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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147.  Snow-Walking in Littledale
Inevitably, I wrote too soon (in
Sauntering 146) about the lack of snow on our hills.
I am sure that the hills have
plenty of snow now, just six days later. We have snow on our lawn, at a height of about 50 metres.
I doubt that we have had a white lawn in many Novembers of the previous forty-plus years.
Whatever happened to those wonderfully mild autumn-winters of recent years when we could go walking without even
thinking of wearing gloves?
Left: Tarn Brook in Sarney's Wood;  Right:
Tarn Brook in Roeburndale Road Plantation (Bluebell Wood).
The weather forecast this morning was for ‘light snow’ but it seemed unlikely to me so I dismissed it
as the forecasters being pessimistic as usual. At 11 o’clock there were a few wisps and then more determined
flakes began to fall. Gradually the world turned white. I had already intended to go for an hour’s walk from
home (Ruth having commandeered the car for a rehearsal and concert in Morecambe) so, undeterred, I donned gloves
and beanie hat and set off up-hill. Quarry Road, the road up to the Caton Moor windmills, was already white. Snow was still
falling and it was a pleasure to stride out, being the first to crunch into the crisp snow, making
my mark in the world, if only temporarily. There was little wind as the snow gently fell from grey clouds and
the world was silent, apart from a low hum, which I assumed to be the sound of the motorway five miles away
reflected from the clouds. There was nobody about, until a car drew up and disgorged a family, to frolic
excitedly in the snow.
I wandered back down, quite exhilarated. I have walked and run on these roads and tracks hundreds
of times but suddenly, in the snow, they are transformed. Every tree, shrub and wall is neatly delineated
by fresh snow lining all the branches, twigs and stones. Snow-walking was such fun that, after a quick sandwich, I went
out again, for a longer walk. When I grow up I will probably be less excited by the first snowfall of winter.
This time I set off to walk in Littledale. It was still snowing but not quite as much. I was disappointed
to find the Littledale Road free of snow but it has no doubt been salted and I suppose people must be allowed
to drive on it. Never mind, I soon left it to take the track that was the old road, where there was plenty
of snow, and dropped into Crossgill. Here, for the first time, I saw evidence that I was not the first on
these snowy lanes. I detected the boot-prints of two people walking side-by-side, who seemed to have walked
between Crossgill and Hawes House. On the Roeburndale Road I saw remarkably smooth, foot-shaped prints.
So foot-shaped were they that I inspected them to see if they had toes. They didn't. The foot-prints
were about a metre apart. I deduce that someone had gone running in their slippers, an activity even
sillier than my own, since there was ice under the snow in places. But perhaps not as silly as that
of a bold cyclist who had left tyre-prints in the snow, not always following the intended line.
Left: The old Littledale Road;  Right:
Looking towards Ward's Stone from near Hawes House.
The clouds were still low, preventing much of a view of Ward’s Stone and the windmills, and I suppose it was
quite gloomy – but not to me. On the road down I detoured a little into Roeburndale Road Plantation, which we call
Bluebell Wood and which if it was planted has since matured into a natural-looking wood.
It was quite enchanting with snow plastered on all the trees and profoundly silent. It is often
said that walking in snow is a good time to see wildlife but on this occasion I think it was all hunkering down,
unsure how to behave in this novel environment. The sheep were, of course, still in their fields, gamely trying
to find grass.
Sheep, snow and windmills
As snow-walking goes, this was a gentle outing. I didn’t venture onto the craggy moors, where walking
in snow is much more of a challenge. If the snow is deep, walking is slow and tiring. It’s also harder to find
one’s way and to avoid hazards and, of course, more dangerous if not properly attired. I will leave that kind of outing for another
day, if there is one.
As I continued down Littledale Road, the grey clouds began to disperse. I was, for once, disappointed
to see the sun and blue sky. It meant that although the snow would now sparkle in the sunshine it wouldn’t do
so for long. Indeed, by the time I reached home the snow on the trees was already looking a little soggy.
It is the evanescent nature of our snow that makes it appeal. We know that this snow will not lie around and
accumulate for months. It was good to enjoy it while it was pristine – and to get home with a glow on the
cheeks and in the heart.
Looking towards the windmills from near home in Brookhouse
Date: November 28th 2021
Start: SD543644, Brookhouse  (Map: OL41)
Route: E on Quarry Road – near windmills – W – Brookhouse (quick sandwich)
– SE on Littledale Road, track – Crossgill – NE, W past Roeburn Glade - NW – Brookhouse
Distance: 8 miles;   Ascent: 350 metres
© John Self, Drakkar Press, 2018-
Top photo: The western Howgills from Dillicar;
Bottom photo: Blencathra from Great Mell Fell