrave. The weather had by now turned warm with blue sky and was perfect walking weather. We walked along the canal bank for a mile or so then quiet lane walking through Thorlby and Stirton and so back to the car. Excellent company and a great walk made this a great day to remember.

More photos of this walk can be seen here

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A walk from BARDEN BRIDGE trying out my new camera – Wednesday 23 March

Left:  the River Wharfe looking north from Barden Bridge - see last week's photo and notice the change in the weather!

Right:  a spring scene at Laund House, near Barden. The tree on the left is the Laund Oak, reputedly 800 years old.

I'd treated myself to an early birthday present of a camera with a better zoom, hoping to be able to get better wildlife photos. Although I'd been at Bolton Abbey only a week ago, it's a great place for wildlife spotting and the weather was just right for good photos. I parked at Barden Bridge and walked down the east side of the river stopping at Harrison Ford Shelter to hopefully get some good shots of the nuthatch. It was a lovely warm morning and I certainly wasn't in a mood to hurry. I had several 'rests' just to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful scenery. I chatted to a lovely couple and their lurcher at the shelter before continuing further down river as far as Posforth Bridge. I didn't want to do the circuit and back up the other side and I didn't want to return the same way. Instead I walked along the quiet back road, passing some lovely houses and beautiful daffodil displays, to Coney Warren. From here I followed the footpath down a couple of fields to rejoin the riverside path at the aqueduct. I didn't get any nuthatch photos but managed to take a few of a pair of goosanders and I heard the woodpecker but unfortunately didn't see it. From there it was just a short walk back to the car. A lovely walk in a place I can never tire of.

More photos of this walk can be seen here

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BOLTON ABBEY circular via BARDEN BRIDGE – Wednesday 16 March - this was a walk with some of my Yorkshire editing friends. We meet every couple of months for lunch and when someone commented nicely on my online pix I suggested a walk. Hopefully this will be a regular event. It’s difficult finding a day that’s convenient to everyone but luckily we can meet midweek when everywhere isn’t so busy. The Bolton Abbey-Barden Bridge circular fitted the bill perfectly. The weather wasn’t brilliant – grey and overcast but it didn’t rain. We just made it a morning walk – I had to be back for Hollie’s class assembly in the afternoon and the others had work to do.

We walked up the west side of the river passing the Strid then back down the east side. It was a very chatty walk, good to chat with friends about work and about the lovely countryside where we are so lucky to live. And plans for our next editors' walk are underway already!

More photos of this walk can be seen here

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SHEFFIELD PIKE – Tuesday 8 March

Left:  looking down over Ullswater from our lunch stop

Right:  Me on Sheffield Pike summit cairn. It was rather windy!

It was good to be back in the Lake District. My last walk there had been back in December and was also my last walk with Sam. A good fell summit was needed and Sheffield Pike fitted the bill nicely. AW might not have reckoned much to it - I think he must have had a fallout with Ruth to comment so ungraciously on it. As we drove over Kirkstone Pass low cloud was all around and we wondered if that was going to be with us all day. However, setting of up the track toward Seldom Seen (a row of 10 cottages, which as you might have guessed from the name, are seldom seen!) the amount of blue sky was increasing. The views down over Ullswater got better and better as we ascended but unfortunately the wind increased too. At Nick Head we turned left and headed for the summit. It was pretty difficult to stand up at times. After summit photos were quickly taken we found a lovely sheltered spot for lunch. Talk about lunch with a view!! Ullswater at its finest.

We never like returning the same way if it can be helped but didn't want to go onto Glenridding Dodd and down the way we had last time. We headed down what was sometimes a path and sometimes not till we reached the wall that took us back down to join our outward path at the edge of the woods. It was a lovely walk, not too long and apart from the strong wind, the weather was just right. Our usual trip to Hayes Garden Centre and Lakeland followed then chips for Barrie and beer for me at Gargrave. A nice return to the Lakes although a bit sad without Sam.

More photos of this walk can be seen here

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GRASS WOOD and the GHAISTRILLS STRID – Saturday 5 March

Left:  A quiet corner of Grassington looking back to Grass Wood

Right:  Ghaistrills Strid

Grass Wood near Grassington has always been a favourite place of mine as I have happy memories of walking there when I was young. I walked up through Grass Wood and into adjacent Bastow Wood – an area rich in archaeological history with the sites of two Celtic villages here. These are two very different types of wood with Grass Wood being a mixed broadleaf area and Bastow Wood being more open with scattered trees and bushes. Leaving Bastow Wood we crossed the open grassy limestone escarpment of Lea Green (Bronze Age burial mounds and other ancient settlements dating back to 2000BC). This took us down into the busy village of Grassington and so down to the riverside. The way passes by the Ghaistrills Strid, similar to the more famous Strid further down the river at Bolton Abbey. It may be less well known but after heavy rain I think this is just as impressive. It’s more open and less oppressive. And so a gentle riverside walk back to the car. A very pleasant walk with woods and riverside. Not much wildlife though this time.

More photos of this walk can be seen here

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Draughton Heights – Saturday 26 February - The weather wasn’t brilliant but I just wanted to get out in the fresh air for a while. I parked by the roadside on Draughton Heights (on the minor road which goes over the moor from Cringles to Draughton) and first set off west along the track toward Skipton. I knew that the ground was going to be very wet and muddy and I hadn’t gone far when I reached a rather long and deep puddle. The mud at either side was unavoidable – it would have been OK if I’d been in my wellies – so I decided to go back and head east along the track. It’s an old Roman road, which goes, I believe, from Skipton to Ilkley (Olicana). The track on this side of the road was still very wet but walkable. Looking north to Bolton Abbey and Wharfedale I could see blue sky and sunshine but above me some rather black clouds were forming. I turned round before the track drops down into Addingham as I wasn’t really in the mood for getting wet. Luckily I didn’t. The walk was only a couple of miles but it was just good to get out.

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Malham Moor – Saturday 12 February - A 7˝-mile walk on Malham Moor. The forecast was for sunshine after a grey start but as we set off from the car it showed no sign of brightening but was distinctly grey and dreary. The plan was to head east towards Lea Gate and Hawkswick Clowder (clowder – group of cats?!) from where we should have good views down into Wharfedale. The first obstacle was a ford that had turned into a deep ford but couldn’t be avoided. Well, it would soon show if my boots were still waterproof or not. Then on into the gloom, which still wasn’t showing any signs of lifting. But the terrain, while being a bit wet underfoot, was easy and we knew where we were going. It’s always a shame though when the lovely views over the Dales, which should be visible, are hidden under a blanket of murk. A few miles into the walk and a small gap of blue sky appeared. It disappeared and reappeared very quickly and having come to a wall with no gates or easily surmountable bits to climb over, we turned around and retraced our steps for a while before heading down to Mastiles Lane – the old roman road that comes over from Kilnsey – and so back to the car. It was quite a muddy walk and my boots took quite a while to dry out, but great fun and we did see some sunshine!

More photos of this walk can be seen here

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Two potholes from Horton in Ribblesdale and the Strid, Bolton Abbey – Tuesday 8 February – as the days are still so short and the weather so unpredictable, another Dales walk, this time with Barrie, was on the cards rather than a day in the Lakes. We've had a lot of rain recently and I knew there would be some impressive waterfalls. Our first stop was Horton in Ribblesdale, where we walked up Horton Scar Lane to Hull Pot. I'd seen a friend's video clip of this after heavy rain last year and wanted to see it myself after such conditions. We weren't disappointed. The water from Hull Pot Beck was pounding over the edge and with the cloud descending over the fells it was quite eerie. We walked on to Hunt Pot, which is also an impressive hole in the ground, but not quite so imposing as Hull Pot. Penyghent, which was in cloud, wasn't too far away and looking back, as we walked down to Horton, we could see that the summit had cleared.

But we hadn't intended going to the summit. We'd decided to go and see another impressive water feature - the Strid at Bolton Abbey. We drove over the tops from Stainforth to Halton Gill then down the lovely valleys of Littondale and Wharfedale to Bolton Abbey.

Bolton Abbey is always busy, even on a Tuesday afternoon mid-February, and today was no exception. We walked up to the Strid - there was plenty of water rushing through but it had gone down quite a lot from a few days before - I'd seen some photos of it over the top of the banks. After that we drove over to Embsay - a visit to one of my favourite shops, a craft shop, and drinks in the cafe, then home. A lovely day and the weather was pleasant too. And about 6 miles in total.

More photos of these walks can be seen here

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Nearly Great Whernside, above Kettlewell, Wharfedale – Saturday 22 January -– Great Whernside has defeated me on several occasions and for various reasons - weather turning bad half way up and not feeling well half way up being two of them. So an attempt with Dave Dimmock and Simon Howard was hopefully going to be successful. The weather wasn't brilliant as we left Kettlewell but it wasn't raining. It was still quite icy in many places and I had to take great care where I was putting my feet much of the time. I did actually slip and fall once but luckily my companions missed my discomposure. Another reason why I like walking at the back! We walked up Dowber Gill following the beck, taking care to miss the icy patches, to Providence Pot. It was then a steep pull out of the gill onto the open moorland to find the track to the summit. By this time the cloud had come well down and with only about a half hour walk to the summit, we called it a day. It really wasn't worth going on and the views would have been non-existent, and it was by now pretty cold and damp.

Our return route took us down by Hag Dyke (outdoor centre) then along a bridleway back down to Kettlewell. And the sun did try to shine for a short while. Tea in one of the tearooms in Kettlewell was most welcome. A walk of about 5 miles. The photo is taken from the ridge above Hag Dyke looking down to Dowber Gill and Kettlewell. So Great Whernside defeated me again. But there'll be better days soon and I will conquer it.

More photos of the walk can be seen at here

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Circular walk from Barden Bridge to Bolton Abbey and back again – Saturday 8 January – a grand walk for my first walk of the year, cold and icy in places but grand to be out. We parked at Barden Bridge - best parking (if you're early enough) as it's free! and walked down the west bank of the river to the Harrison Ford (not named after the film star) shelter. This is a good place for bird spotting and we were hoping to get photos of the lovely nuthatch, which is seen frequently in this area. We did see it but it didn't stay still long enough to get a good photo. Never mind, there'll always be another time. After that we walked on down to the Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey then returning on the east bank of the river. We'd been told by some walkers that the path on the east side was mostly sheet ice so I was a bit wary about what it would be like. I needn't have worried. There was quite a bit of ice about but all but a few small bits of it easily circumnavigated.

A walk of about 5 miles, taken at a leisurely pace and great fun. And a good start to my walking year. More photos of this walk can be seen here


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