• So macho…not

    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!

  • La forma en que debe ser!

    Or in English: “The way it should be”

    Ramble of Sunday 31/7/11 – Clitheroe

    I must admit to having reservations about returning to the Ramblers for their walk from the town of Clitheroe yesterday (Sunday 31/7/11). The walk that I attended at Kettlewell one month previously had not gone at all well, with blistering temperatures (unavoidable really) and a miserable procession of individuals marching relentlessly uphill with neither commentary nor respite (totally avoidable) had darkened my opinion and shaken my faith in my previous decision to join “The Ramblers”. The walk on Sunday more than made up for this.

    Eight individuals set off from Clitheroe town centre weaving our way through streets and roads and crossing the express-way that is the A59, towards a part of what every reader should know is my favourite hill – Pendle Hill. On this day we were to tackle one of its’ out-lying sub-submits; the infamous Nick O’ Pendle. This was achieved by crossing through a number of very well marked footpaths, umpteen styles of varying kinds and a slightly energy-zapping field at Mearley Moor. By way of contrast the afore mentioned Mearley Moor is (in the opinion of this humble author) by far the most attractive of the moorlands that span the area around Pendle Hill aided in no small way by the facts that the terrain varies and that it is not as boggy as Pendle Moor, Barley Moor and Spence Moor to name but three. It’s altogether a much nicer place to be.

    Although I am still awaiting a description of our exact trek I know that we passed through the pretty little hamlet of Worston, that we had our lunch sat on Worsaw Hill then made our way across the fields towards Mearley passing its’ various old halls…I think there are two!

    The climb from Mearley Moor up and onto Pendle Road in the direction of the Nick Of Pendle was a little steep in places but nowhere near as bad as (for examples) Pendle House to Big End or Hordern Pasture to Winter Hill! All the same I for one; would certainly not like to ride a bicycle up this road yet countless others do just that for this particular hill road features in many top ten cyclists’ extreme rides lists. The walk back into Clitheroe via Pendleton was a delight – not least because it gave us the chance to call in at the quaint “Swan With Two Necks” in the hamlet where we all had a glass of beer and I for one would have happily stayed for many more!

    After some time, and with some regret from yours truly we headed off back down into Clitheroe – this meant another crossing of the by now truly manic A59 and then back to the style-after-style-fields before hitting the main road into Clitheroe and passing the rather prestigious sounding “Royal Grammar School”

    We walked roughly ten miles, probably somewhere in the region of ten and a quarter miles, ascended and descended about three hundred meters and it has to be said talked to each other the whole way through…and had a beer! This was everything, every reason why I joined the Ramblers – a five star (*****), 10/10 walk and day out!

  • Walk of Thursday 14th July: Churchtown Moss

    The sun was out, the sky was blue, I had a day off from work and I simply didn’t feel like yomping over Belmont…so I did a walk of a route that I cycled some five years earlier…The Northern Moss at Southport into Banks.

    The walk started at the corner of Leyland Road and Roe Lane and for the next mile would be a very urban stroll along one of Southport’s widest roads – it’s hard to believe that it isn’t a dual carriageway! After roughly a mile I called in at the Churchtown Spar at the roundabout junction with the A6257 and Moss Lane, for supplies that I knew would be needed to get me along on this ten miles walk in very warm conditions. [mappress mapid=”3″] The supplies were two bottles of the scrumptious Spar Red Apple flavoured water, one Mars Bar and a caramel Aero.

    "No apples or carrots?"
    “No apples or carrots?”
    Can you see me?
    Can you see me?

    Next it was onto Moss Lane, in essence I would stay on this physical road for the next few miles whilst staying in the same district. After 3/4 of a mile (according to Google Maps!) I reached the little road and footbridge that facilitates travel over “Three Pools Waterway”. This is a contributory of the River Ribble where excess water is gathered and transported from this large flat expanse of land. I happened to catch sight of a very cute pair of Shetland Ponies (anyone that has read my post in January re: “Spence Where?” will know that I have something of a fondness for these charming little animals. I spent about five minutes taking photographs and apologising to the little ponies for not having any nibbles for them, then set off on the rest of my journey. For the next few miles the roads became narrower. I must admit that the last time that I completed this circuit I was on my mountain bike and a couple of stones lighter.

    However, the weather was spirit-lifting and I was making good progress in no small way aided by the red apple water and the chocolate – I did have a gel bar with me …just in case but never did the need arise to consume it. There are a number of farm access roads that if the grumpy sods would open up to the public would have probably taken a number of miles off the walk – but as it was such a nice day and my next three peaks adventure is drawing ever nearer; I didn’t complain even under my breath. At what I assumed to be “Common Lane” having walked along “Long Meanygate” for some distance I turned left and was immediately joined by a mountain bike rider with whom I spent in the region of ten minutes talking about walks and walking in Lancashire in general…and getting route advice from him. I was assured that my target of “Gravel Lane” was around the corner – a long corner; but relatively near all the same, it’s nice to know that you haven’t gone wrong! Having rounded one corner I was next walking towards a distant farm estate when I noticed a large group of individuals in one field all heading back towards a minibus, I deduced that they must be hired hands to help with crop harvesting or planting or some other farm task. I didn’t take a photograph of the group in case they were illegal immigrants or some other weird plot twist – they weren’t spoiling my walk in the slightest so I carried on my way.
    Next I headed off in what I hoped would be the direction of one of the many roads in this area named “Gravel Lane”. The temperature by now felt at its’ hottest of the day and it was with some relief that I spied a sign indicating a public footpath off to the left. Indeed, instead of simply staying on my path that would lead me directly to Gravel Lane I headed for five minutes down this said public footpath which did lead me to the sluice – this is a waterway that is at least twice as wide as any canal that I can recall encountering! In times of extreme drought I dare say that it might be possible to cross into Churchtown this way, but for the none-amphibious amongst us this meant turning 180 degrees around and heading off back to my original path to Gravel Lane.

    I veered left; and as the traffic was very light this afternoon walked straight up the road and joined the A565 west-bound towards Southport. It was with a certain sense of “I thought so” that I looked across the visible stretch of “The Sluice” that can be viewed from Water Lane (the A565) to witness the only structure spanning this body of water was an encased pipe the access to which was severely restricted, in short, there is no dry way of crossing “The Sluice” by feet alone. I walked along the cycle path (well, they don’t use it much!) towards The Plough – a pub on the border of Banks and Crossens where I then turned left onto Ruford Road which after some distance changes name to Bankfield Lane as Crossens becomes Churchtown. Before this there is something of a minor hill to ascend I ascend the road-bridge and gain an altitude of something in the region of another five meters! The downhill part is as untaxing on the knees as the uphill was untaxing on the calf muscles which after seven and an half miles is something of a relief!  Now the road flattens out and I passed the Botanic Gardens. Here there is a left hand turn which passes through a dozen or so quaint little shops set in a Victorian fashion…Ye Olde Mobile Phone shop does not exist here…yet!

    Another left hand turn puts me onto Botanic Road but I am heading east not west on Mill Lane towards the mini precinct with a tanning salon, hairdressers and a private dentistry. At this point I am now (at last) back on Roe Lane heading south west towards the right hand turn off that is Hesketh Drive – one of my most-walked streets in Southport. Again there is another minor ascension here as I crossed over the railway bridge that takes me over the now defunct and dismantled Southport to Preston line – if only the finances could be found to reinstate this line!

    Ultimately the final section of the walk is an oft-repeated pavement bash along Cambridge Road with the delightful Hesketh Park on the right hand side as the road name changes to Park Crescent and then Queens Road with the now impressive McColl’s newsagents and Hair By Alison Salon also on the right hand side. Finally I turn left onto Leyland Road and my journey sadly ends having taken four and a quarter hours (including shop and chat breaks). I look forward to doing this route in reverse one day and perhaps even extending the northern Moss section to wander over to Scarisbrick!

  • Walk of Sunday 5th of July: Kettlewell

    Or should that be Kettlehell as the temperature soared yesterday to a searing 26 degrees C?

    This was my first – not my last, walk with Southport Ramblers and by golly – walking in a group is a world of difference than going solo – this fat goat walks on his own and takes his time, an herd of a slimmer species move together en-masse and never stop for very long. The walk itself was a lovely stomp through the countryside at Kettlewell by the side of a river that as of yet I cannot name! All was going well on the flat – it has been commented on by others that I fair put the pedal to the metal (sic) when on the flat in fact I did most of the flat sections right up alongside of the race walk leader – a chap named Trevor who’s fitness I can only ever hope to aspire to as oppose to emulate!

    The first big climb was…how can I word this without swearing? It was that bad. Over the space of a few hundred yards we climbed the best side of a thousand feet in blistering sun – then dappled shade, then back into blistering sun on a limestone infused path that although bone-dry was so narrow in places that it was a job in itself not to stand upon the heels of the person in front. This latter problem was self-eradicated when my pace began to drop owing to my mid-back problem (which dates back to April 29th at Horden Stoops) and the fact that I am just not fit! After a few hundred yards the path levelled out somewhat – then it took a violent upswing for about twenty feet and then we were onto open moorland of the Yorkshire type – a more micro-undulating field I have yet to see! Walking uphill is hard, walking downhill is not that hard but when one has to alternate between the two over the space of two strides – that’s really (expletive deleted) hard! Having led the field on the flat, I was the last to ascend the final push of the first climb and although not bitterly disappointed it was with some resolve that I sat down to eat my lunch and swear that on the second and final climb I would fair better.

    Twenty five minutes later saw us go over the crest of the hill and start the enormous descent into Littondale. Gravity seemed to take over as I hurtled down the hill at a pace that is simply not familiar to me – I seemed to be on a mission that I didn’t want to be engaged in as I was merely taking in glimpses of scenery as opposed to absorbing it. I managed to take about eight photographs (to be uploaded later) but to be honest the pace was so fast that to take any more would have held progress up. Our ascent had taken about and a half – the descent was thirty five minutes – but we would end up waiting quite some time for stragglers in Littondale – not that I am at all condemning the folk for whom we were waiting, after all they had all been courteous enough to wait for me on the ascent and this did give me the chance to take in the distant views of a couple of old friends – Whernside and Ingleborough!

    Walking along side the river Skirfare was a joy as the miles seemed to fly by – in truth there were probably not many miles but I digress, as we passed a myriad of other hills I was once again found lacking in my knowledge of the area, I believe that we may have passed Crag Hill, Green Hill and Gragareth – I did see a summit with a number of cairns atop – but this may have just been any old hill! The next point on the walk involved crossing an elegant little wooden bridge spanning across the river and immediately upon reaching the other bank the terrain and the incline began to change.

    By now what had initially been a compact cluster of some eighteen walkers had become a disparate trail of weary soles – the gaps between each sub group now no longer measured in yards – now we were separated by minutes. My group was now down to just three members. The second and final climb was not as severe as the first but was much more of a long slog with a few false summits thrown in for added cruelty! Parts of this climb really did remind me of my last walk up Great Hill with great stretches of slight incline interspersed with random patches of a more punishing gradient. At one point our path had a minor fork to the left but we headed on right as per the instructions we had received from Trevor – maybe we should have been listening with more attention for as we ultimately reached what we believed to be the start of the descent we were presented with nothing short of a dead end!

    This was sole-devastating! Although the path that we should have taken was just a matter of going back down the hillside none of us fancied that approach. A less well defined path lay atop the crest of this particular hill and the apex of this path converged with the one that our fellow walkers had taken seemingly many minutes earlier. From being first (or at least in the first group) I was now the last of the Southport Ramblers to begin the proper final drop down into Kettlewell. The path was just awful! Although the limestone pavements of North Yorkshire are one of our national treasures – the paths are tricky as hell to walk on. Cobble after cobble led to a number of stumbles – or at least deviations in the vertical plane – and not just from yours truly! I noticed a number of my fellow walkers suddenly dip then re-emerge to full height. Finally I arrived (last) back at Kettlewell with sore feet which felt at least ten times there normal width. We had set off on the walk at roughly 11.30, it was now 17.20 which meant almost six hours en route – minus the lunch break and catchup times totalling in all roughly three quarters on an hour I had been walking for five hours and five minutes thus equalling the length of time that I usually take on a good Belmont round trip. To add to this we had ascended about in-between 1200 – 1500 feet over roughly eight miles. All in all not a bad first outing, and I was very relieved to have not attempted the Great Whernside category “A” walk.

    The Southport Ramblers will next be walking in a fortnight’s time at Ludlow in Shropshire, a walk that I am not attending, however the walk after this (a month yesterday) will be at Clitheroe – how could I not return once moor to the shadow of the mighty Pendle Hill? If we do ascend Pendle it will be interesting to see if my performance improves on more familiar terrain.[mappress mapid=”1″]

  • Last Night’s Walk: The North Marshside Trail

    On a previous walk I discovered for myself the delights of a purpose built, but natural enough looking footpath that travels from the Banks area to the Hesketh Park areas of Southport. On that occasion I travelled along the southern section of this footpath to its’ terminus at Hesketh Road, Southport. Tonight’s walk would experience the northern section. Again starting at the meeting of the two sections just off Marshside Road, Marshside, Southport.

    This was a delightful walk from Hesketh Park up to Marshside then along the northern section of the Marshside Coastal trail up to Banks then straight back down the main roads of Preston New Road and Cambridge Road to return to the park entrance.

    View North Marshside path in a larger map

    Photo of the start of the North Marshside Trail
    The start of the trail just off Marshside Road

    Phot of the path of the North Marshside Trail
    A lovely, relatively flat path.
    The path is generally easy going, with the odd sandy patch thrown in for good measure but given the location i.e. Southport then this is hardly a surprise. There are lovely views towards the South Western Lakes, The Forest of Bowland, Pendle Hill and the Winter Hill group. Alas I had my rather rubbish phone-camera with me that does not pick distant objects up at all well. So you will just have to take my word for the previous claim!

    Photo of a stile on the North Marshside Trail
    It's a matter of stile...
    Imagine my surprise to find what is effectively an ornamental stile. The livestock in this particular environment consists of some cows in a field that is enclosed by a path roughly four feet high – exactly what this stile prevents from crossing that is not already prevented by an higher obstacle I just don’t know…unless its’ purpose is to make sure that cyclists have to dismount in a bid to slow them down a bit – not that I saw any cyclists on the path last night!

    Phot of Ribble Estuary sign
    A Potted Guide to the Ribble Estuary
    The end of this particular section is reached. Then I find another! This will be the next section that I shall cover in my journey across the entire Marshside Trail – although in reality, technically this one does start at the area known as Banks. Here was a nice informative notice board giving a brief introduction to the Ribble Estuary. A very useful feature of the sign was a “You are here” indication, I do wish that the creators of similar signs for the West Pennines would be so enlightening!

    Photo of a distance sign at Banks
    Where do we go from here?
    This final photograph is of an attractive wooden etched sign indicating the distances from this particular point to other parts of the greater Sefton Coastal path and various other landmarks and transport locations.

    As I stated previously, this was a delightful walk and the weather conditions certainly added to the experience, the evening being warm without actually feeling too hot! The northern section of the Marshside trail is a lot more exposed that its’ southern peer and this materialised in the form of a headwind that at some times very nearly took my coat off for me!

    Start of Walk
    Parking: Roadside

    Distance covered (approx):6.11 miles
    Terrain: Grass and occasional sand path, pavements.
    Obstacles: One small stile, busy traffic for road crossing at Banks.

    Special thanks to Pierre Gorissen for the Lat and Long script at http://www.gorissen.info/Pierre/maps/googleMapLocationv3.php

  • Walk of 11th of June: The Belmont Round

    Winter Hill, Noon Hill and clouds that may prove threatening?
    Winter Hill, Noon Hill and clouds that may prove threatening?
    Photo of Alance Bridge
    Photo of Alance Bridge

    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.

    Photo of the path next to Stronstrey Bank
    Photo of the path next to Stronstrey Bank
    Photo of one of the views from the top of Moor Road, Rivington
    Photo of one of the views from the top of Moor Road, Rivington

    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!

    Photo of the path to Great Hill
    Photo of the path to Great Hill
    The aft view of where I had been a few minutes earlier
    The aft view of where I had been a few minutes earlier

    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!



    It's our old friend Pendle hill in pseudo-water colour mode
    It’s our old friend Pendle hill in pseudo-water colour mode

    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.

    Belmont Road track
    Belmont Road track

    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!

  • Introducing the Three Peaks of Southport

    Just for a change I thought that tonight I would do a more varying-in-terrain type of walk, one that would feature a bit of pavement, a bit of road, some grass and anything else that I happened to stumble over. So I headed over to the north west side of Southport – to one of my favourite places, Marshside.

    I headed off up and along Queens Road and Preston New Road – calling in as usual at the Churchtown Spar for a bottle of their delicious Red Apple flavoured water (it’s really good!) and then turned left onto Marshside Road where I would be for the best part of another mile.

    The Southport Two Peaks?
    The Southport Two Peaks?
    sand dune at Coast Road
    sand dune at Coast Road

    I had for some time wanted to walk up to the sand dunes on the northern side of Southport’s Coast Road comically referring to them as The Two Peaks…a little later on I was to discover that there are actually “Three Peaks” – you can imagine my joy given my two-year obsession with Yorkshire’s “Three Peaks”. Carefully crossing what is more or less an A-road I soon headed up the first (Southern) peak and was delighted to discover a trail leading to its’ tiny summit. Not only that but there was actual soil, earth, mud and grass constituting the path – this really did qualify this as a bonafide peak for me and not just a sand dune! Having spent a moment or two atop this smallest of all hills and taking some distant pictures on my camera-phone I then carefully descended the southern peak (go on call it a dune and break my heart!) at headed a hundred or so yards off to the northern peak (dune)!

    This next little adventure was an altogether different type of challenge as this little summit (which I have dubbed “Sandy-Helvellyn” owing to is ridge!) is much more like a true sand dune than an hill. This little summit did afford even better views of just about everywhere than did the first dune (damn, I said it!) but the going was …going in all directions with every footstep! Getting down was reminiscent of running down the dunes at Presthaven Sands when I was a child (summer after summer, after summer…) with the added caution that age should impart upon us…the jury is still out on if I have more than my fair share or less!

    Photo of western sand dune at Marshside
    Photo of western sand dune at Marshside
    Photo of lake at Marshside
    Photo of lake at Marshside

    Finally (for the expedition across these three micro mounds) I headed off to ascend the last peak which from a distance reminded me so much of dear old Pendle that I have now dubbed it “Sandy-Pendle”. The going underfoot was really rough with all sorts of marine weeds and builders debris scattered around the base of the mound. This forced me to take no shortcuts up the side and instead joined the tiny path up the dune (dammit I said that again) at its’ point of origin.

    I probably spent in the region of half an hour ascending and descending these little summits. The good news for me was that I didn’t fall over on any of them – something of a rarity for me (although Sandy-Helvellyn was not easy to get off and remain in the vertical plane!).

    I crossed back over the Coastal Road which didn’t seem anywhere near as busy as previous visits had been and spent a moment looking through one of the “Hides” across the marshes and taking bad photographs.

    Photograph of footpath through Marshside
    Photograph of footpath through Marshside

    Next I retraced my steps somewhat to set off on something else that I had hoped to do for quite a while – the Southern section of the Marshside Trail. This meant again bidding farewell to the pavement (and in Southport, no matter where I am, that’s always a good thing!) in order to walk for roughly 3/4 of a mile across a green but sometimes sandy path leading through one of Southport’s municipal golf courses (I think!). Here, delightful views of the immediate vicinity were afforded to me as I marched past a lake, a number of Mallards and a pair of Llamas that were not close enough for me to A: distinguish them from Alpacas and B: get a decent photo of them.

    This short stretch of the walk was as peaceful as I could never have imagined (forgive my sentance structure there!), the light was holding up quite well and the sky was a lovely shade of…sky blue! I had entered the trail not knowing quite where it would terminate although common sense dictated that it would run into Hesketh Road sooner or later. It was almost with regret that I culminated this section when the afore mentioned Hesketh Road appeared in front of me. Here I turned left (as is my way!) to begin the longer walk along Hesketh Road, over Queens Road and onto my second Hesketh of the night – Hesketh Drive. Readers of old will recall that Hesketh Drive is a road that I find myself traversing many times as it is part of a short and simple two miles practice walk that I take roughly every week.

    At the junction of Hesketh Drive and the delightfully named Roe Lane I turned right and slowly meandered up and down a gentle gradient before reaching Leyland Road and heading for home after an enjoyable two and a quarter hours’ worth of walking and exploring…albeit on a semi-rural scale. For the future I must schedule in a crossing of the Northern Marshside Trail! 🙂

    View 2nd of June Marshside walk in a larger map

  • Rydym yn mynd i Landudno, Cymru

    Top o'th Great Orme!
    Okay that’s enough of that, I know how to count from 1 – 99 in Welsh – after that my knowledge of the language is exhausted. Suffice to say that the title of this post translates to “We’re going to Wales”.

    Last year Chris and I spent a fantastic few hours driving (okay, Chris did all of that!) to probably one of the best little coastal towns in the United Kingdom – Llandudno. This gave us the opportunity to experience “The great Orme” – apparently this was ancient Norse meaning “Great Worm” allegedly what the peninsula looks like from a distance….well if one squints!

    The town of Llandudno itself is one of the jewels in the crown of North Wales managing somehow to be both modern and yet traditional, Victorian and metropolitan at the same time.

    Photo of Bishop's Quarry
    The lips of Llandudno!
    The Great Orme is undoubtedly on my top ten list of great hilltops to be on for many reasons: It’s not very tall – being just a little under 700′ (therefore minimum effort for maximum rewards!), There are plenty of things to do at the top – one could even engage in a windy game of pitch and put if one so desired, there is also a shop, café and amusement arcade, one can engage in a spot of natural graffiti and spell out one’s name (or other) using limestone rocks on “Names Hill” – a disused quarry (Bishop’s Quarry). There is an ordnance survey pillar for us peak-baggers and last but by no means least the dramatic views in a full 360 degrees panorama ranging from the Irish Sea to the peaks of Snowdon are simply breath-taking!

    The walk from the town centre to the summit of the hill is certainly not to be taken lightly as parts of the trek are unrelentingly steep – evidence of this is in the fact that there is a tram (funicular) upon which one could joyfully observe the surroundings without the energy expenditure, which goes almost to the very summit of the hill! Many people opt to take the tram up the hill and then walk back down, I’d hazard a guess that we will be doing this in reverse!

  • A Pondering over a potential walk.

    The TWELVE Peaks of Pendle!

    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

  • Yesterday’s walk: Stang Top

    It seemed like a good idea…

    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.

    Image of a Roe Deer
    Not a magic eye but...

    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.

    View of Pendle Hill
    Cracking view, Grommet!

    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.