Wriggling around Riggindale

Following on from my recent walking successes – see, you go out not with the Ramblers and start to enjoy walking again, I’d already asked Karl to include me in his next Lake District walk and I didn’t care where we might go. He informed me that our next adventure would involve the fells above Haweswater, I dared to ask if this would include High Street and was delighted when this was duly confirmed. The backstory to this was that in 2015 with the Southport Ramblers group, a walk from Pooley Bridge was meant to take in High Street – it didn’t and culminated at the not very high or impressive Arthur’s Pike. (Excuse me whilst I go and cancel my Ramblers membership!)

We arrived at unknown location next to Haweswater – that doesn’t really narrow things down for anyone who hasn’t been to the area, shall I just say that we parked on a small car park next to the reservoir / lake. For the record, I have to say that my first impression of Haweswater was that it was stunning, the reflection of the fells went a long way towards influencing this opinion, but it is a beautiful stretch of water and very difficult to believe that mankind has hand an active hand in creating it.

A Hawthorne tree - one of many.
A Hawthorne tree – one of many.

For a very pleasant change we actually started the walk by going downhill first, this is unprecedented with Karl and Sue walks that nearly always involve a monumental assault up the face of this fill or that fell, why, this was almost civilised. Not many people know this, but my favourite tree is…the Hawthorne tree, we used to have one which killed cheap footballs in our front garden so it was a case of admiring something that I’ve known all my life. Anyway, there was a lot of Hawthornes on the side of the crag that we were now yomping across, the crag was Riggindale and the area was the wonderfully named Dudderwick. I’m not sure who had planted the Holly tree, even though it was less than six feet in height, on this hillside it stood out more than some Ash trees that dwarfed it. Walking alongside the water was an absolute joy, alas all good things come to an end and within less than ten minutes of gentle ambling, we turned left and began a phase to which I shall refer as ‘the big up!’ The name of this route is ‘Long Stile’.

Blea Water comes into view.
Blea Water comes into view.
Small Water
Small Water

Karl had warned me that we would be attacking High Street via the ridge which is the Riggindale Crag and what an incline it was. I am toying with an idea of deploying a grading scale for hills that I ascend…this would be around a three to four, if we think of a crown green bowling green as a 10 and Steel Fell (whatever God awful route we took) as being a 1 then this should serve to indicate the incline, for anyone who has had the misfortune of climbing Steel Fell! It was steep, but more of a slog than a major climb…and seemingly relentless. On the plus side, the terrain and indeed the scenery changed frequently. The major mountains adjacent to us of course stayed the same but the environment through which we were walking changed quite dramatically. At times I had to stop myself from looking up as the summit – the point at which our ridge collided with High Street proper, seemed to be getting no closer. On the positive side there was many distractions like the stunning Blea Water and its smaller neighbour the appropriately named Small Water.

We stopped for lunch around three quarters into the climb…I was feeling pretty much exhausted by this time and the views back over to the other side of the valley made the decision very hard to contest. For a nice change, the normally omnipresent wind decided not to blow our socks off and we had a nice fifteen to twenty minutes worth of rest and relaxation. I checked my altimeter which reported that we had still around six hundred feet to climb – in my head that equated to around two thirds of a standard Pendle Hill climb…so nothing to worry about then!

The giants of the lakeland, the Scafells and Gable are noticeable.
The giants of the lakeland, the Scafells and Gable are noticeable.
The eastern fells greet us
The eastern fells greet us

In time we set off once again, the gradient worsened – as indeed it does on most climbs until you are within reach of the final crest of the hill or mountain or fell. I found it very hard to believe that we had just bolted up around six hundred feet in less than half an hour – take that Naismith! As I took the final crest of the slope I kept expecting there to be more…and there wasn’t, I’d made it, to the top of High Street…at last! And the views were spectacular! For once we were treated to a full panorama from Great Mell Fell and Blencathra, across Grizedale Pike, Helvellyn, Great Gable, the Scafells and even the Coniston range. This was our reward for something of a hard push up this giant. Nobody had expected the ascent to be easy, but by the same token no one would have hoped to have such a ‘who’s who’ of Lake Distract fells sprawled out along the horizon. And it wasn’t even windy!

Here are some more pictures:

As far as the I can see.
As far as the I can see.

Great Gable arises
Great Gable arises
The Knott as seen from the descent of High Street.
The Knott as seen from the descent of High Street.
Rampsgill Head is the central fell as viewed from the mighty 'The Knott'
Rampsgill Head is the central fell as viewed from the mighty ‘The Knott’

After taking more photographs probably than what I needed. We discussed our next objective. Sue and Karl were happy to factor in a visit to High Raise, I was not so sure of this as it looked like a lot of descending and ascending. But then Karl reasoned that it was not that far away and compared to what we had already done…it was nothing. So of we set in the direction of a fell that I had heard of from two weeks ago, ‘The Knott’. I think it’s fair to say that unless you were avidly ticking off the ‘Wainwrights’ then you probably wouldn’t visit this fill / lump. Yes it has a commanding position, but that hardly singles it out for special treatment in this environment where this characteristic is widely shared. We spent no more than five minutes here and then climbed back over the wall and onwards up another path to Rampsgill Head, a fell of which I had never heard.

We were not that sure of which part / cairn actually signified the highest point of Rampsgill Head…Karl touched all three, I did two and I think Sue just did the one, I’ll go with Sue as she is generally right about these types of things. With the benefit of hindsight I could have just used my altimeter and referenced the reading with the fell’s Wiki entry! By this time – which was around one thirty, the sun was fairly beating down on us. The walk over to High Raise did not look as bad from this aspect as it had from High Street – it had looked like a right odyssey, and we set off downhill and then up a steady but not at all severe climb. In all honesty I don’t think that it took us twenty minutes to get to the top of our second biggest fell of the day.  High Raise had a quite extensive summit cairn and a wind shelter of sorts – a bit like the ones at Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside but on a day like today it was cloaked in shade and would serve no purpose so we declined to use it and ate the rest of our lunches here in the sun.

Vertigo sufferers look away!
Vertigo sufferers look away!
The view across the valley from Kidsty Pike.
The view across the valley from Kidsty Pike.

The penultimate stage of the route was now upon us, to sort of ‘wriggle’ (hence the name of the walk) back to Kidsty Pike, our last summit. From this aspect, the pike looked like any other mound of earth attached to a hillside soaring into the sky. The point in visiting this peak is not to see it, moreover, it is the the view from the pike itself. It was phenomenal! As it was still a lovely day and Shap chippy doesn’t open until 16:30, we stopped at spent some more time taking in the amazing views down into the valley. Sue spotted some deer down below and try as I might I could not focus on them. This was made even more envy-evoking when Karl managed to get a fix on them. I persisted however and eventually after scouring the valley for a good five minutes I glimpsed something wandering around. And then there they were, I could not tell you how many of these shy creatures were roaming around but I’d guess at around thirty or so. My camera and my photography in general, was not good enough to capture a piccie of them so I’ll put a link to Karl’s website (if he’s edited it) later.

Eventually, we began our descent into Riggindale. The day had been exceptionally good, the weather had proven most of the met’s forecasters wrong and the company had been as splendid as ever, I just wanted to be sure of making it two consecutive walks where I hadn’t fallen over. And on that gradient this was going to be no mean fete. After some distance our path divided into two very distinct routes – stoney or grassy. We opted for grassy guided by the logic of ‘this will be easier on the knees’. I’m sure we were correct in our thinking but the backs of my legs are still hurting now two days later! Our last stop before rejoining the car at Haweswater car park, was to take a few moments basking in the sun aside Riggindale Beck where I refilled my water bottle (with a filter) as what water I had left was running low and quite warm. The beck’s water was a good few degrees cooler which made a nice difference.

We reached the car and were presented with Sue’s GPS statistics 8.6 miles and 3,800 feet of ascension. Of course Sue immediately advised us to ignore the ascension figure as it’s prone to over reporting (damn) and that in all honesty we would probably done more like just three thousand feet. That’s good enough for me. This was a thoroughly enjoyable walk over one mountain that I had been eager to take in for years, one iconic viewing platform and some fells that I’d never heard of!

Distance walked – 8.6 miles

Ascension – 3,000′

Song of the walk: Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever from the woefully awful film: Fifty Shades Darker.

 

The ‘Ha, I never fell over on this walk’, walk

Easter was here so of course Chris was working it! I had planned on doing a Pendle or Amble walk on Good Friday but the weather conspired to make me stay at home and be harassed by the cat…and my PC! Likewise Saturday was off the agenda as well and on Sunday we had a family get-together to attend. This left just Monday but I do like walking on Bank Holiday Mondays.

So, having called in at McDonalds for breakfast with Chris and then dropping her off, I went home, got ready and left the house to head to Rivington, Pendle could be saved for the next bank holiday.

An impressive looking beast. The Leonberger.
An impressive looking beast. The Leonberger.

Eventually, I left the car parked at Rivington Barn at 10:48 and headed straight down the lovely wide, hardly ever utilised driveway which leads to the heart of Rivington – okay it is not a big heart, shall we just say the part which features the village ‘Green’ and tea room! The plan was to do part of the Anglezarke Amble in reverse. This meant starting at the end – the end of the Amble that is, on Sheep House Lane. From here I tip-toed around the mud, dropped down a staircase and ambled along side the Dean Brook and into the Yarrow Valley. The Yarrow Valley is considerably bigger than the River Yarrow itself, so to pinpoint me I should indicate that I was walking past the western edge of the Yarrow Reservoir. Many dog walkers were out today and I caught sight of one family whose ‘Labrador’ looked to be on the big and frisky side. It was only when I caught up to the group that I discovered that the dog was far less commonly found than a mere Labrador. The dog was in fact a Leonberger. And it was big softie – thankfully. I spent a few minutes talking to the family and discussing my belief that the ‘thing’ which attacks me (and anyone else who passes it) on Catherine Edge is a Caucasian Shepherd (a bloody angry one at that!).

The water Chute / run-off from the Yarrow Reservoir.
The water Chute / run-off from the Yarrow Reservoir.

Having bid my farewell to the family and its gorgeous dog, I took a left when facing more or less half way along the embankment of the Yarrow reservoir and into territory that I had never previously ambled in – in this direction. So I was extremely happy to identify the water chute from the Yarrow. This is generally an uplifting sight when doing the route the other way around as it indicates there is less than a mile to go. Today it served to indicate that I had not (yet) got lost. I descended the slope, turned right and crossed Knowsley Lane. The Anglezarke Reservoir sprawled out majestically on my left hand side whilst the odd cyclist passed on my right. I wasn’t on this section of road for long as soon enough I took a left in order to skirt around the Anglezarke Reservoir some more instead of bearing with the road. From here onwards the terrain became more rural and more sylvanian as I passed through various sections of the woods which cover a large section of this area. Again, another ‘Amble’ landmark – ‘the cowpat path’ filled me with memories of my first time of traversing this route in february of 2016.

It was around this time when I came to notice a walker behind me who was beginning to catch up to me – but not in a creepy / stalking sense. Within a few moments, as I was deciding whether to go left or right, another couple of dozen walkers caught up with us both. I enquired as to the destination of the left hand path and the lady whom I had asked advised me that it would lead to White Coppice – a result!

Part of the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association.
Part of the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association.

The lady was one of a number of walkers out that day from the East Lancs L.D.W.A. We spent some moments walking very briskly and chatting away about the walks that this group organises. I was a member of the West Lancs group…but with regret I had let my membership expire. The group’s walking speed was militarial – I’d hazard a guess that we were doing at least 4 m.p.h. through the woods on route to White Coppice. I did notice that the banter of the group was very relaxed, somewhat mildly ribbing each other, and genuinely high spirited. As there were also a number of dog walkers with the group this did lead to some more pedestrian style and gate traversals – memories of 2012’s Pendle Witch Walk came flooding back in glorious technicolour. All the same, we made speedy process to White Coppice where I bid my farewells boasting ‘I’m off up Great Hill now…’ this seemed to impress nobody!

 

A dead tree caught my attention at White Coppice
A dead tree caught my attention at White Coppice

The route from just passed Stronstrey Bank, to the rise of Great Hill was actually surprisingly busy. It appears that this is the preferred route of ascension for Great Hill, I think I counted twenty or so other walkers. This rise used to be a fearful one for me…the spectacle that was Steel Fell last December has since toughened me up and I now no longer feel quite as fearful of this grade three climb. That being said, it still gives ones’ calf muscles a good old tune-up. I was trying not to go flying up the hill as this can upset other walkers and well it tires me out quicker and by this time I had only walked something like five of my intended twelve miles. Of course it’s always nice to pass people who are obviously much younger and fitter than oneself and if they just happened to be two young women in their twenties and wearing completely inappropriate footwear – Wellies – for Great Hill??? then this only added to the pleasure.

Great Hill looking deceptively closer than what it really was.
Great Hill looking deceptively closer than what it really was.
Round Loaf across the valley.
Round Loaf across the valley.

In time I joined up with a lovely couple from Bromley Cross in Bolton. Our paths had crossed a couple of times at the start of the climb and on the first rise, now I decided to have a good old natter and they were great company, it was especially nice reminiscing about my times in Bolton. As the couple were not in any particular hurry – I can never say the same when I have to get back for Chris, I decided to put my foot down at something like a half mile’s distance from the ruins of Drinkwaters. Funnily enough, three more walkers were draped over these ruins which changed my mind about having a rest here. Great Hill was now looming just around an exceptionally large corner!

Great Hill's cross shelter
Great Hill’s cross shelter

Now I decided it was time to make a strident bid for the summit. It was twelve fifty

The lovely couple from Bromley Cross.
The lovely couple from Bromley Cross.cross shelter.

five and I wondered if I could make it to the top of Great Hill for one o’clock. The answer was a resounding “no!” Once more, I had fallen for the trap of thinking I was closer to Great Hill than what I really was – all the same I did get there by five past one so all credit to me I believe. By this time I had walked almost six miles, over various types of terrain and up a fairly steep incline. To say that I was impressed with my performance was understating things: I had a celebratory flask of coffee at the summit As I was about to leave, the other seated walkers were somewhat insular, continuing to talk amongst themselves as opposed to engaging me, my lovely couple from Bromley Cross summited the slope. Of course we then took each other’s photos and I gave them my web site address (wonder if they’ve visited!).

The time to leave the summit had approached, once more I bid my farewells and set off due south in the direction of the looming giant of Winter Hill and its associated ironwork (the many masts). I knew this to be an easy route – as long as the visibility held up (it did) and I frequently reached for my pocketed camera in case last year’s deer should happen to spring across Anglezarke Moor in front of me (it didn’t!). The slabs laid across the moor some years ago have definitely settled in place now. It was possible to observe where the moorland has started to reclaim the space they have invaded as the cottongrass and ubiquitous water vy for dominance over the grey stone outsider presence. Nature seldom simply accepts what man has willed upon it and I do doubt whether these facilitating stepping stones which snake across the moor, will still be so useful (even accessible) in another fifty years?

It can beckon all it wants, I'm not doing Winter Hill today!
It can beckon all it wants, I’m not doing Winter Hill today!
The end of the facilitating path across Anglezarke Moor.
The end of the facilitating path across Anglezarke Moor.

It did seem to take just as long to reach the bottom of Great Hill than it did for me to reach the highest point of my route at the top of Spitlers Edge. I had dropped down by a mere twenty metres or so, but to my legs it seemed like much more when I was climbing up Redmonds Edge followed by the gentlest of all ascensions of Anglezarke Moor’s highest ground. From here there would be a very pleasant drop down to Higher Anshaws – parallel to Will Narr, as the paved route has now been extended to just short of Rivington Road. It has to be said, this was easy walking. I had already decided that I would not be bagging Winter Hill again today, no matter how tempting the prospect might be. I had another climb to tackle today and this would certainly test my fitness.

Hard to discern from a 2D perspective, the path swiftly shoots up to Catter Nab.
Hard to discern from a 2D perspective, the path swiftly shoots up to Catter Nab.
Wooden bridges serve as pointers to the path.
Wooden bridges serve as pointers to the path.

On the corresponding walk last year I noticed a path that had not previously engaged my curiosity. It seemed to start in a hollow area of land just next to Rivington Road and climbed up quite rapidly to Catter Nab near the beginning of the path to Noon slack. Despite visiting the area another few times, I had managed to stave off the traversal of this path…until today. Since the very start of today’s walk I had known that I would be attempting this new diversion and now was the time to set feet on what proved to be the hardest section of this round.

Even the descent was difficult as all around was a somewhat sheer drop and ubiquitous mud to send me sliding to a watery end. I had no alternative than to take my time, pausing frequently to catch my racing breath. The very obvious path vanished from in front of me and reappeared at the other side of a minor brook. The crossing of this watercourse was not difficult and before long I was on another path altogether and heading along to the newly planted area of saplings destined to cloak the hillside in a deciduous shroud. Yet another path ran off at a right angle on my left and I duly followed it up into a sylvanian ascent the likes of which my tortured calves are still not thanking me for! This was hard going. Not only was the slope steep but it was decidedly slippery in parts. I was following three dismounted mountain bikers up the incline, one of which, at the top of the climb dubiously informed me – ‘there’s no right of way here mate, you’ll have f’t climb over’t fence’. Once I’d despatched with my walking pole and bag, the fence proved to be no obstacle and thankfully I was now on the path which I had hoped would be here…Catter Nab to Dovecote.

The Yarrow and High Bullough reservoirs come into view.
The Yarrow and High Bullough reservoirs come into view.
Pigeon Tower and for some reason my feet decide to make me turn right here.
Pigeon Tower and for some reason my feet decide to make me turn right here.

For the record, as far as paths that are comfortable to walk on – forget this one, it’s horrid! Not only does this path turn into a stream every so often, it is undulating on a microscopic scale, no two adjacent stones are on the same horizontal level. This is not a path after which your feet will thank you. From here i continued my weary way down towards the Pigeon Tower and then for some reason, which escapes me, I turned right and headed towards what I already knew was an even worse, even more bumpy path which I have come to name “Boulder Road”. This section of the route is largely rocks and recycled tarmac as well as various other surfaces. It’s direct, I can remember directly falling here on a number of instances. But, as it is a short section, somewhere, in the now emerging sunshine, was a treat for me. Last year, when I walked a similar route I was tormented by the prospect of a refreshing and well-earned ice-cream, for which I did not have enough time to queue-up and buy.

And the ice cream that I was 'owed' from last year
And the ice cream that I was ‘owed’ from last year
The holy grail, the ice cream van!
The holy grail, the ice cream van!

This year, I did! Even though the queue was small, it still took the best side of ten minutes to get served. Perhaps, being at an altitude of around four hundred feet above sea level was muddying the minds of the waiting patrons. I’m not a psychologist, I do not know, but for whatever the reason the delay was a factor for as long as I did not have my ice cream…then it paled into insignificance. This year I did have time to queue-up, this year I hadn’t got stressed out by the mighty throng ambling their insanely slow way up Rivington Pike and this year I hadn’t had the living daylights frightened out of me by that insane dog on Catherine Edge or had a minor mud bath at Greenhill Farm…this year I’d earned that damn ice cream!

Total mileage = 11.75

Ascent / descent around 1,500 – 1,800′

Terrain – so many!

Song of the walk – again the fantastic ‘I need to forget’ by the wonderful Joanna Koziel and Chris Nahorny.

I’ll be back next year!!!

Five star walk.

 

 

The walk of fluctuating temperatures

 

This was the walk on Sunday 9th of April, 2017

It had been simply too long since last winter’s walk of no redeeming qualities, the Steel FELL route with Sue and Karl in December last year. Although I had been to Cumbria this to year to do a woefully boring walk with the Southport Ramblers, a trip to the Lake District itself was in order. Having missed out due to injuries on the Conniston round and through life events (can’t honestly remember which ones) on the Kentmere Horseshoe, it was with great pleasure that I finally managed to meet up with my walking buddies from Bolton (and Darwen) to take on two summits that to be honest, I’d never heard of – Angle Tarn Pikes and Brock Crags.

As usual we left Karl’s place at around 8:00 and before 9:30 we’d arrived at the tiny hamlet of Hartsop – I had only heard of Hartsop with regards to the fell named after it! The weather was beautiful, not exactly photography weather as the sun was hazing everything out. but, it was so good to be back in this lovely area. My inner ‘Wainwright’ came to the fore, no, I didn’t start smoking a pipe! What I mean is that I’d say for the record I share the late great AW’s fondness for the eastern fells over all the others. There’s just something extra nice and quaint about this quadrant of the lake district, for me, anyway!

We meet at last. The lovely April and 'Beefy' along with Sue and Karl.
We meet at last. The lovely April and ‘Beefy’ along with Sue and Karl.

We set off on route and I was beginning to get into the flow of the walk, even after fifteen minutes it was already more difficult and taxing that anything I’ve done this year with the Southport Ramblers. It was at this point that we were spotted by April and Beefy. April and Beefy are of course Walking Forum members who have accompanied Sue and Karl on many walks and essentially can be found in this area most weekends, wild camping and that kind of stuff. We stopped for a short while and got all caught up about where we going and where they had been. It was great most enjoyable and I hope to bump into this pair more often in the future. We bid our separate farewells and carried our way up the slope on which we had begun some fifteen minutes earlier.

A rare shot of the posing goat...at the top of Brock Crags with Fairfield over my right shoulder.
A rare shot of the posing goat…at the top of Brock Crags with Fairfield over my right shoulder.

I had expected this to be one of our quieter walks, my reasoning being that if I had never heard of the two peaks we would be climbing then maybe they were not that well known. After twenty minutes we had probably seen twenty people, my theory was in tatters on the floor with many holes blown in it! Not that I  minded at all the fleeting company of other walkers. The views never really picked up during the day, the haze was in for good, but all the same we did get many glimpses of the local giants: Helvellyn and Catstyecam – which would prove to be an excellent beacon all day long. Fairfield (my favourite) and Raise all stood proudly on our left hand side throughout the day, whilst Grey Crag practically came up and shook our hands once we had reached our first summit at Brock Crags, where I posed for a summit photo.

Before ascending Brock Crags we had our lunch…it was only something like 11:05 but sometimes it’s just nice to stop in a nice environment and enjoy your immediate environment as opposed to freezing your ass off at the trig point / summit cairn. As this was only a short walk – by Karl and Sue standards, we could afford to take in the local and take lots and lots of photos. I think I may need new batteries in my Canon camera, but as I had my Iphone with me as well I was never stuck without the ability to take the odd snap, or seventy!

Okay, Angle Tarn is gorgeous, but Place Fell has worked its magic on me too!
Okay, Angle Tarn is gorgeous, but Place Fell has worked its magic on me too!

We eventually summited Brock Crags, had a look around then set off for Angle Tarn – the highlight of the walk. It has to be said that I’m sold on this body of water. Although not the largest stretch of water in the lake district – it is 1,600′ up the side of a hill – actually more like in a col, it’s stunning and on a slightly warmer day, I could easily spend a good hour or two here. But that wind did not let up! Every time that we found a great viewing spot, the wind howled down at us. Karl and Sue are seasoned Lakes walkers and as such are used to this. I was still out of my comfort zone and still held on to the belief that only Darwen Hill and Rivington Pike ever has such cyclonic wind…who knew that the word naiíve was spelled M-E?

Place Fell...I will return!
Place Fell…I will return!

At this point I have to mention Place Fell. Never has a hill or mountain weaved its magic on me as much as this captivating monolith. We didn’t ascend, there was no way I was going up that with no carbs or coffee upon which I might rely, but it is there, in my ever-increasing ‘to-do’ list. I am more than happy to make this a single-summit walk if only to get my feet on that spell-binding, snaking path to the summit which looks to me like a stairway to heaven! All too soon we began our way back to Hartsop, we saw cloud gather on the neighbouring giants – for a few moments the quasi-ubiquitous (yes, I know that’s a contradiction in terms) Catstyecam very nearly vanished! We were never really close to being rained upon, thankfully.

The slope which would lead us back down to Hartsop was frighteningly steep in parts – and I’ve dropped off Great Gable – so perhaps it wasn’t that steep! That being said, ‘watch where you put your feet’ was the order of the hour and thankfully I only fell over once. The terrain then levelled out for some distance before descending another even steeper but more arid slope which ultimately would lead us back into the centre of Hartsop (if it’s big enough to have a centre!) and from there back to the car park, but not before pausing to wait for a controlled stampede of sheep.

All in all this was a wonderful return to the lakes and in great company and no rain. What could be better? Karl has talked of how this route might easily be extended to a fantastic day out taking in Grey Crag, arcing around Heyeswater, traversing the mighty High Street and taking in the route that we did today…sounds like hard work to me, but we’ll see…

Total distance: – 6.63 miles

Ascended / descended:- 1,968 feet

Time taken: around four hours but I really have no idea

Song of the walk: My good friend Joanna Koziel’s collaboration with Chris Nahorny: Late Night Talk – sorry no, video so I’ll try and upload the song onto a clickable link here.

 

Candid camino…

…or Honest walk as it should be.

It’s a poorly kept secret that I am a member of the Ramblers. I am not the world’s greatest fan of solo walking as I do get sick of the sound of my own voice in my own head. I am no Wainwright. So, I joined the Ramblers a few years back when I was less fit, did three walks with them, then left them because their walks seemed a bit on the fast side to me.

However, since leaving them I bagged: Scafell and Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw, Cross Fell and Great Gable. After these I considered myself fit to join them once more and to be able to keep up. And how right I was. I started slowly with a couple of the C class walks – these are never more than 7 miles long and don’t have much in the way of up and down figures. Then I took to doing the B walks, these could be anywhere up to ten miles in length and can cover some hills – Parlick Pike and Arthur’s Pike spring to mind. Finally, in preparation for the Anglezarke Amble, last year, I took in a few of the A walks which can be up to twelve miles with much undulating.

Herein lies the problem. I like to be able to put a name to what I have done. It’s a bit anal of me but I like to be able to say ‘I did Rivington Pike / Pendle Hill / a circuit of Delamere Forest / The Coast Road’…you get where I’m going with this? Rambles walks – recently, just don’t offer that. At best, no matter which walk we’re on it’s a case of over this muddy field, across that muddy field, then do this muddy field…argh! Don’t get me wrong, some of the fields are really hard work, especially if they are on a slope. But, well let me put it like this; who would look forward to walking over seven muddy fields separated only by rickety, often dangerous stiles?

No, me neither. I have taken umbrage with the Ramblers in that we are only ever told the location of the walks – by village name, ahead of time. For example Sunday 5th of March: Chipping. No mention of whereabouts in Chipping, if I knew beforehand then I would read ‘a tour of the valley at the bottom of the Bowland Fells’ – ie. Seven Muddy Fields and I’d know not to go! I’ve taken this up with the Ramblers who’s retort was essentially: It’s always been like that! I’ve even volunteered to host a sort of information porthole on these pages. This was met with – some of the walk leaders don’t even have computers…I truly despair!

Personally I’m having a hard time adjusting to seeing each Ramble as essentially just a walk in the country with nice companions (and don’t get me wrong they are all lovely people). But what I keep fighting to not believe is that this is never going to aid me in my peak-bagging hobby (although I will concede that I would never have done Sharp Haw near Skipton without the Ramblers). Life is short and at £14.00 per ‘Ramble’ it’s a bit expensive to do something that I ‘nearly’ want to do. It’s convenient to do, walk down to Lord Street (or get a lift off Chris) then get on the bus and let it take the strain…but it’s so frustrating to go to villages like Chipping and instead of doing the Bleasedale fells…do seven bloody, muddy, irredeemable fields!!! Argh!

Two more Pendle Virginities taken

Ha what an ominous title!

Darren and I had been planning on doing a Pendle hill walk for a number of months. This Sunday served as our chance to finally bag this most noble of all hills, and we had Connor (Darren’s son) along with us for added banter.

Although I had initially planned one of my almighty excursions around the village of Barley taking in Stang Top Moor, Pendle itself, Spence Moor via Fell Wood and then back to Barley via Cross Lane, I soon came to realise that might be pushing things a bit. Moreover, on the day even a shorter route omitting Stang Top Moor felt like a step too far, this rotator cuff injury has really impacted upon my walking will power. So we stuck to the plan of simply going up the steps around the back of Pendle House then descending via ‘the slope’. Having had our progress cut in half by those God awful slippery fields between Brown House and Pendle House we elected to return to Barley via Barley Road on the return route, going up was one thing, coming back down via the muddy equivalent of a skating rink was just not our bag. We reached Pendle House and began the ascent of the steps.

And how I had missed walking! My fitness was most definitely on vacation as I struggled with a new found zeal! Of course this was all fine for Darren – he’d been on ‘Park Run’ the day before and was fighting fit. Likewise with Connor, he coped admirably with the steps – each day he walks miles as part of his paper route. The steps were bringing an old sensation of burning back to the soles of my feet and to my poor thighs.

However, in spite of two unscheduled breaks, brought about by the previously-mentioned thighs and soles, we did make good progress and within an hour and ten minutes were rounding the corner adjacent to the Downham wall at the apex of the stepped path. The going underfoot now got a lot moister but the incline backs off infinitely here, thank goodness. We made our squelchy way across Pendle Moor to Big End (Pendle’s less illustriously named summit)  and once there posed for the obligatory summit photo – I looked like a dwarf. The wind was howling, apparently this was the precursor to storm “Ewan” so I decided we should descend as soon as possible, the guys agreed.

The last time that I dropped down off Big End towards Boar Clough the terrain was nasty, slippery, sticky and altogether not nice to walk upon. Today, well I think there must have been some path repairs of late as we arrived at the top of the slope without any of us falling over or even turning an ankle. The drop back down was fairly uneventful…apart from the one time that I fell flat on my backside as both feet simultaneously slipped from underneath me – damned wet grass, I hate it! Within ten to fifteen minutes we were back at Pendle House where we took the left hand turn along the track which would lead us to Barley Road, no way was I doing those two damn slippery fields again today.

Thankfully the road route to Barley was as devoid of incidents as I would have liked and what was heart-warming in the extreme was the looks of awe etched on Darren and Connor’s faces every time that they looked back at the gentle giant whom had just played host to us.  Pendle’s like that, the further away you get from it then the more impressive it appears.

All told we did around five and a quarter miles and roughly 1,200 feet of ascent/descent. Not bad for a cold Sunday morning!

Song of the walk (when we weren’t talking): Clean Bandit – featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie- Rockabye

 

 

The path to fitness

So, following on from my last post, I am recovering, slowly. It’s certainly not leaps and bounds, so far nobody has been able to tell me what I did to exactly which part of my body. It has been made clear to me that I did not have a dislocated shoulder – this in turn would have been a cloud with a silver lining – relocating it would have been very painful but after this recovery is very quick. Apparently I do not have a frozen shoulder or Tendonitis. Good.

Ultimately, I can’t do anything about what I had/have as it’s all kind of past tense now. I just have to recover and in my book the best way of doing that would be to get fit. I have reasons for wanting to do just that:

  1. Being injured sucks!
  2. I could not take place in this year’s Anglezarke Amble after counting down to it for almost a year..that sucked too!
  3. I want to take on the Three Peaks of Yorkshire in May and to be honest, being able to use my shoulders / biceps and triceps is really going to be a prerequisite of not only getting me up Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough, doing this challenge in any way unfit (even having a cold or headache) is a recipe for failure.

So, as of today, starting slowly and in as controlled a manner as I can manage, I am going to try and get myself as fit as possible for not only the Y3P but for life in general. Last year was my best ever walking year, but I can draw a line under the time when it all started to go downhill – when Chris was hospitalised.  Even though I went on to do more walks than ever, the Steel Fell round was agony, hard to believe I was the same person who ran up the last few hundred feet of Grisedale Pike. No point in getting bitter.

Moving on, I’ve already started to prepare for getting fit by walking back from Tesco and adding another two miles on the way, making four and a half in total. Not earth shattering mileage by me by any stretch, but a start is a start. I aim to do a bigger (but still flat) walk tomorrow – unless the rain finally descends in which case I’ll go to the gym, but never to go on the cross trainer. No sir, that beast is never to be ridden by me again!

 

Someone got an ouchy!

So for over a week now I have had a pain in the foot. It’s on my left instep spreading from the centre to the left – parallel with the toes.

If you perform a google search you will be rewarded with a host of sites all auto-diagnosing the conditions: Plantar Fasciitis and Plantar Fibromatosis. It could be that I have either of those two ailments, alternatively it might be a compound fracture or strain, picked up whilst enduring ‘The walk of no merit’ last December.

I’ve been to the GPs about it as this is impacting on my walking – imagine doing sixteen miles over cross country with a sore foot…yes, it did hurt a bit. The GP is taking the all too familiar ‘wait and see’ approach frequently inadvertently deployed to kill thousands of patients every year. So the jury is out on what I have until it goes – in which case we won’t know what it was, or it gets worse and I have to start taking Verapamil or some other drug – yes they could have sent me for an x-ray…

It’s hard not to think that fate is having a bit of a go at me here with the timing of this ailment being so close to the Amble on the 11th of February. I’m not going to play the victim role- I’m still aiming to do the Amble – the full version, and if we don’t make it to Charlie’s pole before the cut off time (10:30) well, we will just be back earlier than expected to enjoy the delicious smelling ‘gloop’ that the West Lancs LDWA kindly offered up last year.

My GP’s main advice was to lighten the load, take rest etc…she isn’t doing a 24.5 miles walk in a month’s time and is currently ten pounds heavier than last year…There will be no rest! A mixed blessing is that although walking is a little painful, cross-training isn’t (damn it’s so boring though!) so I can still go to the gym and burn off some of the after effects of all of those bottles of wine that I consumed last December and November…and most of the year to be honest! This is the price I am paying now for one too many ‘nights in with a bottle of red’.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, I am optimistic enough to believe that this ailment will resolve just before the Amble…to be replaced by another! Either way I will comply (to a point) with the GP’s advice and just do flat walks for a few weeks…oh and the bloody cross-trainer!

Update

Well now seeing as I couldn’t go hill walking or even treadmill walking; I figured the cross trainer was the way to go. On Thursday morning I did over 2.5 miles cross training followed by another 1.75 miles on Saturday. And therein lies another problem…I’ve now done my left shoulder in! Simply the act of putting on a coat is an owed to pain! This made for a not very restful night on Sunday – and many expletives after attempting one of those fabled “relaxing” baths which we all read about; on Monday morning. With all these injuries it seems apparent to me that my body is trying to tell me something.

I took it upon myself to contact the West Lancs LDWA to ask if it would be okay to hold over my entrance to the Anglezarke Amble until next year…they have very kindly consented with a footnote to mention that it is not at the moment; definite that there will be an Amble next year – there has been one for the last 43 years so there’s every chance it will be on. For now I will have to focus on getting myself fit – my body is not saying ‘don’t do it’ moreover, it’s a case of ‘at the moment you ain’t up to it’  – in the light of recent family events I would be foolish not to heed what it has to say.

I shall in due course return to the hills, perhaps at a slower pace for a while and there’s every chance that I’ll even take part in the epic Yorkshire Three Peaks again, perhaps in September…

 

A Wythburn Round

Owing to the festivities of Friday night – a work’s Christmas ‘do’, I felt a little fragile on Saturday and decided to opt out of the planned walk with Karl up to the summit of bull hill. Instead I opted in to Karl and Sue’s walk on Sunday which would feature “walking a round over Steel Fell near Grasmere” … sounds almost innocuous doesn’t it? Read on.

As I drove from Southport to Darwen via Bolton at 06:30 I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of mist around. This was evident in Croston and then again in Bolton. I had reservations. All the same, it appeared to have lifted by the time I got to Darwen but then two hours later as we set off from Steel End car park, next to Thirlmere (what isn’t next to Thirlmere?), it became all too apparent that the mist was here again. Not that I mind mist-meandering, because  let’s be honest, we do go off course when the grey stuff descends upon us. Why only last year I completed (again with Sue and Karl, and Lynne) the Fairfield Horseshoe in mist (the first five fells were!), so it’s not as if I am unaccustomed to traipsing around in the grey nothingness.

The first quarter of a mile was deceptively easy, too easy. A gentle stroll along a tarmac road…we should have known better and in fact Karl did, the swine! All too soon the terrain transformed into the Devil’s playground as the grass became shorter and thus more slippery and the gradient seemed to be imbued with a wicked grin, an inaudible mocking sneer that one senses on the very periphery of one’s subconscious. This was no longer a walk, it was a trial, a battle against gravity and I was losing, badly!

I gave up many times on that first ridiculous slant! Then, after a brief stop at an abandoned quad-bike, which practically screamed the word “PORTENT” at me,…the terrain went from forty-five degrees to more like thirty, hell had arrived in the lakes and its resident demon was after me. I watched Sue and Karl become engulfed in the fog – after they had shrunk to the size of garden peas! For some time I was on my own, to be honest, that was the best thing for me, I could vent, childishly vent that this walk was {multiple expletives deleted} / quite challenging. Within an eternity, just about, I happened to stumble my way up to my waiting co-walkers.

All smiles and thumbs up Karl mocked “Bit of a steep section that isn’t it!”. I refrained from swearing, much! For a time we then traversed a much nicer gradient, but now came the second wave of walking nastiness – the boot swallowing underfoot water. We were quite definitely within a marsh. Nothing on any of the walks I had done this year could have prepared me for this wave (pun intended) of slosh from practically every footstep. I thought Longworth Moor was bad, pah! Child’s play compared to this lurking green lagoon!

We reached a summit, or did we? The fells of the central lake district have one thing in common, multiple rises, knolls and outcrops. In the absence of a triangulation pillar – although these are seldom really at the highest point, one never can be truly sure of where the apex of the hill really is – unless one has the desire to roam around the apparent top of the fell with a g.p.s. device taking numerous readings…most of us don’t want to do this. A little time passed and we undulated with the terrain, up and down whilst sloshing around…all good clean misery! By way of chance we happened upon yet another summit and decided to take lunch there.

It was nice to sit down and take a breather, but all too soon the demon who was controlling the weather took note of our buoyant disposition and cranked the temperature down a tad…just enough to make (for me at least) shivering the order of the day. I had to stand up and move around or else give in to the cold. Often I heard distant people noises. Having now completed the walk I can imagine that what I heard were the faraway expressions of woe of others who had just lost a knee’s-length to the wretched marsh. This is a horrid terrain! I had the feeling that we were halfway into the walk…I was to learn much later that we were not.

We met two gentlemen who had come up from Grasmere to do a similar ’round’ to ours. After a few moments of chatting they bid their respective farewells but within another few minutes we were upon them again sat atop Calf Crag. This was my second Wainwright of the day and in all honesty what made this summit more worthy for inclusion in his pocket guides; than Ladyside Pike and Sale How; to the late great Alfred Wainwright, eludes me.

Next we picked up the Coast to Coast path…and without realising it, at some point put it back down again as we entered another bog / marsh / wet cauldron from the mouth of Hades! For over an hour we seemed to circumnavigate the fog and mist and wet. Sue and Karl were of the collective thought ‘we might as well do Ullscarf now’. I’d heard of this summit before but had forgotten that it is in fact a mountain and to put it in to perspective – it’s ten feet higher than Ingleborough! Thankfully the climb up to the summit from our aspect was far more forgiving than any approach to the Yorkshire icon and soon we were within eyesight of it.

On our way up to the top of Ullscarf we were treated to views of nearing fells which seemed to emerge from the murk, announce their presence and then promptly bugger off back into the mist once more! Sue and Karl suddenly became engrossed in the pursuit of Broken Spectres – I thought this was a James Bond villain! Apparently (pun also intended!) this is a phenomena whereby “the magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun causes a halo of light to be cast around the shadow of the subject”. I maintain that they both hadn’t been drinking enough water and had the auras associated with migraines, possibly owing to dehydration. I lied and insisted that I too could see what weirdness they were hallucinating…my colourblind eyes do not afford me such luminary luxury, unless I have a migraine! We played a short game of guess the fell…amazingly when one’s feet are wringing wet through this isn’t half as much fun as one might think!

I was a bit freaked to notice that the afternoon was getting on. The light that we did have (not so bloody much) would soon be fading and a dreaded the prospect of being stuck out on this sodden moor at dusk or even darker. I must admit to giving in to my doubts and worries at this point. I thought we were lost, we had a g.p.s. with us but it seemed to be saying left, right, left like some insane Regimental Sargent Major. Helvellyn and her cronies across the valley were joyfully laughing at us. But if that range across the void was not Helvellyn then who was it? I seriously did not care which mountain range was gaping at us! I wanted off the moor, now! We ascended and descended, I fell over, then fell over some more! I lost a leg, then I lost the other one. I was black and blue and wet and miserable. I do find it difficult to believe that some people find this enjoyable.

Ultimately, thanks to Sue’s magnificent navigating and Karl’s almost infectious sense of optimism, we arrived back in a sloping field from where we could clearly perceive Thirlmere on our left and Steel Fell on our right. We’d almost made it back. We descended a third of the way down the field, then Sue theorized that there might not be an easy exit to the road. So, we ascended to the head of the field once more only to be reassured by Sue that there was a right of way after all – this would later manifest itself as a blooming big gate! Before we reached it I had time to fall over twice more and to turn the sky blue with a barrage of expletives!

Finally, a little after four o’clock we reached Sue’s awaiting car, we were safe…if not altogether dry!

Summary.

I hate wet field walking!

I may well be in the minority from the perspective of ‘seasoned walkers’ but in regard of humans in general I have numbers on my side when I question, “What’s wrong with real paths? Y’know the type that Fix the Fells and the National Trust spend pounds sterling on repairing every year.” Why do we have to get so dogmatic in our belief that grass is best when it comes to trudging up and sliding down the Lake District paths? In summer this walk…would have been just as bad. That water comes from rain and as everybody knows the Lake District is the rainiest part of England. Thus it would take a really dry summer before I came back to this particular environment. In future I vow to stick to real ‘on the ground’ paths. One’s that have evolved or been constructed and don’t just vanish from before our very eyes. Pendle has them in spates! Ultimately I have to say that I was glad of the exercise, it’s all been a bit easy whilst Chris has been recuperating. In addition it is always great to be out and about with Karl and Sue. One thing is for sure, next February, when next I traverse the God awful Longworth Moor whilst walking the Anglezarke Amble, I won’t feel quite so bad about a mile-wide stretch of marshland now that I’ve walked this route!

Walk distance: 8.5 miles

Ascent: 2,000′

Time: six and a bit hours

Song(s) of the walk: Chandelier by both Sia and Mollie Bylett (Cover) 

 

2016 My Walking Year in review

I knew it was going to be a good year, I was wrong. It was a fantastic year!

Lots of folks out on the hill today, we must all be mad.
Lots of folks out on the hill today, we must all be mad.

I was off the mark very early in the year in 2016 as I rekindled my relationship with my beloved Pendle Hill on New Year’s Day. It was good that there were so many people out and about in spite of the liberal coating of snow/frost that she had been granted. Before the week was out I joined the Ramblers on a walk in the Lune Valley / Reservoir as we slogged along a flood plain for ten and a half miles and I watched as my core temperature plummeted! Later in the month was a trip to the future, at Burton as I observed the effects of silting on the River Dee estuary. The same environmental metamorphosis is set to happen to our beloved and receding coast line at Southport. A sobering yet captivating scene. the last trip out of the month was with the Ramblers to Skipton where, whilst being rained upon for most of the day, I conquered the minor peak of Sharp Haw.

The Jubilee Tower on Darwen hill
The Jubilee Tower on Darwen hill

February brought with it a bonus week off for my birthday during which Chris and I returned to the spectacular Ingleton falls. In winter this was far nicer than the last time that we visited at the height of summer. Then came the big one, the walk that I had been building up to for over a year: The Anglezarke Amble with Mark Carson. To say that I had become obsessed with this twenty-four mile dash over numerous hills and mud galore is no exaggeration. Nearing the end of this epic day I had sworn ‘never again’ yet within an hour of finishing, on the way home, I was planning my next participation. I’m hooked and hope that I will always be so. At the end of the month came another trip out with the Ramblers as we went to Staveley , taking in numerous fields and more parts of hills. Although the walk was enjoyable it would be so nice to put a name to the places that one has been!

March opened up with a wonderful snowy walk with Chris as we passed most of Rivington’s vast reservoirs. We loved this route so much that it has now replaced Rivington Pike as our ‘go-to’ route. Winter Hill draped in snow is becoming an increasingly irregular sight, so i considered myself fortunate to be within sight of this natural beauty on this visit. The next walk was another where I re-united with an old acquaintance in the shape of the Keswick giant Skiddaw. Sue, Karl and I spent five glorious hours traversing the Ullock Pike ridge to Skiddaw whilst avoiding suicidal mountain bikers at 2,700′! Six days later Chris and I returned to Pen-y-Ghent, where snow was on one of its flanks and spent a very enjoyable afternoon walking around my favourite of the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Pen-y-Ghent. On Good Friday came what could well be the prestigious (in my head at least) ‘walk of the year’ – the Half Amble’. Although on my own, this walk featured a celebration of my completion of the Anglezarke Amble and at just shy of fifteen miles, was a good workout in fine temperatures and even featured a sighting of a red deer on Anglezarke Moor.

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

April saw Chris and I back at Pendle on a gloriously rainy day. No new sights, no new routes we slowly splashed our way up the steps in the rain. the photos were a washout, the route down to the slope was precarious! The rest of the month saw me return to Darwen Hill and then two excursions up to a new favourite in the form of Cheetham Close, its neighbouring summit Turton Heights practically defined disappointing but I may still take this route on next year’s ‘Amble’ as the route across the slope of the hill is just awful!

A re-take of a photo that I used to have on my desktop in 1999
A re-take of a photo that I used to have on my desktop in 1999

In May we took a mini break in Salou (again) but still managed to get in a breezy coastal walk along the Camino de Ronda. A couple of weeks later I was lucky enough to tackle multiple summits over the Dodds in the north east corner of the Lake District. I won’t lie, Clough Head was very testing and to this we added the summits of Watson’s Dodd, Great Dodd, Starling Dodd and a couple of Birketts. This visit left me wanting more and Chris and I returned a week later to the Lakes in order to take in Loughrigg – we finally managed to get to the trig point. The next day we had a three peak walk over Rivington Pike, Crooked Edge Hill and Winter Hill.

The first walk of June was somewhat frustrating. Southport ramblers took us off to Ambleside where I had the option of ascending Great Rigg and Fairfield or Silver Howe and Blea Rigg. As I had climbed  Great Rigg and Fairfield as part of the Fairfield Horseshoe last summer I thought that I would tick off the two lesser summits. And there in lay the problem. Oh sure, we achieved the steep little pull up to Silver Howe with relative ease, for the next few hours however, Blea Rigg proved elusive. We could not find it! I think we stood on four minor peaks with me checking my phone’s altimeter to no avail! The following Saturday Chris and I walked up to the summit of our biggest mountain so far. We nailed Snowdon from Llanberris. I was delighted to be atop this majestic giant, even if a thick mist had descended half-way up.

Walking was to then take a back seat. Mine and Darren’s Yorkshire Three Peaks had to be put off, as did the week after’s White Bear Way as Chris succumbed to a gall bladder illness which would trouble her for a further three weeks and involve an ECRP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography) procedure which bottomed-out her blood pressure – thank you Fazakerley Hospital!!!

Barrow, Outerside and Crag Hill on the left with Grisedale Pike facing on the right.
Ard Crags begins to fill my mind as well as my camera lens.
Ard Crags begins to fill my mind as well as my camera lens.

It wasn’t until the end of July that I was back amongst the north western fells on a walk with Sue, Lynne and Karl which took in the magnificent Grisedale Pike and another three summits from this area of relative giants.

Another month would go by before Chris and I returned to Pendle for a jolly old walk up the slope and down the steps. She didn’t appreciate this diversion to an established route – I did, the slope route is my favourite way up and down.  August saw no further walking action from either one of us.

And so into September and once again a lean walking month. Sue, Karl and I had a strenuous hike up to the two lesser Wainwrights of Ard Craggs and Knott Rigg. This is hailed as a ‘classic walk’ according to the internet…I remained somewhat unimpressed.

A distant view of the masts from Belmont Road.
A distant view of the masts from Belmont Road.

Again over a month went by with no walking and then it happened! I proposed a route to Karl that we simply could not resist – the Anglezarke Amble (shorter version). I don’t want to betray its bigger brother…but the shorter version is simply the nicer walk. Not only is it eight miles shorter, it omits the eastern half of Longworth Moor, declines the opportunity to ascend Darwen Hill and gives one some wonderful yomping across Catherine Edge…it’s all good. Moreover, in preparation of next year’s Amble, I now know the route from White Coppice back to Rivington. One week later saw me return to the same environment to tackle the classic Edge’s to Great Hill walk returning to Rivington via the same White Coppice traversal – Brilliant and the fact that it clocked in at just shy of twelve miles meant that Chris and I had just set our new distance bar!

We had no walking in November as Chris had to have the misbehaving gallbladder extracted. Never again will the cursed thing impede my Three Peaks and White Bear Way…bloody thing!

Looking far more sinister than normal, Pigeon Tower.
Looking far more sinister than normal, Pigeon Tower.

So that brings me up to December and already we’ve returned to Rivington two more times. The first time we took in Wilkinson Bullough, Simms and the Hempshaws Pastures – it’s becoming a classic for us. On our next return we simply took in the Pike and back – more ‘Amble’ practice, I am now sure of the easiest way to get me and Darren up to the top of the Pike. Only two more possible walks remain. Karl and I have promised ourselves another return to Ramsbottom in order to take in Bull Hill and Holcolmbe Hill. Hopefully the final walk of the year should see me at good old Pendle to do my doc-u-walk and visit both Stang Top Moor and Spence Moor in the same epic walk, watch this space, on New Year’s Eve!

So there you have it. If all goes to plan then I will have completed thirty two walks this year. It’s getting serious now. There have been some new peaks: Grisedale Pike and the others of the north western Lakes and not forgetting the little cracker that is Cheetham Close. by way of contrast, aside from Pendle, Winter Hill and Rivington Pike who would have thought that I would hit Snowdon once again and that I would slip and slide my way over the Ullock Pike route to the mighty Skiddaw?

For next year, I long to be back atop England’s highest, Scafell Pike to me is somehow not fully ticked off. Darren and I often put plans down to return to Snowdon in order to complete the epic ‘Watkins Path’…here’s hoping. There will be more challenge walks next year, obviously the Amble, a moth later the Peelers Hike with Mark and two weeks later the one that has me most nervous – The Two Crosses (25 miles in nine hours). I’ll give the White Bear Way another shot, I may even make it to the start this time! So many walks to do…

But returning to this year and the not at all prestigious walk of the year. Once again there were three candidates:

  1. The Anglezarke Amble – full version with Mark.
  2. The Half Amble – me on my lonesome
  3. The Anglezarke Amble – short version with Karl

And the winner is…(no, seriously did you need to ask, I’ve been banging on about it all year?) The Anglezarke Amble (long version). But the other two were tied for second place!

Until next year…

 

 

 

 

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