• Tag Archives West Pennines
  • 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


  • 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!!!