The Lakeside Way Part Two: Kielder Dam to Leaplish Waterside Park 17.5 miles

The walk comes full circle.

So after deciding to stop the first part of this blog after 8.5 miles in my infinite wisdom I decided to squeeze the remaining 17.5 miles into a second part. Here goes.

The first of those 17.5 miles involved the crossing of the Kielder Dam from which I had a view of the daunting task that lay in front of me, walking the full length of Kielder Water. It was just after 11:30 so without further ado I got a move on.

The North Shore of Kielder Water is different to the South as there are no roads, no visitor centres, no sign of human life of any kind apart from the odd Lakeside Wayer. That’s probably why I prefer it. The only landmarks / goals in the 12 miles to Kielder Castle are a number of imaginative sculptures (more of those later).

Anyway, cracking on the first few miles were eaten up as fast as a Romeo’s pizza after a night out at Ritzys. So fast I almost missed a large polished piece of sculptured silver metal, The Belvedere. This was my first encounter with a sculpture and there isn’t much to say about this one other than that it is a large polished piece of sculptured silver metal and that it marks the only point on the North Shore where the ferry docks. Resisting the temptation to end my walk prematurely I walked on to Robin’s Hut! If you have read the first part of this blog you will know all about this (hint,hint)!

On passing the hut, which is a lot like Pizza Hut except without the pizza, a familiar rumble meant it was nearly lunchtime. Thinking I’d stop at the next seat (there’s usually one every 50 yards!) in an open area as the sun was out, I pressed on. Low and behold the next 20 minutes passed with no seat and continuous thick woodland! However, just as the rumble had reached the noise level of thunder, the path suddenly opened out with a seat giving an amazing view over the water. Seated with a tuna sandwich and kettle crisps the rest was a well earned one as I was halfway along the North Shore.

Unfortunately due to the hot sunshine and tired feet the next few miles became a dawdle! Janus (Sean Bean’s) chairs were my next sculpture and by far my favourite so far! Laid out at waters edge I was tempted to stay there for the rest of the day but somehow tearing myself away I got back on the path. With a renewed determination I marched on and after passing some salmon, a giant head and some screaming school kids I reaching the picturesque viaduct at the end of the North Shore.

I now had a choice: continue on with 5.5 miles to go or stop at Kielder Castle. Despite the feeling of blisters I decided to stop as I had an overwhelming need for an ice-cream! Whilst waiting to order at Kielder Castle café the guy in front of me randomly wanted a mince pie and seemed suicidal when they didn’t have any!

Solero eaten, the last part of my walk along the South Shore lay ahead. Before really getting going I poked my head in at Bakethin reservoir’s bird hide and was assured by the twitcher inside that an Osprey would appear in exactly 20 minutes! Extremely sceptical and with a pizza waiting for me back at base I decided to not wait and hit the trail hard.

Before long I was at Lewisburn where the path sends you on an annoying but worthwhile detour to cross the world’s 21,587th longest but most attractive suspension bridge in the world. That done, and with the aid of a tangerine, I negotiated the scouts and midges at Hawkhirst.

With 1.5 miles to go I could almost taste James Bond’s beer of choice waiting for me at the Boat Inn, Leaplish. There where still some perils to overcome though most notably the snooker club but with some sidespin and a kick I made it past and to the end of my walk.

Sitting outside the Boat, Kielder Water was laid out before me! To circle it had presented a stiff challenge but I had overcome it. As I rested my aching, blistered feet I remembered that the next walk I plan to do in a day is 14 miles further! I might need some new feet for that one or maybe borrow Bilbo’s!

The Lakeside Way: 26 miles: Done by Jamie Fenwick in 11 hours.

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The Lakeside Way Part One: Leaplish Waterside Park to Kielder Dam 8.5 miles

Starting at World’s End.

Tackling the 26 miles in one day is a challenge I had set myself since the Lakeside Way was opened in 2009. However, up to now even though my parents’ caravan has been located 17 strides from the Lakeside Way for 3 out of the past 4 years, I had chickened out. I had only completed half the trail in one day through use of the Osprey Ferry albeit numerous times. But I thought now at the age of 26 I was at the right age to complete the full 26 miles all in one go.

I was so determined that only one thing was going to stop me, well maybe slow me down, the world ending! And as luck would have it the night before setting off I thought that was exactly what was happening. Whilst conducting my customary mental preparations for a walk, in this case reading Dan Brown’s Inferno and going back to the future, I heard some strange bangs outside. Having tented at festivals I am used to hearing strange noises on a campsite but even these caught my attention. Naturally I ignored them for an hour thinking they’d go away but when they didn’t I decided to investigate. Opening the caravan door and pricking my ears they definitely sounded like explosions…..! Looking around the site I was expecting to see signs of panic people doing as I was doing getting out of their caravans to see what was going on. Then I remembered I was pretty much the only person on the site! Radio 5 live was my only source of information so when I didn’t hear any emergency transmissions I figured it was fine! Then it dawned on me Newcastle was in the direction the explosions were happening that explained everything…………………… For no reason other than that there is a military base that way where they usually have live firing and sometimes rocket launches (if you watch Top Gear)! So, reassured but not entirely convinced, I went to bed.

Waking up and realising I was still here I figured the world hadn’t ended, which meant I could crack on in tackling the Lakeside Way. It was always going to be a tall order and required a very early start. But as always my intention for an early start had been prevented by the comfiness of the bed and my preference for lie-ins. It didn’t delay me too much though and on the dot of 17 minutes past eight after a breakfast of crumpets with beans and cheese I was off.

After negotiating the 17 strides downhill from the caravan site to Leaplish Waterside Park with no problems aside from forgetting my bins I was treated with a view across to the north shore of Kielder Water. It didn’t seem all that far but then I remembered I wasn’t God, Jesus or Bruce Almighty and therefore did not possess the ability to walk on water. Also, my usual route i.e. the ferry did not set off for another 2 hours so the only way to get there was taking the Lakeside Way. So if I was going to complete the challenge, now seemed like the best time.

Having already decided to take the anti-clockwise route (the reason will be clear soon) I set off with gravel beneath my feet in direction of Kielder Dam. The wooded first half mile was interrupted by a sighting of a red squirrel, close to the appropriately named red squirrel hide. Forced out by the dominant grey squirrel in most parts of England, the red squirrel thrive in this area and this was my third sighting in three days. The sun made an appearance as I emerged from the trees and with a warm temperature and blue sky as far as the eye could see I took the unprecedented step of taking my t-shirt off?!?!? Not wishing to give anyone watching Google Earth at that point too much of a shock ten minutes later it was back on and you’ll be glad to hear stayed on for the remainder of the walk.

It was at this point that I passed Freya’s cabin. This is one of numerous sculptures on the route. This one faces across the water towards Robin’s hut on the other side. There is a love story which links the placing of the two structures but I have neither the time nor will power to tell you about it. Freya’s cabin itself marks the start of the aggressively named Bull Crag peninsula which as the name suggests used to strike fear into the hearts of all Lakeside Wayers. In the past the only way to negotiate the peninsula was to follow the shoreline path which although picturesque is long and arduous. Now, thankfully for most people, a shortcut has been created which leaves the shoreline and cuts across the peninsula shaving at least 2 miles off the length of the path. However, as I wanted the complete the Lakeside Way properly the shoreline path was my route. This was the reason I had started off in an anti-clockwise direction as I knew if I went the other way round and came to this point last I would definitely have taken the shortcut.

There isn’t much to say about tackling the peninsula, I knew this was going to be the most difficult part of the route and the task was just to put my head down and get through it which I did. My reward was a downhill hairpin bend section of the path which emerged at Cranecleugh Bridge. This has always been one of my favourite sections of the Lakeside Way and seemed the perfect place for my first rest and first drink.

Leaving Cranecleugh, Tower Knowe Visitor Centre wasn’t far away after passing the boats at Whickhope Anchorage. With tourist information, a café and that most important of feature some toilettes Tower Knowe, along with Leaplish and Kielder Castle is one of the more popular parts of the Water and there were indeed many cars in the car park but having enough provisions and info I pressed on. The DAM was the next landmark three quarters of mile further on and quite a landmark it is. According to my pre-determined schedule this was the stopping point for a banana, a Capri sun and a complete view down the length of Kielder Water. 8.5 miles completed 17.5 to go!

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The Walking Adventures.

This blog concentrates on my trials and tribulations in completing:

  • The Yorkshire Wolds Way, a 79 mile national trail walk in East Yorkshire which connects the Humber town of Hessle to the seaside town of Filey.
  • The Lakeside Way, a 26 mile multi-user path encircling the shore of Kielder Water, the
    largest artificial lake by capacity in Britain, situated in Northumberland.


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Wolds Way Day One: Hessle Haven to Wind Turbines (Arras Hill) 20 miles

First Day Dash!

After an incredibly early morning start, an encounter with a surly train conductor and my first map consultation I made it to the start of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. The start at the Ferryboat Inn, Hessle Haven is significant for its insignificance, if you went past this point everyday you wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. But, if you look close enough, across the road from the Ferryboat Inn, next to the rubbish filled lay-by you will find a small sign which states ‘Yorkshire Wolds Way: Filey 79 miles’. That seemed like a long way so after updating my facebook status at precisely 7: 29 and twelve seconds it was time to get cracking!

Passing alongside the clean, clear, azure blue waters of the River Humber a stone marker with the national trail symbol of an acorn was the first landmark on the route. The second was just a few steps further on and quite a lot bigger, the Humber Bridge. Passing underneath it, a diversion along the ‘beach’ was unexpected not least as the Wolds are supposed to be a range of chalk hills and this was about as far away from this image as possible. I figured this was the walk’s equivalent of Gandalf’s deep breath before the plunge.

The aptly named Long Plantation marked the point where I left the Humber behind. Though, before I could get into the proper Wolds walking an expected barrier blocked my path, the stupidly busy A63. Luckily a ‘Dodgeball’ (If you can dodge traffic you can dodge a ball!) style dash between traffic was uncalled for due to a handily placed junction.

A climb through woods beyond the road, negotiating a buzzard and a scout assault course, finally marked the start of the Wolds. However, the feeling of countryside isolation didn’t truly begin until I had passed through the village of Welton, a former haunt of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. Beyond, my enjoyment of the first of many grassy dales was met with song not of bird but of band. The unmistakable melody of Mr Brightside was somehow echoing through the valley. My mind raced, were The Killers playing a concert nearby (extremely unlikely) was I imagining my student life had returned and I was throwing some shapes on the dance floor (quite unlikely). No, my phone was ringing. Was it one of my many ‘girlfriends’? Rihanna, Maria, Cheryl, Tulisa? No, surprise surprise it was my mother. After assuring her I had not been eaten by a were-rabbit I pressed on, with the aid of some helpful graffiti, to the picturesque church at Brantingham.

The following climbs, first out of Brantingham Wold then up the attractively named Woo Dale were tackled with relative ease. A tantalising view over South Cave, with its sauna and Italian bakery, was my reward but despite the temptations on offer I pressed on. Lunch, of a ham salad sandwich and an imaginary packet of forgotten kettle crisps, was taken on my first wooden sculptured seat. The descent from here, past Drewton into Weedley Dale crossing the now extinct railway line which connected the beautiful conurbations at Hull and Barnsley then up via the treacherous when wet East Dale, has always been one of my favourites.

That done, a tantalising view lay before me over many fields and dales to my finishing point. To get there I would have to face off against a Welshman’s favourite animal in beautiful Swin Dale, overcome the feeling of my first blister and somehow keep breathing past the world’s smelliest farm. Thankfully I managed to just about conquer these challenges and made it relatively unharmed to the Wind Turbines where a silver VW Tiguan was waiting to whisk me away to my first overnight stop. After walking 20 miles in seven hours my first day was over. C u 2moro Wolds Way!

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Wolds Way Day Two: Wind Turbines (Arras Hill) to Huggate 17 miles

The Day of Relaxation.

Having spent the first night in the homely atmosphere of …..erm home, I was eager to get going on day 2 despite the presence of two blisters. However, two things stood in my way; first my preference for lie-ins and second the packing of my rucksack. Conquering the first turned out to be surprisingly easy, I wish the same could be said of the second. After packing and repacking the thing countless times I minimised the contents down to the bare essentials I would need for the next three days which included a sneaky can of magners (see Day 3!). That done the silver VW Tiguan whisked me back to the exact point I had stopped yesterday and on the dot of 15 minutes past 10 I was off again.

Luckily my effort yesterday meant Day 2 was shorter than Day 1 and started at the top of a hill which despite being windswept meant I was on the downhill at least for now. Negotiating the other main road around these parts, the A1079, and two fields the descent took me to a crossroads. The Hudson Way runs along the second former railway along the route the Market Weighton to Beverley line and this gave me a choice. I could either turn left to the familiar town of MW with its various takeaways and pubs or keep going straight. Having stocked up with provisions the night before I decided to keep it on the straight and narrow. The route from now will be very familiar to anyone who has been to Market Weighton Secondary School and participated in the school walk.

Yes you heard me right, a school walk, an annual event where the whole school (minus the ones who feigned injury or illness) turned out to walk to Nunburnholme and back. An activity presumably designed to let us kids know we were in the countryside. I shouldn’t make fun of it really, I actually enjoyed it and if it wasn’t for that walk I probably wouldn’t be walking this walk, I wouldn’t be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it. (So if you have any complaints about being bored to death by this blog please send them in a stamped address envelope to The Market Weighton School School Walk Department, Market Weighton, POBox 80085).

Back on the trail the macho-ly titled village of Goodmanham, with its pub told me Monday was pie night, Wednesday was quiz night and what was the day today? Tuesday! Moving swiftly on my first encounter with cows occured in the attractive Londesborough Park. I usually avoid walking past cows like the plague but these where far enough from the path for me to pass through undetected.

The route from Londesborough to Nunburnholme was forgettable for its tarmac section but memorable for its views, a gigantic arrow and my first encounter with some fellow Wolds Wayers. They were completing it in 6 days (amateurs) and had the same guidebook as me which prompted a competition over whose was the oldest which I won by 10 years! After lunching on scotch eggs I left the school pupils behind on the tough climb out of Nunburnholme. The views at the top were over Buddhists to KP golf club, which if you intend visiting and you don’t want a slap on the wrists remember smart black trousers (no black jeans) and spiked golf trolley wheels!

Walking on, a second sculptured seat offered a view of the most quaintest of Wolds villages Millington. While seated, a capri sun and a quick map check told me I was way ahead of schedule. This prompted dawdling, some surfing here, some sun bathing there. I therefore reached my overnight halt, The Wolds Inn Huggate, at the, I thought, reasonable hour of 5pm. Obviously the Wolds Inn didn’t think so and did not open until 6! Some more dawdling ensued before the magical doors were opened. A chat with the landlord regarding accommodation prompted direction to the beer garden! Far from being confused this was what I was expecting as if you spent some money in the pub you got to camp for free in the beer garden! After pitching the tent, a magners (bottle of) with ice in the pub was very welcome as was the trio of yorkshire puds, chips and fish, and sticky toffee pud. A pint of San Miguel, a chat with a local and an envious look at the vacant pool table ended Day 2! Bring on Day 3!

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Wolds Way Day Three: Huggate to West Knapton 20 miles

The Day the rain came (The best day!)

Thinking this was going to be the best day of the walk I was eager to get going so waking up at 8am after a comfy but chilly night, in the beer garden of the Wolds Inn, was seemingly perfect. What I should have foreseen however, was the hour lie-in that was to follow. This was punished by having to take my tent down in the rain never a joyful task. The offer of a cup of tea from next door was welcome, but declining I was hoping for richer pickings in the pub. The prospects looking grim as I was met on opening the door with a stern faced landlord who didn’t look like he was going to give me as much as a smile. However, my request of a sausage sandwich and cup of tea was met with a smile by the landlady. Seated in the restaurant I was provided with a sausage AND EGG sandwich plus a ginormous pot of tea with an extra pot of hot water, a veritable feast. And all for the princely sum of £3.00! The sarnie and four cups of tea later I was finally ready for the off, but before I could get going the party of breakfasters on a nearby table warned me of the showers to come. This forecast, unlike weather forecasts in general, was to be proved right perhaps with the addition of the word heavy to describe the showers!

On the way out of Huggate there was no sign of the wet stuff but the anorak was not dispensed with as the sky had an angry look about it. And sure enough, after passing by some shredded wheat the heavens opened as I descended into Horse Dale. Fortunately, the lightness of the rain for the moment meant I could press on, via a third wooden sculptured seat, to the village of Fridaythorpe, where a welcome info board told me I was just about half-way towards my goal. A brief drinks break was taken in a bright orange hut in the company of some hungry scon-loving ducks and some scown-eating wolds wayers.

My stay was necessarily brief I was eager to quack on in anticipation of Thixendale. All too soon though my way was I thought blocked by Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons, however on closer inspection of the map I did not require the assistance of John McClane as I had entered Bruber not Gruber Dale. Thixendale, at the junction of maybe 16 dales, is the remotest of all Wolds villages and as such is cut off at the mere mention of the building blocks of snowmen. I decided to visit Thixendale’s ‘massive’ conservatory shop to stock up on those bare essentials (homemade chocolate brownie and cherry bakewell). I had to earn these treats by conquering the climb out of Thixendale. My reward at the top was the return of the rain with a vengeance meaning the beautiful dale top walk to the deserted village of Wharram Percy turned into a head down bull dodging march.

The Black Death and a change in farming practice caused Wharram Percy to be abandoned in medieval times. Now it is just a place for learning history and for a picnic. Having done my fair share of history learning my visit was purely food related and so the now remembered kettle crisps, hardening scotch eggs and dwindling stash of capri suns were feasted upon by the pond nr the ruined church. Thankfully the rain had abated during lunch and it mercifully kept away on the food driven strides to Wharram le Street.

Unfortunately the respite in the weather was not to last and on the route out of Wharram le Street back came the rain harder than ever before. Luckily a nearby barn of weetabix provided good shelter although the presence of thistles and nettles in the exact place I wanted to stand was problematic. Fortunately 10 minutes later I was able to move on but in the next dale the heavens opened again. The only shelter this time was the thinnest tree in the world which thankfully provided surprisingly good protection. However, by the time this shower had ceased it was getting quite late and I still had a fair way to go. This meant a quickening in my pace and an ignorance of what was around me so the two and a half miles from Settrington Beacon to Wintringham passed in a blur. The only evidence I had of walking this section was incredibly muddy trousers and the feeling of many blisters.

The address of my campsite was Wintringham but I knew I still had a couple of miles to go. The first of these was a fantastic gradual wooded ascent the second was an almost vertical climb on loose stones. With a heavy backpack on, this was actually quite scary but with the thought of a can of magners to drive me on I made it to the top and what a sight greeted me! The rain had finally ceased for the day in the woods and at the top of a hill the sun came out and provided the backdrop to a stunning view across the North York Moors. Thankfully, with my feet killing me, my overnight halt at the appropriately named Yorkshire Wolds Way Caravan and Camping site was just a few hundred metres further on.

After purchasing a well-earned lucozade from the site shop and pitching my tent next to the adventure playground it was time to experience the luxury this £5 a night, four star site had to offer. A hot shower, a drying of the wet clothes, a phone charge, and a microwaved pasta meal later I was seated watching grand designs on the four channel TV with the thing I had looked forward to for the past two days that can of magners. I’d love to tell you that it was worth the extra weight in my backpack and I will tell you that because it was! The perfect end to a great walking day! 

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Wolds Way Day Four: West Knapton to Filey Brigg 22 miles

The Long march to the finish.

After being assured the night before by some fellow tent campers, who unnervingly were filling two hot water bottles, that I was going to freeze to death I had slept in all of my clothes. This seemed to work as when I woke there was a chill but my toes were still working and my hair was the only part of me that was slightly frozen. The hot shower that followed was very welcome as was the hot chocolate. However, I must say that the hot chocolate was not a patch on the chocomilk from PA which if sold in bulk would have the same attraction as Coca Cola or Heinz Tomato Ketchup. On returning to my tent I was somewhat surprised to see some ferocious beasts attacking it but after the chickens had dispersed I was able to pack up and was ready for the off.

I knew what to expect for the majority of today’s section and so wasn’t surprised on leaving the campsite to find myself on a high ridge with wide-ranging views over the Vale of Pickering. Making good time my first landmark was a fourth wooden sculptured seat which featured an emotional moment for me as I said goodbye to an old friend. Capri Suns had kept me going up until now but now it was time to say adieu to the final one. Walking on, the path was inundated with the droppings of a Welshman’s favourite animal. So much so that if someone gets through this section without stepping in any they should be knighted.

The ridge walking continued, via a brief descent then climb out of Sherburn and a pig spectated golf course, to the village of Ganton where the route again came down the slope. However, before long I was on the up again as a steep ascent brought me to Staxton Brow. Having not partaken in lunch as yet I did consider a stop at Staxton Brow picnic site, however the busy road to get there made me reconsider. Pressing on, the annoyingly long tarmac section that followed was a disappointment. This took me on tip toes, looking down past the m.o.d’s top secret radar air defence station at Staxton Wold. Negotiating this obstacle another testing climb was a prelude for a return to the field paths through dales that had been my home for the past three and a half days. Passing through Raven Dale, Camp Dale and Stocking Dale this was to be my final taste of the Wolds landscape and I decided to make it last a bit longer by finally taking a well-earned sun-drenched lunch.

From here the walk made its last gradual descent off the Wolds and a view towards the coast at Flamborough Head, the location for many a geography field trip, was a fitting finale. The Head was not my destination though and walking through Muston (the gateway to Filey) my anticipation was growing as I knew I was nearing my finishing point at the Brigg. However, two barriers stood in my way, first the incredibly busy A165 connecting the famous seaside towns of Bridlington and Scarborough. This time in the spirit of Dodgeball I made it across and I was in Filey. Here the second barrier presented itself, namely the disappearance without a trace of all Wolds Way signs. But with the help of Roger Ratcliffe’s bible I made it through the streets to the seafront.

I was close now (and not having completed any national trails before) I imagined what would greet me at the finish. Would it be dancing girls, a brass band, some popping champagne corks. Unurprisingly, no, a familiar stone marker on Filey Brigg marked the spot where my 79 mile walk came to an end. As I took a seat I was happy with my four days work and tempted by the Cleveland Way sign declaring ‘Helmsley 110 miles’. But I decided that was for another day.

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