Bigland Barrow

Date: 15 June 2020 Weather: 21’C, cloudy, muggy
Height gain: 489 ft Distance: 3.2 miles
Time taken: 2 hours 5 mins Wainwrights: Outlying 11 of 110 

Route:  Parked on the small road up to Canny Hill following footpath up to Bigland Barrow and back the same way.


The weather has been windy, warm and intermittently wet over the last week and we’ve been looking for opportunities for our next hill walk.  Today is warm and very muggy with thunderstorms expected late afternoon so we decide to head out for a short walk up an outlying fell.

We choose Bigland Barrow from Newby Bridge.  The drive in uneventful and we find a good parking space along the road up to Canny Hill.  There are houses around but they are behind high walls and lots of trees so we don’t feel like we’re imposing too much.

We get our boots on and load the baby rucksack with water bottles – it may be a short walk but it’s going to feel very warm.  The sun is out as we set off and I wonder whether we made the right decision not covering ourselves in suntan lotion before we set off – we’ve been skimping on the sticky lotion so far this summer and while we have topped up our vitamin D levels nicely and look like we’ve spent the spring on the Costa del Sol we should be more careful in the strong June sunshine.

We head up the road and it soon becomes a footpath before we reach a gate and get out into the hills:

1

The terrain looks different from what we usually see in Cumbria, probably helped by the very warm weather – it almost feels like we’re in Greece surrounded by what could be olive trees (which of course they’re not) and the noise of crickets chirping all around us:

3

The path is easy to follow and looks pretty with the ferns all glossy and the foxgloves dotted about still looking good although probably past their peak now:

2

We follow the path under some trees and it becomes less distinct ahead of us but much more distinct if we turn sharp left and head up towards a wall.  We make the turn and trudge upwards in the heat.  S is concerned about how we cross the wall and consults the gadget and map and realises that we’ve taken a wrong turn.  We should be heading for the high point now behind us rather than what we can see in front of us.

We turn around and head back down to where we turned and make our way a few metres on the overgrown path before we find a stile over the wall and are confident that we’re on the right track again.  We can now see the ridge we’re aiming for above us:

3a

We head down into a dip and make our way across ground which is probably quite boggy under normal circumstances – today after our weeks of mostly dry weather it’s barely slightly muddy.  We get across and scramble up the hillside to reach the summit of Bigland Barrow:

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We know we’re in the right place because of the structure right next to the summit cairn which is described by AW as “a wartime relic” :

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The clouds have been gathering as we’ve walked (and we’ve got away without the suntan lotion) but it does mean that the views are very hazy.   They would be very good on a clear day but the view towards the Coniston fells are practically rubbed out so I don’t even take a picture.  I do try for a shot across to the Kentmere fells but as you can see they are also very indistinct:

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The view south down towards Bigland Tarn is a little better and the water is giving just a little sparkle:

6

We sit and enjoy what views there are and glug water as the sweat pours off us.  Our planned route back is off to the south and past the tarn but this gives us a final mile of road walking back to the car.  I would quite like to see the tarn, but I’m nervous about a mile of walking past people’s houses so we decide to go back the way we came.

We retrace our steps, this time without the detour, making good progress on the gentle gradient:

10

A gap in the clouds appears and we get hotter and hotter in the sunshine.  We stop in some shade for another glug of water and spot these very impressive mushrooms on the tree in front of us:

8

The sunshine doesn’t last long and as we reach the final gate back to the road the sky is really getting ready for a good old thunderstorm:

9

We reach the car and take off our boots, ridiculously hot and sweaty after our short walk.  The heavens wait until we get home before they open and we enjoy some much needed rain and rumbling thunder over a late lunch.

This was a perfect walk in the hot and muggy weather before the rain rolled in.  The terrain was very different from usual and was set off very well by the Mediterranean weather.  It’s a shame the views were so hazy – we’ll have to come back on a clear day as they have the potential to be very good for such a little hill.