Tag Archives: Bouldering

Simply passing time.

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.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, and arguably favourite, climbing partners, Dor, 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 foot ledge 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 repeatedly 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 grey
you still got something to say”     Traveling Wilburys.

Thanks Dor XXX

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  –

Bouldering and diversions in Croasdale.

Heart of Bowland – Croasdale. Bullstones bouldering.

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.

 

 

 

PIKES AND PITS.

I suppose hill is the commonest term used  for a summit in England. [lets for the sake of this post forget Wales and Scotland]. But there are regional varieties, in the north fells are prominent, further south there are  moors, downs and plains.                                                   

Pike is another version, which in the dictionary comes from from the Old English pīc or point,                                                                                                                                                             So –   a pointed or conical hill, a point,  a spike or fish with reference to the shape of its jaw – you get the idea.                                                                                                                                           [Which is the southernmost pike in England? I don’t know the answer, somebody will.]

Today I visited Rivington Pike which fits the dictionary definition perfectly. The weather however wasn’t perfect, overcast for much of the day.

Meeting The Rockman and The Teacher at Lower Rivington Barn at 10am seemed no problem until well on the road there I realised I’d forgotten the OS map, back on track I seemed to be lost in the lanes out of Chorley, how come I ended up in Morrison’s car park?                                 It was fortuitous that I had returned home for the map as those two didn’t possess one. However we didn’t need a map to follow all the tourists up the marked tracks through the Terraced Gardens in Lever Park, constructed by local Bolton boy Lord William Lever of Port Sunlight soap fame and fortune. What a benefit to Bolton these green spaces have become. First stop was the Pigeon Tower and then onto the Rivington Pike, crowned by an 18th century hunting  tower built on the site of an ancient beacon.

We were the only walkers who ventured further across the peaty wasteland to the Winter Hill, 456m, with its communication towers one at over 1000ft dwarfing the trig point. The views were only average as the sky was still overcast. The Bolton Football stadium was prominent but the Pennines and Welsh hills were there.

A decent track goes SE down Smithhills Moor to a path above a deep clough [another Northern word]. We found ourselves in Brownstones Quarry for lunchtime sandwiches. A lad bouldering on Ash Pit Slabs, including the thin Digitation, gave us entertainment. We came down Coal Pit Lane and emerged onto Colliers Row. As well as gritstone quarries this whole area is riddled with coal pits. These were worked from the 18th century on both small and medium scale. Filled in shafts are found and many spoil heaps occur, a look at satellite maps details some of these. We walked along a paved lane used for access to pits, the stones were grooved from the coal trucks of the last centuries.

A diversion over Two Lads, confusingly there are three stone cairns, possibly a Saxon burial ground. We found little paths, unmarked on the map, down deep wooded cloughs and were soon back with the crowds on the long tree lined drive in Lever Park.There was an excellent display of Foxgloves by the path.


 

 

 

I have to climb a steep hill!

The balding Kemple End of Longridge Fell.

The balding Kemple End of Longridge Fell.

An early morning phone call – “I have to climb a steep hill!“, not exactly an emergency but  it needed a response. My friend Mark seems to be having problems with his back and hips [aren’t we all] and was under the orders of his physio.

“OK, see you soon”  was my response trying to think of a suitable steep hill. If you have ever cycled up Kemple End you will agree it is steep, and gets steeper. As a coincidence today is the start of the Tour de France and there seemed to be loads of cyclists on the roads. In a hour or so we are parked near Higher Hodder Bridge at the bottom of the said hill. Mark was pleased with his progress up the incline. Near the top we left the road on a public footpath into the fields to visit an ancient cross and recover our breath.   A quick look into Kemple End  where we have climbed together in the past and then we threaded our way down fields to reach the River Ribble.  I am reminded of my Longridge Skyline Walk which comes up this way towards it’s end after 40 hard miles.  Also every time I cross this creaky footbridge I think of my, sadly departed, climbing friend Pete, the bridge engineer extraordinary.   A short walk by the river brought us back to Higher Hodder bridge.

We talked of mice and men and arranged to meet up soon for a climb providing his physio agrees.

As I post this the sun is breaking through the mist on Longridge Fell promising a lovely morning up at Kemple.

Bouldering and diversions in Croasdale.

I can’t believe that the last time I was up here was Nov 2012, where does time go? Of course I did little last year.

Heart of Bowland – Croasdale. Bullstones bouldering.

What a contrast in weather conditions, today was hot and sunny. Had intended  climbing in The Lakes but my partner phoned in sick. Quick change of plan – a small sack with rock shoes and chalk, sandwiches were already made. I always enjoy the Roman road over to Slaidburn particularly the stretch over Marl Hill where Ingleborough and Penyghent come into view. I notice the road surfaces have deteriorated significantly over the last two winters.

Parked up at my usual little spot , sun screen applied and off up the old lane [still the same Roman one]. Almost immediately I came across a new memorial stone relating to plane crashes on these hills in the war and the airmen who lost their lives. Set me wondering whether there are any pieces of wreckage still about and are they documented. Somewhere I have a book  – quick trip to the bookshelf unearths  – High Ground Wrecks 2  A survey of historical aircraft remains on the hills of the British Isles. David J Smith. My copy was bought in 1979 but has no publishing details, there is a more modern edition. True enough all the local crashes are listed with grid references, expeditions for another day. The RAF Mountain Rescue Service of course originates from those times.

Round the corner another new installation appeared, a white obelisk with witch references. Witch 400 turns out to be an exploration of  the heritage of the Lancashire Witches, the 400th anniversary of their trial and execution [1612], and the enduring issue of persecution today. A walk has been established from the Pendle area to Lancaster Castle which coincides with my route today. Another expedition for another day, the list grows. The statues are inscribed with extracts of a poem by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.                                                                      http://lancashirewitches400.org/

The third diversion was Hen Harriers, this area was a few years ago the English stronghold for these wonderful birds of prey. Unfortunately their prey probably includes grouse – not a good idea on a commercial grouse shooting estate. Hen Harrier numbers have  plummeted mi lord. So it was uplifting today to see a dedicated 24hr watch on a nesting site. Camouflaged tents, well done whoever you are, nobody will get near. I saw in the distance peregrines, ravens, buzzards and kestrels. A highlight was watching a kestrel stooping onto some poor vole or mouse – almost got a great photo. Memo,must get a better camera to carry around with me.

At last I arrived at the rocks – time for a sandwich. Sat under the slabs of Taurus Boulders [there is a definite Bull theme here] I notice that some of the pebbles have been snapped off – sign of more traffic or clumsy boulderers. I climbed up the steep tower of Bully Off, this was the first route Alan and I climbed way back when the game keepers were about and we were supposed to be keeping a low profile. Alan couldn’t wait. Onwards I soloed a few problems at the Pinnacle and Cave area but felt intimidated by the Clough End Boulder, looked far too serious. Found the spring for a much needed top up of water.

Made the arduous ascent up to the complex Bullock Stones and headed for the  brilliant Ace of Diamonds slab – not a hold on it.

Traverse across to Stirk Slabs , a quick trip up the arete of Bullet Proof and then along to admire the architecture of Pipe Dream, no ascent today. A final flourish on the more friendly Calf Stones and then it was time for home. Sorry about the diversions, the bird watcher was taking a welcome sleep when I passed.

As I type this my finger ends are still sore and I have a feeling I will ache tomorrow.

For further info and a downloadable guide see – https://bowlandclimber.com/2014/02/24/bullstones-bouldering-guide/

AIN’T NO SUNSHINE.

Stonyhurst College.

                                                                                Stonyhurst College.

Sunday mornings can be depressing when you wake up to rain and dull weather. This tune came into my head and I couldn’t get rid of it all day.  Listen whilst reading…

So I was late setting off to do a walk – felt I had to have some exercise once the rain eased. Most of my walks up Longridge Fell are from the NW side where I live but as the wind was from that direction today I decided on an approach from the gentle south side. Parked up near the Bailey Arms in Hurst Green. There is a lovely path that drops down to and then follows Dean Brook past several old Bobbin Mills. As one walks beside the stream there is ample evidence of diversions to form mill races. These have been cut into the soft sandstone and give an evocative view of life here in the past.

A little further up the dean over to the right is a small former quarry, Sand Rock, where a few years ago Simon and I climbed an E2 5c route up the middle of the main cliff. Looking at it today it looks desperate and in need of a clean, but there would be some possibility of bouldering on this face. [Robin please note].

Anyhow today that wasn’t high on my objectives, I was happy just to harvest some wild garlic leaves for supper tonight. The path crosses a bridge where I often played poo sticks with my children and then grandchildren. Climbing out of the valley you come to the 16th-century hunting lodge of the Shireburn family, original occupants of Stoneyhurst, its buttressed structure evidence to its longevity.  An adjoining building functions as a camping barn.

The track continued with views up to the fell.

Passing Crowshaw Quarry, [scene of some recent bouldering exploits] over the road and into the trees of Longridge Fell. There has been a lot of felling recently because of the Rhizosphaera needle-cast fungus. The hillside looks like the Somme battlefield. But everywhere new life is springing up with baby trees, will they be fungus free?

Up through the woods to near Green Thorn farm, where there are some magnificent beech trees. This is the one I want to climb  – if you have read Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places you will know what I mean.

I didn’t go up to the trig point today but headed for ‘Sam’s Best View’, a northern view over the Chipping valley to the Bowland Fells. A shaft of sunlight pierced the sky whilst I was there. Back south down through the trees to emerge onto the road and then a footpath I have never been on. I ended up lost, misplaced in the garden of Fell Side Farm. With no help from any waymarks, I made my way down a delightful small valley which brought me out onto the road heading to Stonyhurst College. The college was founded in 1593, and located at Stonyhurst Hall in 1794. Today it provides expensive boarding and day education to approximately 450 boys and girls. The church of St. Peter’s was open today and I was able to view the interior and the stained-glass windows.

A stroll through fields below the cricket pitch brought me out next to the Alms Houses in Hurst Green, These were originally built on Longridge Fell at Kemple End but ‘moved’ to the village after the war.

So despite the poor weather and lack of sunshine, this little walk provided a few hours’ diversion, I hardly saw anyone on the fell, which is unusual.

ROCKING ON AGAIN.

Crowshaw Quarry.

Crowshaw Quarry.

Since my last post I’ve survived a heavy week of birthday celebrations [21 again!] and a trip along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan [more of that later] but ‘mysteriously’ gained about 7 pounds in weight. I blame the latter on the Uzbek Plov, surely not the vodka!?  So with the arrival of all this beautiful warm sunny weather I had to get out and flex my muscles on the rock. Craig Y Longridge has had all the usual suspects training away – I struggled. The strong winds also had the unfortunate trick of blowing your mat away just when you were getting scared of the drop. So I found my way up to the recently developed Crowshaw Quarry for some new boulder problems on the cleaned low wall to the left. These were in perfect condition in the morning sunshine yesterday but unfortunately my soft skin, unused to climbing gritstone, soon produced a couple of finger flaps.Taping up always unravels for me and bleeding soon ensured leading to an early lunch – will be back.

Starting Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

Starting Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

But that was only bouldering. Because of my toe operation its over a year since I climbed with Rod, or did any routes. I could not let this warm April weather go by without getting out onto some proper climbs. Over the phone the choice was Giggleswick or Wallowbarrow. I went for the former to avoid the long drive, could have been a mistake. Today the sun was soon warming the limestone which I found to be far steeper and more polished than on my last visit. We had the whole of Giggleswick to ourselves, maybe everyone else had gone to Wallowbarrow.

Thanks to Rod’s leading I managed to second half a dozen 5’s – [memo for tonight – no food and definitely no vodka]. The day was superb and the heat built up as the afternoon progressed.

Over the garden wall.

Over the garden wall.

From the anchor chains I had time to appreciate the situation in the valley and had some superb views over to Pendle and up to Buck Haw Brow. The motor bikes were screaming past.

Golf course, Giggleswick and Pendle.

Golf course, Giggleswick and Pendle.

Buck How Hill.

Buck Haw Brow.

Could be stiff in the arms tomorrow.

BACK ON HOME GROUND (Should that be bog)

After two weeks out in a hot and sunny Spain it came as a shock to find myself walking across a boggy Lancashire hillside.

North of Great Hill.

North of Great Hill.

I had not been to Anglezarke for several years, which is where I had arranged to meet Alan. The large carpark has now a barrier on it which is closed at 5pm and that made me nervous, would we be back in time. At least it hadn’t become pay and display. We opted for roadside parking, as had many more, wondering about the local authority’s parking policies for what is a popular walking area. When I think about it – it’s probably water board land.

Golden Tower, Anglezarke.

Golden Tower, Anglezarke.

A bright Autumn morning …….. as we wandered along by the reservoir joggers, dog walkers and mountain bikers all mingled happily. Walking under Stronsey Bank we reminisced over summer evenings there. Several of us would meet every Wednesday evening after work in one or other Lancashire quarry for a climbing session. Wilton, Anglezarke, Denham, Troy and Cadshaw were the most regular venues. They were all popular with climbers, less so nowadays I fear. The rock up in Stronsey was not the best but it had a pleasant outlook. Interestingly a new guidebook to Bouldering in Lancashire has just been published and smaller bits of rocks scattered about these hillsides are given prominence.

Stronsey Bank.

Stronsey Bank.

The paths follow the Goyte ‘canal’ which links the reservoirs here to those near Abbey village.

White Coppice.

White Coppice.

Soon past the delightful White Coppice cricket pitch and on into Brinscal Woods.

Within this setting there are many derelict buildings. Their origin has always been a mystery to me but no longer, I’ve just found this wonderful little website dedicated to the history of the area. In detail and with good photos it delves into the origins of the ruins hereabouts. Fascinating, well done whoever you are.

http://www.white-coppice.co.uk

Confusion set in for the next hour as we tried to navigate eastwards across the fell, walls didn’t seem to be going the right way and the farm ruins were all in the ‘wrong’ place. Solomon’s Temple ( despite the name only some farm ruins) was our saviour, from there we picked a way across the surprisingly boggy ground.

Solomon's Temple.

Solomon’s Temple.

Crossing the A675 we disappeared into more waterlogged ground in the woods on the other side. A stream in a glen was a pleasant diversion before we started the climb up to Great Hill.

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Looking back to Great Hill.

Again we passed several ruined farms in outstanding situations, maybe the hard living there would not have been outstanding!.

By the time we were back at the car tiredness was creeping on, we were glad there was no panic with a 5 o’clock parking deadline. The nights are drawing in and it was distinctly cool. We called in at an old haunt, The Bay Horse, for a pint and discussion as to how far we had actually walked today!  Maybe 10 maybe 12 miles, but they were rough and boggy so we were satisfied. (More so now I’m able to read the history of the land)

IN BETWEEN.

Recuperated  from the French GR70 trip, my blistered little toe is on the mend, the garden back in some sort of shape and the family checked over.  So what next?   It doesn’t take long to get restless.

The weather has been good and dry until now and I have been tempted to go bouldering again. Started off with an easy hour up at Kemple End one misty morning doing the usual traverses. On arrival in the quarry I often disturb deer but today it was a pair of Barn Owls swooping between the trees like white silhouettes.

A misty Kemple Quarry

A misty Kemple Quarry

Another morning was spent in Crowshaw quarry on a low wall to the left of the main face. Some good problems are emerging here but I need a spotter for my best project.

A sunny Crowshaw Quarry.

A sunny Crowshaw Quarry.

I recently received a video from Robin Mueller highlighting some of the harder problems on that main face, quite an artistic effort.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2M1Oc3G-JQ

A couple of visits to Craig Y had me feeling fitter and the big left toe didn’t feel too painful. I caught up with the chat and felt more positive about further climbing. Of course the weather has now taken a turn for the worse, heavy rain most days and Dianne’s forecast is not good…

So out come the sunny Spanish maps and a little planning sees me booked on a flight to Barcelona to hopefully complete my marathon, 2000k, GR7 walk up to Andorra before the snows arrive. I’ve only about 10 more days of walking and I’ve spent a lot of time this last couple of days trying to break them down so that I should have accommodation every night, as I want to avoid carrying camping gear. It’s not been easy as Catalan is the language of this area and my simple Spanish doesn’t seem to get me far over the phone, thank heavens for email and booking.com!  I shall see how successful I’ve been once on the trail. There look to be some interesting Catalan villages and some fairly high mountainous passes to cross. Watch this space.

 

DEJA VU ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

I didn’t make it to Pendle as planned. On Saturday morning, a good friend phoned to say he was in the area and fancied a short walk in the afternoon. We caught up over a light lunch and debated our destination. He had never been to the top of Longridge Fell, despite knowing the climbing crags dotted over the fell. So decision made. We parked near Cardwell House exactly as I had done yesterday and I took him on an extended version of the same walk. The weather today was perfect and the views much clearer, so I got some better shots of Chipping Vale, the Bowland Fells and the Three Peaks. The scenery, especially with the heather mentioned yesterday, was stunning and he seemed very impressed with our short tour of the fell and forest.

A clearer view of Chipping Vale.

A clearer view of Chipping Vale.

The Trough hidden in the Bowland Fells.

The Trough hidden in the Bowland Fells.

Despite him being a philosopher, our talk drifted to past climbing days which we have shared, both being out of action at present. In general climbers have a vivid memory of routes done, probably because of the intensity of the moment, and a little reminiscing does no harm. I have been able to find an old photo of him climbing a problem on Bullstones which I’m emailing to him.

Mark at Bullstones. ?2008

Mark at Bullstones. [2003 A. Bates]

Whilst up there I had time to show him Crowshaw Quarry where there has been some recent bouldering activity. It was good to be out enjoying the company and the sunny weather as tomorrow we are going to get the ‘back-end’ of Hurricane Bertha. Shame because one of my grandsons is in Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100mile event.

THE HEART OF BOWLAND.


Distant Wolfhole Crags.

Another day out walking with the lads from Bolton was planned with a 9am, we enjoy a lie in these days, rendezvous just off the M6 junction. To ring the changes I had planned a round of the fells from Tarnbrook and was in sole charge of navigating and the map.

To my horror, as I drove to the motorway,  I realised the said map was still on my kitchen table — necessitating a rapid turn around and subsequently a ribbing for the delayed start. The twisting lanes leading  from the next motorway junction north seemed to go on forever, more than my memory of them. The hamlet of Tarnbrook thankfully hadn’t changed at all, though. (PS, Parking here has recently become a problem.)

We were greeted with a warm sun and clear skies, which promised well for views on the fell tops. . Most of the land around here is now open access from the CRoW act of 2000. Prior to that we were evicted several times whilst climbing on the rocks up at Thorn Crag, lying high above Tarnbrook. This is grouse shooting land previously strictly restricted. A sad observation is that the estate has now built several ugly ‘roads’ through these remote hills. The other observation is that one doesn’t see the Hen Harriers or Peregrines any more.

I came across this interesting article and debate about raptor persecution in the area….     http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2014/01/06/politics-is-still-undermining-raptor-conservation-in-lancashires-forest-of-bowland/

Getting back to the walk we headed off in an Easterly direction on what is marked as The Wyre  Way past a few old farms and onto rougher, virtually, trackless ground leading up onto Brennand Hill. Slow progress necessitated a coffee break in a clough  on the way.

Sign of the times.

Eventually we reached the stoney outcrop marked on the map as Millers House. Here we found the odd abandoned millstone hewn from the gritstone — what a life it must have been up here chipping away.

Noticeably there were far fewer gulls in the area than before, I think culling by the NWWB has reduced the upland breeding population.

Onwards brought us to the fence on the broad ridge and a diversion for a lunch stop at Wolfhole Crag.  This must be one of the most remote bouldering venue in England, but there was some chalky evidence of recent ascents of the harder problems.   http://www.lakesbloc.com/guides/wolfhole-crag-guide.pdf

Our own clumsy ascents would be better not recorded.

The day had changed and was now dull and cold, so views to the Three Peaks and the Lakes were poor. The never ending plod westwards along the boggy ridge didn’t have much merit in these conditions. Crossing one of the aforementioned, incongruous estate ‘roads’ we came across several areas of heather reseeding and stabilisation of the peat bogs. Respite came at the first trig point on Ward’s Stone, 561m. We realised that we had been walking steadily uphill for the best part of 4 hours to reach this point! A welcome flat area led to the next trig point, 560m. The views to Morecambe Bay were sadly limited but the Wyre estuary was clear, that’s where all the water from up here goes.

An unusual benchmark.

Our planned route continuing westwards to the more interesting Grit Fell and Clougha Pike was curtailed to another day as we dropped off the fell and down the endless lane into Tarnbrook.

Descent into Tarnbrook.

12miles over this rough territory was enough for us today. We saw only two other walkers all day and that on a Bank Holiday weekend!  We will be back for Grit Fell and Clougha Pike.