Dad's 70th Birthday walk
Little Eric's 13th Birthday walk


Date - 1st March 2021 & 12th June 2021 Distance - 9.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL7
Start point - Layby on Hayclose Lane (SD 53599 90084)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
The Helm 600 185 SD 5307 8873



We were having a quiet weekend. Shaun had brought the tea and Grizzly and Little Eric the cakes.

"I'll lend a paw filling the mugs", volunteered Southey.

"Thank you pal", replied Shaun.

"What cake delights have you brought today?", asked Allen, rubbing his tummy in anticipation.

Grizzly has made Chorley cakes, and I have done mincemeat slice", replied Little Eric. "There are also scones that Southey has made. Sultana, and there is butter and raspberry jam too."

So we all tucked in. Tetley said, "Southey the scones are delicious. You have become quite the dab paw at making them."

"Thanks pal. I am enjoying baking now and then and if it gives Grizzly and Little Eric a helping paw all the better."

"It does pal. Thank you", responded Grizzly. "I see you are liking my Chorley cakes, Allen. You are on your third or is it your fourth?"

"The latter. They are just so delicious and well, I have to live up to my cake stuffer reputation.

"And a word of praise for the mincemeat slice, Little Eric. It is scrumptious", said Shaun. "A special day for you on Monday. Your thirteenth birthday."

"Yes, but more important it is Dad's birthday, and he will be 70."

"I can't really believe it, as he does not act his age, and thankfully for us he is pretty fit and able to still take us walking", said Tetley.

"I reckon it is all those years with Uncle Brian that has helped to keep Dad young, and us too", went on Allen. "A cause for celebration on the day."

"I know he had planned to celebrate at Elaine's with Aunt Ann, Uncle Bob, Aunt Pat and Uncle Leo, but of course that is not possible due to lockdown", said Shaun. "So I suspect he will take us for a walk instead, and celebrate your birthday too, Little Eric."

Tetley had the iPad in paw. "The weather looks to be fantastic with sun all day and hardly any wind. I suppose we should let Dad decide on the route."

Allen drained his mug, saying, "I'll go and see what he his in mind."

"Better refill his mug?", suggested Southey. "He's only had three so far."

"I will", agreed Shaun.

Soon Allen returned. "Thank you", he said to Shaun, accepting the mug. "Dad has decided on a walk from Oxenholme, up over The Helm, over fields and on unfrequented roads."

"Oh yes", said Tetley. "I know the one he means. Last time he did it was in June 2003. There was just Shaun and I in the club then."

"So new to the rest of us", said Little Eric. "I am going to enjoy my birthday."

12th June 2021
We decided to repeat this walk, as it had been so enjoyable on Dad and Little Eric's birthday. The conditions underfoot were much better after a prolonged spell of dry weather. Now summer the trees were in full leaf and the wildflowers added beauty to the hedgerows. Too, it provided an opportunity for Dad to visit Aunt Margery at High Garths. More about this later. Dad took a few pictures and we have included some to show the contrast in the seasons.


The Walk

"Happy Birthday Dad", called out Gladly on behalf of us all.

Then we all sang the song very loudly!

"Thank you everyone. I can not really believe I am 70. Just so thankful to have my health and that I can still do the walks that I love so much. Just sad that Brian is not alive to see this day, but I know he will be looking down and will be glad that I am having a nice walk to celebrate. I really do miss him so much."

"I know Dad", replied Allen, wiping a tear from his eye."

Grizzly said, "and a Happy Birthday to you Little Eric. 13 today!"

"Thank you", he replied as we all gave him a hug.

"Are you going to open your cards, Dad?", asked Southey.

"Not just yet, I'll do that after the walk, and the parcels too."

His gear loaded, it was not long before we were setting off. We took the M6 to junction 36, then via Crooklands and Endmoor and under The Helm to take the turning for Oxenholme.

Southey read, "the instructions say to park at the station."

"Yes pal, but it is better to drive on a little way and turn up by the Station Hotel and use the large layby just 50 yards along Hayclose Lane", responded Tetley. "This avoids an expensive parking fee.."

As forecast the weather was perfect with cloudless skies and little wind, such that by the second half of the walk Dad walked just in his t-shirt. Well, it is the first day of meteorological spring.

We got settled in the rucksack, while Dad got ready. Then he shouldered this and off we went. Just yards on our progress was halted by Little Eric calling out, "those snowdrops will make a nice start picture."

Southey said, "at the junction we cross the road, then take the path branching right."

In June, Grizzly said, "those rhododendrons are quite beautiful. A nice picture to enhance our story.

This was unsurprisingly muddy in places, as we climbed steadily coming by the wall to the left to quite soon arrive at the trig point marking the summit of The Helm. Kendal was spread out below. This is where Dad worked from 1989 to 2001 and is where Uncle Eric lives. This shot was taken in June when the views to the fells were clearer.

"Come of pals", called out Tetley. "Calm enough to sit on top for our picture and your birthday picture Little Eric."

A young gentleman arrived with his dogs and Dad asked, "I wonder if you would mind taking my picture with the lads as it is my 70th birthday."

"No problem", he said taking Dad's camera.

They then had a little chat, that included Dad briefly explaining about us.

"Can you tell us anything about the name, Grizzly?", asked Allen

"Yes pal. Somewhere around the summit are the remains of Castlesteads a small multivallate hill fort. Diana Whaley suggests in her book that the the Old Norse helm more usually refers to man-made shelters or perhaps defensive positions."

Looking down on the east side, Little Eric, said, "that small tarn sparkling in the sunshine will make a nice picture."

"Right", called out Shaun, "we had better be getting on. Make the steep descent keeping close to the wall for the most part."

Off the hill we reached a t-junction. Southey said, "turn left and through the metal gate onto the lane, where cross and walk the access track to Helm End House."

Passing by these crocus on the verge.

"It's through that gate, over the stile on the left and then cross the field diagonally right", advised Shaun.

This brought is to a stile in a thick hedge with a small footbridge beyond, seen here after crossing. "That stile might be a bit challenging to get over in the summer", commented Tetley.

In yards another stile was climbed and then we continued up the field by the hedge on the left.

Dad paused after a few minutes, getting the camera out. "Those trees look a likely photo."

At the lane opposite High House, Shaun said, "go right to pass the farm, then at the junction turn left."

There was a notice board here, and we stopped to look. "So that's what some of our hug pals get up to", joked Tetley.

The narrow lane passed a house called Furrows, at the entrance to which is this old plough.

Soon we came to St Sunday Beck. "Oh dear", called out Little Eric seeing the ford, and remembering Dad getting wet feet crossing the river Condor.

"Don't worry pal", replied Southey. "There's a footbridge."

Crossing Dad paused to take the beck.

On the far side the lane led right into the hamlet of Halfpenny. "Turn left, then at the junction take the left fork", instructed Shaun. "Then it's through the first gate on left and down to the beck."

The route was then across a number of fields, with stiles getting us over the walls. The ground was soft, so making it harder for Dad and taking longer than normal. "Just as well we are not in a hurry", commented Dad.

"We need to savour our birthdays", replied Little Eric.

At the end of the first field this footbridge crossed the beck. Knowing it was not our route, Allen asked, "why take a picture, Dad."

"Because it is new and one I am sure had to be replaced after the devastating floods in caused by the storms in December 2015."

The path goes past that house Stang, and leads to the lane we came to by High House", informed Southey looking up from the map.

In the last we drifted right to a gate into Blease Hall Wood, where a side read - Welcome to our Farm, and requested walkers to keep to the footpaths and keep dogs on a lead, to help conserve the wildlife.

Exiting the wood, Little Eric asked, "what is that building over to the left."

"One of the structures associated with the aqueducts from the Lake District to Manchester", replied Tetley.

"Which one?", asked Southey.

"Not sure", replied Allen. "Let's go and have a look"

There was nothing on the building to give any clue. Tetley then pointed, "let's have a look at those inspection covers."

Peering Grizzly said, "there are initials TA, meaning the Thirlmere Aqueduct."

Strolling back, Shaun said, "the route is over that stile and footbridge, then walk ahead to the far boundary."

"Two paths here", said Allen.

"Ours is the stile right then follow the track to Low Blease", instructed Southey.

There it was obviously left through the gate and then right through the first gate onto a narrow path between walls.

"This is Highgate Lane", said Tetley reading the map.

"Once a farm lane but long disused", added Grizzly.

It seemed to take forever to get to the end. "Quite easy now with the vegetation cut back", Allen commented, "but I bet getting along here in the summer will be bit challenging due to it being rather overgrown."

And how right Allen was, when we repeated the walk. The day was warm so Dad was in shorts. The vegetation along this lane was nearly wait high and dense, and there were many nettles, not what one wants to contend with when in shorts! Just a few yards from the first gate it was clear that it was going to be impassable. However not wanting to be totally defeatist Dad crossed the field to a gate further along only to see a patch on nettles immediately.

"It would be madness for you to walk along here", said Tetley.

"Yes lad, you are right."

Shaun said, "there is not problem. I have an alternative route. Go back to through the gate that was on our left as we approached Low Blease. There go right of the buildings onto a track and follow it to join the access to the road and turn left."

Back on our March route, at road we went right to the right to the hamlet of...

...that is in parish of.

"We want the road signed to Ewebank", called out Southey.

"Look", cried Little Eric. "There's the wall post box. Take a picture Dad, please."

"How can I refuse, especially as it is your birthday."

Quite a long way on the road now, but so unfrequented, so a pleasure to walk. Nice views across the countryside and snowdrops brightened the verges in parts. All the lanes we now walked were the same, with us seeing more walkers than vehicles.

In June the hawthorn was in bloom...

...and the Yarrow lined the verges.

Finally coming to the junction at Ewebank, Southey said, "go left past the farm then left again at the next junction towards Millholme."

"That tree high on the hill will be a nice picture, don't you think Dad", suggested Grizzly.

And in contrast these lining the lane in full leaf in June.

Passing Millholme, Little Eric called out, "there's the post box set in the wall of the house." Peering he went on, "an old one too, dating from the reign of King Edward VII."

Here the lane bent left and we continued on to Borrans. "You can see where the original house has been extended", pointed Allen. "The date stone shows it was originally built in 1729."

"Just past here, we take the right fork", called out Shaun.

After a short steep climb then equally short steep descent, the lane led on eventually coming to a t-junction, having crossed Strickley Beck part way. "That's a pretty scene with the trees", said Little Eric.

At the junction is a seat with the dedication 'Teddy's Perch'. "Well, we have got to sit there", called out Tetley.

Then, as we walked on the next gate has the sign...

...Dad managing to get an angle to take the wood through which runs Beehive Beck.

A couple were ahead of us and we caught them up looking at two donkeys.

Dad said, "do you know who Teddy was?"

The gentleman replied, "he lived here at High Garths", pointing to the buildings opposite. "After his death a number of places were renamed in his memory. Apparently the seat was a favorite place he liked to sit."

For whatever reason Dad did not connect the dots. It was only a few days later when he was talking to Margery, who goes to Elaine's Tearooms and Dad knows well, that he realised we had been standing outside her house! Teddy had been her husband. He has talked to her many times and shown her the bears he had taken to Elaine's on each of the days. She collects teddy bears, and Dad is intending to visit her, once the Covid restrictions are over.

And so in June, now that restrictions have been lifted to a large extent, Dad was able to do this. In fact he met Aunt Margery along the lane on her mobility scooter. We walked along together to the farm. Dad told her "I want to finish the walk first (see below), and then come back in the car. Arriving Dad saw a friend called Jim, who had helped her for some years. He was here with his son and grandchildren, who incredibly live literally just across the road from us in Morecambe. What a small world. Dad then spent a couple of hours with Aunt Margery being introduced to her bears etc. She was thrilled Dad had come and told him that it had made her day.

In a few yards we came to Low Garths where Shaun pointed, "we take the bridleway through the buildings to that gate and into the field."

That was after we had got through the two initial gates in the yard that had complicated locks! "Sometimes I think I should just leap over", muttered Dad.

"At your age. Not a good idea", said Allen.

In the field it was diagonally right to gate in top corner. Sheep with lambs here, this one looking like it had only been born yesterday. Ahh!

Beyond the direction was left by the fence, Southey then advising, "we drift away right to come that fence below Flats Hill and then follow track to Hayclose."

There were more sheep and lambs here, and Dad could not resist.

Following the drive through to the road, Tetley pointed, "that bank of heather is a must picture to round off the story."

"What a super walk", cried Little Eric. "I have had a birthday to remember.

"Brilliant day", cheered Allen. "Thank you Dad."

Back a home Dad opened his cards, and read the many birthday wishes on Facebook. There were nice gifts too from Mike and Lou, and Roger his nephews and from Uncle Brian's favourite niece Sue.

He had tea and cakes before the phone started ringing, with calls from Roger, Paul and Sheila and Uncle Keith. He also rang Sue in Cornwall to thank her for the unusual teddy box, she had sent.

"Under the circumstances I have had a lovely birthday. Not being able to celebrate with friends as planned, I could not have done better than the walk, lads. I feel loved."

And finally, once again we posed for our picture on the trig point on The Helm. Dad thinks it a particularly good of us all, and has insisted that we include it.


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