Friday 17 August 2018. What has happened to the weather? Where I am it seems to have turned from summer to autumn almost overnight. On Tuesday it rained almost all day. Yesterday it rained for the bigger part of the afternoon and this was repeated today. Tomorrow looks much the same and Sunday seems as if it will be a washout.
Given the prevailing weather conditions, I decided to make an early start to my walk this morning, leaving Coniston at 8:10am. I set off north on the Cumbria Way but soon diverted onto a side path, climbing up through Guards Wood. A downhill section took me to Boon Crag Farm, only to climb again up around Tarn Hows Wood. I descended again to cross the Amblside road at Yew Tree Farm and to pick up the bridleway which would take me back to Coniston. I stopped briefly for some refreshment sat on the parapet of Shepherd’s Bridge. My walk was just 4.6 miles, but the two climbs meant that the total ascent was 900ft.
It was 11am when I got back to Coniston and, as a reward for my early start, I treated myself to a belated cooked breakfast and spent some time accessing the internet on the café’s wi-fi. My caravan site doesn’t have wi-fi and I’m quickly eating into my mobile phone data allowance. I’ve decided that instead of uploading blog reports after each walk, I’ll save them for when I get back home and upload them when I have better internet access.
Coniston – walk route
Thursday 16 August 2018. After a day of almost constant rain yesterday I just had to get out for a walk today. I decided on an easy 4.25 mile walk with 600ft of ascent direct from my caravan. I did the outward leg of this walk when I last stayed in Torver 5 years ago. My route took me in the general direction of Coniston Old Man but stopped short before the climbing became too arduous. I followed a bridleway to the west of Torver Beck, as far as the quarries south of the Walna Scar Road. There is an impressive hole left from the quarrying into which the beck cascades through a waterfall of about 50ft.
I could have retraced my steps back to Torver but decided to follow a new route, closer to the eastern bank of the beck. This brought me out at the oddly named hamlet of Little Arrow on the Torver to Coniston road. From here I followed the route of the disused railway line back to the caravan.
Torver – walk route
Tuesday 14 August 2018. I had an exhausting 222-mile drive yesterday on my 5½ hour journey from home to my caravan site at Torver. Unusually for me, I’m staying on a small “listed site” without a shower block when there is a much bigger and better-appointed Caravan Club site just over a mile away. I’ve stayed there before but it is shrouded by trees and I doubt that I would be able to get a satellite signal there. The Torver 5-van site has all that I need, water & electricity and has the bonus of tranquillity and views. My caravan has its own toilet/shower so I’m self-contained. Sadly, there is no on-site wi-fi so I’m having to fall back by connecting via my smartphone. Despite driving through a torrential downpour near Newby Bridge, at the foot of Lake Windermere, it was dry when I arrived in Torver although low cloud and mist was restricting the view of Coniston Old Man. The owners of the site are very relaxed about payment and, despite offering them the money, they suggested that I wait until my departure as I might want to leave early and not to pay for nights that I haven’t used.
The weather forecast for today wasn’t very promising although the light drizzle that fell first thing relented for a few hours only to return later. I decided not to take the chance of getting wet and took myself off to Ambleside on a shopping expedition. Rather than driving the 12 miles to Ambleside I decided to go just a couple of miles to Coniston and to let the 9:30 bus take the strain. My bus pass saved me a fare of £8.30 not to mention the cost of car parking which starts at £2 for the first 2 hours with an extra £1.20 for every additional hour. There is free on-street car parking in Coniston if you get there early enough. I’ve driven the route to Ambleside before and knew how narrow the roads are. I say “roads”, but they are not much above country lanes which haven’t changed in width or direction since they were established for the horse and cart. I was therefore surprised when my bus turned out to be a 40-seater single decker which wasn’t the best choice for the task. Needless to say, we frequently ground to a halt as we squeezed past vehicles coming the other way. It took nearly 50 minutes to complete this short journey. The return journey was a little quicker on a smaller and more suitable 27-seater.
The main purpose of the outing was to buy some new Birkenstock sandals. I’ve looked, without success, to buy them on-line and knew that they are stocked by F W Tyson on the main street, having bought from them before. With the primary task achieved I retired to Costa Coffee for refreshments and to use their free wi-fi. Ambleside was much busier than when I was last there in June and I was glad to catch the 11:50 bus back to Coniston. Torver seems like a tranquil oasis in comparison to Ambleside and I’m glad that the walks that I have planned are in this much quieter part of the lakes.
Sunday 12th August
There were just the six of us including Lisa (Thetford) and her friend Susannah from Halstead for today’s 8.7 mile walk from Swanton Morley led by Phil. We meandered along the winding River Wensum for about 2.5 miles, where we took our coffee break. After a further 3 miles we stopped for lunch in North Tuddenham Woods, not before negotiating a footpath that had been previously so overgrown with vegetation, that it was totally impassable. Reporting it to Norfolk County Council 3 weeks earlier had obviously brought the desired action. After lunch we walked the remaining 3 or so miles back to Swanton Morley, where Karen couldn’t resist sorting out a few books in the Phone Box Library. Fortunately for us, the predicted rain for the day didn’t materialise: so all in all, an enjoyable day.
Wednesday 25 July 2018. After a day off from walking I thought that I’d better make an effort today although I needed to be back by 2pm to watch the Tour de France on TV. With this in mind, I opted for a walk directly from the caravan, I’d done most of the walk before but opted to extend it to take in Bordley House Farm. Other than 2 DofE groups that I saw early on, it wasn’t until I was nearly back before I saw anyone else. Soon after passing the first group of DofE girls, I bumped into a guy who turned out to be their assessor. He was walking their route in the opposite direction to ensure that he met up with them somewhere along the way. He was surprised that I’d come across them as they shouldn’t have been Grysedale Lane and had taken a wrong turn. He dashed off to try to catch them up.
My route took me up onto Threshfield Moor where I met the second group of DofE folks. I took a wrong turn myself through the farm at Bordley but soon realised my mistake as quickly got back on track. The rest of the route was familiar to me and there was no need to refer to the map. The walk was 7.5 miles with just over 1,000ft of ascent. One odd thing that I saw along the way was a signpost with distances shown in eighths of a mile. I can’t recall seeing anything similar and it must be a throwback to when distances were measured in miles and furlongs.
Bordley – walk route
Monday 23 July 2018. Today’s 6.25 mile walk with 1,200ft of ascent was devised by me by looking at the map to find a linear route which could take advantage of the local bus service. My return bus from Kettlewell was at 14:45. If I missed this then I would have to wait for a couple of hours to catch the last bus. The 10:30 outward bus, from my caravan site to the start of the walk at Conistone, would only allow 4 hours to complete the walk with added undue pressure. I therefore opted for the earlier 09:10 bus which meant that I could start the walk at 09:20 and have nearly 5.5 hours in which to complete. If I did it in good time then I could enjoy a meal and a drink in Kettlewell before catching the 14:45 bus back.
The climb out of Conistone up to the level of the Dales Way was steady but uphill for most of the way. It passed through Conistone Dib, a limestone gorge similar to Trollers Gill that I did last week. After crossing the Dales Way there was more up until I arrived at the trig point at Capplestone Gate. I stopped for lunch here taking in the views across to Kilnsey Moor. The next section of the walk was fairly level following the line of the intake wall. It was along here that I met a Spanish couple, doubling the number of people whom I saw on the entire walk. After a couple of miles of fairly level walking it was time to head downhill. There was a gentle start but it steepened the closer that I got to Kettlewell.
I ended the walk in the Kings Head with about an hour to kill before the bus. I’d been thinking about a refreshing drink for the last few miles and quenched my thirst with a pint of lager shandy to accompany my steak & ale pie, with chips, of course. It had been a hot and humid day but thankfully there was some cloud cover for much of the time, saving me from burning in the sun.
Conistone to Kettlewell – walk route
Sunday 22 July 2018. The weather was slow to clear today with mist shrouding the hills but the sun showed its face by early afternoon. I didn’t feel like doing much and it was 10:30 before I set off from the caravan to walk to Linton. When I got there I would decide whether to push on to Grassington or to, more or less, retrace my steps back to the caravan. My energy levels hadn’t improved by the time I got to Linton so I sat by the beck for a while before setting off back to the caravan. This short walk was just 3.5 miles.
Linton – walk route