Tuesday, 23 November 2021

A Misty Day on Nine Standards Rigg

 The plan today was to finish up at Thomas's in Lancaster for a meal of the excellent F&C from his local Chippie so we decided on a walk further north.  Perhaps a tad too far north as we finished up with quite a drive up the M6 and then across to Kirkby Stephen to start our trek up Nine Standards Rigg.  We had chosen our route from a Viewranger selection and so parked on the summit of the pass outside Nateby on the road that descends down into Keld and Swaledale.  Although there was some good light to the west our fells were topped with a blanket of cloud.  We had decided on Nine Standards Rigg high on the fellside overlooking Kirkby Stephen and the Eden Valley.  It is actually the summit of Hartley Fell on the boundary of Cumbria and Yorkshire a few miles south east of Kirkby Stephen.  The name comes from nine large cairns on the summit which is on the Pennine Way.  Once nearly 4m tall the Nine Standards once possible marked the boundary between Westmorland and Swaledale.  The origins of the cairns is shrouded in mystery although Wainwright suggests they are ancient and are marked on 18th century maps.  The trig point on the summit marks the watershed divide of England, rivivers flowing either west to the Irish Sea or East to the North Sea.

Parking at the top of the pass gave us a head start with height and we had soon climbed up into the mist.  The final section to the summit ridge involved yomping across tussocky, boggy ground; typical mountain marathon or Munro territory.  Once on the ridge we soon found the trig point and not long afterwards the 'nine stone men' loomed up impressively out of the murk.  After a quick, cold lunch we were soon on out way back down and pleased to have some views again.  In the foreground were the Howgills and beyond them the northern fells of the lakes.  To the north we looked towards Crossfell and Great Dunn Fell.  On the way down, before reaching the car we made a diversion to the small summit of Tailbridge Hill.

We weren't due at Thomas's so called in at Tebay services for a cup of tea; there was a surprising good farm shop and butchery which amused us for a while.  The fish and chips, as usual, were excellent.

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Monday, 22 November 2021

Galgate, Day 3. Leighton Moss.

Another stunning day of weather with cloudless skies.  A hard frost, though, which, in sheltered places, remained all day.  The plan today was for a thorough session at Leighton RSPB reserve and we were soon heading  the short distance up the M6 and then across to Silverdale.  Before lunch we explored Lillian's Pool and then moved on the Grizedale and Jackson's hides.  Lunch was enjoyed sitting in the sun outside the visitor centre and then Peter and I moved on to Eric Morecambe and Tim Allen hides while Heather and Linda headed off for the fleshpots of Arnside.  We completed the day with a brilliant sunset while waiting for the starling murmuration.  Thousands of birds flew in but largely dived straight into the reeds to roost providing only a brief display.  As the numbers of roosting birds increased we could hear a constant low muttering of thousands of birds.  What an incredible experience.

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Sunday, 21 November 2021

Galgate, Day 2

We awoke this morning to beautiful clear skies and our first frost of the winter.  After breakfast we went for a walk around our lake. The reflections were superb in the still clear air, although there were no goosander, otters or kingfishers, all of which can be seen here.  At the appointed hour we launched ourselves off to Scorton and the Applestore cafe for our walk: a circuit of and an ascent of Nicky Nook.  We had met up with Thomas and Katy and we had a perfect day; I was delighted that I was able to get up steep-sided Nicky Nook with stops and without being too breathless.  Sadly, when we got back, the Apple Store was so busy we couldn't get in so we repaired to an excellent cafe nearby which is attached to a garden centre and popular with cyclists.  The day was completed with a welcome pint, an excellent meal cooked by Linda and a malt.  
Tomorrow Leighton Moss calls.

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Saturday, 20 November 2021

Galgate, Day 1.

Packing went well this morning and, after delivering the cat, picking up the papers and filling up with petrol we were on the road at 11.30.  It was a beautiful morning as we set off but clouded over as we travelled through the Dales.  Between Skipton and Clitheroe it began to rain and the last hour was pretty miserable, especially the M6.  It did clear somewhat by the time we arrived,  however, and Peter and Linda saw a goosander on the small lake.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Wharfdale, November. Day 2

The sun sparkled on the early morning frost when we first woke but it quiccly clouded over to give a day of hill fog with patches of dramatic lighting and superb Autumn colours.  After climbing outside a full English we set off along the river to the delightfully named Yockenthwaite.  The riverside walk was fabulous with loads to photograph and we had excellent views of dipper and Nuthatch amongst other birds.  We were fascinated to watch a flock of sheep  being herded and penned in order to be tended to in some way.  When asked what type of sheep they were the pithy reply came back "awkward!" as one nimbly jumped over the wall.  They were, it turned out, Swaledales.  From here we climbed steeply up the fell side to reverse our route along the top edge of the woodland.  It was managed by the National Trust and much was ash with hawthorn.  In the heavily fruiting hawthorns large flocks of redwings and fieldfares were feasting on the berries.  The views from this elevation were super  and we sat and had mince pie and apple for lunch high above the valley of the Wharfe as it turned south to flow towards Kettlewell and beyond.  As we enjoyed the view we were delighted when a stoat popped out and briefly entertained us.  As always I had the wrong lens.  Our path gradually descended, crossing Crook Gill to the Hamlet of Cray.  Here our route  followed Cray Gill to the road leaving us half a mile to The George where an excellent pint of Black Dub in front of the wood stove was followed by a cup of tea and snooze.  I am looking forward now to another pint (or several!) and pie and chips.

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