Colton Church, Cumbria

Falling in love with the Fells

They’re wonderful things are fells. We have a lot of them up here in’t north and I’m slowly but surely working my way around them. It’ll take some time but I’m in no hurry – my days of hurry have passed!

The name ‘Fell’ is derived from the old Norse ‘fjall’ (you see – those Vikings again – they sure liked it in these parts. I can’t blame them as I do too!).

A fell is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain range or moor-covered hill. Here, in Northern England, and especially in the Lake District and in the Pennine Dales, the word ‘fell’ originally referred to an area of uncultivated high ground used for common grazing – usually found above the timberline.

A few days back, with some friends, I went exploring once more. This time we ventured not too far, just a few miles north, to take in the sights and sounds of the Furness Fells.

The Furness Fells are home to some of the highest summits in Cumbria including ‘The Old Man of Coniston‘ which, at 2,634 feet is quite a hill! To climb the ‘Old Man’ is on my list of things to do but not on this day, this day was for more gentle exercise.

Furness Fell

The Fell, overlooking Colton

This day was a day of walking through woodland, climbing gentle hills, strolling through pasture and glades of English bluebells which sway and bow in the gentle breeze. A day of meeting local folk and local critters including Highland Cattle, rabbits and a woodpecker or two. A day where, Ava, the saluki/lurcher cross of a friend, played with moorland rabbits and carried one back to us in triumph. Luckily Peter Rabbit was wise enough to play ‘dead’ and after a while Ava became bored as Peter seemed uninterested in playing chase anymore. Uninjured, and after a short rest, Peter hopped away, mightily relieved was he to see another day.

Highland Cattle

My pal Angus

Passing through the ancient Moss Wood, where coppicing takes place in the traditional manner, and up the fell you come across the villages of Colton and Oxen Park then to the nature reserve at Low Hay Bridge, along the banks of Rusland Pool. In a week of two I’ll head back to Moss Wood for it is here that the foresters use horses to drag timber from the forest to the road before it is transported away to be converted into all manner of products. I’m told the horses know exactly what to do as they are harnessed to the timber to make their own way unescorted through the forest and back again for their next load.

Bluebells

Forest bluebells

After eight miles or so it’s time to head back, all the while making plans for the next adventure. I wonder, where will that take us?

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