• Ambling Around Again

    The Walk of Saturday the 22nd of October, 2016

    Well talk about ‘walk of the year’!

    I have already mentally signed up for next year’s grueling 24 (and a half) mile walk known as the Anglezarke Amble – most readers will recall that I’ve been obsessed with this since around December 2013. If you’ll also recall I did it accompanied by my good friend Mark this year in February. Around 7/8 of the way there was a point when I thought ‘never again’…by the end this had transformed back to ‘I can’t wait until next year’. Well next year’s event is just four months away now, (eek!) and I considered it to be time to start getting into the right mindset. This was further fueled a couple of weeks ago when I struggled up Ard Crags with Karl and Sue. Speaking of Karl, I could think of no finer guide to help me decipher the route – the instructions are written in a format that I find a bit tricky to understand. Karl has extensive local knowledge and I was over the moon when he agreed to accompany me.

    We arrived at the tiny ‘green’ at Rivington Village – oddly enough I cannot recall walking past this in February, but I must have done so…other things on my mind I suppose, and set off at 09:18. Our initial destination was Rivington Pike…we went a very direct route and seemed to fly up there as by 10:00 (perhaps even earlier, I was hyperventilating!) we were atop the hill and looking around at the spectacular views.

    A lonely tree on Rivington Lane.
    A lonely tree on Rivington Lane.

    From here we dropped down Brown Hill, with my walking trousers (oversized) making a bid for freedom in February, it took a long time to descend then. Now with a pair that stayed in place, it was less than five minutes between setting off from the pike and setting foot on the road that would take us to the start of the next climb – up Crooked Edge Hill. The afore-mentioned hill is not a giant by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be a right pig to walk up quickly. I think we did it quicker today that at any other time that I’ve ascended the little beast and the bonus was that we were not going to the top – Two Lads. The ‘Amble’ path separates something like one hundred yards before the cairns, as does the Rotary Way I believe. Anyway, next on the agenda was the ‘real summit’ of Winter Hill – to me this is the crossroads, just passed the buildings and most of the ironwork, definitely not where the trig point resides.

    I was looking forward to the drop down to Belmont Road, what with having trousers not snaking down my legs at every given opportunity I could descend with some gusto…and I did! We set a blistering pace and I was almost disappointed when we hit the turn off through the woods. Not least of all because the left hand side of the tiny glade has been felled. I don’t know the reasoning behind this, but the area certainly doesn’t look any better for this arboreal destruction. Greenhill Farm beckoned…I had trepidation.

    A distant view of the masts from Belmont Road.
    A distant view of the masts from Belmont Road.
    Belmont (or is it Abbey )Village?
    Belmont (or is it Abbey )Village?

    Because the path which the Amble takes to the left of Greenhill farm, may be the most muddiest area of the entire route. I remember this impacting on my performance for sure at the Amble but then a few weeks later the area had entirely dried out. I knew that there had been rain here in the last few weeks and whilst not exactly saturated, there was still a lot of mud around. Both myself and Karl came off that field with our footwear having been given a generous and unwanted coating of mud, in my case my right ankle had copped for it! That was within fifty yards of entering the Greenhill farm field. Karl strode confidently and I rather more gingerly over the mud and grass and within five minutes we were dropping down towards what we thought was the beginning of the Eagly Brook. We crossed this, admired the ornamental reservoir and made our way uphill to Egerton Road with the trusty tower as a beacon at Great Robert Hill.

    And if what had gone before was a little bit of a slog, then here came the grand slog and I shall make no attempt to hide my feelings about this stretch of land: I hate Longworth Moor! Having ascended then descended for a few hundred feet we then had the pleasure of watching the path disappear before our very eyes as we took to Higher Whittakers – the wet, featureless, bleak – (I really do not like this moor) sprawled out in front of us. Thank heavens for Karl being able to visibly pluck objects out of the distance, I could not see the infamous ‘Charley’s Pole’ until we were practically on top of it. This is quite salient as it’s the split in the overall Amble walk in more ways than one. The guidelines that Karl had stated that walkers intent on doing the full 24 miles route should be here no later than eleven o’clock, or they will have to continue on the shorter route. My instructions stated 10.30! When Mark and I completed the route in February we arrived her at 10:15 and the check point staff were advising us to take the shorter route then! So at best next year I will have to make sure, somehow, that we get here by 10.15 at the very latest – well I only hope that the ground is hard, because Karl and I practically flew over Rivington Pike and Crooked Edge Hill, raced up Winter Hill and charged down to Belmont Road (okay we had a five minute stop there for drinks!) and yet still we only arrived here at 11:48 – two and a half hours which would equate to 10:30 on Amble day!

    Karl imparts his map reading expertise...farewell kids!
    Karl imparts his map reading expertise…farewell kids!
    Karl disappears as we ascend Lower Whittakers.
    Karl disappears as we ascend Lower Whittakers.

    At this point we met with some Scouts (I think they were scouts, boys and girls) who were out and about all over the moors doing their Duke of Edinburgh award. One of them brought a smile to my face when he said to Karl ‘Are you doing this for fun? My grand dad does that too!’ Priceless, but seeing as in a few months Karl is going to be a grand dad then may be this will have taken the stinging revelation out of the coming event for him. Karl gave the kids some directions…then we got off this section of moorland as quickly as possible, fearing the imminent headlines of ‘Children lost on moorland’!

     

    The ever so slightly spooky Hollinshead Hall.
    The ever so slightly spooky Hollinshead Hall.

    The good news on this day was that we didn’t have to cross the eastern section of Longworth Moor and instead headed west on one of the four Witton Weavers Way paths to meet up with Catherine Edge – this is a path, an excellent path, not a woman! I’ve walked this path on a couple of occasions but I think today was the first time that I had gone so far, the last time, on Good Friday, I crossed over Crookfield Road. This time Karl was having none of this and we climbed the short hill at the western edge of Conyries Plantation. We dropped down (at speed) to Hollinshead Hall where we had roughly fifteen minutes to eat our lunch and have a drink and peer at Great Hill, our next destination.

    To some this would signal the start of the end of the walk, but then, can this not be said of the first step? Indeed, at this point in February I was secretly cheering…little did I know! Today, I was fully aware that in order to get up Great Hill, you have to concentrate on… Great Hill and not the end at Rivington which is six massive miles away. Today Great Hill was cold in some places and hot in others. I watched as Karl became very small and then he vanished into the horizon. I’ve never failed to get up Great Hill – it isn’t that steep, however after nine miles of walking, I wasn’t going to be flying up the hill. We made it to the top (including that one little false summit that always catches me out!) where we had a few minutes before setting off on the long drop down via Drinkwaters Farm to White Coppice. It’s very easy to pick up some speed on this descent although it is not quite as easy as the drop off Winter Hill to Belmont.

    We called in at the cricket pavilion hoping that the toilets might be open and I could refill my water bottle – no such luck, although quite why I had envisioned a cricket match being underway in October…altitude sickness fogging up my frontal lobe perhaps? At least we were on the home stretch now. Herein lies one of the reasons for the walk, when I did the route in February, Mark and I simply followed the walkers with whom we had joined up. They were very good at following directions (unlike me, I’m shockingly bad!). I cannot guarantee that this is going to happen again next year so it made sense to me to become familiar with the final stretch. After all, I don’t want Darren and me to be so near yet so far to the end. We marched along the path which passes by Stronstrey Bank and crosses over the Goit and before long we were at Moor Road where we crossed and headed off into the woods. We passed some more groups of children, although this bunch of girls looked to be early teens as opposed to the Longworth Moor group who looked 10 at the oldest. The going was good, and although the sun had said goodbye for the day it was nice to be able to pick out some landmarks before dusk took hold. Last time we were practically in darkness for the last few miles, which did nothing to aid navigation.

    At the end of the woods stretch and having traversed the odd field or two we passed the gorgeous landmark of the High Bullough Reservoir, this is the smallest one in the area and yet it’s by far the prettiest. I had hoped to take a photo or two of Anglezarke reservoir as it too can be a stunning stretch of water but I had dehydration on my mind and my calves were beginning to grumble a bit by now. To be honest I was still enjoying the walk but was looking forward to the finish. We dropped down a very steep tarmac road which I did recall from last time and then before long were crossing over the damn via the pavement which holds in the Anglezarke reservoir. One more road crossing led us to an altogether more forest-like environment and after some debating as to whether we should go left or right – where I played my de-ja-vous card, we went left and before long hand the Yarrow Reservoir on our left hand side – success as that’s where the guide had said it should be. Less than fifteen minutes after this we were back at the car and I could at last get another drink from the two litre-bottle of sparkling water in the boot of my car. The time was 15:58, we had made it around in six hours and forty minutes.

    There are parts where we could have carried on walking and saved a few minutes – and then slowed down afterwards due to exhaustion! I cannot see how we could have made it across the route any quicker. That being said, it’s a hell of a route. The shorter route does not feel thirty three percent easier than the longer route even if Catherine Edge is a joy to traverse! Karl thoroughly enjoyed the route and I was happy to hear that he would do it again some time – I know I am 🙂 So now I have to put some serious effort into getting fit for this event in February 17, I have the confidence now that I can find my way around, but I am concerned greatly by that 10:30 cut-off time at Charley’s Pole. A few less KFC and Fylde Road Chippy teas should sort that out!

    Song of the walk was the Euro 2016 classic ‘This one’s for you’ by David Guetta and the gorgeous Zara Larsson.

    Stats:

    Milage – 16.5 miles

    Ascent: 2,420 feet

    Time taken – 6 hours 40 minutes.

     


  • A Great walk up to and around Grisedale Pike.

    This was the walk on Sunday, July 31st, 2016 with Sue, Helen and Karl.

    Having not climbed a hill since the successful ascent of Snowdon, what felt like an epoch ago, I was chomping at the bit to get back up to the Lake District and had pleaded with Karl “Anywhere will do!”. By Thursday of that week he had got back to me saying that his next outing would be on Sunday and did I fancy coming along to do Grisedale Pike? Did I ever! This had been one visible hill on most occasions that I’d visited the lakes for the last year or so. Sunday morning came around and I set off to Darwen amidst all manner of suicidal animals. I was lucky to not run over two cats, a rabbit and countless birds – this always happens when driving around near Southport in-between the hours of 06:00 – 08:00. I did manage a wry smile at what I thought was a tall horse in the field on my right- yes that’s right it was essentially two horses, having sex. Sunday mornings!

    Without more coital observations I arrived at Karl’s in time to be half an hour early – It’s not just the case that I am bad at judging the timing of journeys, I’m just well aware that I’ll get a cuppa made for me if I am more than 15 minutes early.

    Within the hour we were off in Sue’s car up to Braithwaite. The views on the M6 revealed that this would be a fine walking day for us. I didn’t have the slightest idea as to how to get to our start-off point and to add more confusion into the mix we picked up Helen just outside…I want to say Braithwaite but I really don’t know. It was nice seeing Helen again as the last time that we met it was in 2012 when the same four of us were treated to all the mist that good old Pendle Hill could throw at us.

    By ten o’clock we had parked and set off – straight uphill towards the path that would take us up the eastern face of Grisedale Pike. And what a face it was! From relatively early in the route the last push to the summit was clearly visible. However, the views which encapsulated magnificently the other fells from the vicinity served to take one’s mind off the steep slog to come. Most noted was the spectacular vista of the area known as Coaldale Hause (54.579008, -3.256508). In conjunction with this were the lofty summits of Causey Pike and Crag Hill and the lesser peaks of Barrow and Outerside. Further afield a great number of the eastern fells were plainly visible, even i picked out Catstye Cam and Helvellyn, but also on show was Clough Head and Great Dodd from my last trip up to the area. It was mildly amusing that even though my eyesight is nowhere near as keen as it used to be: I could still make out the Weather Radome atop Great Dun Fell with its smaller sibling to the left of this and mighty Cross Fell slightly more left. Even Mickle Fell was plain to see.

    Barrow, Outerside and Crag Hill on the left with Grisedale Pike facing on the right.
    Barrow, Outerside and Crag Hill on the left with Grisedale Pike facing on the right.

    Running parallel to our path – Sleet How, was one which begins at Whinlatter, or more accurately Hospital Plantation which looked like one of those dead straight, relentless paths, I’m usually drawn to paths such as these like an iron filling to a magnet! The path was very kind to us and levelled out a number of times which afforded us countless opportunities to take in the fantastic views of our neighbouring fells and mountains. It was something of a novelty to be walking amongst so much bracken which would eventually give way to seemingly endless bands of heather. Causey Pike tends to dominate the horizon when heading up Catbells or walking around Keswick in general and such was the case – every so often, today with its distinctive knuckles bordering on omnipresent.

     

    Competitor!
    She let me win really!

    As usual, Karl made it to the summit of Grisedale Pike first, I was inspired…but the heat was slowing me down, it was a case of off-again, on-again for my coat. When I was parallel to him I did spy a much younger woman dressed in blue (I think) who might just have made it to the summit before me. This was unacceptable and I quickened my pace to a sprint whilst shouting to Karl “I’ll be dammed if someone’s going to overtake me fifty yards from the summit!” at which he scoffed! Those were the longest fifty yards of my life! Thankfully the girl magnanimously yielded this one-player-race and let me get to the summit before her, I maintain that if she had wanted to be first, she would have been without breaking sweat. All the same, on my way back to Karl I took her photograph.

    The next sections emerge
    The next sections emerge

    I rejoined Karl at the fringe of the summit and waited for Sue and Helen to catch up with us, it wasn’t a long wait. We engaged a mountain biker in conversation, he was waiting for his less-fit friends to make it to the summit and from there they were to film themselves flying down the paths of descent. I remembered the joy of having a mountain biker coming hurtling towards me from March’s Skiddaw ascent. Whilst the others busied their selves with lunch, I decided to keep mine for later and attempted to satisfy myself with one on my pineapple caffeine gels. The gel must have gone passed its use by date as it tasted horrible but did give me some energy – around eight calories worth.

     

    From atop Grisedale Pike, Grasmoor dominates.
    From atop Grisedale Pike, Grasmoor dominates.

    As could be expected, the views were all encompassing, Grasmoor was by now dominant but a great deal of the Lake District could be seen from this loft position at just under two thousand six hundred feet. With regards to altitude, we were now at the apex of the route, there would be more ups and downs granted, but we were not going to get higher than this. However, that being said we then set off downhill for quite some way, which of course meant that on route to our next summit Hobcarton Crag – we had to ascend once more. After the slog up Grisedale Pike, this was child’s play! What seemed like a long way was accomplished in just a few minutes and it was interesting to note just how many other walkers seemed to magically appear. Hobcarton Crag appears essentially to constitute Hopegill Head ( I did reference the point that I never saw Hope Gill, only its head, several times during the day) and within moments we were looking at the next destination Whiteside from the summit of Hopegill Head.

    RidgeWalkWe said a temporary adios to Helen here whom we would rejoin later in the valley. Here the ridge-walk started in earnest as this picture blatantly plagiarised from Karl’s fantastic photo set demonstrates. A nearby fell caught my eye – Ladyside Pike, apparently Mister Wainwright could not fit it into his North Western Fells book, I’ll reserve opinion until I’ve climbed it but Sue was a fan and voiced her observation that from some angles it really does look like a lady on her side. Ah well, not everyone can see the dolphins on ‘Magic Eye’ autostereograms (I can), so I won’t mock or judge! The last time that I walked a real ‘ridge’ was over Longside Edge in March…and then up Skiddaw the scary way (yes, I will concede that route was scary), so it was nice to be on another of these ‘airy’ little pathways in the clouds. I have to admit that I spent a great deal of the time following the aforementioned Mister Wainwright’s advice…watching the ground beneath my feet. Thus ever time that I wanted to take in the scenery I simply stopped. This proved to be a splendid strategy and I never fell once, although I came close to so-doing on a number of occasions!

    Yours truly, with Grasmoor lurking!
    Yours truly, with Grasmoor lurking!

    Once at the summit of Whiteside (and I’m guessing that there are large Quartz deposits on its side which gives the mountain its name), we took some more mandatory summit shots of ourselves and the immediate scenery and had a few moments breather. I’ve walked tougher routes than this, Sca Fell was a pig, the Pike had a good old go at crippling me and Helvellyn tried its best to freeze me to death, but I was feeling quite spent by the time we were face to face with Grasmoor.

    From here the mountain which I would most like to climb (from the North Western fells) looked huge, not unassailable but certainly not something that I would consider attempting this afternoon and was relieved that I didn’t have to think about climbing it. It’s always impressive to see the route that you have achieved – whilst still on it and looking back at the ridge we had just traversed did fill me with wonderment, not least because we now had to go back over it to Hopegill Head once more!

    Some huffing and puffing once more (yes, emanating from me) and we were back at Hopegill Head – none of us feeling the need to go all the way up to its unmarked and largely un-celebrated summit again. On the slopes of the mountain I finally ate my Marks & Spencer’s Jerk Chicken Wrap – it was rather nice, as we contemplated the walk so far and I learned what else was in store for us – namely Sand Hill. So after our leisurely, but much needed stop, we set off on route to Sand Hill, which meant aiming directly at Crag Hill…for a while as that was the direction in which our path ran.

    Crag Hill does appear to be a mightily impressive land mass, it’s understandable that people chose to include this in their Coledale Horseshoes routes. We dropped down Sand Hill and passed by a number of waterfalls and becks – Low Force was quite impressive and audible from a great distance away. Finally we carried on down the valley via the path which runs alongside Coledale Beck, overtaking a large group whom seemed content to sit and dangle their feet in the beck. We caught up to Helen and later spied the disused coal mine – Force Crag Mine which had a distinctive “Good, bad and ugly, spaghetti western” feel to it.

    A couple of miles later and we were all back at Sue’s car at the end of a brilliant day’s worth of walking. Sue’s GPS revealed to us that we had walked roughly three thousand, six hundred feet in altitude over nine point one miles. I hope to come back to this area soon to do the summits at which we gazed today: Causey Pike and its ‘knuckles’, Barrow, Outerside, Crag Hill and not least Grasmoor – I still have three more Wainwright number one’s to do – that is the highest mountain in each of his guides: Grasmoor, High Raise and High Street so it was agonising to be so close to one of them and not tick it off the list…there’ll be another time.

    Song of the walk this time does not actually have a video on YouTube, but the delightful “I Need to Forget” by my former classmate and friend Joanna Koziel was in my head for the majority of the day.


  • Oh, My, Dodd!

    The walk of Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

    I had texted Karl in the week to ask if he was doing a lake District walk at the weekend as it had been a while since we last visited the district together. He rang me up with details of the walk, apparently we would be doing Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson’s Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd then Birkett Fell, Hart Crag and Common Fell. He even proffered a name for the post walk blog – “Doddering about!”.

    Sunday came and unfortunately Karl was unable to join us which left just the three of us, Sue – the walk leader, Lynn – the driver and me…I didn’t have a role!

    We arrived at the Lake District equivalent of four lane ends at ten to ten, so good progress really from Darwen to here. The weather was lovely, well it was when the sun was directly above us, I have, so far this year, had problems keeping warm. This walk would highlight this situation. The first mile was a gentle amble in a general westerly direction with the mighty hulk of Blencathra filling out the horizon. This was too easy, something was going to change, I knew it!

    Some distance away, Clough Head beckons.
    Some distance away, Clough Head beckons.

    And thus after the landmark (which I forgot to photograph) of an old, abandoned railway carriage, we traversed a  stile and set off on the relentless slog up to Clough Head. What a hard slog this was. I’ve done steeper inclines, but not for so long…the terrain was not rough or uncomfortable, but it just kept on keeping on! After many moments we hit our first false summit which brought us more or less parallel with White Pike – 1,370 feet above sea level. At the time I was not aware of its lack of inches! this would be one of the few walks where the count of the number of people I saw was less than thirty. Yet when we finally reached the summit cairn at the top of Clough Head, there was already a couple there who looked like they were going to stop, thus we did not stay long at the top and after having climbed up for ages…dropped back down a couple of hundred feet on route to our next mountain…Great Dodd.

    Great Dodd, living up to its name.
    Great Dodd, living up to its name.

    On the day Sue was equipped (as always) with map and compass and lessons on how to use them. I can honestly say now that I’ve cracked it as at regular intervals myself and Lynne would take turns at getting a bearing. At first I was a little reluctant – some of the easiest procedures in life are a mystery to me, by the end of the day I had picked up the habit of taking bearings…I just need to start using this before I forget it again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the haul up Great Dodd was almost as tough as the preceding one up Clough Head. Given that the former is over five hundred feet higher…it was only to be expected. Fortunately this meant that at the top we were as lofty as we were going to be for the day. However, that didn’t mean that we had finished our ascending for the day as next  (having had a break for something to eat at the excellent shelter atop Great Dodd) we dropped over three hundred feet to Watson’s Dodd.

    Helvellyn, Catstye Cam and Watson's Dodd.
    Helvellyn, Catstye Cam and Watson’s Dodd.

    Sometimes I am tempted to imagine personalities of fells. Yes, that does sound a tad insane but hear me out. Of this locale Hevellyn is the almighty, undisputed star attraction. One can see it from everywhere and (at times) from atop the summit – it should be possible to see the whole of the Lake District. This glory, this limelight would then disseminate on a lessoning scale throughout the rest of the neighbouring fells, with the smaller ones sharing in the limelight in a diminishing scale. Thus, Watson’s Dodd would command less attention than a lot of the fells in its immediate environment. At just about two and a half thousand feet, in the company of others closer to three thousand feet, why would one even bother to wander over to its summit?

    Because the views from Watson’s Dodd, overlooking the beautiful Thirlmere, offer a much more enhanced sense of depth and scale than the views from the much loftier surrounding mountains. Watson’s Dodd maybe one of the smaller of Helvellyn’s clan, but its views make it an undisputed star – in this author’s opinion anyway!

    The 'dark' fell in the middle is Stybarrow Dodd (or at least it should be!).
    The ‘dark’ fell in the middle is Stybarrow Dodd (or at least it should be!).
    Raise with Helvellyn and Catstye Cam.
    Raise with Helvellyn and Catstye Cam.

    We only stayed at Watson’s Dodd for a few minutes, long enough to take some photographs, then headed off in a South East direction towards Stybarrow Dodd. In all honesty, although I was in no way sick of mountains, I can’t really remember much about Stybarrow Dodd and its summit.It has to be said that the tops of the summits all were now sharing a common theme, rounded and a little rocky, thus in the memory it’s hard to remember which one was which.We took to the map once more and set a course for our final Wainwright of the day…Hart Crag on Hart Side.

     

    It never impressed Wainwright, Birkett Fell.
    It never impressed Wainwright, Birkett Fell.

    Next we headed off piste as we took in another summit over two thousand feet but one that the late, great Alfred Wainwright had decided not to include in his Eastern Fells pocket guide – Birkett Fell. At 2,379 feet this was no baby fell though, the summit cairn was large and impressive and the views to the Hight Street ridge and the Kentmere Horseshoe upper reaches were captivating. I have to admit that by this time with all of the ups and downs, my knees were getting a bit jelly-like.

    We then had something of a get together on which route to take back to the car – via the Royal Hotel at Dockray, we could either do a really steep drop down to the valley below which would then result in an onerous ascent back up to the car, or we could cross the ridge and take in the lesser summit of Common Fell, another hill with an mightily impressive cairn and drop in to Dockray via Watermillock Common. Either way would result in a climb back to the car, but one the one featuring Common Fell we knew for definite would offer us a guaranteed route back into the village, the same could not be said for the lower level route. We opted for the ridge walk.

    The summit of Common Fell, our last fell of the day.
    The summit of Common Fell, our last fell of the day.

    Common Fell is a fine hill in its own right, Wainwright never took to it and I’m not sure if it’s a ‘Birkett’. As can be expected from any top in this area, the views are all encompassing, with the neighbouring tops of Round How and Bracken How adding a certain ‘cute’ picturesque quality which only little hills can administer. And so, at around five thirty, we left the fells and dropped into Dockray where we called in at the Royal hotel for a much needed drink stop. After half an hour we headed up the hill back to the car after what had been a thoroughly enjoyable walk in the eastern fells.

    The eastern fells, to me, all look very similar, For Great Dodd see Stybarrow Dodd in turn add a few rocks and you have Raise, the summit of Fairfield is similar to that of Clough Head…only Helvellyn and Catstye Cam stand unique in their appearance…to those who don’t profess to being a concessioner of the Lake District.  What does attract the visitor is the views from these majestic fells, all around is notoriety from the loftiness of the neighbouring Kentmere Horseshoe to the adrenalin of both Swirral and Striding Edge. I do hope to visit the Eastern fells again, but then there are some major summits to tick off my list including the four which remain from my top ten of England:

    1. Great End
    2. Bow Fell
    3. Pillar
    4. Nethermost Pike

    I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do the complete linear walk over the Helvellyn massif – from Dollywaggon Pike to Clough Head (or the reverse way), now I have an insight – bloomin’ hard going!

    Thanks to Sue and Lynne for making it such a great day, especially to Sue for the map and compass lessons.

    Song of the walk: Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend (Official video) – YouTube

    Video of the walk:


  • Cheetham Close and The Jumbles Reservoir

    The walk of Saturday April 30th, 2016

    With the Yorkshire Dales being given a liberal coating of snow, I decided to postpone my latest assault on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge until later in the year. This afforded me the opportunity to visit the small mound answering to the name of Cheetham Close, for the second time in seven days.

    My original route featured in the ascent of Cheetham Close followed by a circular walk around the three main reservoirs of the area: The Turton & Entwistle, The Wayoh and the Jumbles. Ultimately we chose to only do the Jumbles and to save the route featuring the other two for a dryer day, although that being said, we had already done all the muddy stuff at Cheetham Close.

    Here are some pictures from the walk.

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    I have now completed two of the basic four directional routes up to the summit of Cheetham Close and would argue that the route from the North (east-then-north) is my favourite so far. The next time I shall approach from Dimple Hall / Egerton and shall circumnavigate at least one of the local reservoirs. These are easy walks, even if the terrain does get a bit soggy!

  • Trampling over Turton

    These two little peaks: Cheetham Close and Turton Heights, on an unnamed stretch of moorland above Turton and Entwistle Reservoir, had thwarted me twice previously. Cheetham Close can be a bog for the majority of the year, so with the run of good weather lately, now was time to finally nail this littler smasher.

    I dropped Chris off rather early at work, around 7:25 and did consider going back home for a snooze as I didn’t want to be out on the moors too early. The weather forecast was for snow on the high grounds and scattered showers, I didn’t believe it as the preceding day was so nice (tenuous, I know). I arrived at Batridge Road Car Park at Turton and Entwistle Reservoir at around 8:40 and was all booted up by 8:45. I left the car park with map in hand – adamant that this time I was not going to do my usual ‘over-thinking’ thing and take a wrong turning, or a series of wrong turnings as has been the case recently.

    The first "Witton Weavers Way" marker.
    The first “Witton Weavers Way” marker.

    Within a few minutes I was at Greens Arms Road where I crossed the road and headed for a bridal path which ultimately (after about twenty yards) led me to the stile from where I could begin my ascent of Cheetham Close from an unnamed patch of land a few hundred feet north of an area referred to on the map as ‘Three Lowes’. Over the stile I went and essentially this was where the uphill work began. It wasn’t steep and thanks to the recent good weather it wasn’t as sticky as I had feared. The terrain was very reminiscent of the lead-up to Great Hill but obviously without the same kind of gradient. Before long I’d hit my first way-point / marker for the Witton Weavers Way. I kept level headed about this as there are four “Witton Weavers” paths and none of them feature the relevant name on its markers

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

    After a short while, along a route which changed in texture from rough moorland to practically a lawn, the summit of Cheetham Close came into view. I had not expected a huge, lofty peak akin to something that can be found in the Lakes – this is technically a Pennines’ peak, albeit of the Western variety. However at least the obvious summit rose above the surrounding land with no pretensions to subtlety. I was surprised to have to negotiate another two stiles – sheep had been left a long way back and as there were no cows I did wonder what was being enclosed. Within a few minutes I noticed that my track carried on in an North-East / South-West direction until the escarpment, apparently there is a steeper side to this micro-moor – I shall have to investigate further… The path to the summit, a purely organic as opposed to a purposely constructed one, emerged on the left – more or less opposite, another way-marker!

    Another way-marker teling me that I was on the Witton Weavers Way.
    Another way-marker informing me I was on the Witton Weavers Way.
    Winter Hill stands proud in the West.
    Winter Hill stands proud in the West.

    Even an idiot wouldn’t fail to deduce that if one were to turn left here the resultant path would lead to…the summit. Thus, I duly obliged and after five minutes worth of rambling and avoiding the stickiest patches of moorland I was within the neolithic stone circle…I can’t swear testament to the validity of this. Apparently a farmer moved all the stones a number of decades ago, in essence to me this then makes the resulting structure simply a folly, a small folly but a folly all the same. I must admit to not noticing anywhere near as many component parts of this circle as a Google image search returns, perhaps I was more concerned with the trig point! That being said, it appears that I didn’t take as many summit photos – of the summit as I usually do and the only selfie I took is now my Facebook image…

    Let’s be honest, in the field of summit bagging, Cheetham Close is a dwarf, a bottom feeder and back of the pack member. However, the views and the sensation more than made up for its lack of vertical inches…I swear this summit must be riddled with Ley lines or electromagnetism fields of one kind or another as to spend a few moments there, on my own at a ridiculously early time, was sheer joy!

    And yet another Way-Marker.
    And yet another Way-Marker.
    I can't determine if this is Redmonds or Spitlers Edge on Anglezarke Moor.
    I can’t determine if this is Redmonds or Spitlers Edge on Anglezarke Moor.

    After a moment pondering if there would be rain and taking in the views over to what I now know is Affetside, I began my traverse over this moor and onto its northern edge – Turton Heights. For most of the way the path was lovely. However, the warning signs were there – according to the map there was no official path traversing Turton Heights. When the official path reached its end a quick jump across what could only be described as a ditch brought me onto rough terrain. And when I say rough, I mean rough. This was like walking on a long cobbled road, moreover, it was like walking barefoot on a long cobbled road. It was awful. the summit of Turton Heights eventually neared – not the most prominent thing I’ve ever seen, but I couldn’t focus on it for very long as I had to keep looking at my feet in order to not be fouled by this white-grassy covering of a hidden lunar landscape. Turton Heights is nothing short of a waste of labour! The views from what I am assuming was the highest spot – (you can only really tell when you’re not there!), were by and large the same that I could see from the much nicer path which had ended at the ditch.

    Thus having broken my personal record for the least amount of time spent at the summit of a hill…I retraced my footsteps back to the ditch once more. Now I headed left / north and within a few short footsteps the reservoir popped into view again. There are a lot of paths in this environ and I wanted to be sure that I was not going to follow one which would take me miles off course. It was at this point that I felt a drop of snow…and another one!

    The path to...
    The path to…
    ...Greens Arms Road, phew!
    …Greens Arms Road, phew!

    The way ahead was very obvious…and then the path became so wide that it vanished into the landscape, this is not a rare experience for me. Fortunately enough I could see a huge gate to the right of which proudly sat one of the yellow arrows indicating a footpath. Whilst not exactly a leap of faith, I had some trepidations about following this new path, but, it did appear to be on my map and after just a few minutes gradual descent I was at a similar huge gate which when I went through brought me out onto Greens Arms Road. Result!

    Going off piste into the Entwistle Memorial Forest.
    Going off piste into the Entwistle Memorial Forest.
    Entwistle Memorial Forest.
    Entwistle Memorial Forest.
    Yeah! that looks sturdy enough for me...
    Yeah! that looks sturdy enough for me…

    I did fancy the notion of an amble through some woods and fortunately Greens Arms Road offers one a plethora of choices with regards to this fanciful longing. There are scores of the buggers! After following the path through one memorial forest I found myself in front of a sign for another one – Entwistle. I was tempted to walk along the road again, enough of this fool-hardy, off-piste exploring, or…I thought ‘to hell with it, I’m going deeper into the darkness of the forest’s grasp’. I could make out the reservoir in front of me so at no point did I feel lost. It was nice to be off piste, I just had to watch my feet and cross the tiniest of all ad-hoc bridges

    Introducing Zylo!
    Introducing Zylo!
    Into the valley? Not with all this inclement weather. But one day...
    Into the valley? Not with all this inclement weather. But one day…

    After spending a good five seconds contemplating it…I decided to simply climb over the stone wall which separated me and the reservoir’s perimeter path. I never ripped my coat, trousers or skin and the wall remained intact. Yet I was still disappointed when on the path I spied at least another few access points where I could have simply walked without the need to climb anything. I decided to take a few more pictures for the walk’s video… and just as I was about to take another boring shot of a gloomy forest (as the light was really starting to fade now) a dog ran into view. I took the photo anyway and his owner shouted his name. I couldn’t really tell what she said and asked her. His name was “Zylo”, how cool is that?

    I followed the path as it meandered around the reservoir. There were a few joggers out but nowhere near as many as I would have expected to see if the weather had been nicer. By this time we had intermittent rain and snow and the temperature had dropped significantly. I decided to go to the Wayoh reservoir but before I had even got onto Edge Lane the rain took up in force and the lure of my nice warm and dry car and a flask of hot black coffee lured me out of this further adventure.

    Summary

    More like Wintry! This was a  walk of two halves: The good: getting to the top of the very minor but still lovely Cheetham Close was definitely a high point (pardon the pun) and the wander through the Entwistle Reservoir Memorial Forest was a refreshing change. The bad: Turton Heights has no redeeming features. I had arrived at this conclusion on the day that Karl and I traversed the lower slopes last year and when Mark and I did the same walk as part of the Amble. Now, I’ve been to the ‘top’ and yes…Turton Heights is the Mungrisdale Common of the West Pennines and it has a horrid approach from all directions (as far as I can tell).

    The walk stats do not make for impressive reading, just four and a fifth of a mile walked in about an hour and three quarters. Even worse is that there was no song of the walk today (it’s very rare that happens) – post mock exam stress I guess. I do intend to take in Cheetham Close from the other direction – avoiding Turton Golf Course, but I’ll only ever do Turton Heights as part of the Anglezarke Amble!

     

     

     

     


  • Dabbling with Darwen

    The walk of Sunday 10th of April, 2016.

    Or how to not interpret maps well! I thought it would be nice to return to Darwen Hill, after visiting it in February, at pace (Amble, enough said!). I also considered this might be another opportunity to attempt to take in the twin boggy summits of Cheetham Close and Turton Heights and to return to the car via the marsh which is Longworth Moor.

    First view of Cartridge Hill.
    First view of Cartridge Hill.
    Ah now the fact that the very top of this is not black, makes me think this might be White Hill.
    Ah now the fact that the very top of this is not black, makes me think this might be White Hill.

    I arrived at the Crookfield Road car park for around ten o’clock and by seven minutes past was on the road up to Slipper Lowe. Traffic was light, but fast and on several occasions I had to stand on the grass verge in order to avoid on-coming cars. It was a relief when I reached the gate opposite the great, long, stone wall on Tockholes Road and entered safer terrain. I’d noticed, well, could hardly fail to notice the huge stream of cyclists on route as I had driven through Abbey Village, I wasn’t expecting to see more on the moors but within five minutes had already encountered another two. On my right hand side lay the highest hill of this particular moor (Darwen) – Cartridge Hill, I don’t know from where the name originates, I do intend finding out. I must climb this hill in its own right one day. In fact, there are around four or five hills on this moor that may be worth exploring and they all seem to have footpaths leading up to them that the ordnance survey map I was carrying, (West Pennines Explorer:287) knew nothing about.

    Without the zoom Great Hill seems a bit less imposing.
    Without the zoom Great Hill seems a bit less imposing.
    Great Hill looms above the trees plantation.
    Great Hill looms above the trees plantation.

    As I was in no particular rush (oh how I’d come to regret that mindset!), I took the time to take some photographs, this will not be news to any regular reader, but, as I am in the process of building up my West Pennines section of this site, I’m more focussed on getting quality photographs of hills that I might not necessarily be walking up on the current walk of the day. Subsequently, I have a growing collection of Great Hill pictures – it’s beginning to become a favourite hill of mine. That being said, I also needed some photographs of the hills from Darwen Moor and managed to get quite a lot of White and Black Hills…although to be honest, I couldn’t really tell which was which. Yes, this should have been obvious!

    Now that's a long path!
    Now that’s a long path!
    I can't identify these peaks...
    I can’t identify these peaks on the horizon…

    Before very long I was at the start of the summit plateau. Normally this means that there is under an hundred metres or so to go until reaching the top of the hill. In Darwen Hill’s case it means there’s still another mile or so of undulating moorland to go…this did not bother me, I like this area very much. The main path snaked out in front of me and seemed almost never-ending. In almost every direction, peaks of differing heights and with varying amounts of snow capping them, popped up on the horizons – Longridge Fell looked deceptively near. Pendle had a lovely cloak of snow covering it which made me glad I was somewhere which was now getting warmer. I thought that I could see at least two of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks but the snow was not making identification easy. Elsewhere even Ramsbottom’s Bull Hill looked snowbound whereas Harcles Hill – identified by Peel tower, was snow-free, odd seeing as they are next door to each other!

     

    Earnsdale and Sunnyhurst reservoirs.
    Earnsdale and Sunnyhurst reservoirs.
    The trig point with a snow covered Pendle behind.
    The trig point with a snow covered Pendle behind.

    By 12:04 I had made my way to the trig point and tower, had a brief conversation with a dog owner about his gorgeous black Labrador and its penchant for jumping up at people and considered having my lunch. I’d ambled a bit and was aware that with the route I had in my mind…I may need to get my skates on.To be honest, spikes would have served me better in descending the South-Eastern slope of Darwen Hill. Mud was all around. I have to take a tiny bit of ownership for this, I did the Amble – so some of the damage was down to me and the other hundred of us who stomped across this moor without a care in the world. However, I still hold fast to the opinion that mountain bikers are like ploughs to the landscape. Deep ruts in the mud have been formed where these cyclists have followed each other down the slope and walking in these grooves is a challenge, walking and trying to avoid these grooves is just infuriating. I never realised just how many paths connect to the one that Karl and I and Mark and I ascended the last two times that I have walked up this hill. And therein lies my mistake…

    See sign for details.
    See sign for details.
    A lovely house in the middle of this tiny estate.
    A lovely house in the middle of this tiny estate.

    Because at one point or another, I should have taken a right hand turn which would have led me towards Cadshaw Farm – my intended destination. Even when I was fortunate enough to find a large map type sign indicating where I was in relation to the surrounding area…I headed for (according to the map) Cadshaw Valley. Or at least I would have done if I had turned right (again) but once I had walked another five hundred yards or so downhill, I passed a farm – Green Lowe Farm. This did not bode well, instead of coming out on the A666 at Cadshaw and I would have known if I had got this right as Great Hill would have greeted me, apparently I was now heading towards Whitehall. According to the map; this would put me a further mile closer towards Darwen town centre. No problem. I figured I could make up the time as this equated to another fifteen to eighteen minutes walking along by the side of the A666. One detail impacted upon this…the A666 to Cadshaw from here is uphill and what I had thought would take just under twenty minutes took the best side of half an hour.

    By the time I had crossed the 666 – this was easier than I’d thought it would be, I was feeling very deflated.I checked with Google Maps that I was heading in the right direction, I was and I headed onwards in search of Edge Lane which I knew would lead me down towards the Turton and Entwistle reservoir and from there to Green Arms Road. I’d forgotten what Edge Lane’s A666 entrance looked like – rarely do roads keep the same name (when you want them to), so when I reached Bull Hill Lane I called Karl to confirm that this would take me where I wanted. The short answer was ‘No’ I needed to keep on going along the A666 until the next left hand, gated turning. Excellent.

    The gate to Edge Lane with what I hoped was the Turton Heights massif behind.
    The gate to Edge Lane with what I hoped was the Turton Heights massif behind.
    ...and from there into beauty. Peel Tower and Bull Hill spring up from nowhere!
    …and from there into beauty. Peel Tower and Bull Hill / Scholes Height, spring up from nowhere!

    I took the turning, thinking it was funny how much scenery I had missed when doing February’s Amble – the countryside viewable from Edge Lane is just beautiful.What I had thought was a snow covered Bull Hill must have been another hill altogether as here was Bull Hill (the Ramsbottom version) as seen from near Bull Hill (the Darwen version). The distant views to the South Pennines revealed that they were snow free, whereas the Dales and Trough of Bowland had definitely been hit. Whilst it’s true to say that I was under a certain degree of self-asserted pressure with regards to timing, it was lovely to be walking in the sun. Karl’s guidance rang clear through my mind ‘go passed the Strawberry Duck’…so why I chose to not do this…beats me. I dropped down the hill at a good speed, every step getting me closer to my next landmark – the reservoir. Alas, there are a number of reservoirs in these parts and it was only when I was by the side of one that I noticed with dread the sign which read – Wayoh reservoir. Curse those bloomin’ right turns which I kept refusing to do!

    The Wayoh, a 'pin-up' of a reservoir.
    The Wayoh, a ‘pin-up’ of a reservoir.

    The plus side was that the Wayoh is stunning. Okay, on a sunny day, most reservoirs are lovely to look at. The Wayoh is different, it’s in the same league as Thirlmere and the Lower Ogden reservoir, a timeless beauty. I couldn’t put it into words, I didn’t even spend long in its company. But, I will return one day (hopefully this summer) to do the three reservoirs walk. I was now under no illusion, I would not be able to make it back to the car for three-thirty (the latest time that I thought I would have to leave by in order to not have Chris waiting after a hard day’s work). But what to do? I searched the map and my brain thinking of an alternative route. I stopped a passing gentleman and asked if he knew if the path (we were on)  led to Green Arms Road. Alas, no. the path did skirt the reservoir but it did not lead to Green Arms Road. He said that there was a town nearby – Chapeltown – curses, that put me even further away than I had thought. I would have to retrace my steps (oh joy up another hill!) back to the pub and pass it as per Karl’s guidance!

    Having ascended the lane, which felt twice as steep as when I had descended it, I took the turning in front of the pub and gradually dropped towards Turton and Entwistle reservoir. It was nice to see so many people out and about and not taking wrong – turnings (okay, let this go now!). I could see the massif which contains both Cheetham Close and Turton Heights, could I still make it? Then I remembered just how treacherous the continuation of the route was. Longworth Moor is a marsh in everything but name – it would take at least an hour to get through that, it would take at least an hour to get through the various car parks and fields near the reservoir and up Cheetham Close and there was always the skulking enemy – my apparent lack of direction, with which to contend. I headed for a bench, sat down, poured myself a coffee and ate my rather tasty Spar Chicken Mayo sandwich. I mulled things over.

    I knew that I was up to the task of bolting over Cheetham Close, that was not in question. But, getting lost at the top – in spite of its apparent openness, was something at which I was becoming alarmingly adept. I finished my lunch, made way to the car parks and headed towards Green Arms Road, which was pretty much right in front of me. I could see a turning that would grant access to the moors and more than likely the route (one of many) up to the hill. But the old sniper inside my head taunted me with jibes about getting lost once more. I called Karl on his mobile. Thankfully he was in the area – well, at home, so he was able to pick me up and run me back over to my awaiting car at Crookfield Road. I arrived at the car at around two fifteen, plenty of time to get home after all.

    Summary

    This could have been a great walk. No, scrub that. Not all walks are successful in achieving what we had meant to do at the start or in the preparation stages. Yes, it’s true that once again I had fallen foul of the ‘too many paths on the ground’ scenario which had tripped me up at Turton Moor last year and Spence Moor in 2010. But, I had still walked just shy of ten miles, ascended the lovely Darwen Hill, had a quick natter with Karl and got some much needed exercise and some sun on my face. How could any of that been a failure? I promise to myself to save up for a decent GPS system. With so many of us walking these days then old paths are going to get so wide as to be indistinct and new ones are going to emerge which aren’t going to be on any map until years later.  A GPS device will help by letting me know exactly where I am. A further promise to myself is to come back to the area and complete the “Three Reservoirs Circuit” – Wayoh, Turton and Jumbles as I’m sure this will be a rewarding walk in itself without needing to add a hill or extend it into the tens of miles type that I do at the moment.

    Song of the walk: Ellie Goulding’s This Love


  • Persisting at Pendle

    The walk of Saturday 2nd of April, 2016, with my lovely partner Chris(tine).

    This was my second visit to Pendle and the weather, it has to be said, was a bit inclement. This walk was our compromise, I had wanted to go to the Lakes and have a go at a ‘Half Newlands’ featuring High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells. But, with the weather set to be somewhat abysmal in the northern half of the country, we settled on good old Pendle – as I know this hill better than any other and would more than likely get us there and back safely.

    Whilst it’s true to say that we weren’t experiencing hurricane force winds, there was enough rain around to leave us saturated after roughly twenty minutes, but more of that later…We set off, finally, for I’d had reservations but Chris just wanted to ‘go for it’, at roughly 12:03. We had tried ‘sitting it out’ in the Cabin café but this had proved fruitless. I’d decided ahead of time, no matter what the weather: I wasn’t going to go via my normal route – I really don’t like the two fields adjacent to Pendle House. Of all the alternative routes, simply walking up Barley Road seemed to be the most obvious – all that needed to be done was to watch out for cars flying around the copious sharp bends.

    The turn-off for Salt Pie and Windy Harbour.
    The turn-off for Salt Pie and Windy Harbour.
    Aitken Wood appears to be looming over Lower Black Moss Reservoir.
    Aitken Wood appears to be looming over Lower Black Moss Reservoir.

    Walking past the turning for the oddly named Salt Pie and Windy Harbour brought back happy memories of the last time that I did Pendle in the rain with Sue, Helen and Karl and I wished that the weather had been better so that we could have done the longer walk which I had planned. The road certainly made for much easier walking than any of my normal routes would have done. It was long before we reached the lane which would lead us by Pendle House and up to the splitting of the paths.

     

     

    Just to highlight how wet it had been…my camera has fogged up.
    Just to highlight how wet it had been…my camera has fogged up.
    The cruel slope of this legend of a hill.
    The cruel slope of this legend of a hill.

    In the first section of the walk we scarcely saw any other walkers. Even on a quiet day the Barley steps route is normally draped in walkers in various states of fatigue. Today I don’t remember seeing one for the majority of the climb. Yes, we had chosen to take the steps route – I’ll hold my hand up and say for the record that I do prefer going up the slope for simply walking and up the steps for making out myself to be some kind of walking super hero (which obviously I am not!). The first hundred yards are the hardest part of this route purely because here is where the steps are at their deepest / highest (delete as per your understanding) – each step upwards seems big! The mist and rain made photograph taking something of a futile activity.

    I noticed that the main ‘stepped’ route is now supporting a number of branch-off routes. I’m not sure that this route needs any adding to as this is the second most direct route from this aspect and the branching can only possibly link to the route up which I have named ‘the middle way’. Yes folks there is a steeper route up this hill, fortunately it’s also about a quarter of a mile shorter. All the same, I do hope this vogue of ‘adding a branch’ is not taken up – it would be a shame to add a great big scar to the side of this majestic hill.

    A Marshall for the Pendle Fell race taking part today.
    A Marshall for the Pendle Fell race taking part today.
    Chris went and pinched the first to the trig point opportunity.
    Chris went and pinched the first to the trig point opportunity.

    Before very long we were at the apex, at the ‘Downham Wall’. If one were to hop over the wall stile then apparently a path will lead one to the Scout Cairn. I’ve fallen for this before and ended up dropping down the path all the way to Downham and had to duly head back up the hill again. One day, perhaps when the mist is in remission for an hour or two I may try and locate this illusive landmark. For now we were happy to be at the end of the serious climbing and onto the summit plateau. I’ve read various reports on just how far from the apex of the path to the trig point is…personally I don’t think it’s two hundred feet…more like around quarter of a mile (1,320). The mist was so thick that the trig point was not visible until we were something like twenty feet away from it. What I though had been it turned out to be a Marshal from the Pendle Fell race – yes people were planning on running up here today. The summit was freezing and I joked to hime (the language of which I shall clean up) ‘Who did you upset to get that job?’. He laughed but was gobsmacked at the same time.

    I don’t think we were at the trig point for more than five minutes. My hands were freezing and within ten minutes of leaving the ordnance survey column I put my gloves on. Oddly enough this simple act aided my concentration and I didn’t miss the turn-off for the slope for our descent back to Pendle House. I hadn’t fancied the idea of tackling the steps on the way down – they scare me when they are dry, let along wet. The start / end of the slope has of course now been split into two paths – in this case it makes sense to have one for ascent and another for descent – the ascending one may only be fifteen yards or so in length – but it’s steep enough to put this walker off descending it.

    Our ‘slope’ path back down to Pendle House.
    Our ‘slope’ path back down to Pendle House.
    All that Barley has to offer…unseen.
    All that Barley has to offer…unseen.

    We were on the slope now and dropping gently. The last time that I dropped down this route I lost two things: 1 My footing (as it was icy) and 2 My Ingersoll watch. I made sure that my cheap Casio one was on tight. From here, on a clear day, you get the chance to take in the essentials of Barley – the café, the four main reservoirs and all of the smaller pond-sized ones and all of the farmsteads. Today, well the colours were all washed out making most things hardly worth a second glance. Still, what did matter was that we had walked up a really hard hill. At times, in places, Pendle can compete with the best and highest that England has to offer.

    Chris strides on, whilst I try find something that my camera can focus on.
    Chris strides on, whilst I try find something that my camera can focus on.
    The path around the back of Pendle House.
    The path around the back of Pendle House.

    At the bottom of the slope our path linked with the steps path and we made our way back down to Pendle House. As could be expected, there were more walkers on route now (we had met a couple near to the apex of the way up), but now there was the odd group and a number of couples walking. I didn’t fancy the fields route – it can be very slippery, so we opted to take the same way back as we had set out. This meant the road once more. From here on it was a case of looking at the scenery that we had missed on the way up! Linking Barley to the quaint little postage-stamp sized village of Newchurch in Pendle is one of the steepest roads that I’ve walked up, Cross Lane. Today, Cross Lane was one of the few ‘objects’ which I could discern amongst the mist.

    Cross Lane peeps out of the centre foreground.
    Cross Lane peeps out of the centre foreground.
    A look back though the village to where Pendle should be!
    A look back though the village to where Pendle should be!

    Although there had been quite a bit of traffic on our drive up to Barley, it seemed to be bypassing the village and thankfully our journey back down to the car park and visitor centre was incident free. We were both soaked to the skin and to be honest the wind really hadn’t put in a good enough show to dry us out! The cup of coffee at the Cabin helped thaw me out, to be honest I had warmed up as soon as we set foot on the slope back downhill. I was surprised to see upon our arrival that the car park was now almost full, but then I remembered those crazy individuals taking part in the fell race. Upon leaving the centre we saw a vast group of contestants outside the village hall, they all looked eager to set off and get warm.

    Summary

    Map my Hike tells me that we walked for just over five miles and ascended one thousand, four hundred and seventy feet. Given the conditions I was very happy with this. I’m happier still that Chris and I got to the top of Pendle in only one hour and ten minutes, no mean feat.

    Again, there was no ‘Song of the walk’ – I was too busy talking! But below is the montage of rather washed photos that I managed to take.


  • Great Friday!

    This was the walk of Good Friday (March 25th), 2016.

    The Half Amble

    I’m a bit sentimental, a bit reflective. There that’s got that over and done with, in short I wanted to go back to the site of my last walking triumph…Rivington. Well, to be honest, most walks these days are triumphs in their own ways.

    1. I’m definitely getting fitter
    2. Chris is showing much more interest in walking with me
    3. I have more confidence in finding my way around these days

    So, in the spirit of wanting to: A Go for a long(ish) walk and B Go somewhere where I could be guaranteed to meet lots of people (I still don’t like being on my own for long amounts of time), Rivington fitted the bill just right.

    Having dropped Chris off at work for around ten to nine I headed off to Burscough, called in at Tesco, got something to eat for later and some cash – in case of sudden hunger – I had an inkling that there would be ‘burger vans’ at Rivington. It was a little before ten before I got to the drive at Rivington Barn and a little after before I managed to get parked – it was busier than I had imagined and I had expected it to be quite busy. As luck would have it, where I ended up parking probably took about five minutes off my overall time as I was so near to the barn itself. Ordinarily I despise the slight upwards walk along the drive to the side of the barn. Why? I really can’t answer that!

    A gaggle of pathwreckers – cyclists!

    So up the cobbled slope at the left hand side of the barn (from my p.o.v.), I went. As could be expected, there was a lot of pedestrians to overtake. I say pedestrians as this was evidenced by the countless number of people in shoes and trainers and other obvious signs that the owner of the footwear was not a regular walker. I’m not being snobby here, I too used to adorn inappropriate footwear when I used to make my annual pilgrimage to ‘The Pike’ on a bank holiday Monday. I reckoned that I had overtaken fifty people within the first few hundred yards. At the summit of the cobbled path (which does become less cobbled with progress) I headed left and then right then straight on to take me down a winding path that is essentially directly around the rear of the barn (it’s nowhere near as complicated as my description). Within a few yards I made my way through a kissing gate (eventually) and was by now beginning to get into the rhythm of the walk…when I wasn’t being somewhat curtailed by ‘tourists’. From a distance I could see the pike quite clearly and with this came the realisation that (already) there was a lot of people at the tower. This was going to be one of my less lonesome visits!

    Once I had passed a large amount of people and dogs I noticed that I was making good progress and decided to take a more circuitous route to the tower which meant staying on my horizontal path all the way to the section of the area known as Higher Knoll. Next I took a left hand swing to bring me in the general direction of the disused toilet block (oh doesn’t this sound a glamorous walk?) and from there a simple right turn through the large gates and onto the part-cobbled / part-stepped path to the pike. Regular readers of my blog will recall that I have this on-going challenge to never stop walking in between the gates and the summit until I reach the top of the steps. I doubted that I would be able to adhere to this today owing to the large volume of people on route (who were quite accomplished plodders). Nevertheless, I go to the top, admittedly at one time I was practically walking in place…but I did it.

    A headless dog, a man with 'moobs' and shed loads of others atop the Pike.
    A headless dog, a man with ‘moobs’ and shed loads of others atop the Pike.

    The summit views were as clear as I could have hoped but at the same time there were so many people around that I could hardly gaze off into the distance for fear of someone growling “Hey stop eyeing up me bird!”. Thus, I took about three or four photographs and began the next stage of my walk, the mini trudge over Brown Hill. I don’t mind the descent to the south from the pike. However, once the real drop is over and done with I once again found myself on a cobbled road (Belmont) that was at best a bit bumpy and hard on the feet. With the ‘burger vans’ and a handful of stalls on route there was more to look at than on a normal visit, there were more people even on this side of the hill. It’s rare to meet anyone on route to Crooked Edge Hill coming from the Wilderswood area – today there were scores of them!

     

    Rivington Pike adorned with 'tourists'
    Rivington Pike adorned with ‘tourists’
    Nostalgia rules! This sign marks the point where the Amble path splits from the Rotary Way.
    Nostalgia rules! This sign marks the point where the Amble path splits from the Rotary Way.

    Since doing the Amble last month (February) I have stopped hating Crooked Edge Hill, it was an irrational hatred I concede that. Today, after the pike and its myriad of pilgrims it was nice to have an area of land to myself. I resolved to not try any record breaking and to simply enjoy the walk up to Two Lads. Yes, I did feel all nostalgic when I neared the sign where the Amble path splits off from the Rotary Way / path to the summit and duly took a photograph of it – this won’t mean anything to anyone else but for me it was a nice memory. I did make quite swift progress to the cairn atop the hill and was relieved to see a couple were there having a respite. I say relieved because I had been on my own for a good five minutes now!

    The male member of the couple greeted me and we started bragging about which hills we had climbed lately, his Sharp Edge transit over Blencathra trumped my Skiddaw – even if mine was physically more demanding (I’ll never do Sharp Edge so this is largely theoretical from my point of view), but then my recounting of completing the Amble trumped pretty much anything he had to offer, I won (if only in my mind). Five minutes of chatting later saw me check my watch and whilst I was relieved to see it was not yet twelve o’clock, I had a pressing need to continue walking for fear of stopping altogether and consoling myself with the knowledge that I had done the pike in thirty two minutes if nothing else. I pressed on, Winter Hill was next.

    The antenna array.
    The antenna array.
    Counting Hill lurking on the distant left and my route of descent in the left hand foreground.
    Counting Hill lurking on the distant left and my route of descent in the left hand foreground.

    Some days the tarmac road up to Winter Hill feels endless…today was one of those. However, it was very nice to bump into other ‘genuine’ walkers – the type with real walking boots on that actually look like they have seen dizzier heights than those little bridges present in each Go outdoors store. I considered stopping for an early lunch, the coolness of the air gently persuaded me otherwise. I’ll concede to speeding up my walk here as essentially once one has seem the mighty antenna array at this locale…there’s never the extensive views that the web in general promises. I did hope to try and grab a picture of the much understated ‘Counting Hill’…I failed. Now after over an hour of walking uphill I would drop down the side of Winter Hill (and Counting Hill) for over a mile, glorious!

    The glade at the bottom of the path.
    The glade at the bottom of the path.
    Belmont Village as seen from my descent path.
    Belmont Village as seen from my descent path.
    Somewhere in the foreground is the continuation of my route...
    Somewhere in the foreground is the continuation of my route…

    I was now headed for the A675 – Belmont Road and had a slight reservation as to whether I’d be able to cross this often busy road safely. I need not have worried, it was, for all intents and purposes dead and I lazily strolled over the road towards the turning for Greenhill Farm. The turning was reached within a matter of fifty feet or so and I was soon on the nice, flat tarmac path…for another fifty feet or so and then it was into slightly foreign territory. Although I had walked along this section of my route the month before – I was following someone then, I was on my own now and I have an irritating habit of going off-piste without meaning to do so. With this in mind I simply made sure that I stuck to what I could remember and took note of the terrain watching out for flattened grass / reeds (it’s a very wet area) and for stiles at the opposite side from where I was.

    The ornamental reservoir near Greenhill farm.
    The ornamental reservoir near Greenhill farm.

    It filled me with a certain nostalgia to be carefully watching my feet and re-living the Amble walk in this bumpy and wet terrain. I do wonder how long it takes this little neck of land to recover from having a couple of hundred pairs of feet stomp all over it in the dead of Winter. I dropped down to the stream, making use of the sturdy footbridge and then headed up to Egerton Road. A left turn and then a right and I was heading up a sheep-filled pasture towards the road which leads down to Belmont reservoir. The sheep were curious but kept their distance. I had naively believed that at the reservoir began the path known as Catherine Edge, this is not correct. Catherine Edge actually begins a good few hundred yards north east of here closer to where the second Amble checkpoint is at Charley’s Pole (there is no pole), so what my path was called I have no idea.

    I don't know the name of the hill in the centre of the photo...if you do then please let me know.
    I don’t know the name of the hill in the centre of the photo…if you do then please let me know.
    Here's one I did earlier...Winter Hill looking a very long way away.
    Here’s one I did earlier…Winter Hill looking a very long way away.

    All the same I was fairly sure of where I was going…I carried on in a straight line until ultimately I found that dead end into which I always wander on each walk. a helpful farmer (no comment) put me back on track and within a few hundred feet I was once more in an environment that I vaguely recognised. I hadn’t seen many people on route since dropping off Winter Hill but all of a sudden, in ones and twos they began to appear.

     

     

    Catherine Edge(?) meets Crookfield Road
    Catherine Edge(?) meets Crookfield Road

    I was in very good spirits by now as Map My Hike continued to inform me of my progress, the twenty-six minute miles were now behind me and I was onto the eighteen-minute ones on this rural express-way. I was loving it. The weather had taken a turn for the sunny as well and for once I unzipped my coat. Finally, it became very obvious that my path merged with the infamous Catherine Edge as both paths came to and end at just outside Tockholes. I took a turn off down a shady lane hoping it would lead me to Hollinshead Hall, yes, success. This was the end of the second section of the route – I do like to split things up into sections.I was aware of a foreboding presence, lurking on the horizon, out of sight but filling my mind. Great Hill was now just around the corner. I stopped for lunch and some coffee. Once again, people appeared seemingly from nowhere, a couple shared my locale whilst they had their lunch, he had a cigarette which smelled divine! I put Map My Hike on pause. It was lovely to sit and relax, except for a part of me knew what lay around the corner. Having ascended Great Hill as part of the Amble I knew it was easier than it looked…but still it was somehow taunting me, as if calling out to me that all hope of truly relaxing was going to be denied to me until I had conquered the beast. I finished my wraps and set off with a renewed zeal.

    Great Hill makes an appearance.
    Great Hill makes an appearance.

    Great Hill is not a difficult hill…it just thinks it is! Any former Ambler will agree with this. After all it’s just 1,250 feet tall…a dwarf of a hill compared to some of the giants I’ve nailed in the last few years. All the same, once I’d crossed the A675 again and made my way through the opening mud-pool…I remembered how energy sapping a wet field can be and a wet hill is even worse. At times the path went out of vision on the ground and I resorted to ‘which bit looks most distressed’ as this would indicate that a few hundred fellow travellers had bounded over here a month earlier. At one point I did pass over the world’s most pointless stile and then into my line of sight came the top. Alas, I had erased from my memory the fact that there is a rather spiteful little false summit something like seventy-five percent of the way up, it had caught me out again. Oh well, no point getting angry…onwards. I passed a couple and joked that I didn’t know why I was walking up this hill for the second time in two months, they seemed to find this amusing…or at least within earshot they laughed!

    And so within thirty five minutes of standing on its toes, I was atop the mighty lump that is Great Hill, and for a moment was quite shattered. Once more people seemed to be gathering. Within the next ten minutes, whilst I sipped the remainder of my coffee, I must have seen another ten people. I was very glad to have reached the top before three o’clock as this confirmed to me that I should be able to do the route that I had set out to complete within my time-frame. All that was left now was to bolt over Redmonds Edge, Spitlers Edge down Will Narr and then into Rivington via Limestone Quarry / Valley / I really don’t know its name and Bing Maps is not helping me here! Sounds easy does it not?

    Winter Hill and most of the expansive Anglezarke Moor spread out before me.
    Winter Hill and most of the expansive Anglezarke Moor spread out before me.
    The slabbed path heading south across Anglezarke Moor.
    The slabbed path heading south across Anglezarke Moor.

    And for the most part it was. It’s hard to restrain oneself from going full speed when coming off Great Hill heading overall southerly. Not that this is a particularly steep drop, indeed, that’s the point, because it’s so easy a gradient – we fly down it! Within five minutes I had torn across the wonderful slabbed path and was at the lowest part of this moor. Every few minutes a new pair or group of walkers would emerge from the horizon, in most cases we’d greet each other warmly – this can be a lonely old place and it’s always nice to be nice to others.
    Redmonds Edge was reached very swiftly, easily, Spitlers Edge followed quickly thereafter. A lot of the route has now been made much easier by the addition of these slabs but, herein lies its own problem: when the slabs run out, we’re kind of lost! For less than a hundred yards I was watching my feet as I stumbled my way through the wet peaty upper reaches of the moor. I fell victim to the sucking, clawing, grasp at me from the evil tendrils of the ground beneath my feet, just as a power walking couple were about to overtake me. I groaned then laughed, they laughed and then continued to laugh. Unbeknown to the couple they had just become the trailblazers, the ones to follow. Both myself and the couple in front now hopped from one dry patch to another until, quite by surprise a deer came fleet of foot, but not full canter (do deer canter?) across the moor in front of us. We were all captivated, this was spring in action. None of us could retrieve our camera quickly enough to capture this delightful sight and to be honest it would have probably just been a bit of a blur anyway.

    Other walkers atop Great Hill.
    Other walkers atop Great Hill.

    I had forgotten all about the separating wall which pointlessly divides the fields at this point as I walk towards them I got talking to an elderly couple (well, they were older than me ha!) about our days walks contrasting and comparing. I forget now where they said they had been that day but I do remember the man being impressed with my route (I am a bit vain!) and they were still deciding on which route to take next. He referred to the way that I was now going as Lead Mines Clough – I accepted this as I really didn’t have information to the contrary. There was just one stile to use in order to get to the next field, alas the woman was taking an eternity to traverse the thing as she was slipping whilst trying to haul herself over it. I decided to look around for an alternative route and found a large enough hole in the fence for me to just about get through. I bid the couple farewell and continued on my own. It was now getting closer to my three o’clock deadline…I had to be back at the car for four o’clock and if I didn’t think this was possible by three o’clock I should book a taxi for Chris.

    After some more hopping around from dry patch to dry patch I finally arrived at Will Narr and looked around for the plaque donated by the ‘Friends of the Yarrow’ which indicates the start of the mighty river Yarrow…I couldn’t see it anywhere, damn! There appears to be some sort of ground work in progress at Will Narr, there is a large hole dug out of the side of the rise very near to the top of the slope (sorry my words don’t do it justice). I decided not to take a picture of it…it’s just not pretty and knowing me, I’d have fallen in.

    Believe me, there are easier ways to get up Winter Hill than this!
    Believe me, there are easier ways to get up Winter Hill than this!

    I made my way to Rivington Road, took a photo of the ridiculously hard-going path up Winter Hill via Hordern Stoops which the power walkers had taken (ha, they’d regret that!) and began the long drop down towards Rivington via Moses Cocker (Bing really is crap at naming roads, even on ‘Road’ view). I had meant to use the path to Catter Nab which I had seen on a previous walk with Chris, but decided against this as to do so would just make my route harder and longer. By this time I had already walked almost thirteen miles. I bid a cheerful farewell to the moors behind me, for now I would be roadside walking all the way back down this long and winding road, not exactly safe – but definitely drier than my last hour and a half’s walking.

     

     

    Noon Hill rises like a tiny pyramid.
    Noon Hill rises like a tiny pyramid.
    Starting in the centre and heading up, meet the 'Super path' which does look an absolute pig to ascend.
    Starting in the centre and heading up, meet the ‘Super path’ which does look an absolute pig to ascend.

    From this aspect, the minor lump which is Noon Hill gained a profile all of its own. I have walked over it twice but to be honest I don’t get the whole ‘It’s neolithic’ hype. to me it’s very much in Winter Hill’s shadow. As I passed by the turn off for the ‘super path’ I did consider revising my decision, but, no: the path could wait for another day. The views across Anglezarke and as far afield as the Peak District where so good that I cursed my inability to name what I could see. That should not detract from the quality of this walk though. I knew that although not a busy road per se, this was a road that can (and does) bring out a driver’s need for speed. I had to cross the road a number of times, estimating where potential death might occur from some lunatic flying around the corner at sixty. As you’re reading this, you can assume that my estimations served me well. It seemed hardly any time at all before I was turning left off Rivington Road and onto Belmont Road (seriously, why can they not give more than one name to different streets in this locale?) at 53.631227, -2.552341.

    No puddles and an Ice Cream van!
    No puddles and an Ice Cream van!

    The last time that Chris and I were here there was a bit of snow and a vast puddle which cars were struggling to get through, fortunately the puddle had receded, the sun was by now blazing away and it was only three-twelve, I should make it back to the car in no more than fifteen minutes. There was even time for me to buy an ice cream from the van parked up at the meeting of the paths…but as I had just burned off around two thousand calories I thought this might appear, well…stupid, so I just headed back to the car instead.

    I eased my way through the paddock at ‘The Meeting of the Paths’ after struggling to open the gate. This area is normally rife with sheep but I think the superabundant human presence was having some affect on that and I don’t remember seeing any. A five minute walk down the same cobbled path that I had walked up five and a quarter hours earlier and I was back in front of the Barn. There were a lot more bikers around now and the enchanting smell of hot coals and beefburgers was getting in my head. I restrained from eating and simply absorbed what I had done – Map My Hike said that I’d hiked 14.85 miles. Actually I forgot to switch it from ‘pause mode’ when I had my lunch and only remembered half way up Great Hill!

    Summary

    Without doubt, this is the best, most enjoyable solo walk that I’ve done. Yes the weather helped greatly. A growing familiarity with the environment also helped. But, more so a new born confidence in me has helped immensely – I’m no longer terrified of being on my own. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

    Stats:
    I walked roughly fifteen miles over around 1,883 feet and it took me just short of five hours actual walking – though there was the pause mode mess-up to take into account.

    Song of the walk – well, there wasn’t one. I know it sounds a bit soppy but I was thinking about my lovely partner Christine (who was at work), my friends, colleagues and I was also busy reminiscing about the Amble and how much I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year! However, here is a musical montage of the photos I took:

    Downloading the route:
    Sadly, WordPress is far more Draconian than it ever was! It takes over your server. Thus if you want to download the .gpx file for this route then you would need to do the following:

    1. Right click on the “Download the GPX file Text box
    2. If you’re using Chrome or Firefox select Save Link As…
    3. Save the file somewhere memorable on your PC or device
    4. If Internet Explorer is your choice of browser, then:
      1. select Save target as…
      2. In the file requester pick a destination for the file and save it there.
      3. For some reason, IE tries to rename the file as a .xml or .txt instead of .gpx. If this happens then just rename it back once the download has finished.

    [easy_media_download url=”http://www.fatgoatwalks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/gpx/TheHalfAmble.gpx” text=”Download the GPX file” force_dl=”1″ width=”250″]

    The route according to Map My Hike:
    Half Amble Route
    [sgpx gpx=”/wp-content/uploads/gpx/TheHalfAmble.gpx”]


  • Catching up with an old friend

    The walk up to and over Pen Y Ghent on Saturday March 19th, 2016.

    I had felt a certain un-right, for some time. I should explain, when Colin, Darren and I attempted our Yorkshire Three Peaks in Reverse late last summer, we missed out our old friend Pen y Ghent owing to bad navigation. This was something that I had regretted since then. So, when Christine (my partner) handed me my “Walks in Ribblesdale” book back with the suggestion of us doing ‘Walk number six’ – I was delighted, this was the walk from Horton to Pen y Ghent and back via Plover Hill.

    We left home at 08:04, our first stop was the Lancaster Service Station near junction 34 for breakfast. Back on the road and our Tom Tom sat nav then proceeded to guide us through most of the back roads of the Craven area. Suffice to say, we didn’t arrive at Horton in Ribblesdale until something like ten to eleven…the train wouldn’t have been much slower! All the same, as the masses have thus far forgotten about the Yorkshire Dales – until the first “Three Peaks” sponsored walk, around about mid-April, thus parking was easy at the long stay car park and the overflow one wasn’t even in use. It’s not cheap to park here any more, as for over two hours now costs £4.50, on a par with Keswick Prices.

    Pen y Ghent is now appearing to look much bigger as we get closer.
    Pen y Ghent is now appearing to look much bigger as we get closer.
    What we'd done so far. the path back to Bracken Bottom.
    What we’d done so far. the path back to Bracken Bottom.

    By 11:04 we were all booted and readied and on route to the hill. Bracken Bottom was the first named area that we traversed, with fond memories I flashed back to the last time that I was here and displaying a ‘tally-ho’ attitude towards the steep trek up this field akin to the farm. On my Y3P day I held nothing in reserve, today I was more than happy to take in the scenery and chat with Chris. We did see a number of people on route but the only ones whom passed us, we then passed at later stages in the walk. We both enjoyed the little scramble stages as we headed east towards the first major wall stile. The route then gets a bit more gentle as more limestone to be surmounted; juts out of the ground. I especially like this way of tackling the mountain as it is such a varied route. Yes, although the overall trajectory is unmistakeably up, there are both flat and downhill sections.

    In your face. The nose of Pen y Ghent is now within touching distance.
    In your face. The nose of Pen y Ghent is now within touching distance.
    A hazy view over to Ingelborough and the two walkers behind us.
    A hazy view over to Ingleborough and the two walkers behind us.

    The last downhill section before the joining of paths soon came and went and as we neared the Pennine Way path I did wonder what had happened to the two gigantic ladder stiles which used to reside at this wall. This section seemed to serve as a natural stopping point, the couple and their dog, with whom we had been swapping places for the last half mile, decided to take a respite here and we took the opportunity to carry on up the fearsome southern face of Pen Y Ghent. Here the path gets a lot steeper (and this is coming from someone who did Ullock-Skiddaw on his previous walk!). I knew that it was less than half a mile to the summit, but even previous experience of having walked this route does not prepare one for the sight of the steep rocky staircase that we now had to ascend. We now had a lot of knee work to do…and both enjoyed it!

    The steps that had accelerated our progress so far.
    The steps that had accelerated our progress so far.
    Fountains Fell or Darnbrook Fell (or both).
    Fountains Fell or Darnbrook Fell (or both).

    Between scrambling sections there are opportunities to take photos of the two adjacent fells: Fountains and Darnbrook, but on the day I was at a loss as to which was which! It was a joy to see other walkers on route – this was still not ‘crowd-pulling’ weather so it was nice to not be harassed up the stony track, which can happen when the mountain is festooned with people attempting to walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks. It was around six and a half years since I last did this mountain purely for pleasure instead of a training walk, thus I took the chance to have a look around and fall back in love with the Dales’ scenery. On average I only tend to frequent these parts once per year and that has to change.

    Out of Edale! The Pennine Way snakes its way over from the south.
    Out of Edale! The Pennine Way snakes its way over from the south.
    The ordnance survery column atop Pen y Ghent.
    The ordnance survey column atop Pen y Ghent.

    Ultimately, the summit path beckoned. It was a pleasant surprise that the mill-stone slabbed paths are now in such superabundance. After the final scramble you are immediately greeted by a new slab-path which facilitates progress all the way to the ordnance survey column pillar at the highest point of the mountain. We’d brought our lunch with us to eat at the small wind shelter near the o/s column. Thankfully, this was occupied by three smoking ‘chavs’ a lovely looking Golden Labrador and a ‘barks-at-anything’ bull terrier sort of dog. They were not for moving nor did they speak to anyone, both of which made me arrive at the earlier noun of ‘chavs’. All the same, I was glad to not have to eat my food here amongst the remnants of dried up bananas and the cold temperatures. And the evidence of the cold? Well that was the snow on the dip in-between Pen y Ghent and Plover Hill.

    Talking of Plover Hill, on Jack Keighley’s excellent walk, which we were following, the next section should have featured a down and up trek over to Plover Hill and then down to Hull Pot. On a warm summer day I’d happily do this minor detour…Chris and I agreed, that would be one for another day! We began the drop down the north-western face of the mountain.

    Apparently a Yodel delivery for Whernside?
    Apparently a Yodel delivery for Whernside?

    As if by magic, once over the tall stile, more walkers appeared seemingly out of the ether. A couple, the man of which had congratulated his lady on completing the trek up, began to drop down on the same stony path as us. Pen y Ghent’s north-west descent/ascent is fiercely steep, I may have played this down in previous reports, but at some points I’m sure the gradient must border on forty-five degrees. I had to watch my feet. We passed by some blocks on pallets which appeared to have been randomly left. I did wonder what future purpose they would serve. After roughly a quarter of a mile, the old nemesis from last Sunday showed its face once more…snow. A patch of roughly fifty feet, on one of the afore-mentioned forty-five degree sections seemed intent on slowing us all down – our group of two (Chris and me) had morphed into a group of about eight as we each struggled to come to grips with this white demon. I decided that as last week, I would lead with my heels. Alas, this proved to be ineffective for apparently Yorkshire snow and Cumbrian snow are simply two different creatures and I went up to my knees on a couple of occasions. Chris fared better by simply shouting and me “I can’t stop” and then of course coming to a natural and calm stop!

    Plover Hill, not the most alluring of all summits, but all the same...
    Plover Hill, not the most alluring of all summits, but all the same…

    We passed by Plover Hill and I did feel some remorse over our decision to not take this summit in today. That being said, it was more snow-covered than our mountain which would have added substantially to our route’s time to get across. At times we stopped and looked back at the snow patch in order to laugh at the spectacle of other walkers struggling to get over it. It was hilarious when happening to other people. The drop down from the top is a seriously long one, I must measure this one day, for some time Whitber Hill appeared to be on our route and although we could have made it over this 420 metre lump, neither one of us actually wanted to do so. Fortunately, Horton Scar Lane eventually came into view and we duly turned left here to head back to Horton in Ribblesdale once more.

     

    A last longing view back at the lovely Pen y Ghent.
    A last longing view back at the lovely Pen y Ghent. Will I feel the same in May when I have to do it at speed once more?

    We were passed by a number of younger walkers, early to mid-twenty year-olds at best but they never really shrank into the foreground. I think these had been the ones making most noise when confronted with the snow patch and they seemed in good spirits.

    Horton Scar Lane can be described as the longest ever walk back, if nobody else agrees with me then I still hold fast to that belief. I don’t know for how many miles we ambled along its length, but it seemed like three! But finally we arrived at the B6479 (bing maps does not give it a real name!) and we made our way to the car in order to change out of our boots and for me to get rid of the backpack which had been giving my shoulders a real ache. the Penyghent Café now beckoned and having bypassed lunchtime (thanks to the chavs and their dogs) I had suggested to Chris that we have a sausage butty! It was absolutely lovely, especially when I added English mustard. The two mugs of coffee that I consumed were also lovely and it was nice to sit in the café during one of its more obviously quiet phases. We listened to other excited walkers regale tales of their walks, nobody mentioned the snow, I wondered how many had fallen at that particular hurdle. Chris was in her element to have completed the walk, her fitness is coming along in leaps and bounds…Helvellyn next? We’ll see!

    In all the walk took just a little over four hours, which given that neither one of us was in any particular rush and the snow patch certainly had an impact, I thought was brilliant. Our various apps report a distance of seven miles and an altitude of two thousand and three hundred feet, fantastic. I can hardly wait to get over to this neck of the woods again, in May, in order to successfully lead Darren over the Yorkshire Three Peaks. However, it did cross my mind, has anyone ever thought of making an alternative route: Pen y Ghent, Fountains Fell and Plover Hill?

    There was no song of the walk…apologies, we were too busy gabbing on!

    Farewell for now, you beautiful mountain, you ‘hill of the winds!’