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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 (more details of my ‘North-West England’ are given in the Preamble).

If you'd like to give a comment, correction or update (all are very welcome) or to receive a two-monthly email update - please send an email to johnselfdrakkar@gmail.com. Some readers' comments are included in the Preamble.

dentdale      136.   Green Fields or ‘Garden Village’?
               Diversion 7:  A Brand-New Brand   
     135.   By the Old Farmhouses of Dentdale
     134.   North and South in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB
     133.   The Limestone Hills East of Settle
     132.   Three Viaducts and a Tunnel of the Settle-Carlisle Railway
     131.   A Taste of the Kendal Mint
     130.   By the Lancaster Canal and the River Lune  
     129.   From the Delights of Downham to the Heights of Pendle  
     128.   Spring around Scout Scar  
     127.   To Calf Top Top  
     126.   Return to Roeburndale  
     Previous 1 - 125

136.  Green Fields or ‘Garden Village’?

Lancaster Council is considering a proposal to spend £260m on 9,000 new houses, most of them within a ‘Garden Village’, on green fields south of Lancaster. I am not competent to comment on the merits of this proposal – but I can at least walk through some of those green fields before they are no longer green fields.

I began at Scotforth, a southern suburb of Lancaster that was itself once a small village separate from Lancaster. The two became joined early in the 20th century by development alongside the A6, with terraced houses in Bowerham and Greaves. By 1933 there were no green fields between Lancaster and Scotforth. In subsequent decades the fields around the old centre of Scotforth were built upon, notably by the building of the Hala estate to the east in the 1970s, extending further south towards Bailrigg in the 1990s.

The new building (for student accommodation, I believe), replacing the old Filter House on the A6 at Bailrigg, looks peculiarly ugly to me. I hope that it hasn’t set the standard for the new ‘Garden Village’. I paused at the trig point on Burrow Heights where, from a majestic height of 59 metres, I could survey most of the green fields that are due to disappear. I understand that a ‘green belt’ will be left to separate the ‘Garden Village’ from Scotforth and, to the south, from Galgate. Otherwise building is planned on the wedge-shaped region between the A6 and the A588 (the road from Lancaster to Cockerham and Pilling). lancaster canal

Also from the trig point I could see the Ashton Memorial, Clougha Pike, Hawthornthwaite Fell, Lancaster University, Fleetwood, Morecambe Bay and the Lake District hills. I wonder what I will be able to see when the new houses are finished. Judging from the map, the area to be built upon is about one-fifth or less of the area occupied now by Lancaster’s housing. The latter houses 53,000 people. The new houses are for another 32,000. So, it seems, the houses of the ‘Garden Village’ will be either smaller, higher, or more densely packed than those of Lancaster.

From the trig point I walked to the canal and then south along the tow-path for two miles. I heard nothing but birds and one plane. I saw two people – a man by his canal-boat and a cyclist. I wonder what the canal will be like when the new houses are finished. The plan aims to “retain [the] character and setting” of the canal and indeed “the heart of the garden village [is] to be near the canal”. I doubt that this stretch of canal will be peaceful with 9,000 houses nearby. At the least there will be a parade of dog-walkers with a dog-lead in one hand and a goody-bag in the other. Perhaps it’s better that instead of a few people appreciating the canal a lot we’ll have lots of people appreciating it a little.

As I neared Galgate I left the canal to walk west. The plan proposes that work begins east of the canal in 2022 and west of the canal in 2031. So the green fields that I walked through on the way to the A588 are also due to disappear. There is, as far as I know, nothing special about these fields, today occupied by sheep and cows, and the isolated woods, today the home, no doubt, of some wildlife. But then I’m not sure that there will be anything special about the new houses. The concept of a ‘Garden Village’ baffles me. A village garden, yes, but a garden village? What is proposed doesn’t seem very garden-y or village-y to me.
green fields

Just some green fields (plus pylons)

At Conder Green I left the area of the proposed new houses. This walk was another of my opportunistic outings – and this time I met up with Ruth for a coffee break at the Tithe Barn Hill lookout point in Glasson. We then walked along Marsh Lane to Crook Farm along the track that was well under water the last time we came this way (37). At Crook Farm we sat for some time with our binoculars, looking across to Fleetwood, Morecambe Bay and Sunderland Point. We were puzzled for a while by black objects well out to sea from Sunderland Point before realising that they were cows, waiting to be ushered inland by the incoming tide. We then had a pleasant lunch by the marina in Glasson, a village that has perked up somewhat from what it was like on our first visits here. If Lancaster does reach as far as Conder Green then Glasson will be next.

Sunderland from Crook Farm

    Date: July 8th 2021
    Start: SD480595, Barton Road;   (Map: 296)
    Route: (linear) E, S, SW – A6 – S, W, NW – Burrow Heights trig point – NW – canal – S on tow-path – near Galgate – W – Parkside Farm, Webster’s Farm, A588 – S, W on tow-path – Glasson, Tithe Barn Hill – S, SW on Marsh Lane – Crook Farm – back to Tithe Barn Hill
    Distance: 8 miles;   Ascent: 50 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 193/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.61

Diversion 7:  A Brand-New Brand

(This is one of the 'Rainy Day Rambles in the Lake District', which are of unknown date and were apparently written for the Cumberland Courier but never printed there. I can't think why.)

From a Cumbria Council Meeting

Easedale Tarn       Diana Dubble-Barrell (chair):   For the next item on the agenda we have with us Mr Charles Smarm who, as you will recall, is the head of Cumbria Tourism Services. Over to you, Charles.
      Charles Smarm:   Thank you, Diana. My guiding principle is that we should give the punters what they want. I assume they come to the Lake District for the lakes. So we should have more of them.
      Joss Jenkinson (Cartmel ward):   I’m sure Manchester could do with some more reservoirs.
      Diana Dubble-Barrell:   Please. Let Charles finish.
      Charles Smarm:   Thank you. I was at the University of Cumbria the other day and I realised how successful the re-branding of polytechnics as universities has been. Well, not even polytechnics in the case of Cumbria. From a handful of universities a few years ago, today we have them everywhere. Now, we usually say we have 16 lakes (Windermere, Coniston, and so on). That’s not many for 12 million visitors a year. On average, each lake has fifteen, um, seven hundred and fifty, er, one and a quarter, er, ...
      Joss Jenkinson:   Three-quarters of a million.
      Diana Dubble-Barrell:   Please. Let Charles finish.
      Joss Jenkinson:   We’d be here all day.
      Charles Smarm:   Yes, three-quarters of a million visitors. That’s too many. So let’s re-brand some polytechnic ponds as lakes. I propose that in all future publicity we include the following as bona-fide lakes: Brothers Water, Devoke Water, Easedale Tarn, Grisedale Tarn, Loughrigg Tarn, Red Tarn, Seathwaite Tarn, Sprinkling Tarn, Stickle Tarn, and Tarn Hows. That’s another 10, to make 26.
      Diana Dubble-Barrell:   I am sure that you have given this matter your usual deep thought, Charles, but could you briefly say why those 10.
      Charles Smarm:   Certainly. Some, like Brothers Water and Devoke Water, are bigger than some of the proper lakes anyway. Tarn Hows already has more visitors than most proper lakes. Some, such as Grisedale Tarn, are to get visitors out of the way. Others just have names that would be very attractive in a tourist brochure.
      Diana Dubble-Barrell:   I see. Is that it, Charles? Grisedale Tarn
      Charles Smarm:   Oh no. That’s just the beginning of the re-branding exercise. You see, ‘the Lakes’ is just too anonymous. Goodness, Canada has the Great Lakes and ours are just puddles compared to them. And then there’s Lake Victoria, Lake Titicaca, Lake Geneva, and so on. All much more glamorous than our lakes. I used to work for the Norfolk Broads, which is a distinctive name. ‘The Broads’ means only one thing to everybody. It should be the same here. We should claim a unique marketing niche. And a new brand name can do wonders - think of New Labour for Labour, the Premiership for the First Division, Sellafield for Windscale.
      Diana Dubble-Barrell:   Do you have a specific proposal?
      Charles Smarm:   Of course. I am getting to it. The 26 lakes consist of 1 real lake, 4 meres, 8 tarns and 13 waters. Now ‘Water’ won’t do as a new name: too many of those about already. But ‘The Tarn District’ would be great. Really distinctive. Harks back to our Viking heritage. And we could then add yet more tarns to our list:   Blea, Overwater, Angle, Styhead, and so on. So, what do you think?
      Harry Cowan (Furness ward):   Um, the Tarn District. The Tarn District. Has a ring to it. I suppose the punters, as you call them, from the south-east would come up tarn.
      Joss Jenkinson:   Perhaps they’d go out on the tarn. That might get rid of a few of them.
      Mary Bland (Hartsop ward):   Yes, and we could build tarn houses around all the tarns.
      Dick Howarth (Kirkby Lonsdale ward):   Would we all become tarn councillors? And have to do tarn planning?
      Diana Dubble-Barrell:   Well, thank you, Charles. Your ideas are always so, er, refreshing. I think I’ll set up a sub-committee to report back in six years time. That should give it enough time to go to tarn on this.

      I think Charles had a point at the beginning there.
      In what way?

      Well, I’ve often looked at the map and thought Devoke Water would make a good day out. And then I find that it’s ignored in the brochures. It’s not regarded as a proper lake. Any visit there is bound to be unsatisfying. But if you counted it as a lake, and made a big thing of all the ancient cairns nearby, then people would flock there. Well, I would anyway.
      Perhaps you should write to Diana.

      I think I will. Do you know the address?

Photos: Easedale Tarn and Grisedale Tarn.

135.  By the Old Farmhouses of Dentdale

sedgwick stone Right: The Sedgwick Memorial in Dent

We walked through the narrow, cobbled main thoroughfare of Dent where a ginormous rock has been placed to make it even narrower. On the rock is carved “Adam Sedgwick 1785-1873”. There is no explanation of who Adam Sedgwick was or why this memorial to him is placed here. Those who do not know may consult his Wikipedia page, where it states that he was born in Dent and became Professor of Geology at the University of Cambridge.

The Wikipedia page gives details of his illustrious career but says nothing about a document that he wrote in 1868, A Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel, that is of more relevance to these notes. He was spurred to write this 122-page pamphlet in the last years of his life – in fact, he was so infirm that he had to dictate it – by a controversy concerning the re-naming of Cowgill Chapel, which is four miles up the valley from Dent. In 1837 Sedgwick had laid the foundation stone of this chapel, which his sister-in-law had been instrumental in getting built, and he had been a Trustee thereafter. It cannot have been easy fulfilling this role, living in Cambridge, and no doubt his writing of the pamphlet was partly to assuage a feeling of guilt over being unaware that the vicar had sought to have the name changed to Kirkthwaite Chapel, which Sedgwick strongly disagreed with.

I am not interested in the reasons for this dispute or the formal mechanisms by which churches are named or re-named. The pamphlet is more interesting to me because of the ‘asides’ within it, where Sedgwick described the changes in the valley since his childhood, to give background to why Cowgill Chapel came to be built and what its role was seen to be. Like most people he had a somewhat rose-tinted memory of his early years although he also mentioned drunken riots, blasphemy, cock-fighting and gambling. He clearly retained a fondness for what he called the “honest, warm-hearted inhabitants”. Most of all, though, he lamented the loss of a “land of rural opulence and glee”.

Dentdale was an isolated, self-sufficient ‘paradise’. Almost everything the inhabitants needed was provided within, supporting a variety of trades: farmers, blacksmiths, bootmakers, coopers, tailors, and so on, even wig-makers. However, over the years of Sedgwick’s life this all changed, for two main reasons. The Industrial Revolution meant that goods could be produced more cheaply outside the valley and therefore many trades became obsolete and the traders moved away. Secondly, the enclosure acts meant that many landowners became poor rent-paying farmers. In these changes, Dentdale was, of course, little different to all the other dales – but none of the other dales has a pamphlet like this documenting the process.

Hartley and Ingilby (1956) says that between 1778 and 1951 the number of houses in Dentdale dropped from 416 to 257 and that many of those that remained were becoming derelict or were being turned into barns. On this walk we set out to see how the farmhouses are getting on today. They are lined out, on both sides of the valley, above the level of the floodplain. Footpaths pass by most of them. So we walked on the north bank by Shoolbred, Scotchergill, Peggleswright (mentioning just some of the names) to Bankland, where we dropped down to cross the River Dee at Tommy’s Bridge. All the houses on this sunny side of the valley seemed in fine fettle. (Of course, some old farmhouses may have disappeared altogether.) Few, if any, of them were actively farming. They were homes (or second homes or holiday homes) with excellent views across the green valley to Whernside and Great Coum.
dentdale to whernside

The view towards Whernside

view to dent

The view back towards Dent, with Middleton Fell behind

We then returned on the south bank by Coventree and West Banks. The houses on this less sunny side were more of a mixed bag: most were in good condition, a couple maybe needed some care and attention, and one was derelict. We passed only two obvious farms, both by the road, as a farm needs to be nowadays. All the houses had private tracks up from the road.
dent and rise hill

Dent with Rise Hill behind

ibbeth peril Left: Ibbeth Peril ibbeth peril 2
Right: Ibbeth Peril on an earlier occasion

The following morning we continued our tour of the Dent farmhouses from near Ibbeth Peril, three miles up the valley from Dent. There was barely a dribble of water at Ibbeth Peril, where on a previous visit there had been an impressive waterfall into a much larger plunge pool. (A virtual visit into the cave seen to the left of the waterfall can be taken here). The Dee is here flowing over limestone but not if there is so little water that it all disappears through it.

We walked past the remains of Gibbs Hall, now behind a number of cottages, and crossed the Dee at Lenny’s Leap. A cuckoo cuckooed, flouting the old rhyme “In June I change my tune, in July away I fly”. On the south bank we followed the Dales Way past various homesteads, most in good condition, one or two needing work, and one or two getting it. The conifer plantation that darkened this part of Dentdale is, I'm pleased to say, no more.

At Ewegales Bridge and Lea Yeat Bridge we found that both were being repaired after damage to their squinches. I never knew bridges had squinches. On the road between the two we noticed a building with the sign “Kirkthwaite Church of England School 1866”. It must have been part of the great Cowgill-Kirkthwaite controversy. And then we reached the church that was the cause of all the trouble. It is now called the Church of St John the Evangelist and seemed at peace. Inside the church, which was open to our surprise, there was a memorial to the 72 people who died in Dentdale during the construction of the Settle-Carlisle railway. They are all named, unlike on memorials to those who died at Ribblehead. Nearly half the dead were children, not workers.

After walking up to Dockra Bridge, over Cowgill Beck (which was dry), we continued walking by the farmhouses on the north bank – but at Spicegill Farm we had to drop down to the road to get back to the car. We could not find the footpath by Spicegill Farm because it was surrounded by rubbish. By this I don’t mean the usual rusty old machinery that accumulates around farms. I mean household rubbish, the stuff we take to the tip. Spicegill Farm, dated 1678, is one of Dentdale’s many listed buildings. We couldn’t tell if it was occupied or not. Anyone prepared to live surrounded by this rubbish is not going to be bothered to keep the house in good shape.

It was a shame to end our tour on such a note. It left some questions. Everybody generates rubbish – what are Dentdale residents supposed to do with theirs? Do the authorities know that some of it is tipped at Spicegill Farm? If so, do they care? It’s hardly ‘out of sight, out of mind’ since it’s on a public footpath (or is supposed to be). What can the authorities do about it? Perhaps it serves as a reminder that a paradise like Dentdale does not arise by chance. It requires constant vigilance and work.
to gt knoutberry hill

The image we prefer to retain, of walking through countless meadows, in this case with Great Knoutberry Hill in the distance

    Date: July 1st/2nd 2021
    Start: (a) SD703872, High Laning campsite; (b) SD742865, lay-by near Ibbeth Peril  (Map: OL2)
    Route: (a) SW, SE through Dent – Shoolbred – SE – Bankland – W, S over Tommy Bridge, SW – Mill Bridge – SW – Slack – NW – beyond West Banks – N – Dent; (b) W – Basil Busk – S over Lenny’s Leap – Tub Hole Barn – E, NE on Dales Way – Ewegales Bridge – E – Lea Yeat Bridge – W – Cowgill church – N – Dockra Bridge – SW, W – Spicegill Farm – S, W on road – lay-by
    Distance: 9 miles;   Ascent: 100 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 193/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.56

134.  North and South in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB

Right: The old chimney at Jenny Brown's Point jenny brown's pt

There is one form of walking that I am unlikely to take up (although I dabbled on this occasion) and that is walking along a ‘literary trail’. I could, for example, walk the South Downs to retrace the footsteps of Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling and Henry James or wander around ‘Jane Austen Country’ in Hampshire. Within our region, I could walk the Brontë Way in search of Wuthering Heights.

I dropped Ruth off at the Gaskell Memorial Hall in Silverdale (where she had a ‘music day’), parked by Eaves Wood, and set off on a circuit of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Everywhere was profusely green. Bracken and nettles were head high but I didn’t need to worry about them as the many paths were clear and well-used. I walked along The Row, across fields to Silverdale Green, and along a wooded track to emerge with views across the marshes to Morecambe Bay. Rounding Jenny Brown’s Point, I walked north along Lindeth Lane, where I paused near the top.

I hoped to gain a view of Lindeth Tower but it is protected by high walls and dark trees. However, I could see enough to tell that it was a rather strange, gaunt building. It was the summer home for several years of the Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865). Here she wrote one of her novels, Ruth, in 1853. Gaskell herself did not, it seems, think much of Lindeth Tower, describing it as “a queer ugly square tower”. Still, you can’t look at it if you're inside writing.

Ruth (the one in the book) is a young unmarried mother who struggles to gain respect within society. The novel raised issues of sin and illegitimacy that Victorian society found uncomfortable to address. Perhaps for that reason, Ruth was and is the least highly-regarded of Gaskell’s novels. At the time of her death in 1865 Gaskell was grouped with the Brontës and George Eliot but her reputation gradually declined, culminating in the now notorious review by Cecil in 1934. He opined that Gaskell was “all a woman was expected to be; gentle, domestic, tactful, unintellectual, prone to tears, easily shocked” and that she “makes a creditable effort to overcome her natural deficiencies but all in vain".

Cecil is usually referred to as Lord David Cecil. British people are peculiarly fond of giving each other titles. It is intended to induce appropriate attitudes towards the entitled. It is like calling a footballer ‘Chopper Harris’ to induce trepidation in the opposition. Cecil’s opinions as a literary critic are not rendered more worthy by the addition of a ‘Lord’. An art critic should be able to assess a work of art as a work of art, irrespective of any characteristics of the artist. Cecil does not make a creditable effort to overcome his natural deficiencies as an entitled man. Anyway, Lord David Cecil wasn’t really a Lord. He was a son of the 4th Marquess of Salisbury but not the first son. David Cecil’s ‘Lord’ was a ‘courtesy title’, whatever that means.

The critical tide concerning Elizabeth Gaskell began to turn in the mid-20th century, but slowly. Arthur Pollard, in Mrs Gaskell: Novelist and Biographer (1965), agreed with Cecil that her work was “entirely feminine”, which he ensured we wouldn’t forget by referring to her throughout the book as Mrs Gaskell. Today, Gaskell’s name is at least more widely known, thanks to TV adaptations of her work. I have not seen any of the Gaskell TV series or read any of her novels but as I envisage her ensconced in the garret of Lindeth Tower, struggling to portray the plight of a poor, pregnant, abandoned 15-year-old, I can’t help feeling that it is not so much her femininity that she had to overcome but the fact that she was wealthy, leisured, educated and upper-class. But am I thereby guilty of a form of prejudice too?

I detoured a little to see again the Gaskell Memorial Hall, from where melodious strains wafted. Clearly, Silverdale thinks enough of its link to Gaskell to name its hall after her. I noticed a Gaskell Close nearby but otherwise no other Gaskelliana. Silverdale must try harder if it wants to be on the Gaskell Trail. I understand that members of the Gaskell Society sometimes pilgrimage here. Perhaps they deserve a Gaskell Gallery, a Gaskell Bistro, and so on.

Actually, no, I don’t think Silverdale needs any more visitors. On this summer Saturday the place was full enough (although it is no doubt less full when people can holiday abroad). Every car-parking space was occupied. I walked for four hours and never for more than a minute or two was there nobody nearby. People milled about, somewhat aimlessly, everywhere: families, grandparents, youths, of all shapes and sizes. Few of them had backpacks and walking boots. I felt like an Olympic athlete entangled in a fun run. Until, that is, one of my fellow walkers took me under her wing as I struggled to relate my whereabouts to my map. It is impossible to get lost, with the bay and estuary to the left and the slopes of Arnside Knott to the right, but there is such a profusion of criss-crossing paths that it is possible to be unsure where you are on them.

Left: The Cove, Silverdale the cove

I walked across fields to the Cove, where the Lancashire Coastal Way abruptly ends – because Lancashire abruptly ends. Why when they changed the Lancashire boundary in 1974 did they draw it halfway up this peninsular when the obvious natural boundary is the Kent estuary just to the north?

Beyond the Cove I walked through the first of several large holiday camps – larger than shown on my map, anyway. I hadn’t realised that this corner of the AONB had been given over to holiday camps. Perhaps that’s why Cumbria wanted it. It could allow holiday camps here while keeping them out of real Cumbria. I expect that the AONB’s Executive Committee has a say in the matter but I don’t know if it has the power to decide anything. The Arnside and Silverdale AONB webpage says “This extraordinary place is famous for its amazing wildlife, stunning scenery, and superb walks … the area is simply awe-inspiring - full of natural spectacles”. The place is not so extraordinary that it has the protection necessary to prevent it being spoiled.

Right: Arnside Tower arnside tower

Emerging from the woods of Arnside Park I came to the holiday park of New Barns before I expected to. There seemed to be quite a party going on. I left them by walking up Arnside Knott but here there were more people wandering about in all directions. More by luck than judgement I came across the bright white trig point (159 metres) within the trees on top but I didn’t linger as some family tantrum was underway. Instead I dropped down, passed Arnside Tower, and curved around the base of Eaves Wood back to the car park. It was now jam-packed with cars and I thought that I might have difficulty extricating myself. Then I noticed a couple returning to the adjacent car and waited for them to leave, so that I could more easily escape. But they settled down for drinks and cake, several slices of which were consumed. Eventually they left and so did I, picking up Ruth (the one not in the book) on the way.

    Date: June 26th 2021
    Start: SD471759, car park by Eaves Wood  (Map: OL7)
    Route: S along The Row, over fields – Silverdale Green – SE, W, S, SW – Jenny Brown’s Point – N along Lindeth Lane – Gaskell Memorial Hall – S, NW – Cove – NE, NW through campsite, W – Far Arnside – W, N, NE – New Barns – SE, NE – Arnside Knott trig point – E, SW on road, S past Arnside Tower – S through Eaves Wood, SE, NE, S – car park
    Distance: 9 miles;   Ascent: 155 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 192/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.42

133.  The Limestone Hills East of Settle

settle packhorse route Settle has long been settled, having been granted its market charter in 1249. The market was still going strong when I stepped off the bus at Market Square, although no doubt it is not as strong as it used to be. A number of ancient paths converged on Settle and I set off on one of them, the Settle – Malham packhorse route.

I walked up the steep, narrow lanes of Upper Settle onto the Malham Road, on the line of the packhorse route but now surfaced, of course. Thomas Pennant said that this route was “exceedingly tedious and steep” (Pennant, 1773). What the packhorses said about it is unrepeatable. I too found it steep but I enjoyed the views that opened out of the limestone scars of High Hill, Sugar Loaf Hill and, to the right, Rye Loaf Hill. The local hill-namer must have been a baker.

After a mile or so the modern road leaves the line of the packhorse route, which continues to the north-east as Stockdale Lane, part of the Pennine Bridleway. I was disappointed to find that the packhorse route was surfaced all the way to Stockdale Farm – although no doubt the isolated farm appreciates it – because I was hoping to get into the spirit of walkers along this track in past centuries.

Beyond the farm, the route at last became a stony track (shown right) more like it was, sometimes between two walls or with a wall on one side. Even so, I could not really relate to the experiences of those earlier walkers if the comments of Housman (1808) are anything to go by. He wrote that “The road (when it can be called such) leads us over a wild, hilly country and extensive tracks of moors … the road is nowhere good, and some of it almost impassable … this road between Settle and Malham is by no means to be recommended to strangers except in clear weather”.

Well, I had clear weather and found the track quite benign, too gentle to be a challenge. So, after a while, I went ‘off-piste’ as some skiers do – and for the same reason. A piste or path marked on the map is safe, direct and easy to follow. It is also beaten into moguls or bare stony ground by the volume of people upon it. To be safe for everyone it is likely to be bereft of excitement or adventure. Off-piste or off-path there’s the challenge of navigating a route through new terrain, avoiding cliffs and bogs, and the possibility of seeing wildlife that would only be seen dead near a popular footpath.

I am not sure of the ethics of off-path walking. The 2004 Act that established hectares of open access land only makes sense if walkers are actually expected to access that land. On the other hand, wildlife has less space for itself nowadays and prefers not to be disturbed by people. Also, even without trespassing, it may occasionally be necessary to climb a wall, which you should not do. And if when walking alone off-path you should have an accident then you may be alone for some time. So, while I find regular trail-tramping a little too straightforward, I trek off-path in moderation.

On this occasion I walked north for two kilometres over pathless land past limestone crags and shakeholes. Nothing is marked on the map and I saw nothing of great interest, but it was quiet apart from one or two wheatears and several skylarks. At the highest point (525 metres) there was a revelation of Pen-y-ghent ahead and, to the west, a more distant Ingleborough, both in shade but otherwise looking impressive.

Pen-y-ghent from the Pennine Bridleway

I dropped down to the clear path of the Pennine Bridleway. Yes, the same bridleway. It seems odd to have the two Pennine Bridleway paths running in parallel two kilometres apart. The reason is that these two paths are not really part of the Pennine Bridleway proper. The Pennine Bridleway is a 205-mile trail from Derbyshire to Cumbria, running in this region from Long Preston through Settle to Stainforth. The two bridleway paths that I walked on are part of the ‘Settle Loop’, a ten-mile side-circuit off the main trail.

I then came to Langcliffe Scar, where there are a number of well-known caves. Some of them are marked on the OS map in its special font for antiquities. Of course, all caves are antique but these ones are marked as special because of the historically significant finds therein, in particular the remains of pre-Ice Age hippos and rhinos. Victoria Cave was discovered in 1838, the year of Queen Victoria’s coronation. Since it forms a prominent large dark hole in the cliff-face, visible from afar, either people were unobservant before 1838 or the cave opening has been much enlarged since then.
victoria cave

Pen-y-ghent and Victoria Cave from Warrendale Knotts

The latter is the case.

    Date: June 22nd 2021
    Start: SD819636, Settle market square  (Map: OL41 or OL2)
    Route: SE through Upper Settle, NE, SE on Malham Road, NE on Stockdale Lane, E on Pennine Bridleway – beyond Stockdale Farm – N over Back Scar – Pennine Bridleway – W, S past Jubilee Cave and Victoria Cave – W over Warrendale Knotts – trig point – W over Blue Crag (necessitating a climb over a wall: it would have been better to drop south from the trig pint to the Dales High Way) – Pennine Bridleway – S – Settle
    Distance: 8 miles;   Ascent: 380 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 192/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.28

132.  Three Viaducts and a Tunnel of the Settle-Carlisle Railway

I was pleased to see that throughout the 80-page Yorkshire Dales National Park's Conservation Area Appraisal of the Settle-Carlisle Railway the viaduct below Whernside is referred to as Batty Moss Viaduct. It is conceded that the viaduct is now more commonly known as the Ribblehead Viaduct but the Area Appraisal itself does not use that name. It also describes the Settle-Carlisle Railway as “a folly that was an accidental by-product of two rivalling companies”.

In The Land of the Lune I had suggested, not altogether seriously, that the viaduct should be called Batty Moss Viaduct, for four reasons: (1) Batty Moss Viaduct is the original name; (2) It is the convention to name viaducts after what they cross, which here is Batty Moss; (3) The viaduct does not cross the Ribble and is not really at the head of Ribblesdale – if anything it is more at the head of Chapel-le-Dale; (4) The construction of the viaduct was somewhat batty.

By the last point I meant that it seemed strange that in order to connect Ribblesdale with upper Wensleydale the railway line was taken over into Dentdale and out again, necessitating the building of three large viaducts and two long tunnels, when there was a more direct route through Widdale, where the B6255 now runs, which would appear to need no viaducts or tunnels. No doubt, there were reasons but, on the surface, it seems a foolish or batty decision. I wouldn’t, however, consider the Settle-Carlisle Railway to be a ‘folly’, in the sense of a whimsical structure intended to amuse us. It was a very serious undertaking, costing a great deal, in money and lives.

The plight of those who helped build the railway deserves a fuller discussion which I will leave to a later Sauntering. On this occasion we focussed on the structure itself, which the Appraisal considers to be “arguably the finest example of a ‘totally integrated’ engineering approach of Victorian times”, “the most scenic railway line in England” and “the last British line to be largely built in the traditional ‘manual’ way” using a workforce of thousands of navvies.

We got off the bus at Ribblehead Station, where the bus waits for rail passengers wanting to transfer to the bus in order to get to, say, Swaledale. The whole area around Ribblehead was packed with cars, basking on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday. We walked past Batty Moss Viaduct along with many walkers heading for Whernside but we left them to walk up Blea Moor on the path that runs directly above the Bleamoor Tunnel, which at 1.5 miles long is the longest tunnel of the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Reaching a height of about 500 metres, we had the tunnel some 150 metres below us. This tunnel was the most expensive structure of the whole line, being dug primarily by hand, although today, of course, there is relatively little to show, above ground, for all this effort. There are piles of stone debris and a few air shafts, through one of which we heard a whoosh as, we assume, a train passed below.
bleamoor tunnel

A shaft of the Bleamoor Tunnel (Ingleborough to the left, Whernside to the right)

Dropping down into upper Dentdale through the remains of the conifer plantations there were spectacular views of Dentdale with the railway line sweeping along the eastern flank. Beyond Dent Head Farm, there’s a view of the Dent Head Viaduct of ten arches. We paused at Bridge End, where we had said that we would review our plans. I had originally thought of walking to three viaducts but it was a hotter day than we were used to. I would have been content now with two viaducts and a long siesta. But Ruth was for pressing on, keeping us on our legs for most of the 7½ hours that we had to fill between the buses. It was certainly pleasant enough strolling down Dentdale alongside the River Dee shimmering over little waterfalls. We passed a body spread-eagled on rocks by the river-side, sun-bathing or dead, we weren’t sure.

Dropping down into Dentdale, with the railway line emerging from the tunnel to the right

dent head viaduct

Dent Head Viaduct

After reluctantly repelling the entreaties of a lad at Stone House tempting us with ice-cream, we paused for a sandwich (ice-cream before lunch is just not de rigueur) by the path that passes under the Artengill Viaduct of eleven arches. This viaduct is made of the local ‘Dent marble’, a fossil-rich form of limestone. On an earlier occasion we had paused to look at the fossils in the large limestone blocks at the base of the viaduct but this time we continued, rather wearily, up the long track, until we reached the Pennine Bridleway at a height of about 500 metres again and could at last begin our return towards Ribblehead. Most of this bridleway path was as smooth as a snooker table and it was possible to walk barefoot, which is to be recommended. Ruth said that she got a second wind during this stretch. I was still on my first wind but I had little of it left.
artengill viaduct

Artengill Viaduct

We continued accompanied by many skylarks and with fine views, as we’d had throughout the walk, stimulating reminiscences about previous expeditions over these hills: Great Knoutberry Hill, Wild Boar Fell, Middleton Fell, Dodd Fell, Pen-y-ghent, Pendle, and Ingleborough. Crossing the road, we now joined the Dales Way, where Ruth glided ahead like a gazelle over the moors (if we had gazelles on our moors) while I trudged, exhausted, behind. I restrained her for a while with a drawn-out exposition of the plot of a Friday Night Dinner episode, the one where Jim tips paint over himself. But then she was off again.

At last, the end was in sight, the Station Inn at Ribblehead (for us, the bus stop thereat, not the pub). We dropped down to the road but walked across the moor ten yards above it rather than beside it, since it was busy with cars and motor-bikes. At this point, I realised that, in the urge to get underway in the morning, we had passed the Batty Moss Viaduct without really paying much attention to it and without taking any photographs. So, as we had a little time to spare, I summoned up my last dregs of energy, to follow Ruth over the moor to the limestone outcrop of Runscar Scar, from where there is a grand prospect of this magnificent structure.
batty moss viaduct

Batty Moss Viaduct, from Runscar Scar

Returning to the road, we had an ice-cream, our first al fresco ice cream since the summer of 2019. By such small steps we are measuring our return to ‘normality’. And by such a multitude of steps, I am exhausting myself (Ruth less so, it seems).

    Date: May 30th 2021
    Start: SD764790, Ribblehead Station  (Map: OL2)
    Route: NW past Ribblehead Viaduct, N on Three Peaks route – Little Dale – N, NE over Bleamoor Tunnel, N – Bridge End – N – Stone House Bridge – E up Arten Gill, S on Pennine Bridleway – road – NW, S on Ribble Way, SW, SE past Winshaw – B6255 – SW just north of road, W – Runscar Scar – S – road – SW – Station Inn, Ribblehead
    Distance: 13 miles;   Ascent: 420 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 190/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.18

131.  A Taste of the Kendal Mint

Kendal Mint Cake “was immortalised in history on May 29th 1953 when it was carried on the first successful summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sirdar Tenzing”, according to the Our Story – Kendal Mint Cake website. Kendal Mint Cake is made from sugar, glucose, water, and peppermint oil. I defy anyone to make what I would consider to be a cake from those ingredients. A necessary but not sufficient condition for cakehood is that I can stick a birthday candle in it. The so-called Kendal Mint Cake is a solid, icy-whitish slab designed to be inconspicuous when dropped on Mount Everest (or Chomolungma or Sagarmatha, as it would be called if the British hadn’t gone around the world renaming things so that they could pronounce them).

I had the opportunity for an evening stroll around Kendal, while Ruth was tuning up with members of the Westmorland Orchestra for the first time since March 2020, so I thought I’d set out for the source of the Kendal Mint. I walked through a part of Kendal that is not mentioned in the tourist brochures, that is, an industrial estate with high security fences and buildings upon which no effort had been spared to develop architectural merit. Yes, no effort at all. I didn’t really mind walking through the region because it is a reminder of the stuff we apparently need to live today (hardware, furniture, paints, bathrooms, screwfix, car-hire, and so on). The Lake District National Park border is careful to skirt the western edge of Kendal to exclude such estates. These buildings would struggle to get permission within the National Park, although the residents within it presumably need this stuff too, which tells us that the Park is an artificially cleansed environment. sandy bottoms

I reached the River Kent at Sandy Bottoms, which is, I understand, a favoured spot of anglers. One was standing mid-river. Has the species of angler that stands mid-river been able to continue throughout the lockdowns? They have been practising social distancing since long before it became necessary. Following the footpath, I reached the River Mint tributary, which was larger than I expected. With this river, and the River Sprint just to the north, feeding the River Kent it is not surprising that the latter is said to be the fastest-rising river in England.

The path by the Mint now passed some open fields on all of which the young people of Kendal were re-discovering the joys of practising their various sports. I crossed the river at Mint Bridge to walk, uneventfully, on the north bank, passing a scruffy bridge that would be ignored by most. I recognised it as part of the Thirlmere Aqueduct, which we traced from the Waterworks Bridge at Caton (89). Here, again, one of the four pipes is a little apart from the rest. And here in this out-of-the-way spot Manchester Corporation wasted no money on ornamentation.

I walked through the grounds of Dodding Green, which was quiet and inactive as I passed by, unnervingly so. I read later that Dodding Green is the home of Britain’s first Cenacolo community, which is a world-wide Christian association to help young people fighting addiction, although I’m not suggesting that that was the cause of my disquiet.

benson knott At Meal Bank I crossed over the bridge high above the Mint. Meal Bank is an odd hamlet tucked down in a loop of the River Mint with old mills and cottages and with access lanes that hardly promise an exit to the outside world. Here I had to turn back to Kendal, as the sun was setting on Benson Knott and the orchestra would be tuning down soon. I didn’t therefore reach the source of the River Mint, as I knew would be the case since it arises over ten miles away in Bannisdale. kendal mint

But I did locate the source of the other Kendal Mint (well, one of them, Romney’s – there are others). The Kendal Mint ‘factory’ was one of the buildings of that industrial estate I walked through, in this case a small building with attached shed that gave little indication of the culinary wonders performed within. I am anticipating that this free advertisement for their scrumptious products will result in a delivery of a lorry-load of free samples. However, none of the products (as far as I can determine from the website) uses Fairtrade sugar, and therefore Ruth will not allow them in the house.

    Date: May 26th 2021
    Start: SD519931, car park by the Quaker Tapestry Museum, Kendal  (Map: OL7)
    Route: N past railway station, NE on Mintsfeet Road and track – River Kent – E by River Mint – Mint Bridge – NE on north bank of Mint – Dodding Green, Meal Bank – SW on Mealbank Road (with short loop to aqueduct), SW on A685 – Kendal
    Distance: 6 miles;   Ascent: 50 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 189/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 12.98

pen-y-ghent      130.   By the Lancaster Canal and the River Lune  
     129.   From the Delights of Downham to the Heights of Pendle  
     128.   Spring around Scout Scar  
     127.   To Calf Top Top  
     126.   Return to Roeburndale  
               Diversion 6:  Plane Sailing on Windermere   
               113-125 are about walking and walks from home during another lockdown.
     125.   “Walking is not a sport”  
     124.   The Most Prominent Hills of North-West England  
     123.   Over to Overton and Around Little Fylde  
     122.   Walking Uphill and Walking Up a Hill  
     121.   The Phantom Hills of Mallowdale Pike, High Stephen's Head and Gallows Hill  
caton moor      120.   A Walk in Littledale in 1847   
     119.   Silence, Serenity and Solitude   
     118.   Coast-to-Coast in Six Days   
     117.   Empirical Studies into Gender Differences in Hilly and Horizontal Pedestrianism   
     116.   Are the Caton Windmills on their Last Legs?   
               Diversion 5:  The Duke of Westminster’s A to Z   
     115.   Risk, Fear and Pain – or Beauty, Joy and Wonder?   
     114.   Never Mind the Danger   
     113.   White Stoats on Caton Moor   
               113-125 are about walking and walks from home during another lockdown.
     112.   Walking around Pilling with Pink Feet   
     111.   From Millstone Grit to Limestone   
howgills      110.   Cloughs and Grit   
     109.   Fair Snape: the Fairest Fell of Bowland   
     108.   Westward Home!   
     107.   Along the Sands from Millom to Silecroft   
     106.   Twelve Ponds and a Power Station   
               Diversion 4:  You Don't Need a Weatherman ...   
     105.   An Autumn Stroll through Beetham Woods   
     104.   From Bampton Grange to the Lake District's Highest Hills   
     103.   Bogged Down around Rawcliffe Moss   
     102.   Upper Ribblesdale: Drumlins, Three Peaks and a Cave   
     101.   Passing the Time at Heysham   
hawthornthwaite fell      100.   Crookdale and Horseshoes   
     99.   Heather on Hawthornthwaite Fell   
     98.   Karren and Flora on Hutton Roof Crags   
     97.   Remeandering the Lyvennet   
     96.   Castles and Towers from the Cross of Greet   
     95.   Barbondale and the Dent Fault   
             79-94 are about walks from home during the coronavirus lockdown.
     94.   Away from It All on Caton Moor   
     93.   The Brookhouse - Claughton Circular   
     92.   The Small-Leaved Limes of Aughton Woods   
     91.   The Littledale Cuckoos are Back!   
lune ingleborough      90.   “One Form of Exercise – such as Walking” to the River
     89.   Tracking the Thirlmere Aqueduct
     88.   The Lune Millennium Park Artworks
     87.   Around the Claughton Clay Pit
     86.   Bluebells and Going Round the Lune Bend
             Diversion 3:  The Fairy Fell Roundelay (Rainy Day Walk No. 3251)   
     85.   The Tarn Brook Heronry
     84.   A Loop along Littledale Lanes
     83.   Gray's Seat and the View from the Crook o'Lune
     82.   A Peek into Artle Dale
     81.   The Lost Meander of the Lune
edisford br      80.   The Caton Moor Hares   
     79.   Sand Martins by the Lune   
             79-94 are about walks from home during the coronavirus lockdown.
     78.   Around Roeburndale   
     77.   Bridging the Lower Little Ribble   
     76.   The Belted Beauties of Sunderland   
             Diversion 2:  These Boots ...   
     75.   To Ward's Stone: A Classic Walk?   
     74.   Blackpool Promenading   
     73.   The Raygill Foraminifers   
     72.   Turner and the Lune Aqueduct   
     71.   Low in Low Barbondale   
coniston hills      70.   Up the Conder   
     69.   Lakeside, Finsthwaite Heights, Rusland Heights and Tourists   
     68.   Landscape and the Howgills   
     67.   The Consolation of Arant Haw   
     66.   In Search of the Paythorne Salmon   
             Diversion 1:  Save Our Sausage   
     65.   Grisedale and Another Tarn   
     64.   Beyond the Leagram Pale   
     63.   These Are a Few of My Favourite 'Superficial Things': in Crummackdale   
     62.   On and Off the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail   
     61.   Knott Alone   
the nab      60.   The Longsleddale Green Lane   
     59.   The 1 in 5,000 Hen Harriers of Bowland   
     58.   From Hawes, in the Poet Laureate's Footsteps   
     57.   A Blowy Lowsy Point   
     56.   Cross Fell: The Apex of England   
     55.   Butterflying on Whitbarrow   
     54.   Follies around Flusco   
     53.   Why? On the Wyre Way   
     52.   Morecambe Bay - from Cark to Grange-over-Sands   
     51.   On Wild Boar Fell   
langdales      50.   With the Lune from Kirkby Lonsdale   
     49.   Lingmoor Fell - For the Best Medium-High View in Lakeland?   
     48.   With The Grane   
     47.   The 'Wild Desert' of Kingsdale   
     46.   To the Point of Winterburn Reservoir   
     45.   Thoughts from the Towpath (Bilsborrow to Preston)   
     44.   Interlude: We Are Sorry for the Delay ...   
     43.   The Red Screes - Wansfell Question   
     42.   Appreciating Meg and Lucy   
     41.   Safe in Littledale   
singing ringing tree      40.   In the Borderlands of Burton-in-Lonsdale and Bentham   
     39.   Halls Galore by the Middle Ribble   
     38.   Reflections from Jeffrey's Mount   
     37.   Whoopers on Thurnham Moss   
     36.   The Flow and Ebb and Flow of Morecambe   
     35.   Dufton Rocks   
     34.   Thieveley Pike and the Singing Ringing Tree   
     33.   Is Nappa Hall Napping - or Dying?   
     32.   Russet Rusland Valley   
     31.   Pink Stones on the Orton Fells   
butter tubs rainbow      30.   Dunsop Bridge, Whitewell and Duchy-land   
     29.   The Quiet End of the Ribble Way   
     28.   Broughton Moor, or What's Left of It   
     27.   The Footpaths of Anglezarke Moor   
     26.   A Booze by Any Other Name   
     25.   Mysterious Harkerside Moor   
     24.   Up Ingleborough with the Holiday Crowds   
     23.   The Kentmere Diatomite   
     22.   In the Lancashire Yorkshire Dales   
     21.   The Fortunes of Fleetwood   
pendle      20.   On the Sunny Side of Pendle   
     19.   Viewpoints around Keswick (part 2)   
     18.   Viewpoints around Keswick (part 1)   
     17.   Sheep-Wrecked Matterdale?   
     16.   The Wildflowers of Sulber   
     15.   On the Hobdale Fence   
     14.   Logging Along the Cam High Road   
     13.   The Cairns of Grisedale Pike   
     12.   Uplifted by High Street   
     11.   The Struggle over Boulsworth Hill   
thirlmere      10.   The 'Hillfort' of Addlebrough   
     9.   "The Prettiest Mere of All" Lakeland   
     8.   What Price Catrigg Force?   
     7.   Castling in Cumbria: From Brougham to Lowther   
     6.   The Count of Flasby Fell   
     5.   Circumperambulating Stocks Reservoir   
     4.   In a Flap at Bolton-le-Sands   
     3.   Zipping around Thirlmere   
     2.   The Dentdale Diamonds   
     1.   The Taming of Caton Moor   

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    © John Self, Drakkar Press, 2018


Top photo: The western Howgills from Dillicar; Bottom photo: Blencathra from Great Mell Fell