Wednesday 31 May 2017

Dales way, Part two

My original plan for Saturday was to push on to a few miles past Sedbergh. However, a rather concerned lady at the campsite warned me of storms forecast for the afternoon. A quick change of plan. The map showed a campsite at Sedbergh and I decided to aim for that. Again, it was a fine morning. Once more the day began with a spell of following river banks.
The DW passes through some lovely hay meadows. The walking is straight forward but an eye needs to be kept on the map.
. Switching from following the river Dee, the DW heads up and over to descend down to Millthrop. It is fine walking on old farm lanes and bridleways. Heading up by Gate Manor, climbing through old woodlands. The views from the top are excellent.
The weather was on the change, it was close and muggy and dark clouds were starting to build in the distance. There was also the added factor that I was not doing good. Although still mobile, there was a definite need for a break.
The campsite was a half mile off route but that was no problem. What was annoying though was that when I arrived there it was obviously a caravan park. Worse, it was a posh one. The warden came hurrying out the moment he spotted me. His manner was, to put it mildly, frosty. "No, we certainly DO NOT take tents. Besides, we are full" Enquiring if he knew of any local campsites, the reply was blunt. " No, there are no campsite in the Sedbergh Area. You will just have to move on" What is it with these folk, they live on another planet! It may not appear much but wasting a mile was something I did not need.

It was tempting to  head in to Sedbergh and find a B&B. Instead I pushed on.

Thunder was beginning to mutter in the distance. Not good, with a storm brewing I really needed to stop soon.
Taking a chance, I nipped in to the farm at Hebblethwaites. The farmer directed me to the caravan park next door. After my previous experience I was wary. However, he reassured me that the warden would unofficially accept tents if it was only an overnight stop. The warden was not available. With the first drops of rain already falling, I cast caution to the wind and got the tent up on a small bit of grass. Ten minutes later the warden returned in his car. Yelling at me from his car, it was obvious he was not happy about were the tent was. Fortunately, with the storm coming in big time, he relented after I reassured him I would be away early the next morning. Mind, it cost me a tenner. At least there was a loo and shower available. It can be a tad daunting lying in a tent with thunder and lightning all around. Worse were the gusts of wind slamming in to the tent, the rain was a deluge and to cap it all hailstones also pounded the flysheet.
As promised, I was away shortly after seven thirty next morning. My aim was for Burneside. Roughly calculated it is was in the region of fifteen miles.
The walking was not difficult, the DW route though appeared at times to travel a long way to get not very far! Navigation wise a constant eye needed to be kept on the map.
There were some impressive red sandstone and iron viaducts to be seen along the way.
Unfortunately they are now only reminders of a time when railway branch lines covered much more of the country. They are certainly well constructed.
Was almost mown down by a speeding mountain biker at Crook Of Lune Bridge. The thing was, I was on the left hand side of the road. If it had been a car instead of me, he would have stood no chance.
It felt something like a milestone when I eventually crossed the bridge over the M6. Stopping for a break near Holme Park farm, I settled down for a nibble and a wee doze. It was not to be. Within five minutes I had an audience of a herd of cows. Arranged in a semi circle, gazing at me in the bovine curiosity sort of manner that cows do. Nudging each like naughty school kids, they would inch forward. As soon as I made a move though they scattered.
 It was on this section I met someone else who was on the DW. He was travelling light only doing a leg or two of the way at weekends. The guy did mention though that he found the Sedbergh to Burneside bit the most difficult navigation wise. It certainly called for a constant eye on the map. Reaching Burneside, I made for the local pub and booked in for the night. They did a very good Sunday roast.
It was raining when I set off on the Monday morning. Initially it was only light rain. but at times it became heavy.
The way up to Stavely was once more predominantly river bank walking. From Stavely onward the DW enters in to more rolling countryside. Several ups and downs, small lanes and ancient tracks. The area is more rugged than may be expected, with some fine rocky outcrops and crags. Enjoyable walking despite the rain. Once again, a close eye needs to be kept on the map.
As the route approaches Bowness the paths thread in and out of a lot of private land. Signs abound,'Private, no path, keep out'. Gates were, more often than not, padlocked. Some of the narrow kissing gates were not made with backpackers in mind. They took a wee bit of shoogling to wriggle through!
Bowness itself remained hidden until almost the last moment.

Heading down the hill in to Bowness, I was looking forward to a cup of tea and a spot of lunch. It was not to be. The place was wall to wall with people. Experiencing something akin to a panic attack, I was on the first available bus to Windermere.
The mileage covered varies from which ever guide book is consulted. Overall, my calculations give an average of eighty three miles over six days. That is four whole days and two half days. Surprisingly I coped ok, but did experience one fall, which is unusual for me. At times I wobble but that is about all.
The journey back was interesting. No trains running from Oxenholme northwards. Buses and taxis were running a shuttle service. It was fun ending up in a taxi to Carlisle, paid by Virgin trains, I may add.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Dales Way, Part one

This was the second part of my mad idea, two fairly straight forward walks, back to back, almost! Back from the first walk, a day or two sorting things out, restocking on gas and food and then away again on the Tuesday morning.
This time I was heading for Ilkley and the Dales Way. Arriving in Ilkley early afternoon to find the weather warm and pleasant. The start is a very easy route to follow. Beginning at the Old bridge over the river Wharfe the path predominantly keeps close to the river. Surprisingly once I got a few miles up stream, I saw few people out. With the recent dry weather the river was very low in places. Mind, the surrounding woods and pastures remained lush and green.
Approaching Bolton Bridge, the path takes to the main road for a few hundred yards. That was something of a nightmare, I almost got side swiped by a speeding van. By the time I reached Bolton Abbey, time was running on and I was getting tired. There had been a sign up at the bridge indicating a campsite. Walked up to the Abbey, saw a group of caravans and camper wagons in a field behind the car park. Wandered over but was informed in no uncertain manner that they were a private club and the field was for their exclusive use. It would have been nice to have a wander about but after a round of verbal from a group of youths, predominantly teenage girls, I headed back to the river and found a stealthy spot for the tent.
Supper was mainly fluids and a bit of cake, I was tired and not that hungry. Surprisingly there were only a few midges around.
Wednesday morning I was up and away early..The Bolton Abbey estate appears to cover a vast area. It was quite gentle walking on well made tracks through verdant woodland, always with the river for company.
The abbey trust had laid out numerous tracks and trails for for folk to explore. Maybe due to the early hour, but there was not another soul about.
The air was alive with birdsong, swallows dived low over the water catching insects on the wing.
It felt good to be striding out in shorts and tee shirt. Strid wood is a lovely mixture of mature deciduous trees, including a large amount of sessile oaks. They certainly look their best at this time of year.
The Strid itself is an extremely narrow gorge, or cleft in the rock formation were the river is forced through. Apparently people have died trying to swim in its pools or attempting to jump over the narrow gap. It must be awesome when the river is in spate!

Beyond the Strid the path crosses the river over quite an impressive bridge. It is actually a viaduct carrying water from Nidderdale to Bradford. Got a hesitant nod from two bird watcher types as I passed them at Barden Bridge and wished them a 'good morning'! This is too good an area to hurry through, especially on such a fine day.
Burnsall has a fantastic tea shop, well frequented by cyclists. Coffee and poached egg on toast went down very well. Back on the path it was amusing to see a lady having mild hysterics as she scolded her husband for allowing the pampered pooch to jump in the river for a swim. From what I could hear, the dog had just that morning been to a doggy beauty parlour for a shampoo and set? The dog got a big thumbs up from me. Good on it, may it forever do what comes naturally!
It was straight forward walking from there to Grassington. The bank holiday had certainly brought the crowds out. Stopped by Linton falls, hoping for a quiet snooze, eventually though I gave up.
Grassington was awash with folk, the tea rooms where overflowing, the ice cream wagons were doing well and the pubs were heaving. It was a bit too much for me and I hurried through. A mistake, I ought to have picked up some sun block. Picking up 3 litres of water from a very nice lady out pottering around her garden. It was then a slow uphill plod on to the high ground above Grassington. This is limestone country, hence me picking up water in Grassington. After a mile or so I called it a day and set up camp.
It was a fine spot for a camp too. The sheep were friendly, dropping by to have a nose and wandering off again. Copious amounts of fluid were consumed and a wee amount of snoozing too. So far I seemed to be holding up ok, a few aches and pains, a wee bit of a wobbly earlier in the day but everything still functioning!
Thursday morning there was a heavy dew but with it came the promise of a really nice day.
Some fine walking over toward Kettlewell. This is a really nice area and one to be enjoyed. Picked up a few bits in the village shop, unfortunately they had no sun block.

 My one concern was were I could camp that night. Possibly at Buckden? From there on up in to Langstrothdale possible spots were very limited. It was still early when I reached Buckden. An icecream and a restock of more fluids and I pushed on. There were a couple of places I knew of. The one I had in mind was close to Beckermonds, a fairish way up the dale.  It made for a long day but I reached the place I had in mind, just out of direct sight of the road.
 Another heavy dew overnight and stuff I had washed out the night before had not thoroughly dried meant starting a little later than intended.
From Beckermonds up to Oughtershaw is road walking. The road was quiet though and was no great hardship.
It is interesting to note that the old school and chapel at Oughtershaw has submitted planning application to turn the place in to hostel/bunkhouse and to remove some later extensions made to the place. From what I can recall, the sight is grade two listed. Mind, if it is done properly and extends the life of the building, well, it may be a good thing!
Accommodation can be had at Nethergill, mainly self catering, I think? There is self serve tea and coffee available worked on a honesty system, flapjacks too. It is a steady pull up to Cam Houses where I picked up another litre of water, it was getting hot! It was then a sharpish climb up on to Cam High Road. Spectacular views all round.
 Cam High Road is an ancient route. It was in use before the Romans took it over and later it was a medieval trade route. Unfortunately it has now been up graded to allow timber lorries access to it. On a hot day, with the sunlight radiating off its surface it was not pleasant walking.

 The day was turning out to be a scorcher and on the long descent down toward Far Gearstones farm I stopped for a break and promptly dozed off. Not a bad thing really. This was going to be another long day. Basically, with hospitals appointments in the latter part of the following week, I had to be out by Tuesday.  An initial steep uphill pull past Winshaw and then a steady bit of walking on to the Black Rake Road. A steady descent down through Dent Head.
For reasons I am unsure of, I blame it on the heat! I carried on through to Dent. That was a long day. A pint of lemonade at the local pub and on to the campsite. A shower, more fluids, a bite to eat and I was ready to snooze until it was time to take my night meds.

Monday 22 May 2017

Cumbria Way. Part two

The following morning saw me away from the campsite fairly early. The walk around Derwentwater is a pleasant one, popular too. Being a Sunday there were a fair few folk out and about.
Rain threatened and there were a few bits of drizzle. hardly enough for waterproofs, enough to make things damp!
A middle aged couple, clad in lycra came up the track at great speed. Arms and trekking poles going nineteen to the dozen, a look of total concentration on their faces. Supposedly nordic walking is good for one, but it must be said, it does look a little odd!
.It would appear that backpackers are not such a common breed in the Derwent Water area. At least it seemed that way by the looks I received from a few people?
Coming around by the car park below Catbells, I could see literally, columns of people heading up the hill. How glad I was that I was not heading in that direction.
Keswick was heaving with people. It was a case of picking up a bit of food, grabbing a bite to eat and heading back out.
It is a steady pull walking up through Latrigg woods. A nice surprise was found at the carpark at the top.A lady had set up business with a specially adapted van and was selling a variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice creams.
The path that runs around the side of Lonscale Fell is a lovely walk. It winds around the hillside high above Glenderaterra Beck. Higher up and about a mile short of Skiddaw House are the remains of buildings and sheepfolds. Whether they are agricultural or industrial, I am unsure? They were my goal for the afternoon. Having been that way before I knew I could find a spot to camp. A bit close the path, but I was certain no one would bother me. One downside of seeing other people out on the hill was the amount of times I was told that rain was forecast for the morning!
As I was setting up camp I heard someone coming down the path. It was an elderly gent and he was having a right barney with someone. Arms waving all over the place, he was going for it bigtime. The only snag was, he was on his own, odd?
In the early hours of the morning I had severe stomach cramps and was decidedly ill. My suspicion was the food I had to eat in Keswick, a meat and potato pie that had obviously been heated in the microwave? The onset of rain at five in the morning decided me, I was going to have a day off. Later in the morning, sitting with a cup of tea, I could hear people heading up the hill. A guy in a very strident voice loudly announcing, 'The forecast is for the rain to clear by late morning'! Unfortunately the weather gods were working to a different script! It rained all day and was still wet on Tuesday morning, It was windy too.

The CW splits at Skiddaw House. One section runs east and goes over  High Pike. The alternative runs west and is lower. Both link up again at Nether Row, not far from Caldbeck, which was my goal for the day. It was the eastern route I really wanted. A last day on the high fells before heading in to lowland countryside. However, with the tops clad in thick, blue, black clouds, coupled with the wind and rain, common sense had to prevail. Thus I opted for the western alternative.
The Whitewater Dash waterfall looked splendid and several folk were heading up to view it.
The CW does another dogleg at Peterhouse Farm, looping off on footpaths over to Orthwaite. This section saw more road walking than other part of the whole route. It was nice scenery over to Nether Row

. It was then on down to Caldbeck. Here I threw a total  wobbly and booked in to a pub, horrors! It was deliberate though. My special treat and the fact that I had fifteen miles to cover the following day. A bed, shower and clean clothes seemed appropriate. The Oddfellows Pub at Caldbeck was very reasonably priced for bed, breakfast and evening meal. Also, they were walker and dog friendly.
It was risky but I went for the full breakfast in the morning. A bit of a faff actually finding the route out of the village. Once sorted it was a steady climb up through the woods of Parson's Park. Lovely views all round and some good walking. Along drop back down following a path damaged by erosion, parts of the river bank opposite also had suffered storm damage. Once over the bridge at Sebergham, I paused for a check of the map and a wee breather. Sitting by the busy road, I noticed a group of smartly dressed people heading down the pavement. Odd in a rural environment! They stopped to say hello, ask were I was heading and so forth. Suddenly one of the chappies offered me a leaflet and asked if I knew anything about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Making my excuses, I hurried away. Really, I had enough on my plate without meeting up with the four horsemen!

Making my way over to Bell Bridge I hit a problem. There was no bridge, it had been washed away. Unless I was prepared to swim, I had to divert.
A dogleg via Hudbeck, Breconhill and back down to Bog Bridge brought me back on track. It was now all gentle rolling countryside to Carlisle. The amount of storm damage wreaked by the river Caldew in the recent floods, was very apparent. Great areas of river bank swept away, swathes of land  bearing the results of flood. Massive islands of debri. Boulders, rocks, mud, shattered tree trunks and tangles of tree roots. Nature can be very destructive when she wants! Mind, time will heal the scars.!

A pause for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at Dalston. It was then head down and go for it mode. To be honest lowland walking has never been a favourite of mine and I wanted done. Thus it was that the pace increased as I tabbed the last few miles. After signing the book at the Tourist information office in Carlisle, it was just a case of heading to the station and a train back. My calculations later showed that I had covered seventeen and a half miles from Caldbeck.
That last section had to be my least favourite. The highlight of the journey was from Chapel Stile over to Borrowdale.