Monday, 30 August 2010

Grassington part 2 - The walk

Striding out GJC_IMG_7914

After having a quick look around Grassington village ("part 1"), I met the others from this Yorkshire group in the car park, I knew about half of the group from the previous ("Richmond") walk. We set off on a 9.5 mile (15km) walk, albeit 30 minutes late due to footwear and other human needs !!, starting on the Dales way which begins in Yorkshire (Ilkley) and finishes in The Lake District (Boness).

Cow GJC_IMG_7892
Early start to the walk

Limestone Pavement GJC_IMG_7899

There was an issue with some of the group walking too fast, including myself, as we got engrossed in conversation. We re-grouped at this Limestone pavement ( a Yorkshire country feature) where it seemed like a good idea for a lunch break due to the natural seating.........

Walking Pole break GJC_IMG_7910
walking poles taking a rest

Up hill GJC_IMG_7920

After lunch, we started to ascend a hill and once again, the group started to spread out giving me an opportunity to look for anything interesting in the landscape.....

Through the wall GJC_IMG_7926

Tractor GJC_IMG_7940

You never know how dangerous it can be going for a walk out on the hills !!..... this wasn't the farmer but professional Grouse shooting on an industrial stand out of the way.

Thistle GJC_IMG_7942

Sometimes I had to think if I was in Scotland or Yorkshire with these thistles and fields of heather.
This gate in the wall as I discovered in more recent times is a Yorkshire thing...

Yorkshire Stile GJC_IMG_7955

Waiting for the walkers GJC_IMG_7961

The walk leader had booked a meal (which was very good) for the twelve of us in Grassington for 6pm and at this stage (5pm) with about a tenth of the distance to go, was getting worried about where some of the group were and hoping they didn't miss the turning.
On arrival back in Grassington, I couldn't help but think when I was taking this photo.... I wonder if it would have been better if we were all on a long dog lead to keep us all together throughout the walk !!

Dogs GJC_IMG_7964

Friday, 27 August 2010

Grassington (1) - The village

Grassington GJC_IMG_7867 (1)

Grassington is a bit like a picture postcard village situated right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.
 Following the Richmond walk, some of that group were planning on doing a slightly longer walk here. Although I had passed through the village before, I had not actually stopped here. This was an opportunity to do two things on the same day as the walk started at 11am. At first I didn't know if I was going to have enough time due to long stretches of roadworks on the A1 road and the long torturous journey from leaving that road. I arrived at 9.45am, giving me the opportunity of just over an hour to see the place. The village didn't seem to spring into life until later as no doubt the shops would be expecting the coach parties !!
 The history of the village was in lead mining and indeed we passed some of these remnants later on the walk. The locals at that time were quite lawless and apparently it was the first place to have armed police in Britain. These days the industries are Quarrying, farming and tourism. I heard talk that they have a Christmas market in the centre. (Photo above).
Unlike in Lead mining times, the village these days is very picturesque and sleepy, so much so that it was difficult to see many people this early....

Door GJC_IMG_7841

The villagers like their flowers and do their bit for the ....... err, tourist ! not sure how this resident gets out of the house though !! ...

Flower steps GJC_IMG_7837

... while some of them keep themselves well out of the way behind closed gates....

Lane  GJC_IMG_7864
safe behind gates from the coach parties

Window GJC_IMG_7843

Even the hardware store makes an effort, despite having paint tins in the window and advertising childrens wellies !

Bluebell Gallery GJC_IMG_7862

There is always a welcome in the shops for the visitor and they will sell anything that anyone will buy...

Pickles GJC_IMG_7877

The absence of people though, gave me more time to acquire these shots...

Cobblestones Cafe GJC_IMG_7866

without anyone appearing in the picture with a bright blue raincoat, considering their potential purchases...

Alley GJC_IMG_7881

I maybe got the feeling that they were either having breakfast in the local accommodation or possibly dare I say it..... still in bed...

Ashfield House GJC_IMG_7853

Maybe the latter was correct as I discovered this bird rousing from sleep on the main seat in the square !! ..... 'sorry, did I wake you up. "

Bird GJC_IMG_7858

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Alston & the journey home from the Lake District

It may seem a bit strange, but the journey going home took me to a higher altitude in the car than most of the walks I had been on during the previous week. The A686 road from the town of Penrith in Cumbria to Haydon Bridge in Northumberland is an interesting road that travels through a mixture of woodland, small villages and bleak moorland. The tourist region is referred to as "The North Pennines - area of outstanding natural beauty"..... otherwise known as England's last wilderness !!. At the summit, there is a viewpoint that in the foreground, observes cars struggling to get to the top and a scenic information indicator board that directs the visitors eyes to famous Lake District mountains and south west Scotland.....on a clear day !

The main focus, however, is the classic Hartside Top cafe that is used by a variety of different customers and is an ideal place for a break in the journey.

If you think it is a problem getting here by car, spare a thought for those on two wheels as there is an (east/west) coast to coast cycle route that passes this point. The cafe provides welcome respite before free wheeling down the other side of the hill.

nearly there

The road as a whole is quite torturous with numerous bends making it exciting for motorcyclists who are another group of people that patronise the cafe as a destination.
Slightly further on is the market town of Alston which is ..... (you've guessed it)... the highest town in England.

As it is a considerable distance from any other town, the road sign becomes a major junction...

The towns history is based in Lead mining with the industry stretching down to the Wear valley. Several buildings can be noted of a historic nature in the town centre.

My personal favourite, although I didn't use it on this occasion, is Blueberry's tea shop. However the view is not always great as there are occasional reminders that the town has other industries that outlived the lead mines !!

Moving along the road to the South Tynedale railway, I was fortunate enough to capture a train about to leave the station.

This was one of the railway lines closed by Dr Beeching in the 1960's and eventually preserved by a team of volunteers with limited services commencing in 1983. The initial plans were to extend to the original junction at Haltwhistle on the Newcastle to Carlisle railway line. Finance and eventually a road bypass put an end to that dream and an additional decision was taken to construct a narrow gauge line on the original trackbed. Over the years, there has been the occasional extension to the line and fund raising activities such as charter rail trips around the UK (which I participated in at that time..... although I'm ashamed to say I have not helped them in recent times by my failure to travel on the railway due to it's awkward location).

The locomotive today "Naklo" was built in Poland in 1957 for use in a lime works followed by a stay in a sugar factory before being transferred to the South Tynedale Railway in 1988.

My journey continued along a mixture of straight roads and hairpin bends ....

 ... to Langley Castle which was built in 1350. This building has had a colourful history with the occupants being involved in the Jacobite uprising and were later executed in the Tower of London for their efforts. Following this incident, the property was given to the Royal Navy who used it as a hospital. During the last hundred years, several generations of owners have gradually restored it and it is currently used as a hotel.

All too soon, reality bites as I reach the A69 road, the first sign of my destination and the realisation that the holiday is over...... until the next trip of course !!!

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Keswick is the main town in the northern part of the Lake district beside the shores of Derwentwater (check out picture of two brown historic rowing boats in the photograph album to the right hand side of this blog).
There seems to be an uneasy tension here that accommodates both hillwalkers and tourists, although I'm not entirely sure if either group are completely comfortable with the overall experience. The town centre as I explained briefly in 'Classic Lake District arrival' seems to be gradually turning into an outdoor and adventure shopping experience, while the more traditional or interesting shop.........

wooden crafts and toy shop

...... can find it difficult to compete in such a market. These types of places need the tourists to support it.
 As a service industry, Keswick seems to do well in providing numerous places of accommodation for the thousands who visit here every year and is consequently not the most peaceful place in the Lake District ! However, comparisons can be drawn between the amount of outdoor shops and the volume of Guest houses. These can dilute the owners trade throughout the whole year and as a result, proprieters can be ready to disagree with what they thought I said !!

The Moot hall ( also seen in the first photograph) was built in 1813 and has had various uses in its history as a courthouse, prison, museum, town hall and fruit market.....

bars to keep people out that at one time may have kept people in !

These days the building still captures the presence of the visitor as a Tourist Information centre, assisting  them to find accommodation and enthusing outdoor beginners into where to enjoy the scenic benefits of walking.
 Across the road is the Ye Olde Friars sweet shop that began business in 1927 as a cafe with a chocolate and sweet counter. The hand made chocolates are probably why the fame of the shop has grown so much, to the extent that part of the adjacent Hotel was purchased in the 1980s to extend the premises.

The view above is part of the extension which also sells their own brand biscuits, chutneys and jams. It has become the expectation of my work colleagues to return with a large box of shortbread biscuits.
 Keswick has been useful on this short walking break as it has provided me with a lunch time snack to take on to the hills and an evening meal ranging from take out Fish and chips from the Keswickian to the  classic Hungarian Goulash from the Dog and Gun.
 Every night after evening meal, I returned to my car at Fitz park ready for the short drive to Portinscale and was greeted with the final rays of daylight over looking the hill Dodd reminding me that this week I was constantly on cloud watch.....

However, after collecting the biscuits, I crossed the bridge for the last time.....

Managed to take in my last piece of scenic memories........

Reaching for the heights  : Fitz Park branch, St Johns church and the hill Catbells

Hole in one ?

.......and observed a ballboy who seemed desperate for a game of Tennis !!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Seathwaite and Great Gable

Seathwaite farm, set in the southern extremity of Borrowdale valley was the start of this walk today and has the unusual award of being the wettest inhabited place in England. This location is well known amongst serious walkers as the starting point for many of the high Lakeland mountains including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. The seemingly tranquil place gets upset by the constant footfall of walking traffic, particularly as it is an option for the national three peaks challenge ( climbing the highest mountain in Scotland, England and Wales for charitable causes within 24 hours). It can of course be even more hectic for the farmer........

Barn gate

On leaving the farm, Taylorgill force soon becomes apparent while the route continues to the left and crosses the stream at Stockley bridge. The path then climbs into the picture from the left behind the trees in the centre of the photo.
The view below is taken from the opposite direction from the previous photo looking back towards the valley....

The walk continued up to Sty head pass (488m) where i stopped for lunch, as once again because of cloud cover I started this walk late. There is a first aid / stretcher box here which has historical significance in that it is the only remaining example of such an item in the area. This concept was thought up in the 1930s prior to mountain rescue teams to assist injured climbers at this outpost. These days, its use is of interest only as equipment disappears and it is an alternative winter shelter !!

For the walkers amongst you, last time I climbed Great Gable I used the more conventional route from Green Gable to the north and moved on to Kirk Fell in the west before returning to Sty head via Climbers traverse.
This time I wanted to re-visit a part of Climbers traverse and ascend from there. This route is famous for the pioneers of rock climbing and some unique geological features......

After about 30 - 45 minutes of trying to keep to the path and climbing over large rocks and boulders that seemed to block the path, I came to a 45 degree angle scree shoot called Great Hell gate......

I was supposed to carry on and find Little Hell gate with more rock features on the way such as Napes needle and the Sphinx ( if you've never seen photographs of these two things before, I recommend you look up Google images for both). However, as the time was marching on, this would probably have to wait for another visit, so in the meantime, it was time to enjoy the view towards Wastwater, the deepest lake in England.... famous for the training of divers...

Proceeding up the side of the scree shoot, I spot the summit area in cloud in this Lord of the Rings country...

One of the locals is a bit bemused by my choice of route........

"What are you doing using this route on my mountain?"

I soon arrive into cloud with not a lot to see except this profile of a Wiltshire walker that I met up with on the descent to Sty head. The summit was soon reached where there is a memorial of the fell and rock climbing club dedicated in 1924 to the soldiers of World War 1. There is a memorial service held up here every November....

The cloud didn't lift, so I descended the mountain to see what was underneath it, by the more usual route down to Styhead tarn...

The "resort" of Sty head tarn is famous for wild camping  ( a few tents in the distance by the shore), Art work and painting leisure interests.....

.......   and a relaxing swim after a hard day on the mountains !! ...........

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