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In the steps of Arthur Ransome

October 30, 2014

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.

The Dog's Home (c) John Bainbridge 2014

The Dog’s Home (c) John Bainbridge 2014

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

Robin in Heald Wood (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Robin in Heald Wood (c) John Bainbridge 2014

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.

Footpath near Brantwood. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Footpath near Brantwood. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

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.

Please sign the petition to save Hopwas Wood

October 27, 2014



Please do help to save this ancient Staffordshire Woodland.

On Hallin Fell

October 23, 2014

On a lovely September day we explored Hallin Fell, high above the shores of Ullswater.

Hallin Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Hallin Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2014

One of the easiest of the Wainwright heights. Fit people can be up it in twenty minutes – and a very easy route as well – make it a good first Lakeland fell to do. Even unfit me did it in thirty! The views are superb, up into the Martindale valley, across the lake itself, plus sumptuous vistas over the northern fells.

Summit of Hallin Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Summit of Hallin Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Starting from the new church at Martindale you simply follow the broad track uphill.

So we went up, to see the dramatic obelisk on the summit, and down again.

Unless you combine this with another height perhaps too easy.

So we decided to follow the footpaths circling Hallin Fell as well, by taking the path down to Bridge End and then through Sandwick Bay.

The woodland – Hallinshag Wood and Horton Wyke -Ullswater from Hallin Fell. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Ullswater from Hallin Fell. (c) John Bainbridge 2014

is delightful, and the lake was extremely placid. We returned to Martindale via the Rake path.Hallin Fell 026

All very easy going, but a wonderful walk for views.Hallin Fell 002

Government eases the path to sell public land to its pals

October 20, 2014

Shopping for Christmas

October 19, 2014

If you are looking for a stocking filler this Christmas, do try our novel “A Christmas Malice”, now out in paperback as well as for Kindle. Just click on the link!!!


A Christmas Malice: An Inspector Abbs Novella

A Christmas Malice: An Inspector Abbs Novella

Buy from Amazon

Government invents public-path law and misleads landowners

October 16, 2014


Sadly, there are rambling groups I have seen merrily going round rather than sticking to the definitive map route.

Originally posted on CampaignerKate:

Over the last few months the familiar websites of agencies such as Natural England have been sucked into a generic government website The detailed information has been severely reduced and dumbed down.  In the case of public rights of way it is plain wrong.

The web page for ‘Public rights of way: landowner responsibilities’ says:

You should leave fields with cross-field footpaths uncultivated (not ploughed) unless users can easily walk around the edge of the field (my emphasis).  The legislation says no such thing.  

Section 134 of the Highways Act states that in the case of cross-field footpaths and bridleways the occupier of a field may plough or otherwise disturb the path surface if it is not reasonably convenient to avoid doing so.  There is nothing about deciding whether people can walk (or ride) round the edge.  It goes on to say that the disturbance must not render…

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Steel Knotts – Pikewassa

October 16, 2014

Last Sunday we set out from the new church at Martindale, partly to climb Steel Knotts but also to try and hear the bellowing of stags in the Martindale deer forest.

Martindale and the cone of the Nab

Martindale and the cone of the Nab

It was one of those perfect Lakeland days, the mist of the early morning dispersed except for cloud inversions over the deeper hollows and the long

Pikewassa (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Pikewassa (c) John Bainbridge 2014

stretch of Ullswater. Within an hour, even those had cleared to offer a day of blue sky and such clearness that every fell, rock and bracken stalk seemed clearly delineated.

We had not long passed Lanty Tarn before we heard the first stag bellow. Then several more times as we climbed the sloping path up towards the wall that marks the edge of the deer forest and the turn up to the summit of Steel Knotts, or Pikewassa, as its rocky tor is known.

From the path there were wonderful views up the dale to the The Nab, that once-forbidden hill that had access granted to it under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW),

On the summit there were clear vistas over most of the northern fells, and across Fusedale up towards the line of the Roman Road making its way to High Street.

Martindale and The Nab from Pikewassa

Martindale and The Nab from Pikewassa

We descended by the path down towards Howtown. This is a clear path at first, but it soon becomes quite steep, overgrown, rocky and slippery on the final parts of its descent.

Worth it though for the very clear views of a very placid Ullswater.

A really excellent day for a fell walk.

Ullswater from Steel Knotts (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Ullswater from Steel Knotts (c) John Bainbridge 2014

The stags will be bellowing for a while yet, but I recommend that you get there early in the day or late in the afternoon to hear them at their best.

Ullswater (c) John Bainbridge 2014

Ullswater (c) John Bainbridge 2014


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