Gibbet Hill and Carlin Gill – That’s Entertainment


GIBBET Hill has history. Little more than a slope in the Tebay Gorge – which separates the Howgill Fells from the Lake District – it was the site where, in 1684, local villain William Smurthwaite’s body was left to rot in an iron cage suspended from a gibbet. The authorities knew how to deal with villains in those days. No messing about with rehabilitation schemes or probation orders; they hanged them by the neck then left their corpses to rot on a roadside gallows. This gave the poor a warning and the crows a feast. It also provided entertainment. This is Cumbria, after all . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Climbing, Death, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, History, Legends, Mountains, Rivers, Running, The Romans, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Days Like This, No 18: A Dip in Goat’s Water

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tarn 1WE British are collectors of junk and tickers of lists. Men in particular, if left unmolested, will amass sheds full of lawnmower parts, used spark-plugs, obsolete tools and jars of reclaimed nuts and bolts just in case the unforeseen occurs at some distant date in the future. But things go much, much deeper than this. We are more than mere hoarders, we men, we are savers of cigar tubes, stashers of stovepipes, magpies of marbles, accumulators of cloud types. We collect locomotive numbers, Codd bottles, chimney pots, beer mats, military tunic buttons, Bazooka Joe cartoons, football programmes, ring-pulls and road signs. We are foragers of fossils, fungi and fountain pens; gatherers of glass eyes, graptolites and garden gnomes. We set ourselves lists and tick off our victories: pubs visited; home games watched; roller-coasters ridden; buses glimpsed. And we walkers in particular revel in websites that support our strange habits and massage our more extreme perversions – we Munro baggers, Wainwright wanderers, Corbett collectors, Furth filchers, Graham gatherers and trig-point tickers (a particularly vigorous and dedicated walker type). We are the crazy British with our Scotch pie contests, Welsh bog-snorkelling championships, Ulster marching season and English morris dancers. Eccentricity unites our otherwise disunited kingdom. This is the one thing we really are in together . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Hiking, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Scotch pies, Tarns, Walking, Waterwheels, Weather | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments

Days Like This, No 17: Sleeping Giants of Assynt

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CONIVAL and Ben More Assynt are mountains with majesty. I read an article a long time ago about these northern giants glimpsed in the rays of the setting sun, and the quartzite stones on their summits glowing golden in the evening light. That captured my imagination. Sooner or later I had to climb them . . . Continue reading

Posted in Beer, Camping, Climbing, Environment, Fish and chips, Food, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , | 47 Comments

A Fosdyke Saga

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HERE’S an interesting fact. Fosdyke Wash, which is a beach at the mouth of the River Welland, in Lincolnshire, is the nearest strip of coast to the most inland point of Great Britain. In other words, there is a place in Derbyshire called Coton in the Elms and it happens to be the furthest point in Britain from the coast, and if residents feel an urge to dip their feet in the sea then their nearest beach is Fosdyke Wash – seventy miles down the road . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Drove roads, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Rivers, The Romans, Walking, Weather | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Washed up at Gibraltar

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DRIVING down the Lincolnshire coast I spot a promontory called Gibraltar Point. It has a national nature reserve with marshlands stretching out into the Wash. I reckon it will be a perfect place to stretch the legs for a couple of hours . . . Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Life, Rivers, Second World War, Shipping Forecast, Walking, Weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 30 Comments

Days Like This, No 16: Blue Skies, White Hills, Red Screes

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THE magic of snow. It deadens sound and enhances light. Blue sky bleeds into shaded clefts and wall-backs. There is no wind – but air cuts throats with its sharpness and fingers hurt. And snow air is pure air, driven down from the Arctic to transform the landscape and freeze the earth. Today is a snow day . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Environment, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather, Writing | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

Days Like This, No 15: Walking From Penrith to Ravenglass

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THIS morning I catch the 6.30am train from Askam-in-Furness to Barrow, jump on a connection to Lancaster, board an inter-city express to Penrith, and walk blinking into the daylight of a fine spring morning to embark on my second back-packing trip in the space of three weeks. I have Jim Callaghan to thank for this dollop of good fortune. Uncle Jim. I’ll tell you why later . . . Continue reading

Posted in Beer, Camping, Climbing, English language, Environment, Food, Hiking, History, Life, Mountains, Politics, Ranting, The Romans, Traditions, Walking, Weather, William Wordsworth | Tagged , , , , , | 61 Comments