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

Offlist Walk: Ben Bhraggie

3 09 2011
3rd September 2011
5.2 miles
Explorer 441 (Lairg, Bonar Bridge & Golspie)

Currently staying in Dornoch as part of an 8 day tour of northern Scotland we decided to gamble on a forecasted gap in the weather to tackle Ben Bhraggie, a seemingly modest hill behind the coastal town of Golspie. It had been raining all night and we were in two mind about what to do – and as soon as we had decided it was too wet to walk – the sun came out and we quickly changed our minds. We drove through Golspie, and just before Dunrobin Castle turned left underneath a railway line on a lane signposted to ‘Backies’, we found a car park a quarter of a mile up on the left.

The walk starts along the top of a heavily wooded gorge where we glimpse Big Burn Falls through the trees, and then zig-zags down towards the burn which we cross and then walk out on a viewing platform over the water until glimpsing around a corner we find ourselves right in front of the ferocious waterfall. The heavy rain the previous night has made this an impressive sight to behold.

We exit the platform and climb the western side of the glen, zig-zagging once again, recrossing the burn twice, and then climbing up onto a lane. As we follow the lane the monument on the top of ben Bhraggie comes into view, this Ben may be modest at 397 metres, but we’re starting from near sea-level, and it looks steep from here. Fortunately we’re not attacking it head-on, so at a very minor crossroads we turn right and head gently uphill through  a forest until we appear back in the daylight, a path branches off up the glen towards Farlary, but we follow the track as it bends first left then right working its way onto the shoulder of Ben Bhraggie, and then following it gently but incessantly upward as we work our way around behind the hill. We stop to catch our breath fairly frequently, and wonder at the clouds rolling onto and off of the hilltops around us, we admire Loch nan Caorach buried in the shadow of Beinn Lunndaidh to our west. The track bends to the left again and wiggles its way onto the lower end of the hilltop, we can see thousands of infamous Scottish midges, but they seem to preoccupied feeding on the heather to bother feeding on us. The monument comes into view again and we wiggle round to the top of the hill where we find a crude but welcome shelter which we take advantage of to eat our lunch. We pass a number of mountain biking trails as we cross the crown of the hill and then drop down to the monument at the front of the hill overlooking Golspie, the North Sea, the Moray and Dornoch Firths, and beyond northern coast of Speyside. The monument itself is far bigger than it appears from the road, it depicts the 1st Earl of Sutherland and is the subject of some controversy as this Earl is now infamous for his role in the highland clearances. There is a handy (and free) telescope at he foot of the statue, and we take a break to examine Golspie below, and  Loch Fleet to the south where we can just about make out seals on the sandbanks.

We plunge of the front of the hill and descend very steeply down a rocky path, fortunately I have my sticks with me, but even so as the track goes on and on I know that my knees are going to pay for this later. We cross more bike tracks and eventually drop down to the treeline and gentler gradients. The walk we are following would guide us down into Golspie and then back briefly uphill to the car park, but we feel we’ve done enough for today nd so we cut across the hill (through some boggy areas) to a row of cottages and then the crossroads we encountered near the start of the walk. We retrace our steps back to the burn, taking a successful gamble on a path that cuts out the need to zig-zag past the waterfall and leads us straight back to the car.

#18 Salterforth

22 07 2011
22nd July 2011
6.3 miles
Explorer OL21 (South Pennines)
Cloudy, breezy, the odd light shower.

Another journey up the M65 culminating in a small car park opposite the Anchor Inn, alongside the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The walk starts along the towpath, under the B6383 towards the outskirts of Barnoldswick. At the next bridge I left the canal to head up past a school, crossing the road and then steeply uphill through a field, after which I cross a stile and follow a desire line through a field of long grass before squeezing through a gap stile onto Letcliff Hill picnic area where there are good views back to Noyna Hill and the Yorkshire side of the Pennines.

Following the driveway for the picnic area back out to the B6251 which I cross and make my way briefly downhill and past a terrace of cottages, and then start up a steep track towards Moor Side Farm. Just before reaching the farm a dog comes to meet me quite aggressively, soon followed by two friends, fortunately one of the human inhabitants is available to call them off – but it does irritate me that I can’t walk along a public footpath without some dog thinking he owns it. I don’t have to pass the farm as the path leads off just before it – cutting across the side of the hill and then down across a brook and up the other side, passing through fields of sheep, and cows, and then some rather large bulls! Eventually I reach Folly Lane and turn westward again, up a steep, mainly straight, seemingly unending lane. I pass old farms – now homes of the wealthy, a stable and the odd holiday cottage; at Higher View farm the tarmacced lane ends, but a grassy droving route continues, still upward. At the end of this track I come to Duck Pond Farm which I skirt around and then take in the rather odd sculptures adorning the cottages on the far side. I cross one more field and then out onto the moor , this is pretty much the high point of the walk, and I can see Blacko Tower below me to the west.

At last, a downhill section! The first element is tricky as the long grass hides some rather wet sections, but soon after I find a track alongside a wall and am able to walk quickly down through moor then fields to the old Gisburn Road, the only difficulty being the state of upkeep of the gates: if farmers want walkers to close gates behind them – then they need to maintain them. I managed to shut all the gates, but a couple of them were very difficult. The book told me to turn into the field to my right and walk alongside the road, but I really didn’t see the point (particularly as it had started to rain), and the road was completely empty so I stayed on the tarmac for a while, turning left on a footpath slightly before that described in the book – cutting the corner to meet Lister Well Road a few hundred yards further on.

Lister Well Road is a track running straight through moorland, and at this time of year it looked stunning. I climbed gently tot he top of the road where I turned south into a field a started to drop down off the moor. On reaching Copy Nook Farm, I take a wide straight grassy path steeply downhill before emerging next to the Fanny Grey Inn on the B6251. This is the route I took on the drive here this morning so it is an easy stroll down to a stream and back uphill past some lovely old houses and barn-conversions and back to the Anchor Inn.

#5 Leighton Moss

20 07 2011
20th July 2011
4.9 miles
Explorer OL7 (The English Lakes – South-eastern area)

Leighton Moss (picture from Google Earth)

I was originally intending to tackle the Salterforth walk, but the weather forecast for Arnside was considerably more favourable than that for the Pennines. I started by parking in the ‘lay-by’ on Thrang Brow Lane next to the junction with Storrs Lane, and head into the Yealand Hall allotment.  The allotment is a wooded section full of examples of the limestone pavement Arnside is well-known for, it is at this point that I realise the camera is not charged – so all photos will be from Google Earth.

I descend gently through he woodland for about half a mile before coming across a series of pastures and the entrance to Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve. After crossing a meadow full of summer flowers I head into the woods that flank Hawes Water. I head north over a rickety board-walk, and then as I pass the northern edge of the lake I look for a gate on the left as instructed in the book, I locate a gate and follow a path beyond it until I realise that it ends abruptly at a stream, I guess the gate may have been added since the book was written. This is a happy accident though – as when I turn to retrace my steps two small roe deer suddenly bolt from within a few yards of me. Back on the path I soon find the gate I am looking for – it’s only 50 yards higher than the forst one I tried, but it’s the other side of a fence, and the stream seems to have gone underground.

Challan Hall

The path links to a stoney track that head south along the western side of the lake. After a while I climb through a narrow stile and across an open pasture below Challan Hall where I exchange pleasantries with a couple holidaying there, and then continue across a couple of more fields until I hit a train line, this is the line between Carnforth and Barrow. I cross (quite gingerly as it’s on a bend) and across a field onto Red Bridge Lane. I didn’t realise it at the time but at this point I am only 100yds from the start point of walk #6 ‘Around Silverdale’. I head south along the road for a couple of hundred yards and then down Moss Lane until just before the bridge back over the track I take a narrow gate on the right which runs downhill through a field so that I can cross the track the dangerous way once more. Having negotiated a rather chunky stone stile on the opposite side I weave through a narrow band of woodland and onto a wide track at the entrance to Trowbarrow limeworks, here the book tells me to cross the track and follow a narrow path which bears right – this path however beared left so I returned to the wide track and followed it until I came to the mentioned path on the right which gives access to Silverdale golf course.

Hawes Water

I crossed a couple of fairways to a wall corner in the middle of the course – from which I can make out a footpath marker at the top of the course, and cross another couple of fairways (one in use) before reaching the marker on the crest of the hill. From here I drop down to a woodland path which emerges onto Storrs Lane just a few yards above the causeway of RSPB Leighton Moss. Half way along the causeway is the public hide, I spend a couple of minutes inside, but it’s rather warm and stuffy, and there’s little wildlife to be seen. I see a couple of birds as I continue along the causeway, I think they were just young pheasants though.

On the far side I climb slowly uphill past the B&B at Grisedale farm, and head along the road towards Leighton Hall Home Farm. Just before the hall I turn north through a field of bullocks, and then through a series of pastures separated by the creakiest metal gates ever made. The final field house some bulls, some fairly large and horned; at this point I had almost caught up with 3 other walkers – and it was with some relief that I figured I could probably outrun at least two of them, and that even if I couldn’t, at least there was someone there to raise the alarm! Crossing the field passed without incident though and at the far end an alley between two cottage spat me out on Silverdale Road just a stones thrown from the car.

I hadn’t been particularly looking forward to this walk, I suspected from the map that it would be fairly flat and dull, but far from it, I’ll probably do it again sometime.

#10 Holcombe Moor

1 07 2011
1st July 2011
5.5 miles
Explorer 287 (West Pennine Moors)
Cool for July, windy on the tops

A fairly early 9am start to this walk, the drive via the M65 and Haslingden avoids much of the congestion. The walk starts from the Peel Tower carpark on the B6214 but it takes almost the full length of the walk to reach the tower. I cross the road and walk towards the tower up a little snicket, before appearing on a beautiful old cobbled street which heads north parallel to he B6214 before joining it at the Shoulder of Mutton pub (which looks to have a lovely menu). Almost immediately I leave the road again to head steeply at first up another cobbled street which leads through some old gate-posts onto the National Trust owned section of the Moor. I follow the well established track across the eastern shoulder of the moor, the track is more or less level, and passes a number of farm houses, the Irwell valley looking splendid below in the morning sun; on the far side Hail Storm Hill with its plethora of wind-turbines looks like a potential walking destination (mental note made).

Just after Chatterton Close there is a cross-roads alongside a patch of investigative quarrying, I turn west here heading reasonably steeply for the top of the moor. Soon after we reach the marker points designating the edge of the moor that is MoD land, the flags are not flying to it would be safe to continue onto his land to the summit of Bull Hill, but I can’t make out where the path is, and I don’t fancy guessing and getting it wrong so I follow the path south until I reach Pilgrim’s Cross. The cross is actually a fairly modern (1902) stone marking the point of the original cross (probably 12th century) which was a meeting/resting point for pilgims on their way to Whalley Abbey. Here I can see the path to Bull Hill so I take a detour, heading north-west – gently uphill for about a third of a mile to the trig point on Bull Hill. It’s not a spectacular hill, but the views are very good, I can easily identify Winter Hill to the west, and Parbold Hill to the north-east, and what must be the Peak District in the distance to the south.

I return back to Pilgrim’s Cross and continue past it along the ridge over a nameless summit and then on towards a cairn at the summit of Harcles Hill. Just after this hill there is an unexpected grassy valley to be negotiated before I reach the Peel Monument; I trot and bounce down the steep grassy embankment, cross a little stream, and then make my way back uphill and on to the tower. The tower commemorated Sir Robert Peel, a son of Bury, twice British Prime Minister, and founder of the modern police force – it is his name which give the policemen the nickname “bobbies”.The monument was closed so I didn’t have the option of climbing it, not sure if I would have bothered to be honest; the tower isn’t pretty, but it is striking, and fitting for such a ‘modern’ politician.

Nest to the tower is a stony track which descends steeply back towards the carpark. At one point I spot an unusual curvy bench on the hillside and take the opportunity for a rest, the bench celebrates the party held on Holcombe Moor for the millennium which features 8,000 people witnessing the lighting of a beacon.

It’s an easy stroll from here, downhill until I meet the cobbled lane that started the walk.