Monthly Archives: January 2016

Never been here before….

The ‘plastic bag’ man* and I have walked together in Lancashire  for years, I’ve stopped counting. Today on a short walk in the hills and vales of central Lancashire our most used phrase was the title of this post. OK so we did get lost within a mile of the start but allowing for that we seemed to visit parts of OS sheet 287 where we had ‘never been here before‘. I didn’t have time for a full day out and he is coaxing his  knees back into running, or rather walking, order. So the plan was a fairly level walk on lanes and canals, chatting however lost us in sodden fields of agricultural s…!  Back on track we walked through the reclusive and no doubt exclusive properties of Ollerton Fold and onto the towpath of the Leeds – Liverpool Canal, nothing much stirred in the early morning. The above mentioned OS map has a large chunk taken out by its explanatory panel and that is where we struggled for the second time today. The man whom we asked for directions to Heapey happened to live there so we were soon on the correct way. A hidden valley with horses, old mills, industrial workings, rail lines and footballers’ houses was a pleasant diversion. There were signs of recent flood damage and there is still a lot of water about. We magically arrived back at the car by the millpond in Brinscall. This whole area is worth further exploration.

* A  term of endearment.

The map gives some clue as to our whereabouts…

Longridge Fell – better late than never.

I don’t like to admit to many deadly sins, or virtues for that matter, but SLOTH was on the list today. I hadn’t got round to arranging a walk in the Lakes or in Yorkshire with friends and sloth set in whilst I was having my morning coffee back in bed. One voice said get up and going, the other persuaded me to linger listening to the radio. The morning evaporated whilst the sun shone outside. Something stirred in me and after a quick brunch I was parked up on Longridge Fell. I stopped to take a photo of rubbish dumped in the car park, picked some up later, and noticed the passenger door of the red car next to me was wide open with lots of articles on the front seat. Not daring to touch anything I closed the door and hoped no opportunistic thieves were about.

I have written about Longridge Fell many times, so what was new today?  Some more large chunks of trees have been felled whether because of the Ramorum fungus affecting the Larch or routine forestry work. There are forest roads which give good walking but I can’t come up here without visiting the trig. point, Spire Hill 350m. This diversion involves muddy tracks which today were semi frozen allowing one to break unexpectedly through the crust into the icy depths.  Haziness over the Bowland Fells  and Pendle precluded decent photography. Once I was back on the main forest track I strode out to Kemple End, I don’t normally go this far as it entails road walking back to the car but today I fancied the extra few miles. Sun glasses would have been useful against the low sun in the west. I caught up with a sprightly walker, he had been out all day having caught the bus from Preston and done a circuit of Longridge Fell and the Hodder. At the age of 75 he was out regularly and knew the Bowland area intimately, a true fell wanderer. He obviously declined my offer of a lift into Longridge. Wish I had got his name.DSC00685

At the end of my walk I came through the small bouldering venue of Crowshaw Quarry and I’m itching to get back on some of the problems in Spring. Talking of itching my friend John phoned me last week suggesting a trip back to Gran Canaria where we have unfinished business on the GR13. Needless to say flights are booked.

PS The red car had gone – hope all OK.

A perfect Lakeland miniature.

Shapely mountains, Lakeland tarns, winding paths, rocky volcanic crags, slate quarries, rushing becks  and expansive views – what more could you wish for in a day out in the Lake District. The three of us, The Rockman, Sir Hugh and BC, enthused over this  relatively unknown outlying area, the true Dunnerdale.   That was before the snow came and we were in true winter conditions. The forecast had been optimistic for the day, cold and bright, but Dianne is not always right.

The afternoon was arctic with snow  showers and slippery conditions underfoot, on the steep ground micro crampons proved useful. Dianne’s 6 inch stilettos could have been of some help. Not many people had ventured out. We wandered from one shapely peak to another on rough ground finding paths from time to time between the tarns and crags. By the time we were eating lunch, the last of the Xmas cake, the distant views had gone. We omitted an optional climb up Fox Haw, 385m, Wainwright in his idiosyncratic way had ignored it.  We just followed our noses along the last ridge and found a steep way of the end into lanes back to Broughton Mills.

Near the end we passed the delightfully plain Holy Innocents Church and on entering I was impressed with the striking stained glass window above the altar. Unfortunately my photo didn’t focus well.

We reflected on a the quality of this miniature fell walk as we trudged through the falling snow back to the car, appropriately named for a day like this …

I was inwardly having nagging doubts about that missed summit, but I’m digressing now

For the record an approximate outline of our wanderings over Great Stickle, Tarn Hill x2, Stickle Pike, Nameless Summit and The Knott…..

Three in one Outlying Fells.

Despite not winning the Lottery Jackpot of X million I woke to a new dawn bringing  in colder weather with thankfully less rain.

Are you inspired by the familiar or the unknown?  On our most recent trip Sir Hugh and I were soon faced with the above sign. To avoid arrest or worse I shan’t go into full details of today’s  walk. The virtual views from the summit included an alpine Langdale Pikes.

We had originally planned a full days walk further north but on seeing the latest forecast I suggested a shorter morning’s stroll visiting Williamson’s Monument on High Knott. This has an interesting history – ‘the cairn was erected by the Rev T Williamson in memory of his father who used to climb up to High Knott every day before breakfast’  The tablet in the cairn states  In memory of Thomas Williamson of Height, in Hugil, gent who died Feb 13th 1797. Aged 66 years. Erected 1803.  Why is there no official access to this monument?

Once we were up here Sir Hugh was charged to cut across pastures new to a couple of nearby fells, Hugill and Reston. I had to follow him through bogs and over fortified walls, we should not be doing this. We were rewarded with unusual views down into Kentmere from the first and into Staveley and the busy road at Ings to Windermere from the second.

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At 12 o’clock when the rain arrived on schedule we were sitting in the porch of Staveley Church enjoying a hot flask. it was then a short walk back to the car.

Croasdale – but not as we know it.

I think it rained another couple of inches last night, the forecast was average and I was prepared for a lazy day to recover from my duty as a removal man. But no, Mike phoned with an improving forecast and was keen for some exercise. Where to go – all the field paths round here are waterlogged or flooded. It’s times like this when at short notice you fall back on the memory bank, “I’ll take you up Croasdale, it will be dry” . He had not been there.

Getting there via Chipping wasn’t that easy with more flooding of the lanes and then land slips at Whitewell. We made it through but will come back a different way.

The hills were white with snow, the lane into Croasdale more like a river and painful hailstones welcomed us. I have memories of this lane being a sheet of ice on sunny winter days when Alan and I first started exploring Bullstones as a Bouldering venue, we were super keen. But even better recollections of sunny days on the heathery hillsides watching the Hen Harriers, will they return?                                                                                                                                                          The Roman road was dry, despite the full streams, as was most of the fellside so that part of the plan worked. The white bollard with poems we passed  reminded me of The Lancashire Witches Way, a 50 mile walk planned  from Barrowford to Lancaster, maybe spring would be better. There was no bouldering today, the rocks snow covered and a freezing wind keeping us well wrapped up and moving. Following the rim of rocks I found that wonderful stone trough hewn from a boulder, Mike was impressed.                                                                                                           Not lingering we found the tracks down to the ford but were of course confronted by a dangerous raging stream and it took us some time to find a way across to safety. A wild and exhilarating few hours. The only casualty of the day being one of my [cheap] ski sticks which I managed to snap in a slip.

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For normal conditions check out  –

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/bouldering-and-diversions-in-croasdale/

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/heart-of-bowland-croasdale/

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/bullstones-bouldering-guide/

Beacon Fell – off the beaten track.

Lonely fells.

Whilst the weather has been poor I’ve been at the climbing walls – mainly bouldering,  I did have my rope out in earnest yesterday whilst helping my son move house. This involved me belaying as we roped a heavy washing machine and trolley, Laurel and Hardy style, down his steep cellar steps, no casualties of either machine or man. So I have been busy in Manchester for the last few days but he’s established now. Hence the reason for the delayed posting of a dry and sunny day’s excursion last week with Sir Hugh. He had remembered a running circuit used several years ago based on Beacon Fell below Coniston Water and lured me in by promising six Outlying Wainwright’s. The bait was cast.

 

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure an Adventure is going to happen.”                                    A, A.Milne,   Winnie-the-Pooh.

 

We parked in Woodland which consisted of a church, two houses and a postbox in the middle of nowhere. This a secluded part of the Lakes with a maze of quiet narrow lanes. The postbox gets a quirky mention by Wainwright as where he “posted his 1972-3 tax return” 

Green tracks through the thankfully dead bracken soon had us by the modern cairn on Yew Bank, 207m, and then a more ancient doughnut shaped cairn to the East. We had fun plotting Imaginary paths  along the ridge to Fisher High and then down into bog before a surprisingly steep climb up to Beacon Fell, 255m. There was a pleasant lady in-situ at the cairn, she was on a mission to check on their holiday caravan after the storms but couldn’t resist a quick fell top. Sign of a true walker.

Summit of Beacon Fell with Coniston Water below.

Summit of Beacon Fell with Coniston Water below.

Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man.

Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man in the distance.

Striding towards Beacon Tarn, Wool Knott and Blawith Knott.

Lunch spot.

Lunch spot.

Throughout the morning we’ve had hazy views of the Coniston Fells and Water, and southwards to Morecambe Bay. Lunch was taken by the beach on Beacon Tarn. To complete our circuit over Wool Knot, Tottlebank Height and Blawith Knott more inspired use of sheep trods was needed. On the last summit it was increasingly cold and the light was fading so we dropped to Lang Tarn and took a compass bearing straight down a troublesome hillside to Woodland, each man for himself.

Arduous tramping.

Arduous tramping.

Looking back to Beacon Fell.

Looking back to Beacon Fell.

We both agreed this was a perfect and remote miniature Fell walk, a great little adventure, though I think Sir Hugh was itching to run it again. Apart from Beacon Fell I suspect few people venture into these fells which is a shame,     6.5 miles and 700m ascent.

 

 

The stuff of nightmares – Staveley Fell.

The village of Staveley with the fell rising above.

                             The village of Staveley with the fell rising above.

 

It was still early when I came down from Newton Fell so I drove up the valley and parked in the secluded hamlet of Staveley, strangely there was nobody about. The lane leading to the fells was rather dark and enclosed. My planned route was soon blocked off by deer fencing, Wainwright’s book is 41 years old and obviously in this area of plantations inaccurate. A little further on I found a waymarked path in the right direction. It led up through trees but was hardly trodden and one of the roughest ‘paths’ I have used. I had previously been in this vicinity whilst geocaching with Sir Hugh    https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/treasure-hunting-on-simpson-ground/    I have frightening memories of primeval bogs so was a little apprehensive of venturing into the area again. What Wainwright described as open fell side turned out to be a morass of felled trees and branches. Finding the best way was impossible and I took ages heading up the vague ridge. Over several false summits my altimeter announced I was at the highest point, 265m, a small cairn with at least a grand view to Windermere. The pale sun had never quite escaped the greyness.  Gummer’s How, climbed with my Grandson this last summer, seemed only a stone’s throw away. I could see a forest road down to the east across a Somme like desolation and I eventually staggered out of the trenches to reach it. I recognised this road as the one Sir Hugh and I had escaped on after our nightmare on Simpson Ground. It took me quickly through the forest to a path leading back to the village and in retrospect would have been the far easier approach to the summit.

In a lower open fellside, grazed by ponies, numerous wooden cages had been constructed presumably for tree planting but each one was strangely empty. Reminded me of the council worker digging a deep hole, resting on his spade for 5 minutes and then filling it in again. When queried about his labours he simply said the chap who plants the tree was off sick. Mild humour on an otherwise humourless outing.

The other things to note about the secluded houses of Staveley were a Victorian post box in a wall and an elaborate miniature railway layout complete with a herd of llamas.

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Today was a purely selfish summit bagging outing and I was glad I hadn’t inflicted it on any of my friends, relationships would have been strained. The terrain encountered was a severe obstacle course and I certainly wouldn’t recommend visiting in mist.  Maybe to ease my journey through Wainwright’s Outliers I should invest in Chris Jesty’s update, or would that be cheating?

Happy New Year.