BB1309 : Kendal's Blackqueducts

Thursday 7th March 2013

Have you noticed the resurgence of black and white photography?

Maybe it is something to do with the popularity of Shades of Grey!

Long time BOOTboys fans will recall photographer Jilly Bennett from BB0836.  Readers of Jilly's Menton Daily Photo might remember the day it featured The Boot Boys

Last week Margaret and I were invited to see Jilly's exhibition in the Tour Lascaris at the top of the lovely littoral village, Gorbio, near Menton on the French Riviera.

Her pictures, all in monochrome, was stunning as you can tell from the examples shown here and in the right hand column:

Jilly Bennett

© Jilly Bennett

© Jilly Bennett

A couple of days later, we visited the new and extraordinary Jean Cocteau museum in Menton.

In addition to the normal display of the works of Cocteau and his pals was a photo exhibition. The photographer, Lucien Clerge, has quite a different style to Jilly but he also uses black and white.

It made me realise that far from being an outmoded method of portraying an image, it causes you look at things in a different way.  Undistracted by colour, you notice form and light and shade.  I can now understand better why occasional BOOTboy Graham is so keen on the medium.  He goes one stage further (or is it back?) and uses a pin-hole camera.

© Graham Whitwham

© Graham Whitwham

Whether the style translates well into BOOTboys reports is quite a different matter but here goes!  Anyone wanted an unexpurgated colour version should double-click on the chosen picture.

Our route today was inspired by a talk to which Ian & Cynthia invited Margaret & me at Hutton Roof recently.  

The story of the Thirlmere Aqueduct was told- a Victorian feat of engineering that satisfied, for a time, the rapidly expanding need for water in the Manchester conurbation.

There is a long distance walk that has been designed to follow the route of the pipeline, called, unsurprisingly:

The Thirlmere Way.

Manchester Corporation arms

The book is out of print but I found a second hand copy on the web and perhaps we will tackle it once we have finished The Miller's Way with Ian & Cynthia.

In the course of the research, I found a description of Kendal's Three Aqueduct Crossings Walk compiled by Peter Dobson in 2003.  It ticked several boxes for a day in which the forecast precluded going high and time constraints prevented being out too long. And it is near to home.

Convening at the lay-by near Millcrest, we headed northwards across the fields, soon to meet the first aqueduct.  The four large pipes from the four stages of development of the Thirlmere scheme were clear to see, as was the small but rather fine building which presumably hoses an inspection  chamber.  It is certainly not a pumping house as the water flows all the way to Manchester powered by gravity alone.

Viaduct Number 1

The route instructions were a little ambiguous here and I made the classic mistake of following what I interpreted as the directions rather than consulting the map.

Or maybe we were led astray by the friendliest little lamb we have ever met.

Tony met a little lamb

That ate out of his hand

But then Tony roasted it

He said it tasted grand

Once back on the right route, we were led down to the River Sprint and along the east bank, opposite Oak Bank Mill, and soon the second aqueduct was discovered.

Aqueduct number two inspection chambers

Comitibus : Aqueduct number two

What followed was a pleasant stroll across farmland and the A6, along a curved old trail, past a pylon then by the striking modern barn development at Skelsmergh Hall.

Round the field .....

..... and under the pylon

Next stop was Dodding Green where we had lunch in some convenient wheelchairs. Actually they were wooden benches but Bryan and Stan had fun pretending to push two old BOOTboys around in the bath chairs for the fogeygraph.

Dodding Green

Tarn and wishing well

The old Boys

Dodding Green is an old house with a hidden chapel. It is of historical importance to Roman Catholics as Mass was said here during the time of the Penal laws.  

Nowadays it is a retreat operated by The Cenacolo Community to help former addicts find a new way of life. There was no sign of any such occupants today.

At this point Bryan left us to resume grandchild sitting duties whilst the rest of us dropped down to the strange hamlet, Meal Bank.

Obviously developed from a water mill site with worker's cottages, it is now a small but messy conglomeration of ugly industrial units plus cottages that collectively look more attractive from the rear than the front.

Meal Bank chapel (now dwellings)

Rear view of the hamlet

Meal Bank door feature

Up stream, disguised by a stone bridge is the third aqueduct, this time carrying water from Haweswater.

The third aqueduct

The aqueduct bridge

After cursory examination, we followed the River Mint southwest before climbing toward Helme Bank and the car.

It had proved to be a gentle stroll through pleasant countryside with several items of interest for engineering or historical anoraks, even in monochrome.

Meanwhile, there is no need to adjust your sets.

Full colour service will be resumed in the next report.

Don, 7th March 2013

Valentine Regained

Avid readers will recall that I raised the question as to what were the mysterious slabs by the side of the path discovered on BB1308 : Valentine Postponed.

Ian G suggested that rather than being gravestones, they were more likely to be Brathay Flags.  These were often used together as field boundaries.  There are, he added, plenty in the Coniston area.  He went on to predict that I would research the matter further.  

As if!

The National Stone Centre advises that a slate fence wall is now relatively rare and largely confined to small areas where slate is produced. The edges of the slate are cut so as to 'interweave' with each other, to provide greater strength to the wall as a whole. Only very fine grained, extremely hard, fissile rocks including slabs and very occasionally, hard siltstones have all the qualities required for this style. In some areas narrower slates are held together, like wooden fence posts, with wire or special clips."

A slate fence wall

Terry C, who hopes one day to join us, advises that the mysterious slates at the side of the path reminded him of the ones in Nepal.

He asked whether they had Buddhist chants carved into them or just "Tracy loves Wayne" scratched thereon?

I advised him that we didn't see anything about Tracy or Wayne.  Though one set of markings did look remarkably like:


See, I told you they were Valentine Messages!

The Colour Supplement

Last week Bryan was Billy Nomates so he went out twice.

On Sunday he decided to try a walk on the Southern part of the Bowland Fells, starting from the village of Chipping.  He reports that:

It is a horseshoe route of 8.5 miles and 1,500 ft of climb with what would undoubtedly be superb views in all directions on a good clear day.

As it was I didn’t get a clear day. Instead I got snow showers for most of it and average to poor visibility. This made navigation across the moorland stretch interesting as I’d forgotten my compass and so had to use the good old fall back technique of using the wind direction to hold a course. Definitely a route I’d recommend and one I’ll be going back to do on a clear day

A grim Bryan at the summit of Fair Snape Fell

His second outing was on Tuesday, starting from Dunmail Raise up the old familiar track up Raise Beck.

From the valley floor there looked to be very little snow but on reaching Grisedale Tarn it was a different world with the East and South facing slopes still being plastered in snow.

I didn’t need crampons until Dollywagon Pike, but from there on they were pretty much essential.

Fairfield from Dollywagon Pike

Helvellyn summit

At the summit I was taking a photo when I noticed a climber soloing up the East face straight from Red Tarn. Pretty dramatic, but probably too hard for me!

The climber; Striding Edge in background

Helvellyn summit looking to Nethermost Pike

I opted for a different route down via Comb Crags and down to Thirlmere. It proved interesting for a couple of reasons.

Firstly I encountered a group of 5 people traversing across a 40 degree slope of hard packed and icy snow. They all had ice axes but none had crampons – the complete opposite to me. They were really struggling as the snow was too hard in places even for kicking steps. My offer of help to get them across to some softer snow was politely rejected so I opted to watch them until they were safely across.

Further down I came to Comb Crags and initially had trouble finding the line down through them. When I did I rather regretted not having brought the axe. Parts of the slope were close to the limit for microspikes – slow but sure proved to be the best policy. For those now thinking “Good decision not to join him” I should add that I could have abandoned the route and traversed across the slope for a while to re-join my way in, and I definitely wouldn’t have taken anyone down that way that hadn’t had a reasonable amount of winter experience.

A brilliant day – 7.8 miles and 2860 feet





Thursday 6th March 2013

Distance in miles:

7.7 (Garmin gps)

Height climbed in feet:

703 (Memory Map / O.S.)



Other Features:

Aqueducts, Dodding Green


Bryan, Don, 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 bb1309

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.


Photos have been gleaned from many sources although mostly from me! Likewise written comment.  Unless stated otherwise, please feel free to download the material if you wish.  
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