The walk of Sunday 13th of September, 2015. (18th walk this year)
I’d been meaning to go for a solo walk over the old girl (yep, that sounds misogynistic enough!) for a couple of weeks since the Y3PiR marathon. This Sunday, with dubious weather forecast for the weekend, presented a golden opportunity and with the car finally running sound, well, who was I to turn down the chance to go to Barley once more?
Actually, the weather was gorgeous on route to Preston, well, as soon as I had officially left Southport. I opted once again to take the route of A59 and A671 then on towards Barrowford but this time I went along and up Nogarth Ridge before dropping down to Roughlee and finally in to Barley where the car park / visitor centre was already full by 10:30. A lovely Scouse girl was trying her best to fit me in the car park, as this would probably involve my car being blocked in as soon as I alighted, I opted for simply using the entry to the car park as a turning point and parked on the main road instead.
Having booted-up, I was on route by 10:38. Previously, notably on the walking forum, I had declared my intention to take in Stang Top Moor first, but on the day I thought I would spend all of my energy on getting up the Barley steps first, then explore afterwards. This decision served me well. In between Barley Lane and Ings End I did not see another soul. This led to speedy progress along the start section and I was quite surprised to find myself at Brown House by eleven o’clock. The views were starting to open up a bit now, but, once again, I had resolved to take as few pictures as possible on the way up the hill so as to keep to a steady rhythm. However, I had promised myself that this was going to be a more relaxed, gentle walk and certainly not a race up to the top of the hill.
With this in mind, I tentatively set off on the steps around the back of Pendle House – after traversing the usually sheep-filled paddock. I saw numerous small family groups which tended to be mostly one child and two adults, there was also one group of one adult and two children. During the next thirty minutes we would all pass each other on numerous occasions. I even had a thirty second sit down when I saw someone who looked fitter than me engaged in this activity.
It was all very friendly on the hill, some of the kids were very definitely feeling the heat…and the slope, no matter how many times I do this route, that slope will stay relentless. I did the decent thing, I lied and told ‘struggling’ kids; ‘not far to go again’, sadly I knew otherwise, the fun had only just started! That being said, I could have fainted when the very pinnacle of the slope came into view, I was very near to the top already, and when the Downham ‘boundary wall’ came into view I was very close to being flabbergasted. I checked my watch to see that lo and behold – it was only 11:30 and I hadn’t been walking for an hour yet! Although it was in my head to watch my feet and to take care on route to the summit…I had to go for the sub-one hour finish. Left foot down, and charge…I made it to the summit trig point at 11:35 – thuis taking me just 57 minutes from Barley Road to the ordnance survey column! Impressed just doesn’t seem to convey the depth of emotion, pride…I was well chuffed!
As I have scores of photographs of the trig point, I was happy to let the other walkers (mainly extremely tired but celebratory; children and their parents) take over the trig point, whilst they all posed for a dozen different cameras. I happened to notice that the views north were quite decent for a change and could make out easily the profiles of Parlick Pike, Longridge Fell and even little Beacon Fell. In addition to this, Ingleborough and even Pen y Ghent were just about visible but my camera was not good enough to get a decent picture of two of the Three Yorkshire peaks.
Having consumed all three sub-bars of my bounty bar, I tapped the trig point, and set off once more. I fancied the idea of wandering over to Spence Moor via the stone slabbed path down to Pendle Water, up and onto Ogden Clough and over to the bleakness that is Spence Moor. This was sadly only lacking in one detail…there is, as of yet, no such single path to facilitate this desire and I ended up going “off piste” – once again. The upside of my next thirty minutes worth of wandering around somewhat aimlessly and having to retrace my steps; was that quite by accident, I discovered the hidden treasure which is Deerstones, not only is this an outstandingly desolate and yet beautiful area of Pendle, it’s very remote too – handy when nature calls…I imagine, as the rest of Pendle is somewhat exposed! I passed just a handful of people who were taking the lovely and effortless route in from the Nick of Pendle, within twenty minutes our paths collided again as I realised and rectified my mistake rather than compound it by carrying on towards parts unknown…the last time that I did this in Pendle was in 2010 and I still have the psychological scars of twisting my ankle every fifty feet at Spence Moor…it can be a cruel and heartless environment at Pendle.
Nevertheless, I continued my walk and finally stopped retracing my steps when I spied a family descending a path that I believed would take me once more to a crossing of Pendle Water. This was a steep drop down, I must have descended about three hundred feet in less than a quarter of a mile. As luck would have it, and for a change, my feet didn’t let me down and before long I was on the Boar Clough side of Ogden Clough – if that makes sense! From here it would be simple to simply traverse the side of the hill and on to Barley Green and return to the visitor centre, however, my watch (still stuck on Mediterranean time) let me know that I still had time to continue wandering. Thus I did take the route passing the Upper Ogden Reservoir, but then I crossed the valley, having first stopped to admire this object to the left and right of the this text.
Now it was up into the gloomy and eerie Fell Wood. The only thing that is nice about Fell Wood…is its name. The path is steep, the trees are a bit bleak and characteless and the general feel of the place instills in one a sense of ‘do not dawdle, you’re being watched!’
At the summit of Saddlers Height – the hill at the Southern edge of Fell Wood, I took a few minutes out to just admire then view – the path through the wood is that steep! From here I had the choice of dropping steeply down to Wellhead Road and onto Newchurch or taking the hard-to-follow-on-the-ground path down to Barley Green via the rear of Cross Lane Farm. Effectively the latter route would nullify the point of ascending Fell Wood, is notorious for being a bit on the wet side and would present me with another chance to get lost…I went to Newchurch instead. This option also gave me the chance to call in at Witches Galore whereby I could buy some more fluids as I was running short and the weather, being so warm, was not helping. I didn’t have a lot of cash on me so had to buy a key fob or two in order to build up the bill enough to pay by card.
After my shop stop, I opted to walk down Jinny Lane because I had never taken this route before but had driven past both entrances to the street so was fairly certain of where I was going. I was right in that I didn’t get lost, but I had no idea just how long the road was, actually not that long but on a hot day having already walked a good old distance, every footstep seemed to be a bit of a drag. Finally I arrived at Ridge Lane, Roughlee and took the left hand turn to take me back to Barley. After around four hours walking…I was a bit tired but elated that I had got up Pendle quicker than ever and finally found Deerstones – ‘though I’d never thought to look for it prior to this day. In summing, this was one of those classic walks that you remember at the end of the year when the rains hit hardest. It’s always wonderful to be in the company of Old Pendle and today was no exception.
Total distance around 8.5 miles
Ascension around 1,800’
Song of the walk: Emmelie De Forest – Drunk Tonight