• Category Archives The Training Regime
  • The Royal Wedding Day walk

    And what a walk it was

    Ever since me and Chris went to walk up Great Hill on the first Sunday of March I had been longing to return (I still am!) as I could imagine and had heard that the views of the surrounding area are quite fantastic – and it’s a doddle to get up to the summit! This ran hand in hand with my desire to get fit (fitter at least) for September’s re-try of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. I needed to get some serious practice in, but, North Yorkshire is a long way and financially feels a lot longer these days! A local ‘big walk’ would have to suffice.

    Our first assault on Great Hill left me with an overwhelming desire to walk the moors of Bolton/Darwen/Chorley/Anderton/Wherever(?) again and in late March I devised a route that should take in not only Winter Hill and Great Hill but all of the summits in-between and a couple thereafter. I would start at Crookfield Road car park near Tockholes and (weather permitting) would walk straight up the side of Redmond’s Edge – the second heighest spot on this particular escarpment. From there with ordnance survey maps, local knowledge and an ornamental compass – cos I’ll be beggared if I can make head or tail out of it, I would walk somewhere in the range of 12-15 miles taking in all available summits. I purposefully opted for the 29th of April – The Royal Wedding Day as my day to walk as I had previously mentioned on here of my wish to not watch the event.

    After a week of the Met office using a dice-rolling technique, voodoo, guessing and a bit of dried seaweed hung on a washing line in a building somewhere, I simply hoped for good weather – and I got it! The sun was beginning to rain down on me as I left Southport at an alarmingly early time of 7.30 a.m. and headed off for Belmont, my sat nav decided it would play games with me by sending me all the way up the A59 to near the Lancashire Constabulary headquarters only to effectively u-turn and take the left hand turn to Chapel Road, Longton – this could have been avoided by simply taking the A581 Leyland turn off several miles earlier but hey ho!!!

    When I got to Tockholes (it’s the nearest place that I can recall: for any purist thinking of pulling me up on that!) the sun was now in full ascendancy and I was happy to be able to park problem free (there were only two other vehicles parked there and with me it created the illusion that we didn’t like to be near each other) and within five minutes set off onto the A675 northwards. The ground was just the right side of dry to facilitate walking – not wet enough so that the mud clung to my boots or dry enough to be similar to walking on concrete! Within 35 minutes I was atop Redmond’s Edge – I had hoped for such a quick ascent – but I hadn’t dared to believe that I would actually do it! I was so happy with my performance that I sent Christine a text to let her know of my progress.

    The sign at Hordern Stoops
    Twinned with WHERE???
    Spitlers Edge although notorious with fell runners and walkers alike from this area was in fact hardly noticeable after a few minutes ascension, the drop from the other side is a bit of a shock ‘though as there is nothing in the ascent to make one think that the descent will be anything to write home about. After the drop though it is reminiscent of a nostalgia walk through undulating fields with the odd patch of cotton grass only to be interrupted by the road junction at Hordern Stoops were I believe that someone has been a little bit, shall we say whimsical with the signage.

    Oh my God!
    Winter Hill - The Northern Face
    For the next hour the only thing that really captured my attention and refused to let go was just how enormous and forebording Winter Hill appears from its’ northen aspect. I had done Winter Hill last February (darn it was cold!) and again in August and these two ascents had been extremely easy after coming at the hill from the south (over Rivington Pike). The northen aspect might as well be another hill! It was phenomenal, nothing that I had ever done before would parallel this aspect and that prestigous list contains Ingleborough and Pendle (two of the steepest SOBs in the North west of England!). I set about the task sensibly: first taking on a lot of water, second by having a five minute rest and third by having one of my sports energy ‘goo-bars’ this is some of kind of tropical gel that whilst not altogether unpleasant in taste is just not a nice experience!

    After some stumbling, a rare moment of ascending by using my knees(!) much hyperventilating, some swearing and tonnes of effort I finally made it to the top of the hill via what can only be described as a scramble – a quick word of thanks to the person sometime before me that had let their dog ‘shed its’ load’ (my hand came perilously close to something that I would have rather it never got anywhere near – although having nearly lost my grip a few times I can imagine why the dog had done what it had in that particular place!). I was aghast when I saw on my watch that the time was still well before 11.00 the time that I had hoped to be on the summit! In fact it was not yet 10:15! This was turning into a very good day indeed!

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    After stopping to say ‘good morning’ to a man sat on a makeshift seat and pausing at the trig point to A: bag it and B: have another breather, I picked up the pace to head on down towards Crooked Edge Hill – Two Lads

  • Last night’s walk: Marshside (Southport)

    Well it was a lovely evening, not as hot as I had imagined that it was going to be so I treated myself to a stroll. The ambitious plan was to repeat a ten miles walk around Southport than I had completed last year – but common sense prevailed and I opted for splitting the walk into two halves – I’ll do the second half soon. The walk starts at the southern corner of Hesketh Park in Cambridge Ward and heads south straight into Southport town centre. Next we stroll over Eastbank Street (doesn’t Poundland open until late? – it was 18:45 when I walked passed there and still customers were leaving the place!) and onto Lord Street before going up the alley way (or cooey if you’re from these parts!) and hitting Promenade. Now I turned right after the pedestrian crossing walking passed another war memorial and over the wooden plank bridge then taking a right hand turn just before Princes Park and heading towards the bridge parallel with Marine Parade. From there I took a left and walked through the car parks by Pizza Hut and McDonald’s before finally hitting the Coast road (Marine Drive).

    After all these turn-offs it was now a case of “straight on” for the next few miles as I had the Irish Sea (very distantly) by my side and was occasionally accompanied by cyclists and joggers. I must add here that by this time I had zipped up my fleece as the wind on this road is the stuff of legends! After some time I eventually hit the Marshside area which I have to admit is one of my favourite places to be in the whole world – it’s special because it’s like a long gulp of water when you’ve been thirsty or a chicken sandwich when you are really hungry – or more pragmatically it’s so serene after walking by the side of a 50mph B-road! Such a shame that nobody had conveyed my sentiments to the countless midges and horse-files whom were in a rampant mood – my insect repellent kind of worked in that it did repel them…but they had to get up close and personal before it had any effect!

    Marshside Road terminates at the junction of Preston New Road (A565) and Manor Road (A5267) and here was my final treat for this walk as this now presented me with the chance to call in at the Spar in order to buy two of their Red Apple flavoured water – which is not only extremely low in calories but very cheap as well! Here I turned right onto Preston New Road and walked for a further mile or so south towards the town centre eventually walking past Hesketh Park before arriving at home some one hour and 55 minutes after departing.

    I plotted the route on google maps and was impressed to see its’ length was over 6 miles – not bad for a Tuesday evening!

    View 19/4/11 in a larger map

  • Last weekend’s walk: Ingleton Waterfalls

    How often is it when everything that you want from a walk is encompassed in the walk that you do? It’s rare…at least for me it is. Say for example Pendle Hill, I like a stiff climb every so often but I also like to be able to fly along a stretch of relatively flat land – you don’t get much of that in the Pendle region. Example number two Rivington Pike: I like a good view of the scenery that I am actually in, for the most part of the Rivington walks that I have done – the great scenery that you get – is of everywhere else!

    Yesterday we went to Ingleton in order to do the “Waterfalls” walk. At first I objected to us paying £10.00 in order to park and walk but now, having done the walk – it’s almost worth double the price. For the amount of safety railings (and you DO NEED these or else for all off the edge of some of the paths!) and steps that have had to be built, the grounds staff and the fact that you are pretty certain to get parked, it’s really worth it!

    The “Waterfalls” walk has everything, short but (in some cases) wickedly steep stretches where nutters like me can bomb up them and then spend the next few minutes hyperventilating, good long flat stretches, fantastic views not only of the immediate environment – waterfalls aplenty, but also of neighbouring Ingleborough – it isn’t on most walker’s top five list for nothing; it’s a stunning giant of an hill (actually as it’s over 2000′ it is a mountain!). The “Waterfalls” walk also has spots where one can take in refreshments – which is not only a sound revenue generating idea; it’s an important thing to do (we seldom take in enough liquids in our daily lives let alone whilst out on a walk).

    There’s a real sense of this being a ‘family’ walk, there is no part of it that a reasonably unfit person can’t get ’round! Of course some of the uphill parts although not long, arduous stretches, would prove potentially lethal to anyone suffering from an heart condition or in recovery after heart surgery; but for the rest of us there was nothing that would have one thinking to one’s self ‘I’m never coming here again!”. The temperature yesterday was a factor in that it was like summer! I mean by this like the summers that we used to have where one could see the sun in person – not a photograph to which we longingly refer!

    All in all it was a great day out – we took rather a long time to do what is essentially an undulating 4.5 miles walk but it was fantastic to have Chris back in the swing of her photography, this walk was not short of opportunities for her to hone in her skill again after what has been a long bleak spell.

  • Walk of Sunday 10th of April: The Moss, once and for all!

    Circumstances beyond my control, Chris having to go into work for two hours meant that the initial planned walk to Great Hill and back from White Coppice had to be postponed and an alternative found.

    Since my last walk(slide) over Southport’s ‘The Moss’ in December of last year I had been thinking of extending the walk to capture another favourite area of mine in Southport – the top end of Birkdale – and if I could join up the two walks via Jacksmere Lane calling in at the delightful Saint Mark’s Church then so much the better.

    I had never in my wildest dreams even hoped that the weather would be so nice. If there is a perfect walking weather then yesterday had it. The sun almost poured down as I set off at 11:32 to undertake my 10.87 mile walk.

    View The Moss via Birkdale in a larger map

  • Great Hill – Walk

    So as per a previous post I had decided to drag poor Chris up Great Hill for a much needed walk in the country, Great Hill was (for me) an obvious candidate owing to its proximity to Southport, lack of altitude and I’d read that there was a stone causeway with which we could traverse the moorland without geting full of mud / peat / silege!

    Setting off from the well maintained car park on Tockholes Road (Crookfield Road) I instantly spotted Great Hill due west with its’ summit wind shelter:so we headed off on what started out as a wide, grassy path having first squeezed through two stiles less than twenty yards apart.

    The broad grassy track soon became less broad and substantially less grassy as the traditional West Pennines peat, heather and bog combination kicked in! Before long gulleys seemed to simply appear in front of us and we had to attempt a route which facillitated staying on our feet as opposed to falling down any of one of various ditches and mini ravines. The ascent was fairly unstrenuous, straight forward and afforded moody views of the surrounding landscape and some dramatic views across to Winter Hill…but as for the ground! What appeared wet was in fact, wet. What appeared dry was..wet, what looked to be quite muddy was in fact a darkly coloured skating rink!

    picture of a stone circle
    I never knew that there was a stone circle around here!

    Soon it became apparent that although we were not lost – we didn’t know where we were! Correction, Chris knew where we were not … on Great Hill! The single worded statement “Plonker!” followed by “I think that is Great Hill to our right, with the cairn-thingy on it…and the people!”, was next to be slapped my way (sorry Chris but those words were like a slap across the face – no matter how accurate 🙂 ) Indeed it was true, in the distance we could easily make out the forms of several people atop this mighty hill to the right of us. We continued to fight our way to the summit, any summit and decided to aim for what looked like a stonce circle hundreds of yards ahead of us.

    Picture of the path to Spitlers Edge

    After passing through a gulley – voluntarily, we eventually found the media upon which we had assumed (but had no visible proof) that people had been walking. And what a revelation this was!

    Yes this was the fabled path that leads over the top of Spitlers Edge and Redmond’s Edge to the base of Great Hill. Nowhere from the road was this visible but given its’ snake-like twisting and the length of the thing I had expected to have seen it from down below. The stone circle now revealed its’ true self also – a very old looking drystone wall in desparate need of repair! On the bright side it made a good place to sit and have our lunch – at least it did for Chris! Every segment that I sat on began to move beneath me! A couple that were on an hike informed me that the hill to the right that I was pointing to was Great Hill and suggested that perhaps someone could get me a GPS device for my birthday (apparently map-reading is not one of my strengths)!

    stile pictureWe spent some time eating and taking on board refreshments and made the joint decision to take the path up to Great Hill, having picked up so much mud en route it seemed pointless to turn back – so we marched on at some pace. Within twenty minutes we were at the stile at the base of Great Hill.

    picture of the finger post
    Not for the first time today was I to receive "the finger!"

    The going was such a delight after all of that mud and peat that it took no more than a couple of minutes to get to the cruciform shelter at the very summit of the hill. The finger-post had left absolutely no doubt where we were heading. The views from the summit were somewhat muted as the weather on this day (Sunday 6th March) was sunny but hazy, we knew where the Lake District, Forest of Bowland, Yorkshire Dales and the Pennines all were – but there was no definition to what we could see. The view of Winter Hill, Spitlers Edge and Redmond’s Edge however was to me fantastic, a defining moment, a scene that I hope I will always be able to recall.

    Picture of Great Hill
    A last look back at Great Hill

    We took the broad, sometimes a tad sketchy, path down off the hill and headed eastwards towards the A675 that was visible atop Great Hill and from just about most angles thereafter. To say that the path up was difficult is an over-statement compared to the downhill path to the A675. There were many fordings of streams of filthy water and micro-bogs I slipped on some mud that was cleverly hidden under some bone-dry grass and by the time we hit the road my legs felt like they had done some kind of obstacle course – which they had! The walk back up the roadside was thankfully uneventful although how many bikers going past well in advance of the speed limit made me jump I couldn’t say.

    In summing up we had a great walk up Great Hill even if the going was a bit rough. I’d certainly do it again – just not straight after rain. I will be incorporating this walk into a much larger one that will include Winter Hill and Rivington Pike. Hopefully in won’t be too long before I next see in person this view that meant so much to me:

    Winter Hill, Spitlers Edge and Redmond's Edge

  • Where to walk on April 29th

    The Royal Wedding will be on April 29th and this conflicts with my basic desire to never ever watch such an event – it will be on all the main T.V. channels all day long and this innevitbly forces me out of the house. Not that I have anything against HRH and Kate Middleton but I’ve never met them – more than likely I never will and most weddings are a bit of a boring affair anyway!

    This leads me in (rather clumsily) to the reason behind this post: I am in a delightful quandary of not really knowing where to go for a walk that day. I could go back to lovely old Pendle Hill again and perhaps explore the lesser summits of Barley and Ogden hills along with Stang Moor Top.

    I could drive a long way over to North Yorkshire and either do Pen-y-ghent on its own or the much fabled Ribblehead – Chapel le Dale route taking in the summits of Park Fell, Simon Fell, Ingleborough and Whernside.

    I could aim local(ish) and get covered in mud, peat and dank water on various stretches of moorland doing the mammoth walk that goes over Rivington Pike, Crooked Edge Hill(two lads), Winter Hill and over to Great Hill and back again.

    Another candidate is the wonderful stroll up, across and over Saddle Fell, Wolf Fell, Fair Snape Fell and Parlick – it really is that good!

    Or as a last alternative, you could advise me! I would have to stipulate though that it has to be within 60 miles radius of Southport and anyone that suggests the Peak District will have their IP Address blocked!

    The poll is here:

  • Counting down to the 29th

    …of January that is. Ever since December – yeah I know that wasn’t very long ago but humour me please, I have been counting down to the next time that I can get the chance to do Pendle Hill – the long way again. I had set a date of (you’ve guessed it) the 29th of January – a Saturday no less. Well having just looked at the date I am thrilled to see that it’s not that far away at all. The plan is to go the same way as we did on Halloween – with the exception being that this time I am going to actually climb up the hill instead of having the constitution of a jellyfish and backing out at the last minute.

    Going originally straight up Cross Lane I first call in at  Witches Galore perhaps to get one of their fantastic flapjacks to snack on at the summit! Then I’ll head off down and up Spenbrook Road until I get to Little Tynedale. Next it’s a right hand turn to follow the track down to the little row of buildings that features Tynedale Farm and Tynedale Cottage. Having made my way along the rather wet and muddy path I eventually hit harder substance parallel to Bull Hole Farm before heading up to meet Well Head Road where I shall turn left. After an hundred yards or so it’s well of the beaten track as I’ll join the Pendle Way and head up an incredibly steep little hill (let’s hope that it’s free of animal carcasses this time!) towards Fell Wood.

    If I have to divide the walk into sections (and believe me – I do) then this next part is probably section 3. Making my way carefully through Fell Wood as it does get rather slippery in there I then head north west where ultimately lies a series of tiny steps leading down and over Lower Ogden reservoir. Once on the opposite bank (as it were) I’ll turn 90 degrees left heading towards delightfully named places such as Fox Holes and Cat Holes before turning right and beginning the assault on the southern aspect of the hill. This path is not as sturdily built as the one that leads up the eastern face from Barley – as such the increment should prove to be more natural as opposed to the lunges needed to ascend the afore mentioned eastern approach!

    After much climbing I should see the summit and the merging of the other paths before not much time has passed whereby it will be time to take a break by the ordnance survey column (time for that flapjack). The final stage (has anyone been keeping count?) will see me heading north towards the boundary wall for Downham where I’ll turn right once more and head down the dreaded steps down the eastern side of the hill. With a bit of luck there will be no twisting of ankles and the descent progress should be about half the time that it usually takes me to ascend this cobbled path of wood and stone. At the bottom of the ‘staircase’ I go through the first of what will be many ‘kissing gates’, turn right once more and traverse a field full of black sheep and white sheep.

    That was the first field of what I have come to refer to as the four field challenge – when the route is reversed these four fields can be unbelievably energy sapping, these are not the soft, gentle slopes of the Yorkshire Dales, these fields are hard and unrelenting but the environment itself offers up fantastic views of the surrounding countryside – including a distant peak at Darwen Hill’s Jubilee Tower. I’ll keep on walking past  Ing Head Farm andIngs End, over not one but three footbridges and more kissing gates until finally reaching Barley Lane in Barley where I’ll turn right towards the village and the visitor centre café where a much needed coffee will be bought and savoured over.

    I figure that this whole walk (weather permitting) should take no longer than four hours. I will report the exact figures at a later date. One thing is for sure – I am really looking forward to it!