I have been up here before to seek out the Andy Goldsworthy ‘Three Chairs’, most recently in 2014. https://bowlandclimber.com/2014/05/28/out-on-the-loose-again-clougha-pike-and-grit-fell/ when we did virtually the same walk.
There were quite a few cars in the car park this morning when we arrived – early birds or dog walkers. Sir Hugh was just recovering from his head dive last week and I noticed a slight reluctance to turn his neck, however today was only going to be about six miles, well it turned out nearly eight, but there was no problem.
We climbed up onto Clougha Pike using the Rowton Brook path which passes evidence of past cottage industries most notably the C17 cotton mill. The present owner was happy to chat about its history and life in general.
There was no let up in the ascent but the ground was mercifully dry. The trig point, 413 m, was adorned with the most un-Goldsworthy stones. The views over the bay were murky but Morecambe Power station was ever present. In the other direction that other old favourite, Ingleborough, was in the background.
The obvious continuation track went to Grit Fell, we followed it as the rest is trackless heather. The peat was bone dry and a joy to stride out on with skylarks somewhere overhead. A few grouse were calling gobackgoback. Not recalling that Goldsworthy’s installation was named ‘The Three Chairs’ we spent some time trying to identify three large gritstones fitting that description and marked approximately on the map.
Once on the shooters’ highway we made good progress back in the direction we had just come from. I was beginning to doubt my ability as a guide when the moors stretched out ahead of us with no sign of quarries or chairs. Sir Hugh thought the day was a failure when suddenly we were there and the installations appeared much larger than I remembered. [marked G on the map] He was impressed – with the statues not my navigation. Do you call them statues, sculptures, installations or piles of stones? That’s where art has its personal interpretations. Piles of stones they certainly are not, these are carefully crafted structures with intricate stone work. Apparently Goldsworthy constructed one each year from 1999 to celebrate the millennium. We speculated whether he constructs them himself or employs a stonemason to help. After the obligatory photos we continued on our way off the fell.
I was chatting to Sir Hugh about the Thirlmere Aqueduct which comes this way and an old quarry [marked Q on the map] near Ottergear viaduct ‘discovered’ and climbed in by my friend Pete. We reached the impressive viaduct and almost missed the quarry which I’d expressed a desire to revisit. A chance glance behind and we noticed a couple of blokes in the quarry. They were doing a bit of climbing there as it has been highlighted in a recent supplement to the boulders in this area. That led to a sociable chat about old times climbing.