Monday, October 8, 2012

Hiking from Hill Top, a cautionary tale

First I want to say we did have a map.  We were following it backward at first, but that’s not the part that gave us problems.

We turned left out of Hill Top and turned left again at the first lane. If you look very carefully, beyond the fields but before the hills, you might see some water. I think, after looking at the map, that this might be Esthwaite Water.

Hill top maybe Esthwaite water

We turned down another lane

Hill Top hike narrow road

(and yes, cars drive on that) and walked a little farther.  If you look very carefully at this picture, again at the end of the field, you might see some other water. I think that is, perhaps, Out Dubs Tarn.

hill top maybe out dubs tarn

As you might expect, the Lake District has many different names for bodies of water. Things I might call “lakes” are “water” or “mere.” (I just realized that what I’ve been calling “Lake Windermere” is labeled just “Windermere” on the map. So I guess I’ve been writing Lake Winder Lake Winking smile.) They have Rydal Water, Esthwaite Water, Coniston Water. Smaller things that I might call ponds are tarns like Out Dubs Tarn. (It’s near Dub How Farm—maybe that’s how it got named?)

We also came across some fancy cattle.

Hill top walk--belted galloways

I thought maybe some of the sheep had knitted these guys sweaters, but no, it turns out they are Belted Galloways.

We then left the lane and walked up through Bishop Woods, still following the map.

Hill top walk--Bishop Woods

Mr. M is leading the this field.

Hill Top walk--field after woods

And no, we weren’t lost yet, but I do want to apologize to everyone whose field we crossed.  I’m sure there’s some rule about how to properly hike these “paths,” and I’m just as sure we must have broken it.  But we meant well!

This brought us to St. Peter’s Church. I wasn’t able to get a picture of the church that I really liked because the fence and trees hemmed me in, but I thought this was interesting.

hill top walk cemetary

The church is at my back. This is the cemetery.  I found more pictures on line. ‘

I think this is about the time we came upon an elderly couple—yes, more elderly than us, and they were using canes as well—walking up a hill, looking for a pub. So we tried to help them.  The Cuckoo Brown Inn was at the top of the hill, and the gentleman said that it qualified as a pub. So our good deed for the day done, we headed off on the second loop of this hike—and that is where we made our fatal error.

Hill top walk--perhaps the fatal error

Not that we knew it at the time, of course. We enjoyed the scenery.

Hill top walk more fields

Read the signs.

hill top walk poacher sign

(This may not be that unusual, but it’s not a sign I’ve seen in the D.C. area. Poachers make me think of Regency lords and country estates.)

Admired the bridges.

Hill Top walk Mr. M by puddle bridge

(I don’t believe this puddle would qualify as a tarn.)

Navigated stepping stones.

Hill top walk--some flooding

And generally enjoyed being on a well-marked, easy to follow path.

Hill top walk--wrong, but nice, path 

Until we got here

hill top walk--lost--Moss Eccles Tarn

and finally decided we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. I think Mr. M might have forged ahead nevertheless (and we might have reached Scotland), but I saw some people to ask, and so I picked my way through the brush and boulders to inquire. I don’t know if they didn’t all speak English or I was especially scary looking, but I got the impression most of them drew back except for one large, burly young man—who had an Ordinance map! 

We had indeed gone wrong. Where we should have been going roughly northeast and then southeast, we’d been heading northwest and had reached the lovely Moss Eccles Tarn that you see in the picture. There was nothing to be done but to retrace our steps.

I was still happily taking pictures of fields and walls—the walls will show up in a later post—as Mr. M was trying to hurry me along. I had made the mistake of saying I thought the ferry might stop around 5—I was very wrong—and he did not want to be stranded. (We had seen a notice coming over with the telephone number to call if you did get stranded, but since we didn’t have a cell phone, that wasn’t going to be much help.)

We finally located the correct trail—checking with the other folks on it to be certain.

hill top walk finally on the right path to the ferry

I’m still taking pictures and Mr. M is still trying to get me to move along.

Hill top walk--hurry up

He did take this shot of what I think is Bowness across Windermere.

Hill top walk--perhaps Bowness from across the lake

The footing was a bit precarious—wet and rocky—and I almost took a nose dive on more than one occasion. As we were coming down the last hill, we encountered two other couples, one younger and one roughly our age. The older woman asked if the view was worth the climb, and I managed to be indecisive enough that I made her decision for her. It was a good walk—I was happy to have done it—but it was a bit tricky and the views weren’t spectacular, so I think I steered her right.  And Mr. M was of the opinion she hadn’t been especially eager for the hike even before I gave it a less than glowing endorsement. (I actually said nothing—my silence and my facial expression said it all.)

We finally reached the ferry area

hill top walk almost at ferry

and headed back to Bowness. I had to try out my telephoto lens again, though.

hill top walk another  back on the ferry

I love how blue the water is.

hill top walk back on the ferry


  1. What a wonderful series of posts this is! I went to George Washington University and later moved out to Virginia horse country. There were many warning signs for poachers posted in Middleburg, Upperville and down in Warrenton.

    1. Thanks, Ally. I'm sad to say I'd sort of abandoned this blog, so I'm just now--more than two years later!--seeing your comment. I know GW, but I haven't ventured into the Virginia horse country. I'm not surprised there would be such signs.