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  • Photographs taken on Monday 21st April 2014

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  • 2016 My Walking Year in review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Until next year…

     

     

     

     


  • Tottering around Turton Heights

    The walk along the edge of Turton Heights on Saturday 28th February, 2015

    As part of the great familiarisation in preparation of next year’s Anglezarke Amble, I was to visit the south eastern side of Turton Moor. Turton Heights had been on my ever-expanding ‘to-do’ list, it is a “West Pennine” top after all but even before today’s visit (and certainly after), I have to concede it’s not a star attraction, being something of a gentle lump protruding from the less notorious section of Turton Moor near the border of Darwen and Bolton. The summit itself is not even the highest point on the wide ridge that stretches for a few hundred metres in an odd north west to south east snake which starts on Green Arms Road, peaks at the quagmire that is Cheetham Close (complete with iron-age stone circle) and terminates at Horrorbin Fold next to the Jumbles Reservoir, Bradshaw / Bromley Cross, Bolton.

    Owing to certain logistical irregularities I didn’t get to Karl’s house in Darwen until around 12:45 but within fifteen minutes we were at the set-off-point at the lay-by on Green Arms Road. Our first few couple of hundred yards would undoubtedly be the most daunting, most anxious and most downright un-enjoyable as we turned left on the the A666 and made our way to the stile with cars roaring passed us doing at least the national speed limit and probably a great deal more. It was such a relief to get to the stile and begin our first stretch of moorland.

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    A distant Winter Hill is right behind us.
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    Charters Moss Plantation with Spitlers and Redmonds Edges behind.

    There was plenty of evidence around that it wasn’t long since a couple of hundred walkers had bounded through these parts, the grass was flattened, the mud was stirred up and myriads of footprints could be seen. Of course this was the result of this year’s Anglezarke Amble which had taken place on Valentine’s day – yes this is evidence of the amount of time, research and practice that I am putting in to next years event! Tiny bump though it may be, this side of Turton Moor is a twisted ankle waiting to happen! The first few yards were quite literally a walk in the park, followed by an-going dilemma of where to put one’s leading foot next! The ground at this patch of land was inconsistent with itself! One stretch of land would be at one level and the next would rise or drop but be akin to another patch doing just the reverse. Various gullies could be found without much investigation and so could what looked like (to me) abandoned plough-furrows (better description here when available). All in all the opening stretch of the walk – facing the majority of the western aspect of Turton Heights, was a rugged affair, thankfully over in a few minutes without any obvious injuries.

    Karl and the distant views to Ramsbottom's Peel Tower
    Karl and the distant views to Ramsbottom’s Peel Tower
    Turton and Entwistle reservoir looms at the end of the natural path.
    Turton and Entwistle reservoir looms at the end of the natural path.

    If I thought that the first few hundred yards was bad, then the walk along the side of the lump on a path(?) which went in and out of vision along with meandering up and down the slope to the summit of this hill; made the opening stretch look like a teddy-bear’s picnic…and I loved it! The video I have seen of someone walking along this path made me aware that we might be in for a little bit of a struggle – in all honesty Karl has probably done worse, considerably worse. For me however, this was and up and down, ankle threatening, roller coaster of a walk – which fortunately for us potential “Amblers” is before, as opposed to after Darwen Hill and Great Hill…after would be just awful! We had scheduled a quick nip to the top of Turton Heights in order to bag it, but, the ground was a combination of ridiculously heavy and in parts lethally slippery that we decided to postpone that until the drier days of high summer…after a good long drought!

    The path continues towards the unseen road.
    The path continues towards the unseen road.

    Eventually, we reached a large gate and made our way across a pasture with a bit of a downhill gradient. This was simple and almost care-free after the earlier stretches of the walk and before long we were crossing the road which separates the open moor from the Turton and Entwistle reservoir site. The path became very indistinct here and we essentially winged it across the field using the logic that a field generally has stiles diagonally across from each other – it did! This field for me was one of the highlights as I could imagine crossing this green oasis of smoothness when doing ‘the Amble’ next year and being relieved that for now some of the hard work would be behind me. We eventually made our way onto the paths that escort one around the reservoir in search of Edge Lane… or at least the track that would lead us there, via the Strawbury Duck (and no, that is how it’s spelt).

    The Strawbury Duck pub
    The Strawbury Duck pub
    Karl purveys whilst I attempt to take a photo of the hill we can't name.
    Karl purveys whilst I attempt to take a photo of the hill we can’t name.

    We must have spent about thirty minutes at the pub, but as I was beginning to cool down quite rapidly I was glad that we never stayed for a second shandy and instead took to Edge Lane. The tarmac path quickly deteriorated into a more natural, rural style, with added water and we began to ascend on the route to Cadshaw once more. The surrounding scenery was more lovely on the way out of the reservoir’s bowl than it had been on the way in and before long it genuinely felt like we were in the higher grounds of the West Pennines – although we would not climb more than a couple of hundred feet in over a mile. We met what must have been a bunch of Ramblers coming from the opposite direction there must have been about thirty of them! Our views to the west were somewhat dominated by one hill in particular and neither one of us could name it – so I will do the usual and refer to it as Cartridge Hill! Within a few moments we were on the A666 and heading towards the car, a few moments later and we were back on Green Arms Road only something like two and an half hours after leaving it.

    Aft views of Turton and Entwistle Reservoir
    Aft views of Turton and Entwistle Reservoir

    This had been a lovely walk out into territory that I wouldn’t normally have visited. The walk did serve its’ purpose as an eye-opener in terms of the terrain that I’ll be facing when doing the A.A. next February. I have to say that my joints and muscles did take a bit of a pounding during the traversal of Turton Heights – some gymn work will probably help with suppleness / recovery, my back hasn’t felt quite this bad since I had to pull out of doing the Great End walk last year. All the same it would be very nice to go back and next time tick off the twin summits of Turton Heights and Cheetham Close and now I know where the good parking spots are! We walked something like 5.7 miles and could have only ascended about four hundred feet.

    Winter Hill and its' ironwork again above Charter Moss Plantation.
    Winter Hill and its’ ironwork again above Charter Moss Plantation.

    The Song of the walk – What with me and Karl chattering on? You must be kidding!


  • A trot around Turton?

    I think not!

    The walk of Monday the 21st of April, 2014 saw me back at my former home town of Bolton in order to attempt the two minor summits of Cheetham Close and Turton Heights. I had been interested in exploring this area as part of this route would involve segments of a walk which I did as my last long urban walks around Bolton in 2000 which was twelve miles. My intended route today would be roughly half that distance but mostly off-road.

    Prospect Hill - not Chapeltown Road!
    Prospect Hill – not Chapeltown Road!

    I parked at the free car park at Chapeltown Road – there is an alternate car park that is paid at the opposite side of the Jumbles Country Park just off Bradshaw Road (that does get heaving) which I would later walk by but for now, why pay when it is not requested? I set off up the little path which leads on to Chapeltown Road only to discover that at the point Chapeltown Road now becomes Prospect Hill – but, Google Maps and Bing Maps are not aware of this – neither was I to be honest and I have already walked the entire length of this road on a few occasions. The searing sun did not make the relatively short stroll up the hill towards Turton Tower’s private drive any easier and I was glad to reach the shade offered by the trees that adorn this isolated venue.

    The lovely driveway at Turton Tower.
    The lovely driveway at Turton Tower.
    Turton Tower from the driveway.
    Turton Tower from the driveway.

    Turton Tower is one of those hidden little gems that are scattered around the countryside, apparently it’s a 15/16th Century Manor House. I have previously toured the inside of the building but this was my first time of going passed the car park which was already starting to fill up. The walk along the driveway was very pleasant but a nagging doubt was beginning to grind away at me – my map reading skills sometimes just desert me…I had done quite a lot of research regarding this particular route and from my time spent on Bing Maps I was sure that my next left hand turn should be the one to take me up to the ascent of Cheetham Close. I took the next left hand turn and was confronted by a pathless pasture through lambing sheep! I gather that to disturb lambing sheep is something of a no – go and the field’s route (if traversed) looked like it would take me in the completely wrong direction. This has happened to me before – maps these days go out of date at an alarming rate and in the LDWA’s attempts to become ubiquitous by erecting all manner of paths and signage …I was no longer on course! Damn, again!

    The path to Torra Barn
    The path to Torra Barn

    I retraced my steps, no mean task as there had only been about fifty of them and joined the main driveway path for a few yards where it expired and became a slightly more textured compressed gravel kind of affair. As luck would have it I happened to catch sight of a few walkers and some where heading towards me – the sight of other walkers instilled in me the belief that I was actually on the correct path. I asked a lovely group of four (two of each) for directions to Cheetham Close and after some moments the advice came back to take the next distinctive footpath on the right and this would lead me to the start of the ascension.

    A golfer put into perspective by the sprawling lump of Winter Hill
    A golfer put into perspective by the sprawling lump of Winter Hill
    The distant Harcles Hill with Peel Tower atop.
    The distant Harcles Hill with Peel Tower atop.

    For reasons that defy logic – I then decided to take the next right hand turn … which led me across Turton Golf Coarse! On reflection now I realise that I should have reversed the directions given to me as the man from whom I had received the directions was looking at the upside down map – from his perspective. A certain sinking feeling engulfed me, more golfers appeared one by one and the path duly disappeared! The annoying thing was the fact that just ahead of me lay the ascent to Cheetham Close …surrounded by four feet high barbed wire fencing!

    Grrr the area where I walked.
    Grrr the area where I walked.

    I kept to the far edges of the little golf coarse in order to avoid being hit in the nogin – heaven forbid I should be struck on the bonce … I might develop a sense of direction! After a confrontation with one old golfer I resolved to try to climb through the fence as he had recalled “Oh I see loads of people going up there after climbing over that fence”. In truth this may very well not have been the case, this location was hazardous, although I did manage to tackle one barbed wire fence the other sections that I needed to cross where just too high for me to get through and I appeared to have found the world’s most unstable dry stone wall so climbing over this became more a case of ‘avoiding this falling on me’. In spite of the contrary advice after consuming most of my Chicken Ceaser Wrap I turned around and made my way back the same way that I had walked to here…beaten!

    The northern most tip of the Jumbles Reservoir
    The northern most tip of the Jumbles Reservoir
    The Jumbles Reservoir
    The Jumbles Reservoir

    However, I was determined to not waste the day and to have an enjoyable walk so when I reached the main road at Turton Tower I crossed it and headed down towards Horrobin Lodge (who would have guessed that the spell checker would okay Horrobin?). When I lived in Bolton The Jumbles Country Park had been one of my oft-frequented places and the memories of its’ layout came flooding back. The Jumbles had always been and intended visit for this walk – initially so had Turton & Entwistle and Wayoh reservoir but I was here now and it was lovely to reminisce and relive part of former walks. On a less busy day I would have called in at the tiny refreshments shop but on this day the prospect of the queue was not a favourable one.

    The infant Bradshaw Brook.
    The infant Bradshaw Brook.
    The way to the car park at Holt's Fold
    The way to the car park at Holt’s Fold

    I headed through the paid car park and down the sand and stone steps next to the enormous damn at the southern end of the reservoir. Here the Bradshaw Brook is let loose once more as it begins its’ journey towards Leverhulme Park to merge with the River Tonge. I won’t lie, the steps which take one from the damn wall up to Grange Road and ridiculously steep – and high, some of the steps are over a foot higher than the preceding one, a determined slimmer need look no further than to walk up and down this route a few times per day in order to shed pounds and develop tree-like thighs! Once at the next landmark the dreamy Grange Road – a lane so typically epitomised that it is actually the continuation of a street named “Shady Lane”. Eventually I put the short slog back to my parked car behind me – I had not been gone for many hours but the day after my shins and calf muscles certainly felt like I had done some working out!

    In summing: I will return to Turton Moor again one day soon, it’s a gorgeous and relatively unfrequented area of the West Pennine Moors that seldom features on our walking forum. I’d prefer to have someone with me that would curtail my inane dead-end wanderings and I might be able to traverse these lovely yet relatively unknown little hills of Lancashire.

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