The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Grange over Sands to Seathwaite, 4 day Lakes walk.

Many times i find myself reading blogs like Conrad's or Alistair's, to name but two, who spend quite a bit of time wandering the Southern Lakes areas, they post wonderful descriptions and photographs. I usually comment that it looks great and i must get to walk there at some point.

We were lucky enough to be invited up to a friends in the Duddon Valley for a weekend and this gave me an opportunity to plan a walk in that area, Sheila unfortunately had to work but would meet me at the weekend.
I chose Grange over Sands as my start point because it was easy to get to from Manchester and a first class ticket only cost me £7.50. My kit was as light as my current gear would allow, it weighed 9kl which included food and fuel for 4 days.

The train got me to Grange at lunchtime so i still had plenty of day left to make inroads. I had a rough outline of a plan but only one definite overnight pitch that i wanted to make which was at The Bell, just west of Coniston Village, the rest of the plan was open.

After a coffee and a chat to an old friend i hadn't seen for 30 yrs, a chance meeting, i set off through the lovely deciduous Eggerslack Wood which took me up to the "Hospice" on top of Hampsfell. The hospice is a basic stone shelter built for travellers to shelter from bad weather. It was built over a hundred years ago and is a great viewpoint.

Route Day 1.
From here i crossed a limestone plateau and started the descent into Cartmel via Pitt Farm. Weather wise it was a scorcher and the nice walk into Cartmel, passing the famous Abbey had me dripping in sweat. I was glad of a seat outside a coffee shop although the price of a small coffee and a small water left me gasping for breath.
Why Cartmel gets so busy mid week without any horse racing on has always left me pondering. I for one am always glad to leave Cartmel and today was no different.

I thought i was going to get stopped crossing the race course, but i was ok. Once on the other side and through some woods i chanced across a large Boy Scout tent city and i noticed that they were still making all the same pieces of camp wood lore that i made 55 yrs ago. The difference being was they were all looking at phones instead of acting like monkeys on a rope slides or tree climbing.

I headed west to the fine viewpoint and os trig point on top of How Barrow. The map shows a spring marked but i couldn't find it.
Then north along the top edge of Ellerside which turned out to be a fine route incorporating Bigland Tarn. This is indeed a scenic stretch of water and would have made an ideal camp spot if it didn't happen to be part of a large private estate with the main hall only a hundred yards away.

I was feeling dehydrated, i had drank all the water i carried and i needed to find some more. I didn't find any flowing into the tarn and then i heard estate vehicles approaching. I asked one chap if there was any running water about and he suggested i go to the stables which was just out of sight at this point.
The stables had a filtered water fountain, i was offered a coffee and a place to put my tent up. I took the offer. Showers, toilets and the comfy tack room with pot washing facilities were pointed out.
I was taken aback by the generosity and the no problems welcome i received.
My tent pitch was perfect and as the evening wore on the peace and quiet and the views were very special. I sat quiet and watched Buzzards and Hares and Mistle Thrush's going about there business. I must say a big thank you to Sheelagh and Mike Myers for the hospitality.
I slept sound. What a brilliant day.
If anyone is camping doing the Cumbria coastal path then give the stables a call on 01539 530333.

That was until 6.00am when i heard thunder and it started raining, fine rain at first and then progressively heavier. The wind picked up and the tent shook. I lay there warm and cosy thinking how can two days be so different. I had left the tent doors open all night but now i had to close them.

All things done and wet tent packed i headed off to pay for my pitch.
Kindness again, they didn't want money as it had been no trouble but if i wanted to pitch there again would i please ring and let them know so that they could ensure the horses would not be in the way. Horses and small tents don't mix well.
I left a small donation towards the stable which was accepted with thanks.

My plan was to go to High Dam but one of the stable hands said good luck with that and a bit of a smile. This had me thinking that i needed to take an FWA (foul weather alternative). The weather was atrocious and i could imagine what the High Dam and surrounding woodland would be like under the circumstances. I looked at the map and decided that i would head for Satterthwaite and camp there on a recognised site.
Route Day 2.
I headed first for Haverthwaite where there is an old railway museum and where i knew i could get breakfast. The clag was right down to just above rooftop level, the rain not abating. When i got to the cafe it was packed, it seemed that the bad weather had brought lots of holiday makers indoors. I studied the queue at the cafe and decided that i would give it a miss. I had really convinced myself that a full English Breky would be wonderful and i hadn't had any breakfast at the tent for that reason.
Disappointed i set off up Rusland Pool heading for Rusland itself. The lanes were quiet only the odd car passing. On a fence post stood a large raptor, a Buzzard, amazingly as i passed it within about 10ft away it didn't move, it just looked at me. I stood there looking at it for about 20 seconds, it still didn't move and then i realised it was probably as sodden as i was and it didn't want to fly.
I said to it, "so your as stupid as i am then eh". Turned and carried on squelching up the lane.

By the time Rusland Church came into view the water on the lanes and in the fields was getting quite pronounced and my thoughts turned to wondering if the campsite would be flooded. I kind of prayed that the Church would be open and allow me to get out of the weather for a short while, it was.
Placing my sack down in the porch i instantly created a large puddle and i felt guilty at the mess. Opening the door into the Church, there was a few benches at the back where i could sit down. I was trying my best not to wet anything as i took my waterproofs off, but it proved impossible. The base layer i was wearing made by ODLO proved to be useless as it soaked up water and didn't wick like the bumf said it would, i took it off hoping i didn't get caught by some church lady. Wringing out my top and seeing just how wet it was had me thinking my waterproofs were useless. That was a wrong assumption.

I sat down and raided my lunch bag eating a few energy bars and drinking 1/2 litre of water. I couldn't be bothered brewing up as i would have had to go outside again. Eventually though that's exactly what i had to do.
I found the footpath leading off to Force Mill and paddled my way there. The river was massive and the sound of the Force was tremendous. I stood in awe at the sheer power of the water. I didn't take photo's as the rain was just to hard. At the top of the falls i stopped in the woods and found a bit of shelter, i took 2 photos but my lens was misted over, they don't do the falls justice anyway.

A short time later i was at the campsite Bowkerstead Farm, ringing the bell for attention.
I asked if i could camp and was told that "we only take advance bookings but seeing that it was quiet you can camp". Well thanks a bunch i thought. Thanks a lot.
I was told where to camp and off i went. It was awful. Up in the woodlands there are a number of sad looking glamping pods but the woodland was dank, dark, boggy, mossy, muddy, slippery and generally a place best not frequented by a backpacking tent.
Deciding that no way in the world was i camping here i headed off back down to the house. I asked if i could camp in the field and was told ok. I wondered why i had been sent into that God forsaken hole in the first place if the field was ok to camp in. But what do i know.

The field was fine, not waterlogged and the showers (2) were free and hot and lasted as long as you wanted. So from that perspective i was a happy bunny. Camping was £7.
Around 4.30pm it finely stopped raining and a few specks of blue sky appeared. I rigged up a washing line and tried to dry out my base layers with little success.
Later i headed into the small village and sampled 2 pints at the Eagle Pub. A nice wee place with friendly staff doing well with the food trade and the beer of which four were cask hand pump beers  in good form. Shame i couldn't stay longer but i was knackered and wanted my pit.

I had a reasonable nights sleep until around 6.30 ish when i was startled into eyes wide open mode by an almighty racket. It was two donkeys in the next field braying like it was the end of the world. Well that's put paid to a lie in then. Porridge time and black coffee. It wasn't raining but it had rained quite a bit during the night, i knew this because there were a few large puddles where there were non last night.
I wonder if i can get the tent dry and packed up before the next rain shower i thought. Sponging down the tent and removing about a litre of excess water i managed to pack it seconds before the patter of rain drops hit me. It didn't last long fortunately so i had another coffee before setting off at 8.11am.
Route Day 3.
Through Slatterthwaite i took a left over Sawry Bridge and followed the boggy path through Hall Wood exiting at the Grizedale Visitor centre. It looked abandoned but it was just that i was first there except for a couple of Warden type fellows. I took the opportunity to drop the pack down and wait a while until they opened the cafe, i just fancied that breakfast i missed at Haverthwaite.
Alas, speaking with the Warden the cafe didn't open until around 10 am and it was only 9.10am. So i slung the pack back on and away up Carron Crag i went. I got about 500yds up the track when i realised my hands were empty and i had left my walking poles leaning against a chair.

Sugar or something like that was heard echoing around the woods as i went into panic mode and sped back down to the cafe to retrieve them. Phew they were where i left them.
Half way up Carron Crag again, my ODLO top was again wet through as were my undies. This time i didn't have my waterproofs on, so it proved to me that the top just absorbed sweat rather than expelling it as i thought it should have done and from that sweat my Uniqlo undies were wicking it back.

Its a pretty easy walk up the waymarked paths to the highest point in Grizedale Forest but picking out the right path heading over the top into Coniston proved a little tricky and to be honest i was glad at this point to use the GPS. Forestry paths/roads have a habit of being modified and the route down to Coniston is not way marked. There were quite a few alternative routes i could easily have taken and been wrong.

Once i was satisfied that i was indeed on the right path and started to gain open ground, the views opened up and cheered me up no end. The Old Man, Dow Crag, the Yewdale Fells all covered in a grey white blanket. Then it started to rain again.

Rain continued all the way into Coniston village but it was a nice walk all the same. Passing the Meadowdore Cafe i was pulled in by the aroma of that breakfast. I don't eat eggs but i did on this occasion and it tasted so good along with the bacon, sausage, mushrooms, beans, hash brown, toast etc. It was expensive but i didn't care at this point.

I sat there using the cafe internet but the rain didn't let up, if anything it looked like it was in for the day. I did a quick walk around surveying the tops of the fells and took the decision that it might not be good to camp at The Bell and opted for the easy option, Coniston Hall Campsite. Bad Decision.

Once pitched i had a brew and laid out my sleeping bag, 3 hours later when i awoke to the sound of kids running around my tent and kicking footballs against the wall 10 ft away. I wished i had gone up to the Bell, i knew it was a bad decision.

After the large lunch i had eaten i wasn't particularly hungry, but i had been sent a free sample of Curried Rice and i wanted to try it on this trip. I waited until about 8.oopm and then heated it up.
It was really nice, not what i would call a full backpacking main meal but a good sized lunch and if other bits were added to it, Tuna just as an example, you could easily turn it into a main meal. It took 140ml of water, so that's economical and quick. Takes 6-7 mins to re-hydrate.
For the photo i tipped the packet contents into my dish but just like any other dehydrated food it can be eaten straight from the packet.
Curried Rice, supplied FOC from Mark Trodden at Mountain Trails
I finished my meal off with half a packet of Birds Custard, i just love packet custard.

As darkness came so did the rain. Bed time came at about 9.00pm, and because of the rain the racket from kids and shouting parents dissolved. I don't remember anything until 8.00am when the smell of bacon cooking and dogs barking woke me up. It was still raining.
The ablutions on this Coniston Hall campsite amount to just one block and i think 5 or 6 loo's. With a rough estimate of about 500 people camping today i judged that it would be quicker to pack up and walk to a cafe rather than queue up on the site. And a lot more hygienic too.
 I am a little surprised that they can get away with such a few toilets on a site so large but i guess its down to the local authority. I have it in the back of my mind that its something like 1 loo for men 1 loo for ladies per 25 pitches.

I managed to shake off as much water as possible from the tent and packed up. I headed back to Meadowdore cafe for a Bacon and Sausage on Toast and a mug of black coffee. Asking the young lady for the said meal caused a bit of a flap. Erm, how many bacon do you want and how many sausages do you want, do you want brown or white toast, do you want milk in your black coffee!!!!!!
Just get on with it Love. How Much!!! £8. Phew. I don't know if i should eat it or get it framed.

So i paid a large fee to go to the loo.

It was still raining as i set off past the Sun Inn, that famous pub from the Bluebird days of Speed records. It's a bit of a pull up the hill and you think its never ending. The fells eventually come into view and the rain eases off. I stop and change waterproofs to wind jacket. The Bell is clear but the higher fells are capped in clag.
Through the metal gate at the road end i get onto the open fell. I stop to take some pictures and chat to a lady runner from Cockermouth Mountain club. She's intending on doing the Coniston tops round.
Todays walk for me is an easy one. The Walna Scar track which i have done many many times but i never tire of its scenery. I forgot though just how many good camping spots there are on this fell side. If only i had remembered yesterday.
I took a break at Torver Bridge and was lucky enough to sit in the sun. Great to feel the warmth for a change. The sun stayed with me for a while but the wind had picked up quite a bit. As i reached the watershed the fell runner i had spoken to earlier in the day was running down off Brown Pike. Upon reaching me she stopped and said that she had nearly been blown over and it was treacherous on Dow Crag. She had turned back instead of dropping down to Goats Hause and up onto the Old Man. Wise lady.
I sat down on the Duddon side of the watershed and watched as people were buffeted on the descent from the ridge. The views across to Harter Fell, The Scafells and Green Crags were looking very dark and ominous. It looked as though it would pour down at any minute.
I hurried along to Walna Quarries where i knew of a spot to shelter if it did pour down but as it happened it didn't. I had lunch here which was basically an energy bar and some water. Not very appetising but good enough.

There was a strong smell of smoke in the air which seemed to be emanating from Turner Hall Farm. Then i realized that it was sheep clipping time and farmers now burn the fleeces instead of selling them for next to nothing. We used to help out at clipping time but now Anthony has enough hands to cope.
Coming through the farm yard i spot his new tractor, a Massey Ferguson 5612, its a good loader tractor which is mainly what a hill farmer needs but they are such a price now at around £50k.
I have a quick word with Anthony who's a bit busy and then i head off to the Newfield Inn where my journey ends.

Its been a mainly wet journey, not a great distance overall, not a hard walk by any means but a satisfactory one which i would do again with a few alterations. It could quite easily be done in 3 days.

Here are the photo's i took if the post hasn't bored the life out of you.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 4 cont.

This pic is where I had planned to camp if the weather had played ball.
As it is I am now looking at wonderful scenery. It's 11.00am and it's stopped raining. The wind has picked up quite a bit.
Talked to a lady runner from Cockermouth doing the Coniston high circuit.
I had forgotten how many good camp spots are beside the Walna, hindsight.
At the watershed I met the runner coming off Brown Pike, she said she couldn't run over Dow as the wind was blowing her over.
I lunched at Walna quarries before heading down into Seathwaite where my mate at Turner Hall campsite has just bought a new Massey Ferguson tractor. Pictures will be published when I get home.
It's been a very wet 4 days baring Tuesday afternoon but I have enjoyed it non the less. I will expand the post when I get back.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 4

If only my day looked like the photo. My day is grey raining and very humid. I'm in Coniston and now have that big hill to do going passed the Sun Inn. Yuk. Over the Walna Scar into the Duddon Valley. Let's hope the weather improves a bit.
Oh yes. If anyone reads that I am staying at Coniston Hall campsite again you will know I have lost the plot.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday day 3

Wednesday day 2 was a complete washout. I was wet right through. I had hopes of going to High Dam but the flag was down and torrential rain. Decided that I just needed to do miles and forget sight seeing.
Thank God, no pun intended, for Rusland church where I sheltered for half hour and dripped everywhere. Got to Slatterthwaite and camped..
Today started fine and I'm now in Grizrdale forest heading for Coniston.
More later.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

End of day 1.

A good afternoon. Very humid and draining energy.
Route. Grange over Sands, Hampsfell viewpoint and Hospice, Cartmel, How Borrow trig point, Cumbria coast path to Bigland Tarn.
Now camped at Bigland horse stables who have been fantastic and made me very welcome to camp.
Rain forecast for tomorrow.

Cumbria 4 day trek

Grange over Sands start of my wee bimble in the wonderful Lake District.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Another trial run of a photo.

I am trying to email the blog with a capable enlarge photo option. Hope this works.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Today's walk

Today's walk started from our cabin at Dovestones and gained height following a good LRT all the way up to Chew reservoir.
From there we followed the gritstone edge round to Alphin Pike.
Great views, some wonderful rock formations and a steep descent back down to Greenfield.
11km and 4.5 hrs. Misty, drizzly start but cleared to be a lovely blue sky day.

Today's view

Dovestones res in background

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Silva simi light review.

The Silva Simi is a small lightweight lamp. Made originally for cycling.

I found it to have a number of other uses than what it was designed for.
The lamp itself weighs only 16 grams and that includes the two cr2032  batteries that power 3 LED bulbs giving off 17 lumens.
The light has two functions, constant or strobe.
Battery life is stated at 100 hours when on strobe and 24 hrs on constant.

The case and clip is tough plastic with a silicone strap. Waterproofing is IPX6 std which is splashproof.
Size, 30mm diameter x 20mm thick.
It's available in white light or red light. The white light is what i have.

I found it to be an excellent tent light, easily fastening to my roof clip, giving off plenty of light to cook, read and find gear in the rucksack.

With it's stretchy silicone strap it is easily fitted onto a walking pole handle, illuminating in front of you and warning any oncoming traffic of your presence.

It can also be fastened to the front or rear of your rucksack, again for those night hikes.

It doesn't take much imagination either, that with a piece of 3mm bungy cord you can turn this into a lightweight head torch and because it is designed for cycles, the light is adequate.
Oh yes. You can also use it on your bike.

For such a tiny piece of kit I think it's fantastic and has now replaced my trusty Petzl e-light.
Cost is quite variable and worth checking out prices on numerous websites but max price is around £7.
 I paid £2.99 from Dash4it in conjunction with a map purchase.

You may also be interested in the Silva Tyto light which is similar. Click Here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Circuit around Dovestones.

We had a few hours to spare and decided to have a walk around Dovestones reservoir. Upon arrival the clagg was really low. We had no gear to head off into the clouds but at least the reservoirs were clear. With slight mizzle we bravely left the car and headed off in an anti clockwise direction or for those who have only known digital timepieces that's going right to left. For those who don't know their left from their right please stay off the hills.

Its quite a busy old place with very few parking spaces left at 10.30 am. The walking is easy and the scenery is lovely when its not covered in mist.
Here are a few photo's from the walk.
 Dovestones reservoir.


 Dovestones below Yeomans Hey.

 Looking across Yeomans Hey reservoir.
 Crossing over at Yeomans Hey Reservoir.
Looking back towards Greenfield Reservoir
Route just about 4 easy miles.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Delph and Castleshaw circuit.

Saturday 27th May 2017
This weekend was our Wedding Anniversary. Two years gone so quickly.
We booked a hotel we knew and liked and not far from home.
Anyway we went to Delph, and so i planned a circular walk just in case we fancied doing one.
It was a scorcher of a day and a walk had to be done.
Delph is a small village within the control of Oldham. It's a lovely place with a good atmosphere and lots of old mills and interesting buildings relating to the industry of wool spinning and printing.

Our circuit started at the excellent Old Bell Inn which is in the Guinness Book of records for having the most bottles of Gin, and proceeded through the carriage archway that used to be Lumb's Mill, then followed the River tame into the village centre passing numerous smaller mills and workshops on route.
At the bridge which carries the main King Street,  there is a cottage with a high water level stone which shows the water height from the floods of 1872.

Spot the height stone.
Following closely the River Tame, this valley is a delight to walk, especially on such a sunny day. Fields full of wild flowers dominated by lush green and yellow. Beyond Pingle Mill the huge old stonework of Linfitts Mill can still be seen hiding away in the undergrowth. These mills and this whole area would have been alive with activity during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many signs of industry can still be seen in the leats, sluices and filled in mill ponds. A number of old water wheels and mill stones can also be found.

Crossing the tame and climbing up to a car track, passed three old cars in need of restoration tucked away in a barn protected by a Doberman.
 The Tame valley
 Name that car? *
The unmistakeable Rolls.
We walked through a small hamlet just south of Slackcote which again was a joy to view. Renovation of the buildings done with a sympathetic eye. Across the busy and fast Denshaw Rd we crossed pretty meadows alongside a newly mowed cricket pitch and up to the now redundant church of St Thomas at Friarmere built in 1765 which has been in our view on the skyline for a while.
The Royal Oak pub next to the church was unfortunately closed, we were too early for opening time.
 Stones from Linfitts Mill
 Cricket ground with the church on the skyline.
 Lush Meadows of clover and buttercup dominating
 St Thomas Friarmere at Heights.
Royal Oak Pub at Heights built 1767, two years after the Church.
We had a meander at this point, taking a right at the pub instead of going to the left, it was quickly rectified and the mistake only cost us 5 minutes.
Just passed the pub we took a stile on the right that led us down to Grange and the minor road that gives a view to our next objective of Castleshaw reservoir and the Roman Fort to it's right.

 Looking back towards Delph.

 Looking back up the minor road from Grange. Our route is over the stile on the right.
Castleshaw Reservoir.
Following the minor road on the east side of the reservoir and turning onto Dirty Lane we entered the gate which leads to the Roman Fort (remains off). This is worth a visit alone if you like this kind of history. Built about AD.79 and abandoned about AD120. There are a couple of information boards and the footings of the walls, courtyards etc can be made out. Excavations were carried out in 1897 and in 1907/8.

The area of the fort.
Leaving this most interesting area we ascended the hillside to meet up with the A62 road near to Saddleworth Hotel at Hunters Hill. At this point the sky was increasingly becoming black. The thunder was rumbling around but no lightening. Heavy droplets of rain splattered the wide track and also our shirts. Our pace quickened but luckily the cloud was heading in the opposite direction so apart from getting slightly damp we didn't use waterproofs. The breeze increased too and it wasn't long before we could see the rain falling were we had been 10 minutes earlier.
 Along Harrop Edge.
 Here comes the rain again.
 Looking down into the Diggle Valley from Lark Hill Lane.
 W.H.Shaw Mill with the canal and railway just beyond.
Lark Hill Lane descends from harrop Edge to Diggle, it is very rough, steep in parts and is showing signs of just how much use this route gets. Care is needed. Once across the A670 it's a nice easy stroll to reach the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We stopped at the lock in the image below for lunch, enjoying the sunshine now that the rain had moved on.
Huddersfield narrow Canal.
We followed the towpath on the south side until we reached the spot where the railway bridge crosses the A670 road. At this point we made use of the good cafe for a coffee and cake.
It was noisy, with kids screaming loudly and parents ignoring the racket. They are now obviously deaf due to being subjected to this noise every day. For us it was beyond our patience and we quickly left. The coffee and cake was however excellent.
A quick scan of the map had us crossing the canal and making our way onto the Delph Donkey Track, a now disused railway line which terminates at Delph. The track was in use from 1849 until 1963. Where the name originates is still unsure. 
The track still has numerous information boards and being level walking soon brought us back to our start point in Delph. On the way we came across the most wonderful Bracket Fungi i have ever seen.
 One of a number of information boards on the Delph Donkey railway line.

 Stunning bracket fungi.
 Who goes there!
Delph Donkey Station.
OUR ROUTE. Starting just below the name Delph on the top map. 

It took us just over 5 hours. With 2 short stops but with numerous photograph pauses. It is a lovely route and well worth doing.

* Dawn thinks it may be a Bugatti.
I first thought it may be a Bean but i now think it might be a Morris Cowley.
Any other suggestions most welcome.

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