Monthly Archives: March 2017

Half of a Horseshoe


Tuesday 28 March 2017. Yesterday was a transfer day as I moved sites from Austwick to Windermere so no walking. Today I met up with John Horner, a former work colleague for a walk on part of the Kentmere Horseshoe. The full circuit is an extremely challenging walk and when I tried to do it a couple of years ago, I had to bale out as I just couldn’t face the climb up to Harter Fell and Kentmere Pike. So today it was a resumption of unfinished business.

It was a 6 mile drive down a narrow single track road to get to the start of the walk at the end of Longsleddale. Thankfully, I only met 2 cars on the drive in and 1 on the way out; all of them near small passing laybys. We steadily climbed the first 1,500ft as we made our way up Gatescarth Pass. On the way we passed some lovely waterfalls on the River Sprint.

Turning off the Gatescarth Pass the climbing began in earnest as we made our way up past the snow-line to Harter Fell, the 1st Wainwright of the day at 2,552ft. From here we had good views down Haweswater and stopped for lunch overlooking Small Water and High Street. As we made our way to the 2nd Wainwright, Kentmere Pike (2,395ft), we had just had a conversation about the reliability of smart phones as navigation aids when I got a text message from BT welcoming me to Guernsey? I’m glad I knew where I was, even if BT didn’t!

More ups and downs brought us to our 3rd and final Wainwright, Shipman Knotts (1,926ft). By now my knee was beginning to ache and I almost bypassed Shipman Knotts as I was unsure if it featured on Wainwright’s list. It had been a beautiful if hazy morning requiring the application of suncream but it steadily clouded over and light rain fell for the last mile. The first uphill half of the walk was wonderful but the trudge over snow and boggy ground from Harter Fell to Shipman Knotts was less enjoyable. The western part of the Kentmere Horseshoe is much better and I doubt that I’ll be visiting the eastern section again. The walk was 8.1 miles with a total ascent of 2,400ft.

Kentmere Pike – walk route

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Kirkby Lonsdale

Sunday 26 March 2017. Yesterday’s exertions left me feeling more than a little tired and stiff today so rather than going for another walk, I decided to drive up to Kirkby Lonsdale for a full English breakfast at Lunesdale Bakery and a short wander around the town to take in Ruskin’s View. This was said by Turner to be “one of the loveliest views in England”. There is no doubt that it is a fine view but, in my experience, there are many just as good if not better. One the way out of town I stopped to take a picture of the dozens of bikers who gather at the Devil’s Bridge.

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Fountains Fell

Saturday 25 March 2017. Jacqui joined me today for another walk in the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve recently found a list of 30 Dales Peaks above 2,000ft and as Fountains Fell (2,192ft) came in at #19, I just had to take this opportunity to go and do it. My leg felt much better than yesterday although as I was later to find out, on the downhill bits, that it still hasn’t fully recovered. After an “interesting” drive on the narrow country road from Langcliffe we were lucky to get the last available parking spot just above Malham Tarn.

As we set off up the Pennine Way we could see a series of small blue marker flags and met several runners coming in the opposite direction. I discovered that they were taking part in either a marathon, half marathon or 10k race all based at Malham Tarn. I thought that I recognised one of the female runners and now see that Helen’s daughter, Amanda Seims came second in the female half-marathon. I should have said hello. Soon after, as the Pennine Way crossed a minor road, we met one of the male runners who appeared to have missed a turning point and was heading the wrong way. Luckily, for him, we were able to point him in the right direction.

The Pennine Way took us almost to the top of Fountains Fell but before we got there we stopped for lunch at a cairn which afforded wonderful 360 degree views. From here we could see all 3 of the major Yorkshire Peaks (Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside). The snow-capped Howgills, north of Sedbergh, were clearly visible as were some of the Lake District hills. It was a wonderfully peaceful spot to sit and contemplate whilst taking in the beauty of the surrounding countryside.

By now, were had reached the snow line and the next half mile or so from our lunch spot to the insignificant pile of rocks marking the true summit of Fountains Fell was hard going as we had to weave around large patches of snow. Where these couldn’t be avoided we soon found that they were well over a foot deep in places. In one spot I had to step down into a snow drift and asked Jacqui to hold my had to stop me falling and jarring my already sore knee. The snow was much deeper than I had anticipated and I ended up face down, in a heap, lying in the snow.

As we descended we left the snow behind but the going didn’t get any easier crossing tussocky open moorland. The last leg of the walk was a little confusing crossing Chapel Fell. There were no signposts although the walk instructions suggested keeping the wall to our right. Jacqui and I had a minor dispute over whether or not we were following the “right” wall but as I had the GPS, I was convinced that we were heading in the right direction, although there were times when I too had my doubts. We deviated away from the wall to find easier ground and eventually emerged, as planned, on the road not too far from my car.

Perhaps I’ve lost some level of fitness through my sciatica but this was a really tough walk and I was well and truly knackered by the end. It was 8.75 miles with a total ascent of almost 1,400ft.

Fountains Fell – walk route

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Maughton Meander

Friday 24 March 2017. Every once in a while I do a walk which is something out of the ordinary and today was one such walk. Setting out from Austwick my leg was giving me serious grief and I almost turned back within the first mile. However, by the time that I reached the hamlet of Wharfe I’d warmed to the task, stopping for a break at the clapper bridge over Austwick Beck: one of my favourite spots in the Yorkshire Dales.

Up until now the route had been familiar to me but, after my rest, I trod new ground following a bridleway which would lead me up to the top of Maughton Scars. This was wonderful with bright blue skies and Wheatears hopping along in front of me. I met a couple of walkers soon after who commented that the Wheatears were early returners to the Dales and a sign that spring is here. It certainly felt like it today.

The best part of the walk came as I reached the top of Maughton Scars from where I could see Ingleborough away to the west and better still Pen-y-ghent and Fountains Fell off to the east. These latter two fells still had a good covering of snow which I hope to experience close up when I climb Fountains Fell tomorrow with Jacqui.

As ever, the return and downhill part of the walk was less pleasurable as it put more pressure through my right knee with a consequential increase in pain. I was relieved to get back to Austwick for a post-walk pint of lime and lemonade in the village pub. The walk was 7 miles with a total ascent of 1,000ft.

Maughton – walk route

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Barden Bridge

Thursday 23 March 2017. I met Jacqui today in Gargrave for the short drive to the start of our walk alongside the River Wharfe. There are a number of official car parks on the Bolton Abbey Estate but as these charge a flat rate of £10 there was no way that I was going to pay this extortionate fee. Instead, we drove to Barden Bridge where there is space for about a dozen cars to park for free. Clearly others had the same idea on what was a lovely sunny day and all of the spaces were taken when we got there. Luckily there were spaces outside nearby Barden Tower.

We walked downhill to join the riverside footpath on the west bank of the Wharfe stopping briefly to photograph the flow of water through The Strid. The original plan was to walk up to Simon’s Seat but, as my knee is still giving me pain, we decided to keep it low-level stopping for mid-walk refreshments at Cavendish Pavilion.

The walk back on the east bank was fairly gentle but took a more elevated route to look down on The Strid once more. This 5.3 mile walk ended with an uphill climb back to the car at Barden Tower and surprisingly included a total ascent of over 800ft.

Barden Bridge – walk route

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Ingleton Waterfalls

Wednesday 22 March 2017. It has rained almost all day but just after lunch it seemed to be easing off so I set off for a walk around Ingleton Waterfalls which were in fine form. I wanted to test my leg to see if the sciatica had improved. The answer was yes, but there is still some way to go. My knee wasn’t too bad but the lower back pain remains. I’m better going uphill and up steps but coming down isn’t so good and I can only lead with my left leg.

Although I’d done this walk many years ago, I wasn’t too sure of the length of the route which turned out to be 4.6 miles with just over 1,000ft of ascent. The “up” section to the top of Thornton Force was okay but it was a painful return. Nonetheless, it was worthwhile as I doubt that there could ever be more water thundering over the many waterfalls.

Ingleton Waterfalls – walk route

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Stainforth Force

Tuesday 21 March 2017. My journey north to Boroughbridge on 4 March was blighted by a long delay on the A1 near Doncaster and so it was yesterday on the 180 mile drive to my caravan site near Austwick. The weather was terrible with torrential rain and this no doubt played a part in the multi-car pile up which meant that it took me nearly an hour to cover just 6 miles in a bumper to bumper traffic jam.

I set off on this holiday with some trepidation as the sciatica in my right leg and considerable associated knee pain hasn’t fully cleared up. Not a good start to a walking holiday. There had been overnight hail showers which made a hell of a noise on my caravan roof. This had fallen as snow at higher elevations as can be seen from the picture of Ingleborough taken from my caravan site first thing this morning.

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I wanted to get out to test my leg but the sleet/hail showers didn’t ease until after lunch and it was 1pm before I set off to Stainforth. The YDNP car park was £2.50 but I took a chance and parked in one of the 10 minute free slots set aside for those who just want to use the toilets. It was just under a mile on my round trip from the car park to Stainforth Force but this was just about enough for me today. My pace is ridiculously slow and trying not to put too much pressure through my right leg/knee gave me more pain in the left side of my lower back. The oddly unbalanced gait doesn’t help.

I spent some time taking photos and video of Stainforth Force before then going into Settle for some shopping and a coffee at the Naked Man cafe where I could use their wi-fi to upload my video to YouTube. The weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t great with a covering of snow being predicted lasting for most of the morning, but tomorrow is another day and we’ll just have to wait and see what it brings.

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