Category Archives: Family

NOGGARTH 35 YEARS LATER.

While I’ve been isolated one of the tasks I started on was to go through some boxes of old photographs. I didn’t get far as I’m reluctant to throw things away, I’ll leave that to the next generation. One set of prints took my notice. Some large rock slabs with myself and one of my sons and friend clambering about.  Memories came back of somewhere at the back of Pendle Hill, sunny days, parking by a little cafe [ice creams] and walking down to some slabs on a hillside. I always meant to go back and explore as I felt there must have been scope for development but I never did.

1985

Good parenting!

I had heard that some friends had been doing exactly that, cleaning lines on the slabs, placing belays and writing up a mini-guide.

Thus I find myself back again after 35 years. Dave and Rod phoned to say they were meeting up, separate cars and all that, this afternoon. I felt a little apprehensive driving over on quite busy roads. Reports say that the standard of driving during lockdown has been poor with lots of speeding, I drive even more cautiously than normal. After nearly three months of virtual isolation with only a few recent short drives up Longridge Fell, I have visions of ending up in casualty and catching the Covid virus after all my efforts to avoid it. Parking by the cemetery is not a good omen. Bloody hell I’m almost in Yorkshire.

A few climbers are already on the slabs and we exchange greetings. Everybody seems to know everybody in this small world.

Compare with 1985.

Today top-roping for us is the safest option. Even so, I am not convinced that we were able to socially isolate the specified 2m and we were handling the same ends of rope when swapping over. My clinical standards are not the same as others.

Anyhow a half dozen climbs were completed on the “girls slab”. The nature of the rock means there are few positive holds but faith in friction as you place your feet on rugosities brings success. The angle of the rock is favourable. I suspect that this quarry supplied flagstones rather than building blocks. I also suspect my calves will be stiff tomorrow from all that padding up the slabs.

It was good to meet up with friends and exchange news. I still have nagging doubts about this activity during a pandemic. We will all have a lot of adjustments to deal with whilst hopefully coming out of lockdown smoothly. On the positive side, I don’t have to think about using public transport, going back to work, sending children back to school or getting my business going again. But It’s not over yet.

THE LOT. A HOLIDAY DIARY.

Puy L’Eveque on the Lot River.

I’ve just returned from three weeks staying in my friend’s house in the Lot Valley, France.  The weather as you can imagine, in August, was hot and sunny.

The first week was shared with the owners and their family, the second two weeks one of my sons came out with his family.

Here is a snapshot of daily life.

Day 1.  Hot air balloon. Awoke this morning to see across the vineyards a hot air balloon landing through the mist over towards Vire. They must have had a fantastic flight in the clear morning air. I don’t know where they launch from, an unusual start to the holiday.

Day 2. Men in orange. It turns out that this Thursday is a French Bank Holiday, we get caught out with the shops being closed.  This explains why the hunters are out in the combe, dogs try to flush out deer or wild boar into the open. Not a good time to go walking. Thankfully there were no shots heard this morning.

Day 3. Full moon. I seem to often visit whilst there is a full moon which shines brightly over the back of the house and garden whilst we are finishing supper.

Day 4. In the pool. The two young children make the most of the pool as the temperature sores into the 30s.

Children, father and grandma.

Day 5. BMF training. Saturday back home in Leeds is BMF training session in Roundhay Park so the exercises were recreated on the lawn. It all looked very energetic and powerful from my viewpoint on a lounger.

Day 6. French walkers. Each day I get out for a short walk, often before breakfast. My favourite is up the garden into the woods and then back down The Combe de Filhol. Today I extend my walk around the Orienteering Course in the woods across the way. I come across a group of French walkers, holidaying in the area, marching along with a map. Normally I see no one but today as I zigzag about I bump into the same group several times, they look a little uneasy as I keep appearing from the undergrowth.

Day 7. Hints of autumn.  On my walks I started noticing fungi pushing through the undergrowth. Unfortunately they looked poisonous, On the other hand, the mirabelles, small plums, were prolific and once stewed provided many delicious desserts with yoghurt or ice cream.

Day 8. All change. I take mine hosts back to the airport and await the arrival of my family group. They are quickly through passport control, how will this be next year after Brexit?   I drive them back with a short coffee break in Isseagac, a charming Bastide town.

Day 9. Garden games. A lot of time was taken up with games in the garden. Boules, table tennis, french cricket, croquet etc. The competitive spirit was well demonstrated in croquet where some most unfriendly manoeuvers were taken.

Day 10. On the bike. For some of my longer excursions, I took one of the bikes with me but ended up walking as much as riding due to the terrain and the bike’s gears’ obstinacy. One of my favourite trips which I hadn’t made for some time was over the hills to St. Martin le Redon in the Theze valley. Firstly over to Touzac then over the river Lot on a splendid metal bridge. Near here is a good swimming spot in the slow running river, popular in the heatwave, One of the GR routes is joined to go over another group of hills down into the Theze valley. St. Martin is a sleepy village but has gained a little cafe since I was last here; a welcome addition. In the valley is a string of limestone cliffs which I often climbed on in happier times. Hilly tracks take me over to Duravel and slowly back to the house.

Day 11. More exercise. As if last weeks exercises hadn’t been enough my own family started on more each day. Matthew and Lou’s seemed fairly casual but Sam was into serious workouts in between fast runs.

Day 12. Shush! there’s a deer in the garden. The orchard higher up the garden has numerous apple trees which drop their fruit at this time of year. It is a regular event for deer to visit the garden for this fruit and Alex spotted one tonight, well done; they don’t hang around long.

Day 13. Off to market. Sunday is market day at the nearby town of Montcuq.  There is a market somewhere every day but this one is very popular with locals and tourists. Every sort of stall [produce, clothing, antiques etc.] street entertainment and an interesting village to explore.

Day 14. The Poolman cometh. An ageing hippy drives up in his Morris Minor van, he has a collection of them, and cleans the pool.

Day 15. Snakes and glow worms.

Day16. More pool activities.  The weather was perfect for relaxing in the pool. One of the challenges was to do a length on the banana,

Day 17. Orienteering. In the woods I’ve set up a simple orienteering course. The family were keen to try it and being competitive split into two groups, I’ll call them the tortoises and the hares. They disappeared for an hour or so and needless to say the more careful tortoises came in first. This proved the hardest to find in a pile of stones in the middle of the trees…

Day 18. Eating in and out. We have mainly eaten at the house, two vegans to feed plus two picky ‘enfants’. Despite that, the family have eaten out at several local restaurants. Chips and salad is the best option for vegans in France. For a special occasion, I specifically booked the nearest place we could walk to. Le Caillau is a lovely courtyard restaurant with a reputation for good food. They told me they could cater for Vegans. My family appreciated the atmosphere and the food but I thought they could have been a little more creative with the seasonable vegetables, What have I missed out – wine tasting, Martignac with its Medieval church, lavoir and cazelle, Buzzards, Bastide towns, castles, mosquitos, kayaking and LOTS  more.

Day 19. Chez mois.  Je suis de retour a la maison maintenant, c’est l’Automne.   Que fait Boris?

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Beacon Fell.

Beacon Fell, Brock Bottoms and Kemple End.

It’s the summer holidays and I’m entertaining my youngest grandson for a couple of days, that’s all he has in his busy diary. I think of some local walks that will keep him interested and not be overdemanding. When I was his age, 11years, I could cover 20 miles no problem across rough moorland, alone and while smoking a few Woodbines.  Maybe not, but I think the generations have softened the Human Spirit. While he stays with me there is an unplugged mentality regarding mobile devices, I try to explain that nothing will happen whilst he is off line. He is not convinced.

He arrives with his stepmother, both keen to explore the local countryside. I’ve devised a route up onto Beacon Fell that is interesting, short and easy. They seem happy with it as we arrive at the cafe in time for lunch. On the way we passed Barnsfold Reservoir where his great grandad used to fish and paint piscatorial images for the fellow fishermen. I’ve often wondered what happened to those skilled canvases.  We marvelled at the size of two Buzzards wheeling overhead and we wondered about unusual tree fungi, a white bracket on a beech tree which I’ve been unable to identify.

We walked past a farm where the family have diversified into a hair salon what was previously a cowshed, good on them.

We passed more fishing lakes this time part of a recreational complex with holiday chalets. The original farm, Wood Fold, is grade II listed but has been submerged by ancillary housing.  I never realised how much-hidden developments there were in the area.  There was only a minor footpath diversion through this development.

Onwards, with grandson navigating, we followed my route of the other day through Crombleholme Fold and up the fields and into the woods to the honey spot of Beacon Fell.

All smiles.

We were probably the only people that had walked here, all be it only a  couple of miles. A trio of elderly cyclists arrived and clattered into the cafe, they had come through the hills from Lancaster. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches. On our way back we had time for an attempt at climbing the new snake from tail to head and then we were out of the woods and back at the car. There were some new wood carvings of leafy Green men, a pre-Christian symbol. Incidentally, there is a Green Man Pub in nearby Inglewwhite.

I hope that a few navigational skills have been absorbed.

The afternoon was spent pruning bushes in my garden and the more exciting shredding of those branches which provided lots of laughs. A competitive game of boules anticipated our imminent family trip to France.

Refreshed by Thursday morning our next jaunt was to Brock Bottoms just below Beacon Fell. We were one of the first cars parked up in the popular picnic spot.  It is years since I’ve been along this stretch of the River Brock. Memories of early forages with my own young children keep coming back. The river is low, we see no kingfishers or dippers which I was hoping for.

The highlight of this walk was going to be Brock Mill but alas time has taken its toll on the ruins of the mill. Where there had been substantial buildings there were only stones with little evidence of the mill race, waterwheel or the mill itself.

Brock Mill was once a thriving water-driven cotton spinning mill with up to twenty cottages in the valley for the workers.  The mill was probably built in the 1790s. After a chequered history and two reincarnations as a roller making factory, and then a file making factory the mill finally closed in the 1930s. For some time the ground floor of the mill operated as a café, whilst the top floor was used for dancing on Saturday nights!

It took some imagination to see the ruins of the cottages.

Slightly disappointed we retraced our steps. Having given my grandson a lecture on watermills I drove back via Chipping where there is a water wheel attached to a house, a former corn mill and then converted to a restaurant with the wheel turning.

I cut the lawn whilst he caught up on ‘social media’, he hates it when I call it ‘antisocial media’

The weather remained sunny and dry and the plan for the afternoon was some bouldering up on Longridge Fell. Again keeping it low key I bypassed the tough Craig Y Longridge and settled for Kemple End. We dropped into the secluded heather bowl that is the old quarry. We were out of the sun and spent a couple of hours trying some of the easier problems. He realised that outdoor climbing is so different to the climbing walls he has been visiting. At the end of the session, I’m not convinced I’ve converted him into a proper climber. I was so busy spotting him that I didn’t take any photos – next time.

I don’t know who was most tired by the time his father came to take him home. See you in France.

EVEN MORE OF DINKLEY ON A GOOD FRIDAY FAMILY WALK.

The successful walk last week along the Ribble must have been at the back of my mind when some of the family pitched up on Good Friday. So after a quick lunch of soup I suggested something similar as the weather was perfect. Parking at the Marles Wood site was tricky but we luckily managed a space as someone drove away. Since last week the bluebells have moved on a touch and the ‘blue carpet’ was making an appearance in the woods.

Sales Wheel.

A steady stream of walkers made their way through the woods to and from the river at Sales Wheel, early picnickers on the banks had been testing the cold water and were now relaxing with beers – typical Brits on holiday, some will have red skin tonight.

We pressed on to the open area along the river and descended to the shingle beach for a prolonged session of enthusiastic stone skimming. Despite the abundance of perfect flat stones none made it to the opposite bank.

After some time simple stone chucking became the order of the day before a drinks stop.

We admired the new bridge and noticed the plaque from the 1951 opening of the original suspension bridge, which I’d missed last time.

Rather than walk the long way back along the opposite bank, protestations from the grandchild, we decided to head uphill to the road on this side. Looking at the 1:25,000 I spotted a track going virtually all the way without too much road walking. Of course this was not a right of way but looked inviting so we went for it. This worked well and we followed tracks of sorts all the way without obstruction except at the end emerging onto the road where the gate was locked with dire warnings to trespassers. I was particularly pleased with the route which gave magnificent views back down to the river and the bridge as well as more distant views of Hurst Green, Longridge Fell and Pendle Hill, and brought us back to the car without too much family stress – we had only covered two miles in two hours.

‘forgive us our trespasses’

 

Back to my place for beers, bagatelle and Ratatouille.

*****

BEWARE OF THE GRUFFALO.

If you go down to the woods today you may be in for a big surprise.

Today was another short walk taking advantage of a sunny afternoon and celebrating the plastic bag man‘s birthday. The real reason was a birthday curry buffet at a favourite restaurant, Bangla Spice in Leyland. One of my sons joined us for the laugh, the day before I’d been on the streets of Stretford following a jumble sale trail with my other son and family.

Cuerden Valley was our venue having never really explored here before. The area was popular with dog walkers and families all enjoying the space and sunshine. We had a rough map of the park and set off along a path that soon had us crossing the busy M6 motorway, not a peaceful start.

But before long we were walking in a strange walled path towards the hall, we imagined the masses walking to work in the past.

The hall itself, not an edifying building, was approached. This is the centre for the Sue Ryder Charity. We found in the stables area of the hall several good charity shops – books, brickabat and clothes – all for a good cause, neurological care and support to local people and their loved ones.

Onwards past hidden housing estates, the offices for Lancashire Wildlife Trust and a walled garden to the woods where a Gruffalo hunt had been underway. Thankfully this was over and the big G had gone home. Plastic bag man still felt a little uneasy, mouse-like, as we entered the mature woodland. There was a wide range of trees planted by the estate a century ago.

Going into an interesting looking nature reserve we were accosted by a volunteer suggesting there was no entry, we didn’t argue [there is always another time to explore unnoticed.] We meekly walked down to the bridge over the River and followed the masses and their dogs.  Another carpark was reached and we crossed the road to continue down valley, it was here we got bored and hungry and decided to retrace our steps. What lies down the valley will have to remain for another visit. The whole area is worthy of further exploration.

Above us on the return was the new visitors’ centre, an impressive Eco-designed building, which will be worth a visit soon. Further on was the fishing lake, an old lodge.

Paths took us back to our carpark and that tasty curry.                                                                                ***

 

 

A LOT OF WORK.

Back in the Lot valley for a couple of weeks to ease me into Autumn. When we arrived the air temperature was up in the high 20s and more importantly was the pool temperature. As the days slowly passed the temperatures dropped but I was still swimming on the last day. This was the usual combination holiday of work and pleasure, heavily biased to the latter. My oldest grandson joined us for a week and it was great to reacquaint him with the pleasures of rural France, think food and wine. It was a bus-man’s holiday for him being on lifeguard duty by the pool!  Despite the usual post flight colds we managed a few local walks and cycles incorporating fruit picking, he was on guard as I picked. Bad example to the innocent younger generation. Light relief came from boules, table tennis, crosswords and whist – boring old farts.

Anyhow to get back to the subject of this post there was a lot of work going on at nearby Hauterive Chateau with the plums they grow alongside the vines A machine washed and cleaned the ripe plums, trays of plums are then loaded into ovens to dehydrate them into our breakfast prunes. As well as our boxes of wine we came away with handfuls of plums which provided desserts for many nights. Grape picking occurs later at the end of September.

The fields in the vicinity of the house had been harvested earlier and now they were being ploughed and harrowed. The size of modern machinery is staggering, the tractor turns up with a trailer which then proceeds to unfurl its long wings making quick work of the large fields. The last run must have been seeding as within a few days green shoots of Barley appeared.

One morning I woke to find a man on the roof cleaning the chimney in the traditional way. Apparently one needs an annual certificate of this work being carried out for insurance purposes.

We had our own work repairing the sit on mower but thankfully the helper is an experienced engineer. It did work later.On my daily circuit of the wooded hill and combe I spotted some trees that had their bases tarred and sticks placed against them, not as traps but possibly as markers for any boar or deer movements. The woods are hunted regularly. No one was able to give a satisfactory explanation.

Every night a deer came down the garden to feed on fallen apples so in an attempt to get a closer view I rigged up my hammock and laid in wait but of course I drifted off to sleep, too much wine, so probably missed all the action. There was a full moon which lit up the garden in the early hours.

A pleasant couple of weeks.

EASTER DISTRACTIONS ON THE GUILD WHEEL.

The garage where I bought my car from last year lies on The Guild Wheel circuit. When I phoned to arrange the yearly service I was surprised the appointment, they have become very clinical in garages, was on Easter Monday, so rather than waste the day in went the bike. The receptionist, very clinical, was taken aback by my Lycra and helmet and doubted I would be back within the 2 hours the service would take. I set off on the Wheel in an anticlockwise direction and after a couple of miles I was investigating the lock gates from the Ribble into Preston docks when a familiar voice caught my ear and there was one of my sons and his partner cycling the opposite way. They were visiting from Manchester and doing a quick circuit before dining with family. I was invited to join them and soon was retracing my ride past the garage I had left a short while ago. I meant to mention that this garage is part of a multi motor showroom complex – there are cars and salesmen everywhere.

The day was cool and dry, we made good progress around the northern half of the Wheel. I managed to keep up with their youthful pace but was glad of a coffee stop in, say it quietly, Starbucks.That reminded me of a picture I took in Bethlehem a couple of years ago.

Onwards and down through the woods at Redscar where the bluebells were just colouring up. Now the fact it was Easter Monday hit home as all the way through Brockholes the path was thronged with families enjoying the sunshine. Slow progress. The pace quickened on the stretch by the river and after that my companions took a different route up into Preston. From here the crowds thickened again and I realised it was the famousegg rolling day in Avenham Park so it was simpler and safer to dismount and walk with the crowds. There was a great party atmosphere – egg-rollers, fair goers, music and dance entertainment and general family happiness. I tarried to absorb it all.

Even after leaving the park the route through the docks was thronged with people, the steam train was running. I arrived back at the garage after three hours to collect my car, complete with its clinical diagnostic sheet. I complemented the receptionist on their efficiency and enthused how easily I fitted the cycle into the boot.

Everyone seemed happy on this sunny Easter Monday.

Longridge Fell – then and now.

There is a stream coming off Longridge Fell crossed by a small bridge.  I often walk this way. When my two oldest grand children were young this was an ideal spot for a bit of ‘damn building’ and became a favourite of theirs.

This weekend I had staying my youngest grandchild and he was keen to follow suit.  His father took a picture of us, then remembered back to previous times and low and behold there on his phone was April 2002.

Uncanny coincidence. Wish I had evidence of visits with my boys when they were that young in the 70s.

2002.

2002.

2016.

2016.

A QUICK LAKES VISIT – Gummers How.

My son and grandson are camping in the Lakes this week. It has not been the best of summer weather but they have made the most of it. I arranged to join them this afternoon and drove up the motorway in the low damp cloud, not exactly encouraging. However, when we met up at Newby Bridge there was a hint of brightness in the sky so I suggested a quick ascent of Gummers How nearby. This is a relatively low hill, 321m, and is made even easier by starting from  Astley’s Plantation car park, itself at over 200 m. A Lakeland Fell in miniature.

Wainwright included this summit in his Outlying Fells book –  “it is an old man’s mountain, and  when ancient legs can no longer climb it know ye that the sad day has come to hang up the boots forever and take to slippers”   So it was satisfying for our three generations to make the ascent together.  In the trees low down the path was rather muddy probably due to the Luing cattle, imported to maintain balanced flora. Higher the path has been stepped with Lakeland stone in parts and there are bits of scrambling to keep the youngster [and oldster] interested. Before long we were standing at the trig point in the strong wind. The celebrated views over Windermere were there but with overhead cloud.

Coming down we found a different way through trees which were made for climbing especially if you are 7 years old. Back at the campsite, there was more climbing on some glaciated boulders. The wind didn’t abate and it felt miserable, despite games of Frisbee, so I made my excuses and left them cooking supper. The joys of camping in an English summer. Back home to my slippers.

THREE DAYS IN JUNE.

Yes it’s June but one couldn’t be sure.

1st. The first two days I was entertaining my youngest grandson. It hardly stopped raining and the wind was threatening to blow a six year old off his feet. Despite this we built a dam in a stream coming off Longridge Fell

Dammed good fun.

Dammed good fun.

2nd.  and we sailed pooh-sticks from a bridge on the turbulent Dean Brook at Hurst Green the next day  All great fun and a great commune with nature.

3rd. At last today the wind has dropped and I’ve enjoyed a pleasant day. gardening has taken preference but by tea time I couldn’t resist a quick walk up Longridge Fell. Having parked at Cardwell House I took what I call the ‘balcony’ route onto the fell – it traverses above the Vale of Chipping with views to Fairsnape, round to The Trough of Bowland and the Three Yorkshire Peaks. Tonight was particularly clear.

The path was wetter than I had expected and trainers were not the best footwear option.Leaving the trig point I cut through the trees to the southern side of the fell where the view over comparatively more industrial Lancashire was a contrast. Wind farms seem to be spreading – lets hope the same doesn’t happen on the Bowland Fells seen to the north.

South.

South.

North.

North.

Postscript –

I heard that noted author, naturalist and environmentalist Robert Macfarlane was appearing on BBC’s Spring Watch Unsprung tonight. I was dismayed to find myself watching ‘Top Gear with Animals’ – the three presenters doing a good impersonation on a contrived set surrounded by an apparently amused audience. Not my idea of a nature presentation but maybe I’m out of date. Mr Macfarlane’s contribution was of little importance amongst the general hullabaloo. Shame.

A beautiful moon seen from my room completed the evening and bodes well for an improving start to June.

A HAPPY BOWLAND NEW YEAR.

Since arriving back from La Gomera Christmas has come and gone, I’ve reacclimatised to the weather, caught up with family and friends, been walking and [indoor]climbing and now 2015 is upon us. So Happy New Year and here are a few random photos in the Bowland locality from this last week of mixed weather.

Langden Brook.

Pikefield Plantation, Slaidburn.

Hazelhurst Fell across Bleasdale.

Gliding past Parlick.

My boys under Fairsnape.

Fairsnape and Parlick.

Parapenting out of the mist.

Parapenting out of the mist.

Ascending Saddle Fell.

Ascending Saddle Fell.

Light into Chipping Vale.

Light into Chipping Vale.

Not me!

Not me!

Parlick in evening sun.

Parlick in evening sun.

What hope for Longridge in 2015?

What hope for Longridge in 2015?

 

WATER EVERYWHERE. INGLETON FALLS.

My 13yr old grandson has wanted to climb Ingleborough since he saw it full on, a couple of years ago, whilst caving in Chapel le Dale. He was staying with me this week but the weather seemed to have taken a nose dive [the back end of hurricane Bertha] We bravely set off in high winds and rain but at the base of Ingleborough itself could see an ascent today would be unwise and futile.

Ingleborough under cloud.

Ingleborough under cloud.

Plan B – Ingleton Waterfall Walk.zCapture.JPGfalls  I’ve not done this for years. The price of entry has certainly escalated [I’ll not comment further] though I seem to remember we used to sneak in above the  turnstiles without paying. Lots of families visiting today no doubt because of the weather, so there was a chatty, jolly atmosphere as we made our way around. You go up the River Twiss [the private part] and down the River Doe, both are impressive gorges. You walk through limestone, slates and sandstone so a good opportunity for a geology lesson. The bit in the middle connecting the two rivers over farm land usually boasts a mobile ice cream van parked in the green lane!  I don’t ever remember seeing the money tree before in Swilla Glen – an old tree completely studded with coins making it look like armadillo skin.After all the rain we have had every fall today was full of peaty rushing water – very impressive.

Pecca Falls.

Pecca Falls.

Hollybush Spout.

Hollybush Spout.

Thornton Force.

Thornton Force.

Beezley Falls.

Beezley Falls and Triple Spout.

Rival Falls.

Rival Falls.

Baxenghyll Gorge.

Baxenghyll Gorge.

And last but not least ….

Snow Falls.

Snow Falls.

My grandson thoroughly enjoyed the walk, and the ice cream, so the day was a success and Ingleborough can wait for a better day.  If you haven’t been round this trail before or have in the mists of time pick a day to visit after heavy rain – you will appreciate. A little Switzerland.

FAIRSNAPE FELL – ONCE MORE.

Parlick and Fairsnape across Chipping Vale.

If I had a pound for the number of times I’ve climbed Fairsnape I  ….  so here I go again. I have one of my grandsons staying with me and need to keep him occupied and off his smartphone, certainly smarter than mine. He was keen to have a day’s walking and preferred reaching a summit rather than just rambling. So a circuit of the fells above Chipping was hastily planned, there was no rush, being a teenager he wasn’t up till well after nine. We parked at Chipping and walked up past the old Kirk Mill with its delightful mill pond and resident ducks. Soon we were into fields and suffering hay fever together from the long grasses – a family allergy. I displayed my knowledge of the area by getting slightly lost on farm tracks and then on rough ground before reaching Burnslack Farm. This isolated farm now seems to be converted into the formula country house or two, though an original well pump remains. Would be interesting to see how they would cope with a severe winter up here. As a child, I lived on an isolated farm and in the exceptional winter of 1947, my family spent days trying to dig out the track to a road, have photos of 8ft snowdrifts! No helicopter ‘rescues’ in those days. Soon we were up Saddle Fell and on to the good track leading to Fairsnape’s highest point 520m. This is now approached on a flagged path reminiscent of the Pennine Way. After several weeks of good weather the peat hags had dried up and were a joy to walk on making the short journey to the Fairsnape trig point, 510m, effortless.

The views across Morecambe Bay and back to Yorkshire’s three peaks was good. No sign of Wales though. Our onward walk to Parlick was accompanied by several gliders picking up the thermals at great speed.

Nick’s Chair Parlick.

Then down onto lanes into a valley with old mills. By now the fit young grandson, who can easily cycle 100miles in a day, was fading and had to be refreshed with ice cream in the wonderful Cobbled Corner Cafe in Chipping. Made me feel what is 50 years difference if you are still keen and able. Home to watch the end of today’s Tour.

GR7 TRIP. Tinterero – Vallada

                                                                  Famous view.

  The forecast was for high temperatures and as I knew I would be in a deep canyon [barranca] for several hours hoped to get away early. But the taxi couldn’t come till 9 so I was able to enjoy a full fuel filled breakfast. The gas cylinder was safely left with the manager for my return in a couple of weeks. Was soon stood at the lonely roadside I’d left yesterday as the taxi disappeared. Tinterero was in the mist and as I walked down the track it felt just like the moors back home.

                                                                   Misty Morning.

  Except the temperature was already in the high 20s – I had plenty of water with me. Water becomes more important than food on these sort of days. Strolled along until a path diverged off to the right and started descending steeply into the Barranca Boquilla. The waymarks here about seemed more related to mountain biking than walking – signs of the times?  Anyhow you couldn’t go wrong, just keep going down for 400m. Past the famous rock arch pictured above. There seemed to be a whole series of barrancas cleaving into the hillsides. This is a spectacular place.

Now down at the bottom a decent track snakes along the bottom of the gorge past an abandoned farmhouse  – imagine living down here.

As the barranca runs in a north/south axis the sun was shining directly into it so most of my pictures were looking back! This was just an amazing place to be in, a wonderful walk but also a fantastic nature environment. When you stop there is time to appreciate the variety of flying insects around you – including the biting variety! Time to put on trousers again. What one didn’t see were any raptors soaring above. The locals love to shoot anything that moves. You have been warned.                                                                            The track twisted and turned probably doubling the horizontal distance traveled.   There was a  great deal of variation in the limestone walls of the gorge.

                                                               

The track became rougher and eventually ended up in the steam of the gorge; don’t know how you would get on after heavy rain. Saw a wild dog and a group of rebecos [the Spanish chamois]

                                                                    Uno  Rebeco.

I spent almost three hours walking down the barranca with little shade. I was not looking forward to the crossing of the valley floor to Vallada in this heat. Went under roads, motorways , old and new railways in this busy artery of central Valencia. What a contrast to half an hour ago.

Met a French couple walking the pilgrims route from Valencia city to Santiago de Compostela. Wished them well as they have an awful long way to go.

                   Scallop shell – symbol for the pilgrims to Santiago.

My pilgrimage was to an apartment in one of the cluttered streets of Vallada.

Vallada

                                                     Lovely colours in Vallada.   

Did a bit of re hydrating in one of the bars in town, full of unemployed men playing dominoes. The churchyard contained some good interpretative art.

A good meal was taken in a local restaurant and I slept well. What more can you ask from a days walking.

Family Celebrations and a New Crag!

The beginning of this week brought some days of welcome warmth and sunshine. On the Sunday  I was in Manchester to celebrate my youngest son’s 39th birthday. Eight of us went out for an Indian buffet meal, greatly enjoyed by the family with ages ranging from 4 to 94yrs. The waiters made a great fuss of the oldest and youngest, whilst the rest of us stuffed ourselves on the delicious curries.

The 4yr old!!

I had only been back home 5mins when the phone went and one of my climbing partners was enthusing about the weather [we have had little to enthuse over this ‘summer’]. It was soon agreed to have a climbing day on the Monday. As we are both long in the tooth finding somewhere new to climb in the area is difficult. He mentioned that on a winters walk in the dry valley above Malham Cove he had noticed a crag with bolted lines, not in any guide book.. This was news to us and a bit of detective work was needed to glean the necessary information. Monday dawned bright and sunny and after coffee we were soon walking through impressive Yorkshire scenery to Comb Hill.

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Approach to Comb Hill.

   On the approach we thought the cliff looked a bit short and scruffy but once below  we realised it was about 16m [50ft] high. The sun was just reaching the crag as we arrived. Without all the full information choosing a first route was a bit of guess work. Setting off up the a promising line proved rather difficult and the rock was ‘awkward’ but led to a satisfying steep finale. Encouraged we spent a pleasant afternoon on the face relishing in the warm conditions and the superb Dales limestone scenery. It so happens that the popular Pennine Way path goes beneath the crag so we had a steady banter with passing walkers wondering how we had got the rope to the top in the first place!!!

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Give us a clue. 6a+

It’s always difficult getting decent crag photos when there are only two climbing. Anyhow we’ll be back in the spring to explore further.

The next day,Tuesday, dawned sparkling again. This was the occasion for another family ‘celebration’ – 7yrs since my characterful father passed away.To remember the date I took my mother, the 94yr old, out for a scenic drive into the Bowland countryside. We enjoyed a grand lunch at the beautifully situated Inn at Whitewell.  Cheers Dad.

The 94yr old!

The 94yr old!

Three great days with something different to remember and take from each of them.

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