Walking in South Lakeland (Tell Us Your Story)
The walk we followed was a stunning discovery from the necessity to squeeze it in on a winter's afternoon. So I consulted the Cicerone, Walks in Lakeland - South Lakes book and walk 37.
About his Yorkshire Wolds exhibition Hockney says “The paradox of East Yorkshire, is that, though the landscape is essentially unchanging, its weather is very changeable, altering the light and colour as the clouds pass overhead and the sun shifts position.”
This can be said about much of our English landscape and today was such a day. The thick dark clouds vied with the winter sun and the low hills were silhouetted against the sky line with film like clarity.
The walk we followed was a stunning discovery from the necessity to squeeze it in on a winter’s afternoon. So I consulted the Cicerone guidebook, Walks in Lakeland - South Lakes book and walk 37. I wasn’t totally convinced as the route was from Newby Bridge and south across the main A590. But necessity dictated and it was described as an 8 mile walk in ‘typical South Lakeland terrain’ and yes, it was.
The book instructs you to park on the north side of the A590, by the Swan Hotel, and cross the road before taking a narrow road signed Canny Hill. We missed this bit out by driving up the road to Canny Hill and parking on the road side. But note, it is mid January and there were houses on this road who were obviously fed up of people such as us, parking on the road side as there was a plethora of rocks to prevent destruction of the grass verge.
The track varies from well marked bridal way, to indistinct bog! Waterproof boots absolutely necessary. From one of the highest points, Bigland Barrow, we looked back and caught tantalising glimpses of the Coniston Fells. Unfortunately the fickle light did not reveal them for long and the best clarity was reserved for the much closer Gummers Howe. But looking south the low winter sun broke through the clouds and transformed the Leven Estuary in to monochrome.
Walking over the top of Bigland Barrow the westerly’s hit us big time. Holding a camera still was impossible and am quite amazed that so many of my photos lack blur.
The presence of a few tarns in close proximity to the route, the most substantial being Black Beck and Bigland, ensure a boggy game of hopscotch. Trying to step from tuffet to tuffet slowed us down quite considerably. Although we have had more than our fair share of rain in recent weeks much of this route, I imagine will still be somewhat aqueous in the height of a summer drought.
Being off the usual tourist route gave the advantage of not meeting ANY other walkers, though it was quite clear some of the paths were well used by the horses from Bigland Hall. The Belted Galloways were the only other sign of life we came across and thankfully the bull was far more interested in his harem than us.
Take a leaf out of Mr Hockney’s book and ‘look’ at the landscape. What you find and see may surprise you.