Monday, 10 September 2012

A Foot Bath in the Lake District. Watendlath, High Tove and Blea Tarn.

Middlesteads Gill just above Armboth car park

Hmmmmm….where do I start? How about Thirlmere? Yes, that’ll do. At the Armboth Car Park at about 1pm. It was a glorious afternoon, and Peter had worked out a 6 mile route. The target was Watendlath on the other side of High Tove, and just for kicks, the start of the route was more or less straight up  Yep! A nice steep bank to get the blood pumping..... Yeh right! ....I was trying to keep me lungs in my body again.

Fortunately we were stopped by a rather large garden spider. That is, Peter walked into its web that was strung six foot across the path. He did make lots of “Eeeuugh” noises as he danced around brushing web and dead flies off himself. The spider was big, and we took ages trying to get a good picture before we totally destroyed its web to get past. My camera couldn’t focus well enough, this picture is from Peter.

Huffing and puffing, (well I was anyway), we continued up. There are benefits to such a steep walk, the views opened out quickly despite the trees. It’s a good job too, I needed the photo stops.
Up we went past Cockrigg Crags and out of the woods. We were now out on the fell, long grass waving in the wind. Views spreading out around us. Really, really, lovely.
Looking across Armboth Fell to Helvellyn in the cloud
It just goes to show how looks can be deceiving. As we walked, the ground got wetter and wetter until water oozed up around our boots with every step and our feet sunk into the ground. It was like walking on a very, very, wet mattress. We tried following the path; we tried not following the path. We tried hopping from one lump of grass to another, seeking out boulders and anything that looked the remotest bit drier than its surrounding. It seems however, that we cannot walk on water and in the end our feet were sloshing around inside our boots. 
Looking back across Armboth Fell to Whiteside
The sun was warm, the sky was blue, and bog slogging is hard work! Peter was perspiring, I, (being a lady) was “glowing”. I pointed out to Peter I might as well have poured the water I was drinking straight down my back.
We got to High Tove, (a Wainwright) and it all started to become worth it. We could just see Derwent Water on our right, and over to our left, the southern fells were coming into view.  Beautiful. 

We continued our splosh towards Watendlath. We didn’t quite get to the farm, but looked down from on high, enjoying the view of it all.  
Now we turned left along a slightly drier path (muddy, not sploshy), heading for Blea Tarn. We were looking for somewhere to enjoy a late lunch. Rough Knott provided the perfect spot, even laying on a rock to sit on with added footrest. Boots came off, socks were wrung out and feet were aired whilst we enjoyed a meat pasty and fantastic views. 

Our lunchtime view
With slightly drier socks we set off again towards the very pretty Blea Tarn. The walk planned was a short one, and once we reached the Tarn, we had to decide whether to continue along the clearly marked bridleway which was easy to follow, or take the original shorter route Peter had planned:- a black dotted line of a path back towards Thirlmere. Taking into account the time, we went for the shorter route. 
Blea Tarn
Helvellyn again. 
Thing is, there was no path. We looked all over, what was on the map was not on the ground? Peter did a clever demonstration of compass reading skills and we set off in a line heading for that lump of rock over there.
Now we were back to bog slogging with a bit of heather stomping. Between grassy tussocks, myriads of little water flows drenched the ground. The occasional dry rock was bliss, as were the stretches knee high heather with drier underpinning. And eventually……Whey Hey!....... Bracken! I’ve never been so pleased to see the stuff. It meant the ground was dry and solid. 
Launchy Gill on our way back.
Eventually, we got to the edge of the fell and the start of the forest line. Here we went for a little foray into the woods to see if we could find an interesting way back to the reservoir, but a cliff drop got in the way, so we backtracked and continued as planned along a fence line (still wet), and through the woods to the car park.
I was so glad to get out of those boots!

Back at home, I downloaded the walk we did and overlaid it on the map against the walk we planned. Turns out the black dotted path is actually a fence line, but we reckon it’s also a path. No matter, even though we didn’t actually follow it, Peter’s compass made sure we went in the right direction. And I learnt something about using one too. (Don’t ask me what it was, I’ll have forgotten by tomorrow).
Not the driest of walks, (Wainwright collectors: Have your wellies ready for High Tove), but walking across windswept fells under blue skies, with stunning views and the rest stop at Rough Knott more than made up for wet feet.  

Next week I’m back in the Dales. That’s what I call getting about a bit. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Malham Tarn to Arncliffe

Devil's-bit Scabious
The start to this walk was described as “Street Gate (near Malham Tarn and the start of Mastiles Lane)”. If you know the area, you can work it out. Me? I had absolutely no idea where the starting point was, but it looked a good walk, so I said I’d go. Fortunately, a car meet with Kev and Dot in Settle sorted out my navigational issues, and we started our walk from the car park on Street Gate around 10am.
Once again, the weather wasn’t in the best of moods when as we set off, all dark and grey. In fact, the clouds had come down to brush across the top of the low hill on the other side of Malham Tarn as we passed. They seemed to lift just enough to stay above us as we walked up the slope towards Middle House Farm.
Close to the farm is where the path joins Monk’s Road, so called because the monks used it. Kev planned the walk and knows the area very well. He explained that in years gone by the Monasteries controlled the Dales, (he didn’t actually put it in these words, but you get the drift) – 

Following the Norman Conquest (1066), a new breed of monks began to arrive in the North. A multitude of continental monastic orders moved in, all with different ideas about how to best serve God. The Northern Mission got off to a late start, so the widespread Benedictine monks were never a great force in Yorkshire. However, there was plenty of available land and generous lords eager to show their piety by donating it to a monastic foundation. The Augustinian 'black' canons were influential, but it was the strict Cistercians who really came into their own in the county, making Rievaulx the centre of their order in England. 
For almost 470 years, the monasteries dominated Yorkshire life. The monks were neighbours to everyone. Yet, suddenly, they were gone: swept away by the greed of 'Bluff King Hal' in the 1530s.” (Extracted from

It seemed the path we were travelling on might have been part of a main route from village to village across the Dales. Walking along, it is easy to imagine it as a long ago road or track. Although it is mostly grass now, you could see and feel the foundations of what was probably a busy route. We followed it through the classic limestone landscape. Stone walls and scars, scattered rocks white against the long grass and everything looking just a little bit wild and windswept. Beautiful.
All the while the clouds continued to lift until eventually the sun broke through. Blue skies were on their way. 
We were able to look across and down into the steep sided gulley cut by Cowside Beck as we made our way towards Littondale and the pretty little village of Arncliffe.
Arncliffe’s claim to fame is that it was the original setting for the fictional village of Beckindale of Emmerdale Farm.  There is a very odd pub there, called the Falcon Inn. Odd because it doesn’t have a traditional bar or pumps, and it’s like being in someone’s house. We sort of stood in the hall with the bar area in front of us, looking at someone’s washing hanging in the kitchen through the door on the right. Weird.
A brief stop before continuing the walk under blue sky along the riverside, surrounded by green fields and with the added bonus of being able to watch a dog and farmer herding the sheep. It was better than any TV advert can portray, traditional England at its best. 
At Out Gang Lane, it was time to turn and head back, past Arncliffe Cote and Hawkswick Cote, we followed Cote Gill up to Linseed Head. There’s a wonderful waterfall on Cote Gill which isn’t marked on the map. If we had followed the path, we’d have missed it. But we had the very knowledgeable Kev, who took us off road to walk along a sheep track at the side of Cote Gill. I am so glad he did. The little beck had etched a steep sided gulley through the limestone, creating a stunning little ravine. Awesome. 
Little waterfall running into Cote Gill
Looking back along Cote Gill to Great Whernside
And the waterfall too. Sadly the sun was ever so slightly in the wrong place to get a good picture. Lovely though. 

Up on Linseed Head, not only did we enjoy the fantastic views, but also the company of the cutest Highland Cattle. A large number spread across the fields around us. The massive horns on the adults looked menacing but their calves were adorable. These animals were so placid, they barely moved as we walked through them.

On the high ground, past Lee Gate High Mark and Clapham High Mark, the air was clear, the sun was high in the sky and the views were glorious.  
Simon's Seat in the distance
And then it was time to make our way downhill. 
Middle House Farm, Scab Hill behind
Our last challenge awaited in the form of a “Ford” at the point where Gordale Beck meets Great Close Mire, and about four other becks I reckon. Water flowed into this point from everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Across the fields, through fences and gates and even the walls. Kev described it as a raging torrent. OK, maybe not quite raging, but an awful lot of water to be “forded” We looked this way and that, walking back and forth looking for a way across. There wasn’t one. In the end, there was nothing else we could do but paddle, and hope our boots kept the water out.
Mine didn’t!
Not a problem, we were on the home straight now. Within a few minutes, we’d reached Street Gate where it joins the Roman Road of Mastiles Lane, (Ahhhh, now I get it), before finally reaching our cars about 5pm.
Another brilliant day. I especially enjoyed the views of Cote Gill, and the waterfall, and up onto the tops around Linseed Head. Absolutely wonderful. Thank you to Kev for showing us the way, and Dot for her company.

Our route:- about 12 ½ miles, 1700 ft of up and 7 hours of wonderful Dales countryside

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Derwent Edge and the Walking Forum

One of the reasons I joined the The Walking Forum was to find company for walks when Peter is working.  I was hoping that I could enjoy walks that I wouldn’t normally attempt by myself.  Herewith another one of those walks.

On this occasion, I’d travelled down and stayed with Peter in a Sheffield hotel overnight – (he was exhibiting at “Art in the Gardens”), so it was easy then to drive from Sheffield to the start point of the walk – The Upper Derwent, or Fairholmes, Visitor Centre at the top of Ladybower Resevoir.

On arrival, I met Tracey and introduced myself.  But then I realised this Tracey was not the Tracey organising the walk, and I thought I’d best explain that I wasn’t the organiser either.  Luckily, this first Tracey already knew, because she’d met the organiser Tracey on an earlier walk.  Organiser Tracey appeared a few minutes later.

So there was Tracey the organiser, (Tracey 1), me, (Tracey 2), and the Tracey I’d just met, (Tracey 3).  We were joined by Caroline and Carolyn and four guys whose names are not as confusing, Andy, Simon, Pete and James.  Last but not definitely not least, was Aiden.  Aiden is 10 yrs old, can out walk the majority of us, and definitely out talked all of us.   Fortunately, he is a social butterfly and skilled in the art of networking.  We each got a share of his attention and conversation. (Phew!) Actually, he is a delightful boy.  He and the whole group were excellent company, I was very pleased to meet them all, get to know them a little, and put faces to names from the forum.

So to the walk then. Well, it started grim and overcast. Derwent Reservoir was the colour of steel as it reflected the grey clouds. We walked alongside for a while before turning right to climb the 880 ft ascent needed to reach Lost Lad.
As we climbed, the landscape changed. First we walked through the thick green of the bracken growing on the steep banks until the ground starts to level out. As we got higher, the sky brightened and the air grew warmer.
Then, as we got to the top, the moors spread out around us. The bracken had stopped and the heather was in full flower, purple amongst the greens and browns of windswept grasses.
The creases and folds of the cloughs give gentle flowing movement to the landscape and with the blue sky and gusting wind, it was exactly as I like it. Wonderful.
Under the lovely warm sun, the walk moved on: Lost Lad, Back Tor and along Derwent Edge. I’ve been here before with Peter, but last time it was very wet and we didn’t get to see and photograph as much of the rock formations as we’d have liked.
This time was very different and the camera clicked away. I am in awe at the power of wind and water, and how it has managed to carve these amazing shapes out of the rock. I wanted to climb, but that will be for next time I think. 

A really lovely walk along the edge until the The Wheelstones
Shortly after, we turned left to walk down into the bracken of Derwent Moor, taking a loop round past Cutthroat Bridge (brilliant name, conjures up all sorts of images), towards Ashopton.
Ladybower Resevoir glinted in the sun on our left and I loved how green that bracken was around us.
From there, another climb to with more views of Ladybower,
and to complete the loop before descending towards Grindle Clough under blue, blue, skies, finally reaching Ladybower Resevoir and ultimately the car park at around 5pm.
We sat together among the ducks to enjoy ice cream and coffee before all going our separate ways. It was an excellent day which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you to Tracey, Tracey, Caroline, Carolyn, Andy, James, Simon, Pete and Aiden for making it so.
Actually, very special thanks to Tracey (1) and Aiden for making it so. J

To read about a previous walk along Derwent Edge click this link.