Monthly Archives: May 2017

FAIRSNAPE FELL.

The phone rang shortly after 7am. It was going to be a very hot day and Dave suggested a walk over Fairsnape, above Chipping, early on. I grabbed a drink and my camwera and we were soon climbing the old track up Saddle Fell with a lovely breeze keeping us cool. I can only surmise that this track was for sledging down peat from the cloughs above. Crossing a fence before the watershed the track has been ‘improved’ with stones and gives a good walking surface to the true summit of Fairsnape, 520m. The last few yards of bog have been paved with slabs though today everything was so dry one could walk anywhere. Taking out my camera to record the summit I found the battery completely flat hence no pictures to accompany this post. The above photo taken later from Longridge Fell shows Parlick and Fairsnape to the left with Saddle Fell central. Below is the village of Chipping and lower right you can see the Steam Fair site which is open all Spring Bank weekend and attracts visitors from far afield.

The walk along the ridge was as dry as I have known it, we cut downhill before the trigpoint. Skylarks were singing and fluttering high above and several pairs of Curlews were flying past with their haunting call. A small brown bird flew up from under my feet and there in the heather was the most perfect round little nest lined with grass and containing four brownish eggs, probably Meadow Pipit. I cursed the lack of my camera.

Skirting round the west side of Parlick we avoided the worst of the steep descent and contoured back under the fells to Saddle End and the car. We were back home for lunch before the hottest part of the day. Only the next day did I discover a tick embedded in my groin which I quickly and cleanly removed with my extracting device. These little menaces seem to be becoming more common in sheep rearing areas and as they have the potential to carry Lymes Disease care should be taken to avoid them. I was asking for trouble walking in shorts.

 

THE GARDEN IN MAY.

I was away the first week or so of this month and noticed how many plants had come into bloom and soon past their best. I was able to photo the ordinary red Peony but my splendid yellow Tree Peony was finished.

As you can see from my header photo everywhere is very green at this time of year. The Hostas add to the verdancy.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas in full bloom in May, I haven’t had time to label everything …

Alliums are spring up everywhere and the larger ones give a good dried display when the foliage dies back later in the year. Of course the more humble chives I grow in a pot are in the same family

In the pond and damper areas delicate iris flowers never seem to last long Free colour is provided by the number of Aquilegia variants that I allow, can’t stop, to spring up in the borders. Geraniums are beginning to flower in all parts of the garden, they seem to thrive in the NW.

I’ve a varied selection of Euphorbia with their diverse and unique floral structures.

Of course it’s Lilac time

Other shrubs are showy

Viburnum plicatum Mariessii

Laburnum watereri vossii

Choisya ternata.

Cornus kousa Gold Star.

My Clematis are not doing well, too much winter cutting back but Nelly Moser always puts on a good display.

Each day you walk round the garden something new appears

Papaver bracteatum

Gladiolus byzantinus and Libertia formosa.

Roses are just beginning to bloom but they will be better in June…

THREE DAYS IN MAY. 3 – CLIMBING AT POT SCAR. Almost perfect.

Third time lucky. Things have changed in the tiny hamlet of Feizor where you always felt you were intruding into the residents’ private territory. Someone has opened a tea room which is proving very popular. The added benefit of this is that lots of parking spaces have been provided in a yard whereas in the past parking was fraught. Honesty box for the Air Ambulance, you never know when you might need them.  It’s a short pleasant walk up to the limestone crag of Pot Scar in the midst of classic Dales scenery, rolling green fields and all those stone walls. In the background is Ingleborough and across the valley distant Pendle and the Bowland Fells. Wary of the polished routes on the main face  [I recall climbing here 40 years ago and witnessing that polish developing gradually on the classic lines of Nirvana, Addiction, LSD etc, there was a name theme here]   we head left to a little buttress with routes suitable for us oldies. The sun is shining and the day warms up quickly despite there still being a brisk wind. The first easy climb is on perfect cracked limestone with no hint of polish, maybe nobody climbs this end. For the second climb I become entangled in trees and vegetation on what would have been a good line, Dave admonishes me for all the delay gardening. Lunch is taken in the sunshine looking at the scenery with the occasional party of walkers going through to Stainforth, no other climbers appear. I next enjoy a steep crack climb with quite reachy moves and the usual grassy mantelshelf near the top. Despite warnings of loose rock Dave quickly climbs a crack, a tree and a flake, as I follow a lot of the holds disintegrate. Another steep crackline and we are ready for home but well satisfied with the day’s climbing. Next time we will visit the cafe and then try the polish.

 

Half way up Domino.

Out of the tree on Periwinkle.

Finishing Feizor with Domino to the right. Notice the blue sky.

For the record…  Fingers Climb D,  Dodger VD.  Domino S.  Periwinkle VS.  Feizor S.

THREE DAYS IN MAY. 2 – CLIMBING IN WILTON. Too wet.

The prow, Wilton 1.

Jonathon is a busy family man but he thought he could fit in this Saturday climbing. Mid week we made arrangements for a trip to maybe the Lakes or Derbyshire as the weather had been dry. Friday night when I checked the forecast I was dismayed to see rain forecast by lunchtime throughout the area. He knew the same so in the morning we decided on  more local rock to get a few routes done to salvage the day. A quick drive down the motorway and by 10am we were stood under the prow in Wilton One. I realise what a large and impressive face this is. The sky had already clouded over.

He had not done Fingernail so that would be our warm up route, both being a bit rusty. There was a bit of a struggle to get off the ground and lasso the metal hook but then he was away despite taking the direct layback line into Horrock’s Route at the top. I also dithered at the bottom, glad of a rope above. The holds seemed small and slopey  despite being clean and dry. In the niche I didn’t fancy the layback so traversed round the arete onto the exposed delicate slab the correct way, I had forgotten how exposed and delicate! There is some debate as to the correct grading of this climb Severe 4a to VS 4c I incline towards the latter.

Starting Fingernail.

The ‘direct’ finish

As we descend carefully from the prow spots of rain darken the rock. Back at the foot of the climbs we get into the familiar ritual – it’s just passing over, lets give it a bit longer, it will soon dry etc. Well it didn’t and the heavens opened, by the time we were back at the car we were thoroughly soaked. Our only consolation was that if we had driven anywhere further afield we would have done nothing and anyhow, as his wife said giving us hot tea, Jonathon would be able to do some more work on the house.

THREE DAYS IN MAY. 1 – CLIMBING AT ATTERMIRE. Too cold.

Sitting in Dave’s garden this morning drinking coffee in the warm sunshine  – what  a great day it was going to be. We decided on a trip to Yorkshire with a visit to Attermire Scar for an outing on limestone.

Neither of us had climbed here for years although at one time I was exploring here regularly with my cousin from Skipton, long evenings and walking out in the dark. There was often a bull in the field! I remember also an occasion, ?20 years ago, achieving 1000ft of climbing in a day as part of a sponsored event to raise money for a climbing wall in Clitheroe. That was a lot of routes. Each sector has its own character and memorable climbs Hare’s Wall, Fantasy, Brutus, Red Light, Flower Power.

When we parked up there seemed a change in the weather, the sun had gone and there was a northerly wind. But relying on the good forecast we were not unduly concerned, though I did throw in an extra fleece. It’s a great approach walk as when you breast the rise the whole extent of the scar is displayed in front of you reminding me of a set from a Western cowboy movie, I half expect to see Apache warriors appearing on the tops of the crags ready for an ambush.

Today we make the long traverse to the SW end passing under Legover Groove area, all the climbs here are tough. There is one line of weakness, Ginger VD, this will be our warm up. As I climb lovely big holds up the steep start I realise my hands are freezing, the temperature has dropped and the wind is blowing strongly across the face. A committing blank move left at half height on more compact rock has me thinking. Then it is simple to the top as the angle eases, grassy top outs are common here and care with choice of belays in the blocks is needed. The wind was even stronger up here and I was glad Dave climbed quickly. Back at base more layers were added and hot tea drunk.

The slab in the middle is Ginger.

We moved along the crag but could not get out of the wind. As I climbed the next route, Wrinkle Slab VD, Dave gave commentary on a cloud that tantalisingly hid the sun whilst all around the sky was blue. I was constantly having to warm my fingers to feel the small flaky holds. I wasted time by going left rather than right at half height which meant reversing and faffing with runners. By the time Dave came up his fingers were white and we knew it was time to retreat, we never did warm up.

Unlucky choice of crags and weather.

Under Wrinkle Slab, ready to go home.

SOMERSET INTO DEVON ON THE COAST PATH.

Porlock Weir – Lynmouth.

The sun is shining and by the time I leave after a hearty breakfast the temperature is more pleasant than the last few days. People are wandering round the quayside in holiday mood. The coastal path soon rose into the woods and contoured along nicely. There was only the sound of birds as the sea seemed so far below and was only occasionally visible. A group of three women appeared, they meet up at weekends for walking and are just starting on the coastal path – it will take them years. They skipped along happily chatting and laughing and I was somehow reminded of ‘Three little maids from school’, the tune from The Mikado. Guess what I was whistling all morning.

Not far along I spotted a church tower below in the woods and took the short detour to explore. It turned out that a service was just about to start – chaplain, organist and churchwarden were preparing and two parishioners appeared. The churchwarden, a local farmer, chatted to me in the sun about the church and several other topics until he was needed. The church is in the parish of Culbone although it is in the middle of nowhere. I was told it was the smallest complete parish church in England, for more information – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culbone_Church

 

I think I crossed into Devon at Coscombe Stream… Close by was Sister’s Fountain fed from a spring and topped with a cross. I’m not sure of the history of this place but the cool water was delicious. The track continued winding its way with occasional views of the inaccessible beaches below. More people were out strolling as well as the coastal path regulars, one lady carrying her little terrier who didn’t like walking. I decided to take the longer way round Foreland point, the most northerly part of Devon. A small locked bothy was passed on the path. There were extensive views back up the coast to Hurlstone Point. At the end there was a lighthouse and then a narrow exposed path, perched just above the cliffs, continued round the headland. The Coastal Path was rejoined at Countisbury where there was a small church and a busy looking pub. The path ran parallel to the road down into Lynmouth. A local taxi man was advertising by the road for anyone too weary for the last mile or so. Eventually I reached sea level at a lovely little sheltered beach.  Lynmouth is infamous for the serious flooding of 1952 killing 32 people and devastating properties. My hotel for the night was close to the meeting of the two streams which being in steep sided valleys couldn’t cope with the 9inches of rain coming off Exmoor. A later stroll round the harbour area gave perfect views in the evening light.

I had planned another three days or so but my wretched cold and sinusitis showed no signs of abating so next morning it was a bus out to Barnstaple and a long train journey home. Can’t wait however to return and continue in this beautiful area.

START OF THE SW COAST PATH.

Minehead – Porlock Weir.

Today I would follow the SW Coastal Path, a National Trail which covers over 600 miles from Minehead to Poole Harbour  –  wow. But first I couldn’t resist  a look around the station of the West Somerset Railway. The platform is in period style, stalls are selling railway memorabilia and coaches are waiting for an engine for the first trip of the day. Along comes 6960 Raveningham Hall to be hitched up and passengers start arriving for their 40 mile round trip. I tear myself away, railway nostalgia is deep in my soul having been brought up in Darlington and hearing the distinctive whistle of the Gresley A4 Pacific’s as they hurtled north every day,

On the promenade there are signs for the start of the coastal path. A couple with heavily laden sacks are just departing, they turn out to be New Zealanders just recovering from their first ‘full English breakfast’ They are here for a couple or so months to complete the trail.

Before long the path starts climbing on well graded loops up through the trees and ferns to reach the open moorland high above the sea, old tracks take me to the highest point, Selsworthy Beacon 308m with blurry views into Exmoor. Onwards easy leads towards Hurlstone Point where I meet a young scouser setting off on an adventure round the coastal path, I suspect to discover herself. On her arm she has a tattoo of an acorn [the National Trail Waymark] which she says is for motivation.  I leave her as I drop off the trail and traverse round the point on an exposed path with good coastal views. Round the other side past an old lookout I meet up again with the main route and head into a pleasant garden cafe in Bossington, the NZ pair had already found it. Tea and toasted teacake seemed perfect. Old narrow paths deposit me into Porlock village for a bit of shopping, I’m growing tired of pub meals so buy some salad and fruit to eat in my room tonight. There is a sign pointing to Porlock Weir through the woods, still on the Coleridge Way. This turns out to be a pleasant way walking alongside some beautiful rhododendron gardens in full bloom. Greencombe Gardens I find out. Later I pass one of those ‘Tin Tabernacles’ from the late 19th C, still having services.

The lane eventually drops into Porlock Weir and to my most expensive B&B, The Cafe. I enjoy a pint of Exmoor Ale in the quayside bottom Ship Inn although it upsets me when in a pub every bar table is reserved for diners. I know this is how they earn their money but what about us drinkers?