Tag Archives: Climbing

CADSHAW – FAIRY BATTERY.

By the time I arrived they were setting up the ropes – yes we have succumbed to top roping with the excuse of our too many birthdays. I was roped in, literally, when Dave phoned at 9am to say he and Rod were heading for a short day’s climbing at Cadshaw in the hills south of Darwen. I always enjoyed climbing there. By the time I had breakfasted, boiled an egg for a sandwich, cut my toenails, found my rock boots, filled my flask and put petrol in the car I was behind schedule, but no matter I was not expecting to climb for very long.

Motorways are becoming busier and busier and Darwen town centre was a nightmare. I eventually parked up alongside their cars. The OS map shows the ?natural crag as the Fairy Battery. Fairy Buttery or Fairy Buttress the origin is unknown. I decided to walk in a slightly longer way than usual to cross the sometimes tricky Cadshaw Brook by a footbridge downstream. This was a mistake as the path on the north side of Yarnsdale was overgrown and little used. Colourful bluebells diverted my attention. A cuckoo was calling in the woods above. I eventually made it through to below the rocks, there wasn’t a fairy in sight.

Not to be repeated.

I tied on and made my way up the first easy route – West Buttress, this was first climbed back in the 1930s certainly in big boots. The rock has become much more polished over the years. The route further to the right was a classic hand jamming crack – I noticed a few scars on the back of my hands as I relaxed in the post climb bath. I had to be lowered off the next climb, unable to hold on long enough to get my legs up without straining my left knee ligaments. I’m climbing basically with one leg!

West buttress.


Hand jamming.

Time for lunch.

The next two climbs on the higher east face were enjoyable on more positive rock where one could move around finding the best hand and footholds.

I used to solo all these routes before turning to harder things – how times change. Looking at an old guide book I see that I have led all the climbs here but one – Druids Direct E3 6a. How times change indeed.

Those harder routes, Druids Face.

I didn’t retrace my difficult inward route but joined Dave and Rod crossing the stream dry footed, walking out well satisfied with the day.

*****

A RIGHT GOOD TRUNDLE.

When I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago I called myself ‘bowlandclimber’. My first post incidentally was information on the climbing at Kemple End Quarry on Longridge Fell. I was out climbing most days, either in the mountains of Wales or the Lake District, the edges of the Peak District or Yorkshire, the Lancashire quarries or the bouldering in Bowland. What great friendships shared. As somebody said – “we had it all”

Time moves on, life evolves I’ve lost a great many friends in those years, that is the worst thing. My climbing unfortunately has taken a back seat for all sorts of reasons – OK I’m getting old and the joints aren’t what they used to be. But I’m not giving up that easily.

Today I find myself hanging from an abseil rope doing a spot of ‘cleaning’ in Kemple End. I love it up here. Those views over the Ribble Valley, the deer hiding in the quarry floor, the fresh green growth of bracken, the barn owl roosting across the other side, the thrill if anybody else is climbing here, the first chalked up handhold and the familiar movement across the rough rock, brushing off any loose dust.

Someone has reported, on a climbing forum, concerns about a hanging flake on one of the climbs – Birdy Brow for those familiar. I’ve soloed up and down this route, perhaps recklessly, for many years enjoying the positive layback moves on the flake’s edge. It has never moved.

I went back up there a few days ago and all seemed well but when you examined the flake carefully it was only balanced there by a bit of soil. There was no direct attachment to the quarry face. I felt a pang of conscience – what if someone was injured or worse, killed on this route. I was responsible for finding the route and publishing it to the climbing network. There it was in print in the Lancashire guide book, it even has a star.

Here’s a great photo of Phil Gillespie soloing it – (?copyright UK Climbing)

I’m back today intending to remove the flake which must weigh a ton. Hence, the abseil rope. I’ve brought a crow bar, but it only moves the flake a little, Maybe it is more secure than I thought, but once started I may have made the situation worse. Huffing and puffing I realise I don’t have the strength to prise it from its resting place. My car is only 50 m away and in the boot is the jack – never used in earnest before. Is this a job for the AA? 

I return and carefully place the carjack between rock and flake, a few turns of the screw and I can see results. Slowly the gap is widening, and I have time to ensure my safety and recover the jack intact as all that rock crashes to the ground. With a touch of sadness I realise the flake is no more. But there is one hell of a mess of broken rock on the quarry floor and some revision due to the climbs here.

All looks well on Birdy Brow.

 

Well maybe not.

 

That’s a lot of rock to fall down on you.


Jack in place. Does this photo make you feel dizzy?

 

Going.

Gone.

Down below.

A new scar to climb.

As I said my first post ever was about climbing at Kemple End, so it was fitting that this, my 1000th post, was on the same locality. Unfortunately I managed to delete a past post into the ether yesterday, so technically this post no 999, but I’m not having that. 

This is my 1000th post – maybe it is time to stop?

NO GO AT NOGGARTH.

I’m resting up with my latest injury – a medial ligament tear of my knee suffered in a cycle accident on the promenade at Blackpool. For the boring details read here.

Dave phones to say he and Rod are going climbing at Noggarth this sunny afternoon. I can’t resist even if only to meet up with my mates.

Dave should be in France at The Fell and Rock Club’s Easter climbing meet. As he and his wife left the hotel at 6am to board the ferry in Portsmouth she fell onto her right elbow, they made light of it and drove onto the boat. On reaching their cabin the elbow was hurting more and stiffening. A visit to the ship’s nurse confirmed that it was more serious than first thought and a recommendation that rather than travel to France a visit to the local A and E would be sensible. They disembarked to take a taxi ride to hospital, their car by now deep in the hold, irretrievable and shortly on the way to France. I’ll pass over the gory details of her surgical treatment involving plates and screws only to say they are safely back in Lancashire – hence the unexpected phone call today. The car had travelled back by itself.

We arrive at the cemetery parking simultaneously. There is no church in the vicinity, but we surmise, rightly or wrongly, that a cemetery must be attached to a religious seat. The short walk up to the extensive quarried area is a time to catch up with our various happenings. There are a couple of climbers already at work on the main slab.

I’m only here for the beer if there was any and take a back seat as they decide on our first route. Dave takes longer than usual working his way up the smooth often holdless slab. We don’t know the grade or name as it is a newcomer to our guide which has been rapidly put out of date by new developments here. I have a feeling, that I try to suppress, that this is going to be awkward.

It’s my turn, I struggle to bend my knee sufficiently to slip on my rock shoes. Not a good start. The first 10 feet are easy, but then most holds disappear, One has to put faith in one’s feet and bravely stand on minutiae to make progress. OK, in other situations, I’ve done all this before but my rustiness today is evident. Bloody hell I’ve got a rope above me guaranteeing my safety – just stand up. Slow progress is made as I protect my left knee and it’s ligaments from excessive strain. There comes a point halfway up when the only illusionary foothold, I’ve nothing for my hands, is high up on the left. I ask for a tight rope and slowly weight my left leg, the pain starts to impinge and is only relieved by standing on a handy nearby bolt. That is what is called cheating, and I’m not proud of it. No Go truthfully. The top is gained without further ado.

Dave high on the lead of route X.

We decide to move across to the main slab and the classic route, Garth, we’ve done before. I even soloed it in the past. Things have changed and where there was previously little protection bolts drilled into the rock have magically appeared. What was once a soul-searching lead has now been reduced to simple gymnastics with no real fear of harming oneself.  The jury is out on the ethics of this ‘levelling up – or down’ All I know is that the experience is not the same but as we are becoming creeping gates it is good to reach the top.

Our hero on Garth VS 4b.

I leave the others to more climbs whilst I slink off to ‘rest my knee’ and have a stroll across the quarry base to find more slabs uncovered  in recent months. They become smaller as I traverse right but even steeper and holdless. The other pair of climbers are trying a hard route. One for another time, I’m satisfied with my efforts today, even if I didn’t climb either route cleanly.

Something a little harder.

We wander back down the path past a magnificent apple blossom that I hadn’t noticed on the way up. It is good to be out on a beautiful spring day.

We were here last year also – NOGGARTH 35 YEARS LATER. | bowlandclimber

EASTER PARADE.

To mark the Easter visit of my family from Manchester a Chinese noodle lunch was enjoyed; and then whilst the physiotherapist was diagnosing my knee problem, resulting from that cycling incident last month, they exercised the dogs up on Longridge Fell. Back at home after coffee my three grandchildren were keen to do a little outside bouldering at the local unique Craig y Longridge. Where they live in Stretford is a bouldering gym, The Depot, which they regularly visit so a chance to get outside was eagerly anticipated. Despite the recent damp weather I was able to find dry rock to climb on and in my senior and injured role was happy to point them at the problems. Great to see them enjoying themselves.

By the time we got back the washing up had all been done. Perfect.

HAPPY EASTER.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – under Pendle.

Walk no. 33 in Mark Sutcliffe’s guide explores the foothills of Pendle from Downham. I was just able to park in the picture postcard village at 10am. The sunshine had brought everyone out to explore the surrounding limestone countryside. A large walking party was  manning up for perhaps an ascent of Pendle brooding above. Time to be on my way. This 5 mile stroll should be within my ever decreasing limits, the bad heel and bad back were still niggling me. On top of that my recent cycling tumble has left me with a painful ligament on the inside of my left knee. Anyhow, I’ve strapped up my knee, so I can enjoy the best of the Spring sunshine.

Familiar paths alongside Downham Beck  get me ahead of the crowds. Soon I was climbing up to Clay House the first of  several attractive  farmhouses on today’s walk.  There was no letup as I continued upwards, past a barn at Lane Head and then over the access lane to Hollins Farm. Up to Hecklin Farm where a diversion around to the right and then fields towards Ravens Holme. The wall stiles are solid, none of those namby-pamby metal gates with yellow catches, and marker posts have guided me through the fields. That’s how it should be.

Leaving by Downham Beck

C19th Clay House.

C18th Hollin’s Farm.

How much in a garden centre?

C17th Hecklin Farm.

C17th Raven’s Holme.

Spring is definitely in the air with lambs, blackthorn blossom, primroses and celandines all around.

Ups and downs in these folded foothills took me up to Throstle Hall Cottage. All the while Pendle gazed down on my slow progress. Whilst Mark’s directions have been spot on he has become confused with the names of the farms along here. A simple mistake for which there is no excuse. I was now on paths new to me as I descended towards Hill Foot farm. Now out onto open limestone pastures with little quarries all around. I emerged onto the lane by the defunct mill pond to Twiston Mill.  TWISTON_MILL.pdf (downhamvillage.org.uk)

Twiston Mill.

I couldn’t resist the short walk up the hill past the Lime Kiln to have a look into Witches Quarry, a favourite limestone venue of mine for years. The sun doesn’t get round to the face until late. Climbers were on one of the sustained HVS’s in the centre of the wall, The Spell. The routes here tend to have ‘witch’ themed names, this is Lancashire Witch country after all. I chatted for a while and then left as they were starting up the VS Thrutch. I was feeling a little envious as I walked down the lane and in fact the quarry could be seen from a fair bit of my ongoing track which surprised me as one tends to think of it being hidden from close up.

The Spell.

Thrutch.

Zoom back to the quarry half a mile away.

The paths I used were well trodden heading down the beck, but then  I crossed on a footbridge and climbed past a cottage, Springs, onto a higher ridge, possibly a Roman way, for a grand finale back to  Downham, now even busier with families enjoying the sunshine and ice creams from the little shop. I came in by the pretty cottages, pub and church.  All the while Pendle was proudly overlooking its gentle foothills. For more of Downham read here.

Springs.

An ideal walk for a perfect Spring day, though I don’t think I’ll be out for a while as my knee has played up.

*****


JUST FOR THE RECORD.

The weather this weekend has been dry and sunny, just the ticket to bring Craig Y Longridge into condition. I made a tentative step with my bouldering mat for the first time this year. A few others were doing the same, a good family venue, so there was the chance for some chat between the attempts to test our fitness. Mine is sadly lacking, not having climbed for 6 months, the others had been enjoying the delights of indoor walls over winter which makes a big difference. I played about for an hour or so, more putting some chalk on the holds rather than climbing them.

I made my retreat across the road for some bird watching on the small reservoir. Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe.

The weather is set fair…

LET’S LOOK AT SOME LIMESTONE.

I’ve not been far from base recently. There is a cousin, ‘the pieman’, living in Skipton whom I’ve not met up with for two years. Admittedly, he has phoned me on several occasions with a suggestion for a walk, but I have always declined with the excuse of injury. This can’t go on. It turns out he is suffering also, so when I suggest a short walk, on his home territory, the die is cast.

Yorkshire Limestone has been a favourite climbing venue for me over the years. Malham, Gordale, Attermire, Twistleton, Crumack Dale, Oxenber – the list goes on. The last time I visited the imposing Pot Scar the polish on the holds was unnerving, so in recent years, we retreated to the safer bolted climbs of Giggleswick. Why not revisit some of these venues on today’s walk.

There used to be a garage or was it a café on Buckhaw Brow above Settle, but now all is bypassed, and my mind is clouded. In the past, buses came this way, struggling up the hill from Settle. We are parked on the Craven Fault. Limestone high on the left and gritstone down below on the right where the land has slipped. My knowledge of geology is rudimentary.

The pieman’ is proud to display his vintage wool Dachstein Mitts, once an essential item of all climbers, famed for their warmth and water resistance. They had the added advantage that when winter climbing, they could virtually glue you to the ice. Are they still available?

The little roadside crag is examined, yes there would be routes on it, and then we are off along the airy escarpment. A path is followed, linking stiles in the substantial stone walls, with views down the fault to Settle. Up to our left are limestone cliffs with hidden caves, we are heading for Schoolboys Tower, a cairn associated with Giggleswick School down below. Stones were added to the cairn by pupils on their last, or was it their first, day. A smaller nearby cairn has been named Schoolgirls once the school had admitted the other sex.

Having reached the ‘tower’, looking a little dilapidated, we went in search of Schoolboys Cave down below on the steeper escarpment. A bit of scrambling, and we found the entrance to what was only a short cavern, curiosity satisfied we then peered into the more cavernous quarry nearby, now redundant.

What followed was a mistake. I wanted to link up with The Dales High Way coming out of Stainforth. The obvious way would have been to follow the River Ribble or even the quiet road up the valley from Stackhouse. No, I eschewed both for some cross-country  escapade involving some inelegant and illicit wall climbing. I hope the farmer is not reading this, although despite risking damage to his walls, our clothing and appendages, not a stone was dislodged.  As a diversion, we were treated to  excellent views of  the stately  Pen-y-ghent.

Things improved once we were on a signed path. Over the rise, the long escarpment of Smearsett Scar led us on. We started to meet more (sensible) walkers. The last time we were here, we climbed to the trig point on the Scar for its views, today we were less enthusiastic and settled into a wall for lunch. I regret not recording for historical evidence the size of ‘the pieman’s‘ sandwiches.

My eyes were scanning the cliffs of Pot Scar for routes often climbed. Will I ever return to those steep walls?

The farm at the head of Feizor was busy with cattle being let out onto the higher fields. We stood aside as the stockmen herded the cows, calves and a moody bull. Feizor was always a sleepy hamlet, but now there is a café and several holiday lets. Despite this, I think It will always be at the back of beyond.

As we gained height, looking back to Feizor the distinctive top of Ingleborough could be made out. New finger pointers show us the way back across clipped limestone grasslands to Buckhaw. We were both feeling the effects of a short but unintentionally fairly strenuous day.

Make that a splendid day.

*****


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, CONFUSED ON CROOKRISE.

                                                   Crookrise and Embsay Crag in the early morning.

*

Most of what I have to say today is irrelevant. Putin is focused on invading Ukraine on false premises, and a peaceful nation is being annihilated.

*

The object of the day was to reach the trig point on Crookrise at 415m. Sir Hugh has had an ongoing mission to visit all the 76 trig points on OS map 103, mainly in the NW part of Lancashire, although today we are in Yorkshire. This would be the final summit, and he duly touched the shining white pillar early in the afternoon, congratulations on another challenge completed.

Fortunately, we had chosen a blue sky day and the views were sparkling. In the background, on the picture above, is the lovely little ridge of  Sharp Haw on the edge of the busy Dales town of Skipton. Down the Aire valley was all floods. In a northerly direction, the monument on Rylstone was prominent and the rift of Deer Gallows showed up clearly, reminding me of a long day when we climbed on all six crags on this edge of Barden Moor with a lot of rough walking between them.

Our rendezvous on this occasion was the free car park in Embsay village to make a hopefully interesting circuit, it turned out to be a full day in the hills. Above the historic village, once busy with mills, is the shapely Embsay Crag, and this was our first objective, although at the time we hadn’t realised it. In my mind, the path traversed below it en route to the reservoir, but no, we were slowly guided onto the summit. And what a summit, surrounded by gritstone craglets with a 360  degree view. The vast interior of Barden Moor with Deer Gallows, distant Beamsley Beacon, Embsay and its reservoir directly below, even more distant Pendle and the fell wall leading up to the Crookrise summit. Along the valley below, a steam excursion was puffing on the short stretch of restored railway.

C18th Embsay Kirk.

 

C19th Embsay Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

 

Embsay Crag.

 

Beamsley Beacon and Eastby Crag.

Looking back to Beamsley Beacon and Eastby Crag.

 

Embsay Reservoir and sailing club.

A problem was how to reach the route up onto Crookrise without loosing too much height, we failed and followed a decent path down to the reservoir. This took us past a secluded ghyll complete with a lively stream, magic.

Rough ground to Crookrise (top right)

 

Back up to Embsay Crag.

I was glad of not carrying a full climbing rack and rope up the steep track, past the perfect little boulders where we used to stop off for some warm up entertainment before the main event. Sir Hugh had promised a nostalgic visit to Crookrise Crag after the celebratory trig visit

Heading up newly flagged path.

 

Trackside boulders.

 

First view of the crag over the wall.

 

That trig point.

 

Floods in the Aire Valley.

 My regular climbing partner years ago lived in Skipton, still does, so Crookrise, on his back door, was a frequent venue for our early struggles on gritstone, I knew it well. From the trig point I thought I saw a way down to the base of the rocks – but our first attempt, and second, and third, ever more precarious, only landed us into a world of moss and conifers, many of those precariously toppled by recent storms. Obviously too far west. Back up to the top, we retreated several times and yet tried again without success. This was jungle warfare that stretched Sir Hugh, and I felt embarrassed and responsible. Let’s sit down and have lunch was my best solution. I didn’t know it as well as I remembered. I tried to distract him with views across to the splendid crag at Deer Gallows.

A tight squeeze.

 

Pulling on heather.

 

Temporary escape, time for lunch.

 

Deer Gallows and Embsay Crag.

 

Zoom to Deer Gallows.

Composure restored, we climbed the wall onto the access track and headed down the fell, our tails between our legs. More stiles were passed and investigated without any obvious ways down, but the last seemed to ring a bell in my memory. I was over and looking down on the End Slab of the main crag. Sir Hugh was ‘keen’ to follow, and soon we were stood below the slabs. The rock was in perfect condition, and I was regretting not throwing my rock shoes into my sack. But maybe my memories deceived me, the slab was steeper  and relatively holdless, drawing one on to even more difficulties higher up, which I may not be able to succumb. I was content therefore to admire smugly from terra firma. The rest of the crag stretching west into the trees will have to wait for another time, even I was loosing my enthusiasm.

There must be a way down.

 

At last.

 

Another time.

 

Can we go now?

Moving on…

Back on the descending track, we met up with a pleasant couple, ‘birders’ by the look of them, who were out for the day with their binoculars. In typical Yorkshire banter, they  commented on farmers, walkers and most emphatically irresponsible dog owners. On the whole, we had to agree with their sentiments, though we debated the finer points as we progressed down past the reservoir. Our contributions to bird watching were Greylag Geese on the water and Oyster Catchers swooping above.

Heading down.

 

Greylag Geese.

 

Oyster Catchers.

The industrial heritage of Embsay was in evidence, with mill chimneys and mill races as we entered the village past the Manor House. It was difficult to believe it was 4 o’clock back at the car, I’ve no idea where the time went. Sir Hugh hasn’t divulged his next project as yet.

Past history.

 

Manor House, 1665.

 

Could be interesting.

For Sir Hugh’s version of the day, see    conradwalks: Trigs 103 – Final trig of 76 – Crookrise Crag

and for those interested in the crags mentioned

UKC Logbook – Embsay Crag (ukclimbing.com)

UKC Logbook – Deer Gallows (ukclimbing.com)

UKC Logbook – Crookrise (ukclimbing.com)

    *****

OUT OF THE ORDINARY.

I could hear rustling in the ferns behind me all evening and when I looked some movement in the vegetation and the occasional squeak, but no clue as to what was in there. I was bouldering on the north facing wall of Sweden Quarry, which gave shade from the hot sun, even so I was sweating profusely, we are just not accustomed to temperatures in the high 20s. The quarry hosts quite a bit of bird life – blackbird, wren, robin, chiffchaff, blackcap, mallard and no doubt many more. Barn owls nested earlier in the season. It is a great place to sit and take in the ambience such as it is with old tyres, fencing and rotting trees cut down in the plantation a few years ago. The pool at the bottom has shrunk greatly in this recent drought.

I was about to leave when I spotted something yellow out of the corner of my eye, in fact, there were two yellow blobs in the grass. The squeaking became louder as Mother Duck led her brood out of hiding down to the drying up pool at the base of the quarry. The other four chicks were brown and well camouflaged, it was the two yellow ones that gave the game away. I grabbed my phone for a quick shot, but then realised they were out to play for a while, so I was able to retrieve my camera and sit down to enjoy their display. Mother floated quietly whilst the chicks darted about exploring, exercising their legs and no doubt eating the odd green morsel. After some time, Mother decided they had had enough and marched them back into the undergrowth to hide away for the night. I hope the ducklings survive but fear for the yellow ones who are all too obvious to any predator. I will report back on further sightings over the next week. (Still six there two days later) So how unusual are yellow ducklings? Mallards, Muscovy and domestic ducks have occasional yellow ducklings, many of these develop into white ducks – so we will see.

The joys of living in the Ribble Valley on an evening like this.

TEMPUS FUGIT.

   We used to be giants – so when did we stop?

I first looked into this large hole in the ground, hidden in the forest on Longridge Fell, many years ago and climbed a few routes as well as some boulder problems. I called it Sweden because of the fir trees. Time passes and one’s attention goes elsewhere, but I never forgot. With travel restricted, the popular bouldering venue Craig Y Longridge became even more crowded at times, so I stayed away. I remembered this place though, the trees have been felled and the plantation has become popular with dog walkers. I mentioned it in a post a while back. Well since then on sunny evenings I’ve been visiting this place, cuckoos are calling across the way, mallard ducks are paddling in the pool below and barn owls have successfully nested in the higher parts of the quarry. The Ribble Valley is a distant view away. Magic and memories.

Looking back through my photos from 25years ago, I have found pictures of the walls up here with dotted lines drawn to show the problems I had succeeded on. The clean wall I’m now revisiting used to have JOKER in large red letters painted right across it, that has faded completely. And now the joke is on me, as I’m finding all the problems far harder than I remember. Tempus fugit!

I used to climb here with Tony, Pete and dear old Dor. Everything was fun and everything was possible. They are all dead now, and I miss them so.

We used to be giants.

GOLDSWORTHY ON HIGH.

Monday, April 26th.     8miles.      Quernmore.

I have been up here before to seek out the Andy Goldsworthy ‘Three Chairs’, most recently in 2014.  https://bowlandclimber.com/2014/05/28/out-on-the-loose-again-clougha-pike-and-grit-fell/  when we did virtually the same walk.

There were quite a few cars in the car park this morning when we arrived – early birds or dog walkers. Sir Hugh was just recovering from his head dive last week and I noticed a slight reluctance to turn his neck, however today was only going to be about six miles, well it turned out nearly eight, but there was no problem.

We climbed up onto Clougha Pike using the Rowton Brook path which passes evidence of past cottage industries most notably the C17 cotton mill. The present owner was happy to chat about its history and life in general.

 

There was no let up in the ascent but the ground was mercifully dry. The trig point, 413 m, was adorned with the most un-Goldsworthy stones. The views over the bay were murky but Morecambe Power station was ever present. In the other direction that other old favourite, Ingleborough, was in the background. 

The easy way.

Clougha Pike summit. 415m.

The obvious continuation track went to Grit Fell, we followed it as the rest is trackless heather. The peat was bone dry and a joy to stride out on with skylarks somewhere overhead. A few grouse were calling gobackgoback. Not recalling that Goldsworthy’s installation was named ‘The Three Chairs’ we spent some time trying to identify three large gritstones fitting that description and marked approximately on the  map.

Grit Fell 467 m.       Can you spot Ingleborough in the gloom?

I did recall this isolated Xmas Tree farther along the ridge.

Once on the shooters’ highway we made good progress back in the direction we had just come from. I was beginning to doubt my ability as a guide when the moors stretched out ahead of us with no sign of quarries or chairs. Sir Hugh thought the day was a failure when suddenly we were there and the installations appeared much larger than I remembered. [marked G on the map] He was impressed – with the statues not my navigation. Do you call them statues, sculptures, installations or piles of stones? That’s where art has its personal interpretations. Piles of stones they certainly are not, these are carefully crafted structures with intricate stone work. Apparently Goldsworthy constructed one each year from 1999 to celebrate the millennium. We speculated whether he constructs them himself or employs a stonemason to help. After the obligatory photos we continued on our way off the fell.

An estate worker’s massive 4X4 passed us – or was it the Duke.

Three cairns appeared on the left which we declined to visit but on the next photo look quite interesting.

I was chatting to Sir Hugh about the Thirlmere Aqueduct which comes this way and an old quarry [marked Q on the map] near Ottergear viaduct ‘discovered’ and climbed in by my friend Pete. We reached the impressive viaduct and almost missed the quarry which I’d expressed a desire to revisit. A chance glance behind and we noticed a couple of blokes in the quarry. They were doing a bit of climbing there as it has been highlighted in a recent supplement to the boulders in this area. That led to a sociable chat about old times climbing.

A sandy path through the heather brought us back to the car park. A perfect little fell day.

*****

THE OLD MEN OF TROY.

The Old Man of Hoy is a famous sea stack off the coast of Hoy in the Orkney Isles. As a climb it was first ascended by  Chris Bonington, Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey in 1966. Apparently it could collapse at any time.

We weren’t up there today, that would be stretching the travel limits. No we were still in deepest Lancashire returning to Troy Quarry after many years for some climbing. Apart from the rhyming name the only other resemblance to Hoy is a stack, without any sea, in the middle of the quarry.

The parking area has been severely limited because of the influx of walkers disturbing the locals in these strange times. Of course, we travelled in four separate cars, so you can see how quickly every space becomes blocked. None of us could remember the approach into the quarry, there used to be some large concrete buildings by the track, all now looked quite sylvan. There are some good walks that traverse the hillsides in this upper part of Rossendale. But today we were here for the climbing.

The quarry is large, spreading 30 – 40ft walls of gritstone around a pond. Canada Geese entertained us all afternoon with their calls and territorial chasing across the water. We made a beeline to the South Walls where there were easier climbs. Another pair of climbers were already in situ but soon moved on. They were top roping either for safety or inexperience. We had many years of experience between the four off us, too many to count but were a little rusty. I, for one, don’t want to see the inside of a casualty department, so we opted for top roping too, something I wouldn’t have contemplated in the past – where is the adventure in that. Times change.

After a bit of faffing with slings we had a top rope set up above the Siamese Twins. These are cracks in a steep slab. We climbed the right-hand variation with help of the left crack and the left route with the help of the right crack. Who’s watching?

Rod high on Left Siamese Twin.


Dave in a similar position.

The rock was clean with positive holds, a fine gritstone apparently used in the past for pavement flags in the northwest cities.

A large flake in the centre of the Siamese wall had new cracks running down it, a hollow sound and movement when pulled in certain directions. Water and frost affect the rock formations in these quarries and every so often lumps, small and large, detach themselves. You just hope you are not clutching one when that happens. This particular flake is already doomed. We squeezed in a slightly harder climb to the left but again transgressed into those cracks. 

Fred has the largest lunch box.

I haven’t seen my climbing partners for many months, so we had a good catch up chat over lunch. The sun was pleasantly warm reminding us of many hours playing on the rock walls in these Lancashire holes in the ground. God’s own rock is over the border in Yorkshire, but we are fiercely defensive of our sometimes grotty venues.

We moved the rope along to above a great looking flake line, Stacked Deck, which we all enjoyed lay backing up.

Dave starting the lay back of Stacked Deck.

Alongside was the classic route, Rapunzel. Halfway up is a barred window from which Rapunzel would have let down her hair. The fable around this story is more complicated than I remember. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapunzel 

Rod approaching Rapunzel’s window.

Suffice to say she didn’t let down her hair for me today, and I was lowered to the ground to lick my wounds. Ah, well it is the first time I’ve been on a rope this year. Things can only get better – or is that a fairy tale?

Boulderers on the ‘sea stack’

YOU FAT BASTARD.

                                                                         Sweden Quarry.

We, us old farts, used to climb with a fit young lad who shall remain nameless. Regular evening visits to Lancashire quarries in the summer months provided good sport. He was pushing his grade, as a young man should, but often was lowered to the ground defeated by a high crux move which one of us old timers could easily demonstrate to him. Chastened he would apply himself to the next problem with often the same result.

It was only in the pub afterwards that an analysis of the evenings climbing took place. Typically, we focused on his failings and inevitably came to the conclusion he was carrying too much weight. This lead to, and I apologise as from now, describing him as a ‘fat bastard’. We did have his interests at heart as this insulting banter resulted in him disappearing, dieting and training to re-emerge the next week to climb as good if not better than us.

Someday I will write about climbing trips with this youth in question to places far from Lancashire and the resulting adventures. I will of course need his permission first.

Anyhow, today the boot, or climbing shoe, is on the other foot. I used to climb in a quarry high on Longridge Fell hidden in the conifer plantations – I called it Sweden for no other reason than the trees. Only I and a few others knew about it, and slowly it became overgrown as these places do. But it was there at the back of my mind and when social distancing became the norm, and I was wary of climbing in crowded Craig Y Longridge …

A crowded Craig y Longridge.

… I revisited Sweden.

Basically it is a large hole in the ground. The walls tend to be damp and uninviting but on an upper level there is a clean wall getting the sun all day. A few days getting rid of the vegetation that had encroached in the intervening years, and I was ready to try the problems that I had recorded 25 years ago. Armed with my tatty guide from then I began to repeat the problems. They were much harder than I remember and also apparently much higher despite the use of a modern day crash mat.

So it is back to square one – you fat bastard.

ENTWISTLE AND WAYOH RESERVOIRS.

Wednesday November 4th.  7miles.  Turton.

I’ve just enjoyed a lovely autumn walk around these reservoirs south of Darwen. But first a cautionary tale…

Sir Hugh’s  plan was to meet up in Hoddleston and navigate around the moors visiting three trig points. He is on a mission to visit all the trig points on OS Landranger Map 103. Blackburn and Burnley. The day is set fair, so I’m happy to tag along. I had a few minor epics of my own getting there – no petrol at my local garage, navigation error coming off the M65 and then going straight back on again, trying to drive down cart tracks.  I arrived to find Sir Hugh parked up but far from happy.

The story….

He popped out at breakfast to start his car, with his remote ‘key’, and clear the windscreens. Returning later to the car, keyless, with its engine still running he got in and drove off to eventually park on the cobbled front of The Ranken Arms in the centre of Hoddleston. Once parked and the engine stopped he realised that he didn’t have the ‘key’, it was back home on the kitchen table. He could not use his car, we discussed various options but decided to call Green Flag for rescue.  Not a lot happens in Hoddleston, is there a shop? A horse and rider passed by as if in a Western B movie, we became the centre of attention to the locals. Please go to his post for a full explanation of the morning’s happenings. It was getting on for 11.30 when I waved him goodbye on the back of a low loader.

An unhappy Sir Hugh and stranded Kia.

Horsey interlude.

Centre of attraction in the village.

This isn’t going to be easy.

Half an hour later.

A much happier Sir Hugh. Cheerio.

The day was too good to miss, so I looked at my options. Darwen Tower was one, maybe a little short but in retrospect would have given good views. . The reservoirs south of Darwen looked appealing and I knew a parking spot nearby. I ate lunch in the car before setting off. A familiar track through the woods led to a quarry we used to climb in and across the stream Cadshaw Castle rocks, Fairy Battery, a regular summer’s evening climbing rendezvous, now looking as though it could do with a good clean. There was too much water for me to cross today, so I went upstream searching for a crossing and discovered lovely waterfalls and another quarried face. I retreated back to find a footbridge which gave me access to paths around the Turton and Entwistle Reservoir to the Strawbury Duck pub and onwards around Wayoh Reservoir. Sometimes by the water and often in the trees. There were some spectacular views of autumn colours across the waters. On the return leg I met a runner who suggested I should take a higher path above Entwistle Reservoir. I did and it was not as good as anticipated but eventually forest tracks had me back at my car.

Cadshaw Quarry.

Fairy Battery. Cadshaw Castle Rocks.

Entwistle Dam.

Our trig points are up there somewhere.

Pampered pooches.

Wayoh Dam, Waterworks and Edgworth.

Railway Viaduct.

A hidden cataract roaring down Entwistle dam.

High above Entwistle Reservoir.

Sir Hugh would have enjoyed this circuit. When will we be able to meet up for further rambles?

 

*****

UPDATED BMC COVID-19 ADVICE TO WALKERS AND CLIMBERS.

I have just received an email from the BritishMountaineeringCouncil giving advice to climbers and walkers during the forthcoming lockdown. As I found it comprehensive and clear I reprint it here.

*****

On Saturday, the Prime Minister announced plans for a second lockdown in England from 5 November. Lockdown 2 is likely to be different in a number of ways to the initial lockdown we saw in March, but how is it expected to affect climbers and walkers? Our access team take a look.

Before we delve into the detail, it’s worth highlighting that the key tactics that we all need to use haven’t changed: social distancing (2m where possible or 1m with extra precautions in place such as wearing a mask), using masks in indoor public places (including public transport) and properly washing your hands are all still crucial.

This article is based on current government guidance rather than legislation (which hasn’t been released yet) and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Can I still go climbing and walking?

Yes, you can. From 5 November, you can only leave your home for specific purposes. One of these is to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place (which specifically includes countryside), with members of your household, support bubble or one person from another household.

As with the first lockdown, consider your choice of venue, as there is potential for increased numbers with indoor options removed. Whilst the likelihood of transmission outdoors is very low, large numbers of people in honeypot locations could result in further general access issues as seen earlier in the year: bad parking, sanitation, litter and drawing attention to sites where formal access has not been agreed. As always, have an alternative plan in case your destination is too busy and be considerate in your actions to make sure we don’t see further access losses.

Can I travel to go climbing or walking?

Current guidance ahead of the lockdown is that it will be OK to travel to exercise if you need to make a short journey to do so. The definition of ‘short’ is open to interpretation, of course, but the guidance also advises avoiding travel in or out of your local area so it seems the intention is to allow exercise near to where you live but not further afield. We’re trying to get further clarification on this, but it does mean that at least local parking is legitimate. Walking and cycling as a means of transport is also encouraged where possible in preference to public transport to avoid the risk of transmission.

However, do not travel if:

  • you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
  • you are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms
  • you are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms
  • you have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace  

Can I stay overnight away from home?

All overnight stays and holidays away from your primary residence will not be allowed. This will include camping, staying in vans (if not your primary residence), huts, self-catering, hotels and holidays abroad and in the UK. Exemptions apply if you need to stay away from home for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.

Can I travel from England to Wales, Scotland or further afield?

The guidance is clear that for English residents, travel outside of England is not allowed other than for very specific purposes (i.e. your work requires it or a few other very specific circumstances).

BMC Manchester  03/11/2020

NOGGARTH 35 YEARS LATER.

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

1985

Good parenting!

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

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

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

Compare with 1985.

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

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

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

STAY LOCAL PLEA. CONISTON MRT.

This is a copy of a Facebook page for Coniston Mountain Rescue today.

It is worth reading in full and disseminating widely in the outdoor community. 

 

Hello All,

Hopefully, you’re all managing to stay safe and healthy through the Covid-19 pandemic.

We know that many of you will be desperate to get back on the fells and trails, and to get your Lake District “fix”. The relaxation of the Coronavirus lockdown may have been music to your ears when the Prime Minister stated that it is now Ok to drive any distance to take your exercise. This came as a total surprise to us as a Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), Cumbria Police, Cumbria Tourist Board, The Lake District National Park and also The National Trust. Simply, the Lake District is NOT ready for a large influx of visitors. The hospitality sector remains closed, some car parks may be re-opening, along with some toilet facilities, but this is an enforced opening due to this announcement to cater for those that do decide to come, rather than an invitation.
Why are we, Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, so concerned about the relaxation of the travel to exercise rules? Maybe if we talk you through what happens it may explain why we’re worried.

Firstly, we are all volunteers – most of us have day jobs from which we take time off to deal with incidents during work hours, or time out of the rest of our lives “out of hours”, and secondly most of us have families who we need to protect.

How a rescue might play out during the Covid-19 pandemic:-
1. Paul and Sarah came up from Preston, and have summited the Old Man of Coniston, had their lunch and set off down towards Goats Water.
2. Paul slips and hears a crack from his left ankle, Sarah tries to help, but Paul can’t put weight on his ankle which is at a funny angle anyway. Paul is 15 stone and 6ft 2 tall. Sarah is fit but no way could she help Paul back down.
3. Sarah dials 999, remembers to ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue, the operator takes the details and asks a lot of questions to assess the Covid-19 risk posed by both Paul & Sarah to the MRT, and subsequently to Ambulance and medical staff that will need to treat Paul.
4. In the meantime, four groups of people come by, they all say they’d love to help but haven’t got any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and must socially distance themselves by at least 2 metres.
5. The Police alert Coniston MRT to the incident via SARCALL, and the Duty Team Leader (TL) calls Sarah, having sent her a link by text for her to click on to confirm their exact position, and asks more questions, to work out the resources needed.
6. The TL then calls other members of the Leader Group to discuss the requirements and decides a 10 member group is required on the hill and alerts the Team to that requirement.
7. The Team numbers are depleted anyway, we have a number of people who contribute massively to the Team generally but are over 70 years old, i.e. higher risk group, we have people who may be shielding a family member, or at risk themselves due to underlying medical conditions that normally wouldn’t be an issue. So a team of 10 assemble at the MRT base, plus someone to run the base – this person is important as it helps with coordination of other services letting the hill party get on with the job.
8. All members are briefed regarding the incident, and check all are happy with the unknown invisible risk posed by the incident; the risk of walking up the fell is taken as read and a baseline anyway. All PPE is checked.
9. Team members climb aboard two of the Team’s three vehicles. Why only two when social distancing could be better in 3 vehicles? The need to decontaminate the vehicles on return probably outweighs the advantage of social distancing, and it leaves another vehicle able to respond to any other incidents.
10. Normally the Team would mobilise within 10-15 minutes of this type of call, due to all the pre-checks, personnel checks etc., the time elapsed thus far is 45 minutes.
11. The vehicles arrive at the road head, one last check on PPE and kit for the incident, including radios, and the Team sets off for the casualty site. Walking time to site is around 45-60 minutes.
12. The Team can’t call on the Air Ambulance for support as they’re off-line for this type of incident due to staff being redeployed elsewhere in the NHS or due to other priorities and risk factors so cannot support. Similar with Coastguard Helicopters…
13. On site, one casualty carer and one assistant will approach the casualty with as much PPE on as possible, and may well apply PPE to the patient before carrying out a full primary survey, in this case that’s simple, Paul’s ankle is (probably) broken, and there are no other underlying medical factors like a head injury, multiple other injuries or catastrophic bleeding.
14. The casualty carer and helper would normally give Paul some Entonox (pain killing gas) while they straighten his ankle to ensure a pulse at the foot and also maybe a pain killing injection. The injection takes 15 mins or so to work, but Entonox is not given because of the potential risk of contamination. However, the foot needs straightening ASAP to restore the pulse in Paul’s foot. Paul screams as the casualty carer re-aligns the foot (it’s called reducing the injury) to restore circulation and allow for splinting.
15. Paul’s ankle is splinted and although he’s still in pain, it’s less than it was and the painkilling injection is starting to take effect. Time elapsed since Paul fell is now 2 hours 15 mins.
16. The Team moves in and helps Paul on to the stretcher, the stretcher is made of stainless steel and heavy, it is about 2.5 metres long and maybe 0.6 metres wide, usually it takes 8 people to carry a loaded stretcher, they cannot socially distance.
17. The Team carries Paul down to the Walna Scar road, where they’ve asked a North West Ambulance Service land ambulance to meet them to reduce potential contamination at base. The carry down has taken 2 hours, so now it’s 4 hrs 15 since Paul fell. Paul is transferred to the Ambulance and taken to Furness General Hospital. Sarah can’t drive, but can’t go in the Ambulance either. How can the Team get Sarah re-united with Paul and then how do they both get home to Preston when Paul is fixed? What happens to their car? In normal circumstances we can fix these issues, not so easy in the Covid-19 pandemic.
18. The Team returns to base and starts to decontaminate the stretcher, the vehicles, the non-disposable medical equipment, the splint and themselves. Jackets and other clothing are all bagged ready to go in their washing machines when they get home, which takes a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Total time elapsed 5hrs 30 minutes. Total man-hours 10 folk on the hill plus 1 running base = 60.5 man-hours.
19. Paul is admitted to Furness General Hospital after a wait of 1 hour at A&E. He is taken to cubicles and X Rayed to understand his ankle injury better. He is also routinely tested for Covid-19. Paul’s ankle needs an operation to pin it as the break is a bad one.
20. Paul’s Covid-19 test comes back positive. Oh dear! Paul is asymptomatic, he has the virus but is either naturally immune or has not yet developed symptoms. The message is passed back to Coniston MRT, who then have to check the records of those on the incident. Every one of them, the ten people on the incident and the base controller, must now self isolate and so must their families, so now we have maybe 35 people all having to self-isolate. Plus possibly the Ambulance crew and their families.
21. Three days later Eric from Essex decides he wants to come to Coniston to do the 7 Wainwrights in the Coniston Fells. He sets off, and completes Dow Crag, the Old Man, Brim Fell along to Swirl How and Great Carrs and across to Grey Friar, then on up to Wetherlam. Eric puts his foot down on a rock, the rock moves and Eric is in a heap on the floor, his foot is at a funny angle…he gets his phone out and dials for Mountain Rescue… but there are only three people available from the Coniston Team now, so the decision needs to be taken by the Coniston MRT duty leader which Team to call to support, Neighbouring Teams are Langdale-Ambleside and Duddon & Furness MRT’s. The issue is, they’re in the same situation as Coniston with people self-isolating due to potential contamination, or their members are keyworkers in the NHS and can’t deploy on MRT incidents.
So – we’re asking you to think twice, even three times before you embark upon travelling to the Lake District for your exercise. The risk, however small, is real, and I write this as an MRT member for over 30 years with probably around 1000 incidents under my belt, I know, accidents happen.

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.