It’s been a while, actually it’s been ions, but now I am back and here to tell you of a planned walk to come.
This May I shall be taking part in the annual Star Trekk walk. No, this is nothing to do with the Star-ship Enterprise, Captains Kirk or Picard! This is an 8.5 miles sponsored night walk around Southport raising money for Queenscourt Hospice. Now in its twelfth year, Star Trekk is the flagship event in Queenscourt’s fundraising calendar. I’m really looking forward to this event and would gratefully appreciate any and all donations to this worthy cause.
This was the walk of Saturday the 16th of September.
After dropping off Chris at around 6:15 on Saturday I drove over to Barley via the usual, A59 route and arrived at 7:55. I set off with the clear intention of taking in a lesser, but none-the-less important (to me) summit of Stang Top Moor. I first stumbled onto the summit in 2012 on the day of the Pendle Witch walk and was enraptured by the fantastic view offered to me of my favourite hill – Pendle, from the summit of this otherwise diminutive hilltop. A few years later, quite by chance I managed to climb up to the top of the summit without using roads and it was this route that I intended to take on this day.
Alas, what was once easy was now…not! The path that had stood so proud and clear on my last ascension, was for all intentions invisible and I ended up missing the turning I should have taken and tramping around through grassy paddock after grassy plantation until I spied the road. I remembered the road for it was the same one that I had walked down in 2012, now I had to walk up it. To be honest, it was not that difficult, the sun came out and thankfully started to dry the legs of my walking trousers which had taken in copious amounts of unnecessary hydration! Apparently the weather was going to play fair with me today.
Within an hour, I had managed to navigate my way to the trig point at the top of Stang Top Moor and was once again flabbergasted at the sumptuous panorama across to mighty Pendle Hill. It was odd that something which I knew to be at least two miles away, appeared to be within reach. This peak is nothing if not a splendid viewing platform.
On this day I had decided to take lots of photos and to actually create a video log of the walk – incidentally, I refuse outright to refer to them as VLOGS! This initiative would lead to some interesting and interested looks from people who I encountered on route. Admittedly, since leaving Barley I didn’t actually encounter anyone in Rough Lee and it was at the Upper Black Moss before I exchanged greetings with anyone – although I’m certain that the neighbours on route would have heard me keep chastising myself for using the pronoun ‘we’ when referring to which part of the route was coming up next! The drop down from peak number one to the reservoirs is, if anything, too short. One wants to take time and relax in-between hilltops…I charged around like a newly liberated man and arrived at the confusing section of the walk, the part between the reservoirs, Windy Harbour (it really is called that) and Salt Pie (yes!). I never know which is which out of the latter two – the reservoirs are thankfully self apparent!
I spent a few minutes rubbishing the claims that the ruin of a dilapidated shed is the infamous ‘Malkin Tower’ of Pendle Witch folklore and basking in the sunshine before becoming somewhat agog at the audacity of the man (whoever he may be) that had decided to block off part of the public right of way which should have lead me across a field and no longer did. Undeterred, I stomped up a farm track and headed towards Barley Road, only noticing at the last moment that there was another track across a field…which would lead me to Barley Road (eventually). It appears that there had been no blocking of the public footpath and I had simply remembered incorrectly, the shame of it! I opted not to cross the last field which lay adjacent to the road and took the longer, but less prone to sink-inducing tarmac path towards Barley Road. I do not enjoy the wetness of the fields in this area and as such was more than happy to walk up to the turn off which runs almost parallel to the hill along a dry track to Pendle House. There’s nothing like being in the shadow of the beast.
If what had gone before had been something of a pleasure, I was now at the privilege part. I love the walk up the slope of Pendle to ‘Big End’, every step is a joy…on the way up, coming down is a whole different kettle of fish – which is why I seldom descend via this route. that’s not to say that you don’t have to watch your feet from time to time, there are parts of the path where it’s all too easy to stumble and take it from me, millstone grit and human skin do not a happy combination make! The walk up the slope terminates, or at the very least gives way and merges with the main drag from Boar Clough and later still the approach from Ogden Clough and Spence Moor. It’s a wondrous thing to have walked practically all routes up this magnificent monolith…I must do the Worston Moor and Mearley Moor routes one day. All too quickly I was at the trig point, 1,827 feet in the air. the summit was very clear and I encountered just one other walker whilst I was there. Not that there were not many people on the fells, they’d all had a get together and let me have the top to myself for a while because before very long, the masses began to appear at the apex of the steps route – my choice of descent for today.
It’s official, if not yet documented, that it takes me longer to walk down from the top than it does to get up the thing! My ingrained fear of falling (which does not prevent the act at all) imbues in me a snail’s pace when it comes to dropping down the Pendle Steps. I give way at the slightest chance to those who look scarlet in the cheeks and puff and pant…it’s a joy to behold people struggling…it’s like a drug! Alas, all too soon (it feels that way at least), I was at the bottom of the stepped staircase and rounding the bend which leads me to an area of land simply to small to be called anything greater than a paddock. Once, through the gate, (having quite skillfully traversed a patch of mud), it was then down on to those accursed fields – the ones which I don’t like in-between Pendle and Brown houses. For once, I never fell…and this only minorly marred my walk, I’d much rather see the countryside from afar as opposed to glare fearfully at it anticipating each and every step!
I met and greeted many more walkers on route back into Barley, I’d given up any notion of making a nice well rounded and informative video commentary of the day and was now pretty much snapping everything that didn’t move, my video will serve as a testament to this! The smell of freshly ground cappuccino or latte was engulfing my olfactory sensors, I wanted coffee…now! by 11:16 I was within shot of the Cabin and my well deserved cup of coffee.
Pendle will always be my most favoured hill, it’s dominated my walking thoughts since 2009 and shows no sign of relaxing its grip on me…this I wouldn’t want to change. There’s something vastly satisfying about regarding oneself as a ‘Pendle expert’ and a little vane! But with regards to walking around this verdant mound I believe myself to be one of the elite few who ‘really know Pendle’, I suspect I’m in good company (a nod to the late Mr A Wainwright of Blackburn and Kendal). The two walks I have completed around this area this year have been immensely rewarding, not least because my nephew Connor is also now a fan of the hill! Some years I have visited here four times, more often than not just the three…quality matters over quantity. I’ll be back in the new year (a year of big changes I expect, but at least hopefully Pendle won’t change – fingers crossed!), I’ve told Chris she has to come with me at New Year…we’ll see.
Ps. There’s still two more completed walks this year to blog!
You’d think that I would have learned by now. Oh how you underestimate me!
Not satisfied with doing the mountains of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – oh and the 24.5 miles which go along with the 5,000 of ascent, once this summer, I’ve resolved to do it again..and this time for Charity, Macmillan! This time, there will be three of us, Darren, (my brother in law), Colin who has accompanied me over Great Gable and Cross Fell and myself. I am trying also to recruit another two people, beware lol!
The route as I understand it takes on a whole new character as we first tackle the stunning “Sulber Nick” complete with Limestone Pavement for a good few miles. Then. it’s up, up and up as we veer left to take us to the summit plateau of Ingleborough. I’m not banking on a view here. The last time I did Ingleborough the wind was so fierce that all I wanted to do was to get back down the mountain as soon as possible. The time before that was in 2009 with Chris, ‘The Nothing’ turned up as a giant wall of mist completely stole all views. So, like I say, I am not anticipating a view. I’m also not holding out for great weather – but if it’s dry, that’s really going to help us out on our next stage – the terrifying drop down ‘Frodo’s steps’. There is a slight possibility that it will take longer going down than it normally takes going up here – it really is that steep, but not unachievable as many people each year do this.
The reward will be the nice easy route from the bottom of the steps to ‘The Hill Inn’ at Chapel le Dale and it might only be at this point where we’ll start to meet with the early birds making their way towards Ingleborough having first dropped off Whernside. I’m under no illusions about Whernside – it might be my favourite of the three, but that route up is really tough. We’ll have already walked somewhere in-between nine and twelve miles here…let’s hope that the rain keeps off and that the sun is not beating down on us too hard.
The drop off Whernside to Ribblehead is the part of the route to which I am most looking forward, I’ve never done this yet so am looking forward to getting in some serious speed, although once again we could be bumping into throngs of people whom have just completed the slog over from Pen-y-Ghent here. And that’s our destination now, from Ribblehead there is about a mile’s worth of road walking then it’s off to Nether Londge and Ings and all of those wonderfully named places like God’s Bridge as we trek over Whitber hill and the others on the newer, spongy but not boggy path to lead us to the bottom of the slope up to Pen-y-Ghent. Here’s hoping that we do get a view from the summit of Pen-y-Ghent – as that’s our last hill! The route down is straight forward, however the scramble section has the potential to get a little bit ‘interesting’. My least favourite part of the conventional route is the hard slog up from Brackenbottom farm – but doing it this way around this could be a highlight – or an ankle twisting opportunity! Providing we’ve all survived two quite scary drops, we should then all be set to return to the Penyghent Café in Horton in Ribblesdale where we can clock back in – and hopefully it won’t be much more than ten hours.
As I have announced in a previous post (about two weeks ago if not later) I have declared my intention to participate in next year’s Anglezarke Amble – at winter (well it’s normally the first or second week of February). Today’s walk would serve as my introduction to some of the route. It had been my original intention to start from the bottom of the descent off Winter Hill and go all the way over to Turton and Entwistle reservoir, over to Darwen Hill then back along Catherine Edge again to the finish point. Common-sense prevailed as for an introductory / familiarisation walk – the route I’ve just described is a long walk over extremely spongy terrain. My good friend and walking buddy Karl delivered a much more manageable but still challenging route that would start at a lay-by on the A666 and go a full circle around Turton and Darwen Moors taking in the ubiquitous Darwen Jubilee Tower to boot. Here is how the day panned out:
I dropped my partner off at her works at 07:50 and my next task was to fuel up the car as it had something like one tenth of a tank’s worth of petrol. Problem number one was the key seemed to have jammed in the filler lock and it was after many slight twists before I could open up the filler. I could see where this might go…I wouldn’t be able to get the filler lock back in-situ and thus bought one of those emergency ones from the petrol station. This added ten minutes on to the time of the journey down to Darwen, but before this I would run into a road closure outside Heath Charnock, where I normally would go left for Adlington/Anderton I had to stay on the A6 all the way down to Blackrod before making my way back to the western edge of Horwich and onto the B226. Minor detours over I was afforded fleeting white views of the surrounding moorland as I drove over the tops past Wilderswood etc en route to the A58’s junction with the A666 and from there it was only fifteen minutes or so before I was at Karl’s to pick up Karl and Anne who would be joining us for half of the walk.
We parked near Cadshaw Farm and immediately crossed the road – the A666 is dangerous for long stretches so we wanted to be on a pavement side – ironically enough this would then mean crossing the road again to get us back to the beginning of the ascent from Cadshaw to Smith’s Height. At Smith’s Height the path takes a decidedly westerly track along one of many stretches of the LDP known as “The Witton Weavers Way”. We passed through Top O’th Brow (there are many Top O’th Brows in and around Bolton) and saw a group of Ramblers as we neared Green Lowe. I was intending taking a photo but every so often a biting wind talked me out of it…photography would wait until the summit and the lowlands. Near Turn Lowe we changed direction as the LDP dropped down the side of the hill and we took the gently undulating but very muddy path to the north then east then north and then west…and then north to Darwen Hill.
Darwen Tower is one of those prominent landmarks which are instantly spotted from within it’s own environ. Yet it is staggering that on our route we were almost on top of it before clapping eyes on the monolith and as for that wind…It was no surprise to me, this being my fourth time up this hill, just how the wind can howl around this site. After making quite good progress across the moor and up the hill we then spent not much time at all eating our lunch and drinking (soup for Karl and Anne but water for me) before hitting the track once more. We took the northern track which swings southwards and made very brief progress downhill all the way (and crossing the road) to what will be one of the checkpoints for the Anglezarke Amble (event) at Slipper Lowe (aren’t the names around here just fantastic?). At this point we had to part ways with the Anglezarke Amble (event) path in order to cross the road again and head off uphill in order to get onboard the express walker’s highway of Catherine Edge.
You can’t be a walker in this area without traversing Catherine Edge – it’s the A6 of all walking routes and seems to touch every main path along the great divide…the A675/Belmont Road which splits Withnell and Wheelton Moors on the one side and Darwen and Turton Moors on the other side – I may be guilty of over playing Catherine Edge’s part in the scheme of things, it’s a nice path which rather gently leads one up a gradient as opposed to some of the more “in your face” kind of paths in this area like the two northern ones up Winter Hill.
Remember last month/year when on a Pendle walk I lost a watch? This time out; its’ replacement fell off my wrist whilst I was putting my backpack on. As the bracelet was one of those expanding hair-pulling ones it must have taken some force from me to involuntarily yank it off my wrist, pull the pin out which holds the bracelet to the crown case … the poor watch hit the deck, I gathered up the watch and the pin that had shot out and we carried on regardless as it seemed to be working (the watch). However a mile or two further down Catherine Edge – I said it was a major path, Karl asked me the time and I couldn’t answer as the poor watch was still saying five past one! We walked along the edge some more and gained some more gradual height – Catherine Edge is really long! We passed some families sledging down the lower slopes of Cartridge Hill – this was an activity that I didn’t think happened any more, really heart-warming, family fun – I didn’t want to get a camera out and ruin it. And finally our route split from the Witton Weavers Way as it snaked south east and our route took a north east leaning to Moorside – a more appropriate name you will never find! Inadvertently we walked right past our turn off – but that’s what walkers do…especially me and Karl. Karl indicated where the path that the walkers (on the day) will have taken across the moors passing Greenhill Farm, Lower and Higher Whittaker’s – if my maths serves me right it should only be a forty metres climb before turning onto the track that we were now on. Back to today and now we were essentially out of path and needed to hop over a barb wire fence. Karl being two to three inches taller than me went first, almost gazelle like! I, on the other hand set about it with all the finesse of a goat, a goat that’s been introduced to alcohol! Luckily enough the farmer had been using this field as a tip and I spied a bucket with which I could abridge the fence…even so it was a bit close to tender areas for comfort…bloomin’ maps!
Once over the fence we weaved our way through this wet paddock and before long noticed that there was a dry path running almost parallel to it in the next field along, this was not on our route but it did strike us as kind of dumb that the route planners had elected to send us through this quagmire as opposed to that neat little carpeted promenade – ah well! I also noted with some dread that the land seemed to drop out of sight at the threshold…a very near threshold. And after a few hundred yards we came upon the reason why – a river. Of course the word river would be a very generous description for this body of water. It is only now days later that I have come to discover that this body of water is the confluence of the Holden’s Brook and Stones Bank Brook which go on to form…an inlet to the Delph Reservoir…it’s hard not to feel a little bit disappointed, if this had been the source of the river Darwen or something more impressive…. We carefully dropped down the side of the hill next to something like a fifteen to twenty feet drop into the stream/river/water and then crossed one of the single most rickety bridges that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, just the act of leaning anywhere on this bridge would be an extreme hobby!
The other side of the bridge featured a lovely steep slope up to the area in-between Owshaw Clough and well not much else. The terrain had evened out albeit it was now equally muddy wherever one stood. The droning of the A666’s traffic grew louder and I was relieved when Karl confirmed that the conifer wood on our right hand side according to his knowledge and the map was Charter Moss Plantation – right next to the A666 and within about three quarters of a mile (perhaps less) from the car. There’s something very reassuring in the proof that you’re not lost and that the car is not far away – even though on the day of the walk my arrival at this locale will only signify that I have a hell of a long way to go yet.
We were back to the car by around ten passed three and back at Karl’s house a few moments later than that. My super-dooper Bluetooth footstep logger informs me that we’d walked around thirteen and an half miles…I’m not so sure we’d gone that far, earlier calculations from Karl which included the loop of Turton and Entwistle reservoir and Turton Heights came in at 12 miles so I think we could estimate that we had walked (ploughed!) something like ten and a quarter miles over about 1,900 feet in five and a quarter hours (or thereabouts), a good performance and it would be easier to improve upon as I won’t be making the mistake of walking passed the turn-off point to get to Charter’s Moss Plantation – I’d already seen the turn-off featured on a “You Tube” video of The Great Galleymo which would save me about fifteen minutes. I can see myself completing the entire route in about ten hours if on my own or nine if accompanied…certainly not the eight that it took the afore mentioned Mr Galleymore.
At times I did think to myself ‘In to what have I dived head first, here?’. The walk up to Darwen Tower is a long one, but not that bad compared with others that I have done, even quite recently – Pendle’s Barley Steps route of New Year’s Eve are considerably more exhausting to mention nothing of Great Gable and Sca Fell for height and the soggyness of Cross Fell’s shoulders…I am up to doing the route. That being said, a lot more practice in this type of area needs to be done if I am not to finish embarrassingly late on the day of the event. To split the route down into sections and tackle these one at a time and sometimes twice, is a wise idea. I don’t think that the event route takes in the summit of Turton Heights…but as a West Pennine it is on my ‘to-do’ list and as such is set to be my next outing in a couple of weeks, I hope to park at the same place (and be accompanied by Karl – he’s good company) walk down the road to Turton Heights then take in the hill and return via the reservoir route which should finish opposite where our route today started.
A special note has to be added here in praise of Darwen Hill and its’ surrounding countryside – it’s stunningly beautiful when there has been a bit of snowfall, I had expected charming scenes but these were almost exaggerated. I liked this route so much that I will do it again – the whole thing aside from having to do most of it next Winter…
I am giving serious thought to doing the Long Distance Path known as the Anglezarke Amble – 20 miles around Rivington and Turton Moor, next year. It’s a lovely looking route – will I say that after I’ve attempted it? Although there is a one-day event to do the Anglezarke Amble on February 14th this year – that’s not an ideal date for me to go and get covered in mud and freezing cold.
So I am going about this sensibly and will split my training for this into three stages. Firstly will be the stage from the bottom of Winter Hill – the A675 at Belmont over and around Longworth Moor up to and around the Turton and Entwistle reservoir, across Turton Moor then up to Darwen Hill and back along the southern slopes of Longworth Moor across Catherine Edge.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? That’s well over a thousand feet of climbing. When I do the full course this is essentially the ‘middle’ section in between ascending Rivington Pike>Two Lads and Winter Hill and the long haul back climbing over Great Hill to White Coppice, passing Anglezarke reservoir and back uphill to Rivington Barn.
As I am not in the least bit familiar with the area – remember I got lost on Turton golf coarse trying to find Cheetham Close, then it makes sense to have someone with me to stop me going off route – step forward Karl. I haven’t put the idea of the doing the whole route to him yet (so shhhh!) but as I haven’t seen him since tumbling down Great Gable it will be great to catch up.
Please note that I am not actively taking part in the following charity event…but I do think it is a very worthy charity and what these guys are doing off their own backs is fantastic.
– Mark –
On 14th June, a growing band of reprobates will tackle the unforgiving terrain of the West Pennine Moors. It will truly be a Monumental Mountainous Marathon!
MONUMENTAL! A gargantuan hike, taking in Rivington Pike, Darwen’s Jubilee Tower and finishing at Peel Tower in Bury.
MOUNTAINOUS!! A total climb of 3,000 feet. Like climbing a proper mountain, but during a marathon! Eat that Mo Farah!
MARATHON!!! A mammoth marathon distance of 26.2miles up hill and down dale.
Why? Because we want to inspire YOU to help these 2 excellent charities, just as Emily, Luca, Robyn and others inspire us. See www.facebook.com/FacesofWard84 for more details.
Children with Cancer UK fund life-saving research into the causes, prevention and treatment of childhood cancer.
Projects being worked on NOW include leukaemia, neuroblastoma, brain tumours and bone and soft tissue sarcomas. Over 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. Let’s give them the cash they need to do the science to beat it!
Macmillan nurses are absolutely invaluable. Our MacMillan nurse has been a wonderful support during the toughest time of our lives. Let’s give Macmillan the cash to help support other children and families!
Finding out that your child has cancer is utterly horrifying. Your whole world is rocked, your child is severly ill, and then has endure endless rounds chemotherapy and all the side effects.
Childhood cancer doesn’t just affect the child and parents – grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and even neighbours are devastated. We have lived it first-hand.
So, if childhood cancer has barged uninvited into your life, why not sponsor us? And up you up for a challenge, you could even join us (find us on Facebook)
This event is not just about making money for 2 amazing charities, it’s about doing something positive to strike back. Please, please consider sponsoring us whatever amount you like.
A few quid will do a lot of good, and your messages of support will keep us going during the walk and over the coming months.
Thank you for your support
To donate to this most worthy of causes use the teams URL which is at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=TripleTowerTeam
Saturday August the 18th this year marked the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials. To commemorate this dark time in Lancashire’s history there was a world-record-breaking gathering of Witches and two sponsored walks featuring Pendle Hill in aid of Pendle Hospice. I took part – yes you did read that correctly, for a short while the Fat Goat was a witch! with adorned hat, cape and a mighty impressive looking broomstick, if I say so myself. And it goes without saying that I did both the low level and high level walks on the mighty Pendle Hill.
Here is the story of my day:
I left Southport at the ridiculously early time of 05:55 as light was just beginning to break. I had no intention of listening to Tim (of Tom Tom fame) trying to get me to go via Leyland and onto the M65 – quicker the route may be, but at that time of morning I had no head for left turn, right turn, third at the roundabout etc. I was far happier taking the A59 up to just outside Clitheroe then jumping on the A671 then A6068 towards Barrowford then taking the turn off that would bring me over Noggarth Ridge and into Barley at 7:08. By 7:20 I was dressed in traditional walker’s gear (the hat, cape and broomstick being left in the car for later) and en route for what I had planned on being the “easy” walk which was a three mile romp across the lower face of Pendle Hill facing Barley.
It was kind of nice and peaceful to have the streets, paths and even the fields to myself. The description that I had been given of the “easy” route was that it started as a split in the usual path that leads up the side of Pendle (the dreaded steps). In reality (at this time of the day) the path was so vague (and as we all know I have had issues with vague paths) that I had no idea as to where it began – so I did the full steps route up to Big End instead. It was hard going! I had many stops and all the time was aware behind me there were men writing 1612 in truly massive letters on the side of the hill, when I first arrived at Barley the “6” had already been completed. By the time I would reach Barley once more the other three numbers were also in place! After some moments at the summit taking in the lovely morning atmosphere – it’s been three years since I last had Big End to myself I surveyed the land for obvious cairns to follow back to Boar Clough. The last time that I came up here aiming to descend Boar Clough I involuntarily went back down via Deep Clough Spring which was incredibly steep and quite wet. I didn’t want to do that again – even if it did take half a mile off the route. Fortunately I successfully followed cairn after cairn the only real problem being that wet peat is incredibly slippery and it nearly had me over on numerous occasions.
Here are some photos that I took en route:
I arrived back at Barley at 9:55. Having reached Big End in one hour and ten minutes; that meant I had taken considerably longer to get down the hill than I had to get up it! I blamed the slippery path down Boar Clough for this but then congratulated myself anyway for not falling down, not having an heart attack and for finally finding where the flag path begins so that I can ascend – descend via Ogden Clough at some point in the future. Here is the route that I took:
Next thing on my day’s itinerary was the Guinness World Record attempt at the largest number of people dressed as a witch congregated in one enclosed place…or something like that! Ted Robbins was compare and it has to be said he did a fantastic job! I hate queuing, I hate standing around, I hate being in crowds and I had just walked up and down 900 feet over five miles so was really in need of a good “sit down” which was being deprived to me (didn’t want to get the cape all muddy!). Ted kept my spirits up. We managed to amass a total of 482 witches– let’s hope that nobody beats that record for some length of time as it was really frustrating standing around for half an hour having just walked for five miles…or did I mention that already!
After the GWR I treated myself to another excellent cup of Nescafé from The Cabin before setting off for the second leg of my walks in Pendle for the day. It has to be said that I was feeling the mood, so many people aiming to walk up my favourite hill was instilling in me a desire to ascend it again…the queues soon put paid to that notion. After almost an hour we were at Pendle House, if anything was going to convince me not to do Big End again it was the sight of marshals strung out in an highly visible sign right across the base of the hill…the “easy” route was beckoning and I heeded its’ call!
If I thought that Boar Clough was muddy (and it was) this had nothing on the “easy” path! That being said, the views were somehow better than normal as what I could now see to my left I could normally only see by either turning around (never a good move on the Pendle steps) or whilst having my socks blown off (metaphor) atop Big End. It was a relief that the queues had thinned out to nothing, now there were groups of four to six, couples and the odd solo walker (like yours truly), this made for swift progress. Although there was a climb and a very definite one at that it was not too long before hitting the apex of the climb where I shared a word or two with various marshals. The mood of the people was excellent and I rejoiced in my decision not to go up the (bigger) hill again. Perhaps this was a sense of elation owing to having broken away from the masses whom I imagined might not be quite so joyous trapped in a queue of hundreds whilst baking away on one of the steepest slopes in England. Finally after after a few gatepost entrances I began the long and steep drop back down towards Barley via one grass slope and the same long tarmac path which I had traversed some hours earlier…even receiving a free bottle of water which was well received as mine had warmed up a bit by this stage.
Upon arrival at Barley I received my completer medal – and cheekily inquired as to the likelihood of my having two since I had done both walks. I received only smiles for an answer! I did meet with all three of the days organisers, one of whom I had previously informed of my plan to walk to Stang Top Moor, I enlightened him that I would still be doing that…in an hour or so. As one that had completed the course I was entitled to a free beefburger and I consumed this along with another cup of Nescafé and sat down in my car for a few minutes. So far I had covered roughly eight miles. Here is the “easy” route on Google Maps:
After some moments of rest and relaxation and a general drinking in of the atmosphere around me, I headed off once more for my final walk of the day…to find that illusive ordnance survey column on Stang Top. I walked along Barley Road and took the first right hand turn off which would lead me passed both of the Black Moss reservoirs (Upper and Lower) both of which are bigger and more ornate than the Upper Ogden but not as impressive as the Lower Ogden…a very definite favourite has emerged here! The sky was beautifully blue by now and the sun banged down on me and oh how I wished that I had put any kind of sun block on. Fortunately the views across to Pendle and it’s temporary dressing were a joy to observe. I met a family from Colne walking along the path and we shared many a tale of our various walks within this Forest of Pendle (as it is still known on ordnance survey maps). After gaining from them an oversight into a good route back from Stang Top Moor I bid them farewell as the track led onto Black Moss Road. A right hand turn after some distance brought me onto the single track road that is Stang Top Road and from here after getting confirmation from a couple tidying the hedges I would eventually find that pesky trig point, the existence of which I had been aware for over a year but who’s physical form at close quarters had thwarted me on two previous botched attempts.
The wall style for which I had been told to keep an eye alert soon came into view and I had half a mind to use it until I noticed the huge gate akin to the field supported no lock. Given my previous experiences with Pendle styles – I tend to twist ankles upon descent, I opted for the gate – even though it proved to be a pain in the rear to close!
Stang Top Moor is not a pretty place! Think Lake District view then divide by 1,000 and that is its’ wow factor! I had previously read other walkers’ reports condemning the place as a dumping ground – even Pendle advocate Jack Keighley referred to items near to the summit as “Junk”, evidently this has now been cleared up, but the view of Stang Top Moor on its’ own is not worth the effort. The view from its’ summit (actually three metres higher than the trig point) certainly is worth all effort expended in the climb up! My ordnance survey map (OL41) gave me the impression that there was a path which would lead me in the general direction of Barley but a few metres away from the o/s column and indeed there was…which very swiftly became indistinct and then vanished. I had already attempted to simply cross the field and climb over the wall but opted out of this course of action for two reasons:
I could not say for certain that there was not a bull in the next field
The farmer had seen fit to string barbed wire over the top of the wall!!!
Thus, as with most of my solo attempts, I had to do a retrace of the steps all the way to the gate and the road beyond. Now came a long, increasingly hotter descent back to Roughlee – although I had never walked Roughlee before the afore mentioned Mr. Keighley has and I could remember gleaning from his works the distance from Roughlee to Barley is negligible at best. When I finally hit the bottom of the hill (thank goodness that I was descending and not ascending in this heat), I was more than a bit relieved to see the sign informing me that there was just one and a half miles to Barley. I did see Alice Nutter – one of the alleged Pendle Witches executed 400 years ago! No, the heat was not having an hallucinogenic effect on me – this is a wonderful commemorative sculpture crafted by David Palmer and brainchild of Pendle councillor James Starkie.
The one and an half miles back to Barley was not the hardest of the day…but it was probably the hottest. I made my wearily way to my car and removed my three seasons coat as quickly as possible.
Here is the route of my final walk of the day courtesy of Google maps:
At 16:45 I began my journey home having spent a whopping eight and an half hours here today, I had walked in excess of thirteen and an half miles and ascended roughly eighteen hundred feet…and loved it all!
The sun was out and the sky was bluer than even I had wished, so it was off to the village of Barley on Saturday morning for a first ascension of the infamous “steps” since 2010. The reason why I had to go this way was/is because this is the route that I shall be following on the 18th of August when I do the Pendle Witch’s Walk and I didn’t want it to be a nasty shock for me on the day – it will be for anyone that has never encountered these steps prior to their particular ascension.
I arrived at Barley having taken primarily the A59 all the way up to and through Preston then taking the A671 just outside Wiswell up to the A6068 at Padiham where I headed past Higham and Fence before turning off at St Anne’s Drive then over Heights Road, Spenbrook Road through the centre of Newchurch and down Cross Lane, for some reason my sat nav had decided to send me to “Witches Galore” as opposed to Barley car park; but as I am now familiar with the area I made it to the the said car park for 9.00. At this time there were but four other cars here, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
By 9:15 I was walking onto Barley road and was greeted by this wonderful,if only slightly threatening distant view of the steps route that I would have to take today and on the 18th of August. I really could not have wished for better weather and made it a mission statement of the day to simply enjoy the walk in this lovely weather and to not attempt anything in the least bit heroic. As I ambled over one of the three wooden footbridges that I would traverse the realisation of just how noisy the sheep were today began to set in. Stang Top Moor with Aitken Wood atop its’ summit
With the sky being a nice summer blue – not so clear that the sun beats down on oneself and drains one’s energy, but blue enough to allow for some views that are not normally associated with this rain, cloud and generally grey hotspot. In the grand design of things it has to be said that Stang Top Moor is quite insubstantial, a joy to behold granted but not something that normally imprints itself in the psyche…until this day. Today I could scarcely keep my eyes off it and promised myself that I would return one day strictly with the intention of finding the elusive o/s trig point somewhere at the edge of the summit!
The section of the walk in-between Brown House and Pendle House is always a delight – even in much worse weather than to what I was being treated. Again I drank in the views, this time focusing on the generally ubiquitous and somewhat eerie Fell Wood. Having walked through this gloomy yet captivating little forest with its’ treacherous eastern footpath I was more than a tad relieved that today I didn’t have to skid and slide around that path and I wouldn’t be on edge wondering ‘what was that noise?’ emanating from practically every tree. From here on the walk took on a tougher tone as I traversed the field linking the two “houses” (Pendle and Brown). Soon I would be at the foot of the Barley steps and from there the walk would take on a more arduous character.
Only from some distance had I seen any other walkers – a group of sexagenarians, now as I neared the infamous steps more became apparent as they also tottered their way up the very steep slope, no photograph which I have taken highlights these unfortunate yet masochistic soles so you’ll have to take my word for it…I was not alone. For a moment or two as I dwelt on the threshold (or leaned on a gatepost) I was joined by a little companion who hobbled around searching for items unknown! The time for procrastination was over I now began my assault upon the steps…so from the bottom of the steps to the o/s column there would be no more photographs. At roughly half-way I decided to have a bit of a break for a few minutes. I sat on a rock and watched as others further back down the steps also appeared to be struggling. I waited a few more minutes and eventually invited a chap wearing a “Black Cat Brewery” t-shirt to “pull up a rock” as he also sounded ready for a break. We did the usual guy thing and talked about the toughest hills that we had climbed so far – his was Snowdon, mine was this! Some moments later his wife caught us up so I bid my farewell and shot up the rest of the slope with all the speed of…someone overweight walking up Pendle Hill!
By this time, probably over an hour into the walk; other walkers came into view or bounded up behind me including one family with a rather reluctant son who was being “encouraged” by his mum! This gave me the impetuous that I needed to dig a little deeper into my reserves, I was overtaken by a rather attractive girl and her boyfriend whom both smiled politely as they powered on passed me and at this point I gave way to the “encouraging” mother and her kin (including a dog). Very close to the apex of the path the “encouraging” mother and her family were also now sat on some rocks and after a brief conversation I carried on to the top also passing attractive couple who for some reason now at the other side of the style over which the path to Downham begins.
The march onto the summit now began as my pace seemed to pick itself up! I glanced over my shoulder to see who was right behind me and noticed with some dread that it was the attractive couple once more! They were physically fit, attractive, dressed in expensive-looking walking gear and spoke with accents that portrayed a certain social standing…but this was my walk, on my hill and I’d be damned if they were getting to the O/s trig column before me. I dug deep, then even deeper and finally after pretty much a three hundred yard jog…I reached the ordnance survey column first, put both hands upon it, thanked God, stumbled to one side and had a good coughing spree!
It was some moments before I could compose myself and have a slurp of Ginger Ale and a chomp down at one of my rather drab Tesco Chicken Salad sandwiches. I took a number of photos but none of a decent enough quality to be able to discern which hilltops were which, the sky was a bit more hazy at this time and this did not lend itself to clear photography. The wind was beginning to get up a lot as well, the summit of Pendle is never a warm and welcoming place but the views on a very clear day are usually better than what I was experiencing I decided to head off in the direction of Boar Clough sticking to what I believe will be the walk of August 18th.
Herein lay the problem, I have never descended Boar Clough only gone up it and from 180 degrees the route for me was indiscernible. The rule is generally ‘follow the cairns’ but as a power Nordic-walking couple passed by me I opted to follow them…this would prove to be a mistake as they disappeared into the distance and all that I could recognise was Fell Wood and a reservoir that I assumed to be the Upper Ogden Reservoir which turned out to be the lower one! The route which I had taken back was definitely not the Boar Clough route but it also was quite picturesque and something of a nice diversion – but by goodness was it steep??? At one point I passed by a sign which indicated I could go in one direction towards “Under Pendle” or the direction from which I had stumbled was “Ogden Hill” I recollected seeing this on o/s maps and it was on my “to-do” list – hurray an unexpected tick-off!
An huge style had the potential of dividing me into two separate people (temporarily!) as I traversed it backwards, my right foot was searching for a step that it would never find but I did manage to keep my balance as I landed on my heels!
After descending some more and passing through a number of sheep-filled fields I finally hit tarmac no more that an hundred yards away from the path that starts out from Barley as the road Barley Green. This diversion had taken a mile off my journey and it was hard to be disappointed about that bonus! I stopped and chatted to two ladies whom asked me if I had been “up top, was it clear and had I managed to see Blackpool tower”? I replied that I had been at the top via the steps (which made then both ooohhhh and rub their thighs) and that with my eyesight I was lucky to have seen Ingleborough (I forgot to get a photo of that!). The drop down into Barley via the ever-improving Barley Green was sheer walker’s paradise and I made it with joy (the sensation – not a girl I had met!) at the car park and 11:47 – it had taken me just two hours and thirty something minutes to ascend and descend the toughest hill in Lancashire!