A grand day out in the misty Coniston Fells


Thick mist and strong wind greeted us for a walk round the Northern Coniston Fells taking in Great Carrs, Grey Friar, Swirl How and Wetherlam.  With a wind chill of -7C we were well wrapped up and had a great day out in adventurous conditions.

We had a poignant moment when we arrived at the memorial for the eight Canadian airforce aircrew who perished on Great Carrs on the night of October 22nd 1944 (image).  Flying a Halifax bomber from Topcliffe in Yorkshire they became lost in thick cloud and darkness over the Lake District.  Despite RAF Mosquitoes being despatched to assist, they made the fateful decision to descend to try and locate themselves, only to be trapped by high ground which they could not avoid.  The impact carried much of the plane over the mountain edge into Broad Slack, where parts of it still remain, though the image shows some of the undercarriage at the site of the memorial.  A sad sight indeed.

Of more current concern were the two people who approached us asking the way to Great Carrs.  When Steve offered to show them their position on their map they blithely explained they had no map as they didn’t know how to navigate, and that they only had sat nav which wasn’t working.  Despite Steve trying to gently suggest they head down to safety they were intent on pressing on into the mist.  Such reliance on technology is now commonplace, though Steve strongly advises that all those venturing into the mountains have a map and compass and know how to use them – he’ll be delighted to help anyone with these critical skills.

By |January 25th, 2022|Mountain walking, Winter mountain walking|Comments Off on A grand day out in the misty Coniston Fells

A great day out from Three Shires Stone

Our first mountain day of the year was an excellent day out starting from Three Shires Stone on Wrynose and taking in Pike o’Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Cold Fell.  The Three Shires Stone is made from limestone and was first erected in 1860, though it was actually created in 1816 in Cartmel.  It is situated at the meeting point of the old counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire and has been broken, knocked over and resurrected on several occasions. The weather on our day from this old boundary marker was cold but clear; the views were good in all directions.  The image shows the Scafells from Crinkle Crags.

If you’re interested in guided walks and scrambles in winter or summer conditions Steve will be pleased to help.  Get in touch on 07796 213817 or email at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |January 21st, 2022|Mountain walking|Comments Off on A great day out from Three Shires Stone

Hard Knott

Hard Knott tends to evoke thoughts of its vertigo inducing switchback road of 30% steepness and, arguably, the world’s most challenging cycle sportive (The Fred Whitton) which goes over it (and all the other super steep Lakeland passes) in one day.  Hard Knott is also though, a solitary Lakeland summit easily reached in 30 minutes from the road.  We had a gentle stroll to the summit on a glorious November day and had it all to ourselves.  The views in all directions were spectacular, taking in a large part of the southern Lakes and down to Barrow.  The image shows the view North to the Scafells.

Residents and modern day tourists are far from the first people to visit this spot: the Romans built a fort (named Mediobogdum) in approximately AD 120 to guard the road from Ravenglass and through Eskdale; it was occupied for 80-90 years.  It was originally garrisoned by troops from Dalmatia (Croatia) who must have had something of a shock being stationed so far from home on a bleak mountain hillside in northern England.  It is still clearly visible with all its defensive walls and buildings laid out.  You can make a day of it by driving the pass, walking to Hard Knott and visiting the fort.

By |November 21st, 2021|Mountain walking|Comments Off on Hard Knott

Lake District guided walks

Black Fell

We had a lovely Autumn walk aimed at providing great views without too much exertion.  An initial foray up Black Fell from the Drunken Duck (named Black Crag on the trig point) was followed, after a short drive, with an ascent of Holme Fell from Tilberthwaite.  Both walks afforded beautiful seasonal colours in the mass of deciduous woodland.  We also managed a bonus walk around and down into Hodge Close quarry (earlier post).

If you’d like to explore any part of the Lakeland Fells, large or small, get in touch with Steve who’ll be pleased to help you: 07796 213817, steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |October 27th, 2021|Mountain walking|Comments Off on Lake District guided walks

Hodge Close Quarry

Hodge Close Quarry

Hodge Close Quarry at Tilberthwaite by Coniston is an excellent reminder of the Lake District’s industrial past.  Mass tourism and the associated services which now support that burgeoning sector, are a relatively recent phenomenon.  Prior to the current situation the area was exploited for its mineral riches and stone: haematite and coal mines in the West fed steel works and ship building; graphite mines in Borrowdale led to the pencil factory in Keswick, wolframite mining on Carrock Fell produced tungsten, there were galena mines aplenty (lead and silver) and, of course, the copper mines at Coniston to name but a few.

Quarries are also prominent in Cumbria with granite extracted at Shap and Threlkeld, limestone also at Shap and, more commonly, slate at many sites such as Kirkby in Furness, Honister and Hodge Close.  Hodge Close was used for building and roofing slate from the 1800s up until the 1960s.  It is a large, steep-sided, flooded pit with many of the original tunnels and workings now submerged.  It has become a popular place for divers, wild swimmers and rock climbers to visit, though, as in our case, it is also an interesting place to just descend into and look at – especially with autumn sunlight and colours enhancing the spectacle.  If you would like to visit there is a path down to the big tunnels (image), though great care should be taken around the quarry edges and be mindful that the water is very deep and very cold.

By |October 27th, 2021|Environment & nature|Comments Off on Hodge Close Quarry

John Bell’s Banner

A misty and cool morning greeted us on Kirkstone pass for the start of a round of Stony Cove Pike, Thorneythwaite Crag, Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke, though the weather gradually improved as the day progressed and ended with warm, sunny conditions and sunglasses to the fore.

Of early interest in the walk was the name ‘John Bell’s Banner’ printed on the map in the vicinity of the Atkinson memorial cairn (image).  John Bell was, apparently, the curate of Ambleside during the 16th century whilst the term ‘banner’ denotes boundary i.e. the boundary of the area over which he ministered.  The first of our summits on the day was Stony Cove Pike which is the highest point on Caudale Moor, itself sometimes still referred to as John Bell’s Banner.

This is a excellent walk, particularly if you need or want to reduce the day’s uphill element for any reason, though without missing out on getting into the higher Lakeland hills.  Of note, Thorneythwaite Beacon is now considered unstable so care should be taken in its vicinity until such time as it has been stabilised – it should certainly not be climbed on.

If you’d like Steve’s support for your day out in the mountains please get in touch.

By |September 2nd, 2021|Mountain walking|Comments Off on John Bell’s Banner

Here be Dragons!

Southern Hawker

Not quite Game of Thrones, but you don’t need to go far from your doorstep to find some amazing creatures.  This exquisite female Southern Hawker dragonfly was well-camouflaged and perching inconspicuously alongside the River Glenderamackin.  We spotted her during a wild flower walk and, whilst dragonflies are voracious predators, they pose no threat to humans.

Conversely, we did also see Giant Hogweed which certainly does pose a significant threat to humans in that touching any part of the plant can cause very serious burns and long term damage.  Giant Hogweed, Hemlock and other toxic and poisonous plants are frequently encountered in Cumbria and the UK; being able to identify them correctly and understand their dangers is important if we are to avoid being badly affected by them.  Children are often most at risk of harm as they are more likely to encounter such plants whilst roaming and exploring and may not perceive them as a threat.  If you’d like to improve your ability to identify such plants, as well as the many which are not dangerous, then Steve will be pleased to help.  He can also aid your quest for dragons!

By |August 3rd, 2021|Environment & nature|Comments Off on Here be Dragons!

Lakeland Summer walks

The recent hot weather has allowed us some very enjoyable days out in the Lakes and Dales.  As well as running days of family rock climbing in Borrowdale and a fun caving trip in the Yorkshire Dales with three energetic children and their parents, we also managed a more sedate day walking in the South West Lakes.  Steve was able to find a quiet area for a day’s walk despite the crowds elsewhere – we encountered five other people all day and enjoyed having the hills to ourselves.  We also had some excellent Lakeland views (image of Kentdale) and great wildlife and wild flower spots (images of green veined white butterfly and bog asphodel).

Whether you seek solitude or enjoy the hubbub in the popular areas Steve will be happy to support your Lakeland walking adventure.  He’ll also be pleased to help if you’d like to try climbing or caving too!  Get in touch on 07796 213817 or steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |July 31st, 2021|Environment & nature, Mountain walking|Comments Off on Lakeland Summer walks

Ronas Hill, a mountain with latitude!

Ronas Hill

At 450m Ronas Hill is the highest point in Shetland.  Whilst running his recent sea kayak weeks in the UK’s most northerly islands Steve took the opportunity to spend a non-paddling day exploring this little visited granite plateau.  Despite its relatively lowly height, Ronas Hill and the surrounding peaks are the only sub-arctic terrain in the UK outside the Cairngorms.  What they lack in height compared to their southerly cousins they make up in latitude as, at over 60 degrees north, they experience similar temperatures, extreme winds and significant swings in light levels across the year.  This has led to a rounded, wind scoured and ice shattered environment with rare and unusual physical features such as solifluction terraces and fell field.  Ronas Hill also sports about 15 species of rare arctic alpine plants such as Alpine Lady’s Mantle, Alpine Azalea and Moss Campion.

Whilst there are no defined paths, Ronas Hill is a relatively straightforward walk in fine weather, though strong wind and/or cloud would make it an entirely different proposition.  The views from the summit, which, like Steve, you may well have entirely to yourself, are spectacular, taking in Northmavine and Yell to the north and Eshaness, Papa Stour and Foula to the the south west.  There’s also a neolithic burial chamber on the summit plateau.

If you’d like to share Steve’s broad environmental knowledge in any of the UK’s mountains and hills, or just be able to relax and enjoy your mountain walk with expert support, Steve will be pleased to hear from you and happy to help.  Get in touch at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk or call on 07796 213817.

By |July 12th, 2021|Environment & nature, Mountain walking|Comments Off on Ronas Hill, a mountain with latitude!

Hebridean heights

Hebrides walking

Whilst running his recent self-sufficient, wild camping canoe trip into the remote interior of Harris & Lewis, Steve built in a day off from paddling so we could enjoy the the surroundings and walk in the hills.  In order to get the best view possible we ascended Creag na Lubaig which provided a spectacular panorama north across Lewis (image) and south into the Harrisian mountains with Clisham clearly visible as the highest point in the Hebrides.

If you’re keen on venturing into the hills and mountains anywhere in the UK Steve will be able to support you.  If you’d like to combine your mountains with other outdoor adventures Steve has plenty of opportunities to do that too.   Have a look at what’s available at www.stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk and get in touch at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk or call 07796 213817

By |June 12th, 2021|Environment & nature, Mountain walking|Comments Off on Hebridean heights
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