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Ravenstonedale Weekend - February 2016

On arrival at the Fat Lamb I was delighted to find that standards had not slipped since our last visit in 2012 and lambs still adorned the toilet paper.

Sixteen Footprinters, including a welcome new member, enjoyed the comfortable accommodation, great food (possibly too much!) and excellent location.

On Friday a small group led by Jonathan endured/enjoyed a walk up Uldale. Uldale is a quiet and secluded dale not much trod particularly on the side of the river we walked! After a scramble up a near vertical heather clad bank and a river crossing we certainly deserved our tea and cakes in the Hares café in Sedbergh.

Andreas's account of the A walks:

"On Saturday the A party walk led by Julian made an ascent of Wild Boar Fell. From the hotel we headed round the back of Harter Fell before ascending over open access land up Ravenstonedale Common to the top of Wild Boar Fell. It was a steady climb and upon reaching the summit we had a wide panoramic view of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales peaks. We headed to the Mallerstone Edge for an impressive view of the valley below. Shouts were made for steam train as bellowing smoke was noted in the distance but it was a false alarm as it was heather controlling fire. (I checked later back at base on Wi-Fi and found all steam train excursions had been cancelled due to railway engineering work on the famous Settle Carlisle line). Our descent saw a slight deep drop before reaching a bridleway back to the Fat Lamb. Our distance was measured as being 12 miles when it was anticipated that it might be 13.

On Sunday the A party went by car to the Cross Keys north of Sedbergh for an ascent of the Howgill mountain range. Our walk started along a very picturesque valley up to Cautley Spout waterfall where we went part way up before heading to climb up Yarlside which was very strenuous due to spongy and grassy terrain. From Yarlside we moved on to Kensgriff before taking a very steep descent off the summit to our next port of call being Randygill Top. Here we had wonderful panoramic views of snow-capped Lake District peaks such as Great Gable and Scafell, Cross Fell with its early warning radar dome and the high peaks of the Yorkshire Dales. The walk continued on to Green Bell then Grere Fell before finishing our last top Wandale Fell. Our descent back to Cross Keys involved having to walk across a river on the few boulders of stones. Luckily the water was shallow.

It had been good day weather wise with clear visibility giving wonderful views and plenty of sunshine at times. Our mileage was 10 miles. Thank you to Julian for leading the A walks and to Paul for supplying us with mini Cadbury selection chocolates on both days. Despite the recent withdrawal of certain chocolates due to plastics being found in them we had no after effects so there was no alarm."

Peter's account of the B walks:

"On Saturday we walked into Ravenstonedale village, then followed Scandale beck a tributary of the Eden and joined the old railway track through the Smardale Nature Reserve over the restored viaduct to Smardale Hall. We returned on a footpath climbing gradually over Ash Fell eventually descending back to the Fat Lamb.  The total distance was about 10 miles.

On Sunday we took cars to Kirkby Stephen station and did a circular walk taking in roads, field paths and tracks eventually descending into the Eden Valley, past Lammerside Castle ruins and Wharton Hall skirting Nateby to join the track of the old Stainmore railway which includes two restored viaducts Podgill and Merrygill.  On reaching the village of Hartley we descended to Kirkby Stephen where we had tea and cakes in the church café.  We then returned to Kirkby Stephen station which is 2 miles from the town it serves.  The total distance was about 9 miles."

On Sunday evening we enjoyed a variety of quizzes kindly provided by Peter including anagrams of cities/towns and common household implements and a place name quiz. An adjudicator was called for at one point and the chosen fellow guest took this role most seriously having been a quiz master before. He even mulled over one of his decisions over night and apologised for it the following morning at breakfast!

On the Monday morning a small group of us had a pleasant stroll into Ravenstonedale and enjoyed morning coffee by a roaring log fire in the Black Swan where we were treated to a few chords on the piano by Peter before making our way back.

Thank you to Peter for organising the weekend and for leading the B walks.