Tag Archives: Climbing

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.

Stay Home for Easter, say Mountain Rescue England and Wales

Fellow blogger John Bainbridge has just published this post which I think is worth wider reading although I am sure that my followers already realise the situation we are in and are acting accordingly.

Walking the Old Ways

Mountain Rescuers reinforce the Stay At Home message ahead of the Easter weekend

Like everyone else, Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) is following the national health protection advice and applying it to its situation as a voluntary service.

“MREW’s priority is resilience,” said Mike France, SEO (Senior Executive Officer) of MREW. “We need to make sure that as many of our trained volunteers as possible are available for essential call outs and to support the paid emergency services as needed.”

MR teams across the country have been disappointed to see walkers ignoring the national advice, travelling into National Parks and other areas and, it is assumed, expecting MR volunteers to risk their own lives (and those of their families and colleagues) to come to a walker’s aid if called.

“The hills and upland areas will still be there to be enjoyed once the restrictions are lifted,” said Mike. “We’ve…

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VIRTUAL CLIMBING.

Last week I was tracing virtual walks on OS maps, the guides arrived and are promising. Today, still with the knee strapped, I’m following routes up rock faces, again in my mind. A few jolts to my memory of friends and climbs shared.

Going back 30 – 40 years I was climbing as often as possible – maybe 4 or 5 times each week. You are bound to become good and in my own world, I did.  My regular climbing partners back then became my best friends, where are they now?

I’m not writing here of those who have faded into retirement, all great friends whom I still see.

But these three are missed the most, routes and companions come to mind in vivid detail.

Tony, the gentle giant from the Yorkshire coal mines, Off we went to California on an adventure of our lives only to find our English ropes too short for Tuolumne granite. Replenished we tackled some great climbs in Yosemite. RIP

Pete, the haunted personality, with a reach far further than mine. A Cornish holiday stands out and that ‘one more route’ on Gimmer Crag which had him in deep trouble back at home. RIP

Doreen, the elegant mover and faithful belayer and now deeply into suffering Alzheimer’s.  I’ ve just managed a 100 hundred piece jigsaw with her today and that was far harder than her last route, Jean Jeanie.

I must fish out some old slides of these climbers and scan them. So many memories and tales to be told.

For a start a grainy shot, from my study wall, of the Ist ascent of Pinocchio at Craig y Longridge, Sept 1989, Doreen belaying.

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 12. LANGDALE TO ROSTHWAITE.

Zigzagging to Borrowdale.

I walked the Cumbria Way with one of my sons in 1988. It follows a mainly low-level route for 70 miles through the Lake District from Ulverston to Carlisle. We had enjoyed a traditional, comfortable night in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and then the next day walked over the Stake Pass down into Borrowdale and on to Keswick. The route passes from what was Westmorland into Cumberland and that is what we had in store for today, albeit only as far as Rosthwaite. The clocks have gone back and day light is getting short. Add to that we have created for ourselves an awkward drive for two cars – one at either end of Borrowdale and Langdale. Sir Hugh loves to be up and away before light but I’m a night owl and like my mornings to start slowly, preferably after a cup of coffee at 9am. So it was a shock for my system to be getting out of bed at 5am and on the road 30minutes later.

Once again beautiful early light shone on the Langdale Pikes as we started the route up the valley.

The last time we were both here was the sad occasion of scattering our friend Tony’s ashes. A little ‘ceremony’ involving flasks of tea and muesli bars with family and friends in the valley bottom below Gimmer Crag had some of his ashes duly scattered. This was followed by myself and Sir Hugh taking Tony’s son, Robert, with the remaining ashes in his rucksack, up a climb on Gimmer, Tony’s favourite Lakeland crag. I chose what I thought was an easy route for the occasion, a three-star VD, Oliverson’s Variation and Lyon’s Crawl. A long rising traverse in a superb position. We placed Robert in the middle and set off on what turned out to be an exciting exposed and in parts tricky climb right across the West Face. To help progress Sir Hugh says he had to pretend he wasn’t frightened as we coaxed an ashen-faced Robert across and up. Nevertheless, we accomplished our mission, and Tony is up on the top of Gimmer looking down upon us today.

Pike O’Stickle with Gimmer Crag further right.

Our route continues along the valley floor for about two miles and then starts a zigzagging ascent alongside the beck on a well-reconstructed stone path, Stake Pass.

Great Langdale with Bowfell up left, Rossett Gill centre and our route Stake Pass in mist right.

Heading to Stake Pass.

Looking back down Langdale was a geology lesson – U-shaped glacial valley with moraine debris.

A Wainwright. 1974.

We reached what we thought was the top just as clouds piled in from the west. There followed a strange endless hummocky plateau before we finally crested the pass and looked down into Langstrath. Down we went on a series of superb zigzags taking us right into the valley bottom. I have no recollection from the Cumbria Way of this unique path.

Alongside the path, as we descended was the lively Stake Beck cascading down rock slabs.

Sitting on rocks, enjoying lunch, we tried to make out features across the valley, there were crags everywhere but we only identified Cam Crag Ridge correctly. The track down the valley was rough and we made slow progress, enjoying the scenery and reminiscing. I had forgotten how much of a slog up the hillside on the right it was to reach Seargent Crag Slabs and lower in the valley BleakHow Buttress seemed to be disappearing under vegetation.

Bleak How.

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A Wainwright. 1973

Another enjoyable day on our Wainwright Way, not so many AW connections today but he would have appreciated those zigzags.

 

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 11. MILL BRIDGE, GRASMERE TO ODG, LANGDALE

Into the heart of Lakeland.

Today was like a walk down memory lane as the Great Langdale Valley is one of my favourites. From early days camping at the head of the valley, long hot summer days circling the fell tops, hours on the crags and leisurely pints in the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub – it all came flooding back. I’m sure that Sir Hugh and my reminisces would have been utterly boring to most of you.

What has changed over the years is the amount of traffic and people. Every car park and grass verge was full of vehicles and the villages packed with tourists. AW was complaining about the crowds back in his day and advised going out of season, the season now apparently extends throughout the year.

We started the sparkling day with a gentle stroll down lanes alongside the River Rothay passing whitewashed Lakeland cottages.

In Grasmere, we joined the throngs of people on a Wordsworth pilgrimage. Sir Hugh headed straight to Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread shop which has been trading since 1854, the shop was previously a small school where incidentally the Wordsworths had taught in the early 19th century

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Alongside is the parish church and in the graveyard are buried William Wordsworth and his family under the shade of a yew tree, one of eight planted by William,

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A Wainwright. 1974.

A lane out of the village leads to Allan Bank. This was the home of Wordsworth from 1808 to 1811 and later Canon Rawnsley, cofounder of the NT in 1895.

A Wainwright. 1974.

Our thoughts were now on the fells and the steep climb above us to reach the summit of Silver How. AW devotes a chapter to ‘a delightful’ fell in his Central Fells, Book Three of the Pictorial Guides. [my 1969 copy cost 15/-]

A Wainwright. 1958.

Silver How from Elterwater earlier in the day.

The path is well-trodden and goes through bracken and then a band of twisted juniper trees.

There are ample opportunities to rest and admire the views down into Grasmere, with Helm Crag and the Grisedale fells of yesterday in the background. A scramble into and out of a miniature rocky gill leads to the summit cone, there are more walkers approaching from several directions.

The blue sky from this morning has dulled and the sun disappeared but the views south over Grasmere, Rydal Water and Windermere and then round to the Lakeland Fells are outstanding.

It’s too cold to linger on the summit so we set off, rather too hastily, on our descent. This whole upland area is a confusion of humps and bumps with paths in all directions, we were not taking the long high-level route but the valley alternative suggested in the Wainwright Way guide. Nick Burton’s instructions, normally very clear and accurate, are a little vague and in the mist would be useless. Before long we had lost the path supposed to be besides Megs Gill and were on a compass bearing down a steep rocky hillside to pick up the path going into Langdale. The views up the valley with the Langdale Pikes were appreciated more once we were back on the way.

“All humps and bumps”

Our steep way down in red.

Great Langdale Valley.

 

What followed was a lovely stroll up the centre of the Great Langdale Valley away from the busy road with time to take in all the views and what’s more, the sun had reappeared.

As I said our attention was taken by the climbing venues above, tales of past climbs from years ago were related and no doubt repeated. Raven Crag Walthwaite, Scout Crags, White Ghyll, Pavey Arc, East Raven Crags, Raven Crag, Middle Fell Buttress, Gimmer and Bowlell all were revisited.

A Wainwright. 1974.

Scout Crags, there are climbers on the upper crag.

Dramatic White Ghyll.

East Raven Crags with Harrison Stickle behind.

Raven Crag.

To cap it off we popped into the Climbers Bar at The Old Dungeon Ghyll for a drink. Not much has changed in this room with its warming open range and wood-panelled walls. We were envious of two climbers just setting off for a couple of routes on Raven Crag directly above the pub.

The drive home through Ambleside and Windermere will be glossed over – there is no ‘out of season’ anymore.

*****

 

BARDEN MOOR AND RYLSTONE, last of the summer wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President’s Slab.

Dental Slab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

*****

Not a grouse was shot during this walk.

*****

MID-SUMMER MISCELLANEA.

Double rainbow over Longridge out of my window.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YET ANOTHER ANGLEZARKE – WHITE COPPICE WALK.

You can’t miss a day like this, warm sunshine and no wind. Even though I was delayed in the morning there was time in the afternoon for this lovely level stroll round the Anglezarke reservoir. I stopped off on the top road to peep into Anglezarke Quarry, Golden Tower Looked as good as ever.

I avoid using the gloomy quarry carpark which closes at 5pm and park on the dam like everybody else. The paths on the west side of the reservoir were busy.

Couldn’t help but look into Lester Mill but the trees restricted any decent views of the rock faces. This was never a popular quarry mainly due to loose rock and dampness but I remember some exciting long routes. Further along were the broken rocks of Stronsey Bank, another esoteric climbing venue. They looked good in the sunshine today.

Chatting away we were soon at White Coppice but continued on a narrow path towards Brinscall and then found a little bridge over the Goit and a route back to the picturesque cricket pitch where a bench in the sun provided a refreshment break. White Coppice cricket ground is unique and well worth a visit if you can find it.

Lanes past old cottages led onto the side of Healey Nab where there is a Life for Life Memorial Forest where one can plant a tree in memory of a loved one. I realise I’ve never been to the summit of the Nab, I must rectify that soon.

Muddy paths and lanes headed back to the dam. All along were views over some of the best of Lancashire. Up here there were even distant sightings of that quarry. Lester Mill, that was obstructed by trees earlier.

As I said you can’t miss days like this.

*****

‘BOWLANDCLIMBER’ – WHAT CLIMBER?

A little inspiration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SW COASTAL PATH. Pendeen to Zennor.

The Granite Coast.

There are several magnificent granite climbing cliffs along this coast but none finer than Bosigran. I first visited here 30 odd years ago and tentatively climbed some easy routes. I returned a few years later on an extended climbing trip with my lovely friend Pete when we climbed every day for a fortnight. In those days I was ticking off routes in the Classic and Hard Rock volumes. There was plenty to go at down here, we were camped near the Logan Rock Inn at Treen on the southern coast but all areas were easily accessible and we roamed far and wide,  we visited Bosi a few times. One day choosing a time of lowish tide we were able to climb the full height [200m] of Commando Ridge. On other days we concentrated on the non-tidal main face, Doorpost Little Brown Jug,, Anvil Chorus all immaculate exciting climbs. Probably most memorable and subsequently tragically ironic was Suicide Wall with a scary traverse across the Coal Face and some very overhanging climbing to reach the top. I remember we rescued a young couple stranded on a ledge by giving them a top rope to safety. We had a wonderful time and today as I pass I reflect that I can no longer reminisce with Pete, God bless him. Surprisingly today depite the perfect weather there was no one climbing on the main face but a climber can just be seen high up on Commando Ridge.

This morning I had taken a late bus back to Pendeen for what should be a short day, first things first – a breakfast bap at Lillies next to the bus stop. I then started by cutting down some ancient lanes between lichen encrusted granite walls and coming across those characteristic stiles of cross pieces of granite, more like a hurdle.I was soon back on the coast and facing steeper gradients and the dreaded steps. High above me on the bracken covered slopes I thought I saw a working party clearing the path, but as I climbed higher realised it had been fell ponies doing the same job efficiently.

From up here there were views onwards to endless bays and headlands, but I keep remembering to look back – Pendeen lighthouse was a prominent landmark but yesterdays coast is a thing of the past. Inland on the rough hills the patchwork of cleared fields is also photogenic. It’s just great to be up here.

The coast was becoming more dramatic and the sea noisier and all of a sudden I was above Bosigran Cliff itself. The ghostly mines above were silhouetted against the sky and people were strolling down from the carpark enjoying the warm sunny weather. I sat for a while taking in the scene and rocky architecture.  I was then soon over the slope and on the switchback path high above the sea. The path was rather awkward through boulders and vegetation and was busy with coastal strollers. At on point I stepped aside into the rough to let a lady through. I muttered something about taking the rough to which she thanked me and as an afterthought remarked “I hope you are not referring to me” which brought a smile to my face.

Other rocky headlands were passed, a large group of children on some sort of adventure course on one of them, I hoped they were all roped on as it all looked rather chaotic. Gurnards Head and finally Zennor Head were places I’d climbed on.

Gurnard’s Head.

There were numerous descents into side valleys at sea level where a stream was often crossed using old granite slabs. This one has had the health and safety people interfering.Many of the sandy bays on this section of coast appear to be very difficult to access and I don’t think I saw anybody down there.

Time was passing quickly, I had a bus to catch and the ups and downs wouldn’t stop. I was glad when at the top of a steep flight of steps a little lane ran up into the popular little village of Zennor, I had no time for explore or visit The Tinners Inn and made for the main road with minutes to spare before my bus appeared. In my short day I had climbed over 2000ft in 7 miles.

Almost there…

*****

SW COASTAL PATH – ‘FURTHEST FROM THE RAILWAYS’

                                                                  Hartland Point.

Clovelly – Hartland Quay.

Hartland Point used to be described last century in tourist brochures as ‘furthest from the railways’ at that time Bude and Bideford, it is even further now. It feels a remote spot on the NW Devon coast marking the place where the path swings from a west to a south direction, the Bristol Channel becomes the Atlantic and the scenery becomes more dramatic.

I’d left Clovelly before it was awake and walked through parkland initially to reach to reach the Angel Wings an old estate carved wooden shelter. A couple walked past doing the path.

I resisted  a walk to a viewpoint as I wasn’t sure one could continue and so dropped down through woods to Mouth Mill Bay with views ahead to Lundy Island, a place of so many memories for me. Remains of mills and lime kilns in the valley and rocky bay were a reminder of past labour and prosperity. Limestone was brought in by boat and processed into lime for agriculture inland.

Steep steps into NT woodland and then zig zags back down into a valley before the inevitable climb back up and over Windbury Point. From here there were dramatic views back to the hollow arch of Blackchurch Rock which I hadn’t realised was on the beach round the corner at Mouthmill.  A  memorial plaque to a Wellington bomber crash of 1942 was passed. Further on was another memorial, this time to a ship torpedoed by a U-boat in 1918. Both are well tended.

Ahead was a radar dome which was being decommissioned and the path was diverted inland on quiet lanes to Titchberry, no hardship.The walking couple caught me up [we would leapfrog the next few days] – they had been seduced by that viewpoint sign which was as suspected a dead end. By now the wind was increasing and I was glad to reach the great little refreshment shack by a car park. A pleasant young man served me a good coffee and homemade cake, what a treasure.

The lighthouse at Hartland Point was out of bounds but the cliff edge by the CG lookout gave dramatic views. A switchback route went in and out of green valleys to arrive opposite the dramatic cliff of Dyers Lookout. I’d seen pictures of James Pearson climbing impenetrable looking rock to produce  Walk of Life, E9 6c or harder. In real life this looked impossible.

More steep ups and downs and eventually a grassy headland passing an old tower framing Stoke Church and then down to the dramatically situated Hartland Quay Hotel. By now the wind was gale force and the rain troublesome. The hotel was a welcome refuge and a wonderful place to spend the night listening to the waves.

View from my window.

 

 

 

 

WHITBARROW SCAR – a day out with Poppy.

My diary records – 22 October 1988. Circuit of Whitbarrow, Chris and Matthew. Glorious day, sunny and warm. 6.5 miles. The weekend before I had been climbing on Castle Rock, Thirlmere, and the next I was off to Morocco, trecking in the Jebel Sahro. Those were the days.

Whitbarrow is a wooded limestone ridge towering above the Kent Estuary prominently seen from across the water on the road to Arnside and its crags driven under on the Barrow road. Wainwright gives it a chapter in his Outlying Fells book. I hadn’t been back since that day so I was pleased when Sir Hugh suggested it for today’s walk. I managed to persuade the Rockman and his dog to come along saying it would be a short trip as Sir Hugh is recovering from a broken elbow and is only just using his walking poles. The morning was dreadful with floods developing from the torrential downpour but by the time we met up at Mill Side, there was a glimpse of something better. The keenest member of the party was Poppy the Airdale Terrier.

What followed was a switchback route through woods, steep slippery slopes, glorious open ridge walking and first-class limestone scenery. The Rockman and I just followed the intrepid Sir Hugh who was obviously rejoicing in his newfound freedom, at times we all had to be careful not to suffer any further injury. Some paths I think were known only to him. Poppy jogged along contentedly and took all the considerable obstacles in her stride, though she seemed happiest when we stopped for lunch at the highest point, Lords Seat,

We completed a figure of eight course which included a close encounter with the base of Chapel Head Scar, a bastion of limestone hosting difficult sports climbs. I had never climbed here and I never will when I realised the grades. However, above the crag, reached by a precipitous path, is a beautiful meadow which seemed perfect for a summer bivi looking out to the west over the Kent Estuary. There are paths everywhere and the whole area is worthy of further exploration, I particularly would like to walk closer under the southern White Scar cliffs which we seemed to miss by being in the woods, hereabouts our legs and conversation were just beginning to drag for the last half mile.

 

LONG SCAR DILEMMAS.

“Lower me down” – I had reached my dilemma. I couldn’t figure a way directly up the groove which was threatening to push me off and I was having trouble pulling on the flake high to my right which was the alternative. I had only come for an easy day and that reach was paining my stiff shoulder, even stiffer later! Fortunately I wasn’t on the lead and had the luxury of a top rope which slowly deposited me back in a heap at the base of the climb which happened to be named Katie’s Dilemma, I know how she felt. Dave and Rod proceeded without me.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                         Dave solving Katie’s Dilemma.

 

I’m often accused of overusing the word super in my enthusiasm – well today was super. [excellent, first rate, remarkable, marvellous, wonderful, glorious, exquisite, perfect, splendid  —  I could try some of these in future.]  The sky was blue, the air clear, the sun was shining, the temperature was 24º and this is the English Lake District.

We had braved the tortuous narrow lanes up to the summit of Wrynose Pass and parked up next to the Three Shires Stone. This boundary stone marks the spot where historically the counties of Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland met. The stone has a history of its own. Cut in Cartmel from limestone in 1816 for a William Field, the Furness roadmaster but not erected until 1860. The front of the stone is inscribed with Lancashire and the reverse W.F. 1816, no mention of the other counties. Apparently it was smashed into four pieces in a car accident in 1997, restored and re-erected in 1998.  It shows its scars today and Cumbria has taken over.

A made up path winds its way up the fell across boggy ground on the skirts of Pike O’Blisco. This is an area where the carnivorous Sundew plant may be found, a fact I learnt one previous trip to Long Scar when botanists were scouring the ground on their hands and knees. We saw none today and I suspect they are quite rare. The crag soon comes into sight as an eponymous long scar below Black Crag. The rock looked clean and dry and we had the place to ourselves for most of the day. The volcanic rock is roughly textured although in the central popular area there is erosion, possibly from group use, and the climbs here are becoming a little shiny; nevertheless this is where like lemmings we started.                                                          Rod’s dilemma – which groove?

In the past we had climbed all these routes so we soon spread further along the crag and that’s how I found my dilemma. Anyhow we were basking in the sun and enjoying the views – the nearby Wetherlam range, Crinkle Crags, the far off Windermere, the hikers below us and the occasional plane flying low through the gap. More climbs were enjoyed and life was good.                                       Great Carrs, Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man.


                                                                      Crinkle Crags.

 

For the usual record —

Platt Gang Groove. VD. Rod had his own dilemma as to which groove was which.                             Direct Start Old Holborn VD.                                                                                                                Katie’s Dilemma MVS.                                                                                                                               Billy’s Climb MS.                                                                                                                                      Green Treacle HS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BURNLEY WAY. Day Three.

Briercliffe to Worsthorne.

Another shortened day to accommodate the weather. I was back at Queens Mill and no sign of it opening to highlight Britain’s last remaining steam mill engine. Mill streets led to allotments and hen houses on the edge of town. The Parish Lengthsman pulled up and switched off his engine for a chat. He had been watering flower displays and was now off to do some path strimming. Throughout history lengthsmen have been employed to keep parishes tidy and the post has been revived in recent years to provide on the ground local maintenance.  We found we had mutual friends in Longridge and our chat covered many topics, he didn’t seem in a rush to get to work and I’m never in a rush when local knowledge can be gained.

Eventually I crossed several field to arrive at the grounds of Happa [Horses and Ponies Protection Association] and their modern cafe, as you know I won’t willingly walk past a cafe so I found myself inside enjoying a good Americano. Others were tackling mammoth portions of fish and chips, the cafe has a loyal local following. As you would expect horsey types were in strong evidence.

Skirting horse enclosures and then fields full of inquisitive cows I then began  descending towards the Thursden Valley but became a little entangled in boggy grounds and barbed wire fences – the way marking could be better. The valley itself is like a lost world with a small brown peaty brook meandering along. A path of sorts pushes through the sedges with occasional clumps of purple orchids and lots of meadow sweet. Horsetails seem to be trying to affect a takeover in some areas.

I came out onto a road with steep lanes leading into it – I recognised the situation from when we used to drive over to Widdop for a climbing session. The road leading out of the valley always appeared steep and exposed with a car seemingly wrecked down the slope to the left. I was amused to see its rusting form still there today.

A steady plod up the wild road and a descent brought me into Yorkshire with views down to Widdop Reservoir and the crags we so often climbed on. Prominent at the right-hand end was Purgatory Buttress, home of some classic extreme climbs. I was always attracted to the Artificial Route up the front and despite its scary moves was often drawn back to it. Below it are some beautiful boulders for a more relaxing if not taxing time.

Off the road a little track headed through the heather towards a stream where I found an ideal lunch spot. A Blackcap settled in the vegetation in front of me. A boggy section headed across the valley to join a distinct bridleway which climbed above Widdop Reservoir and onto open moorland close to Gorple and Hare Stones. More reservoirs came into view and Stoodley Pike was prominent across the Calder Valley. This track seemed very isolated today not another soul in sight and a rather broody sky.

…not another soul insight…

Distant Stoodley Pike.

A family of chirpy Wheatears were running on ahead of me. Burnley soon came back into view and you realise how close to the town this circular walk keeps returning. Down to my left Hurstwood Reservoir appeared where the route heads to but rain was in the air so I just continued straight down the bridleway into Worsthorne , with some interesting houses, for the bus, Hurstwood can wait till next time.

Hurstwood reservoir.

As I came down the track a mountain biker was heading up which reminded me of a ride I did with my teenage son many years ago on a long loop to Hebden Bridge and back. That was just at the beginning of the mountain bike revolution.

 

While on the subject earlier in the day I passed signs for a MB charity challenge, in a very good cause, from the previous weekend – why have those responsible not removed these by now. I consider these as litter once there purpose is over. Shouldn’t have ended the day on a sour note.

Name and shame.

 

 

 

 

TWISTLETON SCARS. Climbing on the SW Face.

The main crag at Twistleton hosts many low grade classic limestone climbs and was once a regular venue but slowly the polish increased meaning it fell out of favour with my group of climbers. Thats a shame as the rock was of such good quality and the situation in Chapel-le-Dale spectacular with Ingleborough brooding above on the opposite side of the valley. I wonder if due to less people climbing, not just because of the polish but with the rise in popularity of bolted routes and bouldering, left to nature the rock may roughen once more.  A few outlying crags were developed but we found these a bit short and scrappy, nowhere near the quality of the main crag. The exception to these was a separate area the South West Face, a small compact crag which in fact hosted some of the earlier climbs on the scar back in the 60’s Allan Austin era. This area had avoided the excesses of the main crag particularly no groups and remained a bit of a connoisseur’s area with climbs only on the lower grades.

My gardening induced shoulder pain had stopped me climbing for a few weeks so for today’s outing with Dave I wanted something gentle and he volunteered to do all the leading to tempt me along. He had taken a bit of a beating on gritstone the week before so when I suggested the SW Face limestone he was happy. My day didn’t start well as the cheap Aldi trousers which I had climbed in for over a decade finally disintegrated, a sad loss.  It is so long since either of us had been in Ingleton we were not even sure of the lane to take leading to the crag and once on it were surprised by how narrow it was. Anyhow eventually it straightened out [thought to be of Roman origin here] and we were in the correct valley, the northern side of Chapel-le-Dale. Ingleborough was indeed brooding over us and the show caves on its flanks seemed busy with cars and coaches, it was a lovely Summer’s day.

As is usual the approach to the crag seemed longer and steeper than in our younger days. On previous visits we had probably ticked most of the climbs but had to get out the guide book to reacquaint ourselves.

The start of the starred VD above our sacs looked a bit bold and sketchy so we looked elsewhere for a warm up route. The short easy one we did convinced us of the quality of the rock here and the lack of any polish so we were feeling pleased with our choice of venue. Back to that VD, well maybe not yet. There was a good steep climb left of the tree which followed a line of solid flakes that was very enjoyable. After a leisurely lunch soaking up the sun we avoided that VD by climbing a series of jugs up a steep rib – not a bad move on the route whose name gave a clue. After that we couldn’t procrastinate any longer. A closer look at the steep wrinkled wall in front of us revealed small flakes and even a crafty threaded runner so Dave had a sequence worked out and was soon finishing on the upper wall. The climbing was indeed quality but we both thought under graded for an onsight ascent. To finish the day there was another starred severe crossing a black wrinkly slab round the corner. The start was uninviting and the traverse unclear, though I don’t remember on past visits any difficulty. Anyhow I was in Dave’s hands today and he found an alternative start further right which used flakes to climb more directly up to the superb finishing wall, could even be a new variation route.

The pictures may give some indication of the quality of the rock, the vegetation was not a problem. The climbs were only 10m or so.

Tree Stump Crack D

Tree Wall S *

Juggernaut S **

Play For Today VD ? *

Twinkle Variation S *

 

 

 

 

THREE DAYS IN MAY. 3 – CLIMBING AT POT SCAR. Almost perfect.

Third time lucky. Things have changed in the tiny hamlet of Feizor where you always felt you were intruding into the residents’ private territory. Someone has opened a tea room which is proving very popular. The added benefit of this is that lots of parking spaces have been provided in a yard whereas in the past parking was fraught. Honesty box for the Air Ambulance, you never know when you might need them.  It’s a short pleasant walk up to the limestone crag of Pot Scar in the midst of classic Dales scenery, rolling green fields and all those stone walls. In the background is Ingleborough and across the valley distant Pendle and the Bowland Fells. Wary of the polished routes on the main face  [I recall climbing here 40 years ago and witnessing that polish developing gradually on the classic lines of Nirvana, Addiction, LSD etc, there was a name theme here]   we head left to a little buttress with routes suitable for us oldies. The sun is shining and the day warms up quickly despite there still being a brisk wind. The first easy climb is on perfect cracked limestone with no hint of polish, maybe nobody climbs this end. For the second climb I become entangled in trees and vegetation on what would have been a good line, Dave admonishes me for all the delay gardening. Lunch is taken in the sunshine looking at the scenery with the occasional party of walkers going through to Stainforth, no other climbers appear. I next enjoy a steep crack climb with quite reachy moves and the usual grassy mantelshelf near the top. Despite warnings of loose rock Dave quickly climbs a crack, a tree and a flake, as I follow a lot of the holds disintegrate. Another steep crackline and we are ready for home but well satisfied with the day’s climbing. Next time we will visit the cafe and then try the polish.

 

Half way up Domino.

Out of the tree on Periwinkle.

Finishing Feizor with Domino to the right. Notice the blue sky.

For the record…  Fingers Climb D,  Dodger VD.  Domino S.  Periwinkle VS.  Feizor S.

THREE DAYS IN MAY. 2 – CLIMBING IN WILTON. Too wet.

The prow, Wilton 1.

Jonathon is a busy family man but he thought he could fit in this Saturday climbing. Mid week we made arrangements for a trip to maybe the Lakes or Derbyshire as the weather had been dry. Friday night when I checked the forecast I was dismayed to see rain forecast by lunchtime throughout the area. He knew the same so in the morning we decided on  more local rock to get a few routes done to salvage the day. A quick drive down the motorway and by 10am we were stood under the prow in Wilton One. I realise what a large and impressive face this is. The sky had already clouded over.

He had not done Fingernail so that would be our warm up route, both being a bit rusty. There was a bit of a struggle to get off the ground and lasso the metal hook but then he was away despite taking the direct layback line into Horrock’s Route at the top. I also dithered at the bottom, glad of a rope above. The holds seemed small and slopey  despite being clean and dry. In the niche I didn’t fancy the layback so traversed round the arete onto the exposed delicate slab the correct way, I had forgotten how exposed and delicate! There is some debate as to the correct grading of this climb Severe 4a to VS 4c I incline towards the latter.

Starting Fingernail.

The ‘direct’ finish

As we descend carefully from the prow spots of rain darken the rock. Back at the foot of the climbs we get into the familiar ritual – it’s just passing over, lets give it a bit longer, it will soon dry etc. Well it didn’t and the heavens opened, by the time we were back at the car we were thoroughly soaked. Our only consolation was that if we had driven anywhere further afield we would have done nothing and anyhow, as his wife said giving us hot tea, Jonathon would be able to do some more work on the house.