Walks and Thoughts

of Michael Simes

An old Man's Tale:



West Vale

Clay House


Cragg Vale



Pecket Well

Luddenden Dean

Jerusalem Farm

Catherine Slack

Stone Chair

It's Just Like Home:

Hong Kong





Marlborough Sounds


Milford Sound



Blue Mountains

Northern Beaches


A City Of Revolution:




Notre Dame


The End Of The Beginning Forever

Proceed over bridge turning right and left up steps onto the track into woodland. On your right is Moresdale Hall. Remain on waterlogged path to a kissing gate. You can spot the track where virgin trains rattle along at regular episodes. Keep to side of fence on your left and down to launch yourself over a stream gully and climb up to a wall stile.

Turn left up the tarmac lane ignoring the new Dales Way sign pointing straight across. You will pass Hardrigg Farm on your left. After 300 metres turn right at the junction. Down the lane for 100 metres and left by the white house and through a gate marked with yellow arrow. You could carry on down the lane to the bridge if you wish to avoid the swamps. Immediately right down towards the rail line keeping by the fence on your right. You come to a ladder stile and back over the road bridge.

Turn left after bridge as directed by public footpath sign. Carry on the footpath by the fence parallel with railway line. Over a footbridge and on until you reach Dales Way sign pointing right downhill to a stream.

At the bottom we found cows penned in by electrified fence blocking our way. We had to scramble under the wire risking shock and limb. Para’s do this in their training. There’s been a few walkers trampled to death this summer, but this need not detain us here.

Follow the track and through a metal gate. Continue up the track bearing right and along past Green Head Farm. Outside is a self-service tuck shop offering Mars bar, Kendal Mint Cake and water. Supplied by Tom to fund his trip to Bolivia.

Down the lane and right through a metal gate as directed by Dales Way arrow. Keep on path alongside the stream through field gate and over footbridge. Head for Grayrigg Foot farm. Proceed through farmyard on to the access track to the A685. Turn right for 50 metres and left on to a surfaced lane to Thursgill Farm. Cross the beck and through the metal gate.

Across the field to a wobbly step stile. Follow the rising path up to the field corner and over the stile. Go forward alongside the hedgerow and on to a grassy track. Ahead is the colonial mansion of Shaw Edge.

This section is for solitary trampers. We will not pass Jean Beliveau, the neon sign salesman who walked 46,600 miles across 64 countries to complete his odyssey in eleven years. Walking in a sanctuary as a refuge in our daydreaming daze. Allowing nature to purify our imagination.

In our questing narrative we have been carrying on as best we can the ancient tradition of the roving poet. Imagined story telling as the wandering bard travelling through an antique land.

In the twilight zone of our consciousness we are tempted to shrug off the detail and just follow the signs. But some are vague, others non-existent. We cannot shirk our obligations. We will remain the valiant foot traveller striving for our peak.

Drop down to a metal field gate with Dales Way sign on the post. Go towards Shaw End across the field. Bear left to footbridge over the River Mint, now replaced after being swept away in floods of 2004.There is no evident path but walk up to the next field to a wooden gate. Turn right up the green lane. It descends left through a wooden kissing gate. Follow the path parallel to the lane and up to the metal gate on towards houses. Turn left through two metal gates and up an enclosed path to the road. Straight across and down to Biglands Farm passing front of farmhouse. Through two metal gates and follow path up and over the wooden stile.

Keep left past post with Dales Way arrow and up to a wall stile. Cross field staying close to wall on your left. Go down to your right to a wall stile into area adjacent to Black Moss Tarn. Go right through a wooden gate and on to the footbridge with tarn on the left. At the end of the Tarn turn up facing the pylon. At the summit proceed down by remains of boundary wall. At New House Farm go left over cattle grid. Follow the path and through a wooden gate. Continue on path with another tarn on your right. Through two metal gates on to a metalled access road to Goodham Scales Farm. Left up the lane away from the farm.

Should your heart burst here it would be ok. Keep inhaling deep, drawing from the reserves. With Keats “my heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains”. Together we have been ” half in love with easeful death”. The heart slowly reduced to embers. It will be a blessed relief with Lear “to unburdened crawl towards death”. Feeling the yoke of necessity indulge in rebellion and recalcitrance.

Take the fork right through a gate along a metalled track down and beyond Garnett Folds Farm. You may appreciate the black Jacob’s sheep in the field on the left. Carry on past turning to Otter Bank. Above the trees on your right pick out the rugged grandeur of Lakeland pikes.

After Tarn Bank cottages descend to the congestion of the A6. Beware of speeding traffic tearing up the road. Turn left and after 40 metres cross the road to enter the driveway to Burton House Farm. After the farmyard carry on through a metal gate. Left through wooden gate and a swing gate to cross the field down towards metal gate to continue by wire fence on the right.

Along to a ladder stile, over a wooden stile and footbridge. Left up the track keeping to right hand side of field. Avoid ladder stile on your right. On to a field gate crossing the pasture to the low ladder stile in corner. Across the field on the left by hedge. Down to the through - stile. Kendal is emerging on your left as the gateway to the Lakes.

Cross to the next wooden gate over footbridge to follow flagged path. Through wooden gate to next stile and gap stile on to tarmac lane. Turn right with sign to Oakbank. Just before cottages go left and through a gate as directed by footpath sign to Sprint Bridge. Forward by wall on left coming to a wall gap. Follow path with wall on right to reach the fence by the bank at River Sprint. Bear left and with river on your right go to the corner of the field. Take the path on the right descending to river and down to a step stile. Cross the access track and on beside the river. On the right is the water powered Sprint Mill. On to the steps up to the bridge. Leaving the lively little Sprint turn right along this dangerous road for pedestrians.

Pass the turning for Burneside Hall, a fortified farm with ruined 14th century Pele tower peculiar to the north. A defensive structure against marauding raids from across the border. Site of the Cropper dynasty who reigned over this paper town. Respect owed to James Cropper as a leading slave abolitionist.

At the corner turn right into the gate stile marked Dales Way and into enclosed path by side of road. Continue as far as the signed path to Bowston on your right.

Follow the path between fence around an industrial estate. An eclectic mix of trees provides the canopy. Proceed to the stile into a field keeping to the path alongside the River Kent. Our companion for the next stint. The Kent ebbs and flows dramatically as the fastest flowing river in the defunct county of Westmorland. Down the slope to an iron ladder stile. Remaining by the river bank over a stile and a flight of stone steps takes you on to the bridge. Left into Bowston to carry on up the road and right at the junction by a Victorian pillar box built into the wall.

After Kent Close turn right as directed by footpath sign to Staveley. Keep forward past bungalows on your left. Continue on narrow path running along course of an old light railway linking local mills. Coming into tarmac lane bear right past houses with river on your right.

Alongside the converted complex at Cowan Head and up the lane beyond white cottages. Through the metal gate and onto a narrow path. Keep on beside river, through metal gate, over footbridge and onto a large barn.

You could easily stumble and plunge into the river depriving yourself of self- resuscitation. I am following freely my natural leanings, no longer sedentary. The river cadence caresses you into the ecology of being.

Continue on river path over a wall stile. Keeping to the river you could surface at Kent Bank. Through a gate leading into a field and straight across to ladder stile. Forward and through a collapsed wall and over a wall stile at edge of the river. Follow the low path leaving the ancient woods by ladder stile in to the pasture.

Through the metal field gate walking near a wall on the right to enter a walled track to a kissing gate. Cross to the gate signposted to Staveley.

At the next gate follow Dales Way footpath sign into the main road for Staveley. Turn right on to roadside path onto Stock Bridge Farm, date stoned 1638.

Staveley village is 400 metres ahead. The bobbin capital of Westmoreland and home of Reverend Tom Bell who captured a 250lb freshwater shark in the River Kent.

We can touch the imminence of our demise in our sudden attraction for life. What sort of death will you make? We could die a young man’s death chuckling in conviction of our own mastery. Wearing boots embedded in active life. “The future! That is what life is about!” as you are what you will become.

Gaze on the child who holds your hand. Let your wife enjoy the repeated embrace, make merry each day. Slip into childhood with total focus on track. Once the origins of our vigour, now just drains the bones.

Reach for a life full of purist pleasures. Attend to the moment in a spirit of mindfulness going to our rest in good grace. I have lost track of my running mate, 92 year old Jarra Jack. On his artificial limbs he has endured 28 Great North runs. Slower than me, overtaken by his own shadow he will make it to his own graveside.

Cross the road and up past Stock Bridge Farm. Immediately proceed left on to a track leading to railway underpass. Turn right through a kissing gate into the walled lane. Continue on path at edge of wall on your right passing cottages at Moss Side. Over a wall stile into the garden and along the drive to Crook Road.

At the junction left along bridge. After 100 metres right down the slip road. Straight away turn left and round up to Field Close. Swing left into grassy path between hedges. Through the gate in to pasture and up to the next gate. In to woodland carrying on by boundary wall on your left.

At the gate at the top descend to a surfaced lane near New Hall Farm. Turn right to a gate and follow lane as it climbs. You may collect wild bilberries, raspberries and blackberries for sustenance.

Through filed gates to the summit as you begin the long descent to a T junction. Take the right turn past Fell Plain and Glen Farms. Near the top left in to a walled lane enclosed by series of flourishing Rowan tree. As you rise Coniston Fells in view towards the right.

Coming to 3 gates take the middle one as guided by the Dales Way sign. Follow left by wall swinging right on across to gate gap in wall with arrow on post passing blue pine, larch and spruce. Right at bridleway post following plantation boundary. Stay forward through beautiful yellow shrubs, rushes and gorse to a gate and on to a meandering green path and over a wall stile. You will pass the shortest stretch of stream, its source and outlet a mystery.

On to a green lane leading to a wooden gate below Cragg House Farm. Keep to path by wall on right. We crossed the path of a baby shrew. Head along to a kissing gate passing the renovated buildings, now a fetching holiday cottage for two couples.

Carry on a metalled lane and after 200 metres turn left on to a rough track to Hagg End Farm. Enter Flyard bearing right to a gate and along path to the kissing gate. Across the pasture to wooden gate. Continue around hillock swinging round to right.

Descending with Langdale Pikes and Coniston Fell watching over the delightful rolling forestry. Bear left with a tree 40 metres to your left. The way is marked with yellow arrows on footpath. As path continues down to a kissing gate go left to another gate. Carry on the rough track coming eventually to the lower track where it is sign posted for Cleabarrow. Through 4 gates and in to a metalled section in to the B5284. At the junction turn right as signed to Bowness. The only village on the ribbon of Lake Windermere. Its origins in the colonisation of the Vikings in the 11th century. Peter Rabbit and Jemima came alive here in the domain of Beatrix Potter.

Follow the path alongside road on your left. As the path merges on to the road go right up a lane for Low Cleabarrow. Before a group of cottages turn left on to the signposted track. Passing 4 gates to cross the hillock through oaks and down to a gate guided by signposts.

The green track continues to the road straight across beyond the gate and down path between fences to cross the farm access. Through 3 gates with tarn on your right. After another gate turn right on to metalled lane.

This could be my last night. With Dante we will “remember tonight….. for it is the beginning of forever”. No more than a stone’s throw to infinity. It is dawning on me that I need to be at home. I am so homesick for you. Did I not tell you that I loved you? It may be a heart rending story but keep your heart moist and alive.

Will there be time to cash in the chips? Pushing up the daisies will we ever rise again? In seclusion we will bump into all our ancestors shading into a burgeoning mass of souls. There is more space in heaven than you can imagine.

After 20 metres left along the path by the fence and through the metal gate in corner. Proceed left alongside wall to enter the green lane between walls. Cross the lane on to ongoing path. After gate follow path to the right. Now you can peek at Windermere amidst the trees. Beyond two kissing gates drop down to Bowness. Past the famous slate seat reward for weary finishers. “For those who walk the Dales Way”. Down to the gate at Brantfell Road. Follow this road for the final decline into Bowness.

We have gone beyond the last post. In our own way we have been sedately sleepwalking beyond eternity. Our soul mates in the Sioux territory would have asked, “was the trip worth it?”

In this compact between writing and walking the world continues over my dead body. As a fitting epitaph they will say he popped his clogs along the way. The old sage sighs with relief as he gathers there’s a limit to his knowledge.

Our anonymous poet will sing no sad songs. “ Do not stand on my grave and weep, I do not sleep, I am not there I am a thousand winds, glints on snow, gentle rain, sunlight on garden, soft stars and quiet birds circling”. Auden appealed for us to “bring out the coffin”, “let the mourners come”. Messages care of my casket. That staunch Tory Robert Louis Stevenson confided “I have lived and loved and closed the door”.

As you look back you will see I was a man first and foremost. We have shared our secrets as we know dead men tell no tales. I told you I’d go with my boots on.