It was one of those fine autumn mornings after rain, with the cloud inversion clinging all morning in the deep valley between the Cumbrian village of Orton and the Howgill Fells.
The ground was very wet underfoot but it was a grand day for a country walk of several miles.
We left Orton early, passing the ancient pillory, where wrongdoers or perhaps just the
unfortunate poor would have been subjected to punishment and humiliation, and the even older parish church, taking the footpath that eventually leads to Crosby Ravensworth, crossing a number of old stiles in stone-walled fields.
After a long ascent we reached an old lime-kiln and then the edge of Orton Scar.
At this point the old track becomes more defined, wider and you can see the wheel ruts of carts, which perhaps carried the refined lime down to Crosby.
You follow this track through some splendid
heather moorland, keeping in the hollow and ignoring cross tracks until you reach the pile of stones that is Robin Hood’s Grave.
It almost certainly isn’t, but it is a very dramatic setting.
If you read the best historical work on the outlaw, by J. C. Holt, you will discover that Robin Hood, or more often RobinHood as one word, became a generic term for many an outlaw.
We were now on Wainwright’s coast to coast path, as we made our way across the moorland of Orton Scar to ascend Beacon Hill. When Wainwright first designed the walk, he took this route, but was deterred by a landowner who insisted that there was no right of way. Even today the C to C goes down an inferior path towards Orton.
Fortunately, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) restored the access and it is perhaps time that England’s most popular long-distance trail took the original route.
Beacon Hill, surmounted by a cross celebrating Queen Victoria’s 1887 Jubilee is a fine view point, offering wide views over old Westmorland.
Robin Hood’s Grave (c) John Bainbridge 2014
Look out too for the great stretches of limestone pavement nearby.
We descended by a bridlepath to Scar Side Farm and then wondered down the quiet Street Lane and back to Orton, just as the cloud inversion was beginning to dispel.
OPEN SPACES SOCIETY
GREEN SPACES ARE UNDER THREAT WARNS OPEN SPACES SOCIETY
The Open Spaces Society,(1) Britain’s oldest national conservation body, fears that publicly-owned green spaces are under threat. In the autumn issue of its magazine, Open Space(2), the society’s general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, expresses concern that the Infrastructure Bill could lead to the loss of open spaces.
Says Kate: ‘The Infrastructure Bill, currently in parliament, enables government agencies to transfer surplus land to developers. Ministers have resisted our amendments to exempt commons, open spaces and public paths. However they have, fortunately, agreed to promote an amendment at third reading in the House of Lords to safeguard the public forest estate.
‘While we are delighted that the public forest estate is excluded from the bill, we consider that similar exemptions should be applied to our important assets such as commons, open spaces and paths. If this bill becomes law it would only be a small step to enabling local authorities to dispose of their land with no regard for the public’s rights and customs.’
The society has already highlighted Hampshire County Council’s recent practice of placing notices on its land which will prevent people from claiming the land as town or village green.(3)
Says Kate: ‘It might be different if we could be certain that all the land will be safely owned by a benevolent council for ever. But authority-owned land all over the country is being flogged off for development.
‘We are urging local authorities voluntarily to dedicate land as town or village green, to secure the rights of local people to enjoy it for recreation and to protect it from development.’
Land can be registered as a town or village green if local people can prove that they have used it for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ (ie informal recreation) for at least 20 years without having permission or being stopped. The registration authority is the county or unitary council. New provisions in the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 enable landowners to post notices on their land stating that they do not accept that rights exist there. Local people then have only a year in which to submit an application for registration of the land as a green.
CONTACT: Kate Ashbrook
The Open Spaces Society
25a Bell Street
Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA
The Open Spaces Society is a registered charity (no 1144840) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 7846516).
Help us save your open spaces
Read my blog at http://campaignerkate.wordpress.com/
A very autumnal day as we set out from the Glen Mary car park near Coniston to climb Holme Fell – one of those Coniston heights that had been omitted from my expeditions to higher peaks.
The cloud level was just a couple of hundred feet above its summit and the mightier tops of the Old Man and Wetherlam were quite invisible.
We took the path from Yew Tree Farm – that iconic Lakeland farm house, as featured in the Miss Potter film – up to Uskdale Gap.
After all the rain we’ve had in England most of the paths were becks, the water tumbling down over the stones, our boots seeking paths up watercourses.
This is a very wooded walk for much of its journey, the trees broken only by some huge boulders, tumbled down from the higher ground over the centuries.
Up through the gap, in sight now of tarn-like reservoirs, built for the quarries nearby.
Up then past Ivy Crag to the rocky summit of Holme Fell itself.
Despite the hazy day, we got a view along the entire length of Coniston Water. I can’t think of another top around here that offers such a generous vista of the lake. We could
even make out the steam of the old Victorian steamboat Gondola, sailing a course around the head of the lake.
We returned much the same way, though diverting to take on Yew Tree Tarn, built by the Victorian owner of the Monk Coniston estate to improve his fishing.
A really lovely, though wet underfoot, autumn walk.
Another matter of concern…
Originally posted on CampaignerKate:
A prime job in the national parks’ world, chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, is about to be vacant. Jim Dixon, who has held the post with distinction since 2003, has decided to move on. The park has established the process for appointing his replacement but I have seen no mention of the involvement of Natural England (NE), the government’s adviser on national parks. Why not?
When I was a member of the Countryside Agency (CA) board from 1999-2006, I wanted to be useful. It wasn’t easy, but I look back with special satisfaction on the contribution I believe I made to national parks. The Countryside Agency had important functions in relation to national parks, and its successor, NE, has inherited them.
During my time on the CA board we designated two national parks (the New Forest and South Downs) and advised ministers on…
View original 444 more words
I was very pleased to feature on M.K. Graff’s mystery writing blog today.
If you like crime mysteries set in the Lake District can I recommend the author’s latest novel “The Scarlet Wench”.
Click on the link to see more and order a copy.
It is really great to find an American author who has taken England as a setting and has written with such affection for our landscapes.
In the third Nora Tierney Mystery set in England, American writer Nora awaits the arrival of a traveling theatre troupe who will stage Noel Coward’s play “Blithe Spirit” at Ramsey Lodge in the Lake District. With her son six months old, Nora must juggle parenting with helping her illustrator and friend Simon Ramsey run the lodge.
She’s also hoping to further her relationship with the only lodge guest not in the cast: Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, ostensibly there for a hiking trip. When a series of pranks and accidents escalate to murder during a flood that traps everyone, Nora realizes her child is in jeopardy and determines to help Declan unmask a killer.
Although contemporary in time period, the book is written in traditional English mystery style with a cast of characters and room layouts. Chapter epigrams are all lines from the play and the play’s plot influences the action. Coward’s estate has requested a copy of the book for their archives.
A mixture of amateur sleuth and police procedural, Graff won an award for Best British Cozy with the book that introduces Nora, THE BLUE VIRGIN.
British author Rebecca Tope says: “THE SCARLET WENCH has all the ingredients of a good read: atmospheric setting, intriguing characters, complex plot and excellent writing.”
Author P. M. Terrell has this to say about the book: “M. K. Graff does its again with another compelling and intriguing Nora Tierney classic. As always, the characters are multi faced the plot twists are unpredictable and the backdrop of Ramsey Lodge in Bowness-on-Windermere will make you want to hop a plane for the UK locale. THE SCARLET WENCH is another winner!”
Susan Sloate, bestselling author, says: “A lively cast of characters, an intriguing mystery and a heroine you have to love … M. K. Graff does it agin with a new novel you can’t put down!”
And editor RJ Minnick compares the series to Agatha Christie, adding: “The beauty of Graff’s work has close ties to that of Christie’s books. It is all about relationships …There are the small vanities and large egos and bitter conflicts that must find their way into any book that deals with human conflict. It is the humanity that makes the books of both these authors work.”
I’m guest blogging today on the blog of the American crime writer M.K. Graff, mostly talking about my William Quest novel.
Do take a look by clicking on the link.
Arthur Ransome, author of the “Swallows and Amazons” novels adored the neighbourhood of Coniston, adapting that lake by mingling it with Windermere as the setting for his Lake District novels.
Our walk through the Heald Wood on Coniston’s eastern shores headed through some iconic Ransome settings.
We set out from the forestry car park
at Machell Coppice, strolling for a half mile along the lakeshore road to see The Heald, where Ransome lived during the Second World War, with his Russian wife Evgenia, whom he met during the Russian Revolution when she was Trotsky’s secretary.
It was here that he wrote his novel “The Picts and the Martyrs”, which has some beautiful portraits of Lake District life.
Following a steep and rocky path up through the old Heald Wood we soon came to the Dog’s Home, where his two characters Dick and Dorothea Callum camp out in hiding during the story.
It had been renovated since I was last there, with a new door and window, but it still much as Ransome illustrated it in his book.
The Heald Wood itself is featured in two more Ransome books, “Swallows and Amazons” and “Swallowdale”, where his charcoal burners live in a wooden wigwam as they pursue their ancient profession.
We wandered on to Lawson Park, now the Grizedale Arts Centre, and then took a delicious old path around the boundaries of Ruskin’s old home at Brantwood, before returning along the lane to our start.
The Lake District has changed a great deal since Ransome’s time, but you don’t have to step more than a few yards off the busy roads to get back to his pre-war world.