Great Stickle summit

The summit of Great Stickle, with the Duddon estuary in the background.

Date completed: 6th May 2014.

Weather conditions: Very good for walking and for photography, a mixture of cloud and sun with plenty of the latter, good temperature, dry.

Summits bagged: There are five summits on the walk as described on pages 126-131 of volume 8, the Stickle Pike chapter, thus: Great Stickle (1001 feet above sea level), Tarn Hill (1020’), Stickle Pike (1231’), a nameless summit at 1183’ and The Knott (925’).

Foxfield station

Foxfield station, start and finish point of the walk

However, looking at the Dunnerdale Fells chapter which follows the Stickle Pike one — pages 132-135 — and relating Wainwright’s map to the OS one, I decided that the summit described there is basically the same Tarn Hill. Up there on the ground there is no way of distinguishing the two, if two there are. I certainly found a cairn there and saw the summit view as illustrated on page 134. However, these remain as two separate Wainwrights in the full ‘count’ of 330.

The only conclusion I could reach, therefore, was that as well as the 5 summits in the Stickle Pike chapter the walk should also include the one in the Dunnerdale Fells chapter as well, thus 6 summits bagged on the walk all told — numbers 251 – 256 of the project.

Start and end points: Started and ended the walk at Foxfield railway station (pictured above), with no buses required today. This is on the Cumbrian coast line, north of Barrow-in-Furness.

Butterfly

On the golf course near Broughton Mills

The walk fitted comfortably into the gap between the 1027 arrival at Foxfield (which came in from Lancaster, leaving there at 0848) and the 1634 departure back to Barrow, which with subsequent changes — all punctual today — got me home at about 8pm. (As ever, check all these times beforehand should you wish to follow them — particularly at the moment, as there is a timetable change due on 18th May).

Distance walked: 12 miles approx. The walk as described in the book is just over 5 miles, but it starts and ends at Broughton Mills, which is 2 miles from Broughton-in-Furness, and that is at least a mile and a half from Foxfield. Allowing for a bit of distance lost by only visiting Broughton Mills at the end of the walk and reaching the start point a bit more directly (see route, below), 12 miles seems reasonable.

Total ascent: 2000 feet approx.

Sheep on Tarn Hill

Sheep on Tarn Hill. The eminence on the horizon is Green Crag.

Pub at end: One of several nice things about this walk is that it gives you the chance to turn the last few miles into a mini pub crawl — if you get your timing right. The first pub passed is the Blacksmith’s Arms at Broughton Mills. This is a small but welcoming place, however, on the day I passed it was closed 2.30 – 5 — though I got there just before 2.30 so did manage a pint. Don’t linger there however — it is still well over an hour’s walk back to Foxfield station from there.

The next one passed is the Manor Arms in Broughton itself — there may be other pubs in this village, which is a reasonable size, but this is the one I passed. Good selection of beers. Fair selection of hoary old blokes at the bar, too, who have probably been there for decades.

Finally, there is a pub right by Foxfield station, the Prince of Wales, but I cannot report on it as it is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. According to a sign on the door, however, it opens at 2.45pm on other weekdays and for lunchtimes at weekends.

Church at Broughton Mills

Church at Broughton Mills

Route: This is a very good walk which I thoroughly enjoyed. Despite the modest altitude reached, it still feels like a real fellwalk, with excellent views (particularly of the Duddon estuary) and a variety of scenery. The ground underfoot is excellent, with almost no boggy patches at all. If it has a defect, it is that there is rather too much road walking, although this can be broken up in places (including by giving oneself a rest in one of the pubs mentioned above).

The walk as described in Wainwright starts from Broughton Mills but this cannot be reached by public transport so there is a need to come in from Foxfield, which is at the head of the Duddon estuary. There is something nice about doing a walk like this however, starting at the sea (or at least, sea level) and gradually climbing, immersing oneself in the mountains.

Lickle footbridge

Footbridge over the River Lickle

From the station then, turn left and head out along the main road. This has a pavement, but is busy, and unless you are immune to traffic noise you will want to escape when possible — the way to do this being to bear right after a few hundred yards and onto the unexpected golf course (not marked on my OS map). Go round the green and drop onto a pleasant, grassy path by the water meadows that takes you, eventually, across the golf course again, where look for a small gate in the hedge, go through this and then turn right and you will be on the lane that eventually comes into Broughton by the school. Turn left here to get to the village centre.

From here, follow the road signs to Coniston. This starts out with a pavement but does lose it, so be careful. After about half a mile, escape is afforded by the lane that heads left to Manor Farm, opposite (not through) a pair of white gates beside the road. Follow the footpath signs and you will eventually be taken across a field — the flood plain of the river Lickle — over a footbridge (see picture) and up a zigzag lane to the farm of Lower Bleansley, where tarmac is joined again for a short time.

Walk down the lane for about half a mile then bear left at the farm of Croginhurst, go up the lane (which begins to climb quite steeply) and follow the sign to Hawes. Go past this idyllic set of cottages through the gate to their right and finally you are on the open fell. It took me about 1 hour 45 minutes to reach this point from Foxfield by the way.

Great Stickle

Great Stickle, from near Hawes cottages

Here, Great Stickle is very prominent ahead (the view is as shown here), and there is a choice of paths visible. The book suggests heading to the left of Hovel Knott (the nearest prominence), but I went up the steep path to the right, up to the saddle, and then up from there to Great Stickle, which worked fine. The summit of Great Stickle has a fine view back to the estuary, allowing you to see how far you’ve already come.

From here, in good conditions, it’s all pretty straightforward. The cairn on the flattish top of Tarn Hill is visible, and Stickle Pike, ahead, unmissable. Paths are reasonable though sometimes there is a danger of getting stuck at the top of a steep slope — but there should be no need to clamber down anything precipitous, if in doubt, retrace steps for a while and look for another way. The way up to Stickle Pike lies round the back (as you approach it); the climb is steep, but short.

Lickle Valley

View of the Lickle valley, taken close to the footbridge shown earlier

From Stickle Pike’s summit the route up to the second ridge can be surveyed, heading up through the old quarries to the summit at 1183’ (this is quite a prominent tor, and it’s surprising it doesn’t have a name). The ridge is quite narrow and enjoyable to follow, with good views back over to the Stickle Pike massif. Coming off the Knott is just a matter of heading down the grassy slope to the road below, where a stile gives access onto the lane.

Turn right, and then really, returning to Foxfield is just a matter of following the map and/or road signs, and just heading for the estuary which is usually visible ahead. It’d be rude not to stop in the Blacksmith’s Arms at Broughton Mills for a pint, if it’s open, but remember it is at least 3.5 miles back to the station from here. Be careful on the main road.

Stickle Pike, from below

Stickle Pike, seen from below. A bristly little peak.

Once you see the white gates again you are back where you were a few hours ago so just retrace your steps through Broughton, then the golf course (to get you off the road for a while) and back to the station.

Gin Dependence Commentary: Monday 5th May was a public holiday and I had this walk planned for then but the forecast was dubious so I switched things round, worked then and walked today. If I didn’t have the kind of job where I could do that sort of thing this project would be a lot more difficult. Or, I would have many more walks in poor weather. In fact, since I began on the Outlying Fells back in June last year, I have been very fortunate with the weather, and today was another excellent day — this time with enough cloud around to give the pictures some character without really diminishing the pleasantness of walking in the sun. Spring is in full flower with the bluebells and wild garlic covering the woodland floors. Yes, it all beats being in an office.

Lickle Valley

Another view of the Lickle valley, this time from above, on the road out of Broughton Mills

This was one of the very few walks I’ve done where I never saw anyone else out on the fells at all, even at a distance. This surprised me a little, even for a Tuesday in May, because I thought this was a really good walk. It might be a little way from the centre of things, and no lakes are actually seen., but in all other ways this was a proper slice of the District. The Dunnerdale fells are rocky and steep — they’re just not very high. But this in no way diminishes their appeal. Even having to do a few miles of road walking to get there and back from the station wasn’t a big deal.

That’s all I have to say about the walk really but I feel the need to go off on one of my minor political rants at this point, so if you’re really not interested, finish reading here — better still, have a look at some other, fell-related pages before you go (like the Stickle Pike and Dunnerdale Fells pages).

View north to Caw and Walna Scar

View north from The Knott, to Caw and Walna Scar, fells I still have to bag

For those still here…  We are a couple of weeks from the European elections in which it is likely that the UK Independence Party (UKIP — I have a friend who calls them the UK Gin Dependence Party, which seems to fit their demographic) will win enough of the vote for some kind of referendum on withdrawal from the EU to follow the 2015 election (whomever wins that). Broughton had more than one sign up in its windows urging a vote for UKIP or at least telling the world that the resident was so voting.

But leaving aside their anti-women, anti-immigration and anti-welfare policies — none of which (no, not even immigration [see * below]) are anything to do with the EU — and just focusing on the things of relevance here: anyone who thinks UKIP have the landscape or rural communities anywhere on their agenda is fooling themselves.

Goldfinch

Good day for wildlife photography. As well as the butterfly above I got this goldfinch sitting on a fence at Foxfield.

The media love UKIP because their policies are those of the oligarchs who own the media; that is, withdrawal from the EU’s environmental, social and employment legislation, these being one of the few democratic checks on the UK government (as we are one of the few countries in the world to have no written constitution). The enclosure of land, the privatisation of forests, the continuation of cuts in local government (and thus public transport) and the reduction of accessibility to rural areas are all firmly on UKIP’s agenda. Unfortunately they are on most other party’s agendas as well.

If you’re interested I will be voting Green in two weeks as they are about the only party I can vote for that recognises the idea of ‘austerity’ is pure ideology and have the interests of local communities at heart.

View of Stickle Pike from Tarn Hill

View from Tarn Hill. Stickle Pike is the dark pyramid to the left, the other summit is Caw.

Make your own choice here but my prediction is that once this election is over with the empty vacancy at the heart of the media creation that is Nigel Farage will become blindingly obvious and once their results in 2015 are highly disappointing (their policies having been stolen by the main parties), UKIP will implode and we’ll probably never hear from them again. But we will have a worse environment as a result. What places like South Cumbria need are exactly the kind of investments that the EU can — and has — provided down the years; but the benefits of EU membership to places like this are never stated.

[*] What UKIP never point out is the number of people who leave the UK each year, including to live and work in the EU.  Students are also counted as ‘immigrants’ even if they just come for a year. The spectre of Bulgarian and Romanian (or wherever) ‘immigrants’ coming to take ‘British jobs’ is unsubstantiated by the facts — and the idea of ‘benefit tourism’ a pure myth: in fact, the ratio of benefits to the cost of living is considerably better in Bulgaria and Romania than it is in the UK (which has about the poorest such ratio in Europe).  If I wanted to be unemployed, I wouldn’t come to the UK to do it.

4 Responses to “Walk 82: Dunnerdale Horseshoe”

  1. […] Walk 82 saw me come in from Foxfield station (thus, another excuse to travel on the spectacular Cumbrian Coast rail line) and inland a few miles to then bag six Outyling Fells in a few miles — the five in the Stickle Pike chapter of Wainwright’s volume 8, and then another from the Dunnerdale Fells chapter. […]

  2. mike bevans said

    Do you have a map of the walk please? Also, shame about the election! Following on your comments from 2014! A lot has happened.

    • Drew Whitworth said

      Dear Mike, I lost access a while back to the Memory-Map software that I had been using to create the Route Cards so stopped being able to do them for any walk. In the case of this one, however, I did pretty much follow the route described in Wainwright’s chapter, just with a longer preamble….

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