Barbondale Walk

A couple of months ago, my lovely wife and I went for a 9 mile walk around Barbondale. We both love this secluded valley and I’ve blogged about it a couple of times in the past (read about it here).

We parked up in the posh little village of Barbon and headed towards the church. A track meandered alongside Barbon Beck which was safe for Nelly to have a scamper.

She’s always a happy little pooch and today is her 10th birthday. Out of the trees we walked along the valley in the shadow of the incredibly steep Calf Top. We crossed over the road and continued gently up towards Bullpot farm.

At the farm we joined the road for half a mile before heading back onto the hills. With a distinct lake of sheep we could let Nelly free once again. She won’t chase sheep, but a farmer doesn’t know that so we always keep her on a lead when there are sheep about.

Another short section on the road brought us to a long bridleway, with land art sculptures created by Andrew Goldsworthy. The perfect place to have our lunch.

Further along the bridleway there were a collection of bright toadstools. Not for eating!

Back onto the road and past the magnificent Whelprigg, a huge Victorian mansion built in 1834. As we crossed the estate the footpath had a ‘bull in field’ warning sign, so we followed the road back into Barbon.

We finished off our walk with cake and coffee at the brilliant Churchmouse cafe. Definitely one of the best little walks we’ve done all summer, and you know that we’re getting fit when we call a 9 mile walk ‘little’. Helen enjoyed it so much that she returned to run it a fortnight later with a couple of friends. If you’re ever in the area, Barbondale is an absolute hidden gem of the north.

The Frostrow Fells

My lovely wife Helen had been feeling a bit under the weather for the last couple of weeks, not Covid related I’m happy to say, so instead of a long run this weekend we opted for a shorter walk somewhere different, but not too far away.

The Frostrow Fells are a couple of miles south east of Sedbergh, and generally when in the area the mighty Howgills would be attacked. The Frostrow Fells are not nearly as high and not as strenuous. The Howgills Half Marathon that we both did last year was easily the toughest half marathon that either of us had ever done (read about it here).

From Sedbergh we walked towards the tiny village of Millthrop and followed a dead-end past Side Farm and onto a bridleway. Through a gate and we took a footpath which ran parallel to the bridleway as we meandered up the low lying Frostrow Fells. Amazing views of Combe Top on the other side of the Dent valley.

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Up and over a high ladder style we enjoyed the amazing weather, before crossing the heather and dropping down into Helmside.

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This wasn’t as easy as it should have been. There was a waymarked footpath sign near to the top, but nothing when we reached a couple of quad-bike gates. We picked the right hand one as it looked more promising, and as we reached the farmyard the farmer pointed us to the badly signed footpath which skirted his farm.

We then joined the main Sedbergh to Dent road, which was busier than we expected and as it was narrow not easy for cars to safely pass. Fortunately we soon reached Craggs Farm where there was a footpath to take us off the road. Nelly, our pointer, was a little fed up by this point as she hadn’t been allowed off the lead all day, and the next few fields were also full of sheep. However, once we reached Gap Wood she could have a good scamper. We stopped for some snacks and water while Nelly found plenty of sheep’s poo to roll in. From there it was a gentle stroll back to Millthrop and into Sedbergh.

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We had planned to browse a couple of the second hand book shops, as Sedbergh is known as England’s book town, but with a stinky dog we walked along the main road and back to the car. A very pleasant and gentle 7 mile walk.

If you’re interested in doing this walk it was taken from the Cicerone book ‘Walking in the Lune Valley and Howgills’. We’ve done a few walks from this book, although you definitely want to have an Explorer map with you, just in case.

Book Review: Walking the Woods and the Water by Nick Hunt

In 1933 Patrick Leigh Fermor walked from Holland to Turkey, with a pair of hobnailed boots to charm his way across Europe, ‘like a tramp, a pilgrim or a wandering scholar’. 70 odd years later, Nick Hunt heads out to follow Patrick’s footsteps, across 2,500 miles of a very different Europe.

Nick Hunt

To truly appreciate the world around you, you need to slow down. This is distinctly relevant when it comes to travel, and travel writing (one of my favourite genres). I’ve been on long multi-day walks and many cycle touring adventures, and you miss far too much in a car or on a train. I find walking a bit too slow, and very hard on my aged body when carrying a fully laden rucksack, but cycle touring is just right. Almost 20 years ago I was planning the hike the Appalachian trail in America, made famous by Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods. I had even got as far as applying for an extended six month visa. Work commitments changed and I never went, but in hindsight I don’t think that I would have finished it. However, I have immense respect for anyone who does travel across countries or continents using Shanks’s pony.

Back to the book in question, and Nick sets off from the Hook of Holland, straight off the ferry, which is never easy. Why is it so hard to escape from ferry terminals on foot or a bicycle? He has no maps, no set route, no accommodation lined, only his old copy of Patrick’s original book, relying on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter, camping in the woods on other occasions.

His first impression is how noisy the start of his journey is, with all of the motorways, traffic and industry. Gradually over the months the landscape quietens, especially once he enter the old Soviet communist countries. Another striking facet is how many people warn him of the dangers he will face when he enters the next country, and how lucky he has been not to have been robbed or killed in the last country.

The book took me a while to get into, but I am glad that I persevered because once Nick reached Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and then Transylvania the book comes into its own. Undoubtedly one of the best walking travel books that I’ve read.