• Tag Archives Winter Hill
  • 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.

     


  • 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”]


  • Roaming around Rivington’s Reservoirs

    The walk of Saturday the fifth of March, 2016

    Ever since I was introduced to the route (February 2015 on a Southport Ramblers’ “B” walk), I had wanted to take my partner Christine on a walk around the reservoirs of Rivington, as part of a fairly none-strenuous route up to either Winter Hill or Rivington Pike. A combination of Saturday’s beautiful weather and the snow which had fallen a few days before had moved this route up the rankings, making it hard to resist.

    We arrived at Rivington at the lane which leads to the Great Barn at around twenty five past eleven and were booted-up by 11:34 and on route. First we had to cross Rivington Lane and pass alongside Go-Ape – which looked to have a good number of potential clients today. The beginning of our route was not the hardest thing that I’ll ever have to navigate as it was simply a case of heading for the reservoir and then turn right before setting foot in it! It has to be said that this was the easiest walking of the day.

    Winter Hill with a layer of snow.
    Winter Hill with a layer of snow.
    Winter Hill looking majestic across the Yarrow reservoir.
    Winter Hill looking majestic across the Yarrow reservoir.

    We passed the first of the four reservoirs – the Lower Rivington and then we quickly passed the other ‘Rivington’ reservoir (the Upper). Before very long we turned left away from the main bridal path and then walked alongside the Yarrow reservoir – there’s a frightening amount of water which gathers in this vicinity and with the recent snowfall, I surmised the ground was going to be saturated.Oddly enough, there was only a little bit of snow on one of the flanks of the reservoir’s outer banks, giving the impression that Olaf the snowman had simply given up the goat on an expedition! As featured on either side of this text, the views to a snow-covered Winter Hill were inspirational.

    The head (or bottom) of the Yarrow reservoir.
    The head (or bottom) of the Yarrow reservoir.
    I believe this is Holt's Flat - a plantation of sorts.
    I believe this is Holt’s Flat – a plantation of sorts.

    After the Yarrow we were in an area named Parson’s Bullough where resides yet another…reservoir, only a small one this time, in fact I don’t remember seeing or passing it. We passed through the gate at the point where Alance Bridge lies and took a very good path up into the area known as ‘Meeting of the Waters’ – so named as this is where the River Yarrow and Limestone Brook meet and then converge into the Yarrow reservoir. The going was not yet as bad as I had feared and we made swift progress up quite a steep incline as we headed easterly towards Wilkinson Bullough (some day I’ll research what geographical feature a ‘bullough’ is!).

    Unofficially, we were now in ‘Sheep World’, well there was so many of them scattered about the path. Thankfully, none of the ovine gathered were feeling brave enough to tackle or us or cause us any kind of obstacle and we carried on across the wide open moorland. We had spied a number of other walkers some distance ahead (crossing what I assumed would be a soggy field), we seemed to be gaining on them. I had to make sure that I kept Chris up to date on where we were going (this helps, I’m the same when Karl and I go anywhere) and as we neared the part of the route where I had planned that we should bear left in order to ascend to Will Narr, I noticed that our path was an inclined quagmire! We took the right hand (straight on) path instead and practically ran straight into the distant walkers we had seen earlier. Actually it was sizeable group of walkers – I guessed around ten to fifteen. Assuming that they knew where they were going (was this wise as they seemed to have gone through one wet field after another instead of sticking to the relatively dry path?) we followed them.

    The view of our progress along this long path.
    The view of our progress along this long path.

    Fortunately, the sight of Rivington Road (don’t get me started!) was never far from view so I knew that if only we could traverse this moorland up to the said road we would be able to progress unhindered. As luck would have it, there appeared to have been many recent walkers on route whom had left a great big black swathe of a path for us to follow. We just had to take our time hopping from one tussock to another in order to avoid the myriad of springs in the area and eventually came out on to Rivington Road. I had it in my mind to cross the road and locate the Belmont Road which would eventually lead us to very near the Dovecote / Pigeon Tower, but, as Chris had a severe case of wet feet going on, I decided against this and we turned left to take us all the way downhill towards Moses Cocker. On route I did spy across the valley a simply gorgeous, steep path that seemed to weave its way from the bottom of the gulf known as ‘Shore’ and up to Belmont Road (not the A675). Instantly, I took the vow to come back and do this wonderfully steep path. However, as we were now on a national seed limit road, featuring many a blind corner, I thought it best to not get myself maimed by taking photographs of it!

    Winter Hill with the view of one of the western approaches.
    Winter Hill with the view of one of the western approaches.
    Winter Hill with the 'Edge's visible.
    Winter Hill with the ‘Edge’s visible.

    After dropping two hundred feet (or thereabouts) in less than a mile, our pace picked up enormously. I felt the need to slow down simply owing to the fact that we were going to be at the end of the walk too early. This road is not nice to walk alongside as I believe it’s an national speed limit one and there are many blind corners. Finally we turned left on to a road with no name (according to Bing maps) and wandered over to where I thought we would be turning in order to cross a paddock and drop down to the barn. However, I didn’t account for Chris suddenly wanting to take in Rivington Pike!

    So, after a moment’s worth of debate, we set off back up the hill from a place that I know as ‘the meeting of the paths’ – under the shadow of Catter Nab. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have now ascended this route – not always have my trips up here resulted in the seemingly inevitable climb up to the pike. On this occasion, we made haste for the bench at the start of the mildly descending drop down to the Japanese Gardens’ route and had our lunch. Refreshed and revitalised, we had already walked about six miles and a couple of hundred feet, we set off once more with the clear intent of making it to the pike.

    A view of Wilder's moor and possibly Adam Hill.
    A view of Wilder’s moor and possibly Adam Hill.

    We made quite swift process, before long the disused toilet block was in site (why isn’t something done with this building?) and within a few moments we were on the last stretch of steps to Belmont Road (the path). This was crossed and so for the second month in a row I was taking in the path which would lead to the steep little staircase up to Rivington Pike. I told Chris of my personal challenge: to never stop or pause once on the final climb up this hill and she was content for me to ‘bomb-off’ on my own up the steps. It only takes a few minutes but always atop the pike…it’s damn hard to catch one’s breath! I was somewhat astounded when just thirty or forty seconds after I’d finished the climb, up popped Chris! She too had not stopped on route and the sense of pride I had in her (without meaning to sound patronising) was almost overwhelming.

     

    The views to the east were now looking more dark.
    The views to the east were now looking more dark.

    As usual, mother nature had a welcoming gale-force-wind atop the pike, we didn’t stand around talking much. I kept wanting to hug Chris and tell her how proud of her I was – this had easily been our longest rural walk for a good number of years, and those steps are seriously steep. We took a few photos and made our way back down the steps, weaved our way around the multitude of paths and before very long at all ended up at Rivington Hall Barn – which was closed. So, we decided to have something to eat across the road at the Great House Barn (gee, I wonder why I get confused with the names of things in these parts!)

    Having started the walk at 11:34 we arrived at the Great House Barn at 16:15 having walked around seven hundred feet over roughly nine and a half miles. Not bad at all given the amount of ascending and distance.

     


  • 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!!!