Jurassic fossil hunt

Jurassic fossil

Steve took a day off from running a sea kayak trip on the Dorset coast to go on a fossil hunting walk among the Jurassic rocks of this world heritage site.  Starting at Lyme Regis we soon found ourselves with plenty to look at including giant ammonites, corals and crinoids.  The Jurassic period lasted from approximately 200 to 145 million years ago and followed the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period.  The sedimentary rocks along England’s south coast have captured and  fossilised the remains of the abundance of creatures as they fell to the sea bed and were covered in silt.  The rock this later formed and which was raised by tectonic movement, has provided a palaeontologist’s delight charting the recovery of marine life following this 4th extinction event.  This was most likely caused by an increase in atmospheric CO2 over an 18 million year period as a result of much increased volcanic activity; it contrasts markedly with the current, incredibly rapid rise in CO2 which is driving the present human-induced climate emergency and 6th mass extinction.

By |June 28th, 2022|Environment & nature|Comments Off on Jurassic fossil hunt

Lakeland walking days

Coniston Old Man

Steve has been out in the mountains the past two weekends at opposite ends of the Lake District.  He took a mother and her son, seeking a more adventurous walk, up Blencathra via Doddick Fell in thick mist with rapidly descending temperatures – we even had to break out the group shelter at lunchtime!  His more recent walk was a family outing from Coniston to Goat Water, Dow Crag, Brim Fell and Coniston Old Man in much more temperate conditions.  Two great days out.  The image shows Coniston Old Man over Goat Water from Dow Crag.

If you’d like Steve’s support for your mountain adventures he’ll be very pleased to help.  Get in touch on 07796 213817 or steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |May 10th, 2022|Mountain walking|Comments Off on Lakeland walking days

Castle Crag, Borrowdale.

Castle Crag, Borrowdale

A beautiful  day saw us heading to Borrowdale for a relaxed wander up Castle Crag through the pretty, deciduous woodland with spring flowers and lots of birds busy in the warmth.  Rather than approach from Rosthwaite, we went for the adventurous option and took our shoes and socks off to wade across the river near the Bowderstone.  Castle Crag is the only fell on the list of Lakeland mountains under 1000ft, though what it lacks in altitude it more than makes up for in stature as its dominant, craggy presence in the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’ makes it a visible sentinel from far to the North.

Significant slate quarrying and mining took place on Castle Crag and it bears the slate tips and excavation scars associated with that.  Most notably, it has the slate ‘cave’ on its North Eastern flank which was inhabited by Millican Dalton (1867-1947) for over 50 years.  Dalton, the so-called ‘Professor of Adventure’, gave up his job as an insurance clerk in London to live rough in the Lakes during summers; he survived by offering guiding to visitors and built rafts to paddle and sail down Derwentwater.

The photo shows the view North from the summit with the memorial plaque to the local war dead on the left.

If you’d enjoy Steve’s support for a day in the hills, or a half day like this one, please get in touch to discuss your needs: 07796 213817 & steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |April 20th, 2022|Environment & nature, Mountain walking|Comments Off on Castle Crag, Borrowdale.

‘En Caw!’

Scafells from Middle Fell

A bitingly cold wind and overcast skies saw us well wrapped up as we tackled a round of Middle Fell, Seatallan, Haycock and Caw Fell from Wasdale.  The often vague and non-existent paths were testament to the fact that this is not a well-trodden area.  Caw Fell is generally reckoned to be the most remote hill in the Lakes as it’s at least 6km from the nearest road.  Caw is a long, whale backed ridge with a high point arriving much earlier than seems appropriate as you approach from Haycock.  For this reason we continued on past the shelter marked on the map to the final cairn – more Caw, or as one quick-witted member of the party exclaimed, ‘En Caw!’

If you’d like Steve’s support with your mountain adventures in the Lakes or further afield please get in touch, he’ll be pleased to hear from you and happy to help: 07796 213817 & steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

The photo shows the Scafells from Middle Fell.

By |April 4th, 2022|Mountain walking|Comments Off on ‘En Caw!’

Lingmell, Scafell & Slight Side

Saturday saw us braving the crowds to tackle Lingmell, Scafell and Slight Side in Wasdale.  The vast majority of the people (we estimated over 1000 at the head of Wasdale), were focused solely on ascending Scafell Pike.  Fortunately, we were able to find much more space to ourselves by heading up the Western spur of Lingmell before joining the main tourist path at Lingmell Coll to ascend to the Scafell Pike plateau, though we then veered off towards Mickledore and Scafell.

The sheer number of people on the main path up Scafell Pike and on its summit was a sight to behold: the top was so busy there was a queue to stand on the highest point (see carousel image), though most folk showed no interest in the surrounding mountains.

Thankfully, our objectives allowed us to bypass all the hubbub as we headed towards Scafell.  We ascended by scrambling up Lord’s Rake (to the right of the main image of Scafell from Mickledore) and then onto the summit where we found only one other person – the difference between the country’s highest and second highest mountains was stark indeed.  From Scafell we headed to Slight Side before contouring back around Scafell and down to the valley.  A strenuous and rewarding day out.

If you’d like to explore the Lake District but would like to avoid following the well-beaten path and crowds, Steve will be very happy to support your adventures.  Please get in touch for a chat on steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk or 07796 213817

By |March 28th, 2022|Mountain walking|Comments Off on Lingmell, Scafell & Slight Side

An Eskdale Revelation

Harter Fell looking South

A stunning Spring day saw us heading to Eskdale to climb Harter Fell and Green Crag from the foot of Hardknott pass.  Steve’s previous ascent of these hills was nearly 30 years ago: on that day the weather was terrible and the abiding memory was of being soaking wet, cold and enduring endless tramping through very boggy ground.  What a revelation then to have the opposite experience: blue skies and fantastic views.  Harter Fell was particularly good as its high point is atop a rocky tor not dissimilar to that on Helm Crag, Grasmere.  The trig point has had to be sited lower down as it was clearly not possible to place it on the actual high point.  There is still significant bog between Hard Knott forestry plantation and Green Crag, though some judicious off piste navigation to follow the available higher ground enabled us to avoid virtually all of it.

If you would like support for your mountain adventures in the Lakes or further afield, please get in touch with Steve who’ll be pleased to help you: 07796 213817 and steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |March 7th, 2022|Mountain walking|Comments Off on An Eskdale Revelation

Whin Rigg & Illgill Head

Following weeks of stormy, wet and windy weather we finally had a day with crystal clear skies to enjoy the mountains, and what a day it was!  We headed for Wasdale and set off from the YHA, ascending by Greathall Gill and then onto Whin Rigg and Illgill Head.  Despite the strong and cold wind the views were spectacular all around.  We found shelter to have hot drinks and lunch looking down from above Wasdale screes over Wastwater, England’s deepest lake, before retracing our footsteps back to the valley.

If you’d like Steve’s support for your mountain adventures, whatever the weather, please get in touch on 07796 213817 & steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk  He’ll be delighted to hear from you and will do his best to help.

By |February 28th, 2022|Mountain walking, Winter mountain walking|Comments Off on Whin Rigg & Illgill Head

A grand day out in the misty Coniston Fells

Great Carrs

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
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