Connect with the countryside club and find yourself content

Your weekend walk with Bob Clare of

Friday, 31st January 2020, 5:00 pm

You might not think it, but by the close of this decade a demographic time bomb will have exploded and we’ll witness the closure of thousands of local clubs, community groups and sports associations in its aftermath. For quite some time the enrolment of young people born after 1980 into local groups has been declining. They may sign up for social media chat-rooms and Facebook groups but as for being part of an actual club or society with face to face contact with other members well that’s for old fogies like …well um…me!

Bowling clubs, darts and dominoes leagues, chess and bridge clubs and even sports clubs are not recruiting enough youngsters to cover the loss of members through old age and …better not go there – taboo subject! For me one of the most striking areas trying to cope with the problems caused by an ageing population is golf. Once upon a time golf clubs were notoriously difficult to join and most had long waiting lists. This is no longer the case. Many clubs are crying out for new members and are trying to find ways to make the sport more appealing to families.

It is a trend we have noticed with the Norwest Fellwalking Club over the past few years. We have struggled to attract new members – especially members under the age of 30. It is not from want of trying; week after week this promotes the benefits of country walking and how being a member of a club can increase the range of walking areas especially if it is organised enough to hire a coach. Linear routes like the one described below become part of the mix.

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The falling participation rates in community groups is mirrored by falling union membership so there is a double whammy. Aside from the gradual drift towards a world where social isolation becomes the norm there will be other undesirable consequences not least the impact on our political and democratic institutions. Young people will simply not know how to behave in a formal meeting, set and follow an agenda, make proposals, vote. If these things die out at a local level it will have an impact at a national level. For things to improve you cannot rely on winning the National Lottery or receive a charitable donation given on the whim of a billionaire. You need to work with others, build consensus, collaborate and cooperate. This comes from being and connecting with people not staying in your bedroom looking at a screen. And one of the best ways to connect – walk in a group.

Walk Facts

Start. Dent Village Centre LA10 5QL

Finish: Sedbergh town centre

Distance: 7 miles

Time: 3 – 4 hours

Grade: Moderate. Crossing Long Moor involves 500ft of ascent

Map: OS OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western areas

Readers will need to sort out the logistics of this linear route either using public transport – a bus service operates between Kendal and Dent Station - or by two cars.


With the Church on your left turn into Beech Hill and follow it as it leaves the village taking you down to the River Dee. Just before you reach the river turn left onto a public footpath that is part of the Dales High Way. Keep on this through meadows for about ½ mile. Cross the Sedbergh Road and continue with the river to the right until you come to Barth Bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the lane as it bends to the left. After 120yds turn right onto a narrow lane which winds up the hillside with farm drives branching left and right to come to Lund at the end of the cul-de-sac. Still on the Dales High Way it will now live up to its name with a traverse of Long Moor. Beyond Lund continue on a farm track until you come to a gate before open moorland. Through this go left following a wall for a further ½ mile to a wooden gate. Now close to the summit keep left and after breasting a rise begin the descent towards Garsdale. The Dales High Way presses on over the Frostrow Fells but on this route I suggest a variation. As you reach the edge of walled pastures soon after crossing a stream bear right onto a footpath leading to the farmsteads of High and Low Branthwaite. Close to the second farm follow its drive to the A684 Sedbergh – Hawes Road. (This sounds like it ought to be busy but wasn’t when we checked out the route.)

Turn left. Pass a Methodist chapel and keep ahead for 400yds. Turn right onto a footpath leading to a bridge across Clough River. Cross the bridge and go left but soon after branch right on a footpath climbing through fields to the right of a conifer plantation. The path leads to the farmstead of Green Hollins. Once on the lane go left to reach the A683 Sedbergh-Kirkby Stephen Road just before Straight Bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right onto a footpath with the lovely River Rawthey to your right. 400yds upstream the path bears left to Buckbank. Through the farm go right on a narrow lane. As you arrive at the next farm – Ellerthwaite – turn left onto a footpath leading across pastureland. The route now passes through a succession of farms – Hollin Hill, Stonebank and Underbank to bring you to the edge of Sedbergh. The path is well waymarked as you traverse farmland in a south-westerly direction.

- Walk devised by Andy Walker NWFC