As our time in Cumbria comes to a necessary close, it felt right to head out for our longest local walk yet. We drove down to the Middle Gelt viaduct only a few minutes outside of the village), parked up, and struck out along the river. It's a walk I've done many times before, but probably not for nearly a decade. In the interim, many of the old pathways have been closed up by the new owners of the west bank of the river, who have converted the woods there into a shooting estate and barred the general public (😡). Not only that, but it seems several strong storms have taken out quite a few of the trees, particularly on the side of the river that's still accessible, making for a much more open trail than anticipated.
Other than that, though, the walk through to Low Gelt is still a beautiful and extremely varied one, packed full of history. From the local legends around the "bloody beck", said to have run crimson after a nearby battle; genuine Roman quarries with carved phrases (and phalluses) dating back to the turn of 200AD; cave dwellings carved out of the sandstone cliffs, used by gamekeepers and (possibly) a whole host of other interesting characters; round whirlpools; fairy falls; and all manner of wildlife, there's always plenty to see. We didn't get much of the latter, given the constant threat of snow and relatively muted sunlight, but did get several sightings of Dipper, at least one Yellow wagtail, a fat (and unfortunately grey) squirrel on the far bank, various robins and wrens, and spent several minutes trying to capture either of a pair of tiny Goldcrests darting amongst a tree by the path's edge. No flycatchers, woodpeckers, raptors, or tufty red's, then, but plenty none-the-less.
Reaching Low Gelt, we swung back up the road to Townhead, where we discovered a new notice from the Council stating that several ancient by-ways and paths are to be reopened in the area, following legal proceedings! Looks like the shooting estate has finally lost its fight and the village may once again get access to the eastern Gelt once more! 🎉
As the snow finally began to reach ground level, having already gone back to pick up the stranded car at Middle Gelt, we settled in for an evening of bobotie, puzzles, and TV. A fitting end to our mini-relocation.