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  • Gone for a Burton?

    First logged Ramble of the year.

    They won't even approach us, Cheshire Alpacas.
    They won’t even approach us, Cheshire Alpacas.
    The haven - the disused railway station where we stopped for lunch and a quick freeze!
    The haven – the disused railway station where we stopped for lunch and a quick freeze!

    I must admit to having never heard of this Burton. Of course as a fan of football (my team is about to disappear into the ether!) I had heard of Burton Albion…I don’t think this is the same Burton. However, aside from all that, with the A.A. event getting ever closer (gulp!) it is getting more and more important that I continue to get out and about walking, but not just walking, cold-weather walking, for as sure as eggs are eggs, it will be surely cold atop Darwen Hill on the 13th of February! Hence I pledged to do this Burton walk straight away after the Rambles (soggy) walk in the Lune Valley earlier this month.The choice of the three walks were:

    C – About six, relatively flat, miles
    B – Eight and a half miles, a stretch of estuary and only about forty metres of ascent.
    A – At least eight fields, all of which would be muddy – no, seriously we were warned that they would be muddy!

     

    The haven - the disused railway station where we stopped for lunch and a quick freeze!
    The haven – the disused railway station where we stopped for lunch and a quick freeze!
    Railway station
    And again

    So, obviously I opted for B and what a grand walk it was! Within the first mile we were wandering through Coniferous woodland and treated to a site of two Alpacas – two very shy Alpacas who were intent on staying put at the far end of their field, which was more like a paddock to be honest. Within a few moments we were on the trail which ultimately became the Wirral Circular Trail and encompasses an easy to walk-upon section of path that used to be a railway line. this was further evidenced when we visited the disused Hadlow Road station at about halfway. This was where we stopped for lunch.
    To be honest I couldn’t re-start quick enough as the temperature started to become more ‘noticeable’ after the eating had stopped and the drinks had been drunk.

     

     

     

    The Marshes at the Dee Estuary
    The Marshes at the Dee Estuary
    the view out to the estuary from the top of the 40 metres climb
    The view out to the estuary from the top of the 40 metres climb

    Our next destination was to head in a northerly direction then veer off due west in order to transport us over towards the marshes at the estuary. I loved it here, although I do like a good beach, and we Sand-grounders are resigned to the fact that we’re losing ours, the marshes were captivating. It also has to be said that the weather, although clement enough, didn’t lend itself to spectacular views. We could see across the river Dee’s estuary towards the other side…we just couldn’t see the Dee itself! This made for some really rather lacklustre photographs. After carefully negotiating the marshes and keeping our collective feet dry – thanks to Trefor’s memory and Jean’s leadership, we then headed uphill for the last stretch back to the start and a café – where I was able to wirelessly connect to EduRoam (this is a big thing to me!). the uphill stretch would only grant us a further forty metres in altitude, but after so much flat walking…felt considerably more.

    All in all a good walk with the section of marshes at the Dee estuary being far and away my favourite.

    Distance 8.5- 10.4 miles
    Altitude gained / lost – 348 feet.
    Time taken – Around four and a half hours.

    Song of the walk (even though I was chatting a lot): Ellie Goulding: This Love

    Picture of the stats from map my hike
    the stats

  • 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!

     


  • Around Holcombe Moor: Walk 24

    Karl and I had been threatening to go for a walk together for a while…about four months. We had agreed to do another section of the Anglezarke Amble but, this was postponed as the car was not available to me until mid-day, given that this was now officially still late Autumn (the 21st of November) there was no chance of us walking sixteen miles over Winter Hill and Great Hill in the short amount of daylight time that we had. Subsequently, a perilous drive down Stones Bank Road (in order to get us to Rivington from Egerton) was re-routed owing to the fact that I do quite like my current car and felt no need to have it slide out from under us and written off!

    So, we took a last minute decision to head off over to Edgworth in order to take on the triple threat of Harcles Hill, Bull Hill and erm that un-named hill next to the afore mentioned ones. I hadn’t been walking in these parts for a couple of decades and had never ‘done’ Bull hill so I was enthused to give it a shot now. The weather had been nice upon travelling through Southport but as soon as I hit Tarleton, the snow on Winter Hill was evident. So it was no surprise to discover Edgworth’s lofty and bleak environment to be a complete white-out, and boy was that first gentle climb a slippery tale? At times I did wish that I had seen fit to pack my walking spike-sole things. Karl seemed to be coping admirably, but then, he is not a fair-weather walker, unlike me!

    It’s at this point that I have to admit something a little bit painful…I don’t know the names of anything around these parts…which makes describing the walk somewhat difficult!

    So, here are lots of pictures…

    The side of the unnamed hill we shall be ascending in the next half hour.
    The side of the unnamed hill we shall be ascending in the next half hour.
    Ah, good old Winter hill with a cloaking of snow.
    Ah, good old Winter hill with a cloaking of snow.
    Karl's all dressed up for winter.
    Karl’s all dressed up for winter.
    Slippery Plantation Road
    Slippery Plantation Road

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Yes, it was actually quite beautiful to behold. On three of my four walks with Karl this year:

    • Darwen Moor
    • Turton Moor
    • The Fairfield Horseshoe
    • Holcolmbe Moor

    We have had unusual weather, snow twice and weird spooky fog followed by a heatwave once!

    Peel Tower
    Peel Tower
    Peel Tower
    Peel Tower

    After roughly an hour or so we found ourselves on the final slog up the western slopes of the unnamed hill which is capped by Peel Tower. The going underfoot needed a little bit of attention, which Karl must have failed to do as he suddenly became horizontal in front of me! I decided at this moment that there was something eye-catching to behold behind me and I just had to stare at it until the desire to laugh…had gone! It was at this point that we met some other people which was very nice as thus far we had only seen distance glimpses of solitary walkers. I had formed the impression that this was one of those walker locales frequented more by individual walkers as opposed to groups. The last time that I walked up this hill was roughly twenty years ago with Dave Hill (from Bolton), it was considerably warmer then, but I was a smoker and I seem to remember it taking a good deal longer to get to the top than it had today. I still yearned for a cigarette at the summit, even in the bracing wind…thank heavens I’ve stopped the suicidal habbit.

    Ingleborough?
    Ingleborough?
    Ahhh good old Winter Hill
    Ahhh good old Winter Hill

    The views from the summit where as wonderful as I had expected them to be. This location offers spectacular vitas to the north featuring: Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle Hill, Ingleborough and Longridge Fell. To our right was the Forest of Rossendale – an area that I have yet to begin exploring and of course slightly to our left,the ubiquitous Winter Hill, which always looks at its best when given a lovely dusting of snow. It has to be said that the temperature became only slightly warmer as we headed off in the direction of nearby Harcles Hill – this was the hill upon which I had previously believed Peel Tower did sit. It just goes to show how the memory fades when we don’t revisit a place enough times. We were aiming for the local landmark of Pilgrim’s Cross. I know roughly what this particular landmark looks like through watching another one of Adam Gallimore’s long distance walks – the Peeler’s Hike.

    Bull hill approaches
    Bull hill approaches
    A glorious sunset
    A glorious sunset
    The summit of Harcles Hill
    The summit of Harcles Hill
    Our way back across an unnamed 'vale'
    Our way back across an unnamed ‘vale’

    As we were both a bit on the cold side by now, and the light was beginning to fade a little, we decided to simply bag the Pilgrim’s cross then turn left and head for home. I did want to ascend Bull Hill and at one point I think that this might have only involved a fifty foot ascension over something like two hundred yards…but did I mention it was bitingly cold when static? Bull Hill would have to wait for a warmer time – I nominated summer! Oddly enough, the views of the route that we had already taken on the way out were now displayed to us and they were just gorgeous…

    Finally, after some very gingerly walking owing to Plantation Road being exceptionally slippery, I knew it was going to be worse descending than it was ascending, we made it back to the car. It took a good few moments of reversing down the ice-rink, as my poor old Xsara was simply not up to the job of powering up the road in order to turn around. We made it back to Karl’s house in good time and had a good old thaw out on route!

    Summary

    This was a great little walk in an area that I really should visit more often. This is the eastern fringe of the West Pennines with just three or four summits to add to the overall collection. The walk was not very strenuous, although the slog up to the summit plateau is not to be taken lightly, if you’re doing a very long walk in this area then this should be taken into account at the start! It was great to see Karl again and it was just as good to be back walking after a bit of a break. This was walk number twenty four – will I get to twenty six before New Year’s Day?

     

    No song of the walk for this walk: Karl and I when together can talk for England!

     


  • Sizzling on Snowdon

    Snowdon walk on Sunday 27th September, with Darren and Connor Peake

    Myself and Darren (my brother in law, well he would be if Christine and I ever get married) had talked about doing this walk a couple of weeks before our “Yorkshire Three Peaks in Reverse” walk in August. With that event out of the way / postponed until May 2016, we figured it would be great to get down to Llanberis before the end of Summer. And his son Connor would come along to – to keep us oldies from simply ambling up the mountain at a snail’s pace. We decided to do the classic of “Up the Pyg and down the Miners’ track”.

    On the day, we arrived at Llanberis a little after nine thirty and managed to park quite handily near the main A-road from which the Llanberis path commences. Yes, that’s right, at some point in time our planned route had taken a turn for the mainstream / tourist route and we would leave the “Piggin’ Miners” for another time.

    The weather was utterly glorious for a late September morning, we chatted with a pair of ladies whom had just got back from watching the sun rise atop Snowdon – what a fantastic spectacle that would have been. I was a bit concerned that Darren felt some discs move in his back – unlike me; he’s self-employed and I didn’t want him to go without income owing to crippling himself climbing up a 3,560′ mountain…he soldiered on!

    The opening mile of the Llanberris path is

    1. Tarmac
    2. Steep, no seriously steep!
    Assembly at the halfway café
    Assembly at the halfway café
    A view to the neighbouring giant from the halfway café.
    A view to the neighbouring giant from the halfway café.

    Okay, even for an urban walker such as myself, the tarmac was far from interesting or picturesque. That being said, I believe that it facilitated progress over the first half a mile. We kept swapping places with a trio of walkers – two adults and one daughter, then we marched past a couple of teenage girls who wanted to know where the next train stop was – oopss, it was with only a slightly heavy heart that we gave them the options of “At the top or at the bottom”, as I said…”oops!” Later – much later After some distance (I really couldn’t say how much) we began to merge with many more walkers and by the time we hit what I would term as the halfway stage (a café no less!) the chain that was; had now become more or less a throng. We stayed for a few moments, I had a slurp of my water and knocked back one of my orange gel things – it’s never a pleasant experience but it’s a mighty quick way of getting seventy plus calories inside me! Connor looked a little tired, he’s only…(I want to say twelve and now I’m thinking what a bad uncle I am!) and thus his body is not as efficient at shedding heat as Darren and I…who looked like we had run up the path thus far!

    The 'trio' from the start
    The ‘trio’ from the start
    Connor poses for Darren whilst I snap Darren!
    Connor poses for Darren whilst I snap Darren!

    When the trio of walkers from earlier on in the walk came into view; I decided it was time to push on. The next section started off easily enough…and then got seriously strenuous, alarmingly quickly. The gradient steepened, the throng went all kinds of wide as opposed to long and the terrain of the neighbouring giants became more and more ornate. Cliffs were visible from most aspects, I spotted a couple of ridge paths the likes of which would put Sharp Edge to shame and even began to notice the walkers on the path akin to ours – this was the Snowdon Ranger path…I have to confess it looked a lot harder than ours.
    Here are some more views of the day as sadly I don’t know the names of the peaks and mountains that we passed by:

    DSCF0593 DSCF0629 DSCF0620
    The Doorway
    The Doorway

    After walking through essentially a ‘doorway’ we got our first ‘proper’ view of the distant summit – the photo shows DSCF0621the view opposite the doorway. Now we were into a serious ‘slog’ up the side of the mountain and onto the top. I did feel the need to tell Darren and Connor that we were still lower down than a few neighbouring summits – and as we were going up the highest thing around, that meant we had a way to go yet. This didn’t sit well with one of the walkers near us at the time who joked “Did you have to say that?” Oops again! The path levelled out, I felt like cheering, but didn’t. All of a sudden, the summit seemed to get a whole lot nearer, and so did a procession of walkers, many of which were ascending the last stretch of the infamous ‘Pyg’ track or was this the ‘Miners’ Track’ – there are at least six ‘official’ routes up this giant and whilst I don’t think I’ll do them all, it’s nice to know what they are called.

    And so the last final push was upon us, we were well over half way into the climb / walk. The next push was a sustained one as opposed to a brutal one, more Whernside from Ribblehead than Pendle via the ‘steps’. And before long we were on to the ridge which would lead us to the apex of this mighty mountain. Even though there was a train to our left and a café and a visitor centre, the terrain really felt like a true mountain, albeit  one with a very busy summit. The trig point was like an open jar of honey next to a wasp hive – yes there were many more colourful similes I could have used then, but that was the least offensive! Somehow I avoided falling off the final rise up to the o/s column, some people should just touch the thing then bugger off – not do countless selfies which never quite turn out right anyway!

    We dropped back down off the summit and hit the café for a latté – okay that’s a bit Italian for the summit of a Welsh mountain, but what do the Welsh drink which is, y’know, Welsh? Exactly! We sat around full of a triumphant feeling, I can’t remember how long it had taken getting here…about two and a half hours I think, but it was mine and Connor’s first (and definitely not last) ascent, we wanted to savour it. It was lovely to sit watching people hit the summit from over the Watkins path, I distinctly remember an American-sounding lady ask a group of girls from a larger, mixed-gender party which route they had taken, to which one particularly well-spoken teenage girl responded ‘A hard one!’ Priceless!

    It would take us a further hour and a half to get back to Llanberris, although these days I drop like a greasy stone, I promised to wait for the Peakes (Connor and Darren), well there was no rush, the weather stayed beautiful and to be honest…they are such damned good company. I was proud for myself – ha I always am whenever I’ve walked up anything over a thousand feet, but I was also proud for Connor and to be honest after Darren’s back playing up at the car park at the start of the walk, he deserves some ‘man points’ for making it to the top and back, downhill is always considerably harder on the joints than going up. We arrived back at the café akin to the mountain railway station and I had another latté satisfied with the day’s walk.

    Summary

    This was the loftiest peak that I have ascended from top to bottom – okay I have been atop Mont Sant and Montserrat (near the top) both of which weigh in over four thousand feet, but they’re in Spain and don’t count…and I haven’t actually walked all the way up them! I have to admit to being something of a fan of Snowdon and it’s frustrating to not be able to name the accompanying summits – the ‘horseshoe walk’ is really tempting, but seeing as this covers a traverse of the imposing ‘Crib Goch’ which I promised Chris I would never attempt, I’ll probably never do that. I was somewhat disappointed to complete Scafell Pike in 2013 – the summit is awful to walk upon, Snowdon on the other hand was lovely and I can’t wait to go back and walk the ‘Watkins path’ which I gather is a real tester!

    I’ve been really lucky with the weather this year, and as such have been blessed to complete such classic walks as the Yorkshire Three Peaks, The Fairfield Horseshoe and now the mighty Snowdon. I think this was walk number nineteen, I don’t plan on taking a break from walking during the Winter this year…Pendle on New Year’s Day is a must-do, so as the nights draw in and the weather gets much worse it’ll be lovely to re-read this page and mentally re-visit this wonderful September day in excellent company and excellent weather up a very noble mountain indeed…excellent!

    No song of the walk for this one: I was too busy talking!


  • Pendle, old Pendle

    The walk of Sunday 13th of September, 2015. (18th walk this year)

    I’d been meaning to go for a solo walk over the old girl (yep, that sounds misogynistic enough!) for a couple of weeks since the Y3PiR marathon. This Sunday, with dubious weather forecast for the weekend, presented a golden opportunity and with the car finally running sound, well, who was I to turn down the chance to go to Barley once more?

    Actually, the weather was gorgeous on route to Preston, well, as soon as I had officially left Southport. I opted once again to take the route of A59 and A671 then on towards Barrowford but this time I went along and up Nogarth Ridge before dropping down to Roughlee and finally in to Barley where the car park / visitor centre was already full by 10:30. A lovely Scouse girl was trying her best to fit me in the car park, as this would probably involve my car being blocked in as soon as I alighted, I opted for simply using the entry to the car park as a turning point and parked on the main road instead.

    image002-1024x576
    The path back to Barley from Ings End

    Having booted-up, I was on route by 10:38. Previously, notably on the walking forum, I had declared my intention to take in Stang Top Moor first, but on the day I thought I would spend all of my energy on getting up the Barley steps first, then explore afterwards. This decision served me well. In between Barley Lane and Ings End I did not see another soul. This led to speedy progress along the start section and I was quite surprised to find myself at Brown House by eleven o’clock. The views were starting to open up a bit now, but, once again, I had resolved to take as few pictures as possible on the way up the hill so as to keep to a steady rhythm. However, I had promised myself that this was going to be a more relaxed, gentle walk and certainly not a race up to the top of the hill.

    With this in mind, I tentatively set off on the steps around the back of Pendle House – after traversing the usually sheep-filled paddock. I saw numerous small family groups which tended to be mostly one child and two adults, there was also one group of one adult and two children. During the next thirty minutes we would all pass each other on numerous occasions. I even had a thirty second sit down when I saw someone who looked fitter than me engaged in this activity.

    The trig point at Big End...again
    The trig point at Big End…again

    It was all very friendly on the hill, some of the kids were very definitely feeling the heat…and the slope, no matter how many times I do this route, that slope will stay relentless. I did the decent thing, I lied and told ‘struggling’ kids; ‘not far to go again’, sadly I knew otherwise, the fun had only just started! That being said, I could have fainted when the very pinnacle of the slope came into view, I was very near to the top already, and when the Downham ‘boundary wall’ came into view I was very close to being flabbergasted. I checked my watch to see that lo and behold – it was only 11:30 and I hadn’t been walking for an hour yet! Although it was in my head to watch my feet and to take care on route to the summit…I had to go for the sub-one hour finish. Left foot down, and charge…I made it to the summit trig point at 11:35 – thuis taking me just 57 minutes from Barley Road to the ordnance survey column! Impressed just doesn’t seem to convey the depth of emotion, pride…I was well chuffed!

    As I have scores of photographs of the trig point, I was happy to let the other walkers (mainly extremely tired but celebratory; children and their parents) take over the trig point, whilst they all posed for a dozen different cameras. I happened to notice that the views north were quite decent for a change and could make out easily the profiles of Parlick Pike, Longridge Fell and even little Beacon Fell. In addition to this, Ingleborough and even Pen y Ghent were just about visible but my camera was not good enough to get a decent picture of two of the Three Yorkshire peaks.

    Longridge, Parlick and Beacon Fell.
    Longridge, Parlick and Beacon Fell.
    image005-1024x576
    More distant, Bowland Fells
    The summit promenade from the Downham wall to the trig point.
    The summit promenade from the Downham wall to the trig point.
    Deerstones, with its scree slope
    Deerstones, with its scree slope

    Having consumed all three sub-bars of my bounty bar, I tapped the trig point, and set off once more. I fancied the idea of wandering over to Spence Moor via the stone slabbed path down to Pendle Water, up and onto Ogden Clough and over to the bleakness that is Spence Moor. This was sadly only lacking in one detail…there is, as of yet, no such single path to facilitate this desire and I ended up going “off piste” – once again. The upside of my next thirty minutes worth of wandering around somewhat aimlessly and having to retrace my steps; was that quite by accident, I discovered the hidden treasure which is Deerstones, not only is this an outstandingly desolate and yet beautiful area of Pendle, it’s very remote too – handy when nature calls…I imagine, as the rest of Pendle is somewhat exposed! I passed just a handful of people  who were taking the lovely and effortless route in from the Nick of Pendle, within twenty minutes our paths collided again as I realised and rectified my mistake rather than compound it by carrying on towards parts unknown…the last time that I did this in Pendle was in 2010 and I still have the psychological scars of twisting my ankle every fifty feet at Spence Moor…it can be a cruel and heartless environment at Pendle.

    image027Nevertheless, I continued my walk and finally stopped retracing my steps when I spied a family descending a path image028that I believed would take me once more to a crossing of Pendle Water. This was a steep drop down, I must have descended about three hundred feet in less than a quarter of a mile. As luck would have it, and for a change, my feet didn’t let me down and before long I was on the Boar Clough side of Ogden Clough – if that makes sense! From here it would be simple to simply traverse the side of the hill and on to Barley Green and return to the visitor centre, however, my watch (still stuck on Mediterranean time) let me know that I still had time to continue wandering. Thus I did take the route passing the Upper Ogden Reservoir, but then I crossed the valley, having first stopped to admire this object to the left and right of the this text.

    Now it was up into the gloomy and eerie Fell Wood. The only thing that is nice about Fell Wood…is its name. The path is steep, the trees are a bit bleak and characteless and the general feel of the place instills in one a sense of ‘do not dawdle, you’re being watched!’

    Witches Galore at Newchurch in Pendle
    Witches Galore at Newchurch in Pendle

    image037-169x300At the summit of Saddlers Height – the hill at the Southern edge of Fell Wood, I took a few minutes out to just admire then view – the path through the wood is that steep! From here I had the choice of dropping steeply down to Wellhead Road and onto Newchurch or taking the hard-to-follow-on-the-ground path down to Barley Green via the rear of Cross Lane Farm. Effectively the latter route would nullify the point of ascending Fell Wood, is notorious for being a bit on the wet side and would present me with another chance to get lost…I went to Newchurch instead. This option also gave me the chance to call in at Witches Galore whereby I could buy some more fluids as I was running short and the weather, being so warm, was not helping. I didn’t have a lot of cash on me so had to buy a key fob or two in order to build up the bill enough to pay by card.

    image035-1024x576After my shop stop, I opted to walk down Jinny Lane because I had never taken this route before but had driven past both entrances to the street so was fairly certain of where I was going. I was right in that I didn’t get lost, but I had no idea just how long the road was, actually not that long but on a hot day having already walked a good old distance, every footstep seemed to be a bit of a drag. Finally I arrived at Ridge Lane, Roughlee and took the left hand turn to take me back to Barley. After around four hours walking…I was a bit tired but elated that I had got up Pendle quicker than ever and finally found Deerstones – ‘though I’d never thought to look for it prior to this day.  In summing, this was one of those classic walks that you remember at the end of the year when the rains hit hardest. It’s always wonderful to be in the company of Old Pendle and today was no exception.

    Stats:

    Total distance around 8.5 miles

    Ascension around 1,800’

    Song of the walk: Emmelie De Forest – Drunk Tonight


  • Pen-ny not so dreadful!

    The walk of Saturday the 23rd of May, 2015.

    It was a bank holiday weekend and I planned to do two outings, Rivington and Pendle. Both hills were currently on a count of thirteen ascensions, so which one was to make it to the magical figure of fourteen first?

    Well, obviously it was always going to be Pendle. In no small way was this thanks to the combination of my IPad, a lead which goes from the I Pad to my car stereo and finally the fact that I downloaded a lot of Ellie Goulding’s songs lately, so I had plenty to listen to on what was quite an enjoyable car journey – given that our car’s wheel balancing is kind of like blancmange!

    So Pendle it was then, en route I called in at Fylde Road pharmacy for some factor 30 – although I might like lobsters, Chris kind of freaks out when I come home looking like one! So with the temperature set to hit at least 20 degrees I armed myself with the sun cream that I can still smell now, several hours later. Also I called in to get some more petrol. Thus, after dropping Chris off at 11:22 I finally made it to the lovely village of Barley for around 13:15, there was not a space to be had on the Barley Visitor Centre car park, so I had to park on Barley New Road – this saved me a pound, so no loss there then.

    Pendle from Barley Common
    Pendle from Barley Common

    Pendle Hill looked tremendous from Barley Common, the sight of it popping over the top of Pendle Inn was just enticing. I was kind of umming and arring (yes, thought that might not get through the spell checker!) about which route to take. Had I the full day to myself I would have plumped for Stang Top Moor first then Pendle via the Pendle House stepped route. However, it did occur to me that there was a route right ahead of me that offered tremendous kudos in terms of its’ sheer challenging aspect – ‘The Middle Way’. It could be very easy to write off as innocuous, any route featuring the phrase ‘middle’. However, in this instance middle simply refers to the location of the route as it splits off from the steep, stepped route around the back of the farmstead, Pendle House. That route in itself has fitter people than me gasping for air and admiring the views…every fifty footsteps!

    And so it was to be that I would explode my heart by taking what I have often referred to as the lunatic path – I seemed to fit the bill most appropriately! On a couple of occasions, I had witnessed lunatics taking this route, which is essentially, straight up the side of the hill with very little obvious zig-zagging (oh behave spell checker!), in my contorted logic, if sheep could get up there, so could I – we have similar d.n.a. (What? We don’t? Opps), and I know they are four wheel drive (so to speak) but to me, gravity is still gravity and if something with an I.Q. of around 70 could climb up the side of the hill, so could I!

    I did make quite impressive progress, overtaking seventeen people en route to Ings End in twenty two minutes. Oh my was there some slow walking people out today? Some people seemed mystified by every gatepost / kissing post (I truly hate that description!) and took an eternity to get through each one. I didn’t want to appear rude, so I kind of held back when I could and led with my left foot when the opportunity arose (seriously, try this, unless you are left footed, then it won’t make any difference). I went speeding all the way to Brown House, Ings End, then at those bloomin’ twin fields at Pendle House I once again slowed right down. Seriously, I actually would make speedier progress up the ‘Middle Way’ than I did across these two fields. All the same, within about eight minutes I had made it to Pendle House, here I stayed for a minute or two, staring at the beast of a climb that I now had ahead of me. As much as I wanted to take a photo of the arduous trek I had ahead of me, I knew that if I got the camera out my whole tour de force would subside. So, the camera stayed in its’ holster (okay my pocket!) and onwards I went.

    I won’t lie, it was a bit difficult at first, then to make up for that, it got even worse! The slope was more of a drop to be honest. There would be no way in hell that you would ever catch me descending via this route. But, on the ground there were only a few stretches of the path when the path, for want of a better phrase, vanished. that being said, it did not take a degree in hill walking (how cool would that be?) to pick up the route once more – in a nutshell, GO UP until there is no more up to go. I sat down on a number of occasions, sometimes deliberately, once as part of a complicated uphill stumble I’ve been perfecting since Karl took me up Scafell the hard way! Cheers mate!

    The trig point at Pendle Hill
    The trig point at Pendle Hill
    More people at the summit
    More people at the summit

    From the parting of the routes, just behind Pendle House, the trig point had been my target, my visible target that is. Then, halfway up the side of the hill, it too vanished. Thanks to the lovely weather (yay, they got it right for once, oops sorry Lucy!), there was absolutely no mist to obscure the summit. Pretty soon, although I was no longer looking at my watch to tell how soon, I was at the last push, and what a push that was. This gradient was up there with the lake district giants! I’d say it was as steep as the same point on Great Gable – but without all those rocks. I was utterly astounded to see the trig point pretty much straight in front of me, less than twenty yards away. I tapped the trig point, and looked at my watch…it was 14:31, I had left the car at 13:22. This meant that I had gone the hardest way up Pendle Hill in the shortest time! I was buzzing.

    Other ascenders on the summit
    Other ascenders on the summit

    I got talking to a friendly sort of chap at the trig point, in truth I got talking to everyone I was so elated I just wanted to share! Poor sods, I must have bored everyone to death. It did make a nice change to be able to stand and talk at the summit, it’s normally blowing a gale and freezing. I offered to take a few people’s photos on their phones. I didn’t want anyone taking mine…and no bugger offered anyway! I ended up talking to a tall blonde, robust looking woman about next month’s Yorkshire three peaks challenge and she replied that she’d already done that. I wasn’t put out – I’d gone a harder way up Pendle than her ‘Boar Clough’ route which she had found challenging…I did wonder how she’d got along on Pen y Ghent then as it’s infinitely harder.

     

     

    Path to Under Pendle
    Path to Under Pendle
    Under Pendle
    Under Pendle

    Enough time passed by at the summit for me to have unwired and I made my decision regarding the descent. I suppose that I could have taken the steps, which would have been good practice for dropping off Whernside next month. However, I didn’t want my calf and other leg muscles to jam up like normal so I opted for trying to find Under Pendle’s lovely, if somewhat steep drop off. Eventually I did find the right way down, but not before going off piste and ending up in a place whereby if I’d have gone any further downhill I would have then had to straddle a barbed wire fence in order to go on. So, I retraced my steps and decided to just follow the fell runners as I didn’t think that their route would have them going up and down Boar Clough. I was right and before very long at all the tiny area of Under Pendle came into view.

    At the bottom of the tarmac path which leads from Under Pendle to Barley Green – about which there is nothing green. I slowed down considerably as it was a nice day, I was now no longer in danger of being hit by a fell runner. After a while one fell runner passed me by, I’d seen her on her way up near the summit, she reminded me of someone from my very distant past – there’s always the chance that this was her daughter – or even grand daughter, they breed them young in Bolton y’know! The cheeky mare was slipstreaming me for a few yards! Honestly, I can think of no other reason for her to be so close to me on a path which is at least twelve feet wide and had no-one else upon it. She was stunningly beautiful though in the four seconds that I could see her face.

    As has happened on all of my recent walks, I was all mixed blessings at the end of the walk. Of course I was still quite elated at my improving fitness and that every time I’ve ‘done Pendle’ recently my time has improved. However, sometimes it’s so nice to be carefree and out and about walking that the end can simply signify the end of it…if only temporarily. ‘Ah, never mind’ I thought and consoled myself with the prospect of a good old radio sing-along on the journey home. First I bought and consumed a “Frappé” and a Latte which must have been made with full fat milk – it was horrid, so was the Frappé. I did have a good old sing-along to the radio on the way home!

    All in all a good walk.
    Milage – about five miles
    Ascension – about one thousand feet
    Time – roughly three hours (69 minutes ascending)

    Song of the Walk: Years and Years by King

    Update: I’ve just managed to find (from my Facebook pages, of all places) these three pictures showing the path I took yesterday. Note: the pictures were not taken yesterday:

    The Middle Wat
    The Middle Way
    A distant shot of the two major routes up Pendle from this angle. The middle way is also visable.
    A distant shot of the two major routes up Pendle from this angle. The middle way is also visable.
    A close up of the "Middle Way"
    A close up of the “Middle Way”