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My Dad David died 10.09.13 aged 69. He had a huge love of the countryside. He loved walking and was a keen angler. I was desperate to find and own an object that summed Dad up, after an insightful conversation with a friend, I remembered his walking boots. This set me thinking... How about stepping into them and going for a walk somewhere with a body of water (sea, river, lake, canal, pond, tarn...) and stunning, just as Dad would have wanted.... Here I go in 'My Dad's Boots'

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Yorkshire Dales - Askrigg, Mill Gill Force and Whitfield Gill Force

The lovely Wensleydale village of Askrigg was this month's MDB destination. An easy, quick walk but with a few watery gems. I was very grateful for a dry day but with all the recent rain, the going was very soft and in places relatively soupy. The map of choice was an OL30, not really required as the path was obvious and well signposted, but I always like to carry one as a matter of course anyway in order to name check features on the landscape and to give me options if time allows, or not as the may be. When I arrived in the picturesque village I parked up on the cobbles in front of St Oswalds, Askrigg's C15, grade 1 listed church, I made a payment into the parking honesty box set in the church wall, booted up and off I went. 

Map: Bing and Ordnance Survey

Taking a right at the church I followed the lane round and to the end where there in a five bared gate and the first of many dinky, sprung gates known as 'Wensleydale Stiles'.... They are very snappy to pass through! Over the first pasture, that has had groves cut in it to direct the water running freely off the fields.

Passing by the old Mill and over the Mill Dam bridge.

Into a pasture and then snaking back into the wooded area that runs the length of Mill Gill, this snaking in and out continues all the way along the route.

My first gem is quickly found, Mill Gill Force.... Not displaying the huge volume of water I thought I might find but still in spate. I presume the water of the recent storms had now passed through and is more than likely further down stream causing bother elsewhere. The water was however very peaty and flowing fast enough to be quite deafening.

I back tracked and set off on the well signposted route for Whitfield Gill, again snaking in and out of the woodland and pasture, the well trodden route easy to follow. Taking in the beautiful Wensleydale scenery as I go.

Whitfield Force can be heard before it is seen.... Seeing this waterfall means looking between the branches of the trees. Even a lower level scramble meant I was still viewing it from a distance. Still powerfully beautiful though.

The path on this side of the gill concludes at the Whitfield Force.... I did however explore a little further and got some lovely shots over the adjoining landscape.

I spotted an impressive crop of Bracket Fungus.... An essential entity in decaying timber, both in itself but also as a host to a number of insects that help to breakdown the timber, without this fungus woodlands would be strewn with fallen trees. I love the ecological  complex-simplicity of a plant taking care of an insect, taking care of plant.... 

In order to return I had to backtrack and find a signpost directing me to Askrigg via Low Straights, this route took me over a foot bridge beside a lovely little waterfall.

The path took me straight up the opposite side of the Gill to a pair of benches commanding a spectacular view.

Crossing through the wall I dropped onto Low Straights Lane. 

As I walked down this track a number of options back to the village open up. I chose to continue until I reached a ford and a little wooded valley.

The tower of St Oswalds can be seen poking up over the pastures.

I negotiated a slice of pasture on the river bank edge at West End and continued over a couple of pastures. The village in sight.

The last pasture being inhabited by a brood of friendly hens.... Hello Ladies! 

As I left the hens happily clucking behind me and passed round a cottage I was safely back in the village.

A super little amble with some wonderful waterfalls, in a stunning part of the world.... What more can I ask for?!

Till next time..... Tight Laces and a very Happy New Year! MDB x

Phil, as always a huge heartfelt thank you! 

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Lake District - Helm Crag and Gibson Knott

Helm Crag or as it is also well known 'The Lion and The Lamb' and Gibson Knott were the fells to be scaled in MDB this month. Before I could tackle either I needed to get to them, a lengthy hike was needed from the A591 where I parked up and booted up in the well known lay-by opposite the Traveller's Rest pub. If I hadn't been lucky enough to get in there I would have the P&D car parks in Grasmere as a secondary option. 

Map: Bing and Ordnance Survey

Helm Crag is a prominent feature from the A591. AW mentions in his Book Three, my accompanying guide for the day, the very sight of it being popular with coach trip tourist, all pointing it out as they whizz by exclaiming 'The Lion and The Lamb' in unison referring to the rocky outcrop on top that resembles a resting Lion and a small Lamb in front. It appears you can simply bound across the pastures and boom you're ready to rock but it's not that straightforward. I started my hike, looking at my OL7 map, towards the lovely Lakeland village of Grasmere, famed home of a good number of things, but mainly gingerbread and poets. 

I headed down Pye Lane, and to get me off the road I bobbed down a little wooded path at Butharlyp Howe, the River Rothay flowing to my right. 

As I popped out on Easedale Road I took a left and headed into Grasmere.

I then walked to the home of Lakeland poet William Wordsworth and laterly National Trust founder Canon Rawnsley, Allan Bank. As soon as I passed through the gate posts I find a finger post that sent me across the lower pastures beneath Allan Bank house.

Helm Crag then features prominently on the landscape. I make my way, on a well made path that runs parallel with Easedale Road until I pop out on the road..... At this point it does seem counter productive to have previously been on Easedale Road when walking out of Butharlyp Howe and then purposely head the wrong way, but a trip to Helm Crag is not complete without a tiny tour of Grasmere village which would have been missed if I had not.

I carried on walking along the road crossing Easedale Beck at Goody Bridge and then I came up against it. I get a stunning first glimpse of the silvery ribbon of Sourmilk Gill in the distance.

The road heads to a fork in the road right to Lancrigg, or the way to the a Fell to the left, I head through the gate.

Lancrigg, once the famous meeting house for the Lakeland Poets, now a beautiful and comfortable Hotel.

The tarmac track leads easily down to yet another fork, I took a right this time.

The path winds beside a drystone wall in a wood. I reached a gate, once through I was finally at the base of the Helm Crag. I would say the 'walk-in' to this fell exceeds the actual mileage to the summit.

The path then starts to steepen, initially following a timber fence, plateaus and then continues beside a wall. 

Jackdaw Crag, Sourmilk Gill in view.

Grasmere and Loughrigg start to become visible as I climb. 

Sourmilk Gill nestled between Blea Crag and Tarn Crag.

Directly to the right of Sourmilk Gill, the beautiful neighbouring Far Easedale Valley comes into view.

Just before I reached White Crag, Easdale Tarn, the tributary of Sourmilk Gill came into sight. This side of the Helm Crag ascent the soothing distant sound of Sourmilk Gill rushing down the fell is in evidence.....

As you pass around to the other side of the fell the road noise from the A591 is more audible. I thought this auditory interruption a shame, I doubt it would have been the same in AW's day even with all those coach parties going by. After a short rocky scramble I reached the first of two significant formations on this modest fell top, 'The Lion and The Lamb'. I scrambled to the top of the Lion's head and rested MDB overlooking Grasmere.

I swung round to view the second fabulous formation 'The Howitzer', the truest high spot on the fell. AW legendarily didn't make it to the top and sadly I didn't either, I only managed a partial ascent. 

The Howitzer ascent.... Nearly, but not quite to the top! 

Once I hade spent time exploring Helm Crag I moved off along the ridge towards Gibson Knott.

Stopping for a look back towards Helm Crag and Grasmere in the distance.

The Far Easedale Valley

I reached my 18th Wainwright, Gibson Knott summit fairly swiftly. I stopped, brewed up and enjoyed the views of Seat Sandal and Fairfield.

More of Easedale Tarn could be seen.

Dunmail Raise and Seat Sandal from Gibson Knott.

If daylight wasn't a huge issue I would have continued on to Calf Crag but I didn't want to be caught out so I chose, sensibly, to make my way back to Helm Crag and to back track to Grasmere.

I rounded the day off with a lovely dusk-lit trip to neighbouring Thirlmere. A great place to get off the busy A591, have a brew and reflect on the super day I had. 

Till next time..... Tight laces. MDBx

Phil, thank you, as always. 

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