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  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.