Tag Archives: Bouldering

WHAT’S NEXT?

This evening’s Clitheroe under Pendle.

It’s all happening fast, maybe a little too fast.

The government’s [they now try to label it as the NHS’s for scientific kudos] Tell, Track and Trace scheme came into being yesterday although they forgot to tell most of the volunteer trackers. The pilot scheme of smartphone tracking, used by most other countries for accuracy, failed in the Isle of White and is nowhere near ready despite us being promised it would be underway mid-May.

So we are left with a ragtail plan for the good British public to have a test if they feel unwell with Covid19 symptoms and then tell a phone operator the names and addresses of all their contacts, as if they would know.. Those contacts will then have to voluntarily self-isolate almost without realising why.   It won’t work.

At the same time, despite there being a high incidence of viral infection still, we are being allowed to meet up with more family and friends. Social distancing of course in the garden and using the loo when you’ve had too much to drink. This for some reason starts on Monday, why tell us before a hot sunny weekend when half the population will take it into their own hands and interpretations tonight.

How long before the second peak? We are already leading most of the world in deaths per capita.

With that background, I drove cautiously up the fell this evening when it had cooled down. I expected I would have the little quarry up on Kemple End to myself for some safe low-level bouldering. And so I brought my brain into action with climbing moves I’ve not executed for months. The very act of climbing concentrates the mind to the exclusion of most other incidental thoughts. The trees on the quarry floor have grown and leafed up. There was bird song everywhere, though I couldn’t identify any. I was isolated from the rest of the world and its troubles for a short spell.

After my short-lived exertions, I climbed back up and viewed the Ribble Valley with Clitheroe and Pendle Hill prominent. My photo of this tranquil scene heads the post.

I then drove back to reality.

As I write this the sounds and smells of barbeques drift through my window.

I know where I’ll be as lockdown is lifted.

*****

Breaking news…So all’s OK.

 

CLIMBING THE WALLS.

A lot of people are ‘climbing the walls’  with all these Covid19 isolation rules. I feel particular sympathy for those families living in cramped accommodation with maybe no open space to relax in. Having a garden is a great advantage, I’m blessed with mine.

Following my successful backpacking trip at Easter, I thought it was time for a bit of climbing particularly as the weather has been so good the rock will be in excellent condition. I’m lucky in having Craig Y Longridge just up the road and normally go bouldering there most days when I’m fit. It is a unique venue with over 300ft of overhanging rock in the main up to about 15 – 20 ft high.  There are over a hundred problems and many more variations to play on until your strength gives out. As everywhere else, due to the coronavirus, climbing is banned for the foreseeable future.  Social distancing is difficult and any accident there would place even more burden on our emergency services.

Craig Y Longridge on a rather poor day but you get the idea of how steep it is.

Better weather – struggling climber. Oct 2018.

Not to be deterred I’ve some walls at home. The walls of my stone-built house offer edges which replicate the holds found on natural gritstone. Most of the walls now have plants and shrubs close or growing up them. However, the sidewall adjacent to my drive is free to explore after a little trimming of the honeysuckle on the corner.

So out comes the bouldering mat and I catch the morning sun. There are several variations up this bit of wall and one can make it as easy or hard as necessary. To be honest I’ve done so much gardening these last weeks that my dodgy shoulder is playing up so I have to go careful. Still, it is good fun and gives me some exercise every morning. Note the right foot on the window ledge is cheating.

The bouldering mat below me should ensure that I don’t twist an ankle or worse and end up in casualty, I’m not actually getting far off the ground as you can see. I do get some funny looks from passers-by.

 

After a few weeks I should have worked out lots of ways up this bit of wall and may have to start on the other side of the house but that would require some extensive ‘gardening’ to remove the shrubs.

So yet more simple diversions to help pass the days and keep fit at the same time bringing some normality into my life.

*****

PS. The news today is that Joe Brown the famous working-class Manchester climber has died, aged 89. He was a climbing legend and many of you will have heard of him.

Joe was a true pioneer of rock climbing particularly active in the 1950s and 1960s when he pushed standards. His ascents were as varied in style as they were in location and ranged from the gritstone outcrops of the Peak District, the mountains of Britain to 8000m peaks in the Himalaya. He achieved TV fame with live outside broadcasts and earned the nickname ‘the human fly‘.  The personality and talent he possessed only come along every few generations or so.

BARDEN MOOR AND RYLSTONE, last of the summer wine.

A vigorous day visiting old haunts with wide-ranging views.

The Duke of Devonshire, Bolton Abbey Estate, owns a large area of grouse moorland NE of Skipton. Confusingly Barden Moor to the west of the Wharfe and Barden Fell to the east. I’ve spent many days on these moors mainly on their edges climbing on Rylstone Crag, Crookrise, Eastby and Simon’s Seat. I felt it was time to revisit and make a walk of it across the moors. The Pieman doesn’t get out much so when he phoned suggesting a walk this week I gladly agreed and decided on this walk on his local hills. I cajoled JD into the party to show him a new area. Wednesday was the day and the forecast was for improving weather, but first we had to get rid of the tail end of Hurricane Dorian. Early morning and the rain was still heavy, I even had a phone call from Skipton querying opting out but I’m made of sterner stuff. Miraculously as we drove across the skies cleared and the sun came out, there was a sneaky breeze when we met in Rylstone.

Rylstone with its duck pond and church; the famed ladies who produced the original nude Calendar;  the inspiration for Wordsworth’s 1808 poem ‘The White Doe of Rylstone’ and above the village Rylstone Cross.  The latter was visible on the fell as we set off but it would be several hours before we stood alongside it.  Originally a stone figure, the ‘Rylstone Man’,  changed to a wooden cross to commemorate the ‘Peace of Paris’ in 1814. This had to be replaced several times until the wooden structure was replaced by a stone one in 1997. I remember a wooden cross held by a metal frame from early trips to Rylstone Crag.

A bridleway climbs away from the road and was followed easily into the heart of the moor. We chatted away and hardly noticed the increasing tailwind. The heather, unfortunately, was past its best. Views started to open up to familiar hills but putting a name to them often eluded us. Simon’s Seat across Wharfedale was prominent. Upper Barden Reservoir came into sight and veered off on a track to it.  Sitting on an ancient stone gatepost out of the wind we had an early snack. Across the dam was an old waterboard house, we speculated on its value – isolation and views against accessibility.

The estate has signed most of the tracks and we changed course once again heading back to the moor’s northern edge.  Another small reservoir was passed and we focused on an old chimney up the slope, this with some obvious old pits suggested past mining activity.

As we reached the edge I regret not diverting a short distance to look at Numberstones End, a small gritstone crag.

By now the wind was almost gale force and difficult to walk into, JD’s hat became the focus of attention as it somehow stuck to his head. We took our second break in a beaters’ shelter, the shooters more commodious lodge being firmly closed. We gazed across upper Wharfedale to Grassington, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside, Grimworth Reservoir with Nidderdale behind. The Three Peaks were hidden in cloud.

Refreshed we commenced battle with the wind as we bypassed Rolling Gate Crags and made a beeline towards an obvious Obelix, Cracoe War Memorial erected to honour the dead from the Great War with a plaque added for the 2nd WW. It was difficult to stand up on the summit because of the wind and we set off down the ridge towards Rylstone Crag and its Cross. Now below was the limestone country around Cracoe and the contrasting greens of the Winterburn Valley.

A visit to the base of the main face of Rylstone Crag was obligatory to gaze up at President’s Slab, Dental Slab and all those other climbs that have given me so much pleasure in the past. Last climbed six years ago.

President’s Slab.

Dental Slab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cross was another gale swept vantage point now looking towards Pendle.

 

  A couple of boulders took our attention and we played around trying to stand up in the hole or reach for an edge, only long-limbed JD was successful with the latter. We reflected on ageing bodies and ‘the last of the Summer wine’ as we trotted down the hill back to the car, getting out of the wind and enjoying the warm sunshine.

*****

Not a grouse was shot during this walk.

*****

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.

MID-SUMMER MISCELLANEA.

Double rainbow over Longridge out of my window.

Haven’t much to report since arriving back from France, how can I be jet-lagged after an hour and a half flight.

The fields opposite my house are being cut by a flotilla of agricultural vehicles, what a contrast to the old days of hay cutting that I was involved with as a youngster.

The weather here has been predictably hot and dry so I’ve been out bouldering on Longridge Fell at three of my favourite crags – Kemple End, Crowshaw and of course Craig Y Longridge.  These three give me choices of sun or shade at varying times of the day so I can escape the sun if needed. Up at Kemple I ventured onto Hodder Buttress to solo the easy slabs and arriving at the top I was concerned about some loose flakes above the climbs, I had great fun trundling these onto the quarry floor thus making the routes safer. Over on the main wall I found that I was struggling on some of the traverses I normally cruised, I blamed this on lack of confidence since my enforced layoff. The view over the Ribble Valley this evening was splendid.

At Crowshaw I was completing a topo of the problems to the left of the main buttress. The quarry bowl here is a delight as the heather starts to bloom and the bilberries ripen. I am content on an evening just to sit here and listen to the bird song.

After these two backwaters Craigy is hardcore bouldering, 100m of overhanging rock, with a regular clientele. I have a section at the far end that is less severe and I can do circuits on relatively good jugs to keep fit.

Whilst up on the fell I popped into Cardwell Quarry where climbing is now banned because of unsociable behaviour by some ‘climbers’. I was surprised to see that not too much vegetation has returned in the lean years. I must go and have another word with the farmer to try and restore climbing here.

I was out in the Ribble Valley today and popped into Witches Quarry. A secluded limestone venue where you drive into the field and park conveniently under the crag! The rock was in good condition and I traversed a little and then soloed the amenable Cracklap, I’m sure this used to be VD. Strangely a gooseberry was growing from the start of the crack.

CROASDALE/BULLSTONES WALK.

                                               Looking down a murky Croasdale.

One seldom meets another person in upper Croasdale but today the Salter Fell track was busy with contractors making repairs to a steep section of the road above New Bridge. The road, also known as Hornby Road, dates from Roman times – Watling Street that ran from Manchester to Carlisle.  It was along this road that the Lancashire Witches were taken from Clitheroe to Lancaster and in fact the last time I walked it was following a long distance walk called the Lancashire Witches Walk from Barrowford to Lancaster. Back to today I was with JD, both of us needing some exercise. A lorry was taking stone up to the repairs and the driver told us of the cost to Lancs. County Council who apparently are obliged to maintain the highway, for whose benefit I’m not sure. An awful lot of potholes around Longridge could have been repaired for less. The repairs were extensive and thorough but not lot of work seemed to getting done today. More stone was being extracted from the higher quarry which in the past had been used for the construction of Stocks Reservoir dam in the thirties.

Track repairs with one of the Lancashire Witches Walk tercet waymarkers.

It took longer than usual to reach the top gate where we left the track and headed uphill through the heather. Looking westwards are views of upper Whitendale and remote Wolhole Crag, this is wild Bowland country. I found the tiny sheep trod that traversed to the first group of Bull Stone boulders where we had our refreshments. The day was rather dull but there was no wind and silence prevails up here. Looking down the wide valley of Croasdale a misty Pendle rose in the distance. I had resisted bringing up my rock shoes but now regretted it as the conditions were perfect. Big boots would not have stuck to the friction slabs.

Sketch of the same scene from the Bowland Beth book mentioned below.

For a taste of the bouldering up here have a look at  https://vimeo.com/183222521

We wandered on below more rocks, all bringing back memories to me though JD had never been here. So it was a great pleasure to show him the massive stone trough carved on the hillside.

We found the little trod heading down valley and at the ford we decided to continue down rough marshland to look at the bothy and surrounding sheep-pens. About ten years ago I spent a couple of nights here with my teenage grandson whilst we explored the surrounding fells. In those days Hen Harriers were a common sight on these Bowland fells which were an important breeding ground for these beautiful birds. Things have gone downhill since then with more and more persecution of raptors on grouse moors where the shooting lobbies run roughshod. I have just been reading a little book about the short life of Bowland Beth, born near this spot. A thoughtful analysis of the plight of wild life on shooting estates.

Bowland Beth. The life of an English Hen Harrier.   David Cobham.     William Collins.

The bothy was unlocked but the flagged floor had been soiled by animals. It did not look an attractive proposition for an overnight stay now but would soon clean up.

Onwards down the valley with a few stream crossings and then we climbed back up the road passing on the way the remains of the House of Croasdale, a 17th century farmhouse built on the site of an ancient hunting lodge. It would have witnessed the witches being taken across the fells.

Remains of House of Croasdale.

An interesting circuit as usual although a little sunshine would have helped with the photos.

 

 

*****

 

 

‘BOWLANDCLIMBER’ – WHAT CLIMBER?

A little inspiration.

Anyone who has been following my posts this year or anyone searching ‘climbing’ will have noticed there has been no climbing. For various reasons I haven’t done a route for the first time in 40 – 50 years.* My climbing friends probably think I’ve died. This was brought home to me the other day when I happened to be in south Preston with one of my now ‘retired’ climbing partners.

I think we are near Denham Quarry” I mentioned,  “let’s go and have a look in

Easier said than done as we drove arround in a maze of forgotten narrow lanes and kept crossing and recrossing the motorway. All of a sudden Holt Lane appeared and the name rang a bell, sure enough a short distance down the lane the familiar car park appeared and there was the quarry.

And there was that striking clean quarry face with the obvious groove line of ‘Mohammed’

In we went and peered up the classic groove which had a few chalk marks on it. When did we last climb this – one for the history books. Its real title is, wait for it, Mohammed the Mad Monk of Moorside Home for Mental Misfits. What’s that all about?

Moving right under the main face other routes were recalled, most of them scary on small holds and poor gear. We survived.

And there was that deep pool, with unknown monsters in its depths, and the lovely soloable Splash Arete above it. Memories.

Back home I reflected that I probably would be struggling on those routes now but my enthusiasm was fired and on a sunny afternoon I’m up at Craig y Longridge traversing around on familiar territory at the easy far end. The crag is bathed in warm sunshine and I’m the only one here so I can laze around as much as possible. I can do the moves but my hands have become soft and soon my skin is protesting, enough.

* PS. The following morning I had a brief visit up to Kemple End and soloed a couple of short routes to break the year’s zero statistics.

 

PASTURES NEW – a day out with Pixie.

Two experienced locals, JD and I, were taking ‘Batesieman’ and his dog Pixie for an exploratory walk over Longridge Fell. It was a perfect day, sunny and warm, with good visibility in all directions. We were lost [disorientated] in a field without a map and no obvious signage. I can’t really blame JD as he had just appeared on the scene from an earlier walk clutching a few wild strawberries, nowhere as good as the raspberries we found later, and agreed to accompany us further. For awhile I had wanted to visit Higher Deer House, marked prominently on the map. It turned out to be an unoccupied and undistinguished farmhouse in the middle of nowhere on the south side of Longridge Fell, The surrounding pastures were full of cows, calves and the occasional scary bull. This area had once been a medieval deer park on the Shireburn Estate long before the establishment of Stoneyhurst College.

We had started off walking up Longridge Fell on the track past Green Thorn Farm and onto the ridge at a clearing with great views over Bowland and also the Yorkshire Three Peaks. There has been a lot of forest clearing in the last few years because of the fungus affecting the spruce but it is amazing to see the regeneration of small trees occurring on the open ground – are these commercially viable or disease resistant? In front of us was the mighty Pendle Hill.The forest track brought us out at Kemple End where a compulsory visit to the quarry was taken, the site of Batesie and mine exploration a decade ago, the routes don’t get a lot of traffic.

Onwards through the complex of houses at Kemple End. The Almshouses built here in the 17th century were moved and reconstructed in Hurst Green after the Second World War. I think of this as an amazing endeavor and would like to know more of their history.

We had followed a sunken track which I’ve always thought of as an old sledgeway for transporting stone from the quarries but I now wonder was part of the deer park boundary. Once orientated we passed the deerhouse and wandered down to the footbridge over the hidden Dean Brook. Then up to join the bridleway to Greengore an interesting medieval hunting lodge of the Shireburn estate, noticeable are the buttresses and mullioned windows.

The bridleway continues up past Crowshaw House to arrive on the fell road where we had started.                                                                                                                                                       JD went home with his strawberries for tea.

All that remained was to show Batesie Crowshaw Quarry, the latest bouldering venue on Longridge Fell. He was impressed. Pixie wasn’t.

Here’s a map to show you where we went. A convivial afternoon stroll.

 

 

New Year Miscellany.

Several days have been sunny and cold but windless – perfect for a spot of bouldering at Craig y Longridge. There have been a few more brave souls out on the rock. The crag is owned and managed by the BMC [thankfully for now this acronym has outlasted the suggested change to  Climb Britain] and the climbing fraternity have done us proud, with no antisocial behaviour or littering. However at the parking spot some ‘part time builder’ has found it easier to dump his rubbish in the road than take a trip to the tip.     Happy New Year.

I noticed the above whilst cycling past on a circuit of Longridge Fell roads, much harder than the relatively level Guild Wheel. Thankfully I was alone, I was so out of breath conversation would have been impossible.

Back to the Guild Wheel I was on it again New Years Day, this time walking part of it with a friend who was plotting a short walk in the Fernyhalgh area for his monthly walking group. We found a decent dry circuit with plenty of interest. Passing on route at Ladyewell the old Fernyhalgh School building [now a private day nursery] – my children attended there in the 70s when it was still the village primary, only to be closed against local opposition. There is still evidence of Boys and Girls separate entrances. Nearby is a memorial to local lads lost in WW1, quite an ornate cross for the five.

Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.

Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.

With the same friend a circuit of the Longridge Fell tracks was completed on New Years Eve, we were glad to be in the trees out of the cold wind. The only other people met were dog walkers. A few of the poorer days have been spent at Preston Climbing Wall in a vain attempt to steal some fitness from the season.

Simply passing time.

Peaceful Chipping Vale.

BANG – I thought I had been shot!

The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence.   Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.

Nesting saddle bag.

Nesting saddle bag.

Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here,  I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees  providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.

A cold Craigy.

A cold Craigy.

So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.

Simple.

End of the line.

Bouldering in Crowshaw Quarry.

 

Since I last did a new problem up here  https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/what-have-you-done-today/  I’ve been trying a traverse line on the far left-hand wall, hands on a sloping top ledge and intermittent footholds below. I always seem to be on this problem just before I go off on a walking holiday and I’m worried about my ankles if I fall off.  So today I seek moral and physical [moving the pad] help from one of my oldest climbing partners who now unfortunately doesn’t partake. I start on the easy bit, climbing up a flake to reach the traverse. A couple of damp hand holds lead left to a large footledge before the committing moves up to the highest point. From here I can use a couple of decent footholds as I hand traverse on slopers. There is a section where you have to smear to make progress and I repeatably chicken out and I skittle back, all good warming up. Frustrated with my progress and aware of my spotter’s commitment I try again maybe four times with the same retreating result. So forget about moving the pad – place it further left and go for it. Good left hand whilst my right foot is on a hold, left foot on a smear,  slap across and down  with the right hand, smear both feet and then stretch to a left foothold and follow with the hands and it is done.

         End of the line.

 

“Even if you’re old and gray
you still got something to say”     Traveling Wilburys.

 

 

NORTH WALES PATH – Day 3.

Deganwy to Rhos.  Round the Great Orme and over the Little.

I thought today’s post would read – ‘walked round the Orme in rain and mist’

Well for the first hour or so that was the case and I was soaking by the time I stopped for a rest and was thankful for a coffee in the cafe.

Conway Mountain seen across the estuary before the rain.

Conway Mountain seen across the estuary before the rain.

Llandudno West beach - how many memorial seats do you need?

Llandudno West beach – how many memorial seats do you need?

When I reappeared the rain had stopped for the day so I started to enjoy myself and see the surroundings. Limestone cliffs above and below, I was searching out climbing lines and spotting mountain goats. Eventually found both.Near the end/beginning of the road there is a cave called Parisella’s [named after an ice cream parlour] where hard hard bouldering problems abound and always dry! It must be nice to be good enough to be sponsored. I digress. Now for some history …

Not long after …The pier is next to the fading Grand Hotel but the rest of Llandudno is thriving, ‘No Vacancy’ signs everywhere. It was busy on the prom…… my best advice is to catch a bus to Little Orme.

For some reason the North Wales Path misses out the summit of Little Orme, a great mistake. It was one of the best viewpoints yet.

Westwards

Westwards

Eastwards.

Eastwards.

There was only another lady and her daughter [locals] up here and they were lost and panicking, I walked down with them. The 5yr old asked where I had been in the world so I queried where she would like to go –  Abergele was high on her horizon! I had other random conversations today – a couple on the beach told me they were searching for the perfect sea-washed stick for a perch for their pet gecko – a man fishing for mackerel off the beach but waiting for high tide 4hours hence [why didn’t he start later?] – another fisherman hoping to go out later for sea-trout, he always wanted to fish the Hodder near my home.

I managed to get lost also in a mining area on the edge of the mountain, till the salmon fisherman showed me the steep way down, which was in fact signed, the post top left.

The steep quarry.

The steep quarry.

Ended the day back on the prom at Rhos on Sea where I found the delightful St Trillo’s Chapel. its altar stands over a spring and was established in the 6th C but has been rebuilt many times. Services are still held for a congregation of six.

 

CREAKING GATES ON ROLLING GATE.

Climbing at Rolling Gate.

It’s the hottest day of the year with temperatures in the 30s. This high Yorkshire crag faces NW and seemed an ideal choice for the conditions and so it was. A sweaty walk deposited us in the shade of the scattered rocks which form a rather broken edge.                                                      The obvious start was Veterans Flake which wandered about to eventually surmount the large flake, all a bit of an anticlimax. It was however pleasant to belay on the top in a breeze with views over Grassington into upper Wharfdale.                                                                                  Next up was Long Crack a proper gritstone thrutch around several noses in a corner, sweaty work today. The descent  brought us to the foot of The Main Buttress and the start of Rolling Gate Buttress the starred route of the crag. The first steep and bold 10ft seemed hard, my left hand reluctant to leave a decent slot for small slopers above with only slanting footholds – surely not severe. Eventually a hand on the arete enabled my feet to move higher and the ‘better’ hand holds above reached, heart in the mouth stuff. Then large ledges were shuffled onto and left insecurely round bulges with no protection, I’d not brought the big friends. Don’t seem to remember it being this hard 40 years ago!

Rolling Gate Buttress.

Rolling Gate Buttress.

We retreated to a shady corner for lunch and composure, our gates were certainly creaking and our resolve weakening in the heat. However to the left was a rib leading to a cracked wall which looked inviting, The Pillar, and we couldn’t resist. Easy climbing up the right side of the lower rib was almost alpine in nature. A stance was taken below the top wall which close up looked steeper and longer.  Once committed a lovely sequence of slots, ledges and cracks led to the top on perfect gritstone – the best of the day. We only wished it could have gone on for another 50ft but life is not like that.

I finished with a quick solo of Six Metre Wall, there are lots of other good looking boulder problems hereabouts.

Fortunately we arrived back at the lane just as the farmer was wanting access for contractors with oversized trailers. [they were in a rush before tomorrow’s potential heavy rain] We thought we had parked responsibly but could now appreciate his problem and were soon on our way. What a change however to meet a pleasant and chatty farmer, in the circumstances, to round off our great day out.

SHARP HAW – Skipton.

Sharp Haw.

Sharp Haw.

Sharp Haw is not quite the Matterhorn of Skipton but it is an eye catching shapely fell standing like an island in the Aire Valley. Driving across from the west this morning its numerous peaks promised a day of exploration. Dragging The Pieman away from his garden we parked at the start of the track saving a couple of miles walking in the day. On our last visit we had just walked out of his house in Skipton but I think we were both feeling lazy today. Instead of following the bridleway over Flasby Fell we headed over rough ground to the rocky ridge overlooking Gargrave to make the most of the views. All around are familiar hills, nearby is the Embsay/Crookrise/Rylstone ridge whilst Waddington Fell, Longridge Fell and Pendle are prominent to the west. There is a birds eye view down the Aire Valley with its enclosing hills. As we made our way along the crest gritstone boulders littered the ground and there was evidence of chalky visits, UKC now lists over 200 boulder problems for this fell. The Pieman showed me a particularly nice slab which he used to solo as he passed on his regular fell run. A quick ascent had me pleased. Next stop was across some boggy ground to the shapely summit and trig point, this was already occupied by two girls so we dropped down through the woods and found a classy metal bench for lunch and putting the world to right. [Memorial to a Helen Handley a local artist and politician].

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Waddington Fell with Gargrave below.

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Waddington Fell with Gargrave below.

Coming out of the woods we went through Flasby hamlet, all of six houses, and into the parkland of the Hall. All well manicured English scenery.  A short stretch on the road took us past the stately Eshton Hall  where my guide for today had attended when it was a school, he thinks it is apartments now. After a few fields we were on the towpath of the Leeds – Liverpool canal for a couple of miles back towards Skipton. A friend lives on a barge here but I think the other side of Gargrave. Uphill lanes were followed through the scattered houses of Thorlby and Stirton where most of the farms have been upgraded to exclusive living. More interestingly by the road side is a ‘Tin Tabernacle’, a disused Methodist chapel built with corrugated iron probably at the beginning of the 20th century. The Pieman can remember his father auctioning off the harvest festival products for chapel funds many years ago. I wonder how long this building will last and if it is listed, you don’t see many now.

Eshton Hall.

Eshton Hall.

So if you are in this area maybe eschew the higher hills and explore this rocky island.

 

A plethora of bilberries.

As I parked up at Kemple End  little groups of bending figures dotted the fell side, they are clutching  plastic containers and their purple fingers announce their activity – bilberry picking. We are all eating a lot of BLUEBERRIES these days, they are commercially grown, are widely available in our shops and keep for several  days. Their close relative the BILBERRY [WHINBERRY or WHORTLEBERRY]  Vaccinium sp. grows wild and being much softer doesn’t keep so is better known by the foragers amongst us. From July onwards on Longridge Fell the low bushes are covered in purple berries which I must admit are fiddly to pick but are delicious to eat.

 

In southern France they are known as myrtille, in Italy mirtillo and are commonly found in local markets and delicious tarts. Professional collectors are seen out in the hills using wooden combs to quickly harvest large amounts which are pooled in large canisters which are carried down later in the day. It all looks hard work.

I drop down into the quarry where the other collectors don’t venture and am able to pick at leisure on laden bushes. I quickly fill a small container before a spot of bouldering on rather damp rock this morning. Mouthful’s of berries intersperse problems. The bell heather is just coming into flower and the flowering blackberries promise abundant fruit in a month or so.

 

I remember summer days’ climbing in the Lakes on multi pitch routes where every belay ledge was covered in ripe bilberries, scrumptious.

Oh it’s started to rain again, better get home and bake that pie.

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.

DSC00584

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/

Oh Happy Day – Hutton Roof Climbing.

Why don’t you click to play whilst reading  –

This was the summer we never had. Perfect blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind. Since my last trip to climb in the lakes I’ve been busy helping my son with his garden and pretending to do a bit of bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge, subsequently I’m knackered. But arrangements were made and we found ourselves parked up in the hamlet of Hutton Roof, remarking on the number of renovated cottages. The path up to the crags above the village seemed longer than we remembered – don’t they all. The bracken was high and the  ways not clear, one of our party spent an hour or so wandering the hillside looking for the rocks. By then Rod and I, having bypassed the difficult South America Wall, had soloed a dozen or so short routes in sectors  Cave and the recently cleaned Sunny Wall. The climbing here is more soloing than true bouldering, and that was the order of the day.  The rock is remarkable limestone with abundant jugs and water-worn pockets just asking to be climbed, as the photos show. Alan turned up with his own video crew [father-in-law] and set too with enthusiasm [first time out for awhile]. A group of other climbers were leading some of the longer climbs on Sector Ronson Kirkby and when Barry eventually emerged from the jungle I led him up some of these. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed ambience – this was a magic day’s climbing and socialising. Simple pleasures.

Barry is in there somewhere.

Barry is in there somewhere.

South America Wall.

South America Wall.

Rod - Cave area.

Rod – Cave area.

Alan - Ronson Kirkby.

Alan – Ronson Kirkby.

The popular Ronson Kirkby Area.

The popular Ronson Kirkby Area.

Barry - the lost man of Borneo.

Barry – the lost man of Borneo.

What have you done today? Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

 

Bouldering the start of Tweeter.

Bouldering the start of Tweeter…..

… a little higher.

Press to play….

Sorry about the pun.

You have to grasp the day sometimes, the weather is not kind and it is raining this morning as I chat over  the phone to Mark. I’m hoping to finish off some boulder problems that I’ve been looking at in a local quarry. Have to admit I need some moral and physical support –  Mark is up for it later in the day. When we arrive the rocks are still a little damp but that only adds to the uncertainty of the outcome. The first problem is too high ball for me and I rope up and take some gear. Somehow the boulder start feels so much harder with a  rope and I come down for a rest and contemplation. I have to stand on a hidden sloper and it felt so insecure. At my next effort I’m soon committed and arrive sketchily at the  break and welcome ‘friends’.

“Reflections of the fears I know I’ve left behind, I step out of the ordinary … I’m on my way can’t stop me now”.

The top is within reach but again the footholds are poor, pulling on small creases and then mantelshelfing sees me up. Maybe VS 5a. But I’m pleased to have succeeded on an obvious line here. It now has a name – Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

Mark then shows me how to boldly top out on my reachy problem on the far left wall – giving a quality V3. I don’t really understand these grades, feels hard. High Water Mark.

We both fail on a traverse line I’m particularly keen to finish – next time.

So what have I done today – still buzzing from the the the first route up the tower, great moves and no falls. Plus Mark polished off another new problem. This is the essence of climbing – pushing yourself into the unknown, no matter how small, and reading the rock for a successful outcome.

Simple pleasures.

Another problem.

Another problem.

 

 

RETURN TO WINDGATHER.

I’ve always had a soft spot for climbing at Windgather even though the horrendous roads around Manchester and Stockport have to be negotiated. Many a day washed out in the Peak has been salvaged by a visit here on the way home. At one time whilst I was stocking my garden I often visited Dunge Valley Gardens, in the next valley, to view their Himalayan display. Then, car boot stuffed with plants, I would drive up to Windgather for a couple of hours soloing. It is surprising how much you can do in that time on this friendly crag, it is only a minute from the road and the buttresses are 10m high at the most. Plus you have lovely vistas over the Cheshire countryside.

Mark had never been so today we braved the late morning traffic and arrived to find nearly every parking spot taken. The weather has been so poor of late that the chance of a fine afternoon brought everyone out. There are always ‘groups’ in situ on the most popular buttresses and a scattering of boulderers and their mats completed the scene, but we soon found some free space.

Of course it was very windy, it always is!

Despite its popularity, it has been climbed on for a 100years, the well worn routes are not as slippy as imagined as the grit is of such good quality. The escarpment crops out of the hill top at a very agreeable angle and we were soon enjoying all manner of routes. Friendly cracks, thoughtful slabs and steep but juggy walls, all with good protection and nothing harder than VS.

Mark on Centre Route.

Mark on Centre Route.

The fine High Buttress Arête.

The fine High Buttress Arête.

Tackling the nose on Director.

Tackling the nose on Director.

By climbing into the early evening we had the best of the sunshine and traffic free roads for the journey home. A very satisfying trip with a dozen or so routes done.

Evening light.

Evening light.

 

THREE MEN AND A MAP – The Limestone Link.

The Limestone Link [LL] is a 13mile walk between Arnside and Kirkby Lonsdale. The plan involved two cars, I met The Rockman and The Teacher already parked up at Arnside and then drove us in my car to Kirkby Lonsdale. This meant we had lots of last-minute decisions to make ensuring all gear and essentials were in the right car at the right time and place, not easy for our blurred minds first thing. We had the 1:25000 map marked with the route for the west end but not for the east, One of our party suggested we wouldn’t need the latter as the route would be well waymarked but last evening I spent a bit of time on the computer and printed out a segment around Kirkby.

There was ample free parking at the popular Devil’s Bridge, our staring point. As we arrived we were swamped by hundreds of teenagers, admittedly well behaved and friendly, all going for a walk – surely not the Limestone Link!  A teacher informed us, as 800 marched past, that it was their annual charity 20k walk fortunately in the other direction over the Barbon Fells. Hope they had a good day, the weather was perfect for us all. As calm descended we had time for coffee and a look over the bridge at the attractive River Lune flowing over limestone slabs.

We thought it strange there were no LL signs or markers to be seen as we left the bridge across a park. Within a few yards The Teacher realised his boots weren’t comfy as he had forgotten the insoles, back to the car to change into trainers, fortunately taken. Quickly climbing into fields on vague paths we were soon clustered round my little piece of inadequate photocopy. The ‘route’ seemed to be following a limestone ridge so we just kept to that as much as possible, we knew we were heading to Hutton Roof.  Behind us Ingleborough stood proud as usual, ahead was more gentle rolling countryside. A couple of diversions to avoid hay being cut and a bull saw us walking up the surprisingly steep lane into Hutton Roof. I was more familiar with the territory here as this was once a regular spot to come bouldering on the limestone outcrops up the hill. But the paths were overgrown with bracken and my memory faded, out came the real map and even the compass for onward progress. Have to admit it was delightful, once out of the bracken, on the flower-strewn limestone with views back over the outcrop towards Ingleborough. Northerly views to the Lakes etc were rather poor in the heat haze. A good spot for a snack.

A winding track through shrubs led on down to a lane below Holme Fell where we came across a LL sign, the first evidence we were on the correct route. Perversely within a hundred yards or so we were lost in a profusion of paths mostly going up Holme Fell, more clustering around the map and compass had us back on track over the side of the fell down the bridleway to the road. Looking back to the right was Farleton Fell another regular bouldering area from the past, we were surprised to see how far it appeared from the road. We were now in a sort of no-mans-land of M6, Railway and A6 between the limestone uplands.

We were glad to escape from an unpleasant loop on a busy road onto the tranquil canal side.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

Navigated safely through the surprisingly extensive village of Holme and onwards to Hale. Here things improved as we entered the limestone woods at Slack Head [our second LL signpost!]. There were unmarked footpaths everywhere through this delightful maze, at times directly on the bare limestone pavement. Little country lanes were crossed and eventually we found ourselves at the top of The Fairy Steps. Stopping for a drink we watched as walkers disappeared, laughing and grunting, into the cleft. If you don’t touch the sides you may see a Fairy and have a wish, I think you would have to be a fairy not to touch the sides. Yet another area from previous bouldering trips to reminisce over – we do a lot of reminiscing!  Down a rocky path to Hazelslack with its late 14thC Pele tower to ward off the Scots. A few more map readings and we were into Arnside and enjoying a pint at the pub overlooking the Lune and its viaduct. Coincidentally bumped into my old friend Conrad  [http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/] family and friends, they had just returned from their regular Thursday walk.

So the LImestone Link has provided us with a lovely social day’s walk over interesting terrain and with wide-ranging views. It can be done in trainers! The road walking near Holme could have been avoided by a traverse of Farleton Fell and more canal walking. As a whole it doesn’t seem to be well used, particularly in the East and there is an almost total lack of any signing or way-marking. No big problem but thank God we took a map.

Time to rest.

                                                          Time to rest.