Saunterings:  Walking in North-West England
Saunterings is a set of reflections based upon walks around the counties of Cumbria, Lancashire and
North Yorkshire in North-West England
(as defined in the Preamble).
Here is a list of all Saunterings so far.
If you'd like to give a comment, correction or update (all are very welcome) or to
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130.  By the Lancaster Canal and the River Lune
To my surprise, the easing of lockdown restrictions has not enthused me to go gallivanting on the hills again. It
seems unnecessary, unethical and frivolous to do so, after the experiences of the last fourteen months. How
can I justify driving for an hour or so just to go for a walk?
77 Saunterings before the pandemic, 56 involved a drive (41 of them alone and 15 with Ruth), 18 made
use of public transport, and 3 times I walked locally. During the pandemic, my outings have, of course, been
very different. Of the 51 Saunterings since March 2020 only 18 have involved a drive, when it was allowed,
(3 alone (the last time being over seven months ago) and 15 with Ruth). I have not used public transport at
all. All the other walks have been local, mostly with Ruth.
I used to soothe my guilt over driving to walk by reflecting that my carbon emissions must be lower
than average, since I never fly anywhere. But every little helps, we are told. However, my stopping
driving to go for a walk would be like removing a snowflake from a snowy mountain in the hope of avoiding an
avalanche. Our ex-prime minister, David Cameron, one-time flaunter of his green credentials (remember ‘hug a
husky’, ‘vote blue, go green’ and the green tree logo?), said during his recent grilling about lobbying
that he flew in a Greensill private jet (he declined to say how often) to his Cornwall holiday home – and
nobody seems to think that untoward. I doubt that any of our ‘leaders’ has any personal commitment to
reducing carbon emissions, despite what they may tell us. With their example, why shouldn’t anybody fly to
Portugal or Greece as soon as they can?
I don’t share David Attenborough’s confidence that there is the time and the will to avoid calamitous
climate change (Attenborough, 2020). It is a pity that he didn’t warn us all decades ago while he was
travelling the world enthralling us with what in Life on Earth he called the ‘infinite variety’ of nature
when he must have known that nature was shrinking and must have wondered why. He now thinks that “ecotourism,
which enables all of us to experience the wonders that are being protected, can bring a great deal of income
to wild places without significant impact” (Attenborough, 2020, p179). All of us? The majority of the world’s
population cannot afford to be ecotourists. Prefixing an ‘eco’ does not alter the fact that tourism
involves people touring. He's just giving rich people an excuse to pollute even more.
Perhaps my pessimism derives from the simple fact that I have seen few swallows this year and no
swifts at all – and I have seen no comments on their absence. Are people so relieved to be vaccinated
that they haven't noticed that the world isn't working as it should?
Anyway, I doubt that I will resume the more-or-less random visits to points of North-West England envisaged in the
Preamble. I will endeavour to use public transport more, which will
limit my scope. Visits to distant regions of the north-west will be merged into two-or-more-day stays. I will try to integrate
the walks better with other activities, so that fewer outings
are ‘just for a walk’. In this spirit, since we had a couple of things to do around Lancaster, I took the
opportunity to walk along the Lancaster Canal and by the Lune estuary.
I walked south from Haverbreaks along the Lancaster Canal. It was quiet and relaxing – apart from the ever-present threat of being elbowed into the canal by one of the many joggers. No, really it was good to see people about. The Lancaster Canal follows the contour between Preston and Kendal. Along its length it provides open views across the adjacent fields, except in two places – one at Hincaster Tunnel, on a now-disused part of the canal, and the other here at Deep Cutting, where, as the name suggests, the canal passes through a cutting (not so deep, in fact) through dark woodland.
Further on, near Whinney Carr, I left the canal at Broken Back Bridge, so-called, presumably, because from
the side it looks as if the lane above has collapsed a little into the bridge. I then walked west through the
hamlet of Stodday, along Snuff Mill Lane (which always used to be flooded but has recently had its drainage repaired),
past the extensive Sewage Works (which calls itself a Wastewater Treatment Works), to reach the old railway line,
now a path for walkers and cyclists. The Lancaster-Glasson line was short-lived. It opened in 1883 and closed
for passengers in 1930 and for goods in 1964. Now it provides an excellent footpath, with views across the River
Lune (at a very low tide on this occasion) to the distant Lake District hills and to the nearby power station,
pylons and wind turbines.
Where the lane from Aldcliffe meets the footpath I left the old railway line to walk along the
embankment that proceeds closer to the Lune marshes. This embankment was built in the early 19th century
but whether to protect properties from flooding or to claim farming land from the marshes, I don’t know.
If the latter, it doesn’t seem to have been successful as many of the inland fields are always under water.
As the embankment curved towards Lancaster, Snatchems (mentioned in
123) was prominent on the opposite
bank but I couldn’t tell if it was any more alive.
The River Lune, near Lancaster
As I neared the end of the coastal path and approached the outskirts of Lancaster I had to step aside from
the path while a party of about forty walkers, chatting excitedly, passed by. The man tasked with bringing up the rear
apologised, explaining that it was their first group outing for over a year. They were from Blackpool.
Well, I thought, if all these Blackpudlians think it OK to travel this far to walk in this relatively unexciting terrain,
then surely I may be allowed to travel to walk up a mountain. When I asked the man where they were walking to
he replied that he had no idea and that he was just following all the others. Whatever walking I do, it won’t
be that kind of walking!
Date: May 18th 2021
Start: SD470605, by canal at Haverbreaks  (Map: 296)
Route: (linear) S by canal – Whinney Carr – W – Stodday, old railway line – N – lane to Aldcliffe – NW on embankment, NE – Lancaster
Distance: 6 miles;   Ascent: 30 metres
131.   A Taste of the Kendal Mint
129.   From the Delights of Downham to the Heights of Pendle
A list of all Saunterings so far
© John Self, Drakkar Press, 2018-
Top photo: The western Howgills from Dillicar;
Bottom photo: Blencathra from Great Mell Fell