Saturday 9 June 2012

A Long, Reigny Weekend: Day 1

Day 1: Firbank & Sedbergh

Another Bank Holiday: another trip up north. Whatever you happen to think about the relevance of the monarchy in 21st Century Britain, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations presented great opportunity to get away for a few days. And for walkers, that meant lacing up the boots, slinging a rucksack on and heading off over the hills.

When we originally booked our accommodation we weren’t sure how much walking Missyg would be able to do. But recuperation has gone very well, and we had a few ideas for walks that might suit. Besides, having worked almost every day in May and racked up a stupid amount of hours, I was jolly well having a few days for myself!

After a night in Lancaster reminiscing about our student days, we arrived good and early on Saturday morning. Our first walk was a truncated version of a regular favourite combining Lowgill and Firbank with a section of the Dales Way alongside the River Lune.

The weekend had attracted an unpredictable forecast, and the views across to the Howgills were somewhat hazy, but the sun was trying to break through the clouds as we walked along the lane past Fox’s Pulpit. Despite the early hour and relative remoteness, progress was impeded by a traffic jam.

This one appears to have the same problem with the conditions as the walkers do: fleece on, or fleece off?

From the farm at New Field we picked up a path past Whinny Haw, firstly on field paths then along a track that contoured the hillside, gradually dropping towards the lane near Goodies and involving the negotiation of an unusual gate/stile.

We dropped steeply through fields, crossing a dismantled railway line to a footbridge over the Lune, then joined the Dales Way route near Hole House, heading northwards. A rocky beach has formed at the junction of the Lune with Chapel Beck, and we sat a while enjoying a drink – along with some of the locals.

After tracking the riverside for a mile or so, we reached the lane near Crook of Lune Bridge, crossed the river and followed the lane as it rose towards Lowgill Viaduct, an impressive eleven-arched Victorian structure that in pre-Beeching days used to carry the old Lancaster and Carlisle Railway.

Nowadays, the Dales Way passes underneath as it nears the tiny hamlet of Lowgill. Our route then led southwards, skirting the farm at High House as we climbed back towards Firbank. Beyond the viaduct, clouds were massing over the Howgills. The higher tops might have been shrouded in mist, but from our modest perch we had the benefit of the views – which is one of the strengths of this walk.

At the moment our walking is limited to about 6-7 miles in one go before a rest is needed. But after a break we are OK to do a bit more, so we opted for a gentle stroll alongside the River Rawthay and back. It was sports day at Sedbergh School, and a gaggle of proud parents could be heard exhorting their kids to greater things. We slipped unnoticed amongst them, quietly congratulating ourselves on our day’s modest achievements.

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