OUR FIRST CL and THE BANNISDALE HORSESHOE

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We recently joined the Caravan and Motorhome Club. Several years ago, when we had our first campervan, we joined the other one (Caravan and Camping Club), but didn’t renew our membership after the first year because we never made use of any of their sites. This time around, however, what with things as they currently are, and needing to keep our options as open and broad as possible, we made the executive decision to join the CMC in order to make use of their fairly-priced, low-key, low-volume, basic stop-overs known as ‘Certified Locations’ (or CLs for short).

Which is how we found ourselves tucked away in a small site just North of Kendal in the South-East corner of the Lake District, near a place called Selside. It was as basic as we’d hoped; each pitch had hard-standing, electric hook-up and its own personal water tap. With only one remaining empty pitch left, we didn’t get to choose our spot, which wasn’t a huge problem, except we were parked very close to an old apple tree that was depositing apples onto the ground at a fast rate, and meant that I had to pull the van forward so as not have them crashing down on top of the roof throughout the night.

We’d booked for three nights, which also meant we had a rare chance to use our pop-up, driveaway awning, with which I have something of a love-hate relationship. It’s great to have the extra space – a little bit like having a conservatory – but putting it up is a bit of a chore. In fact, building it on this occasion proved to be even more of a trial because it had been packed away inside-out, something I only came to realise after much cussing when I couldn’t find the connector to attach the electric compressor to, to inflate the built-in poles. A fight with it, with me wrapping myself up in the twisted awning, much to Tracey’s enjoyment, ensued. My only other issue with putting the awning up is the amount of noise generated by the electric compressor. It sounds like an aeroplane gearing up to head along a runway… something I was very self-conscious of in the quiet suroundings of this lovely little CL.

Our major, planned walk for the trip was of one of the lesser-known Lake District ’rounds’; the Bannisdale Horsehoe. A walk, featured in Wainwright’s book ‘The Outlying Fells of Lakeland’ that comes in at just over 9 miles on paper when starting and finishing at Mosergh Farm, but I swear it was nearer 12 miles in the end.

If you look closely, you’ll see the clouds of flying ants

The route’s first peak is Whiteside Pike at 397 metres. It has a proper cairn at its summit (something most of the other peaks didn’t have), and good, extensive views across towards Kendal and the hills beyond. Conditions were dry and partially sunny, with just a little haze on the horizon; The Howgills could be seen in one direction and Morecambe Bay in the other.

At both of the first two peaks – the second one being Todd Fell at 401 metres, we were set upon by swarms of what looked like flying ants. In fact, dropping down from Todd Fell, we resorted to flapping a fleece around our heads like manic bullfighters in a bid to ward them off…. unpleasant little critters!

Capplebarrow (512 metres) was the next target. In the main, the footpaths were clear and easy to follow, with a handful of minor deviations here and there. A young plantation had us rerouted slightly, and a cluster of small, muddy tarns made route-following a bit of a challenge, but with conditions being clear, it never really posed us any problems.

At the head of the horseshore, along a stretch known as Ancrow Brow, were the best views, looking out in a northerly direction across to the Kentmere peaks and High Street beyond, and back down the valley of Bannisdale to the south. If the route suffers from anything, it’s a lack of any notable points of dramatic impact. The summits aren’t particularly high, and all the contours are relatively gentle.

Once we’d rounded the top of the curve and were heading back in a southerly direction, towards the final named peak of White Howe (530 mtres), things started to get boggy… really boggy! With late afternoon tiredness also starting to set in, the going became notably sluggish and the terrain difficult to navigate. Two further, unnamed summits had to be bagged before our final descent into Bannisdale, the route down from which proved frustratingly elusive. In the end, we opted for what looked like a much easier way down, following the line of a wall to a farm track, instead of the waymarked route that would have led us straight over the edge between two crags, and down a steep, scree slope.

Once back down in the valley, a two-mile stretch of road walking, as the setting sun cast spectacular crepusculr rays into the sky, brought us back to our starting point, weary and ready for a steaming cup of tea.

As walks go, the Bannisdale Horsehoe isn’t the most spectacular. Its outlying views go someway towards making up for the lack of major impact points, but the slog of the wet, marshy, energy-sapping last third makes it unlikely that we’ll be clamouring to repeat it any time soon.

Here’s the route…

Download the gpx file here

Peter Woolley

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