Saturday, 31 March 2012


Penhill Beacon

I have a good boss, which meant that I could phone home on the spur of the moment and ask "Shall I take the afternoon off and we go out?”.  I mean, the sunshine was just too good to miss.  Before you know it, we were in the car grabbing our last chance to enjoy it.  We drove to West Witton and turned South past Capple Bank Farm and up Witton Steeps to get to the start of our walk, which was a short circular route to reach the top of Penhill.
Our planned route wasn’t very long, because we only had a couple of hours.   Penhill is not very high, (1714 ft), but it still stands out from its surroundings and gave us some lovely views across Wensleydale and Coverdale.

I’m glad I carry the binoculars everywhere now, as I was able to watch a large group of Fieldfare’s and Redwings move across the fields on our way down.  I don’t think I’ve seen them like that before.  With such a lovely little hill to walk up and across, we really enjoyed our afternoon away from work.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Horten in Ribblesdale churchyard, Pen-y-ghent behind

Saturdays walk was a revisit.  We’d reached the top of Pen-y-ghent on a gloriously sunny day in February three years ago. This time, we picked a gloriously sunny day in March.  You wouldn’t have thought it as were driving in the morning though.  Visibility was really poor right across the dales, fog and mist everywhere.  But as we reached Horton in Ribblesdale, the sun burned its way through, brightening the moors and dales around us.

Looking back to the quarry from the slopes of Pen-y-ghent

We set off and made our way up the lane past the school towards Brackenbottom Scar, and straight away I recognised our previous walking route.

It’s a long haul up towards the base of the peak, and I remember how difficult I had found it three years ago.  I also remembered how difficult I had found  the climb in the Howgills the other week, but today I seemed to be on form.

We made our way steadily upward, taking loads of pictures as we went.  

The slopes leading up to Pen-y-ghent are covered with loose rocks and boulders which  break up the contours of the hill with attractive shapes, white against the green.  

All the time we walked the peak loomed larger above us.

And then very suddenly we were on the last steep section.  Not quite a scramble, but I needed my hands free for the 200ft climb until we reached the final gently sloping path to the trig point and lunch.  Sitting in the sun up there, I wondered how many fellow walkers had reached the top of a hill for exactly the same purpose?  There were quite a few people up on Pen-y-ghent, lounging in the sun.  It was lovely.
Plover Hill ahead

From the trig point, most people make their way down along the Pennine Way, but we’d already planned to walk to Plover Hill and then down onto Foxup Moor before turning south west to walk across Horton Moor and visit Hull Pot before returning to our car.  The sun was lovely and warm, we were refreshed from lunch and thoroughly enjoying the afternoon.

It’s a bit boggy up there, but wasn’t really giving us too much trouble as we picked a route through the squelchy bits.  Peter led, and being a gentleman, helped me over the occasional extra wide patch of boggy stuff.  During an extra large step, I felt something in my foot give a painful crunch!
We were just about at the top of Plover Hill at this point, and we thought the pain would ease off, but I found it difficult to walk comfortably.   “It’s not too bad as long as I can keep it level”, I said, then looked ahead and realised our next stage was to get down the path on the side of the Plover Hill.  Steps had been built  into it to make it easier, but they were anything but level.   Uh oh!
Fortunately walking poles have many uses, including keeping balance and taking some of the strain.  So down we went (slowly), and then across the moors.    

I do love the bleakness of the dales and the country around us was wonderful.  The ever present sheep nearby, skylarks and curlews filling the air with sound, blue sky above…..  It was all quite, quite, lovely.We passed a few little springs and becks that appear and then disappear. 

We then reached Hull Pot, which is quite an impressive hole, as holes go.  A short photo stop.

The final stretch is a mile and a half walk along the lane under Horton Scar with the omnipresent lump of Pen-y-ghent behind.  We really like this bit.  The shapes and formations of the scar are very pleasant, especially in the evening sun.

We finally made it to Horton, but my foot hadn’t got any better and I was quite pleased not to have to walk anymore. 
It was a shame because we had started out so well and Peter was hoping that we could improve on our walking speeds and fitness averages, but it was not to be.  Humph!

Anyway, I still enjoyed the walk, I would happily do it again, although probably a little faster next time (we took 5 hours to walk the 8 ½ miles, not including stops).

So…….. Where next?  (As soon as this foot heals of course).

8.4 miles and 1824ft of up.

A short video from Peter

Springs, Hull Pot and Pen-y-ghent

Total this year 42.1 miles and 4406 ft ascent

Monday, 19 March 2012

Wondering about the paths around Richmond

Easby Abbey
Today's walk was a journey of exploration and adventure.  On the map were rights of way and bridle tracks that needed investigation.  After careful preparation and planning I set out on a voyage of discovery.  Read on to learn the intrepid story of my travels.

What I really mean is that I was at a bit of loose end, didn’t want to go too far from home, and decided to have a nosey along the paths nearby that I’d not tramped before.  So, after a quick route plan and making sure I had my gps, wetproof and water, off I went.

I’m allowed anywhere, but I stick to the public right of way
It quickly became an odd walk.  I’d started by strolling up the hill to get to the old Richmond Racecourse, now used as gallops.  The whole area is permissive land and everybody walks everywhere.  Trying to follow my route using the right of way was a bit of guesswork.    It seemed a bit silly as I sort of crossed the racecourse and back.  But as I said, this was a journey of discovery.  I think I might like to go up there in the morning to see the horses training.

I’m allowed here, but I feel like I shouldn’t be. 
Once I’d found the right exit off the racecourse. I crossed the road and was suddenly on Richmond Golf Course.  With golfers and everything.  I knew I could be there, the little yellow arrows said so.  But I felt out of place in my muddy boots.  I walked between greens feeling very conspicuous until I got a point where I just didn’t understand what the little yellow arrow, the map and the gps were telling me? Feeling like every golfer was watching and ready to thwack a little white missile at me, I turned left and took a few tentative steps onto the beautifully mowed grass of the green.  Ahhhh!  The path went immediately right, then across a different green, to a kissing gate and off the golf course.  Phew!

Ooops.  I’m not allowed here.
Back in my comfort zone I walked a well trodden path around the field of sprouts, which smelt very sprouty, and weirdly, quite nice.  Still on the path, I walked through a gap in the fence into a lovely little wood until I reached a rough tractor track, which I followed.  I kept following it until I got to a gate, which, when I got on the other side, had a big sign that said.  “No Public Right of Way”.   Ooooer.   (If I’d have planned my route or not got lost, I might have done that on purpose, thinking no-one would mind.  But of course, I didn’t…….. I took a wrong turn) 

I am allowed here, but someone’s taken all the signs away?
Moving on quickly, I crossed the road.  Checking GPS and map, I knew I was on the right track, and that this time it was a public bridleway.  There was one little marker that said as much at the beginning.  As I walked on for about a mile, through several gates, alongside fields and very well maintained and manicured estates, there wasn’t a single indication that I was on a right of way.  I got to the end of the section, where I saw a woman and two teenage girls heading for the farmhouse.  I sort of felt like it was the farmer’s wife, and that she was explaining to her daughters yes, I was allowed to be on their land.

It finally feels right.
I reached Skeeby, turned right, up the road a little way and then took a bridleway to Easby  Abbey.  I have to say, this was the best part of my walk.  I met a couple of donkeys, walked past St Trinian’s, (sadly it was a farm, not the school), and admired Easby Abbey, a few highland cattle, the River Swale and the waterfall before reaching home. 

I discovered………
8 miles of paths in lovely sunshine. I discovered I don’t want to do the first part of that walk again, but it is really lovely between Skeeby and Easby.  Maybe, when I’m wondering again, I’ll wander that way instead.   Oh, and I think I've got the hang of the gps too.  Cool eh?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A bird watchers walk - Colburn Batts

I have had just the most incredible day.  Not because of the route or the walking, although that is always enjoyable, but because of the reason for the walk.
I’d decided I would visit Colburn Batts, to see what the birds were up to.  Last year, I’d seen swans, tufted ducks, great crested grebes and quite a few other birds raise their chicks there.  I wondered if they would again, and if they had started to pair off yet.

I was just about to cross Mercury Bridge in Richmond to join the C2C path on its way to Catterick, when on a whim, I walked down the side to get some photo's of it.  Much to my surprise, a pair of goosanders came swimming past.  I was really pleased to see them, though I know they won’t hang around,as they like privacy.  I managed to get some photo’s although Mrs Goosander stuck her head in the water every time the camera went click.  I did manage to get one of her face though.  She's on the left of the picture above.  Not easily seen straight off, despite the rusty red shock of feathers.

Then I walked on following the C2C path watching out for whatever I could see.  After a mile or so, I left the C2C to follow the River Swale to Colburn Batts.
When I got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There were so many birds on the two little lakes.  I counted at least 20 swans and 40-60 greylag geese.  Amazingly, a guy walking his dog complained there were too many birds about.  Huh?
There were canada geese, coots, moorhens, great crested grebe (2 in one lake, one in the other), black headed gulls, tufted ducks and mallards.
There were a few birds I didn’t recognise so I looked them up when I got home.  Shelducks and little grebes it turns out, (although I am not certain of the little grebes.)   What would I have given for a better zoom on my camera. 
I was in my element, binoculars looking in all directions.  I’m sure this will all die down in a couple of weeks, but I was so pleased to see them all today.  Hopefully a few will stay behind so that I can watch them over the summer, particularly the grebes. I would love to see them do their courtship dance.  Today sadly, they were simply cruising.  The greylags made up for it though, very noisily chasing each other all over the lakes and the surrounding area.
I don’t know how long I stayed, but eventually it was time to go back, especially as the sky was getting blacker and blacker.   On the way back I took some photo’s of my favourite little beck waterfall, I’ve always liked it, even when it has no water in it.
As I got to Richmond, I decided to divert along the Swale to the waterfall.  The water in the river is low and as a result I was able to watch a dipper and a pair of grey wagtails chase each other around the falls. 

Checking the map, I walked about 7 ½ miles.  And I'm dead chuffed with the whole thing.  

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A little bit of everything - a walk from Reeth.

Yesterday's walk proved a little difficult for me.  But today we had different type of walk planned, not so much up, and not so much distance.  Definitely something I should be able to cope with, and we were starting a lot closer to home, in the lovely little village of Reeth.
We started from the Green, with blue blue sky and warm sun overhead.  Peter had already read from the map that the first part of the walk would be a gentle climb up through fields and stiles along the side of Swaledale.
Beautiful views: sheep and lambs, old stone walls and barns, crows and gulls overhead and the bare branches of the trees striking against the blue of the sky.  I even watched a bird of prey, which I think was a buzzard, through my binoculars for a few brief seconds.
The yellow flower is Lesser Celandine.  The flower only opens in sunshine, and we saw loads today.
Carrying on gently upward, we left the grazing sheep and the green grass and found ourselves in heather moorland, full of noisy grouse. They were more obvious than usual, or at least the males were.  We worked out that they were looking out for the females, probably strutting their stuff and advertising their little patch of heather suitable for nesting, in grouse language.
We walked on over Reeth Low Moor, bypassing Calver Hill, although it looked tempting, over the heather, and over bog,  towards West Raw Croft Farm, watching the lapwings do acrobatics over the fields just in front of us.
We reached Arkle Beck, which was the perfect spot for lunch.  Just lovely.
We crossed the little footbridge and then made our way along Arkle Beck back towards Reeth, and the scene changed again.   With Fremington Edge on our right and the river on our left, there were trees and scree, hawthorn and mud, woodland birds trilling and tweeting, and of course rabbits, all over the dune like rises and falls of the valley.  This is lower Arkengarthdale and typical of the Dales to be honest. But still wonderful and different and I never get tired of  walking in these hills and valleys.  Especially not in weather as good as we were having today.
Further downriver the scene changed again.  A plantation broke into the typical Dales setting,   Very pretty and very different.
Then we were back to Dales scenery that we love.  We came to White House, now derelict, but full of character, before walking the final leg alongside the river to Reeth.
A truly lovely walk of only six miles, but with a little bit of everything thrown in, it felt like longer.  We took ages over it because of all the times we just stopped to look, enjoy and admire, as well as take photographs.
And the end of a perfect day has to be being able to have a drink in one of the pubs in Reeth.  We chose The Buck Inn, where we were able to sit in the sun and look out at the glorious view.  Oh and by the way, my new boots were so perfect, I didn't even notice I had them on.  They did get well and truly christened walking along the riverside though.  Properly muddied and drenched.

5.9 miles, 943ft ascent.

This yrs total 18.2 miles.  3582 ft ascent

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A short walk in the Howgills.

Today's walk was intended to be a lot longer, but ended up only three and a half miles because I was really struggling.  We decided this was due to loads of different things, and tomorrow I should be in better fettle.
Shame really, because I was really looking forward to it.
Anyway, we started from Sedbergh and walked alongside Settlebeck Gill, which really is a lovely little gushing stream, with lots of tiny falls.
It took us absolutely ages to get up this bank, because I was finding it so difficult.  Peter was dead patient and took loads of photo's whilst he waited.  I got a few too.

We decided at the top to shorten our route and instead of going right along the Rowantree Grains path, turned  left to reach the trig point on the top of Winder.

The weather at the top wasn't brilliant, but I do love the way the Howgills' sort of roll. The views were wonderful.  From there we made the descent into Sedbergh.
I'm a bit miffed with myself for not being able to go further today, as I had been looking forward to the walk all week, but there was a silver lining.  With our walk cut short we decided to stop in Hawes on the way back to see if we could find some walking sticks and, more importantly find a tea shop for coffee n cake.   Not only did we get a new pair of sticks, and coffee, and cake, I got myself a new pair of boots as well. Class eh?

3.5 miles, 1321 ft.  Total 12.3 miles, 2639 ft