The walk of Saturday the 23rd of May, 2015.
It was a bank holiday weekend and I planned to do two outings, Rivington and Pendle. Both hills were currently on a count of thirteen ascensions, so which one was to make it to the magical figure of fourteen first?
Well, obviously it was always going to be Pendle. In no small way was this thanks to the combination of my IPad, a lead which goes from the I Pad to my car stereo and finally the fact that I downloaded a lot of Ellie Goulding’s songs lately, so I had plenty to listen to on what was quite an enjoyable car journey – given that our car’s wheel balancing is kind of like blancmange!
So Pendle it was then, en route I called in at Fylde Road pharmacy for some factor 30 – although I might like lobsters, Chris kind of freaks out when I come home looking like one! So with the temperature set to hit at least 20 degrees I armed myself with the sun cream that I can still smell now, several hours later. Also I called in to get some more petrol. Thus, after dropping Chris off at 11:22 I finally made it to the lovely village of Barley for around 13:15, there was not a space to be had on the Barley Visitor Centre car park, so I had to park on Barley New Road – this saved me a pound, so no loss there then.
Pendle Hill looked tremendous from Barley Common, the sight of it popping over the top of Pendle Inn was just enticing. I was kind of umming and arring (yes, thought that might not get through the spell checker!) about which route to take. Had I the full day to myself I would have plumped for Stang Top Moor first then Pendle via the Pendle House stepped route. However, it did occur to me that there was a route right ahead of me that offered tremendous kudos in terms of its’ sheer challenging aspect – ‘The Middle Way’. It could be very easy to write off as innocuous, any route featuring the phrase ‘middle’. However, in this instance middle simply refers to the location of the route as it splits off from the steep, stepped route around the back of the farmstead, Pendle House. That route in itself has fitter people than me gasping for air and admiring the views…every fifty footsteps!
And so it was to be that I would explode my heart by taking what I have often referred to as the lunatic path – I seemed to fit the bill most appropriately! On a couple of occasions, I had witnessed lunatics taking this route, which is essentially, straight up the side of the hill with very little obvious zig-zagging (oh behave spell checker!), in my contorted logic, if sheep could get up there, so could I – we have similar d.n.a. (What? We don’t? Opps), and I know they are four wheel drive (so to speak) but to me, gravity is still gravity and if something with an I.Q. of around 70 could climb up the side of the hill, so could I!
I did make quite impressive progress, overtaking seventeen people en route to Ings End in twenty two minutes. Oh my was there some slow walking people out today? Some people seemed mystified by every gatepost / kissing post (I truly hate that description!) and took an eternity to get through each one. I didn’t want to appear rude, so I kind of held back when I could and led with my left foot when the opportunity arose (seriously, try this, unless you are left footed, then it won’t make any difference). I went speeding all the way to Brown House, Ings End, then at those bloomin’ twin fields at Pendle House I once again slowed right down. Seriously, I actually would make speedier progress up the ‘Middle Way’ than I did across these two fields. All the same, within about eight minutes I had made it to Pendle House, here I stayed for a minute or two, staring at the beast of a climb that I now had ahead of me. As much as I wanted to take a photo of the arduous trek I had ahead of me, I knew that if I got the camera out my whole tour de force would subside. So, the camera stayed in its’ holster (okay my pocket!) and onwards I went.
I won’t lie, it was a bit difficult at first, then to make up for that, it got even worse! The slope was more of a drop to be honest. There would be no way in hell that you would ever catch me descending via this route. But, on the ground there were only a few stretches of the path when the path, for want of a better phrase, vanished. that being said, it did not take a degree in hill walking (how cool would that be?) to pick up the route once more – in a nutshell, GO UP until there is no more up to go. I sat down on a number of occasions, sometimes deliberately, once as part of a complicated uphill stumble I’ve been perfecting since Karl took me up Scafell the hard way! Cheers mate!
From the parting of the routes, just behind Pendle House, the trig point had been my target, my visible target that is. Then, halfway up the side of the hill, it too vanished. Thanks to the lovely weather (yay, they got it right for once, oops sorry Lucy!), there was absolutely no mist to obscure the summit. Pretty soon, although I was no longer looking at my watch to tell how soon, I was at the last push, and what a push that was. This gradient was up there with the lake district giants! I’d say it was as steep as the same point on Great Gable – but without all those rocks. I was utterly astounded to see the trig point pretty much straight in front of me, less than twenty yards away. I tapped the trig point, and looked at my watch…it was 14:31, I had left the car at 13:22. This meant that I had gone the hardest way up Pendle Hill in the shortest time! I was buzzing.
I got talking to a friendly sort of chap at the trig point, in truth I got talking to everyone I was so elated I just wanted to share! Poor sods, I must have bored everyone to death. It did make a nice change to be able to stand and talk at the summit, it’s normally blowing a gale and freezing. I offered to take a few people’s photos on their phones. I didn’t want anyone taking mine…and no bugger offered anyway! I ended up talking to a tall blonde, robust looking woman about next month’s Yorkshire three peaks challenge and she replied that she’d already done that. I wasn’t put out – I’d gone a harder way up Pendle than her ‘Boar Clough’ route which she had found challenging…I did wonder how she’d got along on Pen y Ghent then as it’s infinitely harder.
Enough time passed by at the summit for me to have unwired and I made my decision regarding the descent. I suppose that I could have taken the steps, which would have been good practice for dropping off Whernside next month. However, I didn’t want my calf and other leg muscles to jam up like normal so I opted for trying to find Under Pendle’s lovely, if somewhat steep drop off. Eventually I did find the right way down, but not before going off piste and ending up in a place whereby if I’d have gone any further downhill I would have then had to straddle a barbed wire fence in order to go on. So, I retraced my steps and decided to just follow the fell runners as I didn’t think that their route would have them going up and down Boar Clough. I was right and before very long at all the tiny area of Under Pendle came into view.
At the bottom of the tarmac path which leads from Under Pendle to Barley Green – about which there is nothing green. I slowed down considerably as it was a nice day, I was now no longer in danger of being hit by a fell runner. After a while one fell runner passed me by, I’d seen her on her way up near the summit, she reminded me of someone from my very distant past – there’s always the chance that this was her daughter – or even grand daughter, they breed them young in Bolton y’know! The cheeky mare was slipstreaming me for a few yards! Honestly, I can think of no other reason for her to be so close to me on a path which is at least twelve feet wide and had no-one else upon it. She was stunningly beautiful though in the four seconds that I could see her face.
As has happened on all of my recent walks, I was all mixed blessings at the end of the walk. Of course I was still quite elated at my improving fitness and that every time I’ve ‘done Pendle’ recently my time has improved. However, sometimes it’s so nice to be carefree and out and about walking that the end can simply signify the end of it…if only temporarily. ‘Ah, never mind’ I thought and consoled myself with the prospect of a good old radio sing-along on the journey home. First I bought and consumed a “Frappé” and a Latte which must have been made with full fat milk – it was horrid, so was the Frappé. I did have a good old sing-along to the radio on the way home!
All in all a good walk.
Milage – about five miles
Ascension – about one thousand feet
Time – roughly three hours (69 minutes ascending)
Song of the Walk: Years and Years by King
Update: I’ve just managed to find (from my Facebook pages, of all places) these three pictures showing the path I took yesterday. Note: the pictures were not taken yesterday: