Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Yorkshire to Cumbria: A Ramble

5th July 2006

As I write this, the World Cup is coming towards its climactic end and a heat wave has nearly run its course. While I certainly know what has been happening with the football, I have tended to find other things to do instead of watching it. I have nothing against football but, as you might tell, I am light years from being obsessive about it. Even so, someone (a total stranger to me) was asking if I was watching Germany playing Italy and opined that I didn’t like football when he heard that I wasn’t. As it happened, when I completed my ramble last Saturday, England were playing Portugal and it was easy to sense the excitement. However, I had no inclination to watch, for reasons that may become apparent in a while.

Saturday was forecast to be cooler than Sunday so that’s when I decided to walk from Ribblehead to Sedbergh, Yorkshire to Cumbria. This area was subject to country boundary changes in the 1970’s when Cumbria was created from Cumberland, Westmoreland and parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire. The result is that part of Cumbria is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the boundary of which still follows the old county border. Further confusion is likely if, as has been put forward, the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks are extended to protect area lying outside of them such as the Howgill Fells (near Sedbergh) and Borrowdale (the one near Tebay). Planning permission for a wind farm in the former has recently been refused. The whole issue highlighted the natural beauty of the areas left out of the two nearby national parks.

The Howgill Fells cannot be missed if you are going on either the M6 or the West Coast Mainline. My ramble to Sedbergh allowed me a closer, if fleeting, look at them and the journey from Sedbergh to Kirkby Stephen really shows their extent. A word of warning though: don’t drive and look at the hills simultaneously for there are sheep likely to be walking the road.

From Ribblehead, I skirted around Whernside on the Craven Way (a bridleway unpleasantly rutted in places) to join the Dales Way which I followed until near Sedbergh. Part of my journey took in the lower section of the bridleway headed for Whernside’s summit (subject of an earlier day out) but these had so many out on it that it was the walker’s equivalent of the M6 but I got off it and things soon became quieter and more pleasurable, an amazing sight when you see the hoards heading a different way from less than 100 metres away from you. I was glad that I tackled Whernside earlier in the year.

After not following my instincts, I lost 15 minutes finding the Dales Way from the Craven Way (someone put a church on the map but you couldn’t see it!). From here I strode past Dent to Sedbergh (covering something like 6 miles in a bit of a hurry) but missed my bus. I was a little worse for wear after my exertions, my excuse for missing out on the football, so I waited a while before calling a taxi to get to Kirkby Stephen railway station and begin my train journey home.

This was not my first foray along the Yorkshire-Cumbria border since I was hopping over and back across the line in question while exploring Garsdale in 2004. I got some heavy showers that day, unlike last Saturday, before the evening cleared up and showed me what the area offered. If it is wild country that you are after, this part of the Yorkshire Dales has it in spades. It also means that public transport provision isn’t what it might be, so you need to be careful.

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