BB0629 Stone Arthur and a Mystery Plume.

2nd November 2006

My hair had become rather long and unkempt so, after much prodding, I decided it was time to take action.  Out came the clippers and on went the No.6.  Or so I thought.

It was only when I checked in the mirror after the first three or four cuts that I realised something was seriously amiss. Looking again at the attachment I realised to my horror that I had read it upside down and what I thought was the Number 6 sign was actually the 9mm indicator.  Too late now, the job had to be completed.  

And so it was that on the coldest day of the autumn so far, in the first frosts of the year, I ventured out even more shorn than John Lyons and distinctly chilly round the lugholes!

A cold front

MWIS promised that despite the freezing conditions, it would be fine with prolonged bright sunshine.  Stan needed to be back early, as also did Tony, we subsequently discovered, as he had to travel to Otley to celebrate becoming a potential grandfather so a short trip was required. Tony and I were relieved that our thighs would not have the 5 day ache that followed the Skiddaw expedition.  Bryan had need to tick off Stone Arthur, a modest little bump above Grasmere, and came up with a 7 miler that looked, at first sight, as if it would even allow Tony to have his lunch by his noon deadline.  

We parked at Rydal Church and for once forsook the temptations (?) of Nab Scar in favour of the low level path towards Dove Cottage and then headed up to Alcock Tarn which itself is quite a climb, giving a strange hot and cold combination as the early morning temperature fought with the heat generated by the exercise.


Alcock Tarn with Stone Arthur and Great Rigg


Alcock Tarn from  the north

"It's much bigger than it looks at first sight", said Stan appropriately on reaching Alcock Tarn, at the far end of which we faced a decision point.  The original intention was to descend into the valley in order to pick up the path to Stone Arthur.  However Bryan had spotted an alternative route that traversed round Greenhead Gill so the choice was for more climbing or more distance.  We chose the latter and headed up through Butter Crag and then along a track that might have been ok for sheep and not noticed by fell runners but had rather too much exposure at a couple of places for my liking although Tony, now seemingly much more comfortable with certain death drops, did not seem fazed.

Stone Arthur and Great Rigg with the traverse around the gill

Once across the Gill it was only a shortish climb to the summit of Stone Arthur, so-called as it looks like a castle from the valley.  Allegedly. It is not so much a peak as the lower end of a ridge but Mr W. counts it so it has to be done and recorded. Out of the cold wind and in full sunshine we had a very pleasant and rather extended lunch and near snoozes.  Visibility was excellent and Blackpool Tower could clearly be seen.


Greenhead Gill from  traverse


Stone Arthur summit

It is always a mistake to have lunch before the climbing is over, no matter how much Tony complains, and setting off on the steady climb up to Great Rigg was a bit of a challenge until the stiffness wore off.  From the top was a tremendous panoramic view in all directions, including the Scottish hills.  Then we told Tony that actually we hadn't needed to go there as he had already done it.

From right to left:  Fairfield, Helvellyn plus a glimpse of Dodd (BB0628)

We made our way down this side of the Fairfield Horseshoe, over Heron Pike and stopped for our second break at Nab Scar.  

I found the descent of Nab Scar worse than going up it.  Bryan and Stan were galloping down and at first I tried to keep up but my knees were screaming and when I almost turned my ankle I decided it was time to grow up and go down at sensible pace.  


Heron Pike and Nab Scar

We reached the car just as the sun was going down behind Silver How.

There is one mystery to report.  In the distance, beyond Ingleborough and to the west of it, was a massive plume of steam or smoke from something, presumably a factory of some description.  I am now wondering if we saw the same thing when we did the Malham Experience (BB0621) but dismissed it as a fire on the moors.  We should have taken a proper compass bearing to try and track it down, or at least a photo, but we reckoned, from the position of the sun, that it was roughly south of us.

Tracing down the map due south for 40 miles brings you almost exactly to a chemical factory on the River Wyre, near Fleetwood.  Could that be the cause?  I think not.  It seemed to be more behind the Bowland Fells, which is further east, and my money is on something around the Clitheroe or Burnley area.   Can anyone suggest the source of this huge mass of steam / smoke?

Don, 2nd November 2006



Think I've solved the fire. Don's right, it's a fire on Bowland fell. Saw it when travelling back from Otley the far fell opposite Ingleborough. Still burning quite strongly

Tony, 3rd November 2006



On Burn Moor, presumably?  Or Blaze Moss!  Ho! Ho!

Don, 3rd November 2006



I am sure it is Castle Cement works just off A59 near Clitheroe (just to the north of Burnley, which happens to be the home of Super Clarets who are comfortably placed in Championship League and destined for top division football - UP THE CLARETS).

If anyone thinks otherwise (about smoke that is), I would be pleased to know.

Stephen Baker, 7th November 2006




7.2 miles

Height climbed:
2,972 feet


Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Heron Pike , Nab Scar

Wildlife count:  
A heron and a couple of ravens.

Click on
map to download a (large) pdf file of the route.




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Slipper Strolls:



  • BB0631  Coppermines
  • BB0630  Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
  • BB0629  Stone Arthur and a Mystery Plume
  • BB0628  Knocking off Wainwrights.  Oh! Plus Skiddaw!
  • BB0627  Blencathra and the Mungrisdale Round
  • BB0626  The Deepdale Round
  • BB0625  Les Garçons de la Botte
  • BB0624  The Crookdale Horseshoe and then some
  • BB0623  Selside Pike revisited
  • BB0622  Round the Dunny!
  • BB0621  The Malham Experience
  • BB0620  Newlands Horseshoe
  • BB0619  Old Man Succumbs!
  • BB0618  Kentmere Horseshoe
  • BB0617 QH2QH High Street (the length thereof)
  • BB0616 Thornthwaite Beacon
  • BB0615  Fairfield Horseshoe
  • BB0614  High Street Racecourse
  • BB0613 The Coledale Round
  • BB0612  Well, Well, Well, Wansfell and Troutbeck Tongue      
  • BB0611  Carlin Gill
  • BB0610  Whitbarrow, Yewbarrow and a history lesson
  • BB0609  Clough Head and Great Dodd
  • BB0608  The Corpse Road and beyond
  • BB0607  Grim Fell!
  • BB0606  A Bit on the Side.....
  • BB0605  Angle Tarn with Surprises! 
  • BB0604  Hart Cragg via Dovedale
  • BB0603  Islands in the Sky with Brocken Spectres
    (or High Street via Gardiner's Grind)
  • BB0602  Holme Fell, Black Fell and Electric  Eyes
  • BB0601  Ingleborough
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