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
Well it was a lovely evening, not as hot as I had imagined that it was going to be so I treated myself to a stroll. The ambitious plan was to repeat a ten miles walk around Southport than I had completed last year – but common sense prevailed and I opted for splitting the walk into two halves – I’ll do the second half soon. The walk starts at the southern corner of Hesketh Park in Cambridge Ward and heads south straight into Southport town centre. Next we stroll over Eastbank Street (doesn’t Poundland open until late? – it was 18:45 when I walked passed there and still customers were leaving the place!) and onto Lord Street before going up the alley way (or cooey if you’re from these parts!) and hitting Promenade. Now I turned right after the pedestrian crossing walking passed another war memorial and over the wooden plank bridge then taking a right hand turn just before Princes Park and heading towards the bridge parallel with Marine Parade. From there I took a left and walked through the car parks by Pizza Hut and McDonald’s before finally hitting the Coast road (Marine Drive).
After all these turn-offs it was now a case of “straight on” for the next few miles as I had the Irish Sea (very distantly) by my side and was occasionally accompanied by cyclists and joggers. I must add here that by this time I had zipped up my fleece as the wind on this road is the stuff of legends! After some time I eventually hit the Marshside area which I have to admit is one of my favourite places to be in the whole world – it’s special because it’s like a long gulp of water when you’ve been thirsty or a chicken sandwich when you are really hungry – or more pragmatically it’s so serene after walking by the side of a 50mph B-road! Such a shame that nobody had conveyed my sentiments to the countless midges and horse-files whom were in a rampant mood – my insect repellent kind of worked in that it did repel them…but they had to get up close and personal before it had any effect!
Marshside Road terminates at the junction of Preston New Road (A565) and Manor Road (A5267) and here was my final treat for this walk as this now presented me with the chance to call in at the Spar in order to buy two of their Red Apple flavoured water – which is not only extremely low in calories but very cheap as well! Here I turned right onto Preston New Road and walked for a further mile or so south towards the town centre eventually walking past Hesketh Park before arriving at home some one hour and 55 minutes after departing.
I plotted the route on google maps and was impressed to see its’ length was over 6 miles – not bad for a Tuesday evening!
How often is it when everything that you want from a walk is encompassed in the walk that you do? It’s rare…at least for me it is. Say for example Pendle Hill, I like a stiff climb every so often but I also like to be able to fly along a stretch of relatively flat land – you don’t get much of that in the Pendle region. Example number two Rivington Pike: I like a good view of the scenery that I am actually in, for the most part of the Rivington walks that I have done – the great scenery that you get – is of everywhere else!
Yesterday we went to Ingleton in order to do the “Waterfalls” walk. At first I objected to us paying £10.00 in order to park and walk but now, having done the walk – it’s almost worth double the price. For the amount of safety railings (and you DO NEED these or else for all off the edge of some of the paths!) and steps that have had to be built, the grounds staff and the fact that you are pretty certain to get parked, it’s really worth it!
The “Waterfalls” walk has everything, short but (in some cases) wickedly steep stretches where nutters like me can bomb up them and then spend the next few minutes hyperventilating, good long flat stretches, fantastic views not only of the immediate environment – waterfalls aplenty, but also of neighbouring Ingleborough – it isn’t on most walker’s top five list for nothing; it’s a stunning giant of an hill (actually as it’s over 2000′ it is a mountain!). The “Waterfalls” walk also has spots where one can take in refreshments – which is not only a sound revenue generating idea; it’s an important thing to do (we seldom take in enough liquids in our daily lives let alone whilst out on a walk).
There’s a real sense of this being a ‘family’ walk, there is no part of it that a reasonably unfit person can’t get ’round! Of course some of the uphill parts although not long, arduous stretches, would prove potentially lethal to anyone suffering from an heart condition or in recovery after heart surgery; but for the rest of us there was nothing that would have one thinking to one’s self ‘I’m never coming here again!”. The temperature yesterday was a factor in that it was like summer! I mean by this like the summers that we used to have where one could see the sun in person – not a photograph to which we longingly refer!
All in all it was a great day out – we took rather a long time to do what is essentially an undulating 4.5 miles walk but it was fantastic to have Chris back in the swing of her photography, this walk was not short of opportunities for her to hone in her skill again after what has been a long bleak spell.
Circumstances beyond my control, Chris having to go into work for two hours meant that the initial planned walk to Great Hill and back from White Coppice had to be postponed and an alternative found.
Since my last walk(slide) over Southport’s ‘The Moss’ in December of last year I had been thinking of extending the walk to capture another favourite area of mine in Southport – the top end of Birkdale – and if I could join up the two walks via Jacksmere Lane calling in at the delightful Saint Mark’s Church then so much the better.
I had never in my wildest dreams even hoped that the weather would be so nice. If there is a perfect walking weather then yesterday had it. The sun almost poured down as I set off at 11:32 to undertake my 10.87 mile walk.
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:
The Royal Wedding will be on April 29th and this conflicts with my basic desire to never ever watch such an event – it will be on all the main T.V. channels all day long and this innevitbly forces me out of the house. Not that I have anything against HRH and Kate Middleton but I’ve never met them – more than likely I never will and most weddings are a bit of a boring affair anyway!
This leads me in (rather clumsily) to the reason behind this post: I am in a delightful quandary of not really knowing where to go for a walk that day. I could go back to lovely old Pendle Hill again and perhaps explore the lesser summits of Barley and Ogden hills along with Stang Moor Top.
I could drive a long way over to North Yorkshire and either do Pen-y-ghent on its own or the much fabled Ribblehead – Chapel le Dale route taking in the summits of Park Fell, Simon Fell, Ingleborough and Whernside.
I could aim local(ish) and get covered in mud, peat and dank water on various stretches of moorland doing the mammoth walk that goes over Rivington Pike, Crooked Edge Hill(two lads), Winter Hill and over to Great Hill and back again.
Another candidate is the wonderful stroll up, across and over Saddle Fell, Wolf Fell, Fair Snape Fell and Parlick – it really is that good!
Or as a last alternative, you could advise me! I would have to stipulate though that it has to be within 60 miles radius of Southport and anyone that suggests the Peak District will have their IP Address blocked!