For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Kentmere brings a spring in the step

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Today seemed to herald a significant advance in knee recovery. I felt fine nearly all the way on this walk, and even though descents are stressful I know I am coping with them much better than on recent walks. Just by the end of the 4.4 miles I was feeling a fair amount of discomfort - it had involved a modest 455ft of climbing, but more importantly the equivalent amount of descent. Back home after a hot bath combined with my exercises both knees felt very stiff and quite painful during the evening. That doesn't sound so good, but my optimism acknowledges that this morning, as I write, both knees have recovered, and that is a sign I well recognise. On my backpacking trips I have the same painful symptoms after reaching my destination, but with that same recovery next morning enabling me to continue in comfort. But of course on recent trips that has been after 16 miles or so.

My intention is to still take things easy with  short walks and recovery days in between, and I know it will take time, but I am more hopeful now than I have been for a while. If I do get back to proper backpacking it will be b-and-b only, therefore not carrying camping and cooking stuff, and I would try and target 12 miles per day rather than 16.

I have walked this Kentmere round several times. Gentle climbing on well established bridleways brings one out onto open fellside at just under 1000ft: liberation and breathing space, and a sense that you may be much higher,  a perfect scenario for a frustrated hill walker.  I met a  pleasant couple who were mountain biking and we had a fairly long and enjoyable conversation. The going is often on cropped turf and the whole ambience was energising. I found a perfect little shelf to sit on right at the high point before descending back into upper Kentmere, and munched my ploughman's sandwich followed by a fruity bar and accompanied with my flask of coffee; all was contentment. The sky was blue, wind had dropped, sun was warming, remnants of snow littered the extensive views.

This had been the most enjoyable walk by a long way that I have had since aborting my Berwick-upon-Tweed to Castle Cary backpacking trip at Hellifield when my knee packed up on 20th August last year. 

River Kent, just off the road from the start

Black Beck

Sallows - 1681 ft.

Start of descent into upper Kentmere just after my lunch stop

Kentmere Tarn

Kentmere Hall 14th Century Pele tower, apparently undergoing some kind of restoration.
Below, as it was on a previous visit - 19th July 2012

Loads of info if you Google

Click to enlarge

Monday, 19 March 2018

Hollow Stones - Crosthwaite

Thursday 15th March

In November I had a walk in the Lyth valley CLICK and commented on a pointy peak I could see in the distance, vowing to myself to investigate when the knee improved.

The pointy peak is Hollow Stones with a spot height of 188m. I thought I may be able to continue north over Tarn Hill to Lord's Lot and return by the footpath, as indicated with red arrows on the map below.

I cheekily parked in the church car park below the Punch Bowl car park at Crosthwaite. None of this route (as walked) was on access land, so including the carpark this was an outing of total trespass. If you look at the map you will see that Tarn Hill is on access land, but there is no public access to that square on the map - what a nonsense!

Straight opposite the pub there is a small iron gate, easy to miss, leading uphill on an oppressively wall enclosed track. That leads through a private garden, and climbs higher onto open fell-side. I managed to get a shot of some deer which I know are numerous, but not often seen, so a little bonus on an otherwise less than inspiring day. The track gives way to cow trodden plodding making for potential ankle twisting. I saw the culprits herded together, sheltering from the vicious and piercingly cold wind and occasional spatter of rain in a hollow not far below the summit. I do feel sorry for livestock out in the fields in these conditions.

You can see from the photo the summit is indeed satisfyingly pointy, but the wind was so strong I was having problems remaining on my feet and quickly retreated to take stock of my intended extension. I could see the field boundaries, one after another barring the way to Lord's Lot and had no appetite for climbing walls and fences. So I descended to complete a circle of the upper slopes of Hollow Stones and then return via another non-right-ofway through Cartmell Fold Farm and back to the road.

This is a kind of walk I would have hesitated to bring anybody else on - it was just a whim stuck in my mind unlikely to be appreciated by others, but despite its curtailment I had a little glow of satisfaction at having pursued and concluded this mini exploration arising from that glimpse on the previous walk - perhaps the naughty trespassing provided added value?

Just off the road from the Punch Bowl

Cow trodden terrain leading up to the summit

The pointy summit - there was a three stone cairn


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Bannisdale Horseshoe parking

This post mainly for Afoot in the Hills. (Gibson), or others wanting to walk around Bannsidale. 

I suggest using the start detailed below rather than Wainwright's suggestion.

After braving the tortuous single track road to Dryhowe Bridge one is now confronted with piles of road-stone hindering parking, which had not been the case when I was there before with Bowland Climber. The Bannisdale horseshoe was our excellent grand finale to our campaign to climb all Wainwright's Outlying Fells - CLICK

On my more recent visit to walk up the Bannisdale track CLICK - I gave in and drove to an alternative start wasting time and increasing my walking distance.

I later found that if I had driven another fifty yards or so down a little hill and through a gate I could have parked on the service road leading up Bannisdale.

See maps beleow.

That south/north bit of route at the bottom is Wainwright's start but I suggest drive to Dryhowe Bridge.
The red markers are W's Outlying Fells on the route.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Which way round?

Tuesday 13th March 2018 - Sizergh anti-clockwise

I think my main motivation for this walk was the thought of the café at the end. That was not to undermine the pleasure of the walk itself.  On a part-day outing it is debatable whether it is more desirable to have a café at the beginning, halfway round, or at the end. For this walk I could have arranged for any one of those by using a different starting point, but I reckon having a goal and a reward to walk to is part of the enjoyment so I rather prefer the café at the end.

This was just a variation of the walk I eulogised about recently CLICK HERE. For variety I went anti-clockwise. That is another decision one has to make on a circular walk: clockwise or the opposite? There is no definitive rule in my mind, each walk is different. I have noticed when walking with friends the opinion on this can differ, but the reasons seem to be so subjective as to be undefinable.

Sizergh Castle and its National Trust café is a popular launching point for walkers, and today the carpark was well used and there were many people wandering about wearing walking gear, or donning boots by their cars, but I only met two other couples on my walk, and the surrounding path variations are fairly limited - do some of these people just dress up in hiking gear to come to the café?

An initial flat section on a field track led to a rocky path climbing through a wood, then a rather unpleasant section up a quite steep cow trodden, tractor churned field took me to what would be the surprise view, if I hadn't been there before, across the Lyth valley to the distant Lake District hills with The Old Man of Consiton dominating - quite breathtaking the first time it is encountered. Sizergh Castle is now incorporated within the recently extended boundary of the Lake District national park.

Here one also finds Heslington church, and I took the trouble to investigate this modest establishment. It was built in 1762 from an endowment by the farmer at neighbouring Holeslack Farm, hence its isolated position a long way from prospective parishioners, but close for the convenience of the farmer, John Jackson, a strange mixture of altruism and selfishness.

Back at the café jam and butter scone and a pot of tea were taken as a row of oil paintings of the Sizergh Castle/estate owning Strickland family looked down on me from on high, I think they still live there but handed over to the National Trust a few years ago.

Distant Lake District hills across the Lyth valley

Zoom to The Old Man of Coniston

Helsington church

2.38 miles - 1.7mph including church viewing

Friday, 9 March 2018

Derby Arms* - Witherslack

Thursday 8th March - Thursday walk with Pete

If you want flat walking on Tarmac not far from my home you can't get much flatter than this. Our route followed the old A590* running below the Whitbarrow limestone cliffs, alongside the modern road, but with attractive scenery, and almost no traffic. Our start is at the Derby Arms* pub at Witherslack just off the modern A590* - a pub I would recommend for pretty good food.

We both felt we had walked a bit further than our recent outings, and when I measured up back home I found we had done 4.5 miles at an average speed of 2 mph. That may nor seem much by keen walker's standards but the speed and distance, and my own relatively fresh feeling at the end denote gradual improvement for me, and Pete also seemed to be going well.

*NB - corrections made to pub name and road number


Spring has a way to go yet...

...although this is a good sign

Hopeful entry for architecture of the year prize.
How do they get away with it?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Secret Crag visit

Wednesday 7th March 2018

This post for rock climbing enthusasts.

My post a few days ago mentiond The secret crag

Today I went to investigate. You can see from the map where I left the road onto a footpath that skirts underneath the crag. Cars could be parked on that unfenced road making access easier than Middlefell Buttress.

The central pillar must be at least 30 feet heigh, and most of the rock looks sound and fairly clean. I have little doubt that there could be some interesting routes on here that would be classified as proper climbs rather than bouldering. My days of such activity are over, but I would be interested to hear if anybody has been there, or of any visits that may be made inthe future.

I continued the walk, and round the corner there was another crag nearly on the skyline - see photo. It didn't look as promising from a distance and I settled for a zoom shot but it may be worth a look.


Zoom to the other crag

Seen along the way - where it says Spr where path meets road on map

Sunday, 4 March 2018


What would you do if you won the Lottery? A question that we all have a conversation about from time to time. Well, I am quite content with my present circumstances but there is one fantasy ambition that I would like to pursue, but only if I could do so with absolutely no worries about cost.

Years ago I built two boats, the second one designed by an eccentric American designer, Phil Bolger famed for eccentric designs that work. Phil Bolger died in 2009 but his portfolio of plans are still sold by Common Sense Boats Click for website 

I found that I gained more pleasure from sourcing materials, mastering the techniques of epoxy glue and glass-cloth finishing and other new skills than I did from sailing the boats.They were both hardly used and eventually sold at woefully less return than it had cost to build them, but I knew that would be the case beforehand.

At the time I was starry-eyed and snobbish about the purity of sail, but in the background was another design that itched away at me until I admitted to myself that it could be more fun than a sailing boat.

The design was Bolger's Micro Trawler - here is the description from Bolger:

Micro Trawler is a revolutionary boat! Before her introduction, it was assumed that you would need at least 24 ft. of length and a gas guzzling 150 hp to be able to go over 25 m.p.h. in a boat with two
6 ft 6" berths, two lounging seats, standing headroom in the galley and helm station with a comfortable helmsman chair. Yet amazingly, we accomplish all this with Micro Trawler's 14 ft 6" and 45hp!

Materials required - 16 Sheets of 1/2" Plywood, 2 Sheets 1/4" Plywood, Framing Lumber, Epoxy

Ok, I know it is an ugly little beast, but there is something about it that attracts me, and the thought of having that large outboard on the back appeals to my somewhat rebellious nature.

Add caption

Of course, after I moved to Arnside I had forsaken my large double garage and there was nowhere to embark on what was only a pipe-dream anyway. That's where my Lottery fantasy comes in.

I would buy or rent an industrial unit, or other suitable building ensuring it had good heating facilities, and for it to be as near to my present home as possible, and equip it with whatever woodworking machinery I needed. The kind of construction involved does not necessarily demand sophisticated equipment, but it is satisfying to make things easier, and to a better standard and also a good excuse to indulge "boys and their toys" addiction. The pleasure would be in as meticulous construction and finish as I could manage, and I would want to use all the best quality fittings, and have it  kitted out to a standard regardless of cost that may be disproportionate to the modest design.

You may think this is an unambitious looking boat considering I would have the funds to build something much more grand, but for me this would be a realistically achievable project that I know I could make a good job of, whereas anything larger or more complicated would become a toil rather than a pleasure, and could well be beyond my capabilities.

As for what I would want to do with the boat once completed I don't really know, except that I would like a brief experience of having it on the water, but that would not be the point. Suffice to say, that with unlimited funds I could  give it away if I wanted to, but I could also afford to keep it under cover which was a problem with the larger of the two boats I built before. I sold that boat partly because I could see that prolonged outdoor storage would take its toll and fairly quickly reduce its value. 


My two previous boats

My second boat: Bolger Micro at Coniston Lake prior to launching.
 My neighbour Dan stands by - he was also an enthusiastic boat builder who led me into these ventures.

I never got a photo of mine on the water - this is culled from Common Sense Designs website

My first build. a 14ft rowing/sailing skiff designed by Lilian Woods.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Knee 2 progress?

3rd March 2018 - wrting this post - so 3 months after Knee 2 op.

This post is mainly written for my own good to knock some sense into myself arising from frustration at what I perceive as slow recovery from my second knee replacement operation, and, to convince myself that all is not relatively doom and gloom it has to be somewhat detailed. Having analysed the stuff below I  summarise:  I was not doing proper backpacking again until 12 months after the op.

Until I embarked on this exercise all that was a dim memory, and I had the notion that it had been shorter than that. Having said all this I estimate that current progress is probably better than it was for Knee 1, so maybe a bit less than 9 months to go? OK, I know some will say that advancing age should be factored in and it will eventually detract from any such ambitions - we will see.  Patience, patience, patience.


29th November 2017 - my second knee replacement (right knee) operation. 

Walks done in 3 months since op:


Progress of Knee 1 replacement for comparison.

4th May 2012 - First knee op.

I had been dong similar walks to the table above, but the first lengthy walk was:

19th December 2012  - i.e. 7 months after op. Walk up Tebay Borrowdale and back - 10 miles.

From blog post:

"Yesterday, in pursuance of flat walking, in consideration of my recovering knee, I walked from the A6 through to the M6 end and back, a distance just short of ten miles. That was further than I have walked since the op, and my inclusive speed was 2.8mph so the knee was painful by the end, and I was overwhelmingly tired that evening, but it had been a more than worthwhile trip re-acquainting myself with an all time favourite venue.”

December 2012 to April 2013 (4 months) - regular, day walking until:

April 2013 - 11 months after op - 16 days with caravan climbing all Marilyns in south of England, so first sustained proper return to walking.

June 2013 -12 months after op - first proper backpacking - South East Coast - Lowestoft to Clacton - 7 days


 Cheshire Ring - 8 days backpacking.


Re previous post: "Biscuits and sledging - 28th February.

I had a sad email from gimmer bringing me up to date on Margaret Forster the author of Carr's biography and wife of Hunter Davies.

"Did you know she died in 2016 ? Hunter Davies sold their house in the Lorton Vale as he could not bear her absence from that house which they shared almost ‘alone’ in the spring/summer months for 30 years - easy to understand 

He wrote an intense article about the sale and the leaving which is the one thing of his I’ve read which I found both utterly moving and sincere."

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Biscuits and sledging

Written - Tuesday 28th February second day of cold and snow (The Beast from the East)

Recent posts referred to my discovery of The Miller's Way, a long distance path supposedly charting the route of Mr. Carr of Carr's biscuits fame when he left the family business in 1831 in Kendal to go to Carlisle and set up his own milling/bakery/biscuit business.

Further research uncovered Rich Desserts and Captains Thin, a biography of Carr and his family by Margaret Forster. Margaret hails originally from Carlisle and is a prolific novelist and non-fiction writer. She is married to Hunter Davies who I criticised many years ago for his A Walk Around the Lakes, but then revised my opinion when he published his excellent biography of Wainwright.

Margaret has had access to family and business records from the Carr family and other sources including much material from the local press, and she is undoubtedly a professional and accomplished author telling a lively and interesting story.  Mr Carr was a Quaker and much of that background is intermingled with the social history of the Victorian period.

I would certainly recommend the book which held my attention sufficient to devour it in two lengthy sessions whilst avoiding the weather over the last couple of days.

I decided to rest the knee from actual walking for a few days, but I have set an hourly alarm to prompt me to walk properly, rather than peg-legging up and down my stairs three times (now extended to four) to strengthen the muscles, and I think this, along with the original continued exercises, is having a beneficial effect, but it is a slow process.

All that remains now is for me to walk the Miller's Way.


Katie update
( No school today, Tueesday 28th Feb.)

The alarm has just gone off again calling me to my stairs challenge.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Walking and mental health

I have been contacted by Ken Bromley Art Supplies who tell me they were interested to know how much art, as a pastime, may help to relieve stress, and as such a component in the treatment of mental health. 

They commissioned a survey of 2,000 UK adults where participants were asked to choose up to 3 activities which they believe are the best to reduce stress, and the results came up with the following list in volume order of replies. 

Having a Bath
Watching TV
Sport / fitness
Art and craft

Because walking was perceived as the most beneficial pursuit for the relief of stress I have been asked to write and comment.

I reckon on Conrad Walks I am preaching to the converted as far as walking is concerned, but it is interesting to know how beneficial it may be over and above other strategies for people with mental health problems. The charity MIND has a wealth of information majoring much on ECOTHERAPY

ECOTHERAPY as administered by MIND provides a wide range of assistance based on the outdoor activities to help with mental health problems, and that would be a useful starting point for anybody looking for help, or anybody wishing to support another in that situation.

From my own observations a lack of a particular goal may be a contributory factor to some mental health problems, and whilst walking in itself may be helpful it may be further enhanced by looking at the various tick-lists of hills, some of which would be relatively easy to embark on:  the English Marilyns, The Wainwrights,  The County Tops etc. See:

If you know of others who may be looking for advice with mental health it may be helpful to pass on a link to this post.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The secret crag

Thursday 22nd. February 2018 - Thursday  walk with Pete

Back in the sixties and my early climbing days there were often  rumours of prominent climbers of the day working on a "secret crag." And even the populated ones were unofficially claimed by a particular doyen as their personal territory for the working of first ascents - Alan Austin and Langdale, and I think White Ghyll in particular, is one example. I will come back to that shortly.

Over the last year or so my Thursday walks with Pete have been restricted to Tarmac only, and as much as possible level walking, and under three miles, in consideration of Pete's advancing years and his rheumatoid arthritis, although the latter is now pretty well controlled with a shed-load of pills. But since my knee op I have been restricted to similar parameters so we are now more equally matched.

We start from the attractive village of Bouth where a Tarmac cul-de-sac road leads for  a mile or so to finish at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve . This road is quite undulating with several fairly steep uphill and downhill sections, and I feel a bit guilty having sandbagged Pete into something a bit more arduous, but he seems to cope well and most of the time he is walking better than  me, especially on the downhill sections. I don't understand the internal mechanics of the knee, but I imagine when walking downhill the joint is allowed to dangle and this seems to cause more pain than walking uphill when the action, in my mind, is more consolidated.

The road is often unfenced which gives an air of freedom, and a less successful attempt at conquering nature. The views down to the Rusland valley to the west and the hummocky hills rising to the east make for attractive walking. We pass a small wooded tarn on the right with a hide being part of the nature reserve, and then a larger and much prettier one on the left - there is a grebe, head erect, traversing quite rapidly.

Harking back to my climbing days I  always had a sort of fantasy of discovering a secret crag, and although I know this is quite unrealistic, especially these days, I can't help being on the lookout, and as we walk down the road I spot one such possibility high on the skyline to the west and manage to get a zoom photo. Looking at that photo now it is difficult to assess the scale, but the crag looks as though it could give a bit of entertainment on a sunny summer afternoon, but all is a bit dingy today, which is demonstrated by the dull quality of the photos on this post, but either you get those photos or nothing at all. The map shows there is a footpath going close to that crag and although it is not access land there are no field boundaries between path and crag so I might have a walk up there one day to have a closer look, but today it would be too much for Pete.

Our outward walk terminates at Low Hay Bridge House where there is also a converted barn being the headquarters of the Hay Bridge Nature Reserve with free access and a wealth of information for nature lovers, and all facilities for meetings and the like.

Total distance there and back 2.84miles.



The secret crag

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Miller's Way 1

15h February 2018 Thursday walk with Pete 

In my Bannisdale walk a few days ago I mentioned discovering the Millers Way, a long distance path I had not previously heard of. It purportedly follows the route taken by Mr Carr of biscuit fame (he was a miller) when he moved his business from Kendal to Carlisle in 1831. The route interweaves with the A6 trunk road for much of the way. I have the notion to perhaps walk this in sections. Certainly from Kendal as far as Shap one could walk meaningful lengths, then hitch-hike back to the parked car down the A6. The starting point is at Kendal town hall, so just to tidy up the first urban section we parked the car at the retail park north of Kendal (Morrisons, PC World, Halfords etc) to obviate starting with paid car parks in Kendal. So, we walked to the town hall, then back to the car. We were under some time pressure and both of us walked more quickly than usual: the round trip -  2.5 miles - 2 hours - 2.5mph - not bad for a couple of 70+ and 80+ old timers.


An article in the Guardian a few days caught my attention:

It can be précised thus: there is a modern tendency for magnets to be used as closures on clothing. They can cause reverse polarity on a compass. A group of well equipped, experienced walkers in Scotland recently got into trouble walking west instead of east. Take care.

I always keep compass, phone and camera separated.


Friday, 16 February 2018

Leck in the rain

Wednesday 14th February 2018

Nine-thirty - post breakfast - still raining - rain forecast all day -  shall I shan't I?

Not having walked much in bad weather this winter after knee replacement on 29th November I awoke my Paramo waterproof/windproof/all-in-one trousers from hibernation. The jacket has been in use all winter.

Providing I have effective waterproof gear and have set my mind to making a good job of it I quite enjoy an occasional masochistic excursion in the rain, perhaps to prove to myself, smugly of course, how my experience has been honed to mastering such drama - what modesty !

Half an hour's drive from home took me to Leck, a village I have never before visited. Welcome was provided by the church: they have a huge almost empty car park with an honesty box suggesting a minimum one pound donation. I donated a bit more. I  hope they're not supporting Oxfam.

It was still raining sparsely. I was reluctant to get out of the snugly warm car, and had brought my little flask of coffee to give me a pre-walk boost, so I dallied a while.

A public footpath ran out of the back of the car park and right through the middle of the primary school which seemed a bit odd in these days when  nobody without MI5 clearance is allowed to mingle with children. Anyway it was half term and the school was closed. In the light of many recent events I have to agree that precautions need to be taken, but as with all of Health and Safety it gets out of hand sometimes.

After a section of Tarmac there was a short link footpath back onto the very minor cul-de-sac road that leads to a track which finishes on the slopes of Gragareth, but I wasn't going right up there today, just a little three mile circular.  Just before embarking on the short footpath a farming sort of guy came out of his cottage and we had a chat. He had lived there for five years, but he said he had previously lived in Gayle near Hawes, suggesting that I might not have heard of it. Well, I walked through there last April on my way to the Roman road and then over and down into upper Wharfedale, and we both reeled off the names of Oughtershaw, where he had gone to school, and then Beckermonds, and Raisgill where I had bed and breakfast - he certainly knew that wider remote area well - quite a satisfying little conversation.

It may be interesting for students of countryside navigation to look at the map below. I thought I had followed the path on the map steeply up a cow trodden hillside to a gateway and then down to another decorative iron gate bordering the road which would have convinced most that they were on the continuation of a typical parochial countryside right of way, but the gate was barred and padlocked! Looking more closely at the map (Memory Map GPS on iPhone) I saw I was about 50 yards south of my footpath, and when I marched back onto track there was proper access to the Tarmac road. Countryside navigation is often more tricky than it is in the mountains.

The road deteriorated with many serious potholes and the odd patches of ice. Fellside Barn marked on the map was undergoing extensive renovation, and the wokrmen's Radio One was blaring away from inside. The weather was certainly not viable for outside working with intermittent squalls and strong biting cold wind. After the barn I  turned off south on a muddy but sound track. Halfway along, descending through  woodland a buzzard flew up from the path fifty yards ahead, and when I arrived at its point of departure there was just shredded remains of a member of the crow family with feathers scattered all around.

When my track re-joined Tarmac I met a lady on the road trundling a wheelbarrow full of logs - she had been to raid her wood store to keep her woodburner going, and as I battled on, head bent into the rain and wind I imagined, with some slight envy, her cosy wood-fire living room, but no bother, I knew I was not far from the car now, and then back home to a hot bath.


Back to gate Number 2

The padlocked gate

I can't resist heather.
 And my contribution to  the ubiquitous snowdrop photos at this time of year

An illustration of  the trickiness of countryside footpath navigation. Note this is all much more apparent when enlarged like this, therefore more difficult if using the paper map.
From  gate Number I could see the gate at No. 2 and so was immediately distracted from the green path on the map; there was a path on the ground leading to Number 2.
 Shortly after Number 2 I was able to see Number 3 a prominent decorative iron gate leading onto the road confirming my belief that I was on the correct path, but it proved to be barred and padlocked.
From Number 2 back to the proper path is less than 50m - fortunately there was a gate in the wall to give me access back onto the path, and then another onto the road.