What a contrast in weather conditions, today was hot and sunny. Had intended climbing in The Lakes but my partner phoned in sick. Quick change of plan – a small sack with rock shoes and chalk, sandwiches were already made. I always enjoy the Roman road over to Slaidburn particularly the stretch over Marl Hill where Ingleborough and Penyghent come into view. I notice the road surfaces have deteriorated significantly over the last two winters.
Parked up at my usual little spot , sun screen applied and off up the old lane [still the same Roman one]. Almost immediately I came across a new memorial stone relating to plane crashes on these hills in the war and the airmen who lost their lives. Set me wondering whether there are any pieces of wreckage still about and are they documented. Somewhere I have a book – quick trip to the bookshelf unearths – High Ground Wrecks 2 A survey of historical aircraft remains on the hills of the British Isles. David J Smith. My copy was bought in 1979 but has no publishing details, there is a more modern edition. True enough all the local crashes are listed with grid references, expeditions for another day. The RAF Mountain Rescue Service of course originates from those times.
Round the corner another new installation appeared, a white obelisk with witch references. Witch 400 turns out to be an exploration of the heritage of the Lancashire Witches, the 400th anniversary of their trial and execution , and the enduring issue of persecution today. A walk has been established from the Pendle area to Lancaster Castle which coincides with my route today. Another expedition for another day, the list grows. The statues are inscribed with extracts of a poem by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. http://lancashirewitches400.org/
The third diversion was Hen Harriers, this area was a few years ago the English stronghold for these wonderful birds of prey. Unfortunately their prey probably includes grouse – not a good idea on a commercial grouse shooting estate. Hen Harrier numbers have plummeted mi lord. So it was uplifting today to see a dedicated 24hr watch on a nesting site. Camouflaged tents, well done whoever you are, nobody will get near. I saw in the distance peregrines, ravens, buzzards and kestrels. A highlight was watching a kestrel stooping onto some poor vole or mouse – almost got a great photo. Memo,must get a better camera to carry around with me.
At last I arrived at the rocks – time for a sandwich. Sat under the slabs of Taurus Boulders [there is a definite Bull theme here] I notice that some of the pebbles have been snapped off – sign of more traffic or clumsy boulderers. I climbed up the steep tower of Bully Off, this was the first route Alan and I climbed way back when the game keepers were about and we were supposed to be keeping a low profile. Alan couldn’t wait. Onwards I soloed a few problems at the Pinnacle and Cave area but felt intimidated by the Clough End Boulder, looked far too serious. Found the spring for a much needed top up of water.
Traverse across to Stirk Slabs , a quick trip up the arete of Bullet Proof and then along to admire the architecture of Pipe Dream, no ascent today. A final flourish on the more friendly Calf Stones and then it was time for home. Sorry about the diversions, the bird watcher was taking a welcome sleep when I passed.
As I type this my finger ends are still sore and I have a feeling I will ache tomorrow.
For further info and a downloadable guide see – https://bowlandclimber.com/2014/02/24/bullstones-bouldering-guide/