Tag Archives: My left foot.


Crowshaw Quarry.

Crowshaw Quarry.

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

Starting Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

Starting Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

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

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

Over the garden wall.

Over the garden wall.

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

Golf course, Giggleswick and Pendle.

Golf course, Giggleswick and Pendle.

Buck How Hill.

Buck Haw Brow.

Could be stiff in the arms tomorrow.


I used to have a list of ever-increasingly harder, but modest climbs to do. Lead E2 on my 50th, E3 on my 60th etc etc….Looking back I’ve achieved an awful lot and can’t complain – so I’m not going to.  I’ve pushed my limited physique to enjoy a few good decades of climbing, first traditionally in Britain and many places abroad and more recently sports climbing in the latest hotspots. My well-documented problem with my left big toe and its associated pain have limited my climbing recently – but I still hobble up to Craigy for a short session. I was surprised therefore to find on my pinboard a list of to-dos  – without a single climb. The list had been concocted last year whilst I was recovering from a toe operation and hopeful of some easy rehabilitation and was entirely composed of straightforward walking routes. There must be a link here to my recent post on what motivates me.

As you can see I’ve already ticked off some of the list at the end of last year, most satisfying was the completion of the GR7 through Spain. This route has given me many weeks of superb walking and immersion into Spanish society that I’ll never forget. But onwards I go and now I find myself starting on the GR131, a linear walk recently discovered in the Canary Islands. One has to fit the season to the walk [or vice versa] and now is the optimum walking time out in the Canary Islands.

The other listed walks can wait for suitable times and companions. Maybe I’ll find mine…….

………….watch this space for more list ticking.


               A post about nothing but the need to get out, exercise and enjoy one’s locality.We are just on the edge of the severe gales this weekend but nonetheless it’s hardly fit to be out. Previously I would have headed to the warmth of the climbing wall, but being wary of the associated big toe pain I ventured outdoors for my afternoon exercise. For some perverse reason I chose an exposed Longridge Fell circuit, mainly for the dry road walking. I only had my phone with me for pictures. The little reservoir at the top of the village resembled the mid Atlantic.

The wind blew me up the fell road in no time and I couldn’t resist a diversion to visit the trig point. The Vale of Chipping below was flooded in many areas, sunlight came and went as the clouds blew rapidly through.

Despite being back on the road progress was slow against the 30-40 mph gale coming straight at me, would not have liked to be any higher. A passing motorist even stopped to enquire whether I needed Help.  A forest area next to the road has been cleared of trees since I was last up here and was almost unrecognisable, the previously hidden ‘Sweden’ quarry, a large hole, was now laid bare on the hillside. There used to be some bouldering here but the rock reverted to vegetation through lack of traffic, maybe things could change.

The golf course was deserted, with the flags straining on the greens. This must be one of the most exposed golf courses in the country, running along the fell top.

In fact I saw only one other person, he was running around the road circuit. He is well know for running in his bare feet and true to form despite the cold and wet was not wearing shoes today!!!  I have hidden his identity / insanity on the photo.

Felt a touch of insanity myself as I battled against the wind and cold towards home, a welcome bath and the last of the mince pies. Probably do something similar tomorrow.

GR7 in Northern Catalunya – waiting for a miracle.

El Miracle Monastery.

El Miracle Monastery

Su – El Miracle – Solsona.

Yet another beautiful day in prospect, how long can this weather last.

Keep plastering my troublesome, left, little toe up each morning to alleviate the pain, it has never really recovered from my GR70 trip a couple of weeks ago. Still not suitable for public viewing in the raw. Have butchered my insole to try and give it more space. Hoping for a miracle cure – maybe today?

JpegStruggled with the ploughed fields and scambly thickets to get back on route again, don’t know why I retraced last nights mistake. Head high brambles claimed my glasses at one point. I think my concentration was disturbed and I looked for a  track off the road on the left whilst it had been on the right I found out later.

Passing stone crosses on the way  I arrived in El Miracle. This a large sanctuary dating from the 16th century. There is a grand monastery for 5 silent monks, an old church with the most amazing Baroque altar and lots of other religious buildings. Unfortunately the cafe was closed. I spent some time wandering about the place and marveling  at its past grandeur. It is perched on an escarpment with wonderful views of  that Serra de Cadi range.

The walking improved in the afternoon, on small paths through oak woods, past old farms, across ploughed fields and over little brooks. A couple of hours past unnoticed, I was enjoying myself so much. A great stretch downhill on heathland with views to the extensive town of Solsona. Then I got temporarily lost at a worn stone riverbed.  The route through the outskirts of town was not well way marked and I found myself  walking up a busy ring road. Things were safer in the historic centre. The whole place has gone mushroom mad this weekend with displays, markets and fungi inspired menus in all the bars.

My hotel turns out to be an impressive Modernist building on the tourist trail, with prices to match.

Can’t believe this weather, very hot and sunny for October the locals tell me. And it’s set to continue.

Oh and by the way – no miracle toe cure is apparent yet.


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

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

A misty Kemple Quarry

A misty Kemple Quarry

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

A sunny Crowshaw Quarry.

A sunny Crowshaw Quarry.

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


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

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



Wake-up call.

This little chap woke me up this morning with his cheerful chirping. Time to get going.

As part of my rehabilitation, sorry to bore you again, yesterday I managed 5 miles in the boggy fields around Goosnargh and today met up with a mate to walk 8 miles on The Reelers Trail. The location was a convenient half way meeting point between us. This is one of four varied circular walks in Lancashire on The Witton Weavers Way — a 32mile route around Blackburn using historic tracks and visiting many industrial sites and period settlements.

Look for your self at — http://www.blackburn.gov.uk/Pages/Witton-Weavers-Way.aspx

The mist was just clearing as we left Abbey Village on a lane down to the Roddlesworth Reservoirs.


It was relatively early due to the clocks leaping forward. A calm section through woods led to a steep field path up towards the picturesque village of Tockholes with many 17th century buildings. We passed several listed buildings of this period including Higher Hill Farm, a small room jutting out of the first floor was the en-suite toilet of the age.

Apparently the track we were on was a Saxon bridleway connecting Rossendale to Preston.  One interesting site was an old intact parish pinfold  [pound] for stray animals.

Many of the cottages we passed were old hand weavers’ dwellings, now in great demand for semi-rural living. One small holding was using a llama to guard the poultry. Unusual sight in these parts!

Before long we were walking in close to proximity to the M65 motorway and into urban housing estates in Feniscowles.


The sun was out and the day took on a more friendly nature with leisurely canal-side walking, along with family cycling groups,


A steep climb up towards Stanworth Farm and then we ducked back down under the rumbling motorway bridge.


From here we entered a  deep incut, almost secret, valley clothed in ancient woodland, rich in wild life. We were in a different world to the motorway.

This valley, which seems to be a tributary of the River Darwen, is a delight to follow and eventually brought us back to Abbey Village, the Hare and Hounds pub and a welcome pint outside in the warm Spring sunshine.

Simple short day but satisfying with lots of chat and not too much of a problem with the foot. Though I think I’ll be back on the bike this week!




The weeks are slipping by, not sure whether we are into Spring or not yet. I have a deadline at the end of April to walk the St. Cuthbert’s Way with my old schoolmate, we get out every year. Have been getting fitter on the bike but need to put some mileage into the recovering foot.  My daily trips to the shops, all of half a mile, have felt painful, but I’m trying not to walk with a limp [read wimp]. So decided to get back up onto Longridge Fell [350m] for the first time this year. Fortified with Brufen, other painkillers are available, parked up in the usual lay by.

What’s new up here?  The first thing that struck me was the amount of damage caused by the storms of last month, lots of trees down.

  Good to be walking in the countryside again even though I was mainly on forest tracks. We are so lucky to have this on our doorstep.

  The weather varied from sun to hail and was exhilarating along the ridge with views down both flanks of the fell. Clouds flashing by with rainbows following.

Storm brewing, Pendle in the distance.

Sudden hail storm.


Great views down into the valley, with the diminuitive hamlet of Walker Fold prominent below.

I must have walked this route a hundred times but always find something different, today it was a Red Kite looping effortlessly over the cleared forestry. No photo!

Next I met a young man from Estonia planting Sitka Spruce saplings into the ground recently harvested. He can plant 3000 a day on good open ground, but here he is only managing 1000. Looks hard work to me. I also wonder why he bothers as young trees germinate all over the area, maybe they are not in straight lines. Shall have to find the answer to this.

Hard Work Planting.


Nature’s Way of Planting.


Out of the trees and down through a favourite little dell full of light and back to the car before the next shower.

  Only four and a half miles, but an  enjoyable tramp and such good exercise for my foot and my mind.


Light at the end of the day.

Light at the end of the day.

Having a wonderful warm and dry few days. Getting fitter [and bored] on my cycle trips round the local lanes. The highlights yesterday were lambs frolicking in the fields, no doubt invigorated by the warm sunshine. Felt I had to turn down a climbing [or social] trip to Giggleswick today as I didn’t think I could manage the walk up never mind put a pair of rock boots on. The day turned out beautiful and sunny!

Pleased therefore to get a message from Robin suggesting a visit to Crowshaw Quarry on Longridge Fell in order to check out further bouldering possibilities. Went along really in a supportive capacity –  providing an extra bouldering mat, encouragement and spotting, This hidden old quarry is actually a pleasant spot for a few hours bouldering, especially on a lovely day like today.

Crowshaw Quarry.

Cronshaw Quarry.

There is one particularly steep and solid section of rock which we had highlighted for some hopefully good problems………………

Robin soon had dispatched a couple of traverses and the route up the right arête. All looked hard.

Low traverse.

Up to now I had been happy just to be out in the sunshine but the nagging started in my mind and soon I was tentatively pushing my painful, scarred left foot into a rock boot. A few little excursions onto the rock proved relatively painless – the second eureka moment in a week – not only can I pedal a cycle but I can attempt, in my modest way, to get back on the rock!

Other problems for another day were spotted, may need a bit of Spring cleaning! All of a sudden I am reactivated and feel the batteries recharging. On the way home even pop into Craigy for a chat. Just miss out on photographing a really spectacular sunset over the reservoir.

So there is light at the end of the day and more importantly at the end of my particular tunnel.


Bike and Bowland.

Have not made much progress with my walking, go up to the shops for the paper and back in the morning, that’s about it. Not wanting to push the pain too far.  So for two months I’ve lived the proverbial couch potato and it’s not suiting my psychology. Didn’t think I would be able to pedal my bike with the post-op foot but last week out of desperation dragged my old trusty road bike out of the garage and gave it a spin around the village. Pleasantly surprised to manage with minimal discomfort, kicking myself for not trying earlier!

On the fair weather days I’ve pedalled around the flattish lanes realising how unfit my old body has become.  Today was one of the better with lovely almost warm sunshine and little wind. So in late afternoon I cycled out to Chipping and back, feeling much invigorated by the gentle exercise. Chipping is a delightful village at the foot of Parlick in the Bowland fells. It was mentioned in the Domesday book and is a fascinating place to look around. At the cobbled entrance to the old part is the building originally used as Brabins School established in 1684 and round the corner is a shop/cafe, built by the same John Brabin in 1668, said to be the oldest continuously trading shop in Britain. Two of the three pubs are still open. The Anglican Church of St Bartholomew’s presides over the village. So lots to see. Sadly the last remaining wood turning mill has closed.

Brabins School.

Another reason Chipping deserves its popularity for, especially with cyclists, is the  welcoming Cobbled Corner Café and that’s where I headed for today!

                                                                                                                                                             All is not rosy for the cyclist in these parts — motorists use the lanes as race tracks and if they don’t get you the proliferating potholes might.

  I need to readjust to two wheeled transport, somehow it doesn’t connect to the land as much as walking does for me. Still I may get fit and loose some weight.

The Preston Guild Wheel next.


Pendle viewed from the car.

Two weeks further on with my foot convalescence and it was time to drive again. My temporary raised surgical shoe wasn’t allowed for insurance reasons, this meant using normal shoes for driving and taking the former if I had to walk anywhere. A right pain! [or rather left]  Despite starting my car up a few times over the last weeks the battery was completely dead when I came to use the car. So it needed a spell of trickle charging to bring it back to life. So town, friends and relatives are now in reach but it was only today whilst the sun shone that I thought of driving up Longridge Fell for my favourite views. Glad I did as all the usual vistas  [Pendle, Yorkshire three peaks, Bowland, Morecambe Bay and North Wales, aren’t we lucky with our location]  were clear and despite being frustrated that I couldn’t wander up any of the fell tracks I positively felt a surge of optimism and joie de vivre.

This lead me to thinking about recharging my own batteries. I suspect in the circumstances it will be a trickle charge of trips like today rather than any jump starting.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do as on top of the car not starting my house phones died [what a wonder is internet shopping when you are house bound?] my mobile seemed to block all texts and to top it all my computer then came up with the blue screen of death! Couldn’t get round it for a week until my son was able to work his magic and restore the workings without any loss. A good reminder to always back up to an external hard drive. Anyhow here we are again but I realise my deficiencies in the modern technologies.

                                                          I’ll continue trickling.


Sunset from home.

  Cabin fever – no not the feeling you get from a luxury Caribbean cruise but the feeling you get cooped up in the house for three weeks with your foot in the air. The boredom and restlessness have only been partially relieved by  good books and some climbing DVDs. The cricket I was hoping to enjoy was a disaster. Didn’t seem able to concentrate to get round to sorting through my recent photos of Israel for a post, still coming to terms with that strange conflicting trip. TV was even worse. Friends have been very supportive, particularly those who took me to the pub.

But somehow I imagine my body and mind must need outdoor activities and some interaction with nature. Even simple things like watching, from my bedroom window, the morning sunrise seemed to be uplifting. I found I started to anticipate and appreciate a lot of minor events outside that window; birds flying by, the laughter of kids in the road, the hail hammering on the glass and the swish of bending trees in the gales we have been experiencing. There has been some awful weather over the holiday period, that was one aspect I was happy to have an excuse to avoid. There is another storm blowing in as I write this.

Sunrise across the field.

Gale force.

Xmas and New Year have passed without much fuss, another positive aspect of my confinement!  I’ve not starved, the toe is healing, the stitches out and the crutches ditched.

   There have been a couple of bright and sunny days this week so have managed to hobble down the road for a brew and chat with neighbours. Great to get out of the cabin under my own steam. I’m still wearing the fashionable platform surgical shoe and this gives a lovely mismatch with the walking boot on the other foot. All seems to be progressing well, there is new life in 2014. The surgeon said it would be 2-3 months before I would hopefully feel the benefit !?!?

                        See you at the crag and up the fell soon.


A post for those who need the surgeons knife occasionally to keep them in the hills.

My left foot.

Thursday 12 December [Better than Friday 13th.] was scheduled for my toe operation.The plan was to remove bone around the left big toe joint [Cheilectomy  of  Left 1st MTP joint.] to make life less painful and hopefully get my foot back into those tight Red Chili rock shoes. All went to plan and I was back home with my foot up by mid-afternoon. Haven’t been far since!

My instructions are to keep the foot elevated as much as possible for a week or so, to avoid swelling or infection. I’ve been supplied with a  nifty shoe which takes all the pressure off the toes and a pair of elbow crutches. Was also given a bag of pain killers for when the anaesthesia wore off – forgive any spelling mistakes.

Ensconced in my bed with the foot duly raised on many pillows. I’m catching up with some book reading that has been neglected recently whilst away. Deep into Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places, an environmental study with vivid imagery. Despite being unable to walk I’m lying here being stimulated to roam in the night, climb some trees or find a local wilderness. Out with the bivi bag…. Getting a bit ahead of myself now – should have been content with the prize crossword in today’s paper.

My cat, Seth, can’t understand all the fuss.



The more uninteresting the post the more catchy the title has to be.

There are hills up there in the grey.

After all the storms last week the forecast for today was dry and milder. My walking pals didn’t believe me and declined a short trip. How right they were. It was raining most of the morning but by lunchtime the skies had brightened. I was determined to get a walk of a few miles in as next week I’m going into hospital for that toe operation.

Hadn’t been out long before the greyness descended once more. Nobody else was seen on what is normally a popular circuit on local lanes, maybe the dogs refused to venture out.

‘Mile Lane’ Grey with a bit of green.

Drizzle set in to make everything appear even more miserable. Not much was visible so I was focused on my own inner world [toe operations!!] and on the ground to avoid the puddles.

Probably because of my limited vision a highlight of the walk was the sweet aroma of silage feed coming from a barn on route. Childhood memories of life on the farm.

The trees also drew my attention with their barren branches.

As I made my way home through the village the shops were closing on what had been a busy Xmas shopping day but now the street looked shabby and depressing. The miserable little Xmas trees doing little to brighten the place. At least my neighbour’s garden shone brightly in the gloom.

Talking of Christmas trees I’ve just returned from The Holy land and was in Bethlehem just before the famous tree was decorated. On the flight home we met the Christmas Decorators from Liverpool who had been doing the work!!  Watch the videos —

Will post on the Israeli trip soon – a land of contrasts and contradictions.

I can hardly believe that only a couple of days ago I was swimming in the Med off a lovely beach at Tel Aviv with the temperature 27 degrees! No wonder I’m feeling grey today.

Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv.