Western Howgills

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This is the preamble or introduction to the North-West England Saunterings blog.

As the word suggests, this preamble (or presaunter) is being written before I have begun to saunter for this blog. Although there is a vagueness to my saunterings, I will define in advance the scope of my ‘North-West England’. Otherwise I will be forever nagging myself: what about Ilkley Moor, Hebden Bridge, Southport, Mickle Fell, Carlisle, and so on? Are they within my range? So I will define my North-West England to be the region enclosed by the following eight sides (six straight lines and two wiggly ones):
     1.  From near Caldbeck (the northernmost point of the Lake District National Park) east to Fiends Fell, just north of Cross Fell
     2.  To just south of Bowes (the north-east corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park)
     3.  Following the Yorkshire Dales boundary, to near Beamsley (the south-east corner of the Yorkshire Dales)
     4.  To Hebden Bridge
     5.  To Bolton
     6.  To Banks, on the Ribble estuary
     7.  Following the coast, to Allonby Bay, north of Maryport
     8.  East to Caldbeck
This region includes the Forest of Bowland, Fylde, the Howgills, the Lake District, the Morecambe Bay coast, some of the North, South and West Pennine moors, the Yorkshire Dales, and all that lies between them. In total it encompasses about 3,750 square miles (or about 10,000 square kilometres). Needless to say, I won’t rap myself over the knuckles if I stray outside my boundaries.

I could destroy the aimlessness of my saunterings by setting myself some objective, such as to walk in every one of those 10,000 1 km squares. That, however, would be unattainable: some squares are in the middle of lakes, or are marked as 'Danger Areas’, or just don’t have publicly-accessible paths. But if I consider the 400 5 x 5 km squares then the objective to walk in all of those is, in principle, feasible. So I will keep this objective half in mind in the hope that it will help me provide a balanced impression of the region. I will try to more-or-less-randomly visit the various parts of the region and not just focus on the ‘best bits’.

There are a lot of blogs about walks in North-West England (I have listed some of them in Links). Why am I adding another one with Saunterings? Well, why not? These bloggers are presumably enjoying producing their blogs: most have been doing so for years! They provide a catalogue of their walks that they are happy to share with others, although I suspect that they are not too fussed if others find them less interesting than they do themselves.

I hope that Saunterings will be a little different. Most blogs have many photos and few words. Saunterings will have relatively few photos and relatively many words. I realise that this is against the spirit of the age: the typical on-line reader has the attention span of a grasshopper (present company excepted, since you’ve reached here). I picture a typical Saunterings reader taking 5 or 10 minutes in a tea break, or travelling on a bus, or waiting at the dentist, to read the latest blog entry. Well, I can but hope.

The words in most blogs are almost all about the details of the walks: which paths they followed, what views they had, which peaks they conquered, what the weather was like, who twisted an ankle, and where they had tea and cake afterwards. I don’t know if these bloggers really expect their readers to follow in their footsteps. I don’t expect anyone to follow mine. In fact, I’d urge them not to, as it’s much better to work out your own route. Anyway, from these blogs and with trusty guides such as Wainwright, there are thousands of walks to select from, if desired. I hardly need to provide more.

In Saunterings I will give few details of my walks. The walk is not the point. I rarely go for a walk just for a walk, or for the scenery, or for exercise. I go because I have some topic, issue, angle, aspect, theme, subject or concern that I want to look into. My words are more about this topic, to do with walking in North-West England, than about the walk itself. The walk provides a context or a framework for discussing whatever is on my mind. I want, if possible, to learn something while preparing for the walk, during the walk itself, and in reflecting on the walk later. I would like, if possible, to say something thought-provoking about the walk and not just report that I have walked it. As I say, I can but hope.

For those who insist on some details of my sauntering routes I will provide some in square brackets at the end of each section. These will all be in the format:
     [month of saunter; grid-reference of start point; description of route, with bearings on the way; miles sauntered; fraction of the 400 5 x 5 km squares visited so far].
Most of the saunters will be circular, that is, ending where I started. Sometimes they'll be linear, in which case, naturally, help will be needed from a friend or public transport to get to or from one end to the other (I will indicate these by adding ‘(linear)’ to the description). I will refer to ‘I’ and ‘we’, depending on whether I am sauntering alone or in company. In the latter case, the ‘we’ will usually mean ‘Ruth and I’; occasionally the ‘we’ will include others. Now it is time (January 2018) to begin re-visiting, or in a few cases visiting, the hills and dales of North-West England.

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Top photo: The western Howgills from Dillicar; Bottom photo: Blencathra from Great Mell Fell