Offlist Walk: Parwich, Tissington & Alsop

17 05 2012
17th May 2012
6.9 miles
Explorer OL24 (The Peak District – White Peak area)
Wet at first, cloudy & breezy later on
Well-Dressing in Tissington

Well-Dressing in Tissington

From our rented cottage in Parwich, through the village and south-west over two ridges and Bletch Brook, briefly onto the Tissington Trail then into the village itself. A slow wander around Tissington as it’s the first day of the Tissington Well Dressings. North-west out of the village to rejoin the trail before lunch at Alsop station. Across a valley to Alsop en le Dale, uphill across fields (including Mrs NLW knocking a stone onto her foot whilst scaling a dry-stone wall!), past some friendly heifers and back to Parwich.

Well-Dressing in Tissington

Well-Dressing in Tissington

Well-Dressing in Tissington

Well-Dressing in Tissington

ELEV - Par,Tis,AlsMAP - Par,Tis,Als

Offlist Walk: Dovedale

14 05 2012
14th May 2012
6.9 miles
Explorer OL24 (The Peak District – White Peak area)
Sunny, some cloud, breezy
The River Dove

The River Dove

From Thorpe carpark, following the Dove upstream over Lover’s Leap, Tissington Spires, and Pickering Tor. Leaving the river at Hall Dale to turn northwest towards Stanshope. Just shy of Stanshope turn south acrioss fields and road before skirting around the rocky Bunster Hill overlooking Ilan before dropping down to the Izaak Walton Hotel and back to the carpark.
 MAP - Dovedale
2012-05-14 13.20.30 2012-05-14 14.53.59ELEV - Dovedale

Offlist Walk: Ecton Hill & the Manifold Valley

12 05 2012
12th May 2012
6.7 miles
Explorer OL24 (The Peak Distric – White Peak area)
Sunny, some cloud, breezy

Wetton Hill, from Back of Ecton

This was the first day of a week spent in the beautiful Derbyshire village of Parwich in the White Peak. This walk  however takes place entirely in Staffordshire, starting from a carpark in the southwestern corner of the village of Wetton.

It was a busy Saturday morning in Wetton, with a nearby field being set up by a multitude of secondary school children, and quite a few walking groups throughout the village. We head up through the village past many lovely cottages, and then carry on north via a track onto National Trust land as we squeeze between the two peaks of Wetton Hill, stopping only to climb a dry-stone wall after a piece of errant map-reading. After passing between these two peaks there opens up a beautiful green bowl of a valley filled with ewes and their young, curious lambs. Through the valley, we cross a brook and bear north-west, and limb through a field and a rook inhabited wood onto a steep hairpin strewn rough lane. Fortunately we only stay on this lane for a couple of switch-backs before we leave through a gate and across fields which contain what remains of a number of copper mines, after which we carry on climbing, but not as steeply as before through more fields until we reach the peak of Ecton Hill.
It is very windy at the trig point, but it was worth hanging around to take in the views; Dovedale to the east, Hartington to the north, and below us, just to the east, running north to south is the Manifold valley. We descend by continuing north and then in a wide anti-clockwise arc until we emerge from some woods by a curious house that looks like something from the German middle-ages. Down the extended drive from this house is Dale Bridge, and a gate onto the Manifold track; the Manifiold Track was created by Staffs county council after it dismantled the old Leek and Manifold Light Railway just before the second world war.

Looking north up the valley from Thor’s cave

We follow the busy track south alongside the meandering river Manifold, the track joins a lane and the pair pass through a long straight tunnel. On the far side we find that our lovely track for walkers and cyclists now contains a number of motorcycles, and not a few cars, it’s quite irritating having to keep stopping to let them pass.

We come to Wetton Mill, which is no longer a working mill, but does have a tea-room and facilities. The mill is buzzing with visitors, and we elect not to stop but carry on south until we get to Thor’s cave. I have vague memories of family holidays to this region in the early 80’s, and part of that is a memory of being ‘awed’ by Thor’s cave, although this may have been more about the name Thor, and learning of norse mythology than of the cave itself. The cave is a gaping maw in the side of a prominent cliff directly in our view as we follow the Manifold. Underneath the cave we leave the river to head east and uphill  along a heavily wooded path, after a while the path carries but we turn right and back on ourselves to wend our way up to the cave. The entrance to the cave itself is made of broad and deep sandstone shelves, it doesn’t look the easiest thing to negotiate, particularly as it’s so busy, so we sit outside the cave and recover from the climb.
The final leg of the walk is to follow a narrow track around the shoulder of the cave and across a field to a farm track between two fields – eventually meeting up with the wooded path we had been following before we turned off for the cave. From there it is a short walk into Wetton.

#14 Croston & Rufford

6 04 2012
6th April 2012
6.6 miles
Explorer 285 (Southport & Chorley)

Overcast, light drizzle

A nice level Good Friday walk to juxtapose Arenig Fawr six days previously.

River Douglas

The book describes this walk starting from Croston, but we electing to start from Rufford

train station, from which we pass a fishing pond and join the western bank of the River Douglas heading north.  This is the Lancashire plain, and with nothing standing in the way, we feel the chill of a stiff breeze from over the Irish sea, that makes the going slightly less pleasant as we walk along a lush overgrown footpath until we reach Great Hanging Bridge on the A581. We cross the bridge and then continue up the eastern bank of the Douglas, until we reach the confluence with the Yarrow, where we head east along the southern bank. Shortly after we reacquaint ourselves with the A581, heading over another bridge, and into the outskirts of Croston.

River Yarrow, from Packhorse Bridge, Croston

We wind through a couple of country lanes until we reach the area around St Michael & All Angels church with some beautiful old cottages and barn conversions, we momentarily head towards the village to see the Yarrow as it flows under the Packhorse Bridge. Retracing our steps for a few second we then head south along Carr Lane, stopping for a pot of lunch and to shelter from a brief, light shower. We travel through some woodland, and then turn westward on New Road, which after passing a curious barn conversion becomes an arrow straight farm track, we follow this for a mile pausing only to cross the Ormskirk to Preston train line.

At a T-junction we are again within sight of the Douglas, we bear south and then west again, clambering through a freshly ploughed field to rejoin the river. It’s not long then to White Bridge and back to the car.

This wasn’t the most thrilling of walks, the entire walk takes place within a range of 2-8m above sea level; but Rufford and Croston are both attractive villages, and for me at least it’s interesting to explore an area so close to home that I’ve previously only ever driven around.

Offlist Walk: Arenig Fawr

31 03 2012
31st March 2012
Paul, Rob, Stu, Pete, Frank
6.1 miles
Explorer OL18 (Harlech, Porthmadog & Y Bala)

Llyn Arenig Fawr

At the end of a surprisingly warm March I met up with five old friends for a weekend in North Wales, beginning with a walk up Arenig Fawr (just northwest of Bala). We start from a car-park opposite a quarry on a lane just off the A4212, just west of Llyn Celyn. We follow the lane eastward passing a number of cottages for almost a mile before taking a wide track on the right heading gently up the hillside across open grassland. This continues for quite a while until we come to Llyn Arenig Fawr, we leave the path to walk across the top of the dam wall, pausing only to try to persuade Pete to take a dip, but the years have granted him wisdom and he declines.

From the lake we start to move up the shoulder of the mountain, the first part is quite gentle, but then, after a brief break we start the steeper, rockier part of the ascent. The fitter among us skip up like goats, but I struggled with high rocky steps, in fact my legs felt slightly jellyish and there were more than a few pauses for breath. The up-side of pausing for breath was, plenty of opportunity to take in the increasingly impressive views over Bala Lake and the Aran range beyond. Eventually I get to the top of this steep section, and I know the worst is over; after we negotiate a fence we lose the track for a little while but soon regain it and for a while the path is green and gently undulating.

Arenig Fach, from Arenig Fawr

Suddenly I get cramp in my calf and have to spend a good 5 minutes stretching it out, but after that I’m fine and I get on with the walk as we encounter a few rocky outcrops and small patches of scree. There’s a little more climbing, and I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one to suffer with cramp, eventually though we reach the summit, here there is a small circular wall which shelters us from the wind, and a plaque remembering the crew of a US bomber which crashed into the mountain on its way back to the States after the Second World War, but unfortunately it’s too cloudy to take in the view. We hunker down within the walls for a spot of lunch, we all seem to have brought pork pies of some description, but after a while it becomes too cold and we decide to start the descent, but as we do the cloud clears in the south-west revealing stunning views down the Dyfrdwy valley towards Dolgellau and Cadair Idris.

The descent start with a brief walk along a ridge to the north-west, and then a trackless plunge down the spongiest heather covered hillside I’ve ever uncovered, if it weren’t liberally scattered with sharp rocks it would have been immense fun rolling down, but as it was it took all our concentration to avoid twisting an ankle. After a short while Paul, a keen birder, stops us all as he has spotted a number of nesting Golden Plovers, we pause while he counts them and notes the location, taking in the view of Snowdon to the north; then we proceed, taking a circuitous route so as not to disturb the plovers. As the descent grows less steep the heather is replaced by long grass, we cross a steep gully and onto boggy land, my legs are feeling pretty heavy by this point but there’s not far to go. We drop down alongside the quarry, back onto rough farm land, and at last to the road, a short distance from the car park. I’m exhausted.

Offlist Walk: Hadrian’s Wall (Gilsland)

11 02 2012
11th February 2012
3.3 miles
Explorer OL43 (Hadrian’s Wall)
Overcast, cold
Poltross Burn (Milecastle 48)

Poltross Burn (Milecastle 48)

Whilst the rest of the country is covered in snow, Mrs NLW and I find ourselves in surprisingly snow-free Cumbria. We start the walk in Gilsland on the Cumbria/Northumberland border; from the local primary school we join and then cross the main Carlisle to Newcastle train line, and immediately encounter the wall and Milecastle 48 (Poltross Burn). We cross a stream, duck under the railway, and pass through the village of Gilsland heading out over a bridge towards the north, and at a T junction turn west along a lane towards Roadhead. The lane climbs as it twists and turns, and we find a welcome bench with views over the Irthing valley.

River Irthing (from Willowford bridge)

River Irthing (from Willowford bridge)

We pass several beautiful B&Bs before leaving the lane across a couple of boggy fields, descend steeply to cross a stream, then up and across another large field to Birdoswald Fort. The museum and tea rooms looked equally interesting and welcome, but we were keen to get on and so headed to the wall. I’d been told that the wall can be unimpressive, but I certainly didn’t feel that way: next to the wall is a stone wall built as a field boundary, one was built nearly 2,000 years ago, the other in the last 30 years or so, and I know which one will be there longest. Hadrian’s wall is wide and solid, it’s hard to imagine anyone breaching this wall when it was defended, at least prior to the invention of dynamite.

We walk alongside the wall until Milecastle 49 where we bear south in order to cross the pretty Willowford Bridge, and then rejoin the wall past milecastles 48b and 48 and then back to Gilsland. All in all, and enjoyable walk.

Offlist Walk: Aysgarth Falls & Bolton Castle

10 11 2011
10th November 2011
6.8 miles
Explorer OL30 (Yorkshire Dales: Northern & Central areas)
Cloudy, then foggy

Middle Falls, Aysgarth

Starting from the Yorkshire Dales National park Authority car park just north of the bridge over the River Ure between Aysgarth & Carperby. We exit the car park onto the road and cross onto a footpath through Freeholder’s Wood and the river, after a quarter of a mile we take a path down steps for a good view of Middle Falls. We rejoin the path and head gently uphill past Hollins House, and then across fields towards High Thoresby, turning just before the farm onto a track which becomes Thoresby Lane. Thoresby Lane is little more than a ditch running between high field boundary hedges, it is very muddy and saps our strength before spitting us out onto a farm access track at Low Thoresby Farm, we follow this track to Low Bolton where we join a proper lane on the outskirts of Redmire.

Bolton Castle

We turn north towards Castle Bolton and head up through fields, over the old Wensleydale railway track and up into the village of Castle Bolton. The castle itself is closed for the winter, but the gardens are open so we find a bench and take the opportunity for a spot of lunch. From here it is all downhill, so we head southwest across fields towards West Bolton, encountering on the way some of the biggest cows I have ever seen! After West Bolton the fog really begins to thicken, and at times navigation becomes quite tricky, but we seem to make the right decisions and drop down to East End Farm in Carperby, through an incredibly muddy yard, and onto the main road on the north side of the dale. We walk through Carperby and come to the point where we have to decide whether to finish across the fields (risking getting lost in the fog) or stick to the roads (risking getting mown down by cars who can’t see us in the fog), we elect to stick to the roads, but with extreme care, and reach the car park muddy and exhausted.

Offlist Walk: Hawes & Hardraw Force

9 11 2011
8th November 2011
4.3 miles
Explorer OL30 (Yorkshire Dales: Northern & Central areas)

A fairly basic walk from our cottage in Hawes, out to Hardaw Force which is accessible via the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw (there is a small charge); then on to Simonstones, across the fields to Sedbusk, and then back to Hawes via the Stone House Hotel.

Offlist Walk: Semer Water

6 11 2011
6th November 2011
7.5 miles
Explorer OL30 (Yorkshire Dales: Northern & Central areas)
Sunny, crisp
I’ve been a bit remiss updating the walks from November, so the descriptions are a little briefer than normal.


On the first full day of a week staying in Wensleydale we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day.  starting off from the village of Bainbridge we headed east along the A684 before turning of south onto a path alongside the road into Raydale. The path continues slowly up onto a ridge just south of the Bain, with excellent views of the waterfalls in Bainbridge, and beyond that the village of Askrigg; and to the south the distinctive stone edge brow of Addlebrough. As we drop down into Raydale and meet back up with the Bain the going becomes incredibly soft, and it takes some time to pick our way through the mud.

Semer Water & Addlebrough

We cross the Bain as it leaves Semer Water and just before the village of Countersett we head off through some woods and meet up with the road to Marsett, halfway along which we cut north up a farm track and onto a filed so steep that we can barely walk upright. We stop halfway up the field and stop for lunch looking of Semer Water and Stake Fell, after that brief rest we continue up through the field and then with some relief start to cut diagonally across the hillside. We meet Crag Side Road only momentarily before taking the footpath that passes just to the south of the Crag and heads west up onto the breezy fells, we stick to the path as there are shake holes everywhere.

Cam High Road

The walk to this point had taken us longer than expected due to the muddy conditions so we decided to change our original intention of following the path to Wether Fell, instead we find a path alongside a beck and drop down to meet the old Roman road (Cam High Road). It is then a long, straight walk back into Bainbridge, the road is rocky though and is tough on the feet. We encounter a man in a 4×4 who is attempting to drive Cam High Road, I don’t think it would be an issue in a proper off-road vehicle, but this was more of a Chelsea tractor, not sure it was the wisest venture.
All in all – a very good walk.

Offlist Walk: Duncansby Stacks

4 09 2011
4th September 2011
1.7 miles
Explorer 451 (Thurso & John o’Groats)

Geo of Sclaites

I wouldn’t normally post a walk of this ease or length, but it’s worth taking note of, and the pictures are worthy of sharing.

The day after our damp walk up Ben Bhraggie was a surprisingly glorious day, during which we took the opportunity to visit Dunnet Head, the Castle of Mey, John o’Groats and Duncansby Head. John o’Groats is a bit of a dump but the rest of the places we visited were well-worth the effort.

We parked at Duncansby Head with its views over Pentland Skerries to the Orkneys, and followed the crowds (not masses – but enough to follow) over the grassy paths southwards first towards the Gio of Sclaites ( a large inlet showing rock strata, and housing thousands of seabirds). From there we follow the paths further south following the bends of the cliff-tops until we come level with the Duncansby Stacks. We saw a number of gulls and kittiwakes nesting on the stacks and gliding around them, no seals or puffins though. I got the impression one could walk further along the cliff path, but we returned to the car via almost the same route.

The Knee, with Muckle Skerry beyond