And so it came to pass, that in the year of our lord 2017, Mark Wild did next to bugger all walking!
There are no elephants on my blog, I’ll admit that in many ways, this has not been a stellar twelve months and walking, or the lack of, was one of the ways in which the year’s darkness materialised.
I got off to something of a bad start by developing a foot problem by the 14th of January and whilst I had been to the gym a number of times, this would never grow into a habitual regime! For most of January I simply walked around the fitness trail at work as a way of keeping the limbs moving.
At the end of January we lost Mike, this impacted upon us all and subsequently I had to pull out of the Anglezarke Amble which I had planned on doing with Darren – January’s only walk had been the ‘half Amble’ with Darren – for most part in the snow!
February saw my declining relationship with Southport Ramblers sink to new depths as we trudged our way across muddy field after muddy field at the stunning Arnside, four weeks later we took in the worst of what the Forest of Bowland has to offer with another ten mile slide at Chipping! Unofficially, I’ve had it now, these walks are just not worth paying £14 a pop for! The highlight of February however, was introducing Darren and my nephew Connor to the delights of Pendle Hill…even if I did fall over on the way down (at least if gave Connor a laugh!).
As mentioned previously, March’s Ramble to Chipping was utterly rubbish, I could have had a better time at home or even at the gym! March would prove to be my standout worst month. But April was by contrast a festival of walking. First came a beautiful stroll over two of the lesser challenging Wainwrights as Sue and Karl and I took in Brock Crags and Angle Tarn Pike. A week later saw me at Anglezarke once more in order to do the long pull up Great Hill and the traverse of the ‘Edge’s’ then an equally strenuous ascent of Catter Nab via various terrains of Woodland and grass – all in all a very pleasing yomp. The climax of this fantastic walking month was another trip to the Lake District to tick off another of the giants – High Street and I hope I can hold onto that memory of being face-to-face with the true giants at the top of this mighty whaleback! We nailed another three summits whilst there – but don’t ask me which ones, I can only remember the glory of High Street.
May and June saw no walking activity again and it was not until the start of our two weeks of annual leave in July before my feet touched the ground (other than going to and from work). Chris and I had a lovely stroll around the haunting Crosby Beach followed a few days later by an excursion to Beacon Fell to take in those magnificent views of the Forest of Bowland. On Sunday the 30th Sue, Lynne, Karl and I took in two wonderful summits at Martindale – Beda Fell and Place Fell. I might never go back to Beda Fell, I can’t imagine never going to a new favourite in Place Fell.
In August, four of us teamed up to take on two peaks near Horton in Ribblesdale – one rightly famous, Pen-y-Ghent and the other notorious, Plover Hill, one of the wettest places I’ve ever trudged across. I had planned another Yorkshire Three Peaks assault with Darren, this walk underlined just how unfit I had become as I struggled all the way up Pen-y-Ghent…I was in no shape to do any three peaks, let alone Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. It would have to wait for next year and I was dismayed to hear that Darren and Mike had achieved a very credible 9 hours thirty minutes a few weeks later.
In September I donned my walking boots on two more occasions, the first of which was a classic at Pendle taking in the lesser known Stang Top Moor with its legendary view of Pendle across the sky. As far as solo walking goes, this is my cream of the crop, I aim to repeat this walk at least once per year from now on. The second walk, just a week later had me back at Great Hill having first traversed Spitlers and Redmonds Edges and finally marching back through Anglezarke to Rivington, this has become my ‘go-to’ walk, if I can’t quite make up my mind where to go then this will always suffice.
So, with the exception of a wonderful ascension of Snarker Pike and Red Screes with Sue and Karl (my fourth trip to the lakes this year!), my walking year came to an end…it hadn’t really taken off by comparison to 2016!
This year, this awful year of 2017, has seen loss on a personal and family level on a new unprecedented scale…that I hope to recover from with the shortest of all delays. People will say, hell, I’d say of it, ‘a year is a year, it’s what you make of it’ and rightly so. But sometimes, just every so often, a dark one comes along…here’s hoping that I can make 2018 a fantastic spectacle of a year, I’m definitely doing the Amble (with Darren) and have organised a trip to Horton with some of my colleagues to do the Y3P again, so fingers crossed that I gain a measure of fitness that has been sorely missed this year!
This was the walk of Sunday, 24th September, 2017.
A sunlit day served to incite in me the desire to return to Rivington in order to fit in yet another ramble around one of the Amble routes…or at least a part of it.
If I had to pick a favourite route exclusively for this area, it would have to be this one. Yes it is easy, very easy but more than that, as the day transpired, it’s a lovely sociable route. I got to what would be my starting point – the car park near the Rivington Hall Barn for around 10:10 and after booting and suiting up and adorning my GoPro and a selfie stick, I was all ready to go … if a little burdened with regards to the equipment. For a change, I thought that I’d do the steep stuff right at the start of the walk, which is of course the way that we’ll hit the slopes on Amble Day in February. The first obstacle out of the way I treated myself by meandering past the Ornamental Japanese lake and terraced gardens (there really is not that much evidence of the terracing anymore ), before detouring to the old toilet block on Belmont Road.
From here I ignored the normal, practically compulsory, ‘full steam ahead to the pike’ calling and turned left to pass Dovecote (Pigeon Tower) before veering off to the right in the direction of Catter Nab. Along the way I was almost disappointed to discover that someone had taken it upon themselves to repair the world’s (or at least Bolton’s) most rickety stile. This was a surprise so intense that it bordered on startling! Now, there are no obstacles to impede a walker’s progress to Noon Hill from Catter Nab…well none apart from the bumpy and often wet terrain that is.
The track from the tower to the main, Rivington Road, looks like a long journey on the online maps, all things being relative, it’s even further on foot! To break up the monotony of every footsteps being pretty much the same, it was at this point that I decided to get out the selfie stick, attach it to my Iphone, plug my microphone in and do some crappy commentary. (Having listened to the end result…I am in n o way exaggerating this!) Video to come much later.
Having reached the sometimes speed track at Rivington Road, I crossed without obstacle, only briefly stalling to read with horror the sign which now states that the area falls within the boundaries of Blackburn with Darwen boundaries…I was mortified! Only a good stretch up Will Narr and along the edges would now bring solace to my distraught mind! Imagine the horror, believing for all of one’s life that Winter Hill was in Bolton>Horwich only to discover that those thieving beggars in Blackburn and Darwen have wrenched it from our grip! Thankfully, the trot up Will Narr always looks notably harder than it really is, a good five minute yomp saw me at the top of this most minor of all minor bumps. Within a matter of a few moments I had said ‘hi’ to a number of walkers. Whilst I would never eagerly await the prospect of greeting a virtual football crowd’s worth of walkers during my moorland traversals, the odd one, two , even twenty is no great hardship. Having surmounted the merged summits of both Spitlers and Redmonds’ Edges, I continued my way along the former mill-stone paths which stretch out for over a mile in a northern direction from Rivington Road almost to the base of Great Hill.
Water was still in evidence, I don’t remember ever making the crossing of this moorland without seeing water attempt to seep over the flagged paths, it will win its battle, eventually. More and more walkers were met on route and all were greeted with a cheery hi and smile. Before long I was traversing the stile at the base of Great Hill and no more than five minutes later saw me at its summit, 1,250 feet in the air. I love great Hill, it’s the Longridge of this area, the Catbells – okay its reputation probably isn’t as gleaming as Catbells, what with having no advocation from the late A. Wainwright, but all the same, it’s a cracking little hill. Only time will tell if I still feel as enamoured with the blessed mound on February tenth after eighteen miles worth of ‘Ambling’. For now, I was on the final section of the Amble and would stay that way all the way to within the last half mile of my route.
Talking of the Amble, and contrasting this with just how popular this hill has now become, the sloping path back down towards the ruins of Drinkwaters Farm is now in quite a sorry state of disrepair. With footfall comes the pounding of many feet and the path, though never truly treacherous, could stand quite a large measure of t.l.c. being administered in this walker’s humble opinion. The area around Drinkwaters Farm is no more spectacular than the majority of that encountered throughout the walk, but there is that certain undefined and indefinable quality within its tiny perimeter which just warrants a five minute stay, maybe it’s the presence of the bench and convenient locations to sit and watch time (and yet more walkers) go by…I had to force myself to stand up.
The drop to Drinkwaters Farm from the summit of Great Hill is mild, relaxing, easy. The drop from here on in is unlike the descent of Lord’s Rake, but it’s closer to that spectacle than it is the first half of this stage. Mud is encroaching on the majority of the path. In parts the path stops resembling a path altogether. Fortunately, since my first encounter with Great Hill in 2010, I’ve gone on to do it another eight or nine times and as such am fairly capable of finding my way down to White Coppice without any real troubles…it’s just much nicer to do when one is not sliding quite so much. There was a father and son couple on mountain bikes who seemed to be having a minor spat about the son’s reluctance to peddle great distances…or any distance at all. The lad it seemed, being most distressed that he couldn’t keep his feet where they were and psychically amass forward momentum, or at least that was my take on it. I motioned for them to pass but managed to catch up with them near the turning for Brinscall, moreover where one continues onward to Brinscall and the rest of us turn left in the general direction of White Coppice. The lad took great strides (metaphorically) to inform me that ‘this’ was the way to Brinscall, very kind of him but an invitation I would duly, if silently, decline.
The steepest drop in to White Coppice is the last few hundred lateral feet. Here you really do have to mind your footing and watch your steps. The reward for this due diligence (aside from not falling over of course) is an ever-widening puddle,( I’d estimate it’s about six inches in depth but I’m not willing to prove this) whereby one is practically forced to use the fencing (barbed wire of course!) to hold onto whilst circumnavigating the Broads of White Coppice. Other than that, it’s plain rambling all the way back to the road in around one mile’s time. There’s even a downhill stretch leading up to the path’s termination at Moor Road.
Cross the road and you cross a divide, here the terrain is on the sylvanian kind as trees seem to hone in on the otherwise obvious path. After the initial drop, which lasted for a good twenty feet, the very slow ascent begins. The hardest aspect of this section of the route is avoiding the damn mountain bikers who duly tear up what’s left of the path…and then fall off, or at least one of their pedals did. I took enough caution to ensure I did not slide off the odd microbridge, whose primary purpose seemed to be to the acquisition of mud at its termination. then onwards again as I continued passing cow pat field – a name I’ve given to the area as the width of the path is roughly equal to that of a cow pat. More drops and minor rises and ultimately I found myself at the water chute leading up to the Yarrow reservoir where I spent some moments reflecting on the walk and life in general. There’s only around a mile and a half to go from here, yet nature still manages to find a couple of uphill sections. After the Yarrow reservoir I turned left at a kissing gate then right at another and ‘ambled’ my way to the last real feature – a tiny flight of steps which ascend not even ten feet – except when you’ve just walked twenty-three miles, then they are Everest!
The increasing sound of traffic marked the proximity of Sheep House Lane, I was within a few hundred lateral feet of my start / end. Two youngish women (I’d say late teens / early twenties) approached asking me for directions to Go Ape…the ease of explaining this was blighted by the fact that they had no idea where they were, how they got there and how to get away again. I had to laugh, but only when I got back to the safety and comfort of my car, some five hours after leaving it.
As a precursor to February’s Amble, this served me well, if only because I am very confident in getting off Great Hill without falling over…much! It was a sheer delight to walk in an area that I am getting to know very well and to be told by one walker whom I encountered ‘You’ve got a hell of a pace on you!’ That’ll do.
One more post before the end of the year…
The video for this one has not even been started to bear with me folks!
This was the walk of Saturday the 16th of September.
After dropping off Chris at around 6:15 on Saturday I drove over to Barley via the usual, A59 route and arrived at 7:55. I set off with the clear intention of taking in a lesser, but none-the-less important (to me) summit of Stang Top Moor. I first stumbled onto the summit in 2012 on the day of the Pendle Witch walk and was enraptured by the fantastic view offered to me of my favourite hill – Pendle, from the summit of this otherwise diminutive hilltop. A few years later, quite by chance I managed to climb up to the top of the summit without using roads and it was this route that I intended to take on this day.
Alas, what was once easy was now…not! The path that had stood so proud and clear on my last ascension, was for all intentions invisible and I ended up missing the turning I should have taken and tramping around through grassy paddock after grassy plantation until I spied the road. I remembered the road for it was the same one that I had walked down in 2012, now I had to walk up it. To be honest, it was not that difficult, the sun came out and thankfully started to dry the legs of my walking trousers which had taken in copious amounts of unnecessary hydration! Apparently the weather was going to play fair with me today.
Within an hour, I had managed to navigate my way to the trig point at the top of Stang Top Moor and was once again flabbergasted at the sumptuous panorama across to mighty Pendle Hill. It was odd that something which I knew to be at least two miles away, appeared to be within reach. This peak is nothing if not a splendid viewing platform.
On this day I had decided to take lots of photos and to actually create a video log of the walk – incidentally, I refuse outright to refer to them as VLOGS! This initiative would lead to some interesting and interested looks from people who I encountered on route. Admittedly, since leaving Barley I didn’t actually encounter anyone in Rough Lee and it was at the Upper Black Moss before I exchanged greetings with anyone – although I’m certain that the neighbours on route would have heard me keep chastising myself for using the pronoun ‘we’ when referring to which part of the route was coming up next! The drop down from peak number one to the reservoirs is, if anything, too short. One wants to take time and relax in-between hilltops…I charged around like a newly liberated man and arrived at the confusing section of the walk, the part between the reservoirs, Windy Harbour (it really is called that) and Salt Pie (yes!). I never know which is which out of the latter two – the reservoirs are thankfully self apparent!
I spent a few minutes rubbishing the claims that the ruin of a dilapidated shed is the infamous ‘Malkin Tower’ of Pendle Witch folklore and basking in the sunshine before becoming somewhat agog at the audacity of the man (whoever he may be) that had decided to block off part of the public right of way which should have lead me across a field and no longer did. Undeterred, I stomped up a farm track and headed towards Barley Road, only noticing at the last moment that there was another track across a field…which would lead me to Barley Road (eventually). It appears that there had been no blocking of the public footpath and I had simply remembered incorrectly, the shame of it! I opted not to cross the last field which lay adjacent to the road and took the longer, but less prone to sink-inducing tarmac path towards Barley Road. I do not enjoy the wetness of the fields in this area and as such was more than happy to walk up to the turn off which runs almost parallel to the hill along a dry track to Pendle House. There’s nothing like being in the shadow of the beast.
If what had gone before had been something of a pleasure, I was now at the privilege part. I love the walk up the slope of Pendle to ‘Big End’, every step is a joy…on the way up, coming down is a whole different kettle of fish – which is why I seldom descend via this route. that’s not to say that you don’t have to watch your feet from time to time, there are parts of the path where it’s all too easy to stumble and take it from me, millstone grit and human skin do not a happy combination make! The walk up the slope terminates, or at the very least gives way and merges with the main drag from Boar Clough and later still the approach from Ogden Clough and Spence Moor. It’s a wondrous thing to have walked practically all routes up this magnificent monolith…I must do the Worston Moor and Mearley Moor routes one day. All too quickly I was at the trig point, 1,827 feet in the air. the summit was very clear and I encountered just one other walker whilst I was there. Not that there were not many people on the fells, they’d all had a get together and let me have the top to myself for a while because before very long, the masses began to appear at the apex of the steps route – my choice of descent for today.
It’s official, if not yet documented, that it takes me longer to walk down from the top than it does to get up the thing! My ingrained fear of falling (which does not prevent the act at all) imbues in me a snail’s pace when it comes to dropping down the Pendle Steps. I give way at the slightest chance to those who look scarlet in the cheeks and puff and pant…it’s a joy to behold people struggling…it’s like a drug! Alas, all too soon (it feels that way at least), I was at the bottom of the stepped staircase and rounding the bend which leads me to an area of land simply to small to be called anything greater than a paddock. Once, through the gate, (having quite skillfully traversed a patch of mud), it was then down on to those accursed fields – the ones which I don’t like in-between Pendle and Brown houses. For once, I never fell…and this only minorly marred my walk, I’d much rather see the countryside from afar as opposed to glare fearfully at it anticipating each and every step!
I met and greeted many more walkers on route back into Barley, I’d given up any notion of making a nice well rounded and informative video commentary of the day and was now pretty much snapping everything that didn’t move, my video will serve as a testament to this! The smell of freshly ground cappuccino or latte was engulfing my olfactory sensors, I wanted coffee…now! by 11:16 I was within shot of the Cabin and my well deserved cup of coffee.
Pendle will always be my most favoured hill, it’s dominated my walking thoughts since 2009 and shows no sign of relaxing its grip on me…this I wouldn’t want to change. There’s something vastly satisfying about regarding oneself as a ‘Pendle expert’ and a little vane! But with regards to walking around this verdant mound I believe myself to be one of the elite few who ‘really know Pendle’, I suspect I’m in good company (a nod to the late Mr A Wainwright of Blackburn and Kendal). The two walks I have completed around this area this year have been immensely rewarding, not least because my nephew Connor is also now a fan of the hill! Some years I have visited here four times, more often than not just the three…quality matters over quantity. I’ll be back in the new year (a year of big changes I expect, but at least hopefully Pendle won’t change – fingers crossed!), I’ve told Chris she has to come with me at New Year…we’ll see.
Ps. There’s still two more completed walks this year to blog!
Plover Hill and Pen-y-Ghent on Saturday, August 26th, 2017.
For most of the highly successful (from a walking perspective) 2016, Darren and I had been discussing and planning another assault on Yorkshire’s beloved three peaks. This has spilled over into this year but with this year being such a scant one in terms of the number of walks I have been on, I thought it best to start preparing for this gruelling walk in a timely manner. We planned to do just Pen-y-Ghent…until I decided to throw neighbouring Plover Hill into the mix.
The plan was originally for Darren and I simplyto tackle Pen-y-Ghent, but I later thought this would make a great opportunity for Darren’s son Connor, to bag his first Yorkshire mountain…and he did enjoy Pendle Hill which we would see for a good portion of the first part of the walk. A few days before, Darren had informed me that an acquaintance of his, Mike, would also be joining us on the day…I had to empty the boot of the car in order to get all of our walking gear aboard! All the same, after picking up the Peakes and Mike at 9:10 we were at Horton(-in Ribblesdale) by 10:55 and on route within ten minutes of that! Except that I had to wait a while as the others called in at the toilets…I know, I know!
The weather was wonderful for mountain walking, warm – but not too warm, and dry. Experience had already ingrained in me the knowledge that the hardest part of the ascent of Pen-y-Ghent is the short, sharp, shock of Brackenbottom…I had remember the difficulty well but had forgotten the anguish, I’ve done tougher climbs…and won’t do them again! This was hard going especially given Darren and Mike’s apparent fitness. Did I forget to mention that Mike is one of Darren’s running mates? So did he…up until we were three quarters up the slope towards the junction with the Pennine Way’s path! I struggled to keep up. In fact that’s an understatement, I declared “I’m the driver, so you’ll have to wait for me me!” funnily enough that idle threat worked a treat, for a spell! I had read a number of times Mike Brocklehurst’s recantation of his Three Peaks walk and of how he could easily make out the shape of Pendle Hill from the slopes of Pen-y-Ghent, personally I had never been able to do that…until today.
On a hazy horizon I managed to spot good old Pendle Hill, this was the first time that I had managed to clap eyes on my favourite hill from this locale and it raised my spirits accordingly. I just haven’t been out and about anywhere near enough times this year and seeing Pendle in the distance instilled in me a will to put this to rights. By twelve o’clock we were nearing the frightening front face of Pen-y-Ghent. It’s still a firm favourite of mine, I imagine most walkers who have made this journey more than once will agree, that this is a lovely mountain. But, the sight of the Pennine Way scrambling up the nose of this relative giant is still enough to stop most people in their tracks and we were all no exception. I won’t undersell this mountain, up to the first rocky section from the gate is no walk in the park, but there is progress to be made, and swiftly. The first rocky outcrop is fantastic. Yes, I know people who suffer from vertigo might disagree – I know this because I was gently coaching one of them up the thing! I thoroughly enjoy this scramble and today was no exception. I flashed back to the time when I received a text message from Christine during my successful Yorkshire Three Peaks bagging in 2015 and must have smiled like a Cheshire cat.
For me, the best part of most walks is the opportunity to chat with other people engaged in the same activity, it’s even more enjoyable if they’re being as frank and open about their fitness levels ( or lack thereof) as I tend to be. Today we met a small group of women who were acquainting themselves with the individual peaks ahead of an imminent challenge…in aid of Hedgehogs! One woman even joked, ‘I didn’t even like Hedgehogs beforehand…’ I can’t reproduce what she said next; as the language was colourful! The first scramble over, I rested, chatted, then continued at a slower, more deliberate pace. I was determined to make it up the mountain, but not puffing and panting in so doing! The second scramble always demands more attention, there’s further to fall! Armed with this realisation, I took my own sweet time but within a few minutes of three-points-of-contact work, I was on Pen-y-Ghent’s promenade path to the summit, in last place of our group of four.
We stopped for lunch having tapped the trig point, I always do this three times these days. The views all round were unobstructed but not as stellar as I have scene before, maybe it was because my legs had turned to jelly. My lunch consisted of a berry-flavoured caffeine gel, another banana and a chicken caesar wrap from the Spar near home. All told this would probably equate to around 900 calories at the very most, I think I’d burned that off in the last 1.75 miles ascending this mountain.
We identified on my map, the rest of our route – nothing more complicated than ‘follow that wall’, and eventually we set off northwards to the next target: Plover Hill.
The reason why I had elected to add this hill to our excursion was down to empathy. Coming from a town which was so often overlooked by its gigantic neighbours (Ainsworth / Radcliffe overshadowed by Bolton, Bury, Salford and Manchester) I felt the pain of a mountain which is, after all, just forty feet lower than its much more illustrious neighbour. It came as a surprise to me that we had to traverse the fairly sizable wall-stile, I had it in my head that we would stay this side of the boundary. The drop down was very close to immediate and a lot more severe than I had imagined, although not a dangerous fall would await the clumsy of foot! It has to be said that the views really did not sing out loud. Ingleborough, Whernside and Plover Hill were pretty much all that I could identify. After the path levelled out – in the vertical sense, Plover Hill decided to allure us with the promise of a wet kiss! Without any warning on the ground, the terrain suddenly got a whole lot wetter – and much muddier. If one were to refer to an ordnance survey map, the sight of lots of lovely dots and symbols indicating that this is a marshland would jump off the page practically dowsing the reader! We walkers have odd memories, oh yes, we can remember at which point on which hill of which day we had which sandwich, but as to looking at a map…we forget what we have just read, instantly! So wet was the terrain that I believe we must have added at least one more percent to the totally milage, just by veering off to the left, then coming back in again to the right after the dry patch had altered coarse!
Ultimately, we reached the wall that sat upon the highest part of Plover Hill. My trouser legs were covered in mud, my jegs were even more like jelly and I was more than a bit relieved to be able to sit down for a few minutes and recover. We all agreed that the path to the north, which we were about to discover simply had to be better than the quagmyre through which we had just sloshed. Upon traversing the wall-stile, we were proved right in our hoping. For the next few hundred yards we buoyed in delight at the sturdiness of the terrain beneath our feet. Yes, the path did brake up often, but it was never as wet as it had been ‘the other side of the wall’. In time, we came upon the escarpment. The fact that I have no photographic evidence of this path should serve as testament unseen of the steepness of this rocky staircase in the sky. Darren may or may not have been hyperbolising when he referred to the path down Plover as being even steeper than the path up Pen-y-Ghent, I’d be inclined to agree, or maybe it was because we were all feeling the effects of the previous moorland slog. By contrast the tightening of the knees and surging shockwaves of descent were if nothing else, noteworthy!
The descent over, we could now be poetically described as in a pasture or meadow, to the more pragmatic, I suppose it could be reasoned that we were actually on the outskirts of Horton Moor or Foxup – yes we too laughed at how that might be sardonically pronounced! At best we were two miles away from Horton in Ribblesdale’s main road…but these were Yorkshire miles. I had previous experience of the ‘ 1½ miles to Horton in Ribblesdale’ finger sign on the descent of Ingleborough across Sulber Nick…I was well aware! When our nice, obvious path vanished into the moorland we took a left hand turn onto a bridal-way of sorts which quickly facilitated our way across Horton Scar, passing Pen-y-Ghent once more. This time the mountain looked much different than the ‘crouching lion’ aspect to which most walkers become accustomed.
Now came the long, drawn out trek back to Horton along a grassy track which was sometimes a bit wet and other times a bit sticky. This was not the most exciting route as for the best side of three miles…the scenery stayed exactly the same! The one point of punctuation in the first few miles was when Darren, Mike and Connor stopped off to visit Hunt Pot (or was it Hull Pot?). I really couldn’t care less, sorry to say it bus missing parts of the earth just don’t do anything for me…now if it were to be High Cup. The slog down along Horton Scar Lane is always, always the worst part of the walk, the only thing that puts me off doing the Yorkshire three peaks in reverse…is knowing that I’ll eventually have to trapse down this boring piece of crunchy road(?). I’m just not a fan!
Before my soul had been completely destroyed we were back in Horton and at the Penyghent Café…milk and coffee being the order of the day…before the long drive home.
In summing, I had no idea what to expect with regards to Plover Hill. Jack Keighley had warned us that it’s a little wet, he was in no way understating. As for the drop off its southern face, that truly was exhilarating! It goes without saying that I loved the (ahem quite fast yomp) up Pen-y-Ghent, I always do although to be honest, I prefer it more when it’s me and Chris and I have more time to peruse the landscape. I might never do Plover Hill again, I definitely will do Pen-y-Ghent as many times as possible.
Stats time taken – around five hours (it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten).
Ever since our ill-fated stay at the rather run down Patterdale Hotel, way back in 2010 (I think), I had seen the mighty, imposing and wide Place Fell through the coveting eyes of a peakbagger! Years later, on a walk just a few months ago I was once again enraptured by the sight of this gerthy fell and its sprawling, man made path as seen from Angletarn Pikes. This truly did look like a pathway to heaven, in no way did it look anything less than arduous…I was hooked. When the message came through from Karl, I was delighted to see that our next destination was to be Place Fell…with Beda Fell thrown in as well for good measure – two more Wainwrights.
As usual, the four of us: Lynn, Sue, Karl and myself, arrived at the walk’s start place at around 09:50 and as we were in the eastern section of the lakes, the views of the immediate local were phenomenal. It’s no overstatement to say that I love this particular area. I’d done my research – and even had my map with me and as such was duly prepared for a bit of a slog up Beda Fell. But what I had failed to take notice of was just how many false summits the fell had. This was easily on a par with Whernside from Chapel le Dale. Small rise after small rise took the energy from my legs and I certainly did struggle with this sub 2,000′ fell. Once again, the neighbouring giants watching over us were the notorious ones: Helvellyn flanked by both its killer ‘Edges’ – Striding and Swirral and Catstyecam served once again as a poignant landmark. This was familiar territory. We even had time to stop and take a few snaps of the smallest church in the Lake District, the old one at Saint Martins.
At the head of the valley was the sumptuous Boredale Hause. It was almost a shame to walk past this verdant spectacle, the ever present grass looking especially lush in spite of thus far, the rain holding off. The last time we were in this valley the sun was pounding down on us, today felt refreshingly more like ‘walking weather’, even cool when we took time out for our breaks. At the summit of Beda Fell, we took some time out in a small sheltered spot and gazed at the distant views across the mighty Ullswater and over to Gowbarrow – not the biggest of all fells, at a mere 1,578′ but somehow it grabbed our attention and for all the time it was in my sight, wouldn’t let go. The climb up over Beda had been tough but punctuated with a few easier stretches whereby horizontal progress was gained over vertical. To be honest, I felt like we were higher up than the paltry 1,670′ that we had ascended. It’s fair to say that I was chomping at the bit to get going and head over to our next quarry – Place Fell.
Progress was a lot quicker than I had imagined. We practically flew over Beda Head and then down into Boredale Hause and over the other side of the valley into the area known as Redgate Head, via the path, the completely man-made, inorganic, engineered path which I had first set eyes on a few months ago. Some paths start off extremely easy then become more arduous, this one never even flirted with ease! From the off; this had the gradient of a domestic staircase and it never really improved. By way of contrast, it never really got any worse, which was a blessing. Fortunately for me, there were plenty of spots at which I could take a few minutes breather. I watched as Karl disappeared into the distance and waited as Sue and Lynne caught up to me…then also disappeared. The weather tried to inspire motivate me…this had scant effect. Ultimately a man who was in the area and appeared to want to tell me all about his wanderings in the Lake District, somehow instilled in me the drive to tackle the last one/third of the mountain. I caught up to my co-walkers who were having thirty minutes…had one of my caffeine energy gels and within minutes was first to the trig point atop Place Fell. Ha, that lulled them into a false sense of security!
The weather phenomenon which hit me was very similar to what I experienced a few years ago when I first completed Whernside from Ribblehead and stepped through the slim opening to touch the trig point, like stepping into an arctic tundra combined with a gale force wind. In today’s case it was a warm wind, but a severe wind all the same. There would be no summit photos today. To be honest the very top reaches of Place Fell offered no greater views of the surrounding scenery than what I had observed on the way up, but there’s still something compelling about the mere act of touching the trig point – when there is one. We made our progress after just a few short seconds, that wind was something to leave behind!
And so began another of Karl’s descents which has one wondering ‘just where the hell are we going, ‘that doesn’t look like the start?’ None of Karl’s walks ever seem to make me feel like we are heading in the right direction to the car…but we do end up there! The rain now decided to fully saturate us, I thought that as we were less than a mile away from the car then there would be no point in getting all the waterproof gear on…Karl and Sue thought otherwise and rustled on the rest of the walk.
As it’s taken me so long to post this walk report (there is now a queue forming) I have forgotten how long the walk took. I figure we must have ascended around two and a half thousand feet and walked for around seven and a half miles. I hope to visit Place Fell again, even to ascend by that same challenging but thoroughly enjoyable stairway to the sky!
Since vowing to myself to climb the top ten summits of England in 2013…I have done just over half, no less than four continue to elude me:
On Friday night, I received a text from my walking friend Karl informing me that it was his intention to travel to the Langdale area on Sunday for a walk that would take it the mighty Bow Fell. I practically jumped at the chance to tick another of the top ten summits off my list and Sunday couldn’t get here quickly enough. Come the day, I was at Karl’s house by seven thirty all ready and eager to go for an 8:00 start. In time we were joined by Sue and Lynn and we duly arrived at the National Trust car park by the Old Dungeon Ghyl at 9:40 and set off ten minutes later. On route we happened to meet up with a lovely family group who were very obviously enjoying their day in the lakes. they asked if we could take their photo and either Karl, Sue or Lynn duly obliged, so I took one of them as well for prosperity, after all I’d already missed the chance to take a photo of a very large Dutch man whom had asked us for directions to the Cumbria Way – even though he had a map of the said same Cumbria Way in his coat pocket.
We headed north-west in the general direction of Esk Hause. On our right hand side soon appeared the one of the lake district’s principal attention seekers, Harrison Stickle, which would then stay with us for more or less all of the remainder of the walk. I did spy a gully which upon closer (not much closer) inspection, appeared to be one of the steepest-looking paths that I have ever seen. I find the steeper the path, the more intense my interest, although thus far I have not yet scaled more than one (the path from Carlside straight up the side of Skiddaw) of the truly iconic steep paths of the area. On top of the itinerary, paramount in fact, was to visit the Pack Woman’s grave. The story goes that in the Eighteenth century a woman died of exposure here and was not found until the snows had melted. A cross, roughly six feet along by around three feet wide, commemorates the spot where her remains were found. Our visit to the world’s smallest graveyard over, we rejoined our route but then within a few moments it was proposed that we stop for lunch. Ordinarily, we don’t tend to stop until we are much nearer the summit of our first peek…I checked my altimeter which revealed that we were at 447 metres above sea level, Bow Fell is 902 and Rossett Pike is 650 or metres so I was not sure at the time we would be conquering first. All the same, the views were fantastic down into Mickleden so it was nice to get sat down and recover. The path thus far had not been overly steep, but it had been rather on-going.
Our lunch break over we rejoined the path once more and set off up towards Rossett Pike, so now it was obvious which mountain we were going to summit first. After a while Karl and I reached the crest of the hill, the shoulder as it were and had a seat whilst waiting for Lynn and then Sue to catch up. I was glad of that seat, the southern lakes fells are somewhat relentless in their ascent. It was at this point when Sue resolutely announced that she would only be completing Rossett Pike before heading back down to the car. Inwardly I was gutted, although to be honest, we were not even halfway up Bow Fell. I knew that Karl would not be in favour of splitting the group up and I would not have wanted this either so I consolidated myself with the fact that at least now, most of the climbing was over and done with. Upon reflection, we would have had to climb the last fifty metres to the summit, drop back down again, climb up towards Esk Hause and then slog it up to the summit of Bow Fell, which to be honest, looked a damn long way off. Essentially, good call Sue. After this turning point we made swift progress over the shoulder of the mountain with somewhat renewed vigour! Within five minutes we were in heaven, as the views, even the terrain at the top of the mountain were really quite spectacular.
So for now, Bow Fell eludes me, but I’m not bitter…much. I don’t know when we’ll be in these parts again, soon I hope, as this valley was gorgeous, bringing with it all of the bounty of the Southern Lakes but without being overwhelmed by the neighbouring giants of the Sca fells, Gables and Pillar, even the summit of Bow Fell remained far enough away to not be too imposing.
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.
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’.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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!
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!
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.
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!
Now I decided it was time to make a strident bid for the summit. It was twelve fifty
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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?
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.
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!