Western Howgills

Home   Preamble   Index   Areas   Map   References   Top10s   Me   Drakkar

Saunterings:  Walking in North-West England  131 - 140

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 an email update after every five items (that's usually after a couple of months or so) - please send an email to johnselfdrakkar@gmail.com. Some readers' comments are included in the Preamble.

     Latest (with a list of all Saunterings so far)
dentdale      140.   Short-Circuiting Wharfedale
     139.   Ruskin’s View and a View of Ruskin’s View
     138.   Ghosts, Lunatics and Invincibles – but no longer
     137.   Bowness, Empty and Full
     136.   Green Fields or ‘Garden Village’?
     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
     Previous 1 - 130

140.  Short-Circuiting Wharfedale

We set out to explore middle Wharfedale by means of four short circuits over two days: two walks together, one walk alone (me), and one ride on horseback (Ruth).

Wharfedale is the most visited of the Yorkshire Dales and not just because it is the closest to Leeds and Bradford. The River Wharfe runs through the most varied landscapes of all the rivers of the Dales. It arises on the eastern slopes of Cam Fell, to the north of Pen-y-ghent, with various becks coalescing to form the Wharfe at Beckermonds. It then flows east through Langstrothdale, past evocatively-named hamlets such as Yockenthwaite and Hubberholme, and then south past Buckden to Kettlewell. It gathers its main tributary, the River Skirfare, from Littondale and proceeds through a glaciated limestone valley past Grassington towards the narrow, wooded area of The Strid and Bolton Abbey. This is all classic Dales country. Wharfedale is usually considered to end at the Dales boundary but the River Wharfe itself continues through Ilkley, Otley and Wetherby to join the Ouse south of York.

Our plan got off to a flying start when Ruth took a step from the van and tumbled over the walking boots that I had foolishly placed there, spraining an ankle in the process. After some time wondering “What do we do now?” we set off, one of us rather gingerly, down the path from Grassington to Linton Falls. There was too little water for the falls to be impressive. We then followed the Dales Way east. This must be one of the most walked sections of the Dales Way – but few walkers will have walked it slower than us.
Linton Falls

The River Wharfe at Linton Falls

After a picnic by the river, we continued to the Hebden suspension bridge, which a plaque says was completed in 1885, although much of the present structure is surely more recent. After walking through the village of Hebden, we picked up the track west that eventually becomes the High Lane into Grassington. By now Ruth was hobbling so much that a walker offered her his walking stick. Back at the van we were surprised (well, I was) to find that Ruth’s left ankle was twice the size of her right ankle and some of it was a rather unappealing purple.
hebden suspension bridge

The Hebden suspension bridge and stepping stones

On the following morning Ruth’s planned ride depended on whether she could get her left foot in her riding boot. She could, eventually. So I left her to her ride and walked up the limestone hills to the east of Conistone. It had rained overnight, after the unseasonably hot day yesterday, and there was still misty moisture in the air, making the views not as good as they can be. I walked up Scot Gate Lane, which looked like it was a historic track over the moor, to Mossdale and Nidderdale, I assume. At the Dales Way crossing I took the Way path south for a couple of miles of easy walking.

At Lea Green, where there are signs of ancient settlements and field systems (but not to my untutored eye), I cut west to follow the path that returns northwest to Conistone. This I found a more enjoyable path than the Dales Way. For one thing, there was nobody else to be seen, whereas the Dales Way was littered with walkers. The path had more character and passed some fine scenery, including a secluded limestone cliff above Dib Beck that I never knew was there. Back at the riding stables the next question was whether Ruth would be able to get her riding boot off. Eventually, she could. (It is outside my brief to describe outings on horseback but I have it from the horse-rider’s mouth that it was “a lovely ride” on Kilnsey Moor, on the other side of the Wharfe.)
conistone path

The path to Conistone, with a hazy Kilnsey Crag in the distance

There was no question about the planned fourth short circuit on the limestone terraces north of Conistone. Ruth couldn't walk on uneven surfaces. Instead, we drove into Kettlewell and ambled about its lanes, which there are more of than we thought (and more pubs too!), trying to recall details of previous visits of some time ago. As with most Dales villages, its air of reassuring timelessness is challenged by its increased business. We walked a little way up the narrow, steep road that crosses over the moor into Coverdale and that provides a good view of the stone walls aligned in the fields of Kettlewell.
kettlewell fields

The graceful fields of Kettlewell

In the village we saw the familiar signs of the Dales Way. Way walkers are led down from the hills to Kettlewell, which must be good for its trade, and on to Buckden. The Dales Way is an 80-mile trail from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere. The Way is always described as being walked in that direction, which means that it is downhill all the way, metaphorically speaking. The best bit is the first half or so up Wharfedale to (near) its source. Thereafter the Way proceeds, somewhat aimlessly, through Dentdale to Sedbergh, with the final section across relatively uninspiring land, neither Dales nor Lakes, to Bowness. If I were walking 80 miles to the Lake District I wouldn’t want to end up in Bowness. Anyway, the Dales Way seems psychologically misguided to me. A Dales Way should revel in the scenery of the Dales – after all, there is plenty of it. It shouldn’t give the impression that a Dales walker really wants to escape and get to that other National Park to the west.

Since the Dales Way was devised the borders of the Dales National Park have changed. The north-west boundary no longer runs across the middle of the Howgills. It has moved fifteen miles north, to north of the Orton Fells. A New Dales Way could continue from Sedbergh to Tebay or Ravenstonedale, say, and then across the Orton Fells through Crosby Ravensworth and Maulds Meaburn to Shap, say. That would give another two or three days of good Dales walking instead of the pointless Bowness section and help to incorporate the newer parts of the Dales. Shap is not within the National Park but then neither is Ilkley. A walk across the Yorkshire Dales should start and finish just outside the National Park otherwise it isn't fully across it. A walk between the south-east corner and the north-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales would make, to me, a more satisfying, complete, genuine Dales Way.

    Date: September 8th/9th 2021
    (a) Start: SE003637, Grassington car park  (Map: OL2)
    Route: S – Linton Falls – SE on Dales Way – Hebden suspension bridge – N – Hebden – NW – High Lane, Grassington – S – car park
    Distance: 5 miles;   Ascent: 85 metres
    (b) Start: SD980675, Conistone  (Map: OL2)
    Route: N, NE, E on Scot Gate Lane – Dales Way – S – Lea Green – W, NW – Conistone
    Distance: 5 miles;   Ascent: 160 metres
    (c) Start: SD968723, Kettlewell car park  (Map: OL2)
    Route: around the lanes of Kettlewell, plus a short walk up the road to Coverdale
    Distance: 1 mile;   Ascent: 50 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 199/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 14.20


139.  Ruskin’s View and a View of Ruskin’s View

Messages from deepest Cumbria continue to confuse me. Yes, visitors, lots of them, are welcome. Especially if they spend lots of money. Which I don’t. But every week there’s a news item regretting all these visitors. They are walking up the fells in flip-flops, over-stretching the Mountain Rescue teams; they are causing the Lake District to be knee deep in the rubbish that is usually distributed across the continent; they are walking socially distant on the fells, thereby increasing erosion; they are infecting locals with covid, giving Cumbria one of the highest infection rates in the country. Visitors are now asked to take a test before coming – but since they are less likely to be infected than the locals perhaps it’s the latter who should be doing the testing. I thought it best to stay away and took a short bus-trip to Kirkby Lonsdale instead.

ruskin's view From the market square I walked through the churchyard to the view (now called Ruskin’s View) that in 1875 caused John Ruskin to say “Here are moorland, sweet river and English forest at their best … [the view is] one of the loveliest in England and therefore in the world”. At that time Ruskin was 56 and a man of the world sufficient to have seen many views with which to compare this one. He saw the River Lune approaching and then swerving south by the bank below, with the hills of Barbon Low Fell in the distance.

Many visitors to Kirkby Lonsdale must wander to Ruskin’s View and wonder what all the fuss is about. It is pleasant enough but nothing special. The words of Ruskin quoted above are never put into context. He was not writing for the local tourist industry. His words were within a diatribe criticising the inhabitants of Kirkby Lonsdale. He was saying, it seems to me, that this location (the beauties of which he exaggerated for effect) should be valued and protected, not ruined. He was appalled that locals used the bank as a rubbish tip: they “pitch their dust-heaps, and whatever of worse they have to get rid of, crockery and the rest – down over the fence among the primroses and violets to the river – and the whole blessed shore underneath … is one waste of filth, town drainage, broken saucepans, tannin and mill-refuse”. He didn’t like the recently-erected iron rails, which he thought dangerous, nor the seats, which he thought badly-designed. He didn’t think much of their church renovation either: “there is a fine old church, with Norman door, and lancet east windows, and so on; and this, of course, has been duly patched, botched, plastered and primmed up; and is kept as a tidy as a new pin”. Today, the rest of Kirkby Lonsdale is as tidy as a new pin too.

I dropped down to the river, crossed the Devil’s Bridge, walked along Chapelhouse Lane, and continued under the old railway line, along a stretch of the Roman Road, and past Fell Yeat plant nursery. There are two tracks north from Fell Road. The lower (Fellfoot Road) is the better known but the higher one is better – and it heads where I wanted to go. It is not only higher but also more open, giving fine views across the serene, green Lune valley to the Lake District skyline. It also affords a view of the stone circle which you would never notice without the map telling you it is there. It is not worth trespassing for a closer view of the dozen or so small stones.

From this track it was a short climb to the prominent cairn of Brownthwaite Pike (421 metres). The view from the cairn is extensive. To the south, the Lune heads towards Morecambe Bay. Circling east, we then have the Bowland ridge of Ward’s Stone and, closer by, Gragareth, Crag Hill and the top of Calf Top. To the north is the upper Lune valley, from the Howgills. To the west is the majestic skyline of the southern Lakeland hills. And there, nestled in the valley, lies Kirkby Lonsdale, including Ruskin’s View. I need hardly say which of the two views I prefer. (Brownthwaite Pike is the nobble on the right skyline of the Ruskin’s View photo above.)
south from lane

Looking south from the track approaching Brownthwaite Pike

from Brownthwaite Pike

The view from Brownthwaite Pike, with Kirkby Lonsdale in the middle distance

north from Brownthwaite Pike

Looking north from the northern slopes of Brownthwaite

From Brownthwaite Pike I began a circuitous – rather too circuitous, it turned out – return to Kirkby Lonsdale. I dropped down to Fellfoot Road, which would have been easier without the bracken, and walked past the mansion of Whelprigg, which I could hardly see through the trees. After looking for some time for somewhere to pause for a lunch-break, I eventually walked onto the driving range of Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club (the golfers were all on the course proper, none of them needing to practise their driving), where I found a comfortable bench. Afterwards I walked on and detoured north to Beckfoot Farm to see the small old packhorse bridge, only a metre wide, now overgrown and unusable.

The rest of the walk passed in something of a daze, as, although it was pleasant enough with views across to the Barbon hills, I saw little that was sufficiently different from what I had seen on previous walks in this region to distract me from my increasing exhaustion. Eventually, I re-crossed the Devil’s Bridge, which was now crowded, and saw that many people were frolicking in and by the banks of the Lune. Perhaps I should have done likewise.
from Devil's Bridge

From the Devil's Bridge

    Date: August 26th 2021
    Start: SD612786, Kirkby Lonsdale market square   (Map: OL2)
    Route: N – Ruskin’s View – SE, S – Devil’s Bridge – E, NE on Chapelhouse Lane, E under old railway line, N on Wandales Lane, E past Fell Yeat, N, NE – Brownthwaite Pike – NW, W by Drygill Wood – Fellfoot Road – N, W, SW, N past Whelprigg and Low Bank House – lane – SW, N, SW, W on Scaleber Lane – N – Beckfoot Farm – S, E on Lowfields Lane – S, E – Casterton church – S past Old Manor, SW on Chapelhouse Lane, W – Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale
    Distance: 11 miles;   Ascent: 370 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 196/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 14.04


138.  Ghosts, Lunatics and Invincibles – but no longer

In 1900 Anthony Hewitson wrote a book entitled Northward (Hewitson, 1900). The title is less informative than the sub-title – Historic, Topographic, Residential, and Scenic Gleanings, etc. between Preston and Lancaster. The book described the region passed through on a journey along and around the twenty miles or so of the A6 between Preston and Lancaster. I began my exploration from the A6 at Barton, heading east and then southward towards Preston.

Hewitson’s book focussed on the many mansions near the A6. The impression is given that the whole region between Preston and Lancaster was parcelled up into large estates, the ownership of which passed amongst families whose names appear over and over in the book: Bird, Brockholes, Butler, Dalton, Garnett, Lamb, Parker, Pleasington, Rawlinson, Shuttleworth, Tyldesley. Most of the estates were indeed large. The Barton estate, through the remains of which I walked, was sold in 72 lots in 1899 for £141,652, equivalent to about £12m today.

There is little mention in the book of what Hewitson and the various estate-owners would regard as the peasantry. They appeared only in incidental anecdotes. For example, it was said that in 1863 an accident occurred near Barton Brook Bridge when a large waggon ran out of control down a steep hill and killed three horses and a man. It must have been a tragedy for three valued horses to be killed. To help avoid similar accidents the hill was made less steep in 1869, with a tablet placed at the top reading “To relieve the sufferings of the animals labouring in our service …”.

barton cross After crossing the M6 I came to what is marked on the map as an antiquity, Barton Cross. The base may well be old but the rest isn’t, especially the absurd white cross on top. I then headed towards Whittingham House. Hewitson described this house in some detail but I couldn’t see it (if it’s still there) behind high hedges. So I walked on to Chingle Hall.

According to a BBC report, “many people believe Chingle Hall at Goosnargh to be the most haunted house in England”. Since the present owners do not, I understand, want to perpetuate this reputation they will not thank me for mentioning this. Who would want passing strangers peering into their property in search of apparitions? I didn’t see any. I experienced no spine-Chingling events.

I do not normally allow in these pages claims about the most this-or-that without some rigorous scientific justification. So I have searched the pages of phenomenology for a measure of hauntedness, but without success. I therefore propose the following formula for the coefficient of hauntedness CH:
    CH = i * n * g * l * e
where i is the average number of incidences of ghostly visitations (as detected by any of the human senses) per week; n is the number of distinguishably different ghosts per cubic metre of the house; g is a measure of the gory ghastliness of the pre-ghost’s(s') demise(s); l is the average length of ghostly manifestation; e is a measure (on the Beaufort scale) of the average experience of wailing, knocking or other manifestation. As in all science, these factors must be determined by extensive reliable observations. And therein lies a problem.

Hewitson did not mention Chingle Hall. Perhaps he was scared off by its reputation. He also didn’t mention the nearby County Lunatic Asylum. This asylum had opened in 1873 and was at one time the largest mental hospital in Britain. Although the buildings were of no interest to Hewitson they were, as were similar asylums elsewhere, on a grand scale and a matter of some civic pride. Winchester (2006) describes the Whittingham asylum’s “very generous and imaginative landscaping and monumental buildings”, including hospital, gasworks, church, sports facilities and railway station with its own private railway branch. It closed as a hospital in 1995 and has, to some extent, been refurbished as a residential Guild Park.

banner I had intended to walk east to see how the refurbishment was getting on and then south across fields. However, there is a lot of new building going on in the area and it is not difficult to imagine what they are doing with the old asylum. And I had already had problems locating footpath signs and stiles among the overgrowth and finding that the paths disappeared into brambles, nettles and Himalayan balsam. So I retreated to the B5269 and returned west. I was clearly within an area beset by arguments about building developments. There were banners and signs urging protest – and building work under way regardless.

Before reaching the M6 I took a path south. I must have been foolishly attracted by the name, Pudding Pie Nook. It was a scruffy track, awaiting planning permission for development (as everywhere seemed to be), and the footpath again became a morass of brambles and nettles. So I retreated to the B5269 again and continued west. By now I just wanted this ordeal to end, so I took the simplest option of walking to the A6 and then along it south into Preston, which is no fun at all.

After crossing under the M55, I noticed ‘Cromwell’s Mound’ marked as an antiquity on the map so I set off on the B6241 to see it. However, after half-a-mile I changed my mind. There were new buildings and roads not on my map and I suspected that the mound wouldn’t be worth seeing anyway. It probably has an absurd white cross on top. Or it has been flattened for new houses. (Later I read that I wasn’t far wrong. The mound, which is supposed to be the site of the Battle of Preston of 1648, is due to have a retail park built upon it. A retail park isn’t a park.)  So for the third time on this walk I backtracked.

benson memorial I turned my mind off and plodded down the A6, pausing at Moor Park, a rare area of green in Preston. It was created as a municipal park, from common moorland, in 1833. At the corner of the park I came across a memorial to Tom Benson, whom I had never heard of, which is remiss of me, since he was a champion long-distance walker. He set some sort of world record in 1986 by walking around Moor Park non-stop, covering a total of 415 miles. He could have walked from Preston to Weston-super-Mare and back.

Across the park I could see where in 1888-1889 a group of men ensured that the proud name of Preston would be forever remembered and revered throughout the land, which is more than can be said for all the estate-owners that Hewitson wrote about. Preston North End football club won the league and cup without losing a game, a feat that has never been matched. They were known as ‘The Invincibles’. The site of their ground at Deepdale is the longest continually used site of any English Football League team.

Of course, Hewitson did not mention football in his book, as he was writing a ‘county history’. It is said that history is written by the winners although it is evidently truer to say that it is written by those who are able to write histories. Hewitson was a well-to-do man on friendly terms, it seems, with all the well-to-do estate owners in the region and he and they naturally assumed that the only county history worth having was one about those owners and their estates. The large majority of the population who lived and worked in the region (and who celebrated the success of Preston North End) did not have the time and skills to write history, and are therefore not part of it.

    Date: August 13th 2021
    Start: SD514376, Barton   (Map: 286)
    Route: (linear) E past Blacow House Farm – Barton Cross – E, S, E, S past Meadowcroft – Whittingham House – E, S – Chingle Hall – N – B5269 – W, S – Pudding Pie Nook and path to M6 – N – B5269 – SW – old A6 crossroads in Broughton – S under M55, E on B6241 for a half a mile – W back to A6 – S – Moor Park, bus stop for No 40 bus
    Distance: 10 miles;   Ascent: 30 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 196/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.93


137.  Bowness, Empty and Full

Bowness-on-Windermere is a place that provokes thoughts on the nature, meaning and futility of life. Bryson (1995) described Bowness as a "misplaced seaside resort" and found "at least twelve shops selling Peter Rabbit stuff". However, he missed 'The World of Beatrix Potter', which had opened in 1991.

Left: The view from School Knott school knott

Me too. I walked from Windermere railway station away from the lakeside attractions of Bowness towards the gentle, undulating, rocky hills east of Bowness. I headed first for School Knott (232 metres), which provides a splendid view over the upper reaches of the lake towards the central peaks. On this occasion, the view was not perfect. Clouds sat upon Scafell Pike, as they often do, but the shapes of Coniston Old Man, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes could be made out through the haze that had accumulated after several hot, still days.

Thereafter, I walked for five miles through fields of bracken and gorse, around rocky outcrops, with occasional glimpses of distant tops. I had not come armed with an itinerary of interesting features to seek out – and indeed I saw little of interest or excitement to report here. It was perfectly peaceful and pleasant. I particularly enjoyed two sections. First, the path between Crag House and Gilpin Farm, which is the kind of place where not only do you see nobody but you would be astonished to see somebody. You feel alone with the birds, butterflies and bushes. And, secondly, the old track marked as a permissive path across the moor after Mitchelland Farm. I expect that very few people walk along this track although, from the look of it, it was probably a significant route in past centuries. On old maps it is marked as 'Green Lane' and of equal importance to the now paved road to the south.

Right: Typical terrain behind Bowness

Since leaving Windermere railway station I had seen only a handful of people, none with a backpack and most with a dog. This all changed once I left Brant Fell (191 metres), where there is another fine view over the lake, and dropped down into Bowness. Bowness was full. Every guest house had ‘no vacancies’, every café seat was occupied, traffic barely moved, families cluttered the pavements – and it was hot.

I took refuge on the island of calm that is St Martin’s Church. The Baddeley guide to the Lake District (Baddeley, 1880, 1922) devotes more pages to this church than to any other in the Lake District, so if I am to be marooned at a church perhaps there is no better one. Baddeley describes many features of the church – the ancient font, the biblical texts on the nave pillars, the Latin jubilation (1629) on the failure of the Gunpowder Plot (1605), the marble reredos, and so on – but, as expected, the church was closed. This is just as well since I feel it best to leave church visits to those who are able to appreciate church architecture. Nobody should be allowed to visit a church unless they know the difference between architrave and archivolt. I tried to study the stained glass windows of the eastern wing, said to be the church’s outstanding treasure with the earliest glass believed to date from 1260, but it was impossible to do so from the outside. I did at least find the grave-stone of Rasselas Belfield, an ‘Abyssinian slave’. The inscription, written in 1822 (before the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833) and not by Rasselas Belfield, of course, seems so mind-bogglingly naive to me that I include it here:
       A Slave by birth I left my native Land
       And found my Freedom on Britannia's Strand:
       Blest Isle! Thou Glory of the Wise and Free,
       Thy Touch alone unbinds the Chains of Slavery
Historic England provides a more detailed and sympathetic analysis.

I couldn’t cower in the churchyard forever. So I battled through the throngs and made my way up New Road (the A5094) to Windermere, passing the Baddeley Clock Tower on the way. It seems that Baddeley was a Bowness man. No wonder he thought so much of the church. Perhaps it’s not so special after all.

I am left to ponder. Why do so many people pile into Bowness? Do they enjoy the hustle and bustle? Do they think that Bowness represents the best of the Lake District? Does pottering about Bowness for a week really make a pleasurable holiday? Do they go home thinking that they have seen the Lake District? What’s wrong with me, that unlike thousands of others I prefer walking on empty hills and fields?
Brant Fell

The view from Brant Fell

    Date: July 26th 2021
    Start: SD414987, Windermere railway station   (Map: OL7)
    Route: E on A591, S, SE – School Knott – SE, SW, E – Hag End – E, S – Outrun Nook – S – Gilpin Farm – W – Mitchelland Farm – SW, W, NW – Lindeth Lane – N, W – Brant Fell – N, W, NE, W – Bowness – NE on A5074 – Windermere railway station
    Distance: 9 miles;   Ascent: 180 metres
    Fraction of 5x5 km squares visited so far: 195/400;   Percentage of 1x1 km squares visited so far: 13.76


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

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


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, of the kind which 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
    (a) Start: SD703872, High Laning campsite  (Map: OL2)
    Route: SE, NE through Dent – Shoolbred – SE – Bankland – W, S over Tommy Bridge, SW – Mill Bridge – SW – Slack – NW – beyond West Banks – N – Dent
    Distance: 4 miles;   Ascent: 70 metres
    (b) Start: SD742865, lay-by near Ibbeth Peril  (Map: OL2)
    Route: 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: 5 miles;   Ascent: 80 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-gehnt

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.
dentdale

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  
               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?   
               115.   Risk, Fear and Pain – or Beauty, Joy and Wonder?   
               114.   Never Mind the Danger   
               113.   White Stoats on Caton Moor   
     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   
     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 (first) 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
             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   
     78.   Around Roeburndale   
     77.   Bridging the Lower Little Ribble   
     76.   The Belted Beauties of Sunderland   
     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   
     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   

Home   Preamble   Index   Areas   Map   References   Top10s   Me   Drakkar

    © John Self, Drakkar Press, 2018

Blencathra

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