Every fell has an easy and hence popular way up it. The Victorians talked of ‘Tourist Routes’ up the Lakeland Fells, I have a copy of a 1960s Baddeley’s Lake District, a Ward Lock Red Guide aimed at the new tourist who wanted to explore the fells without any serious mountaineering. Wainwright popularised the fells, but give him his due he did seek out the less populated ways. A trade route or tourist way is the most frequently used route for ascending and descending a hill or mountain. Farther afield the term the “Yak Route” was used for climbing Mount Everest on a commercial expedition, you have seen the pictures of the queues on the South Col.
Well I’m not in the Himalayas or even the Lakes but on the humble Longridge Fell. I’ve been up it three times this week already, it’s in my backyard so to speak, trying to build up my fitness again after an enforced lay-off. There are three main entry points for climbing the fell. a path from Jeffrey Hill car park, my usual way. The forest track up from the lower fell road parking above Crowshaw. And the forest track from Kemple End at the far end of the fell road. Judging from the amount of cars parked up the middle option is the favourite, a simple march up the made up and wide forestry track.
So that was my option today,the hottest of the year so far. Despite my stating this to be the most popular way there were very few people about. Too hot for most and down in Longridge it was field day. Field days years ago were a community gathering, my children on many a themed float. A family day out. Nowadays, it has become a bit of a rebel rouser with the riot police usually in evidence later in the day. One to be avoided. English society has taken a downturn in the last decade.
That links me into the ‘trade route’ up Longridge Fell. I almost changed the title of this post to ‘the irresponsible dog walkers’ route. I came across a dozen discarded dog poo bags within the first hundred yards from the road. And there were more sporadically as the track gained height. Trying to be impartial, who do these people, it’s not the dogs, think will clear up the mess? Not a good start to my walk.
The shade I had hoped for was lacking due to recent forestry operations but once on the open ridge there was a cooling easterly. Before long I plunged back into the trees for the tricky section through windblown trees from the ‘beast from the east’, was it really 2018? Nothing much has been done to restore the path, in fact due to exposure more trees have come down since then. I’m beginning to know the best way through now.
Onwards down a track through naturally regenerating forest from harvesting a decade or so ago. I love this stretch past some of my favourite oak and beech trees. Although one of the ageing giants has fallen.
If you know it there is a shady path back avoiding walking on the road.
So a trade route up but a more adventurous way back down. Plenty of variety in three miles. Did I take any photos on my phone? Just a few. I was glad I had some water to drink back at the car. It may thunder tonight, I hope it will. in fact, it is right now.