Friday, 27 May 2011

Nine Standards Rigg

This has been on my "to do" list for a while, and finally I was able to make the most of a bank holiday Monday with Claire, stopping off at Mainsgill Farm on the A66 on the way over to Cumbria for more tasty goodies. We reached Kirkby Stephen in no time, and after mistakenly driving round a cattle auction for a while we soon found the free car park. We were equipped with map only, so we stopped off in the tourist office and picked up a leaflet describing the walk, for only 20 pence!

crossing the river Eden

The walk started off taking us through the back of Kirkby Stephen to the hamlet of Hartley. We headed up a long winding road, with the huge quarry to our right. We immediately started gaining height, and with each step the views opened up. We had Wild Boar Fell and the Howgill Fells to our right.

signpost pointing to Wild Boar Fell

Ahead of us we would catch glimpses of Nine Standards Rigg from time to time. Over to the north of us and over the A66 we could see the North Pennines of Dufton Fell, Great Dunn Fell and Cross Fell, and far in the distance westwards were the Lake District fells, with Blencathra's distinctive shape the gateway to the Northern Fells. After a mile or so the road came to an end and we reached the footpath to the fells.

Nine Standards are up there if you look carefully...
The Coast To Coast footpath was well maintained and we passed a map and information board advising us which route to take across the moors to minimise damage to the fragile landscape. As we gained height the winds picked up steadily, but it was fairly easy going - we were lucky to be walking after the long dry spell and so avoided the bogs that would no doubt have made the walk tougher. It seemed with each step the views got better and it was hard not to keep stopping and turning to admire the views behind us, with the plains of Eden Valley looking great surrounded by the various groups of hills.

looking westwards the Lake District in the distance behind the Eden Valley

The route to take was fairly obvious with the path being well used as well as lots of footpath signs to show the way, but the leaflet we had picked up made it very easy to follow and pointed out some perfect viewpoints so the twenty pence was a worth investment!

The final haul up to Nine Standards was really enjoyable with the cairns now firmly in our sights.
When we made it to the top the wind was howling around us and despite the bright sunshine it got very cold. We stopped to admire the cairns and walked on the few hundred metres to the viewpoint marker  and then on up to the Ordnance Survey column which marked the top of the fell.

From here the views were huge, if it was less hazy we could have seen Criffel in the distance over the Solway Firth and looking eastwards we could see over Dale and Moor, all the way to Shacklesborough near the Tees reservoirs around Baldersdale.

At this point it was very tempting to keep on in that direction - I'm sure we could have reached Tan Hill by nightfall! But with the car back in Kirkby Stephen and some cats to feed at home we stopped behind a wall for shelter before retracing our route back down the fell.

Apart from the wind the weather was absolutely perfect and this is an area I am sure we will be coming back to sooner rather than later.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Saltburn By The Sea

Even on a cold, wet, windy, miserable day, a trip to Saltburn By The Sea is always a nice day out. I took some visiting family to Saltburn, hoping for ice creams on the sea front, dipping toes into the sea, and a lie down on warm sand. Maybe next time! Not much else to add apart from it was still a great day out.

Although not immediately apparent from the pictures Saltburn is one of if not THE surfing hotspot for North-East England. Watching the surfers all year round is maybe not something you would expect when first visiting, but it is definitely an added tourist attraction. For further information about surfing and all things Saltburn in general have a look at this great website

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Pennine Way Through Malham

Having made a fantastic walk along the waterside of Malham Tarn down to Gordale Scar, we stopped briefly for an ice cream before heading onwards towards Malham.

We took the footpath that took us to the very picturesque waterfall of Janet's Foss. We weren't the only ones there, it was packed and there wasn't much of an opportunity for good pictures. The walk through the woods was very enjoyable once we left the crowds behind, and the scent of wild garlic accompanied us all the way.

We left the woods behind and crossed the meadows with Gordale Beck bubbling alongside us. We made a brief detour on the path approaching Malham village - the bull blocking the path didn't look like one you wanted to start an argument with...

Malham is a lovely little village, on a bank holiday is was invaded by tourists and you could see why, the buildings, pubs, streams and surrounding countryside is magical.

We still had plenty to see so we decided against stopping for refreshments, heading on up towards Malham Cove. The view ahead of us was quite breathtaking, as Malham Cove slowly started to reveal its full glory.

We went right up to the foot of the Cove and from there you could appreciate the full 80 metres in height and 300 metres of width of this spectacular place. As with Gordale Scar, this is a paradise for climbers, and for the time being it is also an important site for the RSPB with a pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting on the side of the cove.

We took the steps up to the left side of the Cove before reaching the limestone pavement at the top. This is yet another breathtaking sight, with huge slabs of limestone separated by deep fissures.

We explored the top of the Cove for a while, before following the Pennine Way back up to Malham Tarn, along the bottom of a dry valley.

We retraced our path along the side of the Tarn, stopping briefly when we spotted a couple of deer in the distance. We made it back to the car just as the first drops of rain were falling, saying goodbye to Jase before heading home.

For more information on the area around Malham please visit this site which I found very interesting.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Malham Tarn & Gordale Scar

panorama of Malham Tarn
I took advantage of the recent long weekends to go one some fabulous walks. With Claire and our friend Jase we headed on down through Richmond and along Wensleydale to make our way to Malham Tarn. Although it wasn't all that far the winding Dales roads meant it took us almost two hours to reach our destination, although the scenery we drove through made it worthwhile.

We parked at a car park at the top of Malham Tarn, which was nice and quiet - pretty good considering the crowds that were out on a bank holiday weekend.

Malham Tarn from the bird hide

The walk around the top of Malham Tarn is well worth doing. You walk through woodland with a couple of buildings on the water edge including a bird hide, boat house and the big outdoor centre. It is very different to the "other" Malham, the village and Cove.

We emerged from the woods onto a lush pasture beside the water that made a perfect picnic spot. The limestone cliff faces give an idea of the spectacular scenery that lies ahead.

limestone pavement
We headed away from the tarn following the signpost for Gordale Scar. I have been there maybe 15 years or so ago, having just seen it from the bottom.

approaching Gordale Scar from the top
This time we were approaching from the top, and from out of nowhere we noticed a large canyon opening up on our right.

This got bigger and bigger until we found ourselves coming down the very centre of Gordale Scar. The size of the Scar cannot fail to impress!

looking out of Gordale
We spent a couple of moments gazing back up at the scramble section and watched some rock climbers on the rock face.

We followed the path out of the Scar, crossing the campsite and stopping for an ice cream an a near-perfect setting.

In my next post I will share the journey and pictures that took us past Janet's Foss and onto the Pennine Way to take us back up through Malham.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Howtown - How the Lake District can help young people

I am proud to announce my first and very special guest post on here. Claire recently took some clients for a week of Outward Bound adventures at the outdoor centre in Howtown, on the shores of Ullswater. Take it away Claire....

I suppose it's important to begin by saying that I manage a mental health service for young people (aged 14-35) who have experienced a first episode of psychosis (our offical title is Early Intervention in Psychosis). I could go on forever about what psychosis is but it's basically a loss of sense of reality and often means hearing voices, seeing things and believing really strange and frightening stuff. Psychosis is a major mental disorder which can completely destroy the life of a young person - those who experience psychosis are far more likely to be unemployed, end up in prison or die by suicide than the general population. With the right help though, people can and do recover.

We're always looking for new ways to support the young people we see and often ask our service users what  they think would help them. A popular request was for more organised outdoor activity.
In October 2010 our team raised over £3000 to take a group of 8 of our young people for a week with the Outward Bound Trust in Howtown. This was a real experiment as we had no idea how the week would go but it was a complete success! On the back of this, we were able to get more money from our NHS Trust and in April 2011 we took another 10 people to Howtown. I was lucky enough to be one of the members of staff accompanying the group.

I have read a fair bit about the positive impact of exercise and outdoor activity on mental health but I really didn't expect to witness such powerful results! The young people in our group were chosen for the benefit we felt they would gain from the week, in terms of having crippling low self-esteem and high levels of anxiety. Although very quiet at the start of the week they quickly bonded as a group, helping those who were nervous and encouraging those who were downright scared. Each and every one took part in every activity, from canoeing to crawling through tunnels, from hill walking to overnight camping, from climbing to raft building, and much much more.

We laughed, cried and swore at each other but overall had a fantastic time and since coming home, all of the group have said how very much they got out of the experience and how much they would love to go back. All have expressed an interest in helping other people whether it be by keeping in touch with the rest of the group or by pursuing careers in mental health.

Sometimes I really love my job.
Thank you Claire for a post that I feel is really interesting and important.
Here are some links for further reading.