Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thwaite to Great Shunner Fell

I'd been wanting to get to the top of Great Shunner Fell ever since I'd seen it from Gunnerside.  Peter knew the path, and the weather forecast was for a gorgeous November day, so off we went.

As I've quoted before, "a picture paints a thousand words",  so here are several thousand:
We parked in a lay by between Scar Houses and Thwaite.  That's Thwaite directly ahead
Just north of Thwaite, you take the track east heading up towards Blackburn Edge.  This picture is looking back to Kisdon, which looked so wonderful in the autumn sun, I had to get this picture.
Farm tracks, puddles, hills and sun.  What more could you ask for.
Great Shunner Fell ahead, just slightly on the right.  It looks closer than it is.
Looking back to Thwaite, what a glorious, glorious day.
One of the many cairns on the path approaching the summit of Great Shunner Fell.  This is my arty shot. 
In the shadow of the hill, the frost is crisp, white and beautiful
That frost and ice makes the path quite slippy to be honest.  The sun was bright in our faces though, egging us on towards the top.
And when we reached it, we sat down to enjoy soup and sandwiches.  Getting up here was easy enough, but we weren't so sure about the route back.  There was another couple up there who told us it was dead easy, and just follow the path along the fence line, down to Little Shunner Fell and on to the Butter Tubs.  So of we went to do exactly that.

Except we didn't do that at all, and we ended up ever so slightly in the wrong place, on Pickersett, with quite a deep gulley between us and where we wanted  to be.  Once we'd worked out our problem, we also worked out we needed to cross the gulley before it got too wide, and we needed to get to the Butter Tubs before it got too dark.  We managed it though.

Looking back to Pickersett after crossing the gulley of Fossdale Gill.
Lovely Seat in the lovely light of the setting sun. 
Butter Tubs
More Butter Tubs.
 Quoted from the information board: "There are various theories about the name given to the site.  The most popular is that the potholes were once used as a coolstore for butter carried from farms in Swaledale over to the market at Hawes. Returning past the potholes at the end of a long day at the market and faced with the steep drop to their farms in the valley below, the farmers probably didn't fancy hauling the butter home only to have to clamber back up the fell with it the next market day.  The cool depths of the potholes would have made a convenient 'fridge'."

From the Butter Tubs, it was easy to follow the road back to the car.  I had to take a photo of this though, for Alen.

Our route, just over 7 1/2 miles.

This was just about the last walk I did in 2013.  With cruises, work and other stuff in the way, my next walk will not be until Spring next year.

But today was brilliant, and almost makes up for the lack of walks for the next few months.  Roll on spring. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Gibside.  Doesn't sound much does it.  But that was where Peter was going this Saturday.  Actually, he was going to do an all day workshop for Gibside Art Group in Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear.  I was at a loose end, and on Friday night I googled "Gibside", and found this: National Trust...... Gibside

Looking into the site a bit further, I found this:

A quick check of the weather forecast, and it turned out that although a good part of the country was due a soaking, Tyne and Wear was gonna have a dry day, so I ambushed Peter when he got home and it was all sorted, I was going with him to the art club, and I would walk from there to Gibside, which was about a mile away.
So, Saturday morning, after helping him set up, I was off.  I was simply after a days pottering, but I took my binoculars as the area is known for red kites.  The townsfolk are obviously very proud of this, or at least the council are, there are signs and pictures of the birds everywhere.   
When I go to Gibside I sort of wandered all over the place. Here are the photo's.
The Chapel
Fantastic autumn colours in the trees behind the chapel
Gibside Hall
Looking over Hollow Walk to the Column to Liberty
I went into the stables to find the loos and a cafe.  Whilst there, I noticed a man and a woman demonstrating or something in the corner, so I went over to see what they were doing.
They were ringing birds.  They had about a dozen or so that had been caught  that morning in nets near feeding tables, mostly blue tits and great tits.  As they extracted each bird carefully from it's individual bag where it was stored, they showed the ring of watchers how they measured, weighed and then ringed them.  Did you know blue tits weigh just a little more than a pound coin?  Amazing!

The birds were then put back in there little bags until it was time to release them about half an hour later.  Then, we walked out to the back of the stables, and the staff released each bird by placing it on its back on the palm of a child.  When they'd run out of children, the adults got a turn.  It was lovely to watch.
A great tit being released.  Sometimes they lie very still on the hand for a few seconds.  Lovely.
After that little bit of excitement, I continued my way around the park, heading for the "Skyline Walk"
Autumn colours again, in Snipes Dean
But still very green as I made my way out of the woods onto the northern most path of the map.
The view from the Skyline Walk
Looking down on the Column to Liberty. 
Back in the park, I spent some time sitting in the wildlife hide.  I was very pleased to see this nuthatch
My "arty pic"
The orangery
I ended my visit in the cafe near the entrance and the walled garden with lovely soup n a roll, enough to see me through till we got home.  Lurrrvvvly.  Oh and I did get to see a red kite, it flew overhead as I walked along the Hollow Walk.  Class!

OK, not my usual days walking, but there are about 15 miles of paths in Gibside, with loads to see as you wander around, so it filled the day nicely, I reckon I easily walked about 8 miles, maybe more. I'd be very happy to visit again if the occasion arises. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Mount Grace Priory and Cod Beck Reservoir

OK, so I'm beginning to develop a bit of theme here.  First a ruin, then a walk......   It's not deliberate, honest.  Thing is, that's the way it panned out again.  

As usual, we were chasing the sun, and it was due to stay out and play in the East.  We didn't want to have to drive far, and I worked out this little route which we could easily do in the afternoon. We haven't been to the Priory before, and since it also provided car parking, it was the natural starting point. 

We parked the car and went and had a look around the priory before setting off on the walk.  As you can see, it was another beautiful day. 

Mount Grace House or The Guesthouse which is very nice inside.  I want one!  (I would modernise mine of course).
A recent sculpture of  The Madonna holding Jesus.  I like it. 

What we found really interesting about Mount Grace Priory were the "cells".  The word makes you think of small prison type rooms, but that wasn't the case here at all.  The cells were actually lovely little cottages for one, with a little garden for growing food and herbs, an outside privy, a bedroom, a room for study and worship, and a workshop upstairs.  It didn't look like a bad place to live at all.  The monks lived as hermits and were strictly vegetarian it seems.   All very interesting: English Heritage - Mount Grace Priory,  Britain Express - Mount Grace Priory

After half an hour or so in the Priory, we started our walk just after midday.
Uphill through the woods to join the Cleveland Way at Chapel Wood Farm
The Cleveland Way, just East of Osmotherly.  It's a bit tight mind, single file only. 
I just love the red of the hawthorn berries. 
Peter took this picture and I stole it off him, I love the colour of the bracken. 
This was an unexpected delight.  We didn't know Cod Beck Reservoir was going to look as good as this. 
We sat and ate lunch here, enjoying the bonus of a table and bench in the sun.  Surprisingly it was bitter cold, and sitting still as we were, it didn't take long for us to need hats and gloves.
Our lunch time view.
After lunch we crossed the road for the Reservoir and found the fingerpost for the ROW which would take us through fields and disused quarries back towards the Cleveland Way.  This is not a well used path!  We did end up a little bit all over the place trying to find our way through.   It was worth it to see this tree though:

And to see these colours and sights as we finally found our way out of the quarries. ( I nicked some more of Peter's photo's)

Another brilliant afternoons walk.  It's quite an easy route, with a couple of hills.  6 1/2 miles, 1200ft of up and 3 1/2 hours of truly wonderful sunshine.  No wonder I always have a smile on my face.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Bolton Priory, a waterfall and more heather than planned.

As usual, the weather forecast was one of the determining factors when we were trying to work out where to walk, and as it happened, Bolton Priory was in the dry zone. Since I've always wanted to have a closer look at the Priory ever since I saw it during a walk along The Strid a couple of years ago it was easy to use it as a starting point for a walk.

To visit Bolton Priory is free, but it costs £4 to park in the Priory car park.  Canny eh?  But not a problem, I realised we'd probably got our money's worth when I saw the deep the muddy grooves our campervan had made in the grass as we parked.  [Sneaky chuckle].
Paid and parked we started on our planned 8 mile walk by crossing the road over to the Bolton Priory site. Then we stopped walking and had a wander around the Priory ruins.

I found it quite fascinating that half the priory was a ruin, and the other half was being used as a church.  We would have wandered into the church for a look, but there was a wedding on.   I looked, but I'm pretty sure they weren't gonna let us in.

Having sated our appetite for the old masonry and roofless buildings, we had another go at starting our walk.  First we crossed the River Wharfe, using the conveniently provided bridge.
Look carefully at this picture.  There's something missing, only it isn't.  This caused real confusion later on.
On the east side of the river, we followed the Dales Way north(ish), enjoying the the autumn colours and the occasional burst of sunshine.

At Posforth Bridge, we turned off to follow a track into The Valley of Desolation.   All the trees got blown down here in a terrible storm in 1826, making the little valley very desolate, (that's how it got its name see), 'cept it's not very desolate really, because it's been a long time since 1826 and all the trees have grown back.

I really liked this magnificent and slighly quirky oak tree
I really liked this fungus in the next picture. Then I found out it's called "Many Zoned Polypore". What kind of name is that!   It sounds like an architects design for a shopping centre, or a plastic carrier bag with pockets.  This fungus needs a better name. Trouble is, I can't think of any. Suggestions in the comments section please.
There's an unnamed waterfall on Sheepshaw Beck.  We'd heard it last time we walked this way, and, just to prove that sometimes we actually make wise decisions, we decided to divert and go take a look.  

What a stunning little fall, I'll swear I saw a fish in it.  The fish looked like it was trying to jump the falls, in the way I've seen the salmon do it on TV.  But then it could have been the fish was being washed over the falls, and was facing the wrong way.    I kept looking, but I didn't see another fish.

We sat and had our lunch here, in a glade in the wood overlooking the waterfall. The sun came out and kept us company for half an hour too.  How nice.  

After the valley of desolation, we were supposed to walk through the managed forest and then take a right turn to Agill House and follow the track to Broadshaw.  But we missed the turning, and we didn't know we'd missed the turning until we took the wrong one and ended up on something that looked like a path, but turned out to be very definitely not a path. Gizmo (the GPS), couldn't help cos he'd been given a different route
Our difficult but very interesting detour following a wall around the moor. Fortunately the scenery was wonderful, so it sort of made up for trying to find our way through boggy marsh and untrod heather

Peter was getting cross, because he could see where he wanted to be - i.e. that path in the distance but there was a massive great wall in the way and no path on the other side of it.  We kept following the wall until eventually we found a track, which led to a gate, which led to another track and finally.... Voila! We were back on course at Broadshawe. 
Black Pasture
It didn't take us long to walk from Broadshawe back to the Wharfe at Stead Dike.  We crossed the bridge there, so that we could walk on the west side, downriver and back to the Priory.  We saw a sign for the Stepping Stones and wondered where they were, as we'd not seen them on the way up.  Then there was another Stepping Stones sign, but for the life of us, we couldn't work out where they were.  We decided they must be further downriver, something to bear in mind next time we came this way. 
Back at the Priory, the church was open, and no one else was getting married so we popped in to have a look.

It was odd inside, because there wasn't a big stained glass over the altar end.  The wall separating the ruined part of the Priory from this church wouldn't have been there before, and the Nave would have continued on into the Choir and the Chancel.

And then it was back to the van where we changed out of our boots, felt ever so slightly guilty about the dents in the ground and set off for home.  We'd walked 7 1/2 miles and 1300 ft of up, so not a difficult walk.  (Unless you take a detour through the heather).

Here's a map of the intended route:

Back at the Ranch...............

Later on we were looking at the photo's.  Take a look at this one again:

Now we know where the Stepping Stones are!