Tag Archives: walking

Demisting Rivington

Chris and I had been promising ourselves another walk…it had felt like an eternity since our last one, the ascension of Snowdon in June. We’d planned on doing Pendle but I fancied putting into use the knowledge of the last section of the Amble which I had gleaned from last week’s walk with Karl.

Noon Hill should be here - it was last seen fifteen minutes ago.
Noon Hill should be here – it was last seen fifteen minutes ago.
Looking far more sinister than normal, Pigeon Tower.
Looking far more sinister than normal, Pigeon Tower.
I drove us to Rivington and decided to park as close as I could to Rivington Hall barn. By 10:38 we were on route, following once again, a section of the Anglezarke Amble route to take us past the cottages around the back of the barn. It was here that Chris caught sight of three Roe Deer (I saw just two but don’t dispute the number). This was the start of the climb and any cheery thought would be caressed tenderly! Over the next half a mile we steadily gained height but made very swift process and before long we were passing the old toilet blocks on Belmont Road (effectively the continuation of Georges Lane). I would have liked to have taken a photograph of the Pike but the mist was completely obscuring the tower at its summit. Fortunately we were going passed the Pigeon Tower (Dovecote) and it would have taken some mist indeed to block that out. The descending mist was significantly adding to the ‘feel’ of this walk. After passing the tower we turned right towards Catter Nab.

A procession of orienteering people make their way down Will Narr.
A procession of orienteering people make their way down Will Narr.
Here should be the stunning view across to Anglezarke Moor.
Here should be the stunning view across to Anglezarke Moor.
It was here that the full extent of the mist was realised. Normally the mouthwatering vista across to Anglezarke Moor dominates the view, today, we had pea-soup! Occasional bits of scenery popped up as we neared it, Noon Hill and the very immediate surroundings, random bright fields in the distance sharing a moment’s illumination, all very seasonal. Surprisingly, we were not cold, moreover, Chris took off her coat. The path which transports us from Belmont Road to …Belmont Road-at Hordern Stoops is a generally well-worn and stream-like, we were not being ferried away on the cusp of a mighty river in spate, but let’s just say that our socks were getting wetter by the mile. I was relieved when we reached the end of the track and were back on Terra-ash-felt for a short time at least. Across the road, which is often a racetrack, we could see a small assembly of people playing around with a Drone – one of those remote controlled helicopter-like things, not R2D2! They appeared to keep losing it in the distance, I kept losing track of it up close…rubbish eyes.

On nearing Will Narr we were almost overwhelmed by orienteering people – there were probably about twenty at this stage, which meant that for the second week in succession I was observing people out on the moors with maps. I like this. Chris wasn’t that impressed and we began the now much nicer ascent of Will Narr – owing to its new stone path which was a joy to walk on compared to how treacherous it used to be. Progress was quick, it was not many minutes before we were dropping then climbing back up Spitlers Edge. It was at this point where we again noticed that our feet were taking on water. And there would be no reprieve as for the next mile and a half as we dropped down Spitlers and then up and over Redmonds Edges, the water kept on coming over the millstone slabs which had always saved walkers from the worst bits that this moor can throw at a person. At Catter Nab I had (stupidly) guesstimated that we would be at the summit of Great Hill in an hour. I hadn’t even checked my watch, Chris’s line of inquiry/interrogation led me to believe that it was at the forefront of her mind. I have to admit that my spirits stayed high, I had never ascended Great Hill in the mist until now. The fact that we were going up the undisputed easiest way was just a bonus. I told her that within five minutes we would be at the top – then sped off uphill as quickly as my soggy feet would carry me and tried to deduce which aspect of the summits ‘cross’ shelter would afford the warmest spot at which we would have our lunch. In was indefinable, we tried all four and none felt any worse or better.

I was happy to tell Chris that it was all downhill now for at least a mile and a half. Given the wetness of the locale, this was not met with a warn reception. We finished our lunch then set off towards White Coppice which was hiding somewhere in the mist. This was my fourth and easiest ascent of Great Hill this year. I think I’ve gone up it at least once per year since 2010, it is becoming something of a favourite. The way we were descending was the same route that I have ascended a few times before…it is a right pig at the start. that being said, the middle section has its moments too, once the landmark of Drinkwaters Farm (or at least its ruin) is passed then the end of the walking on a nice flat path has been reached. The path then quickly degenerates into a sometimes muddy, sometimes grassy and other times rocky affair that has one looking only at ones feet! We only met one couple on route and they were ascending – I didn’t feel any envy for them. Chris thought that we had been dropping down Great Hill forever, to me it seemed to fly by and before long we were ambling (did you see what I did there?) along passing by the cricket ground on one side and Stronstrey Bank on the other – plus the odd overly curious Yew!

The beautiful expanse of water which is Anglezarke Reservoir.
The beautiful expanse of water which is Anglezarke Reservoir.
Once at the gate where we would stride across Moor Road, the time of testing my memory was upon me. Could I navigate us passed three reservoirs, one common a couple of flights of steps and not get lost? To be fair Chris appeared to have complete confidence in me. To be even more fair, that might have been because I hadn’t told her that I could quite easily get us lost here! fear ye not! From the time the lovely High Bullough Reservoir came into view, de-ja-vous took over. I was on auto-pilot. Given that this was my third time traversing this section of the Amble then it’s debatable as to if I should have been concerned at all. But I wanted to be absolutely sure that I was not going to get Darren and I lost when we do this for real in February next year. We took the steps, we dropped down the tarmac lanes, we crossed the streams and slid around a bit on the wooden bridges, but we did it. When I finally managed to struggle through the kissing gate at the end of the field and onto Horrobin Lane, I was over the moon. I couldn’t stop myself from pointing out to Chris “That’s the official start to the Anglezarke Amble”.

“Oh are we at the end of the walk then?”
“No, that’s about ten minutes walk away!”
“Grrrrr (under muted breath)”

I didn’t care. I’d done it, we’d done it and arrived back at the car by 15:25.

The start and finish sections of the printed version of the route for the Anglezarke Amble are some of the single most confusing pieces of walking literature that I’ve had the opportunity to read. If you can understand them, good, well done, not all of us can. But in successive weeks now I have done both…and survived. Now if there was just a way of doing the Amble without going over that bloody Longworth Moor!!!

Distance: 12 miles (not the EIGHT I told Chris at the start of the walk!)
Ascension: Around 1,800 feet.
Terrain: Water – everywhere even though it didn’t rain much!

Song of the walk: Clean Bandit featuring Louisa Johnson – Tears

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:

2015 My Walking Year in Review

Well now, this was a good walking year!

Hard to miss…the Jubilee Tower atop Darwen Hill
Hard to miss…the Jubilee Tower atop Darwen Hill
Great Hill hazed out by a stinging snowstorm.
Great Hill hazed out by a stinging snowstorm.

January saw the start of my walking year…I know how obvious that sounds but some years I haven’t started walking until March.

I had decided to have another bash at joining Southport Ramblers after 2011’s falling out with them. This time around I found that I was much better prepared to keep up with them – picking category ‘C’ walks at first proved to be a wise decision. I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the routes offered by the ramblers. We seemed to traverse muddy fields simply for the sake of traversing muddy fields. The highlight of each walk definitely was the company. Our first outing to Longridge in order to take in various country lanes, could essentially have been anywhere. Likewise two weeks later saw us at Saint Asaph for a walk through some more washed-out and verdant fields! Late January saw the weather take a turn for the colder as Karl and I enjoyed a walk in the snow over Darwen Moor. Karl and Anne and I traversed the hills on my mission to acquaint myself with the route of the Anglezarke Amble (I did mention that I’m doing this in February 2016 didn’t I?) This was to be my first West Pennines yomp of the year and a thoroughly enjoyable one…minus a couple of minutes when I had to climb over a barbed wire fence and nearly became an alto singer! A further expedition along Southport’s thought-provoking Coastal Road gained me some more leg milage – twenty one to be precise. The 22nd of February saw me with the Ramblers at Rivington in a very enjoyable, snowed-out walk over Rivington Moor and Catter Nab whilst taking in the sights of Rivington Lower Reservoir and the Yarrow Reservoir on route.

Longridge, Pendle and another top on the distant horizon.
Longridge, Pendle and another top on the distant horizon.

Until the end of March far the most challenging walk of the year came about when we (The Southport Ramblers) went to Chipping, walked over six mile’s worth of muddy fields then took on the steep southern face of Parlick Pike. This would put me in good stead for the rest of my walking year as not even Whernside or Snowdon (the Llanberis route) can measure up to the ridiculous gradient this aspect proffered, by the time I reached the summit, I was shattered. Parlick had been on my ‘to-do’ list for the year, although I had meant to set about it from the top of Longridge Fell – I still intend to do this iconic walk…maybe next year.

Further trips in the first quarter of the year saw Karl and I back at the West Pennines in order to take in Turton Moor and another section of the A.A. whereby we wandered over the side of Turton Heights then back over past Cadshaw to Green Arms Road. I’d never walked in this locale prior to this and was taken aback at just how scenic the West Pennines (including Winter Hill) can be. Another attempt at doing a section of the A.A. on my own resulted in a ten mile walk over Rivington Pike, Winter Hill and many, many miles of roads as my legs started to moan under the stress of so many walks in such a short time. The walk in itself was fantastic but the company was a bit irksome! This would improve dramatically as in March Chris and I enjoyed a quite balmy walk on one of the many trails through Delamere Forest.

April saw me return to do the Coastal Road once again and a trip with the Southport Ramblers to Besston. I’d never heard of the place before and to be honest, I could quite easily forget all about it now as we took in a tiny summit (the name of which I cannot recollect) and we visited a candle factory (be still my beating heart!).

The Middle Way
The Middle Way

May brought with it a couple of Bank Holidays and one of these saw me return to good old Pendle to do ‘The Middle Way’, on a walk which I laughingly referred to as ‘Pen-ny not so dreadful’ I completed my objective of ascending Pendle the undisputed hardest way. The climb itself was hard, but the time to complete the steep ascent was a breathtaking sixty-nine minutes. I had no idea that I could walk so quickly uphill! As this was training for the month after’s Yorkshire Three Peaks attempt, my confidence was escalated beyond my wildest possible expectations. Another walk two days later which would take in Winter Hill via the east and again ran in at around ten and a half miles, left me feeling that this time, more than at any other point in my past, I would be able to get around the infamous Yorkshire three peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

 

24.5 miles, five thousand feet, one county top and two aching legs!
24.5 miles, five thousand feet, one county top and two aching legs!

And thus onto June and on the sixth I booked a car from Enterprise (A wonderful little Corsa), drove up to Horton in Ribblesdale, met up with the lovely Linzi from Southport Ramblers and Mark – an old acquaintance from my Bolton days and took on the challenge of Yorkshire’s finest. It’s tough going but at no point did I consider not completing the twenty four and a half mile course. I would go on to to scale bigger mountains throughout the year but nothing could compare to the sense of sheer unprecedented joy of arriving back at the Penyghent Café to be informed that we had completed the route in time…eleven hours and four minutes. I believe that there were many factors which contributed to my success: yes the weight loss had definitely been principle among these, but also the twenty-plus mile walks along Southport’s stunning Coastal Road had definitely played a part – as had May’s ascent of Pendle’s ‘Middle way’ – even Ingleborough seemed less challenging than this (though not to be taken lightly, I still paused a number of times). Mark was excellent company – even if he did comment to the effect that I dropped down the hills like a sheep (A sheep? Not a GOAT?) and it was a shame to lose Linzi at Chapel le Dale. I had vowed ‘never again’…that promise would last but two short months as I returned to do the reverse route with Darren and Colin at the end of August. Alas our bid was unsuccessful after some wayward rambling put us on a path which never seemed to get use any nearer to Pen-y-ghent.

The end of the Fairfield Horseshoe - Low Pike!
The end of the Fairfield Horseshoe – Low Pike!
The Coniston Range as seem from Low Pike.
The Coniston Range as seen from Low Pike.

In between the two Yorkshire assaults there were a few walks – including two trips to the glorious Lake District. The first trip was again with the Ramblers under the pretence of ‘We’re going up High Street’ – this was a blatant mis-direction as in fact the hill which we did ascend was the much lower (but still a Wainwright!) outcrop of Arthur’s Pike. Although the walk in itself was ‘lovely’ and the company was as good as ever, it just didn’t seem to be that much of a challenge a week after completing the Y3P. The second return to the Lake District however, was a real belter as four of us took on the impressive Fairfield Horseshoe. Karl and Sue were almost apologetic for the abysmal weather that stuck with us for over half of the walk…I was overjoyed to not be able to see the route in full and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. If I only stick to one intended walk next year it would have to be another one of these Lakeland Horseshoe routes – preferably the Kentmere Horseshoe. That being said, there is another return to Horton in Ribblesdale planned in May!

From here on in the walking year became considerably easier. Yes there was a rather boring ascent and hair-raising descent of Winter hill and a record attempt at Pendle’s stepped path from around the back of Pendle house – in just fifty-seven minutes. On the same walk I also discovered the wilder side of Pendle at Churn Clough and Deerstones – locations to which I will surely return.

Yr Wyddfa - Or Snowdon as the rest of us call it!
Yr Wyddfa – Or Snowdon as the rest of us call it!
Connor and Darren in front of a hill which I cannot name!
Connor and Darren in front of a hill which I cannot name!

Ultimately, the ‘big walk’ came around. If the Y3P taught me anything it was a sense of perspective, we can only ever walk one footstep at a time. This would be a good motto onto which I would hold on as Darren, Connor and I took on the Welsh giant of Snowdon from Llanberris. Yes, it did prove to be easier than I could have hoped, but, was this only relative to the rest of my walking year? If I hadn’t already done two speedy (for me) walks up Pendle, the arduous trek up Parlick, the two Y3Ps and ultimately Fairfield’s Horseshoe would it have seemed as easy? Snowdon is a beacon in every sense of the word, it’s a challenge even once one has ascended it and I can hardly wait to return in the spring of next year to complete the challenging ‘Watkins Path’ again with Darren – though I’m not sure we’ll be roping in Connor to do this one! There would be few walks for the rest of the year, save for one adventure to do Rivington Pike with Chris…and a last visit to Pendle for All Saints Day, more stunning sceneryand the walk re-routed at Under Pendle, which is never a down-turn given that it’s my faourite part of the area.

It looks a long way to the top...but it really wasn't, thankfully.
It looks a long way to the top…but it really wasn’t, thankfully.
The sun sets on my walking year...it's been a fantastic, challenging and thoroughly rewarding year.
The sun sets on my walking year…it’s been a fantastic, challenging and thoroughly rewarding year.

In October we visited the lovely city of Edinburgh and on a leisurely amble I ended up climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat – a hill of which I’d never heard before our visit. It was a thoroughly enjoyable dash to the summit and I’d love to return to take in a more circuitous route as opposed to the ‘up and down’ direct approach that I took.  Finally in November, Karl and I met up once more with the intent of completing another section of the Anglezarke Amble, but, with the main road from Egerton to Belmont being something of an ice rink we headed to the east – Edgworth and took in the bleak but captivating Holcolmbe Moor. This was about as remote as I have been all year, I doubt that I saw twenty people on the walk and would certainly not want to do this one on my own. We must go back one day when it’s warmer to ‘bag’ Bull hill but for now I’m glad to have made it through the day without falling over!

 

 

And so ends my walking year. It’s unlikely that I’ll add to my twenty four walks total – the greatest number (by far) that I have completed in one year. I can congratulate myself that I’ve taken on some big challenges in the Yorkshire Three Peaks, The Fairfield Horseshoe and the completion of Snowdon and I’ll be hard pressed to surpass this next year…but surpass I shall as I intend to re-visit Horton in Ribblesdale (with Darren) and to complete the Anglezarke Amble, the Watkins path up Snowdon and there are still those wretched four missing peaks from my ‘Top ten of England’ to tick off. Of course there will have to be more trips to Pendle – I’ve not completed all possible routes up there yet and well, I still love it there. I’m hopeful that Karl and I can get back to Keswick to do the classic Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and wouldn’t it be wonderful to replicate Julia’s walk over Broad Crag and Ill Crag before arriving at the mighty summit of Scafell Pike – it’s been too long since I last went there! For now it’s a case of feet up and build up the calories on mince pies ‘cos come February they’ll certainly be getting burned off again!

Oh I nearly forgot to mention: the hardly-coveted ‘Walk of the Year for 2015’…well I’m afraid that vanity wins out. Whilst achieving Snowdon with Darren and Connor was very rewarding and a great summit to tick off, and the Fairfield Horseshoe was again a great walk with great company…I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks for God’s sake…that was the ultimate highlight!

Andiamo!

 

Around Holcombe Moor: Walk 24

Karl and I had been threatening to go for a walk together for a while…about four months. We had agreed to do another section of the Anglezarke Amble but, this was postponed as the car was not available to me until mid-day, given that this was now officially still late Autumn (the 21st of November) there was no chance of us walking sixteen miles over Winter Hill and Great Hill in the short amount of daylight time that we had. Subsequently, a perilous drive down Stones Bank Road (in order to get us to Rivington from Egerton) was re-routed owing to the fact that I do quite like my current car and felt no need to have it slide out from under us and written off!

So, we took a last minute decision to head off over to Edgworth in order to take on the triple threat of Harcles Hill, Bull Hill and erm that un-named hill next to the afore mentioned ones. I hadn’t been walking in these parts for a couple of decades and had never ‘done’ Bull hill so I was enthused to give it a shot now. The weather had been nice upon travelling through Southport but as soon as I hit Tarleton, the snow on Winter Hill was evident. So it was no surprise to discover Edgworth’s lofty and bleak environment to be a complete white-out, and boy was that first gentle climb a slippery tale? At times I did wish that I had seen fit to pack my walking spike-sole things. Karl seemed to be coping admirably, but then, he is not a fair-weather walker, unlike me!

It’s at this point that I have to admit something a little bit painful…I don’t know the names of anything around these parts…which makes describing the walk somewhat difficult!

So, here are lots of pictures…

The side of the unnamed hill we shall be ascending in the next half hour.
The side of the unnamed hill we shall be ascending in the next half hour.
Ah, good old Winter hill with a cloaking of snow.
Ah, good old Winter hill with a cloaking of snow.
Karl's all dressed up for winter.
Karl’s all dressed up for winter.
Slippery Plantation Road
Slippery Plantation Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it was actually quite beautiful to behold. On three of my four walks with Karl this year:

  • Darwen Moor
  • Turton Moor
  • The Fairfield Horseshoe
  • Holcolmbe Moor

We have had unusual weather, snow twice and weird spooky fog followed by a heatwave once!

Peel Tower
Peel Tower
Peel Tower
Peel Tower

After roughly an hour or so we found ourselves on the final slog up the western slopes of the unnamed hill which is capped by Peel Tower. The going underfoot needed a little bit of attention, which Karl must have failed to do as he suddenly became horizontal in front of me! I decided at this moment that there was something eye-catching to behold behind me and I just had to stare at it until the desire to laugh…had gone! It was at this point that we met some other people which was very nice as thus far we had only seen distance glimpses of solitary walkers. I had formed the impression that this was one of those walker locales frequented more by individual walkers as opposed to groups. The last time that I walked up this hill was roughly twenty years ago with Dave Hill (from Bolton), it was considerably warmer then, but I was a smoker and I seem to remember it taking a good deal longer to get to the top than it had today. I still yearned for a cigarette at the summit, even in the bracing wind…thank heavens I’ve stopped the suicidal habbit.

Ingleborough?
Ingleborough?
Ahhh good old Winter Hill
Ahhh good old Winter Hill

The views from the summit where as wonderful as I had expected them to be. This location offers spectacular vitas to the north featuring: Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle Hill, Ingleborough and Longridge Fell. To our right was the Forest of Rossendale – an area that I have yet to begin exploring and of course slightly to our left,the ubiquitous Winter Hill, which always looks at its best when given a lovely dusting of snow. It has to be said that the temperature became only slightly warmer as we headed off in the direction of nearby Harcles Hill – this was the hill upon which I had previously believed Peel Tower did sit. It just goes to show how the memory fades when we don’t revisit a place enough times. We were aiming for the local landmark of Pilgrim’s Cross. I know roughly what this particular landmark looks like through watching another one of Adam Gallimore’s long distance walks – the Peeler’s Hike.

Bull hill approaches
Bull hill approaches
A glorious sunset
A glorious sunset
The summit of Harcles Hill
The summit of Harcles Hill
Our way back across an unnamed 'vale'
Our way back across an unnamed ‘vale’

As we were both a bit on the cold side by now, and the light was beginning to fade a little, we decided to simply bag the Pilgrim’s cross then turn left and head for home. I did want to ascend Bull Hill and at one point I think that this might have only involved a fifty foot ascension over something like two hundred yards…but did I mention it was bitingly cold when static? Bull Hill would have to wait for a warmer time – I nominated summer! Oddly enough, the views of the route that we had already taken on the way out were now displayed to us and they were just gorgeous…

Finally, after some very gingerly walking owing to Plantation Road being exceptionally slippery, I knew it was going to be worse descending than it was ascending, we made it back to the car. It took a good few moments of reversing down the ice-rink, as my poor old Xsara was simply not up to the job of powering up the road in order to turn around. We made it back to Karl’s house in good time and had a good old thaw out on route!

Summary

This was a great little walk in an area that I really should visit more often. This is the eastern fringe of the West Pennines with just three or four summits to add to the overall collection. The walk was not very strenuous, although the slog up to the summit plateau is not to be taken lightly, if you’re doing a very long walk in this area then this should be taken into account at the start! It was great to see Karl again and it was just as good to be back walking after a bit of a break. This was walk number twenty four – will I get to twenty six before New Year’s Day?

 

No song of the walk for this walk: Karl and I when together can talk for England!

 

Arthur’s Seat

Walk Twenty Two – Arthur’s Seat

This was the culmination of our (mine and Christine’s) walk around Edinburgh on Saturday 10th of October.

Spectacular views from the square next to Edinburgh Castle.
Spectacular views from the square next to Edinburgh Castle.
More wonderful views from the square next to Edinburgh Castle.
More wonderful views from the square next to Edinburgh Castle.

We had already walked from the centre of the city up to the beautiful Edinburgh Castle, then walked around that. After an hour and a half of walking we then went to the Camera Obscura…and walked around that. We then descended the lovely Royal Mile back down to Holyrood before hitting the base of the range of upland which would take us up to Arthur’s Seat. Around ten minutes into the walk, Chris bailed – well it was her birthday weekend and I suppose asking her to walk up this steep little beast could be seen by some as a bit cruel. The weather was thankfully behaving rather well, the day before I had experienced cold on the train before we even arrived at the Arctic circle – Scotland.

 

It looks a long way to the top...but it really wasn't, thankfully.
It looks a long way to the top…but it really wasn’t, thankfully.
Oh dear, Arthur's Seat is blocked from our vision by erm...
Oh dear, Arthur’s Seat is blocked from our vision by erm…

At the end of the nice, flat and comfortable to walk upon path; Chris took a left towards a lovely looking lake and I went right…up a soddin’ big hill! Undeterred, I carried on, even though I was wearing jeans – never good for walking wear and Clark’s shoes – definitely not good footwear for grass let alone hill walking. I soon began to pass people as I was on a mission, I didn’t want to leave Chris sat on her own for very long, it would be just rude! The path became progressively steeper – and more polished rock became apparent. I feared a fall…

 

 

A steady stream of fellow ascenders comes into view.
A steady stream of fellow ascenders comes into view.
Ah the view to...I have no idea!
Ah the view to…I have no idea!

All of a sudden, as often happens when hill walking, the summit appeared to be much closer now. I could hear the murmur of hordes of people all excitedly chatting away. This was the lowest summit I had climbed all year, but with perhaps the exception of Whernside in June, this was also the busiest hill that I had ascended. I paused a while to take in the scenery as I had been going pretty much full speed thus far.

 

 

A few people were a bit happy about their achievement!
A few people were a bit happy about their achievement!
Some people just prefer to sit around and contemplate.
Some people just prefer to sit around and contemplate.

As I expected, the tiny twin summits were heaving with fellow tourists and walkers. This doesn’t do justice to just how many people were gathered in such a small area, it made Snowdon look empty by comparison. I loitered at the top for roughly five minutes, listening to some kids boasting about being at the highest point in Scotland – hmmm as the 1,900′ Pentland Hills were right behind them, not to mention Ben Nevis etc…Geography is apparently not everyone’s strong suit (I know it isn’t mine!).My descent off the hill top was even quicker than my ascent up it had been. I was on a mission, well, two actually:

  1. Don’t fall over
  2. Get back to Chris as soon as possible

 

Farewell lovely little hill
Farewell lovely little hill

I managed to achieve both criteria and it must have taken me just twenty minutes to arrive back at the parting of the ways where I had left her some fifty minutes before.

Summary

This was a lovely, frisky little walk up a seriously steep little hill. I hadn’t wanted to do this alone but by the same token I didn’t want to pass up the chance of climbing this famous little hill as I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll be in this vicinity again – I do hope that we do go to Edinburgh again as it’s wonderful.

Song of the walk – Song of the walk: Emmelie De Forest – Drunk Tonight Again!!!

Sizzling on Snowdon

Snowdon walk on Sunday 27th September, with Darren and Connor Peake

Myself and Darren (my brother in law, well he would be if Christine and I ever get married) had talked about doing this walk a couple of weeks before our “Yorkshire Three Peaks in Reverse” walk in August. With that event out of the way / postponed until May 2016, we figured it would be great to get down to Llanberis before the end of Summer. And his son Connor would come along to – to keep us oldies from simply ambling up the mountain at a snail’s pace. We decided to do the classic of “Up the Pyg and down the Miners’ track”.

On the day, we arrived at Llanberis a little after nine thirty and managed to park quite handily near the main A-road from which the Llanberis path commences. Yes, that’s right, at some point in time our planned route had taken a turn for the mainstream / tourist route and we would leave the “Piggin’ Miners” for another time.

The weather was utterly glorious for a late September morning, we chatted with a pair of ladies whom had just got back from watching the sun rise atop Snowdon – what a fantastic spectacle that would have been. I was a bit concerned that Darren felt some discs move in his back – unlike me; he’s self-employed and I didn’t want him to go without income owing to crippling himself climbing up a 3,560′ mountain…he soldiered on!

The opening mile of the Llanberris path is

  1. Tarmac
  2. Steep, no seriously steep!
Assembly at the halfway café
Assembly at the halfway café
A view to the neighbouring giant from the halfway café.
A view to the neighbouring giant from the halfway café.

Okay, even for an urban walker such as myself, the tarmac was far from interesting or picturesque. That being said, I believe that it facilitated progress over the first half a mile. We kept swapping places with a trio of walkers – two adults and one daughter, then we marched past a couple of teenage girls who wanted to know where the next train stop was – oopss, it was with only a slightly heavy heart that we gave them the options of “At the top or at the bottom”, as I said…”oops!” Later – much later After some distance (I really couldn’t say how much) we began to merge with many more walkers and by the time we hit what I would term as the halfway stage (a café no less!) the chain that was; had now become more or less a throng. We stayed for a few moments, I had a slurp of my water and knocked back one of my orange gel things – it’s never a pleasant experience but it’s a mighty quick way of getting seventy plus calories inside me! Connor looked a little tired, he’s only…(I want to say twelve and now I’m thinking what a bad uncle I am!) and thus his body is not as efficient at shedding heat as Darren and I…who looked like we had run up the path thus far!

The 'trio' from the start
The ‘trio’ from the start
Connor poses for Darren whilst I snap Darren!
Connor poses for Darren whilst I snap Darren!

When the trio of walkers from earlier on in the walk came into view; I decided it was time to push on. The next section started off easily enough…and then got seriously strenuous, alarmingly quickly. The gradient steepened, the throng went all kinds of wide as opposed to long and the terrain of the neighbouring giants became more and more ornate. Cliffs were visible from most aspects, I spotted a couple of ridge paths the likes of which would put Sharp Edge to shame and even began to notice the walkers on the path akin to ours – this was the Snowdon Ranger path…I have to confess it looked a lot harder than ours.
Here are some more views of the day as sadly I don’t know the names of the peaks and mountains that we passed by:

DSCF0593 DSCF0629 DSCF0620
The Doorway
The Doorway

After walking through essentially a ‘doorway’ we got our first ‘proper’ view of the distant summit – the photo shows DSCF0621the view opposite the doorway. Now we were into a serious ‘slog’ up the side of the mountain and onto the top. I did feel the need to tell Darren and Connor that we were still lower down than a few neighbouring summits – and as we were going up the highest thing around, that meant we had a way to go yet. This didn’t sit well with one of the walkers near us at the time who joked “Did you have to say that?” Oops again! The path levelled out, I felt like cheering, but didn’t. All of a sudden, the summit seemed to get a whole lot nearer, and so did a procession of walkers, many of which were ascending the last stretch of the infamous ‘Pyg’ track or was this the ‘Miners’ Track’ – there are at least six ‘official’ routes up this giant and whilst I don’t think I’ll do them all, it’s nice to know what they are called.

And so the last final push was upon us, we were well over half way into the climb / walk. The next push was a sustained one as opposed to a brutal one, more Whernside from Ribblehead than Pendle via the ‘steps’. And before long we were on to the ridge which would lead us to the apex of this mighty mountain. Even though there was a train to our left and a café and a visitor centre, the terrain really felt like a true mountain, albeit  one with a very busy summit. The trig point was like an open jar of honey next to a wasp hive – yes there were many more colourful similes I could have used then, but that was the least offensive! Somehow I avoided falling off the final rise up to the o/s column, some people should just touch the thing then bugger off – not do countless selfies which never quite turn out right anyway!

We dropped back down off the summit and hit the café for a latté – okay that’s a bit Italian for the summit of a Welsh mountain, but what do the Welsh drink which is, y’know, Welsh? Exactly! We sat around full of a triumphant feeling, I can’t remember how long it had taken getting here…about two and a half hours I think, but it was mine and Connor’s first (and definitely not last) ascent, we wanted to savour it. It was lovely to sit watching people hit the summit from over the Watkins path, I distinctly remember an American-sounding lady ask a group of girls from a larger, mixed-gender party which route they had taken, to which one particularly well-spoken teenage girl responded ‘A hard one!’ Priceless!

It would take us a further hour and a half to get back to Llanberris, although these days I drop like a greasy stone, I promised to wait for the Peakes (Connor and Darren), well there was no rush, the weather stayed beautiful and to be honest…they are such damned good company. I was proud for myself – ha I always am whenever I’ve walked up anything over a thousand feet, but I was also proud for Connor and to be honest after Darren’s back playing up at the car park at the start of the walk, he deserves some ‘man points’ for making it to the top and back, downhill is always considerably harder on the joints than going up. We arrived back at the café akin to the mountain railway station and I had another latté satisfied with the day’s walk.

Summary

This was the loftiest peak that I have ascended from top to bottom – okay I have been atop Mont Sant and Montserrat (near the top) both of which weigh in over four thousand feet, but they’re in Spain and don’t count…and I haven’t actually walked all the way up them! I have to admit to being something of a fan of Snowdon and it’s frustrating to not be able to name the accompanying summits – the ‘horseshoe walk’ is really tempting, but seeing as this covers a traverse of the imposing ‘Crib Goch’ which I promised Chris I would never attempt, I’ll probably never do that. I was somewhat disappointed to complete Scafell Pike in 2013 – the summit is awful to walk upon, Snowdon on the other hand was lovely and I can’t wait to go back and walk the ‘Watkins path’ which I gather is a real tester!

I’ve been really lucky with the weather this year, and as such have been blessed to complete such classic walks as the Yorkshire Three Peaks, The Fairfield Horseshoe and now the mighty Snowdon. I think this was walk number nineteen, I don’t plan on taking a break from walking during the Winter this year…Pendle on New Year’s Day is a must-do, so as the nights draw in and the weather gets much worse it’ll be lovely to re-read this page and mentally re-visit this wonderful September day in excellent company and excellent weather up a very noble mountain indeed…excellent!

No song of the walk for this one: I was too busy talking!