Friday, 30 November 2012



Ice sculptures are often commissioned at great expense to give an event a 'wow' factor. For most of us though, the good old ice cube tray and, weather permitting, snowman building is probably the extent of our dabbling with ice. I seem to recollect that one of our cookery books, of a certain vintage, detailed how to make an ice bowl from which to serve that 1980s classic... the prawn cocktail. (I never tried it.) So it was fantastic to come across some wonderful natural 'sculptures' when we were out walking on a sunny, blue-skied day right at the end of November.

There had been a hard frost and we came across this puddle at the verge of a farm track. The top layer was quite white and still, but underneath the surface there were spiral channels of trickling water around the stones on the track's surface. 
As we left the bridleway to start our climb up the fellside, we noticed these icicles tucked underneath overhanging rough grasses. These were the first that we had seen this winter. How long they had taken to form was anyone's guess, but they were beautiful as they clung on to their grassy host.
Crystal clear
Simple, agricultural wire fencing provided a structure for snow and ice too. Bending down, it was like peering through cottage style casement windows. Each 'window' provided its own view. Earlier on we had seen small, regular shapes of ice lying at the bottom of the fence as if the 'windows' had been shattered.

Further up, the snow and ice had remained intact and made for a very impressive sight. Here, the snow had also drifted into ridges emanating from the fence. The contrast of shadow and glistening snow was spectacular. In the sun, the snow sparkled as if it had had a sprinkling of glitter on it. Magical.

The triangulation pillar had also taken on a new guise with sculpted sides.

Triangulation Pillar - Skiddaw
The summit of Skiddaw Little Man was graced with a magnificent sculpture thanks to mother nature and some twisted metal. With the sun behind it, it had natural illumination. It was the ideal place to stop for our lunch and contemplate nature's beauty.
Skiddaw Little Man - summit
Earlier in the day the melody and words of Harold Darke's, 'In the bleak mid winter,' had come to mind as the ground crunched underneath our feet. But, as the icy artwork kept emerging, this day had been anything but bleak.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Silver How, Blea Rigg & Tarn Crag

Silver How, Blea Rigg & Tarn Crag

The lure of three Wainwrights was more than enough to get us out on this rambler's walk starting from Grasmere. A real bonus was to park for free half a mile outside of Grasmere. The ridge we were to walk was clear as we set off in cloudy, but dry weather, though behind us, the tops of Fairfield and Seat Sandal were shrouded in cloud. The forecast was reasonable with improving conditions to look forward to.

We skirted Grasmere and went across the Easedale Road before heading up footpaths to the cairn at the top of Silver How. At 395 metres, this was not a high Wainwright, but the views over Grasmere to Rydal Water were stunning.
Grasmere & Rydal Water from Silver How
 Behind us, in autumn colour, was Helm Crag and ahead Pavey Ark loomed large. After a coffee break admiring the views, it was off across an undulating and, at times, wet landscape.

The next target was Blea Rigg at 541 metres, about two miles away. We crossed Brigstone Moss, climbed Long How and Swinescar Pike, from where there were excellent views of Langdale with Crinkle Crags and Bowfell in the background. The recent rain had made it a very green valley. Passing a tarn, it was not long before we reached Blea Rigg, overlooking Easedale Tarn to the north and Elterwater to the south east. This was to be the lunchspot, another superb vista to photograph and post on Facebook as...'Today's lunchtime view.' The large rocks on the rigg made excellent seats, but we were soon off again to our third high point.
Langdale PIkes from Blea Rigg
 With Pavey Ark immediately in front of us, we headed north and after crossing a boggy patch descended steeply around Eagle Crag (How many Eagle Crags are there?), before rising again to Codale Tarn. We had had views of this tarn from an elevated position when we did a wild camp in April.From the shores of the tarn, we could see why we didn't drop down to it on that occasion. It would have been a steep ascent at the start of the next day! Today though, we skirted the tarn, which was quiet and still, before beginning the final climb to Tarn Crag. 
Easedale Tarn

At 550 metres, this was the highest point of the day. We picked out the Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag ridge we had walked on the Coast to Coast walk in 2010. The views down to Grasmere over Easedale Tarn were also very impressive.

Looking back to Tarn Crag
 Our route back was clear to see from the top and it was all down hill to join the Easedale bridleway. From here it was an easy walk back to the outskirts of Grasmere and retrace our steps skirting this popular tourist spot. On returning to the car, it was easy to see the route we had been on, and excellent ridge walk with glorious views.

AND... three Wainwrights bagged!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bowscale Fell

Bowscale Fell

Distance: 6 Miles

Highest Point: 702m

The forecast, always a consideration for any walking destination, seemed to suggest that it would be dry. We parked up in the 'Township' of Bowscale and set off up a good bridleway on access land. It was a gradual up. Although a little cloudy, visibility was good and patches of sunlight illuminated farmhouses in the valley and the steep-sided Carrock Fell.
Soon the route steepened, as the bridleway climbed the fellside. We crossed over Drycomb Beck without difficulty and continued upwards. A wall of crags appeared in front of us and we scanned the scene to pick out where our footpath would take us. As with all fine views, the glacial Bowscale Tarn lay hidden in a bowl until we were almost upon it. We had been brought to the 'teardrop' top where Tarn Sike was emptying the tarn. Not another soul was about. The breeze was gently rippling the tarn's surface. A large boulder sat begging to be sat upon, and we duly obliged it. A great spot for a photo and to break open the flask for a warming slurp of coffee. It was a little nippy.
FP from Bowscale Tarn

We didn't linger too long, having spotted a small path that snaked its way up Tarn Crags towards the horizon. This was our route. We crossed Tarn Sike and made our way up the path that Wainwright called a 'grassy rake'. It was quite steep and in places I was pleased to be able to use my hands for a little extra security when the path looked a little slippery.

Bowscale Tarn
The higher we climbed, the more impressive the tarn below us seemed. The water appeared as a fine blue and the 'teardrop' was clear in the hillside vessel. Very soon we were at the rim of Tarn Crags. We headed south, following the edge of the crags before joining a clear track up the rounded ridge to a pile of stones that marked the edge of the Bowscale Fell summit plateau. I think it would be fair to say that it felt a little 'baltic', and we lost no time in putting on gloves and pulling our hats down a little further over the ears. We made our way the short distance to the summit, a low, 'C' shaped windshelter, passing a couple of chaps on the way. The thought was there, even if it was rather ineffective. We paused for photographs and continued along the ridge towards Bannerdale Crags to seek a suitable lunchspot.
Bowscale Fell summit wind shelter
We continued past the ridge (on our left) that would lead to The Tongue, and joined a footpath at NY334302 that would take us down into Bannerdale. Several people were out on the ridge, taking advantage of a fine day.
Towards Bannerdale Crags with Blencathra rising up in the distance

The footpath was clear and we soon stopped for our lunch with a good view of Souther Fell and Bannerdale Crags and the valley below. It was still chilly, but at least there was less wind and the sun was shining.
Bannerdale & Souther Fell
From here, it was all downhill. We had fine views and the pathway took us gently down into the valley. A footbridge at NY356302 enabled us to cross a watercourse, and from then on we had the River Glenderamackin on our right.

The Tongue
It wasn't long before we reached the village of Mungrisdale and passed the still functioning phone box. I don't think our walking boots were going to trouble any shy, red squirrels, but there were none to be seen on this occasion.
Sign at Mungrisdale
After a quick circulation of the village, we headed back along the road to Bowscale. (The only road walking of the day.) The sun was already low in the sky, and it wouldn't be long before it would be setting.

Here we were in mid November, and we had had a wonderful walk. Our companions for the day, AJ & SE, had really enjoyed the change of scenery and 'fresh' air.








Fellbarrow & Low Fell Circular

Fellbarrow & Low Fell Circular

Although the forecast was not too promising with wind and squally showers predicted, we made our way to park at Maggie's Bridge (free!) close to Loweswater. This ramblers walk, undertaken in August, was our first with a new group of people. The route was to take us around the south side of Loweswater and then up to Fellbarrow and Low Fell north of the lake... two Wainwright's to collect.

On the level path around the lake, the weather was improving and the sun began to put in some appearances. We soon reached the road at Waterend before turning left up Grange Lane, the first climb of the day. (Off with the top layer) We joined the bridleway around the west side of Fellbarrow and stopped for a coffee break. 
Footpath around Loweswater
Next, it was up and across access land over Mosser Fell to a wall junction before heading straight to the trig point at the top of Fellbarrow. The height here was 416m with views to Cockermouth, The Solway Firth and beyond.

Our next target, Low Fell, was some mile and a half south. Following the ridge wall up and over both Smithy Fell and Sourfoot Fell, we soon came to the cairn at 423m... the highest point. The wind was pretty strong, so we dropped down out of it and had lunch with superb views over Lorton Vale towards Grasmoor. To our right, Crummock Water was now glistening in the sun with Buttermere beyond, and in the distance Haystacks and the Red pike ridge. All too soon it was time to move off.

Low Fell
We walked to the cairn at 412m, the point Wainwright called, 'The Top', and admired the views over Buttermere and Crummock, and also now, back over Loweswater.

Crummock Water from Low Fell
We then descended off the access land to the footpath through Whinny Ridding before meandering through lanes back to the car park.

Loweswater Fells
Without gaining tremendous height, we had had a splendid walk with views over the surrounding lakes and fells which were sublime. 

It's a privilege to be able to enjoy them.

Monday, 12 November 2012



Today's forecast was for rain and low cloud, so a long walk up in the hills was not particularly appealing. The shortened railway walk would at least get us out for a bit of exercise and we could buy a few provisions at the end. (Monday being market day)

As we started our walk, it was already raining steadily, but it had not at that point set in for the day. (Well, you have to be optimistic!) It was a little squelchy as we crossed the sheep fields along the line of the footpath. The kissing gate at Stenkrith Park had been left unlatched by someone, but we secured it once we'd gone through. (Don't want to give walkers a bad press!) The sounds from the River Eden were not as loud as they had been on Saturday afternoon. Sure enough, when we crossed the footbridge at Stenkrith Falls, there was very little water coming down and it was being channelled by the slab-like river bed. We had had a dry day yesterday, so it was hardly surprising.
Little water at Stenkrith Falls
We turned onto the disused railway once more. It was raining more heavily now and it was raining leaves too, as the breeze was tearing the few remaining leaves from their branches. We hadn't yet reached the first old railway bridge that crosses the walk. We hadn't come across anyone out walking. It was too late for the early morning dog walkers and, what with the rain and it being a work day, we didn't expect to meet anyone. However, we were surprised to come across a posse of sheep.

About 100m ahead of us, a couple of sheep were slowly walking across the hardened footpath. Naturally, we stopped. They simply shouldn't have been there. Looking to our left, amongst the trees and surrounding a stone that forms part of the 'Poetry' path, we saw at least another eight or so. They were happily enjoying their new territory. Over to the right, other sheep were making their bid for freedom from a field. We didn't investigate where they were escaping from. Who should we tell? There were no obvious farm buildings nearby.

Bid for freedom
Very quickly, we reached the Hartley road and, before long, we were back in the market place. What to do about the sheep? Well, we reported the breakout bid. 

They say that, 'The grass is always greener on the other side'. I'm sure the sheep were having a great time exploring beyond their normal boundary, but their field was definitely more lush. Hopefully, the farmer would get them safely gathered back in.

Once again... there was something new... something surprising... that changed the day and the walk from being far from ordinary.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Great Knoutberry Hill

Great Knoutberry Hill

6 Miles 

The forecast was looking good (no rain), so it was decided to give the boots another outing. Actually, I'm not sure if it was to test out the boots, or see how the feet would feel walking in them on two consecutive days! We parked up at Dent Station (The highest mainline station in England) and pulled our boots on.

The downside to this walk was always going to be the amount of tarmac walking to make the route circular. All 1.5 miles of it at the start. However, very little traffic was about, so it was about as pleasurable as road walking gets. It was downhill all the way to Lea Yat. Dentdale looked peaceful and verdant as we descended.

Dentdale in mist
The remnants of mist were still stubbornly lingering further along in the valley bottom. As we reached Lea Yat, two chaps were making their way up the hill towards the station. (So conveniently placed 4.5 miles from the village of Dent!) We turned left at the T junction and crossed over the bridge (SD760868).
River Dee
We now had the pretty River Dee to accompany us on our left. Still on the road, we made quick progress, passing the pub at Cow Dub until we reached Stone House Bridge. (This section of the road is part of the Dales Way long distance path.) 

Having crossed the very narrow stone bridge at SD771859, we left the road to join a bridleway. Not the sort of bridleway that appears bold on the map and then you find no trace of on the ground. No... this bridleway was walled and small number of houses abutted it. Great joy! The most prominent feature of this place was the 11 arched Arten Gill viaduct which towered over Arten Gill Beck a little further up.
Arten Gill viaduct
Our way was clear. Numerous water courses traversed the bridleway in a managed kind of way. At some point in the past, a great deal of effort had been put in through the careful setting of cobbles and bricks to channel the water which ran from the hillside down to the Beck. It was good walking. Behind us, we could see Whernside, topping all around it. All the time the bridleway was gradually climbing upwards. At SD792861, recently weathered wooden signposts proclaimed that we were crossing the Pennine Bridleway. The Pennine Bridleway to our left followed the course of an old disused colliery road, While to our right, it followed a wall across to Newby Head. We wanted neither of these and continued on our bridleway until we reached a wall junction at SD794862. It was here that we had our coffee stop and a few nuts, sitting on the concrete stepped stile.. As we looked over to the south east, we could easily recognise the familiar stepped profile of Pen - Y -Ghent. It's summit was trimmed with cloud.
Pen -Y -Ghent (in the distance) from Arten Gill bridleway
Another walker also paused for refreshment and it seemed that we were on the same route. He, with a train to catch and us looking to take in the views and take photos, there was soon some distance between us. Our route was straight forward, following a wall boundary up the hillside. It was rather sloppy underfoot in places and we needed to take care not to get caught out by the lovely light green sphagnum moss and peaty patches with sparse vegetation. We could still see Pen - Y -Ghent and Whernside, but old 'flat top' as we call him (Ingleborough) was brooding in cloud.

In less than half an hour, we were at the triangulation column which stood surrounded by a peaty pool. After the usual photo, we hopped over two fences via simple stiles to reach a windshelter with a seat on either side.(SD788871) This was an unexpected bonus and was the ideal place for lunch. From where sat, we had views to Wensleydale, Widdale, Baugh Fell, Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell. Despite the hours looking at maps, I'm always surprised at how different parts of our countryside links together. On the other side of the wind shelter were the two chaps we had seen walking up towards the station from Lea Yat, at the start of our walk. It seemed there were five of us all on the same route today, just walking in different directions. We appraised each other on the state of the ground underfoot yet to be traversed and continued on our way. (We were bound to cross each other again, we felt sure.)
Path from Great Knoutberry trig point
Our route down simply followed the wire fence all the way to join up with the Pennine Bridleway. Our walk down was not without interest. Over to our right was Widdale Great Tarn, which looked dramatic set against a dark sky and a light coloured hillside. Also on our right, at Pikes Edge, the hillside was littered with rocks.
Boulders on Pikes Edge
Before our descent steepened, over to our left were some interesting cairns which we went over to investigate. One, at least, was more than the height of a person. There were other, smaller cairns on this little bit of a plateau. A hangliding enthusiast was taking advantage of what little breeze there was just above the plateau further along. We watched for a couple of minutes before heading down over the tussocky, kind to the knees, ground.
Surreal without seeing the person suspended below!
At SD776874, we passed through a couple of farm gates to join the Pennine Bridleway. We turned north and walked for 600m or so to another farm gate and Galloway Gate at SD779880. We turned left down this minor road (becoming known as the Coal Road further on). We passed the coniferous plantation on Dodderham Moss and a functional breeze block sheepfold. Over to our left, in the distance, Ingleborough's distinctive shape was visible for the first time on our walk.
Ingleborough from Coal Road
Dent station was now in sight, looking resplendent with its maroon and cream paintwork. We crossed over the railway bridge to the car.

It had been a gentle walk with some lovely views. It was good to see that others were making the most of a fine day, but it was by no means crowded. This part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of its quieter corners, to a part that we will undoubtedly return.
Dent station
 Just in case you were wondering... the two chaps... we passed them in the car as they were heading back to theirs. They'd enjoyed their walk too! 

As for the boots... it's going to take a little while before they feel like a natural part of the foot, but they did a sterling job and kept the feet dry. 

Railway & Riverside

Railway & Riverside - Kirkby Stephen

3.5 Miles

Today was the inaugural walk for my new boots.

With the prospect of a walk up Raise, in the Lake District National Park, to look forward to in the middle of the week, I decided that I should treat the boots (and my feet) to a short, flat walk. The previous ones had certainly walked some miles... two long distance footpaths and numerous day walks, but they had not had the best care and attention and it was starting to show.

From the market square in Kirkby Stephen, we walked south down the main street until we came to a public footpath sign at South Road. The boots seemed strange on the feet as they have a deeper sole - I appeared to have grown another inch. We turned through a gate and walked across a couple of grass fields, before coming to another clearly marked gate taking us through another field. A kissing gate gave us entry onto Nateby Road, where we turned right. After a little road walking, we turned into Stenkrith Park through a gate. (We were now on our favourite railway walk). We could hear that we were not far from the River Eden. We had had a day of rain yesterday, so we were curious to find out just how much water would be coming down the falls just underneath Stenkrith Bridge. The usual visible riverbed channels were submerged under the torrent of water. Quite a sight.

Stenkrith waterfall
 Onwards onto the actual disused railway we continued. It doesn't matter how many times we've walked this way, there's always something different. Many of the trees had shed their leaves, others were yellowing or browning. The way was carpeted for us in many hues. 

Person, or persons unknown had been along to coppice some of the trees since we'd last come this way. There was good visibility of Tailbridge Hill, but the hills of the Northern Pennines looked dark in the distance. I quietly (and briefly) tried out the acoustic under one of the bridges we passed under, and then it wasn't long before we had crossed both viaducts and joined the Hartley Road. So, a little bit of downhill. The boots held my feet well; they didn't slip far so good.

We took a little footpath off to the left to avoid a bit of the road before rejoining it at NY783085. 
FP avoiding the road
 This was Hartley. We stayed on the road, keeping the beck on our left until we came to NY783086. Here we crossed a small narrow footbridge. We turned left and then right (passing the parish noticeboard) into a narrow road serving just a couple of dwellings. We continued along the walled footpath to a small gate (now without its fastening) and continued on the hard surfaced path through a field, keeping the wall on our right. A kissing gate brought us beside the River Eden once more and the approach to Frank's Bridge. 

Rather than cross the river, we took the muddy, grass footpath at NY776087 through the cricket ground and over a footbridge to meet with the Hartley Road again.
Riverside FP
This was new territory. We walked north to Lowmill Bridge. Here, we took the riverside footpath on the eastern side of the river. In places the path came down to near river level, but hidden tree roots were the potential hazards for the unwary. The water was rushing along as if late... no time to stop.  
River Eden
No turgid, sluggish river here. The footpath brought us to another small footbridge over another gushing watercourse which joined the Eden on our left. We joined the road from a small gate at NY774095 and crossed over New Bridge. 

This was the main road into Kirkby Stephen from the north. We could have just followed it along the path into the town, but we decided to take the riverside footpath on the western side of the Eden. Our destination was a sawmill... intriguing! It was clear that much has been done to make this initial part of the footpath an amenity, as many young trees have been planted. 

To our surprise a stone seat had also been built. Further along, nearer to the river, a metal bench of the typical 'park' variety had been placed for contemplation. Before long, the path narrowed and passed behind first commercial buildings, and then private homes with immaculate looking gardens. We walked through a gate and a covered archway to find ourselves in the yard of the sawmill. I don't know why, (the signpost had said sawmill) but it still seemed a strange destination for the end of a footpath.

We were back at Lowmill Bridge, but on the town side of it. (NY775090) Rather than join the main road, we kept to the side road ahead of us, heading south with the church in front of us. At NY775088, we took the footpath through the churchyard and cloisters back to our starting point, the market square.
Kirkby Stephen church
I'm sure the extension to the railway walk will become a favourite. It's lovely every now and again to be able to go for a walk without needing to take a map. 

The boots? Well, the boots were somewhat mud splattered, but the feet were dry. All being well, they'll get another outing tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Yarlside & The Calf

Yarlside & The Calf

To the heart of the Howgills 

12 Miles

Several years ago we had reached The Calf, the highest point in the Howgill Fells at 676 metres, from Sedbergh. Today, though, I wanted to reach it from the northern side of the Howgills taking in Bowderdale, Yarlside and the Andy Goldsworthy sheepfold and cairn above Cautley Spout. The weather was set fair, cold but fine, with a forecast that suggested better weather later in the day.

Having parked at Bowderdale I set off up the bridleway which goes the full length of Bowderdale, and indeed to The Calf. My route was to cross the beck where Hazel Gill joins it and ascend the ridge of Yarlside. It was three miles to my turning point but Bowderdale, without having the wow factor of the Lakes, does have a quiet solitude which is tranquil and calming.
Yarlside from Bowderdale
Yarlside, my first target, was straight ahead and having crossed the beck and taken a compass bearing, headed straight for the top! After a steady pull which afforded good views of Randygill Top and Kensgriff I reached the cairn.
Yarlside summit cairn
Views could be had of Wild Boar Fell, Swarth Fell and Baugh Fell and in the distance the Three Peaks. Also evident was the onward route to The Calf. It was cold at the top (638 metres) so I moved down to a col and descended to a sheltered coffee stop overlooking Cautley Crag and Spout.
Cautley Crag & Spout
I made a steep descent back to Bowderdale Beck, crossing over and climbimg above Cautley Crag, into Red Gill. The views down Cautley Spout were spectacular in the improving weather. A thin track took me to the next objective, the Andy Goldsworthy washfold with built in cairn. This large sheepfold is only accessible on foot but well worth the effort as it is a wonderful example of the genre. There were even sheep grazing by it!
Andy Goldsworthy sheepfold & cairn
My route from the fold was clear, straight up to Bram Rigg Top, which has the main route from Sedbergh to The Calf running across it. On reaching this track I turned in a northerly direction and reached the trig point on The Calf’s summit. There were excellent all round views of the Lakeland fells in the west this time, along with the Lune Valley. This was the lunch spot but it was a brief one as the wind was bitterly cold. 

The Calf trig point
My return route was a ridge walk above Bowderdale in the east and Langdale in the west.
Although the path was very clear, it was wet and slippery in many places, showing the extent of the rainfall in the summer. The views over to Yarlside, Randygill Top and Green Bell were outstanding with the sun fully out now, and my earlier climb of Yarlside obvious to see. 

Yarlside ridge
The roller-coaster route went up and down  Hazelgill Knott and West Fell, which afforded excellent views back to Cobbles and The Calf.
View to Cobbles & The Calf
 I soon reached the wall from where I had set off down Bowderdale and retraced my steps to the car.

The 12 mile walk (2500 feet of ascent) showed the best aspects of the Howgill Fells. In good weather it is easy to make progress and get to know the lie of the land. The views from the summits are excellent.  The access land arrangements mean that the walker can go virtually anywhere without too much difficulty and the peaceful solitude of quiet walking is blissful! A return to another part of this quiet area will be soon!

Muker Round

Muker Round

 7 Miles

It was a beautiful autumn morning. The forecast was for sunshine and showers, so we decided upon a gentle, low-level walk in Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park - a favourite. Setting off from Keld in bright sunshine, we walked down the road in the direction of Aygill. Nothing overtook us and our passing only served to set off some unseen farm dog.

Corpse Road

Very shortly, we turned off down to the left along a clear walled, bridleway - (an old corpse road from Keld to Grinton) . After crossing a small ford via a raised pathway to the side, the ground rose gently. Our way had been beautifully carpeted with fallen leaves of many hues. Moss was cloaking the drystone wall on our right. The sun was low in the sky and we were somewhat blinded by it as we walked up the track. We continued along a clear path, passing below a farmhouse high on the hillside on our left. Beneath our feet was a clear, close-cropped green swarth. The gradient had decreased and tumbledown walls on either side guided our way. We were fortunate to have far reaching views in continuing sunshine. On the top of Kisdon Hill, sheep were dotted around, happily grazing.

Corpse Road - Kisdon Hill
We passed a memorial stone in a wall up here. It was a truly beautiful spot. The green swarth soon turned into a made track, and signs exhorted the walker to stick to it. Down below, the picturesque village of Muker nestled in the walled, pastured valley. Being holiday time, there were plenty of walkers about.
Muker - from Kisdon Hill
Breaking with our now customary tradition of eschewing all alcohol until the walk is over, we allowed ourselves to sample the best on offer at the hostelry. An open fire and a flagged floor was very welcoming.

A footpath, from the back of the village started from a stone 'squeeze' stile characteristic of upper Swaledale. The stone slabbed path passed through hay meadows , farmed in the traditional way. In June, these fields are ablaze with all manner of wild flowers and grasses, but these had long since been harvested. Walkers were reminded to stick to the footpath to protect the meadows that provide a valuable habitat for wildlife and winter fodder for livestock. Several gated stiles needed to be negotiated along this section of the walk.

Ramps Holme Bridge
We crossed the narrow Ramps Holme Bridge. (No cycling!) and turned left. From here, it was a level, broad walk much favoured for an easy stroll. We found a good stone to sit on and broke open the packed lunch. The sound of the Swale was soporiphic. Had it been a glorious summer day, it would have been a fabulous spot to linger a while. As it was, it was quite cool, so it was good to get moving again.

We continued along the flat path until we came to an enclosed area of fellside. Just beyond it, a clear, narrow path was climbing up the hillside. We took it to head up Swinner Gill. It was rather sticky and slippery in places. Before long, the path headed down towards the gill. Some good sized rocks enabled us to cross it easily. The path up the hillside was clear. Although there were some rocks to negotiate, the main difficulty in this path was the stickiness. At one point, there had clearly been a land slip following rain. The path was all but washed away, but we rejoined terra firma with care. The steepness of the fellside abutting Swinner Gill didn't seem to trouble the munching sheep.

Swinner Gill
Eventually, we came to the waterfalls an derelict mine buildings at the head of the gill. A signpost pointed us in the direction of Keld. The path took us back along the same side of the gill, only further up the hillside. The path was in better condition here. We came across the area of the fellside where there had been slippage. Stone steps had been sited to reinstate the footpath. Works had been completed recently, as they had not been done in September when we had last walked this way. It wasn't long before we reached a gate and a broad track. It was all down hill from here. (Well almost)

We passed a derelict farmhouse and the tumbledown Crackpot Hall, which seems to be more decrepid with each visit. Our way was clear and marked with the remnants of bits of farm machinery... an axle... a tractor. A gate brought us to the beautiful Keld waterfalls. 
Waterfall - Keld
With the trees denuded of most of their leaves, we were able to get a wonderful view of the falls which we had not had before. A footbridge enabled us to cross the river and we took the stony footpath up to the right and into the centre of Keld.

The rain had managed to stay away and it had been a lovely gentle walk. It's amazing how a familiar walk can provide something new on every visit. Unfortunately, we'd missed the glories of the wild flowers in the hay meadows earlier this year, but it was still lovely on an autumn day.