Up The Pipeline
01 : Caton to Gressingham

13th January 2014

Change of plan.  Despite what is said on the introductory page TW00, I thought I was going to get Don's Way and start from Thirlmere.  However, commencing in mid-January is not the best time for steep climbs from Thirlmere up to Grisedale Tarn so a change of plan was needed.  We had already come to the conclusion that the earlier parts of the Way (i.e. the southern stages if following the book) would be logistically difficult and possibly might not be that interesting.  Ian had proposed starting from Hutton Roof which had great logic as that is where they live.

However, a quick perusal of Tim Cappelli's guidebook made everything crystal clear.
Here is what he said:

If you buy this book and never do the whole way, at least do Day 6
otherwise you will have really missed out.

This kicks off from Caton.  So Up The Pipeline it is, starting from Caton though not, as per the book, to Kirkby Lonsdale.  Why not?  Well, Cappelli confesses that had he been able to find accommodation, he would have stopped at Hutton Roof and not KL thereby saving 4 miles off the Way.  Add that to the fact that Ian and Cynthia do have a bed there, Kirkby Lonsdale will have to miss the pleasure of our company on this walk. Finally, we didn't have enough day (or energy) to do 16 miles so Gressingham was our objective.

The worrying factor before setting off was what conditions were likely to be under foot. After all the rain in the last few weeks in which it seemed like half of England was flooded (not us, thankfully) plus another overnight drenching, what would paths alongside the River Lune be like?  Quagmires?  Submerged?  Or just perfect to start a long distance walk?

Actually it was really nice and sunny.  Full of joy and anticipation, I looked at my lovely wife burst into the old song Ma belle Marguerite. Be sure to click on the photo to get the full effect.

Oh, Ma belle Marguerite

Oh, So beautiful to see

Oh, Les mains de ma petite

Marguerite pick the grapes with me

A second verse then sprang into my mind and seemed rather appropriate for today:

Oh!  Up the Peep-a-leen-ah

Oh! Ma Marguerite and me

Oh! Up the Peep-a-leen-ah

Ian 'n' Cynthia 'n' Brora aussi!

So off Peepaleening we all went (Brora is Ian's dog) starting from the car park at Caton with our immaculate ladies.  Not that they would stay immaculate for long, given all the mud through which we were yet to trod.

The Immaculate Ladies

The old railway track

First we had to cross the River Lune so along the old railway track we trod to the river bridge which seems to be being gentrified.  Although unsupported by the OS map, the author calls this stretch the Crook o'Lune although I thought that was up near Sedbergh. Perhaps there is one in each county?

The road bridge

The railway bridge

At the other side of the bridge was a strange and obviously fairly new stone that seemed to commemorate the Pendle Witches.  Just why it was there baffled us.  Pendle is way south.

Witch craft.....

400 years ago?

We walked, sometimes trudged, along the north bank, reaching the pipeline bridge about a mile upstream.

River Lune

Pipeline bridge in the distance

Approaching the bridge

This was to be our only encounter with the pipeline on this stage but no doubt we shall see much more of it in due course.

Our Way led on along the river bank, although we cheated somewhat at what could also be called a Crook o'Lune; a much bigger one.  The Meander o'Lune?  Rather then follow the very boggy trail by the river, we took an equally boggy but short cut alongside Burton Wood.

On the bridge

Shepherds mobile hut

Big meander

Ian photographs the dead tree

Team photo Burton Wood

Brora enjoys a paddling pool

By Aughton, we were back on Way and getting even muddier and muckier at The Snab where the cows had been having lots of fun in the corner where the footpath entered the field.

Glorious mud

Mud farm

Isle de Lune


Geese low and high

Soon after another mud bath, we left the riverside and headed up the lane to the pleasant little village of Gressingham where our transport awaited us.

By now, the weather was starting to go off but the forecast rain had not yet set in.  We had judged the length and timing of the first stage perfectly.  

Guide book done good.  Since it was first published in 1992, inevitably some things have changed.  Nevertheless, the instructions for today were pretty clear.

We were on our Way.  We were Up the Peep-a-leen-ah.

Don, 13th January 2014

Distance: 6.1 miles     Climbed: 534 feet

To see the index and other stages, click on:


The Thirlmere Way




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