|A grey but dry autumn day prompted me to walk the one bit of St Johns in the Vale I had not yet explored. I set off over my stile and headed up to the gate in the intake wall a hundred yards or so up the fellside. Then north along a faint track which took me below the peat track which leads up Beckthorns Rib to the ridge and Calfhow Pike. It was quite nice to be there and not have to climb the steep peat track.
Looking back to Fornside
The path above the intake wall looks too good to be a sheep track yet there is no sign of human footprints - apart from mine of course. I reckon the track (which eventually leads to the quarries at Lowthwaite) was originally used by quarrymen over 100 years ago as an alternative route to the farms and dwellings on the east side of St Johns in the Vale. Now it sees a very occasional walker - maybe one party a month - certainly no more than that. So, best done in autumn or winter when the bracken has died down a bit.
First landmark is the crossing of Beckthorns Gill with a nice little waterfall and a view down to my neighbours at Beckthorns House. Then to the crossing of Sand Bed Gill near Bram Crag Farm - a HUGE chasm going deep into the cliffs of Bram Crag. Yet the bed is dry and stony with just a trickle of water heard underneath the scree.
An old stile leads into the largely disused Lowthwaite Quarries. No longer worked but used for storage and littered with the relics of their glory days. I had hoped to see the herd of semi wild goats (led by an ENORMOUS billy goat) but I was not in luck. Various points in the quarries give good views of the start of the notorious route up Fisher Wife's Rake.
Then down to the road at Lowthwaite to pick up the footpath to Bridge House after a few hunderd yards of road walking. Lots of Jacob sheep on the path to Bridge House - Polly can't work out if they are sheep or cows! Bridge House is rather mysterious and started life hundreds of years ago as a rather splendid farm house and in recent years has been a holiday let, a residential let and a retreat for nuns! Not a nun in sight now though.
From Bridge house a footpath leads back south along the valley to Sosgill Bridge near Fornside. There was a bull in with the herd of cows in the field by Sosgill Bridge. My Townies book of country law says that beef breed bulls are fine if they are in with cows. The cows had small udders so I assumed they were a beef breed and assumed that the bull was the same. I am still alive to tell the tale! ;)
Two hours of fascinating walking and one I shall do again as it is just right for a long dog walk.
Enjoy the pictures http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/561065880HoSCZL