Ribblehead Viaduct


Ribblehead Viaduct carries the Settle-Carlisle railway across the upper Ribble Valley. It is 400 metres long, and 32 metres high at its highest point. It consists of 24 arches, each 14 metres wide.IMG_5476

The viaduct was built between 1870 and 1874. British Rail attempted to close the line in the 1980s, but a public outcry led to it being repaired in 1991.


The above photo was taken in 2014 . . . although a much younger-looking Midge visited  the same spot in 2010:


Hundreds of navvies lost their lives in the original building of the Settle-Carlisle railway. In St Leonard’s Church, in nearby Chapel-le-Dale, there are two memorials to them, one contemporary and one more modern:




Why visit?

The viaduct is a magnificent structure, probably the most impressive example of engineering on the entire Settle-Carlisle line.

Its setting, in the western Yorkshire Dales, is also magnificent. Situated at the foot of Whernside, the Ribblehead Viaduct is one of the iconic views of the Yorkshire Dales and, in particular,  the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge walk.


The third of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Ingleborough, is also visible from the arches of the viaduct:


Even the first of the Peaks, Pen-y-ghent, can be seen in the distance:


The Station Inn is situated close to the viaduct, with its beer garden providing splendid views of Ribblehead and Whernside:


Ribblehead Station is also worth a visit, as it has been restored to its original Victorian state, and houses an exhibition about the history of the line.

Circular walks

There are numerous walks in the area. Two favourites involve a circular including an ascent of Ingleborough, either returning via Chapel-le-Dale (11 miles) or Ingleton (14 miles) Or, for a greater challenge, there is the Yorkshire Three Peaks!


Getting there

Ribblehead viaduct lies six miles north-east of Ingleton, along the B6255. It is about 20 miles east of the M6 at Junction 36.



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Height: 724m (2375 feet)
Drop: 427m
Classification: Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall

Ingleborough is the second highest hill in the Yorkshire Dales, and one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. it has a distinctive appearance, consisting of horizontal layers of limestone, interspersed with gritstone.



These layers of limestone were laid down in the Carboniferous period (340 – 300 million years ago), when Yorkshire was covered with a warm and shallow sea. The limestone consists of the fossilised remains of tiny sea-creatures whose skeletal remains sank to the bottom of this sea. When the climate cooled, as happened a couple of times during the Carboniferous period, sea levels fell, and the area became delta-like, allowing rivers to cover the limestone with sandstone and gritstone. Erosion of the different types of stone has occurred at different speeds, giving the step-like appearance to the hill.


Ingleborough has an iconic profile, when viewed from nearby Whernside or from Ribblehead.


Walking routes

It is most usually climbed from Ingleton (4 miles), Clapham (5½ miles), or Chapel-le-Dale (3 miles).

Three notable circular walking routes are:

  1. Clapham to Ingleborough summit, descend to Ingleton, and return to Clapham along field paths via Greenwood Leghe and Newby (13 miles)
  2. Ingleton to summit of Ingleborough, descend to Chapel-le-Dale, and return via Scales Moor (12 miles)
  3. Ingleton to summit of Ingleborough, descend over Park Fell to Ribblehead Station, and return via Ribblehead viaduct and Scales Moor (15 miles)

Refreshments are available at all four villages of Clapham (New Inn), Ingleton (Wheatsheaf or Craven heifer), Ribblehead (Station Inn), and Chapel-le-Dale (Old Hill Inn).





SD 73849 81416
Height: 736m (2415 feet)
Drop: 408m
Classification: Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall, County top

Whernside is the highest hill in North Yorkshire, and lies on the border with Cumbria. It is also one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks (usually the second to be walked).

It is most commonly ascended from Ribblehead Viaduct, which lies 2½ miles to the south-west.



In common with many limestone hills in this area, the summit of Whernside consists of a long plateau, running from north to south.


There are excellent views towards the Lakeland hills, and the west coast. On a clear day, with binoculars, Blackpool Tower can be seen. Nearby, there is an excellent view of Ingleborough.


Walking routes

The usual route of the Three Peaks would see Whernside ascended from Ribblehead, and descended south to Bruntscar and Chapel-le-Dale. The ascent from Ribblehead is about six miles, while from Chapel-le-Dale the ascent is about four miles. A circular route linking the two routes via Haws Gill Wheel would provide a splendid ten-mile walk, with refreshments available at the Station Inn at Ribblehead and the Old Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale.


As Whernside is situated within access land, it is possible to ascend and descend by numerous smaller paths.IMG_5518



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Height: 694m (2277 feet)
Drop: 306m
Classification: Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall

Pen-y-ghent is frequently walked for two reasons: it is one of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire (usually the first to be climbed), and it lies on the Pennine Way. It’s distinct profile makes it easily recognisable from a distance.



Pen-y-ghent is topped by a long plateau, running from north to south, which is reached by a satisfying-steep final climb.




The distinctive shape of pen-y-ghent derives from the two thick horizontal layers of limestone, which have eroded more slowly than the sandstone layers between them.

These beds of limestone were formed from the fossilised remains of small crustaceans. These creatures lived in a warm shallow sea that covered Yorkshire around 340 million years ago (during the Carboniferous period). The climate cooled around 320 million years ago, and again around 300 million years ago. During these two periods of cooling, the sea retreated and the area became more delta-like, and flowing rivers brought the gritstone and sandstone which form the intermediate layers in the hill today. The summit of Pen-y-ghent consists mainly of gritstone.

The name

The name of Pen-y-ghent probably derives from the Cambric language which was spoken in northern England and southern Scotland in the early Middle Ages, becoming extinct around the twelfth century. Pen means top, and ghent is thought to mean border. Thus Pen-y-ghent is the hill on the border. We do not know to what border this refers.

Getting there

Pen-y-ghent lies about 2½ miles west of Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and is most frequently walked from there. There are two main routes from the village. The first is by leaving the village to the south and taking a minor road to Brackenbottom, from where a footpath ascends the eastern face of the hill.


This route is the shortest, and the one usually followed when walking the Three Peaks. The second route is to leave Horton-in-Ribblesdale via a lane from the in the centre of the village. This is the route of the Pennine Way, and approaches the hill from the north.


Circular routes

Combining the two routes above gives the possibility of an excellent six-mile circular route. A slightly longer circular route can be had by following the Pennine Way a little further to the south of the summit, as far as Churn Milk Hole.IMG_5430


Barkhale Neolithic Camp


Sometimes, it is obvious that a landscape has some history attached. At other times, history leaves little trace and has to be gleaned from secondary sources. Such a place is Barkhale Camp.

In the photo above, it is just about possible to discern the line of an embankment curving into the distance. Originally, this would have been part of a huge embankment, oval in shape, and enclosing an area of land 215 metres by 145 metres. The embankment would have been surrounded by a ditch, and broken at several points by causeways, giving access to the area inside the embankment. It is easier to see the shape of the enclosure from the aerial view on Google maps: it covers most of the sheep field in the view below, and extends into the wood to the south.


The track across the lower half of the enclosure is a public bridleway (part of the South Downs Way) and probably dates from the early nineteenth century. Two small rises in this path signify where it crosses the Neolithic embankment (one is a few metres behind Midge in the photograph below).


When was it built?

There have been several excavations on Barkhale Camp, in 1929, 1958-61, and 1978. Large amounts of flint were discovered, including arrowheads and scrapers (for scraping animal hides). These discoveries would be consistent with an early Neolithic date. Excavations and radiocarbon dating at similar causewayed enclosures in southern Britain suggest they were built between 3700 BC and 3300 BC.

Why was it built?

At least 80 similar causewayed enclosures have been identified, mostly in the south east of Britain. Similar structures exist in continental Europe, and appear to have spread rapidly through Germany, France, and into Britain.

The causeways through the embankments are a common theme, and it is unlikely that the enclosures were primarily defensive. Excavations have revealed that enclosures typically contain a scattering of pits and post holes, and were probably not permanently inhabited. Archaeological finds suggest that they were places where disparate groups would meet periodically and engage in activities such as feasting, crafts, and death-rituals.

Like many such enclosures, Barkhale is near the summit of a hill but, unlike most ancient forts, it is sited on the slopes rather than at the summit.  This is typical of causewayed enclosures, and would have made them visible over a wide area of low-lying land. Barkhale Camp, cut into the bright chalk hillside, would have seemed like a beacon to large numbers of farmsteads scattered across the Sussex downland. Perhaps these enclosures were meeting-places where groups could gather, on neutral ground, to reaffirm their sense of community. The causewayed enclosures may well have helped meld these scattered farming families into tribal groups.


Why is Barkhale Camp significant?

Although it is one of the larger Neolithic causewayed enclosures in Britain, Barkhale is no more significant than other such enclosures. Indeed, there are more visually impressive examples elsewhere.

However, it is the ordinariness of Barkhale, and the lack of ostentation, that is one of its attractions. Unlike other Neolithic enclosures, such as at Hambledon Hill and Maiden Castle, Barkhale Camp did not become the foundation for later Bronze and Iron Age structures. It was largely ignored, and it is surprising, after centuries of ploughing and erosion, that it is still visible today. I find it astonishing that the undulations on the hillside, and the ridges in the footpath, have been there for some 55 centuries. They are all that is left of a structure that was built more than a thousand years before the first pyramid in Egypt, and several centuries before the first stone was erected at Stonehenge.


Why visit?

Barkhale Camp is situated high on Bignor Hill, close to where the Monarch’s Way crosses the South Downs Way. This is an area of beautiful downland walking in the middle of the South Downs National Park.

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Barkdale Camp lies close to the Roman villa at Bignor, and just south of the Stane Street, the Roman road between Chichester and London. It is also close to the historic town of Arundel.

Getting there

Take the A27 between Chichester and Arundel. At Fontmell, take the A29 north for six miles to the village of Bury. Turn left at Bury and continue for two miles to Bignor. Turn left along a minor road to reach the car park at Glatting Beacon.

Beachy Head cliffs


One of the most iconic views in southern England, Beachy Head is the highest chalk cliff in Britain, rising 162m (531 feet) above the sea.

Even those who have never been here might well recognise the cliffs from such films as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James Bond: The Living Daylights.


What, for me, makes these magnificent cliffs awesome is not just just their beauty, but how they came into existence. They are made up of the compressed shells of billions of generations of microscopic shellfish which once floated in the sea, died, and sank to the ocean floor. Their shells formed a very thin layer over the seabed. Slowly, millimetre by millimetre, over the course of 30 million years, this layer of shells grew to become more than 400 metres thick, compressed by massive forces into chalk. I feel humble alongside these cliffs.

The geology
Where did all this chalk come from?

The origins of the famous chalk cliffs date back a 100 million years, to a time when dinosaurs were the dominant animal species on land. Until about 175 million years ago, the land-mass of the world had been almost entirely contained in a single supercontinent Pangaea. Over the next 100 million years, this supercontinent slowly split apart. North America began to split away around 170 million years ago, creating the North Atlantic ocean, then the south atlantic began to open up around 140 million years ago. The third major stage of the Pangaea break-up occurred around 100 million years ago, when India drifted northwards away from Africa and Antarctica, opening up the Indian ocean.

As continents move apart, new oceans are formed, and new ocean floor is created by magma rising from below. As well as displacing the water, magma heats up the ocean, forcing sea-levels to rise and encroach onto the land. Volcanic activity also creates greenhouse gases which further warmed the planet, preventing the formation of polar ice caps. In this environment, that of a warm planet with deep oceans, chalk was able to form in the sea-ways of the newly-flooded continents.

Microscopic skeletons of plankton descended these ocean floors over the next 30 million years. Their tiny shells, made of calcium carbonate, were easily broken down, and formed lime mud. The mud grew in thickness slowly, at a rate of just over a millimetre every hundred years. Over the course of 30 million years, this bed of lime mud grew to be around 400m thick, solidified by pressure from above into chalk. The process occurred in numerous places around the globe, and gave the period its geological name – the cretaceous period, from the Latin word for chalk, creta.

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Chalk and limestone

Insofar as it is formed by the skeletons of microscopic sea creatures, the formation of chalk is similar to that other limestones. Why are they so different?

Most limestone is carboniferous limestone, and this provides the basis of much of the landscape Britain. It was formed much earlier than chalk, around 340 million years ago, the time when the first amphibious creatures were leaving the sea and learning to live on the land. Although the climate was warm, the seas were much shallower, meaning that a lot of sediments were eroded and washed from the land, and mixed with the calcium deposits on the sea floor. It is these impurites that explain why limestone is disoloured, and rarely as white as chalk. The shallow carboniferous seas also contained a wide variety of crustaceans, while chalk beds are comprised almost entirely of the skeletal remains of microscopic plankton.

The raising of the Downs

Around 65 million years ago, a further movement of tectonic plates saw Africa creep northwards and begin a collision with Eurasia. This collision (the Alpine Orogeny), the effects of which continued until a couple of million years ago, created the Alps, Pyrenees, and Carpathian Mountains of central Europe. The effects in England, far from the epicentre of the collision, were less dramatic, but enough to cause the chalk bed to buckle, and raise a long mound, several hundred metres high, stretching across southern England. This ridge is known to geologists as the Weald-Artois anticline. The top of the mound eventually eroded away, revealing older sanstones between the two chalk escarpments of the North and South Downs.


The coming of the English Channel

The final stage in the story of the creation of Beachy Head, began much more recently, around 450,000 years ago. A huge freshwater lake had formed in the area that is now the North Sea, fed by rivers such as the Thames and the Rhine, as well as the meltwater of huge ice sheets formed during the last three ice ages. The Weald-Artois anticline acted as a natural dam holding back this lake. Eventually, in a series of catastrophic events – 450,000, 160,000, and 90,000 years ago – the dam was breached, and the waters forced their way through, destroying the isthmus connecting England to continental Europe and creating the English Channel. It is estimated that each flood would have lasted several months, releasing a million cubic metres of water every second and, between them, carving out the English Channel as we know it today.

As the last Ice Age ended and sea levels rose, further erosion of the cliffs helped shape the Beachy Head we see today. This process of erosion continues at a surprisingly rapid pace – 30 to 40 cm of these chalk cliffs disappear every year.


Why visit?

Beachy Head is a fascinating place. This post has looked at the cliffs themselves, but other posts look more closely at the lighthouse, and the memorials on top of the headland.

The downland behind the cliffs is wide and open, and great for walking. Views to the west are dominated by the Seven Sisters, while to the east is Eastbourne.



The Seven Sisters is a favourite walk, and we will visit these unique cliffs in another post.


Getting there

Beachy Head lies a couple of miles south west of the town of Eastbourne. Take the main A259 towards Newhaven, and it is signposted to the left. There is a car park which costs £1.40 for two hours. There are numerous lay-bys on the minor road between Beachy head and Birling Gap, but all have a ticket machine and cost the same.

The main car park has toilets, a visitor’s centre, and a pub.


Hastings Pier

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Following the passing of the Bank Holidays Act the previous year, the first ever August Bank Holiday took place on 5th August, 1872. And this was the date chosen by Hastings Council to open its first-ever pier. Designed by Eugenius Birch, who had previously designed piers at Margate, Brighton, and Blackpool, the new pier was 910 feet long, and consisted of a wooden boardwalk supported by 14 iron supports.

The building of a pier at Hastings was to be expected, and a fairly typical example of this largely Victorian phenomena. One of the earliest pleasure piers was built just along the coast from Hastings, at Brighton, in 1823. Other early piers were built at Ryde and Gravesenr; however, it was in the second half of the century that most pleasure piers were built. The massive expansion in the rail network in the 1840s and 1850s brought many more people to the coast, and these people wanted to walk next to the sea. Tides often meant that promenades were far from the water’s edge for much of the day. The solution, made possible by Victorian engineering prowess, was to build promenades that went out to meet the sea. Every popular resort needed a pier, and by the end of the century, almost a hundred had been built.

Hastings Pier was one of the first pleasure piers to have a large pavilion built upon it, an impressive oriental-style structure at the seaward end.

Hastings Pier 1912

Sadly, the original Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1917, and replaced by a much less ornate structure in 1922. The new structure became known as “the aircraft hangar”.

The pier was given a facelift, in art deco style, in the early 1930s, and the photo below shows the shoreward entrance to the pier.


The pier was closed during World War II, and was given a further facelift after the war. The structure then remained largely unchanged for the next 60 years. The pavilion became a popular venue for bands, and many top performers appeared on Hastings Pier.

hastings pier hendrix hastings pier - siouxsie hastings pier - floyd hastings pier - quo

Sadly, storms caused damage to the pier in 1993, and its popularity declined. It fell into disrepair, and a closure notice was served by Hastings Council in 2006. Although part of the pier re-opened in 2007, this was to be shortlived, as the pier was struck by lightning a few weeks later.

On October 5th, 2010, the pier was largely destroyed by fire. Although two men were subsequently arrested for arson, the case against them was eventually dropped by the CPS because of a lack of evidence.


When Midge and I visited last week, there were signs of re-building. The pier was cordoned off, but the extent of the damage was clear.



The building work we saw is the start of an ambitious plan to rebuild a People’s Pier, which aims to show that the Victorian structure can be a viable attraction in the twenty-first century. Having secured £11.4m of Lottery funding, the developers are in the process of completing the funding package through a community share ownership scheme. We wish them well, and will be back to see it in 2015.

Why visit

Although the pier itself is currently closed, the area has much to offer. As one of the medieval Cinque Ports, Hastings has much of historical interest. The Norman Castle was ordered to be built by William th Conqueror  just prior to the Battle of Hastings. Originally a wooden structure, it was rebuilt in stone four years later.

hastings castle

Contrary to what may be supposed, William neither landed at Hastings nor fought the famous battle here. The landing took place at nearby Pevensey, while the Battle of Hastings took place six miles to the north, possibly on the site of Battle Abbey (below).


The beach at Hastings, like most other beaches in Sussex, is made of pebbles. Dogs are banned from certain areas, but are allowed in others, throughout the year.



Getting there

Hastings is easy to get to, only about an hour from the M25 (Junction 5). There is plenty of parking adjacent to the beach.

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Bradgate House


The ruins of Bradgate House are to be found in the grounds of Bradgate Park, a few miles north-west of Leicester. Who might have lived here?

The mansion was completed in 1520, and was one of the first great unfortified country houses in England. It was also one of the first buildings since Roman times to be built using brick.

Twenty years after it was built, it was the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey.

A brief history of Lady Jane Grey

Jane was born, probably in Bradgate House, in 1536 or 1537. She lived there until she was nine, when she was sent to live with Thomas Seymour (the brother of Jane Seymour). This was during the last months of the reign of Henry VIII; the King was dying, and his son, Edward, was only nine years old. Seymour was set to become part of the Regency Council that would govern the country until Edward VI was old enough to rule in his own right. It is likely that Seymour intended to promote Lady Jane as a royal bride for Edward.

The marriage did not happen, and in 1553, Jane was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, the son of the Duke of Northumberland. The Duke of Northumberland had become the leading figure in the Regency Council, and was extremely powerful. He was able to exert much influence over the King.

During the reign of Edward VI, Protestantism became more firmly embedded as the state religion. In 1553, it became clear that Edward was dying, and the most obvious successor was his sister Mary, a staunch Catholic. At this point, Edward wrote a document to change the succession, so that his sisters Mary and Elizabeth would be overlooked, and Lady Jane Grey, the eldest daughter of his niece, would succeed him. In changing the succession, Edward was acting in a similar way that his father had done in 1533 and 1536. However, the Third Act of Succession had been passed in 1543, and Edward had no right to do so, except by another Act of Parliament.

On 6th July, 1553, Edward VI died, and on 10th July, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed queen by Northumberland and the Privy Council. She was initially reluctant, before being cajoled into submission:

If what hath been given to me is lawfully mine, may Thy Divine Majesty grant me such spirit and grace that I may govern to Thy glory and service, to the advantage of this realm.

Lady Mary, who had been staying in Hertfordshire when she heard of Edward’s death, fled to her stronghold in East Anglia. Northumberland set out from London on 14th July with 3000 troops to capture her. Mary moved to Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, and was quickly gaining support.

In the end, no battle was needed. As Mary gathered support, Northumberland’s army began to desert. The Privy Council, realising the way the wind was blowing, hastily changed sides and proclaimed Mary queen on 19th July. Queen Jane’s nine-day rule was over.

Queen Mary entered London on 3rd August, and Northumberland was executed two weks later. Jane and her husband were also sentenced to death, although there is evidence that Mary intended to commute the sentences. Only when Jane’s father and brother became involved in a subsequent plot against Queen Mary, did the sentences get carried out. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded on Tower Hill on 12th February, 1554.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche
Bradgate House


The above picture shows the Chapel of Bradgate House, and the eastern tower, known as Lady Jane’s Tower. Below, we see the wall of the Great Hall, viewed firstly from what would have been the kitchens, then from the chapel. The largest window in the wall was extended later to create a bay, in preparation for a visit by William III in 1696. Some of the smaller walls in the foreground would have formed part of the original cellars.



Why visit?

Bradgate House is an important part of Bradgate Park, but it is not the only attraction. The park contains many paths through the bracken and heather, and the River Lin flows through it on its way to Cropston Reservoir.

Geologically, Bradgate park contains some of the oldest rocks in England, formed when volcanic eruptions deposited layers of ash on the ocean floor some 600 million years ago. Within these rocks have been found precambrian fossils – Charnia masoni – which, at 570 million years old, is one of the oldest fossils in the world (pictured below). Although it has the appearance of a fern, it cannot be a plant since it existed in water too deep for photosynthesis to take place.


There are also other places of historical interest in Bradgate Park. These include Old John, an eighteenth century folly, and Queen Adelaide’s Oak, where the widow of William IV once picnicked. I shall return to Bradgate Park in later posts.

de lisleives

For most visitors, though, the main attractions of Bradgate Park are the open spaces, the numerous paths, and the free-roaming deer.


Getting there

Bradgate Park has three car parks. The nearest to Bradgate House, and the most suitable entrance suitable for wheelchairs, is at the western end, next to the church in the village of Newtown Linford. Newtown Linford is about six miles north-west of Leicester, and conveniently situated about two miles from J22 of the M1. Follow signs to Leicester, and after a mile, Newtown Linford is signposted to the left.

To the west of the park is Hallgates car park, while to the north is Hunts Hill car park. All three car parks are open from 7.45 am to dusk every day of the year. Although the car parks are closed, there are several public footpaths which cross-cross the park, meaning that the park itself is effectively always open.

There are public toilets at each of the car parks, and at the visitor centre near the Bradgate House ruins. Refreshments are available at the Newtown Linford car park, and at the visitor centre. There are also two pubs and several cafes in Newtown Linford.

Normanton Church


St Matthew’s Church in Normanton is probably unique in being semi-submerged in a reservoir, such that only the top half is accessible.

It is thought that there has been a church on this site since the thirteenth century. We do not know much about the original church, which would have served as the parish church for Normanton, although fragments of stonework discovered in 1911 suggest it had a tower added in the early 1300s.

In the 1700s, much of Normanton was pulled down to provide a country estate for the Heathcote family. The church was rebuilt as a family chapel and mausoleum. Most of this new church was in turn destroyed in 1826 when the church was rebuilt in the current Corinthian style.

In 1920, the Heathcote family relocated to the north of England, and many of the buildings on their estate were destroyed. The Church of St Matthew stood, isolated, in the fields of Rutland until the 1970s, when it was decided that a new reservoir was needed to meet the needs of South-east England. In 1975, the Gwash Valley was flooded and Rutland Water came into existence.

rutland water

St Matthew’s Church was originally earmarked for demolition, but a public outcry led to it being protected. The lower half of the church was filled with concrete and rubble, and a new concrete base created just below the level of the windows. Because it would have become an island within the reservoir, an embankment was built surrounding it and connecting it to the shoreline.


St Matthew’s Church now houses a small museum, detailing the history of Rutland Water from prehistoric times. It can also be hired for weddings and functions.

Why visit?

Normanton Church is an iconic symbol of Rutland, England’s smallest county. Rutland Water is Britain’s largest man-made lake (based on surface area), and has been extensively landscaped. There is a walking and cycling route all the way round its 25-mile perimeter. Fishing, sailing, and various other water sports are also available. Cruises are available from Whitwell, on the north shore, and Normanton, on the south shore.

Large areas at the western end of Rutland Water are managed as a nature reserve. This is managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, and is an internationally important birdwatching centre. Rutland Water has wintering populations of Gadwall and Shoveler ducks and, since 1996, has been home to the first ospreys to breed in England for 150 years.


Getting there

St Matthew’s Church is a few minutes walk from Edith Weston car park. Edith Weston is about seven miles west of Stamford, and is signposted from the A1. Follow signs for Rutland Water South Shore.



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Height: 720m (2362 feet)

Drop: 75m

Classification: Hewitt, Nuttall, Wainwright, Birkett

In the photo above, Froswick is the nearest hill. Behind it lies Ill Bell which, at 757m, is nearly 40 metres taller. Behind Ill Bell, a little to the right, is Yoke (a little  shorter at 706m). All three of these fells are overshadowed by Thornthwaite Crag (from where the photo is taken) at 784m.

However, as so often in the hills, the sum is greater than the parts. Individual heights are less important than the cumulative effect that each summit makes to this splendid ridge – Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick, Ill Bell, and Yoke. Yet each fell also maintains its own distinctiveness, and deserves to be considered separately.

The similarity in shape between the two hills in the photograph is unmissable, and Wainwright notes that

Froswick takes its pattern from Ill Bell . . . almost humorously seeming to ape its bigger neighbour.

The summit plateau of Froswick is modest, although the final climb to it is satisfyingly steep.


The summit probably doesn’t get appreciated as much as it might, as walkers are invariably looking to Ill Bell or – if coming from Yoke – to the long path to Thornthwaite Crag. Descending directly from Froswick is rarely attempted, although would be feasible on the western side if care is taken to avoid the gully of Blue Gill.


Walks involving Froswick

Chances are, most people you meet crossing the summit of Froswick will be walking the Kentmere Horseshoe. This is a classic Lakeland walk, a twelve-mile circuit starting from the village of Kentmere. It encompasses the Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag ridge, returning along the eastern side of the Kentmere valley, and taking in Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, and Shipman Knotts.

An alternative is to complete the initial ridge and then head west, returning via Stony Cove Pike, St Raven’s Edge, Red Screes, and Wansfell Pike. This is a slightly longer route, and not such a neat horseshoe as the Kentmere route. It does, though, include a great ascent of Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass, and allows a variety of starting points.

The fells surrounding Troutbeck are displayed in the photo below. From right to left, we have Caudale Moor, Stony Cove Pike, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick, and Ill Bell. Yoke is just off to the right. The smaller hill in the middle is The Tongue.


A third alternative would be to start from the car park at Mardale Head, reaching Thonthwaite Crag and Froswick via High Street. The climb up Riggindale Crag to High Street is superb. Return via Shipman Knotts, Kentmere Pike, and Harter Fell.

Such is its location, any walk that includes the summit of Froswick is likely to be breathtaking.


Getting there

Froswick is most readily reached from Kentmere or Troutbeck, both villages in the Windermere area of the Lakes. The fell can also be reached from the car park at the southern end of Haweswater (Mardale Head), reachable from Shap or Penrith; and from the Kirkstone Inn on the A592.