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Ski Club of Manchester Cumbria Weekend 2023, Linear Walk over Gowbarrow Fell — Sunday 14th May

Leader: Helen Richardson

Reporter: Phil Hayward

A select group of 7 met at the Aira Force NT carpark — Helen, Liz, Bill, Paul, Phil, Wendy and her whippet Barney. We caught the 580 bus to Pooley Bridge.

We were walking 7 miles of the Ullswater Way, which is a circular walk of 20 miles, circumnavigating Ullswater.

From Pooley Bridge we crossed the new bridge which replaced the historic stone bridge (built in 1764), destroyed by storm Desmond in 2015. The new bridge is the first stainless steel bridge in the UK. We met a large group of ramblers from Barrow doing the same walk as us but they managed to get lost within the next mile. They obviously didn’t have a leader as good as Helen.

The route climbs gradually up to Maiden Castle which was believed to be an Iron Age settlement. All that remains is a 80m circular ditch. It was a great vantage point with views as far as Cross Fell in the Northern Pennines. From here the route goes through the hamlet of Bennethead and towards Priest’s Crag. We stopped nearby some gorse bushes below the Crag for lunch but found that the area was full of flies. We moved further on where there was a breeze and no flies. There were good views towards Ullswater and Place fell beyond.

Down below was the All Saints church which was built in 1881 near the original site of a medieval church. A recent addition to the Ullswater Way is the instalment of the 3 Herdwick stones which celebrate the role of shepherding in the Ullswater Valley. These are situated between Watermillock and Gowbarrow and depict the first 3 numbers of the sheep counting system used in Cumbria — Yan, Tan and Tethera.

After lunch we walked through the woodland of Swinburn Park and from there it was a steady climb to the summit of Gowbarrow at 481m. There were great views all-around to the Dodds and the Ullswater region.

After negotiating the steep descent we found a good path down towards Aira force. The stream flowing over the waterfall is Aira Beck which descends from Stybarrow Dodd. After viewing the main waterfall we followed the woodland trail through a large variety of pine trees. We watched a number of people swimming in the various pools and although tempted to join them, quickly descended down to the NT cafe for coffee, cake and ice-cream.

We then droveto the Royal Hotel at Dockray, where Paul and Liz kindly provided tea and more cake.

Thanks to Helen for leading an interesting and enjoyable walk.

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