BB1301: The Greyhound Track

Thursday 3rd January 2013

There is a steep road out of Kendal known locally as the Greyhound.  It is the old road to Sedbergh and the steepest part finishes at a house, which I think used to be a pub but none of my Kendalian colleagues remembers it as such.

However, it is at the junction of Paddy Lane, so-called because it was used by Irish cattle drovers and it would be surprising if, at this then major intersection, there were no establishment for them to refresh themselves.

The house name, Greyhound, is certainly of local relevance as will become clear.

Greyhound House

Further on up the old Sedbergh Road, before reaching the toll house, is the former municipal reservoir, Fisher Tarn dating from the 1890s. 

Sadly, thieves celebrated its centenary by removing one of the commemorative plaques, no doubt to melt down and sell for a fraction of its value. Regarding the second plaque, the attempted theft failed but in the process it was badly disfigured.

New plaques have been installed but just in case anyone with ill-intent reads this, I should add that these are made of fibreglass and worthless as scrap

The replaced.....

..... commemorative plaques

The tarn was still in operation as a reservoir when I first arrived in Kendal.  Tap water would, on occasion, turn a funny colour or have an "interesting" flavour.  I thought it ironic that my home town of Stockport had the soft, pure, Lake District water (as was the case in the days prior to fluoridisation) whilst Kendal was bypassed.

All that changed in the late 1980s when Kendal started taking its supply from the Thirlmere pipeline as it made its way south.

Fisher Tarn

More recently,the tarn lived down to its name, becoming the province of fishermen and birdwatchers.

It seemed strange that in the 43 years I have lived here, I had never visited the tarn although I have driven past it many a time.  In need of an easy, post-festivities outing, it was time to get on the Greyhound track and put that right.

Tony had warned, with truth, that it is a "grind up the Greyhound" which is local speak for the ascent of the old road being rather steep.  I know.  I have cycled up but not for many a year. Indeed, it was on a descent of that road that I experienced a "tankslapper".

Motorbikers will know what I mean but I have never heard of anyone else experiencing one on a pedal cycle.  Frightening. And in case your mind needs cleansing, it has nothing to do with biker-chicks!

Today, our route to the Greyhound avoided the grind.

It was a staggered sort of start, but eventually, after Tony taking Bryan, Stan and me for a detour to explore the Quaker cemetery, we met with Stuart and Roger T and set off up the old Sedbergh Road.  Not for long, however, as we turned along the path leading to the railway and its underpass designed for midgets.  

The Quaker Burial Ground

Comitibus :  Tunnel for midgets

Looking back over Kendal

Beyond Bird's Park are two very old reservoirs- the first dried out but the second still holding water.  For what purposes they had been built, we were not sure.

The Upper Bird's Park Reservoir

Emerging onto Paddy Lane, we turned right to see the evidence of the modern water supply- a huge underground holding chamber, the only signs of which are the inspection covers.

21st Century reservoir

A little further along is the aforementioned building, now called Greyhound House.

The Greyhound is a relatively common image in the area, being the emblem of the Sleddale family after whom at least two valleys are named.  There is also a still extant Greyhound Hotel at Shap which seems to be related.  I am not so sure about the former Greyhound Frigate Inn in Kendal.  

The building opposite Greyhound House (foolishly I failed to check its name- could it be Greyhound Farm?) has a weather vane featuring ....?

Yes, you have guessed it.  Two of them in chase.

Greyhound Inn

Greyhound House

Greyhound weather vane

As Tony predicted, access to Fisher Tarn was not a problem.  The dam wall was surprisingly long and you can walk its full length.

The dam  wall

We considered circling round the tarn but Tony advised that the ground would be too boggy.

The overflow

Comitibus :  Inspection platform

Looking up.....

..... and looking down

The mist rolls in

As we returned along the dam wall, mist was forming and it looked as if the weather would soon close in on us.  Our destination was the Station Inn, but by not the direct route. I was keen to see more greyhounds so persuaded the group to make a detour via New Hutton.

New Hutton with church and schoolhouse

I wanted to see anew ( BB1107 ) the two on the gate pillars to the church and the one remaining on the school gate pillar.

The two on the gate pillars to the church .....

.....  and the one remaining on the school gate pillar.

I made the mistake of reassuring the others that this detour would not seriously delay our arrival at our destination.  I was wrong, for three reasons.

The first was that I hadn't counted on certain members of the group needing an extended coffee stop.  They conducted a sit-in atop the tombstones in the churchyard whilst I photographed the two hounds at the church gates and the sole remaining hound at the old and now disused village school.  Again metal thieves had been at work.  Whether or not they had tried to take the second hound, I don't know but it has a serious gap in its thigh bone that would have materially affected its coursing ability.  

Our route then led over increasingly sodden ground with folk slipping all over the place and getting rather muddied up, for which they were blaming me.  This, plus Tony lusting after a rusting tractor, was the second contribution to our late arrival at the pub.  But why won't people fall over when I have my camera out?

Tony's new love

Come on, fall over!

The third factor, after we had climbed up past the former Holme Park School (about which several of us have many happy memories) was the challenge of finding our way through Windy Hill Farm.  Here we were not helped by waysigns that pointed down a path that did not exist on the OS map (but, to my mind, went in the wrong direction).  The mood was further deepened by the rain that had started to set in.  Nor were matters helped by following other waysigns that vanished (as often seems to happen) when in the farmyard.

The former Holme Park School

Santa's Llama

Once this challenge was, eventually, successfully overcome and the doubting Thomases (who were still inclined to head off in the wrong direction) shown the error of their ways, the road to the Station Inn was reached.  Just before we arrived at the Inn, Santa's llama was spotted in the field,  The sight helped restore seasonal spirits, as did the ale and burgers shortly afterwards.

Take it back!

There was one last moment of excitement.

As we were about to leave the pub, three police cars and one police bike came up and blocked the road, lights a-flashing.

Was it a chase, we wondered?  

Nothing so exciting.  It was a convoy clearing the roads for a lorry and trailer carrying a part of one of the massive wind turbines to be erected nearby at great public expense and dubious public value.

Not that I am biased in these matters.

Margaret kindly came to pick me up which was good because it was now drizzling nastily. I felt bad about watching three of my companions making their damp way down into Kendal but as the rear of the car was full of kiddie seats and those boys are somewhat too large to fit in them, there was little we could do but bid them goodbye and suggest they wait for a Greyhound bus.  

Their response looked quite Shakespearian, as if they were standing like greyhounds in the slips, fingers raised like English archers at Agincourt.

 Don, 3rd January 2013



Thursday 3rd Jamuary 2013

Distance in miles:

9.8 (Garmin)

Height climbed in feet:

1,339 (OS / Memory Map)



Other Features:

Fisher Tarn, New Hutton


Bryan, Don, Roger T, Stan, Stuart, Tony,

BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1301

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.


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