Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A 2011 Retrospective: Part Two

The latter half of 2012 proved to be just as varied as the early months as far as walks are concerned. Here are a couple of links to some my highlights, enjoy!

High Stile range

This was an amazing walk that took in some of the best views of Buttermere - from the tops of the fells to the waterside path. Our route took us straight up the flank of Fleetwith Pike and then along the tops across to Red Pike (Buttermere) before the steep slide down the scree slopes to return to Buttermere. Read the blog post here.

Scenes from Derwentwater

This was part of my perfect stag weekend. After a busy morning swinging in the trees of the Go Ape course in Grizedale Forest and before an afternoon sampling the refreshments and liveners that are to be had in Keswick, he had a nice leisurely cruise on Derwentwater, taking in views of some of the fells that surround the water. Read the blog post here.

Semer Water

Hidden deep in the Yorkshire Dales, Semer Water is just off beaten track, in Raydale, near Wensleydale, yet far enough to mean that it wasn't too busy. I got to enjoy a Summer's walk around this beautiful natural lake barely encountering another soul. Read the blog post here.

Langdale Pikes

This walk is about as classic Lakeland as you can get. Driving from Ambleside to the car park near the New Dungeon Ghyll  Hotel through Great Langdale, then heading up to the craggy heights of Harrison Stickle, Pike O'Stickle and Loft Crag for a fantastic quick Langdale round. Read the blog post here.


Diminutive Binsey is the Lake District's final frontier to the north. Although it is an easy walk, it is greatly rewarding, offering views all round to the Skiddaw Fells, the Ulldale fells, Bassenthwaite Lake, the Solway Firth and Scotland beyond, and the plains between the Lakes and the Pennines. Read the blog post here.

Fewston Reservoir

Fewston and Swinsty are two reservoirs located to the north of Otley, close to the fantastically named Blubberhouses. These is one of my pal Jase's favourite spots to come for a walk and I was glad he introduced me to them! Read the blog post here.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Gunnerside Gill, Swaledale

I have been wanting to explore Gunnserside for a while, especially after having enjoyed a bottle of The Yorkshire Dales Brewing Company's Gunnerside Gold Ale!
I headed with my work colleague James,  deep into Swaledale one crisp sunny January morning for a walk up Gunnerside Gill, following the walk outlined in my "Swaledale" guidebook written by Paul Hannon. After the walk along Marske Valley at the end of 2011 this was my second walk from this book and I am looking forward to more as they are great medium length routes that pack a lot of features in.

We grabbed the last available parking space beside the bridge in Gunnerside and headed off alongside the Gunnerside Gill (or Ghyll). The first part of the walk is a pleasant and at times muddy walk along the banks of the gill, with some of the familiar Swaledale stone barns dotted on the hillsides.

The valley here is still fairly enclosed and you don't get much of an impression of what is to come. It soon widens though, and you approach the first ruins of the lead mine buildings along the wide valley floor.

The bunker storage facilities for the storage of lead ore are impressively well preserved and give you an idea of how this scenic quiet place was once an industrial hive of activity.

We then climbed up the hillside and the landscape changes from a lush green valley to being something more rugged and wild, with the stone buildings (intact and ruined) maintaining the Swaledale look and atmosphere.

Bit by bit you stumble upon more mining remains - old hushes, buildings, piles of rocks and so on, yet despite the man-made industrial origins, this landscape looks very natural. By this point we had reached the snowline, and the man-made intrusions were well camouflaged under the layer of crisp white snow.

The top end of the walk is at the very impressive Blakethwaite smelt mill, where the remaining structures look almost fit for a castle or abbey, in particular the kiln as pictured below! This was a really nice spot to stop for a quick look around and with a bit more time there is plenty to explore here.

You cross the stream via a stone slab bridge, fortunately it wasn't as slippery as I didn't fancy a dip at this point!

Our return route took us high up onto the other side of the valley, giving us bird's eye views of the outward section of the walk.

As we got to the top we could see the desolate moorland that stretches between here and the head of Swaledale. Heading further southwards, the snow cover was gradually giving way as we got closer to the woodlands around the Gill.

This created some quite amazing views of the valley - the stone buildings looking like toy buildings with a dusting of icing sugar to decorate. After following a drover's track for a while, we headed back across a short marshy section before a steep descent back into the village and the car.
Once again, I was amazed by the quality of paths, scenery and general atmosphere that you experience walking in beautiful Swaledale.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Lakes to Dales Project

Now as I'm sure regulars to this blog will have picked up on the fact that I am a great fan of both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. I have also made numerous walks in places that are on the fringes of, but outside the boundaries of both parks, for example the pictures below were taking from a walk in the gorgeous Smardale valley.

Including these areas in the National Parks would in my opinion bring tourist investment into the area, and would be a boost to conservation of these places. Some might argue that the decision about what happens to these regions should lie solely in the hands of those that live and work there and I agree theirs should be the most important voice. However I think that lovers of the outdoors are also entitled to voice their support for schemes such as the proposed National Park extension.

Proposals to extend the existing boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have been sent to The Secretary of State for the Environment.The proposals entail extending the Yorkshire Dales to include the northern Howgills, the Orton fells, Mallerstang and Wild Boar Fell and the Lake District to include the Whinfell ridge and the Borrowdale valley. 

Public consultation will be running until the 16th March 2012, so you still have a while to register your opinion. If you wish to show your support then you can follow this link and fill out the short form.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Wensleydale Ales

As well as home of the famous cheese, Wensleydale is also home to plenty of real ale. I recently picked up a nice selection of beers from the Wensleydale Brewery and they certainly went down a treat.

The beers each have their unique attributes, but one thing that brings them all together is - to put it simply - they are very drinkable! I found them all to be fairly simple and light on the palate, and tasty served both chilled and out of the cupboard. With modern beers upping the alcohol percentage to compete with the lagers and ciders, Wensleydale simply go for taste, the strongest of these was the Semer Water at 4.1%. What you do get is a really nice beer, with the bitters tasting just how they should. I enjoyed the Rowley Mild too, which could definitely be a choice for a Winter drink. If I was to pick a favourite, I would probably go for the Semer Water - I'm a sucker for the name! Despite being a Summer Ale, I was happy to drink it mid-December.

With a trip to Leyburn planned soon I'll stock up on more of these and I think I'll be paying the brewery a visit for a more detailed insight into the life of a Dales brewery so keep an eye out for that. Cheers!

For more information visit:

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A 2011 Retrospective: Part One

So far 2012 has got off to a flying start, with three great walks done in January and many plans for the months to come including a number of challenge walks. Right now I'd like to take a trip back to the year gone by and a look at some of the walks and adventures undertaken then. This post links back to some highlights from the first half of the year, enjoy!
2011 was a great year for me walking-wise. As well as making a number of trips to the Lake District I really got my teeth into some of the areas closer to home - the Yorkshire Dales and Teesdale. As well as walking achievements I had a fantastic year - I married my beautiful wife Claire and we had a wonderful short honeymoon in Ambleside. Getting to grips with my new job, music and a Summer trip to the Ile d'Yeu off the coast of Vendee, France have been some other highlights.

Let me take you back to some of my walking highlights from the first half of 2011. Please click on the links for the full stories and pictures

Teesdale - Cauldron Snout and Cow Green

On an icy cold day last Winter I made a trip up Teesdale which is a great drive in itself. Instead of stopping at the regular spot at High Force I continued up to the waterfall and reservoir of Cauldron Snout and Cow Green. READ THE BLOG POST HERE

Scrambling in the North-Western Fells - The Bishop of Barf

Due to a trial-bike event most of the regular paths around Whinlatter were closed to walkers, this meant taking the direct route up Barf via the Bishop. Not for the faint-hearted! READ THE BLOG POST HERE

The Meadows of Swaledale - Muker to Keld

We were too early in the season to see the celebrated meadows of Swaledale in full bloom, but this walk around the upper reaches of Swaledale is spectacular any time of year. READ THE BLOG POST HERE

Nine Standards Rigg

Having marvelled at pictures of this fell and it's Nine Standards as well as viewing it through the window of a car on the way to the Lakes, I finally made a visit to this Coast to Coast attraction. READ THE BLOG POST HERE

Conquering the Big Guns - Great Gable

This was my contribution to the Wainwright Society 2011 Challenge walk. Thick fog and heavy rain meant it was indeed a challenge! READ THE BLOG POST HERE

Falls and Follies - In the Yorkshire Dales

Picturesque villages, legendary waterfalls, meadows, mysterious follies and stone barns - this low level Dales walk to from West Burton the the Aysgarth Falls certainly packs a punch. READ THE BLOG POST HERE