• Category Archives The Training Regime
  • The Kentmere Classic

    The walk of Sunday 13th of May, 2018. It had been too long since my last trip to the Lakes. I had the idea of perhaps doing the Anglezarke Amble route on Saturday and sent a text to Karl asking him if he was up for it too. The answer came back in the negative but Karl did ask if I fancied accompanying him and Sue on Sunday>how could i confuse. By the end of Thursday night a walk had been agreed upon – to summit the mighty tops of Esk Pike and Bow Fell, but, on Friday morning came another text reporting that as there was a mass cycling event on in the lakes which would impact upon that route, was I up for the challenge of the Kentmere Horseshoe? Was I ever???

    Since our completion of the Fairfield Horseshoe in 2015 I had wanted to have a crack at Kentmere, here was my chance and wild horses wouldn’t stop me from getting down to Karl’s place in Darwen for eight o’clock on Sunday. By nine-thirty-five, we were at the tinyest of all villages (Kentmere) and on route to conquer some seriously steep hills and mountains.

     


  • 2017 My Walking Year in review

    And so it came to pass, that in the year of our lord 2017, Mark Wild did next to bugger all walking!

    There are no elephants on my blog, I’ll admit that in many ways, this has not been a stellar twelve months and walking, or the lack of, was one of the ways in which the year’s darkness materialised.

    I got off to something of a bad start by developing a foot problem by the 14th of January and whilst I had been to the gym a number of times, this would never grow into a habitual regime! For most of January I simply walked around the fitness trail at work as a way of keeping the limbs moving.

    At the end of January we lost Mike, this impacted upon us all and subsequently I had to pull out of the Anglezarke Amble which I had planned on doing with Darren – January’s only walk had been the ‘half Amble’ with Darren – for most part in the snow!

    February saw my declining relationship with Southport Ramblers sink to new depths as we trudged our way across muddy field after muddy field at the stunning Arnside, four weeks later we took in the worst of what the Forest of Bowland has to offer with another ten mile slide at Chipping! Unofficially, I’ve had it now, these walks are just not worth paying £14 a pop for! The highlight of February however, was introducing Darren and my nephew Connor to the delights of Pendle Hill…even if I did fall over on the way down (at least if gave Connor a laugh!).

    As mentioned previously, March’s Ramble to Chipping was utterly rubbish, I could have had a better time at home or even at the gym! March would prove to be my standout worst month. But April was by contrast a festival of walking. First came a beautiful stroll over two of the lesser challenging Wainwrights as Sue and Karl and I took in Brock Crags and Angle Tarn Pike. A week later saw me at Anglezarke once more in order to do the long pull up Great Hill and the traverse of the ‘Edge’s’ then an equally strenuous ascent of Catter Nab via various terrains of Woodland and grass – all in all a very pleasing yomp. The climax of this fantastic walking month was another trip to the Lake District to tick off another of the giants – High Street and I hope I can hold onto that memory of being face-to-face with the true giants at the top of this mighty whaleback! We nailed another three summits whilst there – but don’t ask me which ones, I can only remember the glory of High Street.

    May and June saw no walking activity again and it was not until the start of our two weeks of annual leave in July before my feet touched the ground (other than going to and from work). Chris and I had a lovely stroll around the haunting Crosby Beach followed a few days later by an excursion to Beacon Fell to take in those magnificent views of the Forest of Bowland. On Sunday the 30th Sue, Lynne, Karl and I took in two wonderful summits at Martindale – Beda Fell and Place Fell. I might never go back to Beda Fell, I can’t imagine never going to a new favourite in Place Fell.

    In August, four of us teamed up to take on two peaks near Horton in Ribblesdale – one rightly famous, Pen-y-Ghent and the other notorious, Plover Hill, one of the wettest places I’ve ever trudged across. I had planned another Yorkshire Three Peaks assault with Darren, this walk underlined just how unfit  I had become as I struggled all the way up Pen-y-Ghent…I was in no shape to do any three peaks, let alone Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. It would have to wait for next year and I was dismayed to hear that Darren and Mike had achieved a very credible 9 hours thirty minutes a few weeks later.

    In September I donned my walking boots on two more occasions, the first of which was a classic at Pendle taking in the lesser known Stang Top Moor with its legendary view of Pendle across the sky. As far as solo walking goes, this is my cream of the crop, I aim to repeat this walk at least once per year from now on. The second walk, just a week later had me back at Great Hill having first traversed Spitlers and Redmonds Edges and finally marching back through Anglezarke to Rivington, this has become my ‘go-to’ walk, if I can’t quite make up my mind where to go then this will always suffice.

    So, with the exception of a wonderful ascension of Snarker Pike and Red Screes with Sue and Karl (my fourth trip to the lakes this year!), my walking year came to an end…it hadn’t really taken off by comparison to 2016!

    This year, this awful year of 2017, has seen loss on a personal and family level on a new unprecedented scale…that I hope to recover from with the shortest of all delays. People will say, hell, I’d say of it, ‘a year is a year, it’s what you make of it’ and rightly so. But sometimes, just every so often, a dark one comes along…here’s hoping that I can make 2018 a fantastic spectacle of a year, I’m definitely doing the Amble (with Darren) and have organised a trip to Horton with some of my colleagues to do the Y3P again, so fingers crossed that I gain a measure of fitness that has been sorely missed this year!

    Happy Christmas all and a prosperous new year.

     

     


  • Staggering up Stang Top Moor…

     

    … and barging up Big End!

    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!

     


  • Wriggling around Riggindale

    Following on from my recent walking successes – see, you go out not with the Ramblers and start to enjoy walking again, I’d already asked Karl to include me in his next Lake District walk and I didn’t care where we might go. He informed me that our next adventure would involve the fells above Haweswater, I dared to ask if this would include High Street and was delighted when this was duly confirmed. The backstory to this was that in 2015 with the Southport Ramblers group, a walk from Pooley Bridge was meant to take in High Street – it didn’t and culminated at the not very high or impressive Arthur’s Pike. (Excuse me whilst I go and cancel my Ramblers membership!)

    We arrived at unknown location next to Haweswater – that doesn’t really narrow things down for anyone who hasn’t been to the area, shall I just say that we parked on a small car park next to the reservoir / lake. For the record, I have to say that my first impression of Haweswater was that it was stunning, the reflection of the fells went a long way towards influencing this opinion, but it is a beautiful stretch of water and very difficult to believe that mankind has hand an active hand in creating it.

    A Hawthorne tree - one of many.
    A Hawthorne tree – one of many.

    For a very pleasant change we actually started the walk by going downhill first, this is unprecedented with Karl and Sue walks that nearly always involve a monumental assault up the face of this fill or that fell, why, this was almost civilised. Not many people know this, but my favourite tree is…the Hawthorne tree, we used to have one which killed cheap footballs in our front garden so it was a case of admiring something that I’ve known all my life. Anyway, there was a lot of Hawthornes on the side of the crag that we were now yomping across, the crag was Riggindale and the area was the wonderfully named Dudderwick. I’m not sure who had planted the Holly tree, even though it was less than six feet in height, on this hillside it stood out more than some Ash trees that dwarfed it. Walking alongside the water was an absolute joy, alas all good things come to an end and within less than ten minutes of gentle ambling, we turned left and began a phase to which I shall refer as ‘the big up!’ The name of this route is ‘Long Stile’.

     

     

    Blea Water comes into view.
    Blea Water comes into view.
    Small Water
    Small Water

    Karl had warned me that we would be attacking High Street via the ridge which is the Riggindale Crag and what an incline it was. I am toying with an idea of deploying a grading scale for hills that I ascend…this would be around a three to four, if we think of a crown green bowling green as a 10 and Steel Fell (whatever God awful route we took) as being a 1 then this should serve to indicate the incline, for anyone who has had the misfortune of climbing Steel Fell! It was steep, but more of a slog than a major climb…and seemingly relentless. On the plus side, the terrain and indeed the scenery changed frequently. The major mountains adjacent to us of course stayed the same but the environment through which we were walking changed quite dramatically. At times I had to stop myself from looking up as the summit – the point at which our ridge collided with High Street proper, seemed to be getting no closer. On the positive side there was many distractions like the stunning Blea Water and its smaller neighbour the appropriately named Small Water.

    We stopped for lunch around three quarters into the climb…I was feeling pretty much exhausted by this time and the views back over to the other side of the valley made the decision very hard to contest. For a nice change, the normally omnipresent wind decided not to blow our socks off and we had a nice fifteen to twenty minutes worth of rest and relaxation. I checked my altimeter which reported that we had still around six hundred feet to climb – in my head that equated to around two thirds of a standard Pendle Hill climb…so nothing to worry about then!

    The giants of the lakeland, the Scafells and Gable are noticeable.
    The giants of the lakeland, the Scafells and Gable are noticeable.
    The eastern fells greet us
    The eastern fells greet us

    In time we set off once again, the gradient worsened – as indeed it does on most climbs until you are within reach of the final crest of the hill or mountain or fell. I found it very hard to believe that we had just bolted up around six hundred feet in less than half an hour – take that Naismith! As I took the final crest of the slope I kept expecting there to be more…and there wasn’t, I’d made it, to the top of High Street…at last! And the views were spectacular! For once we were treated to a full panorama from Great Mell Fell and Blencathra, across Grizedale Pike, Helvellyn, Great Gable, the Scafells and even the Coniston range. This was our reward for something of a hard push up this giant. Nobody had expected the ascent to be easy, but by the same token no one would have hoped to have such a ‘who’s who’ of Lake Distract fells sprawled out along the horizon. And it wasn’t even windy!

    Here are some more pictures:

    As far as the I can see.
    As far as the I can see.

    Great Gable arises
    Great Gable arises
    The Knott as seen from the descent of High Street.
    The Knott as seen from the descent of High Street.
    Rampsgill Head is the central fell as viewed from the mighty 'The Knott'
    Rampsgill Head is the central fell as viewed from the mighty ‘The Knott’

    After taking more photographs probably than what I needed. We discussed our next objective. Sue and Karl were happy to factor in a visit to High Raise, I was not so sure of this as it looked like a lot of descending and ascending. But then Karl reasoned that it was not that far away and compared to what we had already done…it was nothing. So of we set in the direction of a fell that I had heard of from two weeks ago, ‘The Knott’. I think it’s fair to say that unless you were avidly ticking off the ‘Wainwrights’ then you probably wouldn’t visit this fill / lump. Yes it has a commanding position, but that hardly singles it out for special treatment in this environment where this characteristic is widely shared. We spent no more than five minutes here and then climbed back over the wall and onwards up another path to Rampsgill Head, a fell of which I had never heard.

    We were not that sure of which part / cairn actually signified the highest point of Rampsgill Head…Karl touched all three, I did two and I think Sue just did the one, I’ll go with Sue as she is generally right about these types of things. With the benefit of hindsight I could have just used my altimeter and referenced the reading with the fell’s Wiki entry! By this time – which was around one thirty, the sun was fairly beating down on us. The walk over to High Raise did not look as bad from this aspect as it had from High Street – it had looked like a right odyssey, and we set off downhill and then up a steady but not at all severe climb. In all honesty I don’t think that it took us twenty minutes to get to the top of our second biggest fell of the day.  High Raise had a quite extensive summit cairn and a wind shelter of sorts – a bit like the ones at Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside but on a day like today it was cloaked in shade and would serve no purpose so we declined to use it and ate the rest of our lunches here in the sun.

    Vertigo sufferers look away!
    Vertigo sufferers look away!
    The view across the valley from Kidsty Pike.
    The view across the valley from Kidsty Pike.

    The penultimate stage of the route was now upon us, to sort of ‘wriggle’ (hence the name of the walk) back to Kidsty Pike, our last summit. From this aspect, the pike looked like any other mound of earth attached to a hillside soaring into the sky. The point in visiting this peak is not to see it, moreover, it is the the view from the pike itself. It was phenomenal! As it was still a lovely day and Shap chippy doesn’t open until 16:30, we stopped at spent some more time taking in the amazing views down into the valley. Sue spotted some deer down below and try as I might I could not focus on them. This was made even more envy-evoking when Karl managed to get a fix on them. I persisted however and eventually after scouring the valley for a good five minutes I glimpsed something wandering around. And then there they were, I could not tell you how many of these shy creatures were roaming around but I’d guess at around thirty or so. My camera and my photography in general, was not good enough to capture a piccie of them so I’ll put a link to Karl’s website (if he’s edited it) later.

    Eventually, we began our descent into Riggindale. The day had been exceptionally good, the weather had proven most of the met’s forecasters wrong and the company had been as splendid as ever, I just wanted to be sure of making it two consecutive walks where I hadn’t fallen over. And on that gradient this was going to be no mean fete. After some distance our path divided into two very distinct routes – stoney or grassy. We opted for grassy guided by the logic of ‘this will be easier on the knees’. I’m sure we were correct in our thinking but the backs of my legs are still hurting now two days later! Our last stop before rejoining the car at Haweswater car park, was to take a few moments basking in the sun aside Riggindale Beck where I refilled my water bottle (with a filter) as what water I had left was running low and quite warm. The beck’s water was a good few degrees cooler which made a nice difference.

    We reached the car and were presented with Sue’s GPS statistics 8.6 miles and 3,800 feet of ascension. Of course Sue immediately advised us to ignore the ascension figure as it’s prone to over reporting (damn) and that in all honesty we would probably done more like just three thousand feet. That’s good enough for me. This was a thoroughly enjoyable walk over one mountain that I had been eager to take in for years, one iconic viewing platform and some fells that I’d never heard of!

    Distance walked – 8.6 miles

    Ascension – 3,000′

    Song of the walk: Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever from the woefully awful film: Fifty Shades Darker.

     


  • The ‘Ha, I never fell over on this walk’, walk

    Easter was here so of course Chris was working it! I had planned on doing a Pendle or Amble walk on Good Friday but the weather conspired to make me stay at home and be harassed by the cat…and my PC! Likewise Saturday was off the agenda as well and on Sunday we had a family get-together to attend. This left just Monday but I do like walking on Bank Holiday Mondays.

    So, having called in at McDonalds for breakfast with Chris and then dropping her off, I went home, got ready and left the house to head to Rivington, Pendle could be saved for the next bank holiday.

    Eventually, I left the car parked at Rivington Barn at 10:48 and headed straight down the lovely wide, hardly ever utilised driveway which leads to the heart of Rivington – okay it is not a big heart, shall we just say the part which features the village ‘Green’ and tea room! The plan was to do part of the Anglezarke Amble in reverse. This meant starting at the end – the end of the Amble that is, on Sheep House Lane. From here I tip-toed around the mud, dropped down a staircase and ambled along side the Dean Brook and into the Yarrow Valley. The Yarrow Valley is considerably bigger than the River Yarrow itself, so to pinpoint me I should indicate that I was walking past the western edge of the Yarrow Reservoir. Many dog walkers were out today and I caught sight of one family whose ‘Labrador’ looked to be on the big and frisky side. It was only when I caught up to the group that I discovered that the dog was far less commonly found than a mere Labrador. The dog was in fact a Leonberger. And it was big softie – thankfully. I spent a few minutes talking to the family and discussing my belief that the ‘thing’ which attacks me (and anyone else who passes it) on Catherine Edge is a Caucasian Shepherd (a bloody angry one at that!).

    The water Chute / run-off from the Yarrow Reservoir.
    The water Chute / run-off from the Yarrow Reservoir.

    Having bid my farewell to the family and its gorgeous dog, I took a left when facing more or less half way along the embankment of the Yarrow reservoir and into territory that I had never previously ambled in – in this direction. So I was extremely happy to identify the water chute from the Yarrow. This is generally an uplifting sight when doing the route the other way around as it indicates there is less than a mile to go. Today it served to indicate that I had not (yet) got lost. I descended the slope, turned right and crossed Knowsley Lane. The Anglezarke Reservoir sprawled out majestically on my left hand side whilst the odd cyclist passed on my right. I wasn’t on this section of road for long as soon enough I took a left in order to skirt around the Anglezarke Reservoir some more instead of bearing with the road. From here onwards the terrain became more rural and more sylvanian as I passed through various sections of the woods which cover a large section of this area. Again, another ‘Amble’ landmark – ‘the cowpat path’ filled me with memories of my first time of traversing this route in february of 2016.

    It was around this time when I came to notice a walker behind me who was beginning to catch up to me – but not in a creepy / stalking sense. Within a few moments, as I was deciding whether to go left or right, another couple of dozen walkers caught up with us both. I enquired as to the destination of the left hand path and the lady whom I had asked advised me that it would lead to White Coppice – a result!

    Part of the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association.
    Part of the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association.

    The lady was one of a number of walkers out that day from the East Lancs L.D.W.A. We spent some moments walking very briskly and chatting away about the walks that this group organises. I was a member of the West Lancs group…but with regret I had let my membership expire. The group’s walking speed was militarial – I’d hazard a guess that we were doing at least 4 m.p.h. through the woods on route to White Coppice. I did notice that the banter of the group was very relaxed, somewhat mildly ribbing each other, and genuinely high spirited. As there were also a number of dog walkers with the group this did lead to some more pedestrian style and gate traversals – memories of 2012’s Pendle Witch Walk came flooding back in glorious technicolour. All the same, we made speedy process to White Coppice where I bid my farewells boasting ‘I’m off up Great Hill now…’ this seemed to impress nobody!

     

    A dead tree caught my attention at White Coppice
    A dead tree caught my attention at White Coppice

    The route from just passed Stronstrey Bank, to the rise of Great Hill was actually surprisingly busy. It appears that this is the preferred route of ascension for Great Hill, I think I counted twenty or so other walkers. This rise used to be a fearful one for me…the spectacle that was Steel Fell last December has since toughened me up and I now no longer feel quite as fearful of this grade three climb. That being said, it still gives ones’ calf muscles a good old tune-up. I was trying not to go flying up the hill as this can upset other walkers and well it tires me out quicker and by this time I had only walked something like five of my intended twelve miles. Of course it’s always nice to pass people who are obviously much younger and fitter than oneself and if they just happened to be two young women in their twenties and wearing completely inappropriate footwear – Wellies – for Great Hill???

     

    then this only added to the pleasure.

    Great Hill looking deceptively closer than what it really was.
    Great Hill looking deceptively closer than what it really was.
    Round Loaf across the valley.
    Round Loaf across the valley.

    In time I joined up with a lovely couple from Bromley Cross in Bolton. Our paths had crossed a couple of times at the start of the climb and on the first rise, now I decided to have a good old natter and they were great company, it was especially nice reminiscing about my times in Bolton. As the couple were not in any particular hurry – I can never say the same when I have to get back for Chris, I decided to put my foot down at something like a half mile’s distance from the ruins of Drinkwaters. Funnily enough, three more walkers were draped over these ruins which changed my mind about having a rest here. Great Hill was now looming just around an exceptionally large corner!

     

     

     

    Great Hill's cross shelter
    Great Hill’s cross shelter

    Now I decided it was time to make a strident bid for the summit. It was twelve fifty

    The lovely couple from Bromley Cross.
    The lovely couple from Bromley Cross.cross shelter.

    five and I wondered if I could make it to the top of Great Hill for one o’clock. The answer was a resounding “no!” Once more, I had fallen for the trap of thinking I was closer to Great Hill than what I really was – all the same I did get there by five past one so all credit to me I believe. By this time I had walked almost six miles, over various types of terrain and up a fairly steep incline. To say that I was impressed with my performance was understating things: I had a celebratory flask of coffee at the summit As I was about to leave, the other seated walkers were somewhat insular, continuing to talk amongst themselves as opposed to engaging me, my lovely couple from Bromley Cross summited the slope. Of course we then took each other’s photos and I gave them my web site address (wonder if they’ve visited!).

    The time to leave the summit had approached, once more I bid my farewells and set off due south in the direction of the looming giant of Winter Hill and its associated ironwork (the many masts). I knew this to be an easy route – as long as the visibility held up (it did) and I frequently reached for my pocketed camera in case last year’s deer should happen to spring across Anglezarke Moor in front of me (it didn’t!). The slabs laid across the moor some years ago have definitely settled in place now. It was possible to observe where the moorland has started to reclaim the space they have invaded as the cottongrass and ubiquitous water vy for dominance over the grey stone outsider presence. Nature seldom simply accepts what man has willed upon it and I do doubt whether these facilitating stepping stones which snake across the moor, will still be so useful (even accessible) in another fifty years?

    It can beckon all it wants, I'm not doing Winter Hill today!
    It can beckon all it wants, I’m not doing Winter Hill today!
    The end of the facilitating path across Anglezarke Moor.
    The end of the facilitating path across Anglezarke Moor.

    It did seem to take just as long to reach the bottom of Great Hill than it did for me to reach the highest point of my route at the top of Spitlers Edge. I had dropped down by a mere twenty metres or so, but to my legs it seemed like much more when I was climbing up Redmonds Edge followed by the gentlest of all ascensions of Anglezarke Moor’s highest ground. From here there would be a very pleasant drop down to Higher Anshaws – parallel to Will Narr, as the paved route has now been extended to just short of Rivington Road. It has to be said, this was easy walking. I had already decided that I would not be bagging Winter Hill again today, no matter how tempting the prospect might be. I had another climb to tackle today and this would certainly test my fitness.

     

     

    Hard to discern from a 2D perspective, the path swiftly shoots up to Catter Nab.
    Hard to discern from a 2D perspective, the path swiftly shoots up to Catter Nab.
    Wooden bridges serve as pointers to the path.
    Wooden bridges serve as pointers to the path.

    On the corresponding walk last year I noticed a path that had not previously engaged my curiosity. It seemed to start in a hollow area of land just next to Rivington Road and climbed up quite rapidly to Catter Nab near the beginning of the path to Noon slack. Despite visiting the area another few times, I had managed to stave off the traversal of this path…until today. Since the very start of today’s walk I had known that I would be attempting this new diversion and now was the time to set feet on what proved to be the hardest section of this round.

    Even the descent was difficult as all around was a somewhat sheer drop and ubiquitous mud to send me sliding to a watery end. I had no alternative than to take my time, pausing frequently to catch my racing breath. The very obvious path vanished from in front of me and reappeared at the other side of a minor brook. The crossing of this watercourse was not difficult and before long I was on another path altogether and heading along to the newly planted area of saplings destined to cloak the hillside in a deciduous shroud. Yet another path ran off at a right angle on my left and I duly followed it up into a sylvanian ascent the likes of which my tortured calves are still not thanking me for! This was hard going. Not only was the slope steep but it was decidedly slippery in parts. I was following three dismounted mountain bikers up the incline, one of which, at the top of the climb dubiously informed me – ‘there’s no right of way here mate, you’ll have f’t climb over’t fence’. Once I’d despatched with my walking pole and bag, the fence proved to be no obstacle and thankfully I was now on the path which I had hoped would be here…Catter Nab to Dovecote.

    The Yarrow and High Bullough reservoirs come into view.
    The Yarrow and High Bullough reservoirs come into view.
    Pigeon Tower and for some reason my feet decide to make me turn right here.
    Pigeon Tower and for some reason my feet decide to make me turn right here.

    For the record, as far as paths that are comfortable to walk on – forget this one, it’s horrid! Not only does this path turn into a stream every so often, it is undulating on a microscopic scale, no two adjacent stones are on the same horizontal level. This is not a path after which your feet will thank you. From here i continued my weary way down towards the Pigeon Tower and then for some reason, which escapes me, I turned right and headed towards what I already knew was an even worse, even more bumpy path which I have come to name “Boulder Road”. This section of the route is largely rocks and recycled tarmac as well as various other surfaces. It’s direct, I can remember directly falling here on a number of instances. But, as it is a short section, somewhere, in the now emerging sunshine, was a treat for me. Last year, when I walked a similar route I was tormented by the prospect of a refreshing and well-earned ice-cream, for which I did not have enough time to queue-up and buy.

     

     

    And the ice cream that I was 'owed' from last year
    And the ice cream that I was ‘owed’ from last year
    The holy grail, the ice cream van!
    The holy grail, the ice cream van!

    This year, I did! Even though the queue was small, it still took the best side of ten minutes to get served. Perhaps, being at an altitude of around four hundred feet above sea level was muddying the minds of the waiting patrons. I’m not a psychologist, I do not know, but for whatever the reason the delay was a factor for as long as I did not have my ice cream…then it paled into insignificance. This year I did have time to queue-up, this year I hadn’t got stressed out by the mighty throng ambling their insanely slow way up Rivington Pike and this year I hadn’t had the living daylights frightened out of me by that insane dog on Catherine Edge or had a minor mud bath at Greenhill Farm…this year I’d earned that damn ice cream!

    Total mileage = 11.75

    Ascent / descent around 1,500 – 1,800′

    Terrain – so many!

    Song of the walk – again the fantastic ‘I need to forget’ by the wonderful Joanna Koziel and Chris Nahorny.

    I’ll be back next year!!!

    Five star walk.

     

     


  • Someone got an ouchy!

    So for over a week now I have had a pain in the foot. It’s on my left instep spreading from the centre to the left – parallel with the toes.

    If you perform a google search you will be rewarded with a host of sites all auto-diagnosing the conditions: Plantar Fasciitis and Plantar Fibromatosis. It could be that I have either of those two ailments, alternatively it might be a compound fracture or strain, picked up whilst enduring ‘The walk of no merit’ last December.

    I’ve been to the GPs about it as this is impacting on my walking – imagine doing sixteen miles over cross country with a sore foot…yes, it did hurt a bit. The GP is taking the all too familiar ‘wait and see’ approach frequently inadvertently deployed to kill thousands of patients every year. So the jury is out on what I have until it goes – in which case we won’t know what it was, or it gets worse and I have to start taking Verapamil or some other drug – yes they could have sent me for an x-ray…

    It’s hard not to think that fate is having a bit of a go at me here with the timing of this ailment being so close to the Amble on the 11th of February. I’m not going to play the victim role- I’m still aiming to do the Amble – the full version, and if we don’t make it to Charlie’s pole before the cut off time (10:30) well, we will just be back earlier than expected to enjoy the delicious smelling ‘gloop’ that the West Lancs LDWA kindly offered up last year.

    My GP’s main advice was to lighten the load, take rest etc…she isn’t doing a 24.5 miles walk in a month’s time and is currently ten pounds heavier than last year…There will be no rest! A mixed blessing is that although walking is a little painful, cross-training isn’t (damn it’s so boring though!) so I can still go to the gym and burn off some of the after effects of all of those bottles of wine that I consumed last December and November…and most of the year to be honest! This is the price I am paying now for one too many ‘nights in with a bottle of red’.

    But it’s not all doom and gloom, I am optimistic enough to believe that this ailment will resolve just before the Amble…to be replaced by another! Either way I will comply (to a point) with the GP’s advice and just do flat walks for a few weeks…oh and the bloody cross-trainer!

    Update

    Well now seeing as I couldn’t go hill walking or even treadmill walking; I figured the cross trainer was the way to go. On Thursday morning I did over 2.5 miles cross training followed by another 1.75 miles on Saturday. And therein lies another problem…I’ve now done my left shoulder in! Simply the act of putting on a coat is an owed to pain! This made for a not very restful night on Sunday – and many expletives after attempting one of those fabled “relaxing” baths which we all read about; on Monday morning. With all these injuries it seems apparent to me that my body is trying to tell me something.

    I took it upon myself to contact the West Lancs LDWA to ask if it would be okay to hold over my entrance to the Anglezarke Amble until next year…they have very kindly consented with a footnote to mention that it is not at the moment; definite that there will be an Amble next year – there has been one for the last 43 years so there’s every chance it will be on. For now I will have to focus on getting myself fit – my body is not saying ‘don’t do it’ moreover, it’s a case of ‘at the moment you ain’t up to it’  – in the light of recent family events I would be foolish not to heed what it has to say.

    I shall in due course return to the hills, perhaps at a slower pace for a while and there’s every chance that I’ll even take part in the epic Yorkshire Three Peaks again, perhaps in September…

     


  • A Wythburn Round

    Owing to the festivities of Friday night – a work’s Christmas ‘do’, I felt a little fragile on Saturday and decided to opt out of the planned walk with Karl up to the summit of bull hill. Instead I opted in to Karl and Sue’s walk on Sunday which would feature “walking a round over Steel Fell near Grasmere” … sounds almost innocuous doesn’t it? Read on.

    As I drove from Southport to Darwen via Bolton at 06:30 I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of mist around. This was evident in Croston and then again in Bolton. I had reservations. All the same, it appeared to have lifted by the time I got to Darwen but then two hours later as we set off from Steel End car park, next to Thirlmere (what isn’t next to Thirlmere?), it became all too apparent that the mist was here again. Not that I mind mist-meandering, because  let’s be honest, we do go off course when the grey stuff descends upon us. Why only last year I completed (again with Sue and Karl, and Lynne) the Fairfield Horseshoe in mist (the first five fells were!), so it’s not as if I am unaccustomed to traipsing around in the grey nothingness.

    The first quarter of a mile was deceptively easy, too easy. A gentle stroll along a tarmac road…we should have known better and in fact Karl did, the swine! All too soon the terrain transformed into the Devil’s playground as the grass became shorter and thus more slippery and the gradient seemed to be imbued with a wicked grin, an inaudible mocking sneer that one senses on the very periphery of one’s subconscious. This was no longer a walk, it was a trial, a battle against gravity and I was losing, badly!

    I gave up many times on that first ridiculous slant! Then, after a brief stop at an abandoned quad-bike, which practically screamed the word “PORTENT” at me,…the terrain went from forty-five degrees to more like thirty, hell had arrived in the lakes and its resident demon was after me. I watched Sue and Karl become engulfed in the fog – after they had shrunk to the size of garden peas! For some time I was on my own, to be honest, that was the best thing for me, I could vent, childishly vent that this walk was {multiple expletives deleted} / quite challenging. Within an eternity, just about, I happened to stumble my way up to my waiting co-walkers.

    All smiles and thumbs up Karl mocked “Bit of a steep section that isn’t it!”. I refrained from swearing, much! For a time we then traversed a much nicer gradient, but now came the second wave of walking nastiness – the boot swallowing underfoot water. We were quite definitely within a marsh. Nothing on any of the walks I had done this year could have prepared me for this wave (pun intended) of slosh from practically every footstep. I thought Longworth Moor was bad, pah! Child’s play compared to this lurking green lagoon!

    We reached a summit, or did we? The fells of the central lake district have one thing in common, multiple rises, knolls and outcrops. In the absence of a triangulation pillar – although these are seldom really at the highest point, one never can be truly sure of where the apex of the hill really is – unless one has the desire to roam around the apparent top of the fell with a g.p.s. device taking numerous readings…most of us don’t want to do this. A little time passed and we undulated with the terrain, up and down whilst sloshing around…all good clean misery! By way of chance we happened upon yet another summit and decided to take lunch there.

    It was nice to sit down and take a breather, but all too soon the demon who was controlling the weather took note of our buoyant disposition and cranked the temperature down a tad…just enough to make (for me at least) shivering the order of the day. I had to stand up and move around or else give in to the cold. Often I heard distant people noises. Having now completed the walk I can imagine that what I heard were the faraway expressions of woe of others who had just lost a knee’s-length to the wretched marsh. This is a horrid terrain! I had the feeling that we were halfway into the walk…I was to learn much later that we were not.

    We met two gentlemen who had come up from Grasmere to do a similar ’round’ to ours. After a few moments of chatting they bid their respective farewells but within another few minutes we were upon them again sat atop Calf Crag. This was my second Wainwright of the day and in all honesty what made this summit more worthy for inclusion in his pocket guides; than Ladyside Pike and Sale How; to the late great Alfred Wainwright, eludes me.

    Next we picked up the Coast to Coast path…and without realising it, at some point put it back down again as we entered another bog / marsh / wet cauldron from the mouth of Hades! For over an hour we seemed to circumnavigate the fog and mist and wet. Sue and Karl were of the collective thought ‘we might as well do Ullscarf now’. I’d heard of this summit before but had forgotten that it is in fact a mountain and to put it in to perspective – it’s ten feet higher than Ingleborough! Thankfully the climb up to the summit from our aspect was far more forgiving than any approach to the Yorkshire icon and soon we were within eyesight of it.

    On our way up to the top of Ullscarf we were treated to views of nearing fells which seemed to emerge from the murk, announce their presence and then promptly bugger off back into the mist once more! Sue and Karl suddenly became engrossed in the pursuit of Broken Spectres – I thought this was a James Bond villain! Apparently (pun also intended!) this is a phenomena whereby “the magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun causes a halo of light to be cast around the shadow of the subject”. I maintain that they both hadn’t been drinking enough water and had the auras associated with migraines, possibly owing to dehydration. I lied and insisted that I too could see what weirdness they were hallucinating…my colourblind eyes do not afford me such luminary luxury, unless I have a migraine! We played a short game of guess the fell…amazingly when one’s feet are wringing wet through this isn’t half as much fun as one might think!

    I was a bit freaked to notice that the afternoon was getting on. The light that we did have (not so bloody much) would soon be fading and a dreaded the prospect of being stuck out on this sodden moor at dusk or even darker. I must admit to giving in to my doubts and worries at this point. I thought we were lost, we had a g.p.s. with us but it seemed to be saying left, right, left like some insane Regimental Sargent Major. Helvellyn and her cronies across the valley were joyfully laughing at us. But if that range across the void was not Helvellyn then who was it? I seriously did not care which mountain range was gaping at us! I wanted off the moor, now! We ascended and descended, I fell over, then fell over some more! I lost a leg, then I lost the other one. I was black and blue and wet and miserable. I do find it difficult to believe that some people find this enjoyable.

    Ultimately, thanks to Sue’s magnificent navigating and Karl’s almost infectious sense of optimism, we arrived back in a sloping field from where we could clearly perceive Thirlmere on our left and Steel Fell on our right. We’d almost made it back. We descended a third of the way down the field, then Sue theorized that there might not be an easy exit to the road. So, we ascended to the head of the field once more only to be reassured by Sue that there was a right of way after all – this would later manifest itself as a blooming big gate! Before we reached it I had time to fall over twice more and to turn the sky blue with a barrage of expletives!

    Finally, a little after four o’clock we reached Sue’s awaiting car, we were safe…if not altogether dry!

    Summary.

    I hate wet field walking!

    I may well be in the minority from the perspective of ‘seasoned walkers’ but in regard of humans in general I have numbers on my side when I question, “What’s wrong with real paths? Y’know the type that Fix the Fells and the National Trust spend pounds sterling on repairing every year.” Why do we have to get so dogmatic in our belief that grass is best when it comes to trudging up and sliding down the Lake District paths? In summer this walk…would have been just as bad. That water comes from rain and as everybody knows the Lake District is the rainiest part of England. Thus it would take a really dry summer before I came back to this particular environment. In future I vow to stick to real ‘on the ground’ paths. One’s that have evolved or been constructed and don’t just vanish from before our very eyes. Pendle has them in spates! Ultimately I have to say that I was glad of the exercise, it’s all been a bit easy whilst Chris has been recuperating. In addition it is always great to be out and about with Karl and Sue. One thing is for sure, next February, when next I traverse the God awful Longworth Moor whilst walking the Anglezarke Amble, I won’t feel quite so bad about a mile-wide stretch of marshland now that I’ve walked this route!

    Walk distance: 8.5 miles

    Ascent: 2,000′

    Time: six and a bit hours

    Song(s) of the walk: Chandelier by both Sia and Mollie Bylett (Cover) 

     


  • 2016 My Walking Year in review

    I knew it was going to be a good year, I was wrong. It was a fantastic year!

    Lots of folks out on the hill today, we must all be mad.
    Lots of folks out on the hill today, we must all be mad.

    I was off the mark very early in the year in 2016 as I rekindled my relationship with my beloved Pendle Hill on New Year’s Day. It was good that there were so many people out and about in spite of the liberal coating of snow/frost that she had been granted. Before the week was out I joined the Ramblers on a walk in the Lune Valley / Reservoir as we slogged along a flood plain for ten and a half miles and I watched as my core temperature plummeted! Later in the month was a trip to the future, at Burton as I observed the effects of silting on the River Dee estuary. The same environmental metamorphosis is set to happen to our beloved and receding coast line at Southport. A sobering yet captivating scene. the last trip out of the month was with the Ramblers to Skipton where, whilst being rained upon for most of the day, I conquered the minor peak of Sharp Haw.

    The Jubilee Tower on Darwen hill
    The Jubilee Tower on Darwen hill

    February brought with it a bonus week off for my birthday during which Chris and I returned to the spectacular Ingleton falls. In winter this was far nicer than the last time that we visited at the height of summer. Then came the big one, the walk that I had been building up to for over a year: The Anglezarke Amble with Mark Carson. To say that I had become obsessed with this twenty-four mile dash over numerous hills and mud galore is no exaggeration. Nearing the end of this epic day I had sworn ‘never again’ yet within an hour of finishing, on the way home, I was planning my next participation. I’m hooked and hope that I will always be so. At the end of the month came another trip out with the Ramblers as we went to Staveley , taking in numerous fields and more parts of hills. Although the walk was enjoyable it would be so nice to put a name to the places that one has been!

    March opened up with a wonderful snowy walk with Chris as we passed most of Rivington’s vast reservoirs. We loved this route so much that it has now replaced Rivington Pike as our ‘go-to’ route. Winter Hill draped in snow is becoming an increasingly irregular sight, so i considered myself fortunate to be within sight of this natural beauty on this visit. The next walk was another where I re-united with an old acquaintance in the shape of the Keswick giant Skiddaw. Sue, Karl and I spent five glorious hours traversing the Ullock Pike ridge to Skiddaw whilst avoiding suicidal mountain bikers at 2,700′! Six days later Chris and I returned to Pen-y-Ghent, where snow was on one of its flanks and spent a very enjoyable afternoon walking around my favourite of the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Pen-y-Ghent. On Good Friday came what could well be the prestigious (in my head at least) ‘walk of the year’ – the Half Amble’. Although on my own, this walk featured a celebration of my completion of the Anglezarke Amble and at just shy of fifteen miles, was a good workout in fine temperatures and even featured a sighting of a red deer on Anglezarke Moor.

    Cheetham Close's summit comes into view.
    Cheetham Close’s summit comes into view.

    April saw Chris and I back at Pendle on a gloriously rainy day. No new sights, no new routes we slowly splashed our way up the steps in the rain. the photos were a washout, the route down to the slope was precarious! The rest of the month saw me return to Darwen Hill and then two excursions up to a new favourite in the form of Cheetham Close, its neighbouring summit Turton Heights practically defined disappointing but I may still take this route on next year’s ‘Amble’ as the route across the slope of the hill is just awful!

    A re-take of a photo that I used to have on my desktop in 1999
    A re-take of a photo that I used to have on my desktop in 1999

    In May we took a mini break in Salou (again) but still managed to get in a breezy coastal walk along the Camino de Ronda. A couple of weeks later I was lucky enough to tackle multiple summits over the Dodds in the north east corner of the Lake District. I won’t lie, Clough Head was very testing and to this we added the summits of Watson’s Dodd, Great Dodd, Starling Dodd and a couple of Birketts. This visit left me wanting more and Chris and I returned a week later to the Lakes in order to take in Loughrigg – we finally managed to get to the trig point. The next day we had a three peak walk over Rivington Pike, Crooked Edge Hill and Winter Hill.

    The first walk of June was somewhat frustrating. Southport ramblers took us off to Ambleside where I had the option of ascending Great Rigg and Fairfield or Silver Howe and Blea Rigg. As I had climbed  Great Rigg and Fairfield as part of the Fairfield Horseshoe last summer I thought that I would tick off the two lesser summits. And there in lay the problem. Oh sure, we achieved the steep little pull up to Silver Howe with relative ease, for the next few hours however, Blea Rigg proved elusive. We could not find it! I think we stood on four minor peaks with me checking my phone’s altimeter to no avail! The following Saturday Chris and I walked up to the summit of our biggest mountain so far. We nailed Snowdon from Llanberris. I was delighted to be atop this majestic giant, even if a thick mist had descended half-way up.

    Walking was to then take a back seat. Mine and Darren’s Yorkshire Three Peaks had to be put off, as did the week after’s White Bear Way as Chris succumbed to a gall bladder illness which would trouble her for a further three weeks and involve an ECRP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography) procedure which bottomed-out her blood pressure – thank you Fazakerley Hospital!!!

    Barrow, Outerside and Crag Hill on the left with Grisedale Pike facing on the right.
    Ard Crags begins to fill my mind as well as my camera lens.
    Ard Crags begins to fill my mind as well as my camera lens.

    It wasn’t until the end of July that I was back amongst the north western fells on a walk with Sue, Lynne and Karl which took in the magnificent Grisedale Pike and another three summits from this area of relative giants.

    Another month would go by before Chris and I returned to Pendle for a jolly old walk up the slope and down the steps. She didn’t appreciate this diversion to an established route – I did, the slope route is my favourite way up and down.  August saw no further walking action from either one of us.

    And so into September and once again a lean walking month. Sue, Karl and I had a strenuous hike up to the two lesser Wainwrights of Ard Craggs and Knott Rigg. This is hailed as a ‘classic walk’ according to the internet…I remained somewhat unimpressed.

    A distant view of the masts from Belmont Road.
    A distant view of the masts from Belmont Road.

    Again over a month went by with no walking and then it happened! I proposed a route to Karl that we simply could not resist – the Anglezarke Amble (shorter version). I don’t want to betray its bigger brother…but the shorter version is simply the nicer walk. Not only is it eight miles shorter, it omits the eastern half of Longworth Moor, declines the opportunity to ascend Darwen Hill and gives one some wonderful yomping across Catherine Edge…it’s all good. Moreover, in preparation of next year’s Amble, I now know the route from White Coppice back to Rivington. One week later saw me return to the same environment to tackle the classic Edge’s to Great Hill walk returning to Rivington via the same White Coppice traversal – Brilliant and the fact that it clocked in at just shy of twelve miles meant that Chris and I had just set our new distance bar!

    We had no walking in November as Chris had to have the misbehaving gallbladder extracted. Never again will the cursed thing impede my Three Peaks and White Bear Way…bloody thing!

    Looking far more sinister than normal, Pigeon Tower.
    Looking far more sinister than normal, Pigeon Tower.

    So that brings me up to December and already we’ve returned to Rivington two more times. The first time we took in Wilkinson Bullough, Simms and the Hempshaws Pastures – it’s becoming a classic for us. On our next return we simply took in the Pike and back – more ‘Amble’ practice, I am now sure of the easiest way to get me and Darren up to the top of the Pike. Only two more possible walks remain. Karl and I have promised ourselves another return to Ramsbottom in order to take in Bull Hill and Holcolmbe Hill. Hopefully the final walk of the year should see me at good old Pendle to do my doc-u-walk and visit both Stang Top Moor and Spence Moor in the same epic walk, watch this space, on New Year’s Eve!

    So there you have it. If all goes to plan then I will have completed thirty two walks this year. It’s getting serious now. There have been some new peaks: Grisedale Pike and the others of the north western Lakes and not forgetting the little cracker that is Cheetham Close. by way of contrast, aside from Pendle, Winter Hill and Rivington Pike who would have thought that I would hit Snowdon once again and that I would slip and slide my way over the Ullock Pike route to the mighty Skiddaw?

    For next year, I long to be back atop England’s highest, Scafell Pike to me is somehow not fully ticked off. Darren and I often put plans down to return to Snowdon in order to complete the epic ‘Watkins Path’…here’s hoping. There will be more challenge walks next year, obviously the Amble, a moth later the Peelers Hike with Mark and two weeks later the one that has me most nervous – The Two Crosses (25 miles in nine hours). I’ll give the White Bear Way another shot, I may even make it to the start this time! So many walks to do…

    But returning to this year and the not at all prestigious walk of the year. Once again there were three candidates:

    1. The Anglezarke Amble – full version with Mark.
    2. The Half Amble – me on my lonesome
    3. The Anglezarke Amble – short version with Karl

    And the winner is…(no, seriously did you need to ask, I’ve been banging on about it all year?) The Anglezarke Amble (long version). But the other two were tied for second place!

    Until next year…

     

     

     

     


  • 2015 My Walking Year in Review

    Well now, this was a good walking year!

    Hard to miss…the Jubilee Tower atop Darwen Hill
    Hard to miss…the Jubilee Tower atop Darwen Hill
    Great Hill hazed out by a stinging snowstorm.
    Great Hill hazed out by a stinging snowstorm.

    January saw the start of my walking year…I know how obvious that sounds but some years I haven’t started walking until March.

    I had decided to have another bash at joining Southport Ramblers after 2011’s falling out with them. This time around I found that I was much better prepared to keep up with them – picking category ‘C’ walks at first proved to be a wise decision. I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the routes offered by the ramblers. We seemed to traverse muddy fields simply for the sake of traversing muddy fields. The highlight of each walk definitely was the company. Our first outing to Longridge in order to take in various country lanes, could essentially have been anywhere. Likewise two weeks later saw us at Saint Asaph for a walk through some more washed-out and verdant fields! Late January saw the weather take a turn for the colder as Karl and I enjoyed a walk in the snow over Darwen Moor. Karl and Anne and I traversed the hills on my mission to acquaint myself with the route of the Anglezarke Amble (I did mention that I’m doing this in February 2016 didn’t I?) This was to be my first West Pennines yomp of the year and a thoroughly enjoyable one…minus a couple of minutes when I had to climb over a barbed wire fence and nearly became an alto singer! A further expedition along Southport’s thought-provoking Coastal Road gained me some more leg milage – twenty one to be precise. The 22nd of February saw me with the Ramblers at Rivington in a very enjoyable, snowed-out walk over Rivington Moor and Catter Nab whilst taking in the sights of Rivington Lower Reservoir and the Yarrow Reservoir on route.

    Longridge, Pendle and another top on the distant horizon.
    Longridge, Pendle and another top on the distant horizon.

    Until the end of March far the most challenging walk of the year came about when we (The Southport Ramblers) went to Chipping, walked over six mile’s worth of muddy fields then took on the steep southern face of Parlick Pike. This would put me in good stead for the rest of my walking year as not even Whernside or Snowdon (the Llanberis route) can measure up to the ridiculous gradient this aspect proffered, by the time I reached the summit, I was shattered. Parlick had been on my ‘to-do’ list for the year, although I had meant to set about it from the top of Longridge Fell – I still intend to do this iconic walk…maybe next year.

    Further trips in the first quarter of the year saw Karl and I back at the West Pennines in order to take in Turton Moor and another section of the A.A. whereby we wandered over the side of Turton Heights then back over past Cadshaw to Green Arms Road. I’d never walked in this locale prior to this and was taken aback at just how scenic the West Pennines (including Winter Hill) can be. Another attempt at doing a section of the A.A. on my own resulted in a ten mile walk over Rivington Pike, Winter Hill and many, many miles of roads as my legs started to moan under the stress of so many walks in such a short time. The walk in itself was fantastic but the company was a bit irksome! This would improve dramatically as in March Chris and I enjoyed a quite balmy walk on one of the many trails through Delamere Forest.

    April saw me return to do the Coastal Road once again and a trip with the Southport Ramblers to Besston. I’d never heard of the place before and to be honest, I could quite easily forget all about it now as we took in a tiny summit (the name of which I cannot recollect) and we visited a candle factory (be still my beating heart!).

    The Middle Way
    The Middle Way

    May brought with it a couple of Bank Holidays and one of these saw me return to good old Pendle to do ‘The Middle Way’, on a walk which I laughingly referred to as ‘Pen-ny not so dreadful’ I completed my objective of ascending Pendle the undisputed hardest way. The climb itself was hard, but the time to complete the steep ascent was a breathtaking sixty-nine minutes. I had no idea that I could walk so quickly uphill! As this was training for the month after’s Yorkshire Three Peaks attempt, my confidence was escalated beyond my wildest possible expectations. Another walk two days later which would take in Winter Hill via the east and again ran in at around ten and a half miles, left me feeling that this time, more than at any other point in my past, I would be able to get around the infamous Yorkshire three peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

     

    24.5 miles, five thousand feet, one county top and two aching legs!
    24.5 miles, five thousand feet, one county top and two aching legs!

    And thus onto June and on the sixth I booked a car from Enterprise (A wonderful little Corsa), drove up to Horton in Ribblesdale, met up with the lovely Linzi from Southport Ramblers and Mark – an old acquaintance from my Bolton days and took on the challenge of Yorkshire’s finest. It’s tough going but at no point did I consider not completing the twenty four and a half mile course. I would go on to to scale bigger mountains throughout the year but nothing could compare to the sense of sheer unprecedented joy of arriving back at the Penyghent Café to be informed that we had completed the route in time…eleven hours and four minutes. I believe that there were many factors which contributed to my success: yes the weight loss had definitely been principle among these, but also the twenty-plus mile walks along Southport’s stunning Coastal Road had definitely played a part – as had May’s ascent of Pendle’s ‘Middle way’ – even Ingleborough seemed less challenging than this (though not to be taken lightly, I still paused a number of times). Mark was excellent company – even if he did comment to the effect that I dropped down the hills like a sheep (A sheep? Not a GOAT?) and it was a shame to lose Linzi at Chapel le Dale. I had vowed ‘never again’…that promise would last but two short months as I returned to do the reverse route with Darren and Colin at the end of August. Alas our bid was unsuccessful after some wayward rambling put us on a path which never seemed to get use any nearer to Pen-y-ghent.

    The end of the Fairfield Horseshoe - Low Pike!
    The end of the Fairfield Horseshoe – Low Pike!
    The Coniston Range as seem from Low Pike.
    The Coniston Range as seen from Low Pike.

    In between the two Yorkshire assaults there were a few walks – including two trips to the glorious Lake District. The first trip was again with the Ramblers under the pretence of ‘We’re going up High Street’ – this was a blatant mis-direction as in fact the hill which we did ascend was the much lower (but still a Wainwright!) outcrop of Arthur’s Pike. Although the walk in itself was ‘lovely’ and the company was as good as ever, it just didn’t seem to be that much of a challenge a week after completing the Y3P. The second return to the Lake District however, was a real belter as four of us took on the impressive Fairfield Horseshoe. Karl and Sue were almost apologetic for the abysmal weather that stuck with us for over half of the walk…I was overjoyed to not be able to see the route in full and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. If I only stick to one intended walk next year it would have to be another one of these Lakeland Horseshoe routes – preferably the Kentmere Horseshoe. That being said, there is another return to Horton in Ribblesdale planned in May!

    From here on in the walking year became considerably easier. Yes there was a rather boring ascent and hair-raising descent of Winter hill and a record attempt at Pendle’s stepped path from around the back of Pendle house – in just fifty-seven minutes. On the same walk I also discovered the wilder side of Pendle at Churn Clough and Deerstones – locations to which I will surely return.

    Yr Wyddfa - Or Snowdon as the rest of us call it!
    Yr Wyddfa – Or Snowdon as the rest of us call it!
    Connor and Darren in front of a hill which I cannot name!
    Connor and Darren in front of a hill which I cannot name!

    Ultimately, the ‘big walk’ came around. If the Y3P taught me anything it was a sense of perspective, we can only ever walk one footstep at a time. This would be a good motto onto which I would hold on as Darren, Connor and I took on the Welsh giant of Snowdon from Llanberris. Yes, it did prove to be easier than I could have hoped, but, was this only relative to the rest of my walking year? If I hadn’t already done two speedy (for me) walks up Pendle, the arduous trek up Parlick, the two Y3Ps and ultimately Fairfield’s Horseshoe would it have seemed as easy? Snowdon is a beacon in every sense of the word, it’s a challenge even once one has ascended it and I can hardly wait to return in the spring of next year to complete the challenging ‘Watkins Path’ again with Darren – though I’m not sure we’ll be roping in Connor to do this one! There would be few walks for the rest of the year, save for one adventure to do Rivington Pike with Chris…and a last visit to Pendle for All Saints Day, more stunning sceneryand the walk re-routed at Under Pendle, which is never a down-turn given that it’s my faourite part of the area.

    It looks a long way to the top...but it really wasn't, thankfully.
    It looks a long way to the top…but it really wasn’t, thankfully.
    The sun sets on my walking year...it's been a fantastic, challenging and thoroughly rewarding year.
    The sun sets on my walking year…it’s been a fantastic, challenging and thoroughly rewarding year.

    In October we visited the lovely city of Edinburgh and on a leisurely amble I ended up climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat – a hill of which I’d never heard before our visit. It was a thoroughly enjoyable dash to the summit and I’d love to return to take in a more circuitous route as opposed to the ‘up and down’ direct approach that I took.  Finally in November, Karl and I met up once more with the intent of completing another section of the Anglezarke Amble, but, with the main road from Egerton to Belmont being something of an ice rink we headed to the east – Edgworth and took in the bleak but captivating Holcolmbe Moor. This was about as remote as I have been all year, I doubt that I saw twenty people on the walk and would certainly not want to do this one on my own. We must go back one day when it’s warmer to ‘bag’ Bull hill but for now I’m glad to have made it through the day without falling over!

     

     

    And so ends my walking year. It’s unlikely that I’ll add to my twenty four walks total – the greatest number (by far) that I have completed in one year. I can congratulate myself that I’ve taken on some big challenges in the Yorkshire Three Peaks, The Fairfield Horseshoe and the completion of Snowdon and I’ll be hard pressed to surpass this next year…but surpass I shall as I intend to re-visit Horton in Ribblesdale (with Darren) and to complete the Anglezarke Amble, the Watkins path up Snowdon and there are still those wretched four missing peaks from my ‘Top ten of England’ to tick off. Of course there will have to be more trips to Pendle – I’ve not completed all possible routes up there yet and well, I still love it there. I’m hopeful that Karl and I can get back to Keswick to do the classic Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and wouldn’t it be wonderful to replicate Julia’s walk over Broad Crag and Ill Crag before arriving at the mighty summit of Scafell Pike – it’s been too long since I last went there! For now it’s a case of feet up and build up the calories on mince pies ‘cos come February they’ll certainly be getting burned off again!

    Oh I nearly forgot to mention: the hardly-coveted ‘Walk of the Year for 2015’…well I’m afraid that vanity wins out. Whilst achieving Snowdon with Darren and Connor was very rewarding and a great summit to tick off, and the Fairfield Horseshoe was again a great walk with great company…I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks for God’s sake…that was the ultimate highlight!

    Andiamo!

     


  • Walk number 17: Rivington Pike, Winter Hill and Will Narr

    I hadn’t been for a dedicated, hill, walk since tackling the epic Fairfield Horseshoe in July. With the advent of the perilous (okay subjective, I know) Yorkshire Three Peaks Reverse Route, I thought that it would make sense to get some walking practice in. My problem was that although I do love our new car (it isn’t that new, just new to us), it’s a bit of a hot-head and I still believe that in its’ current condition, a drive to Pendle…could kill it. So, I had to settle for second best, Winter Hill. Now admittedly, Winter Hill is a fine hill in its’ own right. If one adds in the short sharp shock of Rivington Pike; this adds up to a good couple of hours walking. I wanted more than anything, to simply stretch my legs, no heroics, nothing that was going to interfere with my training regime (ha, that makes it sound like I have one!) or y’know, make me that cramped up for the next few days that I start to lose confidence in my ability to do the afore mentioned Y3PRR.

    Whilst I will one day complete without incident, the great round of Anderton, (nobody else will ever understand that description!) this is the route starting at Crookfields, Great Hill – White Coppice – Moor Road – Rivington Pike – Winter Hill – Hordern Stoops – Spitlers Edge – Redmonds Edge – Crookfields. I would have loved to do that route yesterday, but was aware that (as always) time was an issue, I had to be back to pick up Chris at 5.00; and given that the route described above is NEVER without incident, it pays to be a bit conservative and to stick with what one knows one can achieve within the given time (about five hours of walking). Incidentally, how posh is my writing? (Well, until this part!). More on this later.

    As a distraction to the walking text, I did call in to a service station in Horwich on route whereby I was greeted by a woman with a lovely west country accent (I am something of a fan of all English accents, but the west country dialect holds a particularly special place in my heart). Her accent was of Gloucestershire decent, she mockingly referred to it as sounding halfway between ‘Pirate’ and ‘Farmer’. I found it rather endearing, in the last few months I have met women from Somerset, Gloucestershire and of course my friend from Wiltshire. Anyway, I digress.

    I arrived at the long driveway at Rivington Lane at around 09:00 and by 09:16 was on route, pausing every few steps to retrieve my water bottle which seemed to be making a regular bid for freedom. As this was somewhat irritating, I decided to leave it in the bag and only to retrieve it from the bag when I was gasping for a drink. I set off on the same route which I last did a good few months back, via the Pinetum (funny, the spell checker queried that word last time). This time, I opted to stick to very obvious, wide tracks, the one that I used last time was narrow and steep, a lot steeper than for what I had bargained. So, today’s option to stick to long gradual paths was well received…until I went off piste once more. Yes, folks (Karl, stop laughing) I thought I had taken the well trodden path which would lead me to the southern entrance to the Japanese lake. In all honesty I do not know where that path was in comparison to where I was. All the same, some more positive thinking – well the tower atop the pike is hard to miss, it made sense to me simply to aim for the tower, safe in the knowledge that sooner or later I would arrive at Belmont Road. Suffice to say, I did!

    Some time ago, I set myself the on-going challenge to always attempt to make it from the gate opposite the old toilet block (it’s never open, why not just knock it down?) to the tower at the top of the Pike, via the steps (so no cheating and taking the wheelchair route) without stopping. I am pleased to announce, that even though my heart sounded like a David Guetta remix track, I made it to the top, without stopping, in something like five minutes. I was very happy to reach the top and even happier to stop, my fitness is improving, but as the views were a little bit restricted I stayed for just a few minutes before setting off towards Two Lads…

    However, it is time for me to confess something, I just don’t like the route up to Two Lads via path at the side of the Rivington Dog Hotel. I find it to be a tedious slog, and the last time that I used it, I did run into a condescending woman who told me to stay safe! Associations assist us when we’re grudge building! I would also like to add that I don’t care much for Two Lads in itself, it’s a boring bump on the long rise up to Winter Hill. As an alternative, I decided to follow Belmont Road all the way down to near where it changes name to Georges Lane and beyond. I kept on the road until the left hand turn to Winter Hill (the road) appeared, then took this gently winding road for well over a mile up to the summit of Winter Hill.

    On route I must have passed around ten to fifteen people, I was keeping a count but then got kind of side-tracked when I saw a unicyclist heading towards me. There’s always something weird on one of my walks!

    Next I tapped the trig point atop Winter Hill, as a youngish man was describing to a youngish woman what purpose these concrete pillars once served. I took my lunch break (all of five minutes of it) at the other side of the fence and scoured the immediate environment for the path down, which had appeared to have vanished. Eventually I found the errant path and gingerly made my way down the north face of the hill, falling twice! My next immediate destination was the relatively unknown “Will Narr”. I know where it is, I’ve walked over it a good number of times, but to the rest of the world I imagine it’s something of an unknown. I’ll shed some light on this, it’s essentially the start of the River Yarrow – okay, that’s not exactly earth shattering news, but they’re proud of their rivers in these parts and there is a plaque indicating the ‘official’ source of the ‘Yarrow’. Incidentally, in Croston, there is even a little café named after the Yarrow. To each their own I suppose.

    Will Narr is a pig to navigate on the ground. The path that I needed essentially to transport me over towards Alance Bridge (eventually) is something of a tumble in very long grass. It’s not fun at all and I fell over a number of times. Eventually I ended up on the rather boring path which would take me passed Old Rachel’s and Simms. It seemed to last forever, I passed a fifty-something lady, then I forced myself to have a sit down and a gulp of water, and she passed me back. Even she had little praise for this ‘boring’ path, admittedly, there are not many Striding Edge’s or Sharp Edge’s or even Moses Trod’s, I don’t know what could be done to liven up this path…evidently, it has yet to be done. It was a relief when I finally made it to Alance Bridge. A right turn, a few hundred feet, then a left turn would take me along side the Yarrow reservoir, for most of its’ length until the body of water swapped sides as I now distantly passed the ‘Rivington’ reservoirs. One more final push and I was in ‘Go Ape’ territory as I could hear the rope and slide enthusiasts zip down their respecting guy wires, all in the name of fun…I expect you have to experience it for yourself.

    And that was that! I’m no longer a fan of walking on my own, unless it’s Pendle, and even then company is always more appreciated than no-company. This walk served as a good leg stretcher in preparation of next week’s Yorkshire Three Peaks in Reverse (which potentially won’t be in reverse if it’s raining!). The sliding down Hordern Stoops and Will Narr was not as much fun as I would have hoped that it would be.

    With the exception of the odd occasional Coastal Road expedition, this may well be my last ever solo walk, at the moment my latent auto phobia is having a surge and solitude does not help. Some people (famously the late, great, Alfred Wainwright) crave the serenity of being alone outside, the prospect of this quite often terrifies me, and for a walker, that’s quite a major revelation.

    Until next time, (there will be one, I can almost assure you!)

    Song of the walk: Art Garfunkel – Bright Eyes