Walks and days in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District (mostly) – 2013

Great Gable by Barrie

I started off last year by saying how I intended doing more walking and getting fit and getting on with the Dales Way. It didn't work out quite as I planned and I didn't get as much walking done as I'd hoped. The weather didn't help as it was an exceptionally wet year. And I don't do wet weather walking these days. I like my walks nice and dry. However, this year hopefully we'll get some nice days on days when I can walk. Watch this space...
Bolton Abbey circular – Monday 16 December

Left:  The River Wharfe near the Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey

Right: It's impossible to visit this stretch of the river and not see a dipper.

A last walk before Christmas meant a Bolton Abbey circular from the Cavendish Pavilion up the east bank of the Wharfe to Barden Bridge then back down the west bank, stopping at both shelters. Sadly, there weren't many birds about apart from the faithful dipper – it's a rare visit to Bolton Abbey when the dipper isn't seen! But the rest of them must all have been away Christmas shopping. It was bitterly cold too so I don't blame them if they were all hiding away keeping warm. This walk is only just over 4 miles long but it's a walk I never tire of – birdlife, scenery and just the leisurely pace it can be taken at, whatever the weather; what more could one ask for! Just fabulous.

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Loughrigg Fell loiter – Wednesday 27 November

Left:  Looking across to the Fairfield Horseshoe from the slopes of Loughrigg

Right: The Langdale Pikes from Loughrigg

This would probably be our only chance of a Lakes walk before Christmas as both Barrie and I had other things on – mainly work for me! The weather was dry and sunny but chilly and I wanted to be on a fell, even if it wasn’t a very high one. Loughrigg Fell is a favourite but taking a different route – for me – would be a pleasant change. We parked at Miller Bridge behind Ambleside and after a short sharp pull away from the road, the path climbed gently over the fell south to Todd Crag. From here there are super views down Windermere, although not ideal for photos as we were looking directly into the sun. From there it was short stroll to idyllic Lily Tarn (not visited by either of us before).

We were enjoying the walk but decided that having been to the summit enough times we would do a circuit of the fell instead. We followed the very obvious and easy track/path to the west of the fell and were soon by Loughrigg Tarn, another Lakeland gem with it views of the Langdale Pikes in the distance. After that there was a short road section (quiet) to Red Bank before joining the very popular Loughrigg Terrace above Grasmere and Rydal Water. A look inside the giant cave then what seemed like a long walk back alongside the River Rothay brought us back to the car.

A walk of about 7 miles in beautiful scenery. We then had time for a trip to Hayes and Lakeland then Tetleys for me and chips for Barrie on the way back – what better way to finish a super day in the Lakes.

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Wetherlam – Tuesday 15 October

Left:  Looking to the Langdale Pikes and Blea Tarn from Birk Fell

Right: Looking to Wetherlam Edge from the path above Tilberthwaite Gill

We were in need of a good walk and I was wanting to be up on a high fell. Plan A was Pike O’Blisco from the Three Shires Stone. We’ve both done the Pike several times but it’s a favourite and pretty straightforward from the top of Wrynose Pass. But as we drove through Windermere Wetherlam was looking rather appealing. It’s another favourite and this time it won.

We parked at Low Tilberthwaite and the first part was more or less the same walk we did back in 2003 – it was hard to believe that it was 10 years since we’d last walked it – up the east side of Tilberthwaite Gill and onto the ridge of Birk Fell. We decided to do a detour to avoid the steep climb up Wetherlam Edge. However, the path we were looking for was a bit harder to find than we’d hoped but eventually after a bit of cross country boulder hopping we came out not far from the summit cairn. Time was getting on now so after a quick photo stop we carried on as it’s a fair way back even though all downhill. We had a quick lunch/tea stop out of the wind (more or less) then had to walk at a fair pace back down Lad Stones then down the west side of Tilberthwaite Gill with a quick look at the quarry then back to the car.

The walk had been only just over 4 miles but with our ‘detour’ had taken longer than it should have so we had no time for shops but headed more or less straight home, but of course with a stop at Gargrave for beer and ale. A great walk but it would have been quicker to go up the steep edge!!

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Common Fell and Watermillock Common – Tuesday 10 September

Left:  Looking up Ullswater from Common Fell

Right: Looking toward Blencathra from Common Fell

Back in May 2010 Barrie and I had a lovely walk over Common Fell and Watermillock Common above Ullswater. It’s very pleasant terrain and the views over the lake are among the best views in the Lake District, in my opinion. And in Alfred Wainwright’s opinion also as he says the walk along the Brown Hills ‘…excels in views of Ullswater.’ The main difference this time was that Sam wasn’t with us. We parked at Dockray and more or less followed the same paths over Round How and Swineside Knott. The only thing that spoilt it was the wind, which was pretty strong at times. And some of the paths were a bit indistinct – not that that’s ever put us off!

Last time we finished our walk with an overpriced drink in the Royal, but not this time. Our lesson had been learned and we enjoyed a brew by Aira Beck, where we were parked. Then we had a look round Ambleside followed by our usual visit to Hayes where I bought a couple of plants. Then beer for me and chips for Barrie at Gargrave on the way home. Another lovely day in the Lakes.

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Kildwick – Thursday 5 September

Left:  A pleasant scene near Kildwick – can you see the heron?

Right: The old ruin of Tar Topping above Silsden

In need of a good but not too long walk and not wanting to use the car found me having a very pleasant circular walk from home taking in canal, moor, lanes and fields. I walked along the canal bank – lovely shots of the heron, young and old – to Kildwick then up onto Farnhill Moor bypassing the pinnacle and heading across fields and lanes to end up at the unusually named ruin of Tar Topping then back down the fields to Silsden and home. It was a beautiful warm day and 6 miles at a leisurely pace was just right.

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Holme Fell – Thursday 11 July

Left:  Wetherlam from on Holme Fell – not the summit

Right: In Cathedral Cavern

We were having a lovely hot spell, which made a very nice change after last year’s not so nice summer. I’ve been on Holme Fell several times before but it’s a favourite and not too high so just right for what we were after. It was much too hot to walk too far or anything too strenuous. We parked at Hodge Close Quarry and ambled through the trees, past the small reservoir and onto the fell. There was at least a pleasant breeze to keep the temperature not too uncomfortable. We enjoyed lunch with a full-length view of Coniston Water before wending our way back down the west side of the fell, as always preferring to make it a circular walk rather than a ‘there and back’.

After welcome hot drinks (to me, cool tea is always more refreshing than ice-cold drinks) back at the car we then had another walk to beautiful Slater Bridge (a small packhorse bridge that must be one of the most photographed bridges in the Lake District) and the impressive Cathedral Cavern.

So two walks totalling about 6 miles. Then we had our usual trip to Hayes Garden Centre, where I bought a dwarf buddleia, then a pleasant drive home stopping at Gargrave for our usual chips for Barrie and Tetleys for me. A great day in lovely weather – let’s hope it lasts.

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Celebrating Dawn's 214 on Castle Crag – Tuesday 8 June

Left: The River Derwent near Rosthwaite

Right: Looking north toward Derwentwater from the summit of Castle Crag

I’ve made lots of lovely new friends on Facebook and this was a chance to meet up with some of them. Dawn Sharples was completing her round of Wainwrights on Castle Crag in Borrowdale and I was very happy to be invited to join her – with over 40 others and quite a few dogs. I stayed with my dear friend, Jeanette Williams, at her ‘caravan’ above Ullswater. What a fabulous couple of days it was and I’ll be forever grateful to Jeanette for making me so welcome.

Dawn had chosen a Super Hero theme for the event – and what an assorted and crazy bunch we must have looked to ‘normal’ walkers out enjoying the fells. There was Superman, Catwoman and Iron Man, to name just three. I was fairly quietly dressed in my Supergirl cape and hat! Owing to my fitness, or lack of it, I was glad that Dawn had chosen a small fell to finish on as I think if it had been anything much higher or longer, I’d have had to miss it, or have joined them in the pub afterwards. It was only about 3 miles but the most fun, fantastic and crazy 3 miles I’ve ever done in the Lakes. What a great crowd of people and I’m so glad I went along and joined them all.

I'd hoped to have a walk before I set off home. Little Mell Fell was calling me, but the weather was dreadful. So after a lazy breakfast and seeing Jeanette off to work I had a very short saunter round the lanes above Ullswater before heading home. But a fabulous couple of days which a wet Lakes day could never spoil!

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Birthday walk with Hollie from Burnsall – Wednesday 29 May

Left: The Wharfe at Loup Scar

Right: Hollie in thoughtful mood by the river

I like to have a walk on my birthday and as Hollie was on holiday and likes a walk too we decided to go to Burnsall and walk up to the suspension bridge ((built by her great-great-great grandfather) at Hebden. The weather was grey and dull but it wasn't raining so after crossing the bridge and having our snack we walked up into Hebden village to visit the graves of her grandad and great grandma who are buried in the churchyard there. Then we had a special birthday snack in the cafe in the village, then a play on the swings and slide – for Hollie, not me – before walking back to Burnsall. Not a long walk but great fun with my darling Hollie and a lovely way to spend my birthday!

I would have put a photo on here of the bridge but it turned out rather grey and gloomy looking so when I get one with blue sky I'll put it on my Yorkshire page.

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Reeth ramble – Friday 10 May

Left: Bridge over the River Arkle

Right: Looking into Swaledale with the village of Reeth just visible below

We decided (it was a walk with Barrie) to have a Dales walk rather than head to the Lakes. I've been wanting to do some walks from my book Birdwatching Walks in the Yorkshire Dales and one from Reeth sounded perfect. Flycatchers, redstarts, woodpeckers and cuckoos could be seen or heard on this walk – according to the book! We had a lovely drive up through Wharfedale, Wensleydale and into Swaledale before parking in the pretty village of Reeth. We followed the east bank of the River Arkle – a short river – across fields and along wooded paths but unfortunately it seemed like all the birds were having a lie in. Although we heard plenty we saw few – apart from chaffinches. We did hear the cuckoo as we passed through the appropriately named Cuckoo Hill! We had a lunch break by the river before crossing over and walking back through fields on the west side of the river. Unfortunately, it had now started to rain and we quickened our pace to get back to Reeth before it got too heavy. It was a shame as it was a very nice walk and an area neither of us had visited or walked before.

After a hot drink and food back at the car we set off north to Barnard Castle and Bowes as we'd agreed to visit an artist friend, Andy Beck, who lives just outside Bowes. It was good to meet Andy in his studio and have a welcome coffee with him before setting off home again. Andy is a fellow Alfred Wainwright afficionado and talented artist whose paintings following AW are remarkable. If I had more money I would definitely have one! We stopped at the Craven Heifer just outside Skipton for the usual Tetleys for me and chips for Barrie. A lovely walk of just over 4 miles, a shame about the rain, and lack of birds, but a grand day out in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales all the same.

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To Kildwick and back along the canal – Tuesday 30 April

Left: Early spring scene by the canal near Silsden

Right: A change from a canal view. This heron only flew off when a passing boat disturbed it.

Owing to work I didn't have time for a long walk and didn't want to drive so the canal bank from Silsden to Kildwick and back fitted the bill perfectly. It was warm and sunny and just great to be out, even for a short walk of about 4 miles.

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Buckhaw Brow–Feizor–Giggleswick Scar – Friday 19 April

Left: Looking toward Ingleborough as I drop down to Feizor with mother and youngster guarding the signpost

Right: Looking down the Craven Fault (limestone to the left and millstone grit to the right) from Giggleswick Scar

A lovely walk of about 6 miles from Buckhaw Brow above Settle over to Feizor then back over to Little Stainforth and Giggleswick Scar. I've always wanted to walk along the scar above Giggleswick and found a walk in Alfred Wainwright's Walks in Limestone Country that fitted the bill perfectly. The day didn't begin well as the rain was coming down as I parked up at the top of Buckhaw Brow and I don't do wet walks these days. I had a coffee and still the rain came down. I decided to go somewhere else and as I set off back down the hill, blue sky was appearing. I parked up again and set off. If it rained once I was walking, I didn't mind. I just don't like setting off in the rain. I don't see the point these days. The walk took me cross country to Feizor, by which time I was needing the loo. I was also ready for a hot drink so tea at Elaine's cafe was very welcome.

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Bolton Abbey birdwatching – Thursday 15 March

Left: A beautiful nuthatch taken at the shelter on the west side of the river

Right: Looking along the Wharfe towards Barden Bridge

It was the final week of free mid-week parking so I just had to have a final 'free' day there. It now costs £7.00 to park so being a true Yorkshire girl, I had to make the most of it!! And luckily the weather was on my side too – perfect walking weather of sunny but with a slight breeze. I parked at Sandholme car park (more commonly referred to as the Cavendish Pavilion car park) and decided to take the quieter upper path on the west side of the river. There's more chance of seeing birds up here – although not birds which prefer the water. I stopped for a while at the shelter – I brought some birdseed with me but there was nothing to see. No birds at all.

I carried on up to Barden Bridge intending to walk back down the other side. But I was disappointed at there being so little birdlife about. So I crossed back over at the aqueduct and went back to the shelter. What a difference! The nuthatch obliged – and instead of flying off as soon as it had got some seed, it perched for a while each time it came back. I then watch it climb the tree opposite the shelter. It was the best sighting I've had so far of this lovely little bird. I sat there on my own for about half an hour – a couple of dog walkers passed me but apart from them I saw nobody. Perfect for watching the birds. Then a leisurely saunter back to the car and a welcome cup of coffee. A lovely day, but I won't be parking here again till October at the earliest. I'll have to go back to my free parking spots till then!

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Helm Crag on a beautiful day – Thursday 28 February

Left: The view from the Low Wood Hotel across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes. The lake was flat calm.

Right: Looking past the Howitzer on Helm Crag towards Blencathra

At last Barrie and I managed a day we could both make that coincided with a day with a good forecast. We weren't wanting anything too long or too strenuous. Helm Crag fitted the bill perfectly – even though it does have a steep section! It was Sophie's second Lake District fell 20 years ago, climbed a couple of weeks after her 5th birthday. We were at Grasmere nice and early so managed free roadside parking. I like to contribute to the Lake District economy but the price of parking is exorbitant and I'd rather spend my money in the shops. We set off with blue sky and fluffy clouds and happily they stayed with us all day. We enjoyed lunch in the lee of the Howitzer with a super view across to the Coniston fells and Far Easedale. We then contemplatd going onto Gibson Knott but decided to take our time and go down the path from the col between Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. It's quite a steep path in places and I knew I'd need extra time to get down. On reaching the Easedale path at the bottom of the fell we turned right and walked the short distance to the bridge at Stythwaite Steps. We then enjoyed a leisurely stroll back down Easedale passing the beautiful monkey puzzle tree, which somehow looks out of place in its Lake District surroundings but at the same time looks perfectly at home – if that's possible!

We had a look round the shops in Grasmere, where I bought some Sarah Nelson's gingerbread – a first for me! Then we had our tea at the little parking spot on the back road from Grasmere over to White Moss – there are lovely views down to Rydal Water. Not many people know about this spot and perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it here. I don't think it'll get any busier though. Then a look round Lakeland, where I bought a flask. Then home via Gargrave for chips for Barrie and two pints of Tetleys for me. A great walk, great weather and an all round great day.

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Bolton Abbey with Hollie – Friday 15 February

Left: Hollie props up this beautiful tree. But I'll be glad when it's got leaves on it.

Right: There is a 'beach' opposite the priory which is always popular with families. We had it to ourselves this time.

An extra day Hollieday meant once again we were able to take advantage of free mid-week parking to enjoy a walk at Bolton Abbey. This time Hollie wanted to visit the priory – it's nice that she's interested in old things! – so we parked in the village and walked round the ruins then looked for one of our relative's graves. We walked up to the Cavendish Pavilion intending to cross the river there and walk back down the other side. Sadly, the path on the other side was closed for repairs so we had to take the same route back. Hollie was cheered up by a play on the 'beach' opposite the priory. It was good to have it to ourselves as it can get very busy there. We had our elevenses there then went to church. Hollie again was interested in the old building – still used as a church – and was reluctant to leave. She wasn't very happy with Henry VIII when I told her what he'd done with all the abbeys. In fact, she was more cross with him for wrecking the beautiful building than for chopping off his wives' heads! A lovely few hours with my lovely granddaughter. Got to get her up some mountains this year!

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An assortment of walks including Ireby (Lancashire, not Cumbria), Sunderland Point and around Heysham – Wednesday 9 January

Left: Lovely stone bridge at Ireby

Right: Boat at Sunderland Point, specially for my Sophie

As I want to do more walks from Alfred Wainwright's Walks in Limestone Country our intended target this time was Gragareth, a mountain of 2057 feet lying just west of the Lancashire/North Yorkshire boundary. It has some interesting cairns known as the Three Men. But you need a good clear day for this mountain as the views are part of its charm. Although it was foggy as we left home, the forecast was reasonably promising and we hoped that the fog would clear. It didn't. Having parked at our starting place of Ireby and having a short walk we abandoned plan A and set off for Morecambe. No point going up a mountain if you can't see anything from the top.

We drove through Morecambe and on to Sunderland Point where we walked to Sambo's Grave (a young black slave brought back from the West Indies by his rich owner but who sadly died on the long journey home). The fog was still with us and views were practically non-existent. After that we parked at Half Moon Bay at Heysham and had a walk along the cliff tops into the village and back. So three short walks totalling about 5 miles. So not bad after all. Just a shame about the views.

It was a reminiscing day for me as many happy holidays in my childhood were spent at Heysham as my granddad (Pop) lived there. It's changed a lot in some ways but in many others it hadn't changed at all. Plenty of happy memories for me.

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