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Saunterings:  Walking in North-West England

Saunterings is a set of reflections based upon walks around the counties of Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire in North-West England (as defined in the Preamble). Here is a list of all Saunterings so far.
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This is one of several relatively short items about local walks during the first coronavirus lockdown, April - May 2020.

94.  Away from It All on Caton Moor

June 3rd 2020: Right. I must pull myself together and focus. I mustn’t let politics intrude here. So … I have read and re-read, listened and re-listened to every word written and spoken in the last three months about coronavirus and its implications for walkers, and I’m sure I’ve got it (the implications, that is, not coronavirus). It is my Civic Duty to drive long distances (say, 260 miles) to take long walks, several times a day. I may have muddled some of the details but that is the gist of it. I must get back on my feet to help get the country back on its feet. Ruth is worried that after all my harrumphing about Hancock, gibbering about Johnson, prattling about Patel, jabbering about Jenrick, going on about Cummings, and ranting about Raab that I have lost my mind. I’ve half a mind to tell her that she’s wrong, but she might not be.
      I have learned from my studies that it is essential to begin with a little list. Pillars, if you like – so if one falls down I won’t have a leg to walk on. So any proposed walk must satisfy the following five conditions:
        •  No driving to where I might later be able to travel by public transport (which I’d like to support when I can).
        •  No parking near many others or where I need to press buttons for a ticket.
        •  No farmyards or any other yards.
        •  No risks that might involve Mountain Rescue (and therefore no mountains).
        •  No paths where social distancing is difficult (for example, no stepping two metres aside off Sharp Edge).
If any one condition is not satisfied then I must: Stay at Home, Not Pass Go, Not Collect a £200 fine.
      There we are. It’s easy-peasy this ‘make a little list’ game. My list is much more useful to me than any devised by the losers of the Cabinet New Slogan Sweepstake: Stay Away from Me Raab, Stay Right Where You Are Shapps, Stay of Execution Hancock, Here to Stay Cummings, Stay Behind Williamson, and Stay Off My Land Eustice. It seems that we R0 to them, or at least R less than one (they hope), although we may be up to six. I have watched all the daily briefings, over and over, and feel that it is time for fresh legs from the game-changing antibodies on the substitutes bench: Truss, Rees-Mogg, Coffey, Lewis, Wallace.
      I have stopped reading about epidemiology, serology, behavioural science, vaccination, antibody kinetics, and infectious diseases and have set about studying my OS maps again. I am saddened to see that the recommended destination of Barnard Castle – new motto, A Sight for Sore Eyes – is outside my North-West England range. Never mind, I’m sure I’ll find plenty of places where I can make the most of this easing of lockdown, before the next phase (hoedown or meltdown?) sets in. I just need to be careful not to step on a second spike. I have heard immunity is best achieved by stampeding to Blackpool.
      In recent weeks the utterances of our Prime Minister have skilfully simulated the desired mode of sauntering, with their false starts, multiple hesitations, and ultimate failures in ever reaching a . I have looked down upon his lovable blond mop at Prime Minister’s Questions and imagined reaching out and giving it a good tousle. At the end of this gig he will move on to achieve his lifetime ambition of being a member of the Just a Minute panel. The rules will be adjusted so that the others have to buzz in if he inadvertently speaks without hesitation, repetition or deviation.
      And then there’s Gove, the only one considerate enough, ages ago, to tell me how long I may walk – one hour was reasonable, he said. How things have progressed since then! On March 23, when the lockdown came into force, we were alarmed that the number of deaths was approaching 100 a day. Now I can walk for hours and hours, now that we are averaging only 250 deaths a day. Gove is Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. What has Lancaster done to deserve this?  Didn’t Lewis Carroll write something about Gove?  About slithy Goves did gyre and gimble in the wabe?  Our Gove does a lot of gyring and gimbling.
      We are apparently relying on our British common sense to get us through this crisis, a common sense exemplified by our MPs standing idly in queues for hours. A bell should be tolled every six minutes to remind them that another person has died from Covid-19. Sorry, this is all too sad for here. I must focus: ramp up my fitness, flatten my curves, leave no track and trace, and move on, move on, move on. But before that …

I have realised that in all this walking about from home in the last ten weeks I have never once walked to the top of our local hill, to the trig point on Caton Moor (361 metres). So I set out to remedy this before venturing into the dangerous world outside this parish. I battled up Quarry Road against a stiff breeze that kept the windmills happy and then on up to the trig point, where I paused.
whit moor

Walking down Whit Moor

lapwing nest I hadn’t really planned what to do next, as I was unsure what energy and enthusiasm I would have, but I was so uplifted by the fine view of the Three Peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent) ahead that I decided to keep the view ahead of me for as long as possible, by walking on down over Whit Moor, over fields of white cotton grass bobbing in the wind, to the road in Roeburndale, where we had parked for that walk just before lockdown (Sauntering 78). There aren’t many viewpoints that array the Three Peaks to give them equal prominence.

I then headed south on the road and then footpath to Winder, bypassing Thornbush rather than walking through its yard. On the way I saw a lapwing nest with three eggs. Being a lazy birder, I am fond of birds that are unmistakable. The lapwing looks, sounds and flies like no other bird. It is, unfortunately, in decline, especially on southern farmland, because of changes in farming practice. It doesn’t seem to be in decline locally, where there is plenty of rough pasture and moorland. Maybe the lapwing is becoming more of an upland bird?  The lapwing’s eggs used to be considered a delicacy – and indeed people used to collect thousands of them in a day, which presumably didn’t help keep their numbers up. However, I was not tempted to take a lapwing egg to sample, not least because it was made illegal by the Lapwing Act of 1926.

In the fields above Deep Clough, on the so-called Roeburndale Road (which comes to an end at Winder and turns into a rough track before reaching Roeburndale), I walked through a herd of Highland cattle, rather nervously since they did have ridiculously long pointed horns. But after that I could enjoy the unfolding view ahead, first of Morecambe Bay and then of the Lakeland hills. How lucky is that! – to have a single walk on which both the Dales hills and the Lakes hills are arrayed ahead for some time.
deep clough

Deep Clough and Ward's Stone from the Roeburndale Road

    Date: May 31st 2020
    Start: SD543644, Brookhouse  (Map: OL41)
    Route: SE – Moorside Farm – E on Quarry Road – picnic site – SE on bridleway, NE – trig point – NE over Whit Moor – road – S on road, SW past Thornbush – Warm Beck Gill – S – Winder – W on Roeburndale Road, NW on Littledale Road – Brookhouse
    Distance: 9 miles;   Ascent: 300 metres

The two following items:
       96.   Castles and Towers from the Cross of Greet
       95.   Barbondale and the Dent Fault
The two preceding items:
       93.   The Brookhouse - Claughton Circular
       92.   The Small-Leaved Limes of Aughton Woods
Two nearby items:
     120.   A Walk in Littledale in 1847
       80.   The Caton Moor Hares
A list of all items so far:

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    © John Self, Drakkar Press, 2018-


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