Sunday, 22 January 2017

Cumbria Coastal Path in sections (4)

Saturday 21st January '17

I guessed this was going to be a good one and it didn't disappoint - a walk of contrasts with nonstop interest.

The train conductor obligingly advised me that it was cheaper to buy a return to and from Kirkby-in-Furness, my walk's finishing station, rather than buying singles from Arnside to Roose, and Kirkby to Arnside. At just over £8 with my Railcard I reckon that was a bargain.

I had to retrace my steps for thirty minutes to get back on the CCP. The sun had  just arrived and there was golden light over Barrow harbour from my high point.

Back at sea level, abandoned industrial wasteland with pylons, cheap red brickwork daubed with graffiti, and the bleak scatter of urban rail-side rubbish provided interest, especially in the morning glow. I don't mind a bit of that sort of thing, particularly when I know it is only going to be a small part of the day's itinerary.

Barrow must have been a fine town with its wide, straight streets and an abundance of elaborate Victorian and Edwardian architecture, but it has been trashed with the insertion of the worst kind of cheap and utilitarian modern mediocrity.

A long walk out of Barrow on the A 590 north was perhaps the low point. After that the rest of the route was nearly all on beaches with firm going and vast expanses of sand, distant sea, and huge blue skies - all shear pleasure. Halfway on this traverse of the eastern shore of the Duddon estuary I could see Lowsy Point marked on the map indicating a group of buildings in the middle of nowhere - intriguing? One of the delights of walking is to come across points of interest unexpectedly without having been told about them beforehand so that they become your discoveries, and so it was with Lowsy Point.

An unmade track led to this outpost:  a sort of shanty town of wooden huts, some homebuilt, and nearly all ramshackle with old cars, Calor gas bottles, mini windmills, derelict boats and general seediness. But, having said that, there was something attractive and mysterious about this community of weekend retreats, and I wondered if there was a common factor of eccentricity amongst the owners.

At Askam in Furness I found benches outside the unoccupied lifeboat station and settled down for munchies and coffee. Preparing to leave I found that a buckle on my rucksack had found its way through a slat in the bench. How stupid - I must have spent ten minutes extracting it making my lunch stop longer than planned with unfortunate consequences later.

As I approached the station at Kirkby-in-Furness the 14:59 train was pulling out. Without exaggeration I was only five minutes walk from the platform - that damned rucksack buckle.

I had anyway assumed that I would never be in time for that train, but it was peeving to have missed it by such a small margin. The next train was at 17:36.

I finished off the last of my coffee sat in the open-air shelter getting colder and colder and then, having stiffened up and approaching the point of hypothermia tottered off to the pub which by then had opened. I had a walk up and down the village, now in the dark, worrying about getting home - the 17:36 stopped at Kirkby "by request only" and I realised that if it didn't stop I could be stranded. I felt like a madman stood on the platform waving at the oncoming train. but all was well. A brilliant day except for the last two and half hours.


My camera became inadvertently switched to something called: "Creative Control, Impressive Art"

Morning sun over Barrow harbour

 Follow the pylons, ice puddles and urban sprawl approaching Barrow

Barrow town hall clock reflects the low morning sun

One of the many worthy buildings in Barrow - the old fire station - 1911

This overgrown circular, spiralling inwards wall I found alongside the A 590. The wall continues as a descending spiral inside the outer circle, but is difficult to see because of the vegetation - anybody any ideas?

Solar panels

Shoreline walking and distant Black Coombe

WW2 machine gun post. It has tumbled from above and now standing on its side - The Leaning Tower of Furness?

It says "Dateline" on the side - a forlorn hope now

Lowsy Point

Back across to Barrow (well endowed with pylons) from Lowsy Point

More of Lowsy Point shanty town

Askam in Furness across the Duddon estuary

Click to enlarge.
The blue route is from the station back to my last finishing point on the CCP

Friday, 20 January 2017

Photoshop painting (2) and Tebay Sedbergh Rd (2)

Here is the finished canal bridge picture together with a few I did earlier. I have published some of these here before but it was a long time ago.


Attermire Scar

From my "Relics" collection
I'm sure many of you will be familiar with this bridge on the way to Ben Alder etc.


  Thursday walk with Pete

Another dismal day and the first outing since I fell on the ice last Thursday, not because of the fall, but rather the dreary weather. At least it didn't rain. My twisted knee and jarred thumb have made a good recovery. We went back to the same Tebay Sedbergh road, but started from the other direction and walked back up to the scene of my accident, and then back again.

On a fine day the views of the river Lune descending through the gorge with the M6 carving its way high up on the opposite side would be worth the effort on this undulating road. I would certainly consider a return visit when in the mood for a road-only walk. 

We had the Howgills rising steeply straight above us and they do look tempting. I think this range of hills must be one of the least walked in England and I reckon I may be doing some exploring there in the near future.

Conditions for photgraphy were as bad as you can get, but here are a few which I have done my best to brighten up a little in Photoshop.

Blogger has decided to cut off some of the text in the stuff above. I have removed formatting and re-fomratted to no avail - will struggle on to try and solve, but as it is just about comprehensible I am leaving the post up for the moment.

Castley Knotts

Evidence of recent flood repairs. One of the many lively streams running straight off the Howgills

Three in one - the sign, the sheep, and the communications mast overlooking Borrowdale
I thought this lent itself to black and white - see below

Zoom to ponies high up on the hillside - Although not a horsey person I always feel sorry for them in this kind of weather
Camping pods, or "glamping" as they say on their Facebook site. I stayed in one similar on my Two Moors Way across Dartmoor. Google "Howgills Hideaway" if you want more info.

North up the River Lune - you can see what a dull day it was, but 'twould be different with the river sparkling in the sunshine
                     South down the River Lune. Vehicles high up on the M6 in view


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sir Hugh RA ?

Previous posts describe my walking the Cumbria Coastal Path in sections. The next stretch is probably the most scenic and I want to have decent weather - I am not inclined to compromise with the current sombre, grey, overcast, drizzly, depressing stuff,  so I have turned my energies to activity more creative and domiciliary.

"Painting" using Photoshop has been an intermittent pastime (well, Hockney does something similar with his iPad - he was a contemporary, albeit a year ahead of me at Bradford Grammar School).

This photo under a canal bridge was taken on a Thursday walk with Pete because the rich and varied colours and texture took my fancy.

I open the photo in Photoshop, then put a blank white layer on top. I reduce the opacity until the photo is just visible below so I can sketch in the main outlines. I then bring back the full white background and continue to paint without further use of the photo, except for looking at a copy for reference.

Here I show two stages of work-in-progress. I am not striving for an exact reproduction of the photo, or the exact colours. I would like to achieve something more loose, free, and artistic, but I don't seem to have that talent, so this will be a sort of halfway-house. The second WIP is nowhere near finished so please don't judge on it - I have just shown it to demonstrate how these creations are tackled.

Hopefully I will in due course up-date with progress or the finished item, unless my temporary wild Gulley Jimson temperament departs me. 

The lines on the outer left-hand side of the bridge and the straight water's edge lines remain (at the moment) from the sketch lines from the partly visible photo before bringing back the white background

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Watch your step

Just received this email from Bowland Climber with the caption,

"No comment"

my reply here:

Friday, 6 January 2017

Tebay Sedbergh road

5th January '17 - Thursday walk with Pete

Still suffering from one of the worst colds I can remember I agreed to my regular walk with Pete, especially as this was forecast as a cloudless, sunny day, albeit very cold, but with the forecast beyond that dire for several days.

The M6 on the way to Tebay was given a landscaping award when it was constructed for the way it sympathetically, if one dare give it that accolade, climbs through the River Lune gorge with the Howgills high on the right, and the railway in between competing for its own engineering achievement.

The river Lune appears to attempt the encirclement of the Howgills, sourcing way up in the north east of those hills, then swinging west, and then south,

Fathers now point out to their children and grandchildren a heart shaped wood on those steep Howgill slopes. It was reputed to be planted by a romantic farmer for his wife, or you can believe other more tragic myths, but the BBC have managed to undermine such heart warming, or heart stopping tales: CLICK FOR BBC  .

Our route today followed the single track road nestling tightly at the foot of the Howgills running underneath the bottom of the heart shaped wood and snaking its way down to Sedbergh. To access the road we parked near its continuation up Borrowdale (the Tebay one) which we walked up a few days ago. The road ducks under the M6, and then immediately under a handsome railway viaduct.

The clear blue sky made visible many vapour trails which I tried to photograph, but my skills in that direction rely on a fluke that occurs one in a hundred to provide an unexpected decent result. With Pete our target is to walk four miles and at the 1.57 miles mark, just short of halfway for our there-and-back trip we dipped and rounded a corner to see a splendid view up Carlin Gill where I had a couple of epic forays in winter many years ago.

Just off the road I spied a small notice on a post and went to investigate. It turned out to be posted by the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) who are the main body for overseeing rock climbing in the UK, and it gave seasonal access restrictions for bird nesting. That usually applies in this context to rock climbing and I was not aware of any worthwhile venues around there, although there are some rocks high up in Carlin Gill where one of my epics occurred. As I went back to the road I slipped on some ice and fell heavily, twisting my knee, and knocking up my thumb very painfully. So much for prudent winter walking on Tarmac. At that point we aborted our four mile target and turned back for the car - total mileage finishing at 3.14 - oh dear!

Back home I had a hot bath, ate half a meal and chucked the rest and went to bed.

This morning I arose at 6:00 to receive granddaughter Katie at 7:00, dropped her off at school at 8:45 and am now back home writing this feeling slightly better, but still a bit sorry for myself.

If you click to enlarge you may better see one of the many vapour trails I tried to photograph, but at least the photo gives some idea of the colours and terrain of the Howgills on this fine day

River Lune looking north

More vapour trails if you enlarge

The heart shaped wood. Its shape is only apparent from the motorway on the other side of the valley

Click to enlarge.
 I never tire of seeing this kind of dales stonework with its skills, patina of moss, and age

Carlin Gill

For my "Signs" collection.
Would you want to?.

Fellow travellers?

Whilst backpacking most people met provide pleasant chat and sometimes much more - I met Mick and Gayle in 2008 on our respective Land's End John 'o Groats walks and we have been friends ever since, but...

...there are others!

"Where are you heading for?"

"Haye-on Wye"

"Oh! It'll be all booked up there, you'll not find any accommodation"

The first b and b I tried had vacancies.


"Where are you heading for?"

"Dunkerley Beacon"

"Which way are you going?"

You tell them.

"Well, you should go..." such and such a way, almost accusingly, inferring you've been stupid with your own plotted route.  If you fall for this you will almost certainly get lost.


On my round Wales walk - from my journal:

"...just before Freshwater West Bay I met the usual dog walking Jonah who told me about the grave severity of the ups and downs on the path between there and Angle. It turned out to be fairly normal up and down coastal path walking. Seascapes and weather were brilliant in the exact meaning of that word."

And just a bit further on, in total contrast:

"...I met a young couple backpacking who had camped on the cliffs with a Terra Nova tent; they had carried water from Angle and seemed to be well organised."

On my Severn Way walk I met a guy south of Hampton Load crossing a new bridge near Highley - my journal says he told me the whole history of coal mining in the area, "and some", and then went on to the record flood heights of the river. Despite all the techniques I reckon to be good at for terminating endless monologues I was stuck with him for twenty minutes.

On the summit of Stob Dearg with my daughter on a bright sunny day a guy arrived at our summit from the Glencoe road direction. Ensuing conversation had him telling us that we were on the summit of Stob Coire Raineach across Lairig Gartsin to the west. We could see the road down Glen Etive (yellow on map) to our right which would have been invisible from Stob Coire Raineach - he told us of his intended route south west along the ridge from the latter. I often wonder what happened to him.

"Where are you going?"
You tell them.

"My brother lives there, you must call in and see him..." followed by endless directions which you both know are not going to be used.

An aggressive dog is having a go at taking a piece out of my ankle.

"It's because you're wearing a hat" 
or " carrying a rucksack" - "he won't hurt you - he's only playing"

"So! I'm supposed to stop wearing a hat just because you can't keep your bloody dog under control?"


And my favourite of all time from my round Wales walk, repeated on several occasions on the walk, and most likely more than once to some of my walking companions since.
"Where are you going?"

"I'm walking round the whole Welsh border"

"Mmm!" - 
(takes a bit of digesting)

"Where did you start?"


"Where will you finish?"




Saturday, 31 December 2016

Cumbria Coastal Way in sections - 3

Friday 30th December '16

Apart from waiting one hour and thirteen minutes for a train at Roose station this was a great improvement on the previous section of the CCW. I had walked 14.03 miles according to Memory Map and the GPX CCW route, setting off at 8:15 am from Ulverston and arriving at 2:15pm Roose - average speed including a stop for coffee and a sandwich - 2.34mph. Stopping after a six hour walk, especially when the temperature has dropped, soon has one chilled and I walked up and down the platform worrying whether I had misread the timetable -  that had taken some time to interpret; my record in that department is not good - no eletronic signage here as at Cark.  Ominously, underlining my worst fears, nobody else turned up to board the 13.28. A bad sign. Anyway the rackety diesel did come at last conveying me back home to a hot bath and watching The Rack Pack on iPlayer.

The film told the story of how Barry Hearn, the snooker promoter, adopted his players and groomed them into marketable personalities, but spurning to take on Alex Higgins (too much of a loose cannon - no pun intended), whose tragic story was intertwined along the way. The characters were depicted in what I would call cartoon fashion, but it was all entertaining stuff with comedy and sadness at the self destruction of Higgins. Star for me was Kevin Bishop as the natural extrovert  businessman Barry Hearn.

Back to the walk. Alighting at Ulverston it was just about light and I had a suburban march back down to near Canal Foot to resume on the CCW. A track and then muddy fields and stiles passing a strange, lone-standing chimney in the middle of a field eventually brought me onto the pebbly, bouldery, beach of Morecambe Bay. The light was still poor but interesting with sun striving to get through, and fairly distant views out to the open bay and across to Chapel Island. Going on the beach varied from softish fine shingle to dodging larger boulders, but not too difficult to cause frustration, and the bewitching light was a bonus only gained from winter walking.

From Newbiggin there was a long section of sea wall down to Rampside with the main road on the right, but the sea on the left - I had been watching the incoming tide all the way and it was now fully in making the familiar modest  crashing of waves on the concave rampart of the sea wall below me. I seem to have an inherent satisfaction from the sound and sight of the sea.

Rampside had a spectacular lighthouse stuck in the middle of the beach - how it has survived since 1875 is remarkable.

I was now following a Tarmac cycle track for the rest of the way with views across Roosecote Sands to the massive buildings where the nuclear submarines ar constructed at Barrow, and to my right the monster chemical plant sporting a bewildering complexity of pipework and gantries where gas is processed from the Morecambe Bay gas fields. How have human beings got themselves to the stage of developing stuff like this?

I left the CCW and as I climbed a field to get me to to the forlorn, cold and inhospitable Roose station, a distant non-stop siren started coming from the direction of the nuclear submarine buildings, and I wondered if I had managed to get myself into the wrong place at the wrong time, and envisaging people bolting from their houses to board the train that I was also now a little more eager to board.

The lone chimney  I later found it had been left over from a demolished brickorks to serve as a guide for ships coming to Canal foot. 

At last, back to the sea, Cartmell and Hampsfell hills in the distance

Out into Morecambe Bay

Chapel Island

The sun never quite made it

Wadhead Point

Zoom to Heysham power station

Note the slightly troublesome walking surface, and below...

...dodging the boulders

Rampside lighthouseFrom Wikipedia:
Rampside Lighthouse, also known as "The Needle", is a leading light (navigation beacon) located in the Rampside area of Barrow-in-FurnessCumbria, England.[2] Built in 1875, it is the only surviving example of 13 such beacons built around Barrow during the late 19th century to aid vessels into the town's port.[3] It stands 20 metres (66 ft) tall and is constructed from red and yellow bricks. Rampside Lighthouse was designated a Grade II listed building by English Heritage in 1991.[2]

The nuclear submarine buildings - Barrow

Gas treatment works on the way to Barrow

Click to enlarge - the blue routes are my start and finish connections to the stations