And what a walk it was
Ever since me and Chris went to walk up Great Hill on the first Sunday of March I had been longing to return (I still am!) as I could imagine and had heard that the views of the surrounding area are quite fantastic – and it’s a doddle to get up to the summit! This ran hand in hand with my desire to get fit (fitter at least) for September’s re-try of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. I needed to get some serious practice in, but, North Yorkshire is a long way and financially feels a lot longer these days! A local ‘big walk’ would have to suffice.
Our first assault on Great Hill left me with an overwhelming desire to walk the moors of Bolton/Darwen/Chorley/Anderton/Wherever(?) again and in late March I devised a route that should take in not only Winter Hill and Great Hill but all of the summits in-between and a couple thereafter. I would start at Crookfield Road car park near Tockholes and (weather permitting) would walk straight up the side of Redmond’s Edge – the second heighest spot on this particular escarpment. From there with ordnance survey maps, local knowledge and an ornamental compass – cos I’ll be beggared if I can make head or tail out of it, I would walk somewhere in the range of 12-15 miles taking in all available summits. I purposefully opted for the 29th of April – The Royal Wedding Day as my day to walk as I had previously mentioned on here of my wish to not watch the event.
After a week of the Met office using a dice-rolling technique, voodoo, guessing and a bit of dried seaweed hung on a washing line in a building somewhere, I simply hoped for good weather – and I got it! The sun was beginning to rain down on me as I left Southport at an alarmingly early time of 7.30 a.m. and headed off for Belmont, my sat nav decided it would play games with me by sending me all the way up the A59 to near the Lancashire Constabulary headquarters only to effectively u-turn and take the left hand turn to Chapel Road, Longton – this could have been avoided by simply taking the A581 Leyland turn off several miles earlier but hey ho!!!
When I got to Tockholes (it’s the nearest place that I can recall: for any purist thinking of pulling me up on that!) the sun was now in full ascendancy and I was happy to be able to park problem free (there were only two other vehicles parked there and with me it created the illusion that we didn’t like to be near each other) and within five minutes set off onto the A675 northwards. The ground was just the right side of dry to facilitate walking – not wet enough so that the mud clung to my boots or dry enough to be similar to walking on concrete! Within 35 minutes I was atop Redmond’s Edge – I had hoped for such a quick ascent – but I hadn’t dared to believe that I would actually do it! I was so happy with my performance that I sent Christine a text to let her know of my progress.
Spitlers Edge although notorious with fell runners and walkers alike from this area was in fact hardly noticeable after a few minutes ascension, the drop from the other side is a bit of a shock ‘though as there is nothing in the ascent to make one think that the descent will be anything to write home about. After the drop though it is reminiscent of a nostalgia walk through undulating fields with the odd patch of cotton grass only to be interrupted by the road junction at Hordern Stoops were I believe that someone has been a little bit, shall we say whimsical with the signage.
For the next hour the only thing that really captured my attention and refused to let go was just how enormous and forebording Winter Hill appears from its’ northen aspect. I had done Winter Hill last February (darn it was cold!) and again in August and these two ascents had been extremely easy after coming at the hill from the south (over Rivington Pike). The northen aspect might as well be another hill! It was phenomenal, nothing that I had ever done before would parallel this aspect and that prestigous list contains Ingleborough and Pendle (two of the steepest SOBs in the North west of England!). I set about the task sensibly: first taking on a lot of water, second by having a five minute rest and third by having one of my sports energy ‘goo-bars’ this is some of kind of tropical gel that whilst not altogether unpleasant in taste is just not a nice experience!
After some stumbling, a rare moment of ascending by using my knees(!) much hyperventilating, some swearing and tonnes of effort I finally made it to the top of the hill via what can only be described as a scramble – a quick word of thanks to the person sometime before me that had let their dog ‘shed its’ load’ (my hand came perilously close to something that I would have rather it never got anywhere near – although having nearly lost my grip a few times I can imagine why the dog had done what it had in that particular place!). I was aghast when I saw on my watch that the time was still well before 11.00 the time that I had hoped to be on the summit! In fact it was not yet 10:15! This was turning into a very good day indeed!
After stopping to say ‘good morning’ to a man sat on a makeshift seat and pausing at the trig point to A: bag it and B: have another breather, I picked up the pace to head on down towards Crooked Edge Hill – Two Lads