Mrs's Dales Diary
Day 2006. The traditional day for a family walk. But
it was a dark, damp, grimbly sort of day. The
MWIS forecast said that above 2,000 feet it was unrelenting
sunshine and superb visibility but to earn this you
would have to endure 1,500 feet of freezing conditions. And
then Margaret said, "Why don't we start the Dales Way?"
has wanted to do this classic long distance walk for
quite sometime and earlier in the year we had bought
the Cicerone Guide- chosen from other guides partly
because it was genuinely pocket sized and partly because
it offers descriptions in both directions, whereas some
only do it south to north.
1: Bowness to Staveley
left one car in Staveley, parked for free in the Mill
Yard car park and then drove the other car down at Bowness
to park at extortionate cost. The first section
is a bit of a road slog up St Martin's Hill and then
Brantfell Road but we made light of it by contemplating,
in crude verse, what the Bishop of Southwalk might have
consumed at the Irish Embassy:
with the gin?
the Egg Nog?
merry on Sherry?
fail with the Ale?
finish the Guiniesshh?
the Wine was divine?
sport with the Port?
the Brandy just dandy?
frisky on Whisky?
boozo on Ouzo?
Rum in his tum?
queer on the Beer?
dealing sent him reeling?
some Lube on the tube?
a Jar in a car?
toys out of a pram whilst downing a Dram?
down with a Brown?
get the idea!
found the 81 miles to go to Ilkley sign near the start
of the official walk. Cicerone's words of comfort
that it was actually only 79 miles somehow did not seem
81 miles to go!
walks of this nature there is a fundamental decision
to be taken. Should one follow the guide book
or follow the map. Or just follow the signs or
critical lonesome tree that marks the route
We opted for the guide book and its
directions were extremely precise. Where we did go wrong,
it was because we had not observed the precise detail
of the instruction. The route is well waymarked
but strangely not at the key points such as where the
path disappears and a critical lonesome tree needs to be found
or where one meets a road junction. Relying solely
on the signs or the track is doomed to failure.
we have lived up here for over 35 years, much of this
walk was new territory for us.
is typical outer Lakeland- rolling fells that give the
impression of being much more isolated than they actually
However in near zero temperatures and poor
visibility, we did not see it at its best, especially
when the light began to fail.
Perhaps we should repeat
it in summer.
much needed hot drink stop
We reached Staveley just in time
before the light went- it would have been extremely
embarrassing to have been lost in the dark so close
drive home was enlightened (literally and metaphorically)
by what Emma calls Niddrieness- houses with extravagant
external Christmas lighting. She loved it!
26th December 2006
2: Staveley to Burneside
to Burneside. Short and Easy. Or so it should
was a beautiful winter's day- the sort that ahs been
in short supply this year. Cold, still a trace
of frost on the ground, but bright and sunny with no
wind. Just the afternoon for this short section
and back in time to make Granny's tea.
set off in the two cars to Burneside where we parked
Margaret's. From there we went to the start of
the section at Staveley where the back road to Crook
crosses the A591 and found a good place to park. Put
the boots on, put Margaret's keys into the glove compartment
for safe keeping and headed off down to the interesting
cottages at Moss Side Under the railway,
out to Stock Bridge farm and then to pick up the path
that eventually follows the river. Easy going
in brilliant sunshine with the Howgills in particular
looking well defined. And some huge catkins by
the River Kent.
is a remarkable amount of mole activity
round here and to remind me of it I decided
to take a picture of some molehills.
I had the camera on the wrong setting and
inadvertently took a movie of the molehills.
I have examined it carefully and can see
no signs of activity. I think they
must have been on their kit-kat break!
Dales Way is so well marked on this stretch
and the route, or at least the environs,
so familiar that we hardly needed the guide
And although at times it gives micro instructions,
it leaves out certain vital information. Why for
example is it totally silent about the fact that the
walk passes opposite the Staveley poo farm? This
would help you identify that you were on the right path
irrespective of how thick the mist might be!
further on where the air was fresh again,
we had our coffee stop by the river near
High Hund Howe then carried on to Cowan
Head reminiscing about how this tiny hamlet
has changed with the development of the
mill- not necessarily for the worse.
new art form?
to Bowston where a very strange looking
device dominated the skyline. What could it be?
Answers on an e-post card please. We crossed the river and
followed it until it ran behind Croppers
and we joined the road where the car was
parked in good time to get back to put tea
on Granny's table without her doing an impression
of Grandad in Bread.
where were the car keys? In the glove compartment
of the other car for safekeeping. Three miles
away in Staveley!
panic! Then inspiration- John S lives up the road-
perhaps he could be persuaded to give us a lift back
to Staveley? But no answer on the phone. Perhaps
there might be a train? As we got to the level
crossing the gates started to close and the crossing
keeper informed us that the train to Oxenholme was about
to pass and would be back in half an hour or so. Too
late to avoid disaster. So we cheated and phoned
for a taxi to take us home.
performing Meals on Wheels to Granny in Jamie's car,
we had the latest variation on the Fox, the Goose and
the Hen problem. Jamie's car was at home but only
I can drive it. That could take us to Staveley
to pick up my car but Margaret doesn't drive it so we
would only be able to pick up her key and then go to
Burneside so she could collect her car drive it home
where I would leave Jamie's and she could then take
me back to Staveley to pick up my car. Inspiration
dawned that this could be foreshortened by finding the
spare key to Margaret's car but even so it was quite
late before all vehicles were returned to their allotted
position. But Granny had had her tea on time so
all was well!
a good job this fundamental error was made on the shortest
stage of the walk. Imagine if we had arrived at
Ilkley to discover we had left the keys at Bolton Abbey!
Let this be a lesson to all two-car linear walkers:
keys must be kept on person at all times.
4th February 2007
3: Burneside to Lambrigg Head
24th March 2007
Spring starting to make an appearance, albeit with a
cold north easterly wind, it was time to continue the
trail. After last time's fiasco, the care taken
with car keys bordered on the paranoid!
at Burneside Hall we made our way to the
Sprint Bridge and then across the fields
to meet the A6 at the splendid Burton House
Farm with its Shetland ponies.
a horsey outing this was to prove to be.
the A6 we headed into this lovely triangle
of land that somehow was overlooked by both
the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales
past Skelsmergh Tarn until we came to a junction where
we were so confused by the instructions in the previously
admirable Ciccerone guide that we stopped for lunch.
the stage 1 report, I debated whether it was better
to follow the map or the book.
The third possibility
is just to follow the "Dales Way" markers.
whichever you choose for this section, you run the risk
of going wrong.
The markers disappear at key points.
The map shows an out of date route across the railway.
And Terry Marsh's directions are very detailed
and accurate but on three or four occasions contained
"Cross the field to
a metal gate" is a bit of a challenge when no gates
can be seen, or worse when more than one such gate is
in view. A simple directional addition would prove
most helpful. Words like "diagonally right" or
"to the South" would avoid such confusion. But
would remove the fun of orientating the map by the sun.
lunch taken and path resolved, we continued on our way
and it was with relief that the promised Whinfell Beacon
came into sight. And what a pleasant sight this
reaching Black Moss Tarn we chanced upon the only other
walker we saw all day- a lady having a bronzy out of
the wind overlooking the tarn. She looked set
for a long stay.
to Patton Bridge then past a splendidly renovated stable
block to a building I remember from years ago as a ruin
but now seems suitable for a Jane Austen production.
had our second stop at the Mint bridge where the team
picture proved a little challenging.
for the Mint- late arrival for team picture
the A685 brought us into train crash territory. What
a good job the crash was not two hundred years further
west, on the viaduct! The old path across the
railway has been blocked (permanently, not because of
the crash) so we had to undertake a detour before heading
into more Jane Austen territory at Moresdale Hall with
some fine barn conversions and more splendid views of
Whinfell and Howgills.
transport for Dales Way walkers?
a few more fields, surviving an attack by dogs at another
horsey place (the original Holme Park School) and we
at last reached the car, although alternative mass transport
seemed available. Not!
drive back to Burneside took us past several more horsey
houses. We hadn't realised just how just how equine
this unsung but lovely part of the country had become.
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