Yesterday I attempted a walk with the Southport Ramblers at Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.
The walk had not been subject to reconnaissance and as such the initial massive ascent had not been mentioned – just a bit of a climb. After something like a quarter of a mile my right shin muscles were beginning to burn, after half a mile they were really hurting and after probably one mile I had to withdraw from the walk. This was a direct result of a failure to warm up before the walk. We had all been sat on a coach for the best side of three hours except for a twenty minute spell where we sat drinking McDonalds coffee.
As a result of my withdrawal I was faced with the dilemma of either waiting back at Holmfirth for the rest of the walkers to return and then feel as miserable as sin as they would recant tales from the trek, or, make my way back home via Bus to Huddersfield, train to Bolton via Manchester and then car ride to Southport when Christine picked me up.
I do intend to walk with the Ramblers again, I cannot guarantee that it will be with Southport and I am sure that it will not be before I have lost a lot of weight as this is obviously a contributing factor in my Holmfirth failure. It is a shame as I really wanted to go to Coniston next month but I cannot find it within me to undertake a “C” walk (usually 6 miles in length with not much in the way of ascensions). I did not anticipate category “B” walks being so difficult, but, given the pace at which the silly male walk leaders have decided to inflict upon Southport Group’s walkers then I feel that this will remain out of reach…for now!
Well I’d promised myself to return to Belmont Moor after the walk of the 29th of April had to be aborted owing to a fire breaking out. On Saturday June 11th I was presented with another opportunity to finish things off! The plan was to park at the Barn at Rivington, walk the long trek along Sheep House Lane and Moor Road over Great Hill then down over Redmond’s and Spitlers Edges, up the north face of Winter Hill, down the service road until turning off this and over the Two Lads summit before dropping down to the Belmont Road (track) heading towards and up the northern face of Rivington Pike and then taking the stony road to the drive and my car – utterly shattered. That was the plan, read on…
I parked at The Great Hall Barn car park – on the lane and made my way up the winding side path which is a stone and mud, cobbled in places, kind of path, hard to describe and when you’re feet are tired, hard to walk on. Upon reaching the northern car park at the eastern continuation of Parson’s Bullough Road I headed for the pavement that soon expires on Parson’s Bullough Road to begin my amble through this side of Rivington over to White Coppice. This meant first of all going over Sparks Bridge and a matter of some moments later Alance Bridge. To be honest, unless the afore mentioned is some kind of engineering marvel that took immense planning or it changed the lives of those whom live near to here then I don’t see what is so special for it to be somewhat of a local landmark! Anyway, from here on it was quite a nice walk on quite flat roads until reaching the junction of Moor Road and Knowsley Road where instead of repeating a mistake from a previous walk by going with the natural curve of the road to the left (and ending up lost at the Yew Tree), I ventured to the right and into the shady footpath that runs through the east of Anglezarke Reservoir.
A bit of zig-zagging on this lane and I was heading up through the car park and onto Moor Road proper. On my way up towards Jepson’s farm the incline got a bit steeper but nothing that I couldn’t cope with and the scenery on my right hand side got steadily better as distant hills such as Hurst Hill and Grain Pole Hill came into view. Next came a substantial drop down hill as I entered what I shall term as the boundary of White Coppice. A right turn off the paved section and through a large gate then brought me onto a fairly decent path that would take me through the heart of White Coppice with the crag rats favourite of Stronsrey Bank on my right hand side, eventually White Coppice cricket ground on my left hand side and a myriad of sheep at times all around me. Here I took note of my surroundings intently and observed what I perceived to be the start of the climb up to Great Hill – I was right.
The first few hundred yards were as steep as anything that I had previously encountered anywhere – and that includes places such as the Pendle steps at Barley, the north face of Winter Hill, Catbells and Ingleborough! Fortunately this stretch didn’t last long and by the time that I had gone past the various “Trial Shafts” and ruined farmsteads, although not flat, the route was now at a much more manageable incline. I bumped into a number of fellow walkers and it has to be said that for once I seemed to be having a much better time talking to people and taking photo’s (on my rather rubbish phone camera) than I was having walking…note to self, cut back on the ciggies again and you’ll enjoy the walking more!
The path carried on relentlessly and after some time I finally observed the distant Great Hill – my main objective! At Drinkwaters – apparently named after there being a very clear water source in the immediate vicinity, I took shelter from the sun which was now beginning to beat down quite mercilessly and the wind that had picked up once more – this was going to lead to a dry goat let alone a fatone! In a matter of moments I was at the summit of Great Hill…a few moments later and I was attempting to eat a Tesco deep-filled Roast Chicken salad sandwich in the midst of a small-scale, localised tornado that was intent on making my nutritional consumption somewhat arduous!
In spite of the driving wind I must have spent some twenty minutes atop Great Hill trying (and failing) to capture the wonderful views of Pendle to the north, Darwen Tower to the east, the three peaks of Yorkshire even further to the north east, the sky was beginning to look quite dark by comparison now so it was with attempted full speed that I set off on the wonderful slab path that runs from the southern base of Great Hill via Redmond’s Edge and finishes at the start of Spitlers Edge.
It was at the bottom of Great Hill that I noticed that part of the sole of my boot was detaching itself! From the joining of the toe and sole there was now a very definite gap that was increasing with every footstep and within 100 metres or so it was beginning to trip me up! Picture the scenario: I am parked roughly three miles away (as the crow flies) at Rivington, most escape routes would actually take me considerably out of my way, the sky is getting darker and darker by the second and the added exertion of now having to lift my right foot further off the ground so that I didn’t fall over was now beginning to really tell on me. There could be no aborting of this walk – hell it wasn’t a pride thing – it was a practicality issue – there was nothing left other than to carry on.
Descending Spitlers Edge is normally a thing of joy. Today it was one perilous step after another and seemed to be taking forever, this was no longer a nice peaceful walk over the moors – with the wind howling all around this was now an odyssey, a trial, a saga. It was with an heavy heart that at the bottom of the north face of Winter Hill I took the sensible decision not to climb that particular beast today. All of my instincts warned me that if I went up that ridiculously steep and narrow path then I might be coming straight back down at a speed of 32 metres per second, per second! I joined Rivington Lane intent on taking the Belmont Road track turning when it became available. In less than 200 metres I had taken the turning and was heading slowly off towards the direction of “The Dovecote” or “Pigeon Tower”. After not 100 further metres I came across another path on the left hand side that would lead up to the summit of Winter Hill – this is yet another path that is not listed on multimap or Ordnance Survey maps but is very obviously a clear, constructed path that someone has had to spend money on for it to exist. I will return one day to take the path up the north west side of the hill.
After many more hundreds of yards another path on the left hand side came into view and I deduced that this must lead up to the summit of Noon Hill – I would definitely return to this in the future! A group of walkers came down off the path and we would swap leader roles until the end of my time on Belmont Road. All the time whilst on this track the views on the right hand side over Rivington, Horwich, Wigan etc just kept on getting better, the sun had broken through the clouds once more and I was beginning to enjoy myself once more…save for the on-going soundtrack of my right boot’s sole flapping against the rest of it. The junction of Belmont Road and the track then takes one to the right and down an highly stony track marked the end of my time in the moors for this weekend. It was 16:35 hours when I reached my parked car on the driveway lane in front of Rivington Barn.
Was I disappointed to have not ascended and descended Winter Hill, Two Lads and Rivington Pike? Yes, but at the same time as I sit here now typing this I am equally as pleased that I didn’t tear a muscle through effectively trying to hop up one of the steepest hillsides in Lancashire. I had owned those boots since 2009 and they can be replaced and when all is said and done I had finally rounded off the walk from April 29th by ascending Great Hill. The walk in total was something like ten miles in length – still not longer than my “Moss and Birkdale” walk in April – but at least the scenery had been better by tenfold!
You know how some people run off to do the national three peaks: Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon (listed here in north-south order before anyone complains that I have them in the wrong order according to altitude!) in one day, and others do the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough (in order of how they are traditionally ascended on the day). Yet others (rather fit others I hasten to state) do the Lancashire Three of Longridge Fell, Easington Fell and our old friend Pendle Hill…the list goes on but tends to stay in its’ triplicate peak format.Of course there are exceptions, none of which I have attempted owing to their distance from Southport – the scenario being that I do not want to have to drive 75+ miles, climb multiple summits then drive the return 75+ miles.
It struck me the other day that my old friend and favourite Pendle has many, many attached foothills, this would be because of it being such an huge bulk of land, some twenty five miles in perimeter. Would it be feasible to devise a walk which took in a number of these foothills in one day-long traverse? For added respect one might start or finish at the big old giant or have it as the central section. Pendle has at least twelve lesser summits, some such as Weets Hill are actually quite a distance away from the parent peak (dodged a bullet or two there by allowing Pendle to remain androgynous). In my list of the peaks of Pendle I have (thus far) these names and heights:
Pendle Hill – 1827′
Spence Moor – 1509′
Weets Hill – 1250′
Black Hill – 1430′
Stang Top Moor – 1027′
Saddlers Height – 1236′
Driver Height – 1236′
Ogden Hill – 931′
Barley Hill -967′
Nick of Pendle -994′
Badger Wells Hill -1430′ *
Apronful Hill -1102′ *
* Indicates that no discernible height has been located by the author as of 27/5/11
Now that would be some walk, and if I were to attempt it in the order implied above then it would be very difficult – more or less impossible. Possibly the best option would be to start from Barley, go over Barley Hill and Ogden, drop down to the bridge over the Lower Odgen Reservoir, go up and through Fell Wood, cross over Saddlers and Driver Heights then head east to Spence Moor, head north to Black Hill then south to Badger Wells hill and Apronful then head south to the Nick of Pendle, from here one would have to have a rest before turning north and heading towards Ashdean Clough – this will mean wading across Howcroft Brook before a massive drop down towards Ogden Clough and another stream fording!
Now we are set for the second part of the walk as we go gradually up Ogden Clough following the paved slabs past the scout cairn (pile of stones as the O/S rather none-flatteringly words it!). After eventually winding our way to the o/s point at the summit take in the views – relax, this is now the pinnacle of the walk – alas it isn’t then end of it as now it’s a long drop into Downham and over to Weets 7.1 miles away! Even worse news is that once we have reached Weets Hill we then come straight back again and head off over to Stang Top Moor for the finale! Continue reading → Post ID 1633
But the onset of a not-very-warm monsoon in the Pendle Hill area yesterday severely impacted to such a degree that I only walked something like 10% of what I had hoped.
All the same it was nice to find an not-self-chartered area at Pendle in the guise of Bootham Wood, Aitken Wood and Stang Top Moor / Moor Top (the jury is still out on the word order for that!). The initial quarter of a mile was nothing short of a doddle – owing to most of it being either flat or slightly downhill and the weather being still clement(ish). I was made up by the sight of a Roe Deer on the car park at Barley and then later deflated by the lack of clarity on my phone’s photograph (11 months now until I can get a better smartphone!).
The path up the side of the moor was of grass with no real signs of there being a path at all and I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was just the one vertical style to ascend…the rest being more of a gatepost fashion. The trees at Aitken Wood were not necessarily eerie in appearance – except for those that had been upturned and their root-balls all seemed to be facing me! The sounds being made were somewhat alarming though; as some did leave me with the impression that they were almost swaying in the wind – my speed picked up immeasurably whilst traversing this particular wood for fear of a conifer falling upon me! I don’t like walking through woods, forests, glades or any collective nouns for groups of trees.
At one point I did stumble across an area that I instinctively knew would leave to a great viewing point…and it did, although the image that I captured using my mobile phone camera (and because I was being harassed by a curious bee) left a lot to be desired…take my word for it, good views are to be had from Stang Top Moor / Aitken Wood.
Well having read the book last summer, it may soon be time to experience the event; as I did have a walk planned for this Friday – the thirteenth!
The weather forecast for the Clitheroe area for Friday is looking appalling with both a.m and p.m. set to have showers. With September becoming nearer on a day-by-day basis I really don’t want to fall into the habit of “calling off” walks owing to inclement conditions. So I’ll have to go in order to practice having my spirits totally squashed by rain as happened last year on the three peaks walk itself.
Okay, there were more reasons as to why I didn’t complete last year’s walk other than the weather: poor physical condition, poor clothing choices, the astounding speed at which my colleagues bounded up Pen-y-ghent! Take your pick! My walks this year put me in a better stance, their distance and in the case of that shocking climb up the north side of Winter Hill, the terrain will (I’m sure) better prepare me for similar conditions in September. Nothing other than experience will prepare me for inclement weather. As I have already stated…I have to go…on Friday.
From Winter Hill mast to Two Lads is normally an almost sedate walk – apart from the ever-present wind, but on this day I seemed to have something of a spring in my step and within twenty minutes of leaving the mast building behind me I was atop Crooked Edge Hill gazing at the now rather messy summit cairns and cursing the haziness of the day for spoiling what is normally a fantastic view. I spent some time at the cairns discussing my planned assault on the Yorkshire 3 peaks in September with a poor soul whom had only come up the hill to get away from the Royal Wedding.
Within ten minutes I was on route for the daunting northern ascent of Rivington Pike. If you think that the southern route up via the steps is difficult then this approach would give you nightmares! It is one hell of a slog and I would give credit to the mountain biker that I saw taking the winding track route which effectively covers the western front. There should be a saying ‘If it isn’t windy when you are on Rivington Pike then you’re asleep!’. As usual when I wanted to take in some food atop “Rivvy” but there were gusts of wind strong enough to deter one from such folly and it wasn’t until another hour or so later that I was able to scoff the second half of my almond Flap Jack and take on a lot more refreshment – the day had turned from being simply warm to really quite hot. It was interesting to note that someone has begun constructing a cairn at the side of the Dovecote Tower.
Next was the part of the walk of which I readily admit to being apprehensive as it was all unfamiliar environment for a good number of miles. The route that I had planned would take me past the western most car park of the Rivington Pike region and over country lanes and bridges towards White Coppice. Herein lies the problem: I am now finding with more and more ordnance survey maps – a superabundance of detail that leads to confusion around a point that I have to traverse. This in effect caused me to take a left turn that I did not need to take and end up with Anglezarke reservoir on my right hand side when it should have been on my left.
The more pragmatic reader might suggest that I am terrible at map reading…they would be correct as I seemed to be heading further south when in fact I should have been heading north towards White Coppice and eventually onto Drinkwaters and up to Great Hill for the final stretch. After asking for directions at the Yew Tree pub at Lane Ends (which were essentially ‘turn around and go back a mile or two’) I headed off back across the road/bridge that carries one over the meeting of Anglezarke and Upper Rivington reservoir (yes I must have loved walking this day as I did so much of it!) and ultimately turned left (straight on) towards Anglezarke Reservoir Park and Moor Road. Having inadvertently taken a shortcut straight through a car park I decided to sit down and have a moment – or ten.
I noticed a walker with poles walking down the lane and decided to ask him for directions. I enquired if the way forward would lead to White Coppice and he sort of concurred and further responded as to where I was heading. I replied that I was ultimately heading for Great Hill and then onto the A675 where I had parked and then came back the earth shattering news. “You can’t go over Great Hill…the moors are on fire and it’s all blocked off!”.
This rocked my world! how was I going to get back over to Tockholes which lay some five miles away – the short-blocked route! Fortunately Stuart (the bearer of bad tidings) was parked nearby and would give me a lift back to my car. So it was back to Anglezarke and Upper Rivington reservoirs again – this would now be my third time of walking over this so-and-so road in less than an hour.
During the ride over to near Thorny Bank Plantation I was impressed and alarmed at the scope of the fire, the smoke of which I had witnessed nearly four hours earlier atop Winter Hill. I lost count of the number of Fire Engines that I saw and was more than a bit concerned when we rounded the bend to Crookfield Road and saw that my car park was “taped off”. This was a precautionary measure to deter new arrivals from parking up and setting off to their respective firey death on the moors!
Here and now, many hours later I am not bitter that I never got to finish the walk that I had planned two months in advance. I am relieved that I asked Stuart for directions as otherwise I might have walked another few miles out of my way only to be then denied access to the moors near Great Hill. As it was; my walk’s total mileage was only shortened by five miles or so and the sensation of finally getting up Winter Hill via Horden Stoops was unequivocal, unparalleled and uplifting. I will do the walk again – some day, whether this is before or after the Yorkshire three peaks marathon remains to be seen, but for now there are other walks to do…
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.
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.
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!
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 more
We never did get to Tockholes to do the Cartridge Hill massif – that is a wild and lonely walk that we really will have to get to later on in the year when there is no threat of rain and it hasn’t rained for a good four or five days.
Instead it was a perfect day for a lovely ramble around the perimeter and summit of Beacon Fell near Garstang and Chipping. The ever-present haze meant that only very close views were available from the fantastic vantage point on the summit – with Parlick looking oddly larger than normal hmm…Anyway it was a good way to spend about an hour casually strolling up the very small hill and you just can’t fault an hill that has a café and visitor centre at it’s base 🙂
With the benefit of hindsight it was perhaps a good thing that we didn’t go to Tockholes to do the Cartridge hill assault the weather forecast for the area was not good and my overall level of fitness has rapidly declined after the cold that I had recently – those hills in the West Pennines are not tall or for that matter steep but the terrain really can be rough!
It seems like a long and miserable time since I last did an hill walk! Actually it has been just three weeks since Chris and I climbed the not-so-mighty Great Hill I have been eager to get out on the hills ever since, targeting the two minor peaks of Harrock Hill and Parbold Hill as part of a six miles pleasant walk as the next to ‘tick off’. However, as frequent readers will have already noted; on the first available Sunday we got to our car park with the intention of setting off – but just not the fitness to do so. So we rescheduled that walk for the following weekend, either a Saturday or Sunday would suffice. This also proved to be beyond us as the cold that I was starting to succumb to the week before came back with a vengence so severe that at one time I thought that it might never go.
It’s practically gone now – thankfully. However, I do have a mental rule to the effect of ‘if an hill or hills has been targetted but not completed for two concurrent weeks then it must yield its’ position at the top of the list’. I am fully aware of how anal or even banal this sounds so I’ll break it down a bit: If you want something and are denied it on a couple of occaisions then it becomes an obsession – and that’s never a good thing!
Ultimately we are now left in the position of not knowing where to go this weekend for a walk, and, with it being so close to pay day (for both of us) then put it this way “London’s Out!” – so are The Lake District, The Peak District is always off the list, The Dales are out and so is North Wales. That doesn’t leave much…I would do Pendle again at the drop of an hat, but Chris is not as much of a fan of that area as I am. The rest of the Forest of Bowland could be accessible – I would love to go to Bleasdale again – especially pretty Parlick and soggy but solid Fair Snape Fell. Longridge – as ever, beckons but (again) every time that we set off with the intention of parking near the fell and wandering up there – we can’t get parked and end up driving to Barley for me to do Pendle once more. In the opposite direction then we’ve already done Rivington Pike a month ago so we can exclude ‘Rivvy’ as an option and as much as I would love to go to Winter Hill or Great Hill – I really am saving them for another day (the much fabled ‘Big walk on the moors’ – okay it’s much-fabled in my head alone).
The destination that I have arrived at (mentally) is the little massif surrounding Darwen (Jubilee) Tower. Here are an half dozen summits that are all around the 375-402 meters range. We have Darwen Hill itself, Cartridge Hill (the heighest of the group at 402M) Black Hill, Brown Lowe, Turn Lowe and even Wives Hill(!?). Plenty at which we can aim, a natural ridge walk doesn’t appear on the online o/s maps so it may involve a fairly undulating walk but at least the terrain should be dry(ish) if this spell of nice weather continues (shall we bet on this?)
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!
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.
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)!
We 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.
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.
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: