Where to walk on April 29th

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!

The poll is here:


Spence where?

So, Saturday the 29th arrived and by ten passed ten that morning I was en route for Pendle as I had promised to myself. The weather was beautiful, especially for so early into year – compared to last January it was almost tropical. Maybe I would get a view from the summit this year – unlike last March when it was so cold, damp and misty that I could hardly wait to get off the top as quick as possible.

Barley car parkUpon arrival at Barley car park I could hardly believe how close to being full it already was, having been here at Halloween (when one could expect a major turnout of ascendees) it was with a sense of releif that I managed to get the car parked. I tried to ring Chris to let her know that I had arrived safely but then the Barley phone curse struck as I looked down to see the phones’ signal strength was off the scale – negatively! I sent a text instead that never even left my phone let alone reached hers. The residents of Barley must love the fact that when they get home with their new gadget enriched mobile phones they can’t get a signal unless they go half way up Pendle Hill!

Pendle East Side Click to view bigger picture
Having alighted the car I headed off up Cross Lane and was immediately impressed with the light and quality of views which were available of Pendle and district. This practice of stopping every ten yards in order to take a snap would impede on the walk’s progress but hey when you get such a clear sky one simply has to take advantage.

Yappy againI decided against calling in at Witches Galore in Newchurch, it’s a great little shop – with an emphasis on “little”, being loaded up with my backpack and my rather bulky walking coat (with my GPS receiver in the inside pocket and my camera in the outside pocket) I might have been a bit of an obstacle / burden / liability and didn’t want to knock over display items for which I would be subsequently charged. So it was down and up Spenbrook Road where I finally saw some other walkers and their dogs and around three quarters of an hour later saw me arriving at “The Tynedales” and within a couple of minutes “Yappy” the annoying dog who frequents the area between the rear of  Tynedale Farm and Bull Hole was shattering the slience once more – it charged to within three feet of me then just sat there expectantly. Stupid dog.

My little ponyThe long slog to Well Head Road is realistically just a five minute stroll up a rather gentle but increasing gradient on a gritstone track, it just feels like it takes longer to traverse, but I did make a friend. I was feeling a little peckish by now but had vowed to not start munching my way through my meagre provisions until I had hit the other side of the valley, this meant being hungry whilst attacking the sudden shock that is Saddler’s Height (codenamed “The Bone Hill”), I marched up the slope at full speed – only stopping every five yards or so! Fell Wood was next for me to cross and to be honest I don’t mind if I don’t get to go through there many times this year. It’s a bit of a spooky and as a result of later actions I ended up going through the thing twice – in the same direction.

After Fell Wood I went down the tiny, tiny steps, once again pleased that I was not ascending these things, trying to keep my footing on the frosted-over, grassy parts of this section until finally I made it to the footbridge that spaces out the two Ogden reservoirs. I wandered by the side of the tributary to the reservoir before realising that my way ahead was blocked by a service footbridge – complete with padlocks, that meant I had to wind my way back up to the main tarmac path some fifty or so yards to the right of me and more or less re-trace my footsteps. The onomatapae “DOH!” did spring to mind.

By the time I had headed north for a few hundred yards the hunger that I first felt near Tynedale was now overwhelming so I took my lunch break – consisting of two Chicken Ceaser wraps and two cups of coffee from my flask (note to self, always bring a flask in future!). I spent some time looking at the map (the irony of this will hit home very shortly) then wandered up a grit path towards Upper Ogden reservoir. As there seemed to be quite a bit of pedestrian traffice heading left from in front of the reservoir I decided that I would follow. It was only later that hindsight would kick in. Inadvertantly I was now heading for Spence Moor via Ogden Clough (west) and Cock Dole (no comments please!). At the end of the ‘reservoir path’ was a stile of sorts and then a sketchy path and much more people – so they just had to be going my way.

The rest is all a bit of a blur really! I wandered for ages as I trailed a couple whom seemed to vanish into thin air! I found a nice ‘field from hell’ where the surface was as level as it was dry (not at all) with the odd marsh patch, ice, peat, frozen peat and that red-green grass that means “As you observe this your feet will be getting wet!”. After what seemed like an hour I finally managed to locate an huge wooden stile that I hoped would lead me towards the summit. But of course that was just fantasy as I came to realise over the next mile or two that the summit was getting smaller!

After phoning Chris and opening my last food source – an almighty flapjack, falling over and cursing the map I decided that on this occasion, the environment had beaten me. To this day I can not fully describe where the furthest point of my destination was or what it was called. I’ve since tried to retrace my footsteps on the OS map – but there is no marked footpath the way that I managed to get back to Fell Wood! I had encountered a fell runner and sought advice on a way to the summit only to be told in a nutshell – the way you are going won’t get you to the summit! Aware that dusk was now less that two hours away it was almost with joy that I turned around, headed to the huge wooden ladder stile and began my trek back down the slo pe of the “Field from hell”. Progress was almost too quick! I could not believe how quickly I managed to get back to the wood but then had to ascend and descend the same stile and paths that I had so optimistically crossed a few hours earlier.

Once on the other side of Lower Ogden I hastily marched down the lane towards Barley Visitor Centre. I think from Fell Wood to there probably took me no longer that twenty minutes and I was very relieved to be within sight of my car at the end of a day’s walking that would leave me tired, grumpy and somewhat uncomfortable for a good number of days. Since this ‘botched attempt’ Chris and me have walked the ‘correct’ way up Boar Clough and arrived at the summit. I’ve had the joy(?) of descending the steps from Big End to the rear of Pendle House and I managed to do it all without falling over.

In the summer I plan on doing my intended route again, also I intend to do the walk from Nick ‘O’ Pendle to Big End and I even intend to walk along Spence Moor. I intend a lot. From my walks I always gain something – not just bruises from falling at Whernside, or mudstains that won’t shift from Pen-y-ghent fell, sometimes it can be something that isn’t tangible, maybe this is true…

…we walk over the hills to explore the environment, but, we walk over moorland to discover ourselves! I know that I found out many things about myself on Spence Moor!

Counting down to the 29th

…of January that is. Ever since December – yeah I know that wasn’t very long ago but humour me please, I have been counting down to the next time that I can get the chance to do Pendle Hill – the long way again. I had set a date of (you’ve guessed it) the 29th of January – a Saturday no less. Well having just looked at the date I am thrilled to see that it’s not that far away at all. The plan is to go the same way as we did on Halloween – with the exception being that this time I am going to actually climb up the hill instead of having the constitution of a jellyfish and backing out at the last minute.

Going originally straight up Cross Lane I first call in at  Witches Galore perhaps to get one of their fantastic flapjacks to snack on at the summit! Then I’ll head off down and up Spenbrook Road until I get to Little Tynedale. Next it’s a right hand turn to follow the track down to the little row of buildings that features Tynedale Farm and Tynedale Cottage. Having made my way along the rather wet and muddy path I eventually hit harder substance parallel to Bull Hole Farm before heading up to meet Well Head Road where I shall turn left. After an hundred yards or so it’s well of the beaten track as I’ll join the Pendle Way and head up an incredibly steep little hill (let’s hope that it’s free of animal carcasses this time!) towards Fell Wood.

If I have to divide the walk into sections (and believe me – I do) then this next part is probably section 3. Making my way carefully through Fell Wood as it does get rather slippery in there I then head north west where ultimately lies a series of tiny steps leading down and over Lower Ogden reservoir. Once on the opposite bank (as it were) I’ll turn 90 degrees left heading towards delightfully named places such as Fox Holes and Cat Holes before turning right and beginning the assault on the southern aspect of the hill. This path is not as sturdily built as the one that leads up the eastern face from Barley – as such the increment should prove to be more natural as opposed to the lunges needed to ascend the afore mentioned eastern approach!

After much climbing I should see the summit and the merging of the other paths before not much time has passed whereby it will be time to take a break by the ordnance survey column (time for that flapjack). The final stage (has anyone been keeping count?) will see me heading north towards the boundary wall for Downham where I’ll turn right once more and head down the dreaded steps down the eastern side of the hill. With a bit of luck there will be no twisting of ankles and the descent progress should be about half the time that it usually takes me to ascend this cobbled path of wood and stone. At the bottom of the ‘staircase’ I go through the first of what will be many ‘kissing gates’, turn right once more and traverse a field full of black sheep and white sheep.

That was the first field of what I have come to refer to as the four field challenge – when the route is reversed these four fields can be unbelievably energy sapping, these are not the soft, gentle slopes of the Yorkshire Dales, these fields are hard and unrelenting but the environment itself offers up fantastic views of the surrounding countryside – including a distant peak at Darwen Hill’s Jubilee Tower. I’ll keep on walking past  Ing Head Farm andIngs End, over not one but three footbridges and more kissing gates until finally reaching Barley Lane in Barley where I’ll turn right towards the village and the visitor centre café where a much needed coffee will be bought and savoured over.

I figure that this whole walk (weather permitting) should take no longer than four hours. I will report the exact figures at a later date. One thing is for sure – I am really looking forward to it!

Cliché Grande!

As October the 31st neared I thought to myself  ‘where can I go for a walk to celebrate Halloween?’. Actually that isn’t anywhere near true! In truth I had always wanted to have the ‘Pendle Hill at Halloween’ experience and last year Chris and I set off to participate in what is essentially a muddy slog up a really steep and stepped path to a summit where the view litterally fails to appear! And I love it!

We aimed to do the walk last year but cried off owing to there being just too many people en route and us not having space to ourselves…realistically it was a cold, damp, misty day and neither one of us could summon up the (considerable) effort required to ascend the arduous path from Barley.

This weighed somewhat heavily on my mind and I resolved to do it in 2010. This time I have had the advantage of an entire year to dwell on possible capitulation causes and have thus spent many hours formulating and plotting potential routes that didn’t involve the Barley ascension. One of my main motives for this particular route is that we will be walking past three alleged ‘haunted’ farmsteads. This goes hand in hand with my watching (some would say obsessively) repeats of Living TV’s “Most Haunted”. On Halloween 2004, the show visited Pendle to investigate ghost sightings and other phenomena at Lower Wellhead, Bullhole and Tynedale farms in what was quite an entertaining live broadcast.

Now I’m not declaring any belief in ghosts, let me state that for the record. Also, I don’t believe that Most Haunted’s investigations were authentic, genuine, unbiased or unstaged. However, anyone that has known me well throughout my life would back me up in my claim to be drawn to “spooky” houses and buildings, not that I get the chance to visit many of these types of dwellings any more but I used to love getting “creeped out” walking along Grange Road in Bradshaw when passing Monksfield and Langtry (pictures will follow at a later date) and even the duldron that is Ormskirk has a fine spectacle of an house of zero charm next to an A-road of all places!

So the natural conclusion to solving the enigma of how to get to the top of Pendle Hill from Barley without going past Pendle House and Ings End but taking in my fixation with Spooky houses was to set off in the opposite direction than normal!

The route:
We set off from the large car park at the Barley Visitor centre and turn left ultimately onto Cross Lane. From here there was something of a long slog on tarmac roads to Newchuch in Pendle where we called into the delightful Witches Galore. After spending some time here we then set off back on the tarmac of Cross Lane heading towards a place named “Near Tinedale” for our first peak at “Tynedale Farm” now owned by the Nutter family – descendents of one of the twelve accused Pendle Witches; Alice Nutter.

  An elderley lady emerging from Tynedale Cottage (hey who knew that there was one?) obviously caught sight of the ordnance survey map dangling around my neck and asked us to where we were heading, I told her “To bull hole” and she sent us for a mud bath! The path that leads from in-between both Tynedale properties north towards Well Head is not one for us stay-clean walkers. At times it felt like we were walking along a river bed, I hadn’t experienced such sinking sensations since I attempted Rivington Moor after a week’s worth of rain! After some moments we picked up the pace a little and headed north towards the oddly-named “Bullhole farm”, where a rather boistrous pooch considered chasing us – the fact that it had just the three legs seemed not to have affected its’ confidence and it put on quite a display until I stamped my feet!

This was the second location visited by Most Haunted and I believed it to be in the same state of delipidation as when the investigation took place six years ago (unlike Tynedale which now looks genuinely charming and not at all spooky). Finally a further half a mile down the road and an estern turning should have had us right outside Lower Wellhead farm – Most Haunted revisited this one after the live Halloween episode and Yvette Fielding suffered an involuntary past-life regression – allegedly! Amongst the web of confusion that is the internet, it is claimed that this was the original residence of the afore mentioned Alice Nutter – the only one of the Pendle Witches to plead her innocence – allegedly. The anit climax here is that we decided not to go outside Lower Wellhead farm as there was a driveway full of cars and the watchers (us) would have turned into the watched and we didn’t want that. It’s one thing to snoop through a total stranger’s living room, it’s an altogether different thing to have them stare right back at you!

So from here we turned left onto Wellhead Road and after a hundred yards or so observed the sheer enormity of the slope which we now had to ascend to take us up to Fell Wood. Never before have I uttered the phrase “Oh my God, you’re having a laught aren’t you!” with such gusto! Thankfully, the hike up the slope was soon tackled. It was with no hint of thanks at all to the guilty party that we navigated our way passed the remains of a dead animal – the limbs of which were so scattered that one could only assume a chainsaw wielding maniac had been on the loose. I have many pleasent memories of this walk – that sight will not be counted as such!

After talking to another elderley couple at the summit of the slope we decided to hit Fell wood from the path that the Pendle Way takes as opposed to sliding our way through its’ entirity. The path was well defined but extremely slippery yet within five minutes we were into the gorgeous Fell Wood. Amongst the conifers we felt glad to be out of the slight but ever present rain and made our way gingerly down towards the next section of the walk that I would refer to as The Reservoirs. The steep and tiny steps that guided us down towards the bridge over the stream between Upper and Lower Ogden Clough reservoirs came into view and just a matter of moments later we located a convenient stone bench to sit upon and have our lunch.

At this point, with the clouds above gathering I made the executive decision to gracefully bow out of the ascent of Pendle Hill. We had been walking for a good two hours and were both a bit worse for the walk thus far. We ambled our way up to the name-less lane which would take us past Lower Ogden reservoir, to the left of Barley Hill and into Barley and hence the car park / visitor centre.

I would love to try again at this route see this post