So, Saturday the 29th arrived and by ten passed ten that morning I was en route for Pendle as I had promised to myself. The weather was beautiful, especially for so early into year – compared to last January it was almost tropical. Maybe I would get a view from the summit this year – unlike last March when it was so cold, damp and misty that I could hardly wait to get off the top as quick as possible.
Upon arrival at Barley car park I could hardly believe how close to being full it already was, having been here at Halloween (when one could expect a major turnout of ascendees) it was with a sense of releif that I managed to get the car parked. I tried to ring Chris to let her know that I had arrived safely but then the Barley phone curse struck as I looked down to see the phones’ signal strength was off the scale – negatively! I sent a text instead that never even left my phone let alone reached hers. The residents of Barley must love the fact that when they get home with their new gadget enriched mobile phones they can’t get a signal unless they go half way up Pendle Hill!
Having alighted the car I headed off up Cross Lane and was immediately impressed with the light and quality of views which were available of Pendle and district. This practice of stopping every ten yards in order to take a snap would impede on the walk’s progress but hey when you get such a clear sky one simply has to take advantage.
I decided against calling in at Witches Galore in Newchurch, it’s a great little shop – with an emphasis on “little”, being loaded up with my backpack and my rather bulky walking coat (with my GPS receiver in the inside pocket and my camera in the outside pocket) I might have been a bit of an obstacle / burden / liability and didn’t want to knock over display items for which I would be subsequently charged. So it was down and up Spenbrook Road where I finally saw some other walkers and their dogs and around three quarters of an hour later saw me arriving at “The Tynedales” and within a couple of minutes “Yappy” the annoying dog who frequents the area between the rear of Tynedale Farm and Bull Hole was shattering the slience once more – it charged to within three feet of me then just sat there expectantly. Stupid dog.
The long slog to Well Head Road is realistically just a five minute stroll up a rather gentle but increasing gradient on a gritstone track, it just feels like it takes longer to traverse, but I did make a friend. I was feeling a little peckish by now but had vowed to not start munching my way through my meagre provisions until I had hit the other side of the valley, this meant being hungry whilst attacking the sudden shock that is Saddler’s Height (codenamed “The Bone Hill”), I marched up the slope at full speed – only stopping every five yards or so! Fell Wood was next for me to cross and to be honest I don’t mind if I don’t get to go through there many times this year. It’s a bit of a spooky and as a result of later actions I ended up going through the thing twice – in the same direction.
After Fell Wood I went down the tiny, tiny steps, once again pleased that I was not ascending these things, trying to keep my footing on the frosted-over, grassy parts of this section until finally I made it to the footbridge that spaces out the two Ogden reservoirs. I wandered by the side of the tributary to the reservoir before realising that my way ahead was blocked by a service footbridge – complete with padlocks, that meant I had to wind my way back up to the main tarmac path some fifty or so yards to the right of me and more or less re-trace my footsteps. The onomatapae “DOH!” did spring to mind.
By the time I had headed north for a few hundred yards the hunger that I first felt near Tynedale was now overwhelming so I took my lunch break – consisting of two Chicken Ceaser wraps and two cups of coffee from my flask (note to self, always bring a flask in future!). I spent some time looking at the map (the irony of this will hit home very shortly) then wandered up a grit path towards Upper Ogden reservoir. As there seemed to be quite a bit of pedestrian traffice heading left from in front of the reservoir I decided that I would follow. It was only later that hindsight would kick in. Inadvertantly I was now heading for Spence Moor via Ogden Clough (west) and Cock Dole (no comments please!). At the end of the ‘reservoir path’ was a stile of sorts and then a sketchy path and much more people – so they just had to be going my way.
The rest is all a bit of a blur really! I wandered for ages as I trailed a couple whom seemed to vanish into thin air! I found a nice ‘field from hell’ where the surface was as level as it was dry (not at all) with the odd marsh patch, ice, peat, frozen peat and that red-green grass that means “As you observe this your feet will be getting wet!”. After what seemed like an hour I finally managed to locate an huge wooden stile that I hoped would lead me towards the summit. But of course that was just fantasy as I came to realise over the next mile or two that the summit was getting smaller!
After phoning Chris and opening my last food source – an almighty flapjack, falling over and cursing the map I decided that on this occasion, the environment had beaten me. To this day I can not fully describe where the furthest point of my destination was or what it was called. I’ve since tried to retrace my footsteps on the OS map – but there is no marked footpath the way that I managed to get back to Fell Wood! I had encountered a fell runner and sought advice on a way to the summit only to be told in a nutshell – the way you are going won’t get you to the summit! Aware that dusk was now less that two hours away it was almost with joy that I turned around, headed to the huge wooden ladder stile and began my trek back down the slo pe of the “Field from hell”. Progress was almost too quick! I could not believe how quickly I managed to get back to the wood but then had to ascend and descend the same stile and paths that I had so optimistically crossed a few hours earlier.
Once on the other side of Lower Ogden I hastily marched down the lane towards Barley Visitor Centre. I think from Fell Wood to there probably took me no longer that twenty minutes and I was very relieved to be within sight of my car at the end of a day’s walking that would leave me tired, grumpy and somewhat uncomfortable for a good number of days. Since this ‘botched attempt’ Chris and me have walked the ‘correct’ way up Boar Clough and arrived at the summit. I’ve had the joy(?) of descending the steps from Big End to the rear of Pendle House and I managed to do it all without falling over.
In the summer I plan on doing my intended route again, also I intend to do the walk from Nick ‘O’ Pendle to Big End and I even intend to walk along Spence Moor. I intend a lot. From my walks I always gain something – not just bruises from falling at Whernside, or mudstains that won’t shift from Pen-y-ghent fell, sometimes it can be something that isn’t tangible, maybe this is true…
…we walk over the hills to explore the environment, but, we walk over moorland to discover ourselves! I know that I found out many things about myself on Spence Moor!