Monthly Archives: August 2015

Chipping in bloom.

I’ve talked about the village of Chipping several times as I often seem to be passing through. Today I was here again for a short circular field walk that a friend was planning for his walking group. We were impressed by the tidiness of the village and the abundance of colourful floral displays, the village looked reet gradely.

Chipping in bloom.

Chipping in bloom.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the village this morning, but it is worth seeking out the stone-built cottages,  17th century school, churches, almshouses, club row and waterwheel. On the edge of the settlement we left the road and followed an old hawthorn hedge and ditch, all that remain of a Medieval  ‘pale’.

Line of the enclosure.

Line of the pale enclosure.

This was a wooden fenced enclosure for the deer park of Leagram Estate. There is a rare map in the Duchy Of Lancaster archives by a Roger Kenyon from 1608 delineating the park so that its boundary may be traced still. Not only did the pale keep in the deer but also acted as physical statement of privacy and privilege to the common people on the outside. This is thought to be the origin of the phrase ‘beyond the pale

Walking beyond the pale with Longridge Fell in the background.

Walking ‘beyond the pale’ with Longridge Fell in the background.

 We completed our simple circuit with first views to Longridge Fell and then the Fairsnape fells to the north. The route will need a few tweaks before the group use it – apparently they are not keen on too many stiles or boggy ground! There was intermittent rain and sun and the only other point of note was a ‘Zebra’ in a field.The Tour of Britain cycle race, stage 2 on Sept 7th, comes through Chipping and has a circuitous journey on the local lanes to Longridge and beyond. Hence all the yellow bikes, what Yorkshire can do so can we. Should be worth a watch.

Return to Raven.

You have to grab the better days of this summer and so we found ourselves driving into Langdale. That famous view of the Pikes brings back so many memories of Lakeland days, early days camping and walking in the area and many days on the crags of the valley. The car parks have become busier over the years as our population has increased mobility, we used the NT one at New Dungeon Ghyll and enjoyed the field paths to the Old. The scree path up to Raven Crag hasn’t lost it’s steepness but stabilisation work has improved the line of the path.The whole slope below the crag is on the move. Middle Fell Buttress was busy as usual but otherwise the crag was quiet for such a lovely day.There were a scattering of climbers around the base and a couple high on Centipede, visible in the right amphitheatre. The debate on the survival of traditional climbing on mountain cliffs goes on with the new emphasis on indoor climbing walls and bouldering in our sport. Out of perverseness we chose Evening Wall as our morning climb. Rod first climbed this in 1968. Our memories of this route, which I have climbed numerous times, were vague and I was not sure of my route finding on the second pitch. Eventually worked out a leftwards traverse at about the right grade, severe. There was no doubt where the start of the third pitch went – an airy unprotected step right to gain the arete – I was glad it was Rod’s lead. Great rock all the way to the top.

Rod past the crux on Evening Wall.

Rod past the crux on Evening Wall.

Whilst I was belaying/daydreaming I had a good view of a climber running it out on Mendes on the lower Middle Fell Buttress.  The descent route above Raven has one awkward rock step down and it seemed very awkward today. There is the story of a well known lady climber slipping here only to land in the tree below. If you know the spot you will realise how lucky she was to survive. Don’t know why I didn’t take a photo of this airy spot.  Anyway safely down we next choose a fairly recent addition to the crag – Elevation – finding a way up the left side of the Revelation buttress. This sustained one pitch route covers some rough rock and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

 

High on Elevation.

Highly recommended if you have done everything else.

The Revelation.

The Revelation.

 

A classic Lakeland’s day climbing  – I’ll shall return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Local Weekend.

Writing this whilst outside is a torrential downpour and distant thunder. The strange summer weather continues. This weekend I’ve managed two contrasting walks.

Saturday. A dull morning but things improved after lunch so I took the opportunity to complete a few more map squares I had signed up to for in the Ramblers ‘Big pathwatch’.

The idea is that every public footpath in England and Wales, all 140,000 miles, should be walked and any problems noted and hopefully duly sorted. I like to do my bit for the local paths around Longridge. No big problems found today – only one electric fence with no safe way through. However it is the height of summer and the height of vegetation is noticeable on lesser walked paths, you certainly need long trousers. So by the end of the walk I had had enough of nettles and brambles, and the Ramblers can’t do anything about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday. After yesterday’s field path navigations I felt the need to be free up on the fells. The morning was warm and sunny with the threat of storms later so I was away relatively early to park above Chipping for my usual Saddle Fell, Fairsnape and Parlick circuit. The path goes through the yard of Saddle Fell Farm and steeply up an old peat collectors track. Several WD numbered marker stones are passed – a reminder that these fells were once a tank and firing range back in the 40’s. Saddle Fell also has a tragic past – on a sunny  Sunday, 25th March 1962, three teenagers, two brothers [11 and 18] and their sister [15] set off from Chipping for a walk over to Langden Valley. The weather changed with low cloud and a snow storm moving in, they soon became disorientated and hypothermic. Somewhere on Saddle Fell the boys sort shelter in some rocks but the girl staggered on to raise the alarm at the farm. Both boys were dead when found the next day and this led directly to the establishment of a mountain rescue team in this area. As I climb the fell I pass an old stone shelter and often wonder if this was the site of the brothers last night.There was a very strong Easterly wind and I virtually ran along the ridge. With some local knowledge this route can be achieved without any serious bog trotting. The air was warm and the haze hid any distant views but you do experience a strong sense of wilderness and space up here. Today I was really only interested in putting some miles below my mountain boots and a quick 1000ft of climbing as part of getting a bit fitter for a forthcoming trip in the Austrian Alps. A few pairs of grouse startled me as they flew out of the heather, so they haven’t all been shot since the ‘glorious‘ 12th. Strangely for such a sunny morning there was virtually nobody on the fells and the wind was too strong for the parapenters and gliders. Although I did witness the strange sight of a group carrying the model planes up to fly – it looked as though they were carrying crosses up to Calvary.

I was back at the car in under two hours and will return for some more training with a heavy rucksack next time.

France – one more trip to The Lot.

                                “If you have nothing to say, say nothing”    Mark Twain.

No point in telling you of my activities here in The Lot Valley – I’ve said it all before.

Two highlights though –

The most fantastic electric storm one night when the whole of the area was lit for hours by sheet lightening with terrible thunder. 10cms of rain fell.

The next moonless night I slept out in the garden under the most perfect starlit sky and watched the Perseid meteors shooting in. Magic.

A QUICK LAKES VISIT – Gummers How.

My son and grandson are camping in the Lakes this week. It has not been the best of summer weather but they have made the most of it. I arranged to join them this afternoon and drove up the motorway in low damp cloud, not exactly encouraging. However when we met up at Newby Bridge there was a hint of brightness in the sky so I suggested a quick ascent of Gummers How nearby. This is a relatively low hill, 321m, and is made even easier by starting from  Astley’s Plantation car park, itself at over 200 m. A Lakeland Fell in miniature.

Wainwright included this summit in his Outlying Fells book –  “it is an old man’s mountain, and  when ancient legs can no longer climb it know ye that the sad day has come to hang up the boots for ever and take to slippers”   So it was satisfying for our three generations to make the ascent together.  In the trees low down the path was rather muddy probably due to the Luing cattle, imported to maintain a balanced flora. Higher the path has been stepped with Lakeland stone in parts and there are bits of scrambling to keep the youngster [and oldster] interested.Before long we were standing at the trig point in the strong wind. The celebrated views over Windermere were there but with overhead cloud.

Coming down we found a different way through trees which were made for climbing especially if you are 7 year old. Back at the campsite there was more climbing on some glaciated boulders. The wind didn’t abate and it felt miserable, despite games of Frisbee, so I made my excuses and left them cooking supper. The joys of camping in an English summer. Back home to my slippers.

RETURN TO WINDGATHER.

I’ve always had a soft spot for climbing at Windgather even though the horrendous roads around Manchester and Stockport have to be negotiated. Many a day washed out in the Peak has been salvaged by a visit here on the way home. At one time whilst I was stocking my garden I often visited Dunge Valley Gardens, in the next valley, to view their Himalayan display. Then, car boot stuffed with plants, I would drive up to Windgather for a couple of hours soloing. It is surprising how much you can do in that time on this friendly crag, it is only a minute from the road and the buttresses are 10m high at the most. Plus you have lovely vistas over the Cheshire countryside.

Mark had never been so today we braved the late morning traffic and arrived to find nearly every parking spot taken. The weather has been so poor of late that the chance of a fine afternoon brought everyone out. There are always ‘groups’ in situ on the most popular buttresses and a scattering of boulderers and their mats completed the scene, but we soon found some free space.

Of course it was very windy, it always is!

Despite its popularity, it has been climbed on for a 100years, the well worn routes are not as slippy as imagined as the grit is of such good quality. The escarpment crops out of the hill top at a very agreeable angle and we were soon enjoying all manner of routes. Friendly cracks, thoughtful slabs and steep but juggy walls, all with good protection and nothing harder than VS.

Mark on Centre Route.

Mark on Centre Route.

The fine High Buttress Arête.

The fine High Buttress Arête.

Tackling the nose on Director.

Tackling the nose on Director.

By climbing into the early evening we had the best of the sunshine and traffic free roads for the journey home. A very satisfying trip with a dozen or so routes done.

Evening light.

Evening light.

 

KING LUDWIG WAY – bits and pieces.

Now that I’m back and sorting through my photos I have a few more observations to make on the King Ludwig Way and the area in general. Bavaria is a unique region,

In no particular order……….

1. Guide Book. A new one is needed to enthuse us Brits to visit this area. Mine was from 1987 though not a lot has changed. The walk is undulating but not strenuous. It is full of fascinating sights in a lovely corner of Germany – would suit the casual walker as there is ample opportunity for accommodation and refreshment.

2. Waymarking and signs. The waymarking has been updated recently and you will never get seriously lost.

Old sign.

Old sign.  

New sign.

New sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a multitude number of routes.

3.Cycling. If you don’t fancy walking it there is an alternative cyclists’  way. Cycling is big in these parts – its fairly flat and there are lots of signed cycling routes on virtually traffic free lanes. In any case cycling is far more popular and catered for in Germany than in Britain. Everyone does it and they start at a young age.

4. Maypoles and births. Every village seemed to have a tall, blue and white striped maypole whose decorations usually reflect the area’s history or commerce. Presumably they  feature in May festivities. Also of a similar celebratory nature is another common sight – signs outside houses where there has obviously been a recent family addition, nice touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Painted houses. Many of the houses in the villages have painted motifs on their walls. In most cases these are motifs reflecting and emphasising  the architecture or nature of the building but in some cases an actual picture had been painted on a wall. Must make redecorating hell. I saw two ‘wall painters’ in Fussen but they were having a fag break so no action photo.

Clever decoration.

Clever decoration.

A house wall painting commemorating   closed coal mines.

A house wall painting commemorating closed coal mines.

6. Log piles. These are everywhere, from the forests to the villages. People go to lengths to have the tidiest winter log piles next to their houses. They become almost an art form – what about ‘a crate for the Tate’

7. Language. Ashamed I didn’t get to grips with this – next time.

How was I to know.....

How was I to know…..

What about all those long words …Even had difficulty hearing what greetings passing people gave me, only fully understood when a welcoming village road sign spelt it out – gruss gott.

8. Taps and water-troughs. Often coinciding with a pilgrims route linking churches and shrines there are plenty of watering points. This one caught my eye ..

9. Best Flowers in Show. The winner was a house in Diessen but I didn’t take a picture for some reason!   The Runner up was…

10. Pillows. Will miss those lovely soft pillows and duvets.