Some pictures from this morning’s walk from Waterloo Marina. I come here often because of the flat smooth surface which makes it ideal for Heidi’s buggy. We had already made a visit to Stanley Park before breakfast, and as soon as I had finished my bowl of cereal, brushed my teeth and ran my fingers through my hair, I bundled the dogs off into the car and drove the seven miles to the marina car park at Waterloo.
Usual Sunday morning boating activities taking place on the boating lake. I normally take in a stroll round the lake and then back home – but today decided to continue along the promenade. At Blundellsands we abandoned the prom for the grassy bank behind the sand dunes, very popular with dog walkers. I try to encourage Heidi to get out of her buggy and take some exercise along this stretch of the walk. But soon she was back in the buggy and we were striding along the prom heading towards the top car park and the prospect of a bag of chips from the mobile burger van. Little Miss Hoppalong was a big hit with the caterers and was offered a sausage to share with Max. We sat for a while enjoying our lunch and enjoying the views across the estuary.
Travelling North-westerly from the Southern Lakes along the A591, described as the most beautiful drive in all England, en-route to Keswick and the Northern fells, climbing Dunmail Raise from the pretty village of Grasmere, beneath the mighty Helvellyn, twisting by the monstrous Thirlmere, you reach the heights of Castlerigg with the splendid views of the Northern Fells before you as you plummet towards the town of Keswick above the shores of Derwent Water. Before you the Mighty Skiddaw massif, to the left the peaks of Newland and Borrowdale and to the right the mysterious buttresses of Blencathra, curled like an ancient sleeping Behemoth. How easy to overlook those minor volcanic outbursts that are so dwarfed by the larger fells.
Replete with crags, scree, indeterminate peaks and depressions, tarns, bogs and pastures, High Rigg is like the Lakeland in miniature. It is a fell I have overlooked for many years, in both senses of the word. The view from the studio guest house I stay at when I visit the area is of the Naddle Valley defined by High Rigg. But I too, have overlooked this and neglected it for the surrounding larger fells for over 8 years. The peak can be reached in a short 20-minute walk from the church of St John’s, or you can traverse the three-mile ridge returning either the way you came, taking time to explore all the various depressions and peaks of this craggy mass, or descend into St John’s vale and walk around the base of the fell.
After a couple of really fine days, the morning sky filled with clouds, the temperature dropped and the winds got up. The forecast for later in the day was for rain, so only time for a short walk. With these constraints in mind, and the start of the ascent only three fields away, High Rigg seemed an obvious choice. I decided to leave Heidi and the buggy behind and to make rare excursion into the wilds with Max.
Roughly following a public footpath from the A591 towards the northerly base of the ridge where lies the Church of St John, you cross two streams, step over one walled stile and through a kissing gate to reach a farm road. You can choose any way up to the fell but we made a little detour along the road, past the Carlisle Diocesan Youth Centre to walk round the Grade 11 listed building.
With a glance towards Low Rigg and the path to Tewet Tarn, we turned toward High Rigg to decide on where to begin out descent. I was joined on my walk by my friend Stefan and Bill, his four-legged companion. Bill, still a puppy, tried pouncing on Max to entice him to play while Max, good-naturedly, ignored him.
At times we hit upon a clear and obvious path, but for the most part we casually explored the ridges, bumps and depressions of the fell, skirting round icy bogs and stopping frequently to admire the views of the distant fells and lakes opening up before us. The wind was fresh and feisty at times and having spent as long as we wished at the end of the ridge, we decided to turn round and return along the ridge.
Finding our way home was a piece of cake. We just followed Bill. He was clearly keen to get back and shot off ahead of us. Whether he was missing Amanda, the warmth of the studio or the dinner that would be waiting for him, we can only guess, But he had an unswerving nose for the return route. He even invented a short cut across a steeper incline that we had circumvented on the way up!
A straight there and back journey from the car park near The White Horse Inn at Scales, just off the A66 to The Mill Inn at Mungrisdale.
The first part of the route lies above the noisy A66 and is not without traffic itself, in spite of a free and near empty car park at Scales lazy walkers will drive about 200 yards to cram into an offroad verge just to shave off a few steps on their way up Scales Fell by Mousthwaite Comb. Three times in that short distance were we stopped to pull over onto the rough verge to allow the cars to pass.
Once past the first gate though we almost had the road to ourselves.
The road continues past a row of cottages at Souther Fell Farm. and through several more gates. One taciturn farmer, practically dressed for working outdoors, collar up, cap down, so that only his eyes were visible, made the observation that there was a dog in a pram, and when I explained why he grunted in a way that indicated that the conversation, such as it was, was at an end.
Past another cottage and the same car, three times (the driver was out looking for members of her family who were climbing Souther Fell and who may have come down and were looking for a lift), and Mungrisdale came into view.
The Mill Inn is in the process of changing hands with a temporary landlord in situ for another week. Standard pub fare (cooked by Carlos) with what you would expect for a Cumbrian pub.
Mungrisdale did not escape the ravages of the recent storms. The river rose above road level and flooded the road taking away a footbridge.
After a pie and a pint, time to walk it off and retrace our steps.
On the way back we met some curious sheep, who decided to follow us for a while.
We had a brief glorious glimpse of Blencathra,
and sight of the North-Eastern Fells in the distance,
and spotted some paragliders over Helvellyn
On the whole, a far more enjoyable walk than I had anticipated.
Chores done, and with a weekend of mixed weather forecast, time for some dog-focused time and a few hours walking and playing with the dogs. We headed off to the Wirral, through the tunnel,queuing for ages at the toll, down the motorway a couple of stops before heading off towards the Thurstaston cliffs overlooking the Dee estuary.
Time to sit and ponder and gaze down at the waders out in the river, I could hear the familiar cry of the oystercatchers, and just about make them out, but I had forgotten to bring my binoculars, so had to rely on the zoom on my camera.
and closer. . .
Their are plenty of benches along the top of the cliff, which can be a bit blustery, and further back sheltered by the trees and bushes, where you can sit back and while away the hours. But the dogs were eager to be moving so soon into the walk, so pushing an empty buggy, with Heidi jogging behind, I headed out of the park to the walkway that leads to the old railway line.
Once we got to the gravel path it was time for Miss Hoppalong to get into the buggy, the sharp gravel being less comfortable to her paws than the soft grass. When she has had enough walking she will lie down and refuse to move, that’s when I know she’s had enough exercise. The vet said she will be prone to arthritis and it’s hard to know whether this is affecting her yet.
The path takes us onto a boardwalk by some reed beds. It was here last week we met someone waiting patiently for sighting of a kingfisher – his daughter, he told me had seen it there on two separate occasions and he had never seen one, I hope he was successful and managed to get a picture of it.
A dragonfly skimmed past, they don’t keep still for long, and I tried following it with my camera but it was much to fast. As soon as I could focus it had darted out of shot. And then, it alighted on the rail behind me.