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March 2000
 

4\5 March

No walk. Spent the weekend with my dad. We did go for a drive which gave me the opportunity to show off the local countryside and point out walks I'd done. As I was not out on the hills, the weather was superb.

We also enjoyed watching England stuff Wales at rugby.

12 March

Out with SRG on Audrey's walk from Church Mayfield.

Glorious weather and superb scenery especially in the morning. The first 2-3 miles reversed the last leg of a walk I did 3 years ago. Along the Dove to Hanging Bridge; that's a lovely view point and one which one totally misses when rushing past in the car. From there it was over the fields to the Tissington Trail for a short while (but not short enough to avoid being emperilled by cyclists. Then over the hill to Okeover. That was the end of my section of the walk.

We walked up through Okeover Park to Blore and climbed to Swinscoe. There was a lovely spot for lunch on thi section.

The route back was less interesting. I prefer going on the opposite side of Ellishill via Cuckoo Wood. still it was very relaxing cruising downhill in a leisurely return to Mayfield. 

18 March

At last! After months of trying, finally some good weather on the hills.

Some weeks ago Andrew rang up to say he was coming south for a few days and did I fancy meeting up with him to walk. Well I was free and we pondered over where to go. We settled on the Howgills. He'd done his A level Geology field work just to the north in Kirby Stephen and wanted the chance to go back. For me it was simply a new area in which to walk.

We met up at the lay-by near the Cross Keys pub (a tip from the Nuttalls; I said that they are good on parking). Andrew was with two friends and fellow Glasgow graduates, Brian and Dax. 

Up the valley towards Cautley Spout and then bear off right steeply towards Bowderdale Head. This was hard work as the day became warmer. Then we took the diagonal towards Yarlside. At the ridge, just below the summit we had our first real view of the day and it was stunning. Rolling grass topped fells with a fascinating set of valleys cutting into them.

Approaching Cautley Spout

Part of the fascination is trying to recognise the surrounding tops. I'd studied the Nuttalls book against my map on the night before. I could pick out Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell but not much else. 

The day was clearly going to be one of serious ups-and-downs. There was a severe drop off Yarlside. Andrew was cursing this but it was nothing like the disconcerting descend which Bob and I recently experienced on Glaramara. There was then a 90 metre climb on to Kensgriff before another drop and then another 120 metre climb climb to Randygill Top (I've always found that an intriguing name). 

We took some time out there and savoured the views. There was absolute silence too. We felt a long way from the rest of the world.

At this point we rejected the Nuttalls route which descends to Bowderdale and then goes up and down Hazelgill Knott before climbing West Grain to Fell Head. We took the bridleway up Bowderdale; this is a more gradual climb even if it does rise by 300 metres.. We met other walkers for the first time here and saw a rambling group emerging from near Cautley Spout. We had lunch by the pools near the top.

The rest of the day looked much easier. A fairly level out and back to Fell Head (a bit of Hewitt-bagging) for the early afternoon. Unfortunately we had not seen the drop into Windscale Syke between Bush Howe and Fell Head. This meant another climb of 80 metres. 

Fell Head is a lovely spot. It has a lovely cliff as you approach it. We had the top to ourselves and there is gorgeous hills all around. Andrew recognised where we were at this point because he could see the main line to Glasgow running alongside the M6. He said how he had often looked across admiringly at these hills without knowing what they were. I'd had much the same reaction driving up to the Lakes; I knew that these were the Howgills and I'd kept saying that I really must go and walk there. In the event the day was everything that I'd up it would be.

A steady pull back to the top of the Calf; the high point of the day. It was on this section that I realised I am getting too old to walk with people in their early 20s. It wasn't that I was walking slowly but I simply don't go as fast as them.

The Calf was slightly disappointing although you do get a view to both Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent from there. It is a large rounded top and makes you fell somewhat separated from the view. The path over to Calders is rather tedious too, being filled with gravel to protect it from erosion.

Calders is at the edge of the downfall and the view is the better for it. It is only 2 metres lower than the Calf so that the distant views are as good. We picked up a grassy track there and the left the main track back (which eventually runs north of Red Gill Beck). Instead we went over Great Dummacks to the edge of Cautley Crags and walked back right above them. The track gets narrower and just before it drops precipitously (fatally?) over the cliff we dropped down to the beck, found as easy crossing and picked up the normal path. After passing the top of Cautley Spout, there is a path down so has been improved by the addition of stone. This is a stunning descend as it gives you ever-changing views of the waterfall from very close to its side. A brilliant way to end the best day's walking I've had in ages. Certainly better than the Whinlatter Fells which I'd been offered as an alternative.

A leisurely pint in Sedbergh and then I said goodbye to the Glasgow party and headed off home.

19 March

Beryl and I went on the short walk with the Ramblers. An amiable pootle through the Shugborough estate, along the canal towpath to Milford and back via the edge of the Chase before going round the Ha-Ha walk back at Shugborough. Very relaxing after the efforts of the previous day.

We tried to go look at the daffodils at the house after we finished but it was closed. We did find one entrance that was open but we were warned off by an estate worker. 

26 March

Another non-walking weekend. That's two in one month.

We were visiting Alex, my elder daughter who is a student at Royal Holloway College, London. We did have an amble of about 3 miles in Windsor Great Park at Virginia Water. This was mainly to work up an appetite for dinner but there was a surprising amount of blossom on the trees to add to the interest.

 

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