Kentmere Round

1 June, 2016

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Piggy and I had two fantastic days out last weekend, the first of which was around the Kentmere Horseshoe.

Lots of pics on Flickr here.


Exploring locally — Fabulous day!

15 May, 2016

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On the approach to Great Coum

When Piglet and I walk locally with pals who are far more familiar than us with the local landscape I often point to lovely hills in the distance and ask what they are. An interesting hill just to the left (as we observe them) of Ingleborough and Whernside has often been identified as Leck Fell, and yesterday Piggly and I decided to go and take a look.

I was a little worried when I scouted out the walk on Quo because there were several references to This, That and The Other farm, and so I was concerned that we might meet packs of ravaging collies. I was also a little afraid that we might find our progress blocked by fields full of monstrous cows. Despite that, though, Piglet persuaded me to give it a go yesterday morning, and so we set off for Ireby with our hearts in our mouths. Mine, anyway…

The route

The route

Leck, Great Coum, Bullpot Details

The details

Happily, it turned out to be a walk of exceptional beauty, and we encountered no aggressive or unwelcoming creatures at any stage. We didn’t start until 11am, but even with lots of dawdling and photo-breaks we were finished by 6pm, with plenty of time for me to stop and buy a pizza on the way home.

Today we walked from home with our pals, and when we stopped and looked over towards the Dales I recognised Leck Fell and the route that we explored yesterday. It felt good, and I look forward to further expeditions in the direction of Barbondale.

I also took the opportunity to play with the new camera, of course, and managed to get a lovely piccy of a wee hoverfly homing in on a head of Bugle.

Hover Fly 2

Bugle with hoverfly

I love it when unexpected wee creatures show up on my piccies:)

There are lots of other photos here for anybody who might like to look at them.


Sunny woodland walk from home

8 May, 2016

Gorse and mayfly

Piggle and I had a fab walk in the woods today with our pals Linda, John and Poppy. The bluebells are out, and we went to see them.

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A bluebell

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Lots of bluebells!

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Photographing bluebells

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Poppy in the bluebells

There were lots of other lovely things in the woods as well.

Wood sorrell & bluebells

Wood sorrel

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Lovely grasses

Gorse and mayfly

Wee mayfly rising to the beautiful gorse next to the river

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Garlic, Horsetail and wee spider

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Pretty thing

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Lovely snail

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More garlic

Piglet and Poppy both enjoyed a dip in the river.

Piglet cooling down

Piglet cooling off

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Poppy swimming

And it was lovely to be able to sit in the first truly warm sunshine of the year.

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Poppy, John and Linda

More pics here for anyone who’d like to see them.


Thank goodness for unreliable forecasts!

8 May, 2016

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Piglet has been keeping an eye on the BBC weather app all week, but most of the news has been gloomy. Cloud, rain, hail, sleet and general horribleness seemed likely to occupy the entire Bank Holiday weekend, and as the weekend approached it seemed increasingly likely that the whole thing was going to be a complete wash out.

Sad

Oh noes!

Around about Thursday, though, it began to look as though yesterday (Saturday) might simply be cloudy, with intermittent showers, and so late on Friday I began to have a think about where we might go for a good weekend walk.

We wanted a change from the Dales, but didn’t want to contend with the weekend traffic heading up the m/way to the Lakes, and so–in a moment of rare genius–it occurred to me to take a look at the Howgills.

By dint of some quick Googling I discovered that my old pal, Mike Knipe, has a year’s worth of Howgills route descriptions over on another old pal Phil Lambert’s excellent Doodlecat site. Since this is April (well, it was when I looked on Friday) I decided to go with Mike’s April walk, which starts, conveniently, in Sedbergh. Whoohoo! Piglet was ecstatic, and she did a little dance:)

 

happydog

Happeeeeee!

(Regular readers may notice that this isn’t Piglet, but since she so rarely agrees to smile for the camera I’ve borrowed a picture. This is just what she looked like when I told her where we were going. Really.)

Our route

Our route

The details

The details

Yesterday morning the weather at home was pretty crappy, and after taking care of essential business–feeding,  watering and mucking out a dog, three cats, three chucks and a horse–I was undecided about whether or not to risk the rain.

The main reason for my hesitation was that my main walking waterproof jacket, a Paramo Viento, has had a broken main zip for a couple of months now, and is unusable. I’ve had the jacket for about 12 years, and have already had to have the main zip replaced once. One of the great things about Paramo (I’ve always thought) has been their lifetime guarantee, and when the zip first broke about 5 years into my ownership they happily took the jacket back and replaced it for me free of charge. When I contacted them a couple of months ago, though, they told me that the life of the main zip had now come to an end, and that I’d have to pay for a second replacement. At £47.50 plus postage that felt like a lot of money, and I’ve not had it done yet. I don’t really think the main zip in a £200 jacket should fail and need to be replaced twice in 12 years.

They also suggested that after 12 years it was probably time for me to think about buying a new jacket. This from Paramo, one of whose main selling points has always been longevity. TBH, I was extremely unimpressed.

Anyway… my other jacket (a Cioch Glamaig) is great but it’s shorter than the Viento, and lighter, and I don’t think of it as a first choice for very wet weather. Hence my ambivalence in the face of the freezing rain occurring outside my front door.

It’s always difficult to deal with Piglet’s tears, though, and so in the end I loaded up the rucksack, and then the car, and we set off for Sedbergh with claws and fingers crossed.

It turned out to be a truly fantastic day! I could see some snow on the tops as we drove over, but I hadn’t anticipated that at some points it might be calf deep. That was brilliant, as Piglet loves a bit of snow and so do I. The weather was a little overcast as we set off up the hill…

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The hill at the start

…but as we gained a bit of height it began to pick up, and after about an hour it was sunshine virtually all the way.

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Looking down to Sedbergh

From our raised position I could see little rain showers happening all around us, but we were incredibly lucky and none of them came our way:)

Like Mike, we didn’t go up Winder but instead followed a path closer to Settlebeck Gill.

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Settlebeck Gill

We crossed the gill and followed a path up to the right. Unlike Mike, we didn’t take the detour to the top of Crook, but we took a piccy looking down at it from a higher point slightly later in the walk.

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On the approach to Arant Haw

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Looking back down to Winder

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Crook, with the little knobble on top

When we reached the top of Arant Haw we entered a different, and fabulous, world. Ahead of us lay an exciting snowy landscape, and Piglet stared ahead, enthralled.

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The way ahead — towards Brant Fell

At that point it occurred to me to try out the Panorama feature on my new camera. Result!

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From Arant Haw towards Calders, and The Calf (somewhere behind)

The climb up to Calders looked steep as we set off towards it…

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Climb to Calders

…but it was fine, if a little windy, and we stopped half way to admire some interlocking spurs that I vaguely remembered learning about when we were doing glaciation in geography at school, about 1,000 years ago.

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Interlocking spurs!

We took another panoramic thingy a little higher up…

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…and again we were lucky to avoid the rain showers that we could clearly see around and about.

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Rain to the left

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And rain to the right

Without what felt like too great an effort we arrived at the top of Calders.

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On top of Calders

Had my iPhone not been running ViewRanger I might have thought Calders was The Calf, but it turned out not to be. We therefore pressed on again, and passed a few people out enjoying the amazing weather, and here was one of them crossing the lovely plateau towards us.

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Lone walker

As we embarked upon the final ascent towards The Calf we passed a brolly. Weird! We left it there, in the hope that the owner might nip back and pick it up.

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Brolly!

Eventually we got to the top, and we stood around chatting with a couple of walkers who’d come up another way. I took a photo for them, and accidentally posted it to their Whatsapp account. Whoops!

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On top of The Calf

From The Calf our route was due to take us towards Fell Head, but had it not been for my trusty compass I might have set off for Docker Knott instead as I’d forgotten that we were meant to be making a left-hand turn. Fortunately I checked, though, and we began our descent in the right direction.

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Starting the descent from The Calf

Until that point I’d just been wearing a Fuera Smock over my baselayer, but it was actually pretty chilly and therefore I stopped to get out my jacket. Re-clothed in both jacket and Fuera I prepared to continue, but noticed that Piglet was by that point looking a little pinched.

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Wee baby is getting cold!

It was probably the standing around that had done it, but I delved back into the pack and got out her lovely Hurtta winter jacket. Much better:)

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Baby much warmer now:)

The views and landscape just got better and better as we progressed. There was an element of up and down, of course, but at the same time there was much more of a plateau than I had expected to find, and it was really lovely to be able to press on through gorgeous scenery without having to make significant descents and ascents on a regular basis.

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Lovely high and level walking

As we pressed on over (what the map tells me is) Bush Howe towards Fell Head, from which we were going to descend, I noticed an oddly-shaped patch standing out in stark relief on the side of the fell ahead. I vaguely remembered reading something that Mike had written about the famous ‘Black Horse of Busha’, and wondered whether this might be it. I took a piccy, just in case. Looking now at the picture Mike took I realise that what I saw was the wrong thing. Not entirely suprising, since it also appears that I was looking in the wrong place. In fact I was probably standing on the horse when I took my piccy. Doh…:)

The Black Amoeba of Busha

The Black Amoeba of Busha

Several factors combined at this point to place Piglet and me in significant danger.

Uh oh

Uh oh…

First, Mike had spoken of standing on The Black Horse, and since I thought that my amoeba was the horse I began to think that I should start contouring round to the left when I reached the saddle that now lay ahead of me. Secondly, I misread the map and wrongly thought the saddle was the point at which the path turns left towards Fell Head. Oops…

Oops!

Oops!

It’s a good job it was snowy, because I did walk a little way along the ‘path’ to the left but it was immediately obvious even to the most hopeless of navigators that conditions were not right for that kind of precipitous undertaking. I therefore retraced my steps and set off up the steep hill ahead instead, mentally doffing my cap to Mike and Bruno. It was only when I checked ViewRanger when higher up that I realised my mistake.

The climb to Fell Head had looked horribly steep, but in the end it wasn’t too bad. We eventually reached the top…

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Finally… At Fell Head preparing to descent to Whins End

…and there we sat down to share a sandwich. We’d both have liked to have stopped earlier, but there had been so little shelter that I’d kept deciding to press on. Since I’d forgotten to take the usual pocket full of mini-biscuits for Piglet, she was highly delighted to tuck into my cheese and coleslaw roll. From that point it was going to be almost all downhill, and I began to wonder how long it would take us to find our way back to Sedbergh.

First we had to get down, though…

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The descent towards Whins End

…and as we wound our way down the steep hillside I watched traffic speeding past on the motorway far below us.

We spotted some fell ponies as we went on, and I was hugely relieved to confirm that they weren’t coos.

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Not coos, thank goodness!

As we reached the bottom we headed left and crossed a small ravine (for want of a better word) and then climbed towards the intake wall (i.e. the wall that separates the fellside from the cultivated land. I mention this because I wasn’t quite sure, until I looked it up).

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Little ravine

I’d hoped to follow the wall back to Sedbergh, but it fairly soon became obvious that that would be difficult–barbed wire and quantities of cows provided a significant hint–and so at or about Castley we struck off down a track and joined a lovely little lane for the last three miles.

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Lovely lane back to Sedbergh

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The lane is a Roman road

The lane was almost as lovely as the fellside had been before it, and had the advantage of being decorated with a profusion of spring flowers.

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Cuckoo Flower/May Flower

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Primroses

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Violet

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Blackthorn blossom

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Little Mouse Ear? (Let me know if it isn’t)

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Brave dandelion:)

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Early bluebell

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Garlic Mustard/Jack-by-the-Hedge (said to be edible but you’d need to be starving!)

I also spotted a small, vacated egg shell. I think it was from a thrush.

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Thrush egg

The three miles on the lane passed quickly, and I realised I was re-joining the thriving metropolis when I spotted some very beautiful flowering blackcurrant.

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Flowering blackcurrant

From that point it was only ten minutes to the car, and we stopped on the way home at Booths to buy a pizza (and a tart au citron and some creme fraiche and cheese and olives and some other stuff). My sister was coming up, so I though I’d better lay in stores. Now that she’s been unable to come I’ll just have to eat it all myself! C’est la vie!:)

The weather today is just as crappy as had been forecast, so they don’t always get it wrong. It’s definitely worth taking a chance when it just might be okay, though. And when I finally buy a decent new foul weather jacket I won’t mind if it’s raining.

If anyone would like to see them, all the pics can be found on Flickr, here.


Ingleborough Two Ways

25 April, 2016
The First Ascent

The First Ascent

The forecast was for a cloudy day, but it was raining as Piglet and I set off for Ingleton in the car😦

Things soon looked up, though. By the time we reached the top of Ingleborough for the first time it was snowing, and as we crossed the plateau towards our first descent the wind was blowing a bit of a hoolie and the step was shrouded in low-lying cloud!

First descent

First descent

As we slipped down towards Nick Pot the sun began to make fleeting appearances, and the rain that I’d been concerned about didn’t return. Phew!

Piglet and I love the Dales. We like to do a hill or two, but we don’t want to walk the same route every time. This one was a variation on the one we walked two weeks ago with pals, but this time, at Clapham Bottoms, we turned right and climbed back up via what felt, by that time in the day, like the implausibly steep snout of Little Ingleborough. Quo tells me we walked a little over 12 miles, but yesterday I was tired and it felt much further.

The route

The route

The info

The info

When we reached the top again it was sunny but freezing, and we stopped for a welcome break at the shelter and shared a flapjack and a flask of coffee as we chatted with three young blokes who were boiling up a brew.

This was my first opportunity to properly try out my new Panasonic Lumix GX7 camera (whoohoo!). I plan to learn to use it properly — f stops and all that — but today we mainly used the IA setting and played with a few of the artistic filtery things.

Tree

Monochrome Tree

Sheep

Sepia Sheep

When I saw the rain as we were about to set off I almost turned round and went back into the house. As we ambled happily along the beautiful little green lane between Long Scar and Trow Gill, though, I was horrified to think that we nearly hadn’t been there. It was an excellent walk on a gorgeous day of enormous contrasts.

Green lane

Green lane

It’s become a bit of a tradition, now, for Piglet to eat a tub of scrummy wet dog food mixed up with her kribble when we return from a good day out, and as she settled to her rawhide chew in front of the fire I tucked away an enormous pizza.

More piccies here for anybody who would like to look.

 


More great music

18 April, 2016

There’s so much great music to stumble across when listening to Radio 4 podcasts!


Epic day out in Forest of Bowland

18 April, 2016
Looking back towards the Dales

Looking back towards the Dales

Unsure of what to expect of the weather, Piglet and I decided to stay a little more local on Saturday, and we set out to explore some places we haven’t visited before.

The route

The route

The details

The details

In the end we had an epic day of varied scenery, and the only blots on the weather-related horizon were two short hail showers: one near the start and the second when we were almost finished. Neither was any kind of a problem, and in fact the hail looked very pretty against the background of wintery/spring sunshine.

It was a tremendous route, but the whole experience was rather blighted for me by the knowledge that at the finish we were likely to have to pass through a farmyard, adjacent to our parking point, inhabited by a rather savage-looking collie. When I asked the (very friendly) farmer as we prepared to park whether his dog would be okay with a Border Terrier he looked thoughtful, and eventually said, “I’m not sure…” I therefore spent the next 8 hours wondering how it might be possible to take a different route at the conclusion of the walk in order to return to the car without passing through the farmyard.

I hadn’t realised before Piglet came to live with me just how stressful it would be to have a small dog nervous of larger dogs. I’ve always been nervous myself of encountering aggressive farm dogs, but a barky little terrier is a bit of a magnet in that situation and so I now try, as far as possible, to avoid passing through farms. Living in the middle of farming country, though, that isn’t easy if we’re to walk from anywhere near home. Having had a terrier killed by farm dogs when I was a teenager, this is an anxiety I’m never able to entirely shake off.

In the end we didn’t meet any dogs, but in the closing hours of the walk we did encounter my second-worst walking-related nightmare, which is a public footpath running through a field full of cows with calves. Aaagh😦

Coos on the public footpath

Coos on the public footpath

I managed to take a detour, which involved careful negotiation of a barbed wire fence and much passing backwards and forwards over a sparkling little stream. The process added more than an hour to the day, but I’m glad to know that the detour exists in case we decide to take the route again.

The high spot of the day, in territorial terms, was our first visit to Ward’s Stone, which is the highest hill in the Forest of Bowland. From there we had magnificent views down to the coast and across to Littledale…

View from Ward's Stone

View from Ward’s Stone

…and we stopped to share a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and a flask of coffee.

Piglet and I share a sandwich

Piglet and I share a sandwich

We did manage to avoid the farm collie in the end by walking off the footpath and approaching the car over the side of the moor, which was a relief!

Later, tucked up in front of the fire, I realised that I’d left my lovely and semi-ancient Ortlieb map case on the ground near the parking point, but I drove back up at first light the following morning and found it where I’d left it, covered in a thick layer of rime.

I plan to get out and do more walking in the Forest of Bowland, but now that cow time is upon us again I may have to defer the farmland walks until later in the year.

If anybody would like to see them, there are lots and lots of photos here.

 

 


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