Sloshing over the Edges

I bet you can tell the theme behind this post already.

With the Anglezarke Amble fast approaching (I’m doing the 16-miles version this time around), it was pressing on me that I really needed to get in some practice, especially after New Year’s Day’s early bail-out.

A first glimpse of Rivington Pike’s tower.

So, off I headed back to Rivington with the intention of taking in at least Rivington Pike and Great Hill. I set off on what has become my usual route – around the back of the Barn and headed for the straight-up bridal path which is the first real hard slog of the ‘Amble. It wasn’t as painful as I feared it might be, this was not me underestimating my fitness, just overestimating how steep this can be! By the time I had got to the major track which traverses most of the face of Winter Hill I couldn’t help but notice that the view to Winter Hill was inabsentia – gone, swallowed up by the mist. This left me in a bit of a quandary, I have no qualms about mist walking in most of the year, however, walking in the mist in wet weather down a hill with a notoriously slippery descent gave me shudders! I decided to forgo any thoughts of climbing up Witner Hill but took in the Pike regardless. After this, I rejoined the wide track and headed in a westerly direction until just past Pigeon tower where I took the northen path – that winds in a north-east direction, which would ultimately convey me over to Rivington Road. The clues relating to the state of the terrain, for now and later; were all around, mist and water, a lot of water. This is a straight forward track and is hardly ever really dry but today the puddles were in the ascendancy!

The track to Rivington Road.

This track is long, 1.57 miles long according to Bing Maps, but for me the prospect of being away from the myriads back at the Pike and on route was nothing short of a blessing. I basked in the emptyness afforded by the seclusion, the mist and the wetness under foot. This was like a hilly Moss, actually, it was nothing like the Moss as my feet would testify days later, I’d been softened by too many comfortable pavements, country walking is notably harder on the feet than its rural brother! In time I reached the culmination of this solitary wandering around an absent corner of Winter Hill and reached the racetrack of Rivington Road. Perhaps because of the mist, cars were thinner on the ground today, but still enough to deter one from absentmindedly ambling across the road. Will Narr was my next destination.

I’d noticed this short climb of a hill getting steadily closer for the last half-a-mile or so, it always looks much more severe than it really is and I’d estimate that I was up to the summit plateau within ten minutes of leaving the road. Here the mist was less prevalent, maybe the water had scared it off for I had never seen the snaking path which stretches out across Anglezarke Moor look quite so wet in my previous crossings. I commented to myself and the owner of a friendly Great Dane that the visiting mountain bikers had left one almighty mess behind as when the stone slabs receded the path bordered on treacherous, this was like walking on wet clay. Spitlers Edge will never be known as an arid location, and today it was in soggy exaltation. I reached what I thought was the apex of the walk, in loftiness terms, only to realise that I was not, as of yet, even on Redmonds Edge – the true high point!

Looking across the moors.

I think the damp atmosphere was affecting me. This was further reinforced when the lavalier microphone which I had been using to add comments to my video, took a full-on nose dive into a puddle. I believe it’ll work again but for now I wasn’t risking it and pocketed the poor soggy device. Within roughly twenty minutes I had almost matched the microphone for wetness as my left leg went knee-deep in between the joining of two slabs and my Iphone 6 (upon which I’d been filming the day’s events) went slamming to the ground. The sky was gray, the air was blue as I vented my colouful descriptionof this incident! I assert it was probably around this time that I cursed my decision to not bring a single gramme of carbohydrates with me, chocolate often brings you up when you are down but instead I just shrugged my shoulders and reassured myself that at some point in the near future I’d be grinning at this minor turn of events (I was right).

The short and easy path to the summit of Great Hill soon came into view and within a couple of minutes, after negotiating a break in the walkway, I was triumphantly stiding up to the four-sided summit shelter. I was elated to be the only human around, for a change, however this didn’t last long as a couple shortly appeared on the near horizon. Now it was time for something I had been reluctantly anticipating, the descent of Great Hill on a moisture-bound day, oh joy this was going to get slippery!

I’m not walking through that!
A pretty, bespectacled woman walks with her dog up to the summit of Great Hill.

But I was surprised to discover that I could keep my footing. Setting my stall by the late great Alfred Wainwright’s advice, I abandoned the notion of trying to capture the scenery on file and focussed my eyes only on my own two feet. This served me well for the rest of the walk and to be honest it wasn’t like I was missing out on spectacular views – thanks to the redolent and ubiquitous dampness what was visible could only be described as washed out! Of course, the first half a mile or so when descending Great Hill towards White Coppice, is normally the easiest section. I knew that the terroir of the path would degrade considerably once I had arrived at the turn-off, the rest of the path would take walkers towards Brinscall, a calling to which I’ve never yet been allured.  I met a family at this finger post section whom I thought might shed some light on the path up from White Coppice but as luck would have it these people had arrived here via the Brinscall route – I did consider interrogating them on all things Brincallian…but thought that too weird, even for me, instead I spent a few minutes chatting before heading off towards the quagmyre which lay ahead of me.
There was no doubt this was the thickest, mud-riddled fragment of the whole sloshfest! But I was comforted by the fact that this was bold mud, it made no attempt to hide or scower unseen awaiting to ensnare and attack. This was brave mud which faced up to whomever might be foolhardy enought to traverse its treachery and throw down its peaty gauntlet! The rule of the descent was simple, do not even attempt to look anywhere other than directly in front of your feet, in addition, if it looks black don’t stand on / in it lest you want to go sliding towards a mudstained embarrasment. If you tried hard enough, if you were really, really stupid enough (hello mountain biking fraternity!) to do so, it would be possible to cause yourself a great deal of physical harm. If however, you paid strict heed to Lord Mud’s prescription, you shouldn’t come a cropper…and I didn’t. There was the odd micro-slip where essentially your body moves forward an inch or two without your volition, otherwise, it may have taken quite some time, but i got to White Coppice looking more human than hippo!

It’s true to say that the walk from here to the junction at Moor Road is not really riveting. That being said, if you are not in a rush (Ambling) then it’s nice to take your time here. Ordinarily, there are sheep all around but today they were hiding somewhere. Sheep are terrible conversationalists so I didn’t miss them! It’s surprising how quickly I arrived at Moor Road full of the resolve that I was going to stick to my plan of doing my usual Amble finish – the alternative being to ascend Moor Road purely for the sake of dropping back down the other side to Rivington. This strategy would probably result in a drier and less mud-infused walk, but with the con of it adding a notable amount of time and effort – Moor Road is a favourite haunt for speed-loving cyclists! Nope, my original plan to traverse as if doing the final leg of the Amble would suffice. And if I thought I’d been through mud before…that was nothing!

The Moss-scape near Anglezarke reservoir.

The clue really should be in the fact that there are at least five reservoirs in relatively closse proximity, you don’t get that in the Sahara Desert now do you? All of that water comes from somewhere and on route it washes over somewhere else – here! And having done this, the residue is, thick, rather smelly and certainly slippery, mud. This section was rife with it! On the uphill stages, of which there are hardly any, you don’t really mind, it makes you approach the slope in a more cautious and concerted manner. On descents, the fear of falling over compels you to ‘take your time, watch your footing (litterly)’. No, it’s the flat bits that mess you up! Often times there are simply no visible cues. Every so often the route contains a footbridge which in effect is a slightly elevated plank of wood…even these were caked in various obnoxious substances, each offering its own particular blend of sideways motion! A number of times I had to detour from the well-beaten path in order to avoid doing the splits! It was at this point when the silent assasin that is short wet grass came to the fore and made my crossing of the narrow sheep trod adjacent to the huge Anglezarke Reservoir, an embarrassment. Two runners had even seen fit to take a vertical detour in order to bypass a patch of water and mud and plain old slime, I followed suite – well, in reverse as I was going in the opposite direction but with one major disadvantage, the longer one’s feet touch the ground, the more traction they lose! I fell to my knees and steadied myself by putting my hands in mud, gross!

Anglezarke Reservoir in all its beauty.
Anglezarke Reservoir framed by Silver Birches.

Eventually I made it to the High Bullough Reservoir, overtaken with the belief that its name had been changed very recently (I was now craving carbs at an uncomfortable rate) from Parson’s Bullough Reservoir. A relative quick march along its western flank brought me to the drop that I’d been dreading. This was a close-relative to vertical! Ordinarily, I take my time descending this patch of road / gravel / other, and that’s on a dry day. Today I’d estimate that it took me five minutes to walk around five hundred feet…and several pats of the heads of various dogs who must have been able to smell Pepper (our cat) on me…or fear! The ultimate pay-off for sticking with this route now came into view – the culmination of the Anglezarke Reservoir near Lane Ends ( 53.639357, -2.583288 ). The first time I completed the Amble I promised to myself I would return (one day) to get a photograph or two! I felt that by now i had earned my energy gel, it was delicious, but I would want the Cappucino variety next time! People passed me, I didn’t care, my left foot was beginning to feel less wet than before (after it had been dunked in icy water on Redmond’s Edge!) and my spirits were high because in spite of falling, I was doing it, I would make it around the Amble next month even though this route was five miles shorter and a thousand feet less climbing.  In addition, that view of the reservoir was captivating.

A pretty flower, offset by snowdrops in the background.

And so I carefully crossed over Knowlsley Lane in order to get a photo of yet another body of water and kept on the same side of the road so as to avoid crossing at a blind corner. The Yarrow flow-off at the water chute ( 53.635803, -2.573412 ) was in spate and looking quite spectacular today, I don’t know if I managed to keep the footage, it isn’t to hand at the moment. This didn’t matter, the slope of the chute is not great, even after ten miles it is still manageable, I’ve done it several times and at the top is the reward that for the next 3/4 of a mile, it’s all down a very gentle, if somewhat stony, slope. Wonderful. The weather continued to stay on my side as I exchanged pleasentries with others on the same stretch of land at the side of the blatantly not natural Yarrow reservoir. At the end of this path I saw a couple doggedly circumnavigate a decrepit stile – when my turn came I simply walked through the gap in the fence next to it! A quick turn to the left, ten metres then a turn through another kissing post and I was next to the brook which for want of the proper name I’ll call Dean Wood Brook. Even in winter this is just a gentle trickle of a stream and I was glad of this, I was within the last mile and wanted no drama. Eventually the terrain rose in front of me as I climbed the steps to take me into the final pasture before Sheephouse Lane. The gate at the far end of the field is horribly tight and enforced a walker of my stature to remove the rucksack from their back, I don’t like to do this but there really is no choice. I always feel that this gateway is a little too close for comfort to the road which can at times be chaotic. With this in mind I headed north-east up Sheephouse Lane, leaving Rivington Lane for the more foolhardy and brave. It tool a little while (and a minor panic about having to turn around) before I found the opening in the wall which would lead to my path back up to the car park, again the pay-off was these delightul photos to the left of the flora present. By 16:56 I had made it back to the car, I’d completed my first hill-walk of 2020.

In summing this was a magnificent walk, well they can’t all be dry and offering majestic views of the distant horizons. Sometimes you just have to put more effort in and as such this was most definitely a down and dirty kind of walk. I was so impressed with my performance, including my resilience and not giving up when I met obstacles in the mud and other slime. That being said I do think that the crossing of the edges could be most appreciated in drier (if not completely bone-dry) weather. My fitbit reports that I covered over thirteen miles that day, Google maps comes in around two miles less and both are right in their own way as the fitbit is counting every single footstep…and slide.

And what of song of the walk? There were a few:

Zara Larsen – Don’t Worry ’bout me

Zara Larsen – Symphony – the others escape me now but I did have the themes from the classic arcade Sonic the Hedgehog – Greenhill and Marble zones resounding through my head for the last six miles or so!

 

  • Anglezarke Reservoirframed by Silver Birches.

 

A Rivington Ramble…

…But not with ‘the Ramblers’!

 

The ooze stile
Path to the terraced cottages

With the Amble fast approaching (8/2/2020) I decided I needed some off-road walking practice, and quick! So instead of trying to get parked at Barley car park in order to take on Pendle Hill, which is always stuffed to the seams at New Year (and filthy), I headed off to Rivington. The clue’s in the title really and I soon discovered that the car parks there too, were chockablock! Oh well! Fortunately, people were coming and going all the time so I was lucky enough to grab a convenient space, result! Before I set off I had all sorts of fancyful ideas about which route to take, should I try the arduous trek from Winter Hill (the road) down to the Dean Mills Reservoir and then back up via Counting hill? By contrast I considered a 13 miles romp over the whole of Angelzarke Moor taking in the usual suspects of Will Narr, the ‘Edges and Great Hill. the first walk of the year is always a case of ambition over reality! I decided upon the walk that Chris and I have done a couple of times, passing the Yarrow Reservoir and wandering over what I believe is known as Lead Mines Clough.

Photo A lovely meadow on route to the Yarrow Reservoir
A lovely meadow on route to the Yarrow Reservoir

After cuttting off a corner, not something I would do normally, I headed downhill towards the cottages at Rivington Lane but decided (at the last minute) to stick with the green path and joined the road, you can’t call this paving, at Sheephouse Lane.  This is essentially the final stretch of the Amble which I am doing in reverse and I have to say it has become one of my favourite places to walk. In contrast to the car park, where it was teaming, this area was fairly free of walkers, although I did end up with one couple behind me for some distance, the male of which had a cough like a seal, a real hacker!

 

I kept the Yarrow reservoir on my right as opposed to heading off left towards the water chute (the Amble comes up this way), and the views to Winter Hill and Noon Hill duly opened up. This is one of mine and Chris’s favourite routes so navigating is so much of a breeze that I gave it scant attention. At the end of the green path which passes by the Yarrow reservoir there is a combination of a concrete and then multi-surface path, before hitting a road Parson’s Bullough Road and i stayed on this short stretch of road for just a few minutes and turned off left into, well Parson’s Bullough (53°38’30.1″N 2°33’59.7″W if you want to look it up on Bing OS maps).

Photo of a view from the Yarrow Area

 

A gentle slope
The views open out once more.

In the beginning this is a deceptively easy walk, the first few hundred metres are a sheer joy, then come the ascensions. The first one seperates the path into two, the left hand one veers off towards some quite dramatic scenery at both Jepson’s Farm and Jepson’s Gate, both areas of which I have no walking experience. My route heads off to the right andclimbs quite steeply over an area of disused trial shafts – which are not visible, or thankfully… in use. The first area that I am heading towards, after entering a gigantic gate is known as Wilkinson’s Bullough.  I didn’t know what a Bullough is, and thanks to Google Search I can now attest that, I still do not know what a Bullough is! This was nice walking, a gradient that could only be described as a treat, with a path which undulated more in the horizontal plane than in the vertical one. All around were sheep, very timid sheep and fortunately, no cows. It’s not that I detest cows, it’s just that they can be a bit dauting oh and they do kill a handful of walkers each year. One time Chris and I had to turn back from this route as there were enough of the things at the other side of the gate to pose a very real threat. Not today though, and I continued on, at a leisurely pace, my feet just would not speed up!

The path rises a little
A solitary, Hawthorne or Rowan.

The area became a little more wet underfooted as I stuck with the path through the area known as “Simms”, on a geographical (perhaps even geological) perspective there might be a lot here to interest folks, I just observed an unmistakedly rural path with zillions of sheep either side of it. Break-off routes to Great Hill, Redmonds Edge and Spitlers Edge do exist here, but these are easier to see on the map than on the ground and were definitely not part of my day’s itinerary, they can be kind of wet as well!At around three fifths of the way along this path there is a decidely sticky section where the runoff water from the surrounding fields essentially strips the path of any sand and stones it might have had (the paths are repaired every few years) and mud stakes its claim upon the environment. A fast walker would fall over here, so I was safe! Another point to bear in mind is that it’s a completely exposed area, and the wind was certainly blowing today, even though it had seemed negligible thus far into the walk. I was glad for every dry stone wall that I passed for the fleeting cover that they afforded. The cars on the horizon started to get bigger, the horizon itself seemed to be filling up with just one dauting, terrifying vision…the sombre lump of the Winter hill massif. Honestly, if you haven’t been there for a while, Winter hill can appear mountainous.

The path veers to the right.
This path doesn’t look at all dangerous!

My plan had been to turn right at the road and make my way onto the broad dirtrack before turning left and summiting via the north-western converted sheep trod.Several hundred feet into this section I realised something with a certain forehead-slapping dread, I’d taken the wrong turning! This is becoming a habbit! Instead of turning right I should have turned left, DOH! All the same I could simply carry on to the next left hand turn and drop down, over a stream up a little bit of a steep path to Catter Nab and continue from there, good plan. The downfall was that the environment was soaked and mud was in the ascendancy. I was pretty sure that if I made my way down this 30-degree slope I’d end up in the afore mentioned stream, or just knock myself out! This is a route for a dry day, moreover this is a route for a drought! I took the wise but downright disatisfying option to turn around and head once more back to the road. By now I was somewhat demoralised, I really wanted to trudge my way back up to Belmont Road (the track, not road) and scoot off up the north-west face of Winter Hill (I’m sure nobody ever really scooted up Winter Hill) but my feet were boiling and my legs jelly-like, but more importantly I think I had left my resolve in a patch of mud on Angelzarke Moor, it sure as hell was not with me!

The sensible option was to plod back down the road all the way to Moses Cocker ( 53.631373, -2.552180 ) don’t they have some strange names around here?

I should add here that this road is a designated national speed limit and pretty narrow…and has no footpath. So not that sensible really! I followed the highway code directive of walking into oncoming traffic…does that sound like a safe, reassuring practice to anyone else? No, me neither, I’d rather be hit from behind and never really get a glimpse of my potential killer(s)! Eventually I made it back to the crossroads where all manner of different footpaths converge, the traffic was now more or less gridlocked with frustration redolent throughout the air. There aren’t this many people in the area when the Amble is on and that tends to average around 300 walkers! Happy to be making my way to the car (and home) I plodded the rest of the course back via paddocks and crumbling paths back to the car park at the barn. I hadn’t done what I intended to do but I had at least got out and about in the countryside.Distance covered: around five and a half miles with roughly 800 feet of ascension. Still no song of the walk…what’s going on. (photos to follow, I need to catch up!)

Meandering over the Moss

The walk of Sunday the first of September, 2019.

I had planned on doing another mamoth walk home from work the preceeding Friday but ultimately this never happened owing to a lack of drive on the day. As such I was practically chomping at the bit on Sunday to get out and about for a walk. The weather was looking decidedly inclement with regards to the West Pennines but the outlook for Southport was sunny spells and breeze. This would suffice so by 09:50 I was out the house and en route to the Moss, Churchtown Moss.

I decided to go through Hesketh Park, there would be virtually no other high points to the route which I had thought out so it made sense to summit the Astronomy hill and its neighbouring peak early on in the day. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a large hill…it’s not even fifty feet in altitude, but it can be a little shock to the system if one has not done any walking for some time.

The summits conquered I now had around three miles of totally urban dominated plodding to do as I meandered through one district, across invisible boundaries and into another. This did make for easy progress with the streets being dry and as always I was afforded the opportunity to peep into other people’s gardens, an activity of which I doubt I shall ever tyre! In time I successfully located the one of the illusive gateways that would transport me from urbanisation and onto the North Marshside Coastal path. Although the very nature of the terrain would notably reduce my speed, the pay-off is the dramatic change in scenary and environment as the Irish sea makes the odd appearance on the far left hand side and a couple of golf courses a bit nearer but also on the left and occasionally on the right – they do like a round of golf in these parts.

After some time, the Marshside section of the Coastal path is considerably longer than what I tend to recall, I crossed the road in order to take on the Fiddlers Ferry / Banks stretch of pathway, which is not a part of the greater Sefton Coastal path. This is less exposed and more green and certainly gets one nearer to the neigbours as you are practically in their back garden! This pathway can go on for some distance but I turned off after half a mile to pick up Banks Road, I now had over a mile of pavement walking ahead of me as I ambled through the tiny and quaint village of Banks. I called in at the Co-op shop in order to get some drinks as I am a bit prone to dehydrating and, well, it’s never fun and gives me a horrible headache.  I saw my partner’s mother in there and we had the briefest of all chats, before she could invite me back for a bacon butty!

I next made my way towards the gigantic bypass which is the A565, the plan being to safely cross this monster and head down Gravel Lane. Crossing this hi-speed road, it’s only a 50mph road but with an average speed checker setup, this makes for some sporadic driving and adrenallin-fuelled traversals. After the insanity of the 565 crossing it was with relief that I was to say farewell to traffic for the next few miles. I was now heading for another stretch of Southport’s “The Moss”. Personally, moss was a plant when I lived in Bolton, however, it transpires that in many parts of this fair country it actually refers to an area of near-deserted farmland…or just a vast patch of wetland as in the Lake District’s various “Mosses”. Whatever, if you are looking for a nice stretch of piece and quiet then head off for your nearest ‘moss’.

Until now the weather had hinted that it could rain. About a mile into the walk across the moss, it did but only for around a minute or so. Further down the road, about two miles I would estimate, the rain came back with a vengence . I put the hood of my coat up…and then decided that the world was a better and more beautiful place with it down again…plus everything sounds rubbish when you have your hood up! By the time I had finally made it to a real road “Moss Lane” which in time would lead me back to Churchtown proper. I felt no need to enter The Spar for refreshments, although by this time a sit down for five minutes would have been great and I have to say, well-deserved! The gaping hole in the surface of the road however, was making traffic back-up and after so long in the fresh air, it was a bit of a let-down, so I simply carried on.

I opted not to do an oft-repeated plod down Roe Lane and thought that I had down enough miles without adding more on by detouring over to Cambridge Road / Preston New Road and instead took a turning own Chester Road, crossed Wennington Road then down Chester Ave. I hopped across Norwood Ave and then down Norwood Cresent before taking the footpath onto the Grange Road estate and before long I had landed on Row Lane once again. then I passed the church and made my way down my home street.  Some five (ish) hours after leaving it.

All things considered this was a really enjoyable and much needed walk in some varied terrains. I only stopped to speak to one person (Chris’s mum) and managed to eat nothing calorific…in fact I ate nothing at all and only had a 250 calorie milkshake at the Co-op. The song I had stuck in my head was: Stereo Love by Edward Maya, Vika Jigulina. 

To be honest this was probably the nicest walk I’ve done in a very lazy year!

Muggy on the moors!

The classic walk on Sunday 21st of July, 2019.

I had planned on doing some Rivington walks in order to build up stamina and speed for next year’s Anglezarke Amble, more on this later. In essence I thought I would start easy and build on that.

I arrived and was finally ready to leave the upper car park at Rivington Hall Barn by 10:04. Having driven up the lane I deduced that there would be a lot of walkers on the hills today and the day was to prove me right in that respect. I decided not to go my usual route up through the shaded paddock and took the ‘Amble’ approach which would flirt with the area that ‘the friends of Rivington Pike’ have been duly turning into “Path World”!

At times the humidity and the slightly foolish pace at which I had set off, forced me to stop for thirty seconds or so and quite often this would give me the chance to change direction if I had been caught up by a group of walkers or if I had inadvertantly merged with one. It’s not that I’m anti social, moreoever I’m incompetantly competitive – I merge with a group and want to be at the front of it walking more quickly than what I would really want. This is something that I have really begun to notice since June’s Y3P attempt.

Before too long, but after many steps, I had hit the broad track which separates the terraced gardens from ‘The Pike’ – it does more than that but for my purposes, that’s how I refer to it. I didn’t fancy the steps up to the top of the pike as invariably I get stuck behind someone and this has a draining impact on me. Instead I added probably another half-mile on the route by dropping down a few hundred metres only to turn a good nitely-degress in  order to come back on myself and take the less refind, more organic route from the north. This is a route of descent on the ‘Amble’day and can be quite an ordeal if the ground is wet or has snow on it. On a hot day this can be a major slog and today was warming up a bit…I did it in around ten minutes without feeling like a tortoise. All the same I was glad to be atop the pike, I took a photo or two and then dropped down the steep steps which were already adorned with walkers of varying fitness and abilities.

I joined the broad track once more and ambled  behind a young couple up until the turn-off facing Dovecote came along. According to Google maps, this is yet another “Belmont Road”. The man in charge of naming the streets and tracks in this area has been taken away and shot for crimes against the concept of imagination as apparently he really didn’t have any! This track is just short of 1.5 miles in length and more often than not offers some of the most peaceful walking in the area, even today, a relatively busy day, I  recall seeing only another ten people on this stretch. The going was good, there are always patches of water and some mud to navigate – the track divides Noon Hill Slack and Catter Nab and as such has to withstand an enromous amount of overspill when the rain hits Winter Hill, but this was practically dry. At the northernmost point of the track it joins onto Rivington Road (which leads onto…Belmont Road, argh!) but fortunately for me I didn’t have to spend much time dodging the cars which were hurtling on by at 70mph+!

Within a few minutes I turned left in order to face Will Narr. This is not a human as the name might imply, but simply the left hand side of the slope also known as Hordern Pasture – so exactly which point is Spitlers Edge escapes me! All the same it’s generally a nice walk, nicer going up than down as it happens as the rain can make this terrain a little slippery! After turning off Rivington Road I became trapped behind a couple who were in possession of one of the singlemost yappy dogs that it has been my displeasure to endure. Within about thirty seconds I was ready to turn around and find another route, so painful was the screech emanating from this pensive pup! Instead I waited until they had got a decent distance in front of me…two minutes did the job nicely! This was uphill walking, but not the excessive, hard-slog which one encounters on the slopes of much bigger hills and mountains such as Pen-y-Ghent and Blencathra, to name two of the ones I’ve slogged up this year. The reward for very little effort expended is a lovely airy ridge-walk, okay it’s a wide ridge, but as there is the word ‘Edge’ in the name of Redmonds and Spitlers edges then I have to draw the conclusion that they are in fact ridges!

At various points I stopped to have conversations with people, one was a former soldier out for his constitutional (he had a lovely long-haired Alsatian with him) and a middle-aged (I’m being diplomatic here) couple who were just settling down for their lunch. I shared with the couple my belief that rain was due and very shortly at that, but the lady was optimistic that it would pass…within thirty seconds of me leaving them, we were rained on! Fortunately the rain did not last long and I was soon within reach of Great Hill after having another glug of water…I had promised myself that every time I encountered either a gate or a large stile I would stop and have something to drink in order to ward off dehydration headaches. Back at Catter Nab I had calculated that I should be at the top of Great Hill by two o’clock. I had made it to this tiny summit for 13:47 and was pleased with myself as I had spent a good five minutes chatting with people. The hiltop was draped with people and I had no lunch to consume I took another few photos and made my way east and downhill towards White Coppice.

There’s something in the name of the farm “Drinkwaters” which makes one stop and drink some water, which I did. As I spent some moments knocking back water and taking in the view a number of walkers obviously from an organised group; passed on by, some with niceties and others who simply exchanged smiles. I decided to pour my Peach water into the bottle I’d been using so as to avoid having to retrieve it later on in the walk.  On the descent I bumped into another talkative couple, the man of whom decided to rib me a bit “You’re last” he japed. Implying my position in the throng of walkers whom had passed me at Drinkwaters.

“Ah well I’ve news of you…I’m not in their group, so in fact I’m first, and last, in my own!” I retorted back.

He laughed and we spent a few minutes talking about the weather and just how nice a good downpour can be on a day like today. I had been curious as to where the group had come in from today and the gentleman mentioned that his wife was currently in the process of finding out that exact information. Less than a minute later we were enlightened to hear that they were from Poynton, which apparently is in Cheshire.

As we descended I overtook all of the Poynton group reaching the front runner perhaps two minutes after the main group. We got talking about walking as part of a group and the appalling communications I had endured whilst a member of the Southport Ramblers – a point to which she could relate. We parted company outside the tiny cricket ground at White Coppice and then again after I had stopped to take my coat off again (after another minor rain spell atop Great Hill). From ther on in it was full steam ahead, I was on a mission to get back to the car before three o’clock.

The route passes through various terrains, at one point I was surrounded by trees and vegetation and another had me traversing a verdant paddock on the slimest of all tracks. I passed by Anglezarke Reservoir then High Bullough Reservoir and then some more of the Anglezarke – it really is a large expanse of water. I must admit to preferring the open parts of the walk over the more wooded sections as the humidity by now felt very high, who would ever have thought that the woods near Spen Cobb would be comparable to the Amazon rain forest? I emerged onto Moor Road / Knowlsley Lane and back into car world once more! Most of the roads around this local are national speed limit, and how the drivers like to test that out, crossing the road was somewhat perilous but I made it across to the chute leading up to the Yarrow Reservoir. For the record I had now passed by:

  1. Some Yarrows (plants)
  2. Yarrow head (the beginning of the river Yarrow)
  3. The Yarrow Reservoir.

I did pause for a minute at the water chute ahead of the Yarrow reservoir, the evidence would point to it being a long time since there was any real flow of water in here as there are Ash (Fraxinus) trees and other shrubs emerging from the concrete basin. A young couple had gone ahead of me and I thought it would be really nice of me to leave it a few minutes before setting off behind them…I was kind of hot by now. Eventually, I ascended by the chute and passed the western edge of the reservoir. Aphids were out by the swarm load today and passing through a cloud of them was a minor annoyance, but they were getting on everyone’s nerves so that kind of made it okay! At the end of the reservoir I turned left then right at the edge of Dean Wood and followed the stream which has no name on o/s maps (but I believe might be the Dean Brook) for a little while until I reached the last climb of the walk, a set of steps which a fitter me normally finds no trouble but today I attempted them so swiftly that I was hyperventilating when at the top, where of course the young couple were waiting to descend. Now it was through a grassy paddock which is the end of the Angelzarke Amble (as was everything from the summit of Great Hill and onwards) before a struggle through the route’s slimmest kissing gate and onto Sheep House Lane. This is the hardest part of this walk, trying to not get hit by cars speeding by me whilst avoiding parked cars near the old post office, obviously I survived, but I really think there is a need for some double yellow lines here, this is a popular walking route.

And so, after five hours of walking I turned onto the tarmac road which would lead me ever-so-slightly uphill and back to the car. I made it back by 15:05. My fitbit had managed to clock up an impressive 23000+ steps and 10.83 miles, now that I have measured the route on Google Maps, I actually did more like 11.53 miles and over 2,400 feet of ascent. Given the humidity, which is becomming a genuine thing this summer, i am more than happy with what I managed to achieve. I even managed to control my fluid consumption by actually using up all that I had with me less than half a mile from the end. well there’s no sense in taking it home!

Memories of the walk:

I never used to get Spitlers and Redmonds Edges, I never used to understand who would want to cross Anglezarke Moor so badly that a purpose built footpath was installed. I do now. I love crossing that undulating causeway over the peat and appreciate it more on each occasion. I’ll take the memories of the ex squaddie and his adorable long-haired Alsatian, the optimistic woman who believed we would get no rain and the cheeky chappie who said I was last and file them in the box labelled ‘happy times’. For that’s where they belong and rightly so. Today was the first in a series of four West Pennines walks which should culminate in the full-blown, twenty-four-miles Anglezarke Amble on February 8th next year. Between now and then there are another two to undertake which are in the same area and get progressively harder and longer:

(1)The Seven Summits: One almighty tour (14.5 miles) of these moors should see me take in, Rivington Pike, Crooked Edge Hill, Dean Mills Reservoir, up the Dean Ditch crossing Counting Hill, Winter Hill, Horderns Pasture, Will Narr, Spitlers Edge, Redmonds Edge and Great Hill.
(2)The Half Amble: Sixteen miles through Rivington Pike, Winter Hill, Lower Whittaker, Higher Whittaker, Catherine Edge, Hollinshead Hall, Great Hill, White Coppice, Spen Cob and Parson’s Bullough.

Songs of the walk:

The Stereophonics – Maybe Tomorrow

The Manic Street Preachers – If you tolerate this then your children will be next

Emmile de Forest – Drunk Tonight

Return to Ribblehead

I should say from the off that this is one of my favourite walking places…

Well I tried doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks again…and bailed at Ribblehead, again, just like in 2010. When, oh when will I learn not to sit down to have my lunch?

Okay that’s enough of the negativity. The day’s events were:

  1. I woke up at the unearthly time of 02:15. Did I need to wake up then? Nope, did I stress about waking up then? Well to be honest that would not have helped so I just watached a couple of episodes of Criminal Minds to take my mind off it! 3:55 – the time I was scheduled to arise, soon came around!
  2. I eventually left the flat at 04:27, no way was I going to get stuck in traffic!
  3. I arrived at Horton in Ribblesdale for around 06:10 without speeding, at least I don’t remember speeding. I guess I’ll be checking the post fearing a speeding ticket for the next month!
  4. By 06:21 I had adorned all my walking gear and parked in the £4.50 official car park (ooh la-la none of this overflow nonsense for me!) and set off on route

And that’s when mother nature turned the heat on! Not even a mile into the walk, I was sweating beyond my ability to express without getting kind of crude! The coat was off by the time I had reached Brackenbottom Farm. Funnily enough, the car park had been quite cool and there was even talk between other walkers of being glad to have brought their gloves! So for the next couple of hours it was a case of walk a hundred metres, stop, hyperventilate, continue. And not just me…

The fells of this area were teaming this day. I’ll hold my hand up and say that I do like social walking, I like organised events and even team events so I am not going to say anything bad about the number of walkers snaking their way over the dales this day, apart from there was a lot! I knew that there was going to be a lot because I had found a website where one can register your team’s Three Peaks (it covers the national as well as the Yorkshire ones) and this informed that there would be at least seven teams in Horton today, I had it worked out to be at least thirty-six people. Oh how wrong was that calculation, there were hundreds! I know this because they all passed me, and then I passed them, and this kept on all the way to the top of Pen-y-Ghent, over and down Whitber hill and most of the way towards Ribblehead! And I enjoyed it, most of it. The part I didn’t enjoy?

Well this borders or irony, or at least ‘be careful what you wish for’, because since I have been collecting houseplants I have been craving humidity, for them, at home and at work. Today I was delivered said humidity, in spates…buckets of spates. Honestly, I’d have been drier if it had rained! The weather forecast had promised, “moderate breeze” – that just did not turn up! At best we got a gust of air which could have been delivered by an asthmatic rabbit via a straw…two miles away! Stillness I could have handled, a light shower, again, I could have handled, even blazing sun drives you to moderate oneself better to preserve energy, fluids etc. Humidy is a silent assasin, lurking behind the lightest of all grey clouds and magically soaking you beyond your cognitive processes’ ability to perceive.

If this makes it sound like I was not enjoying the day then this is not an accurate portrayal of the walk. I was really grateful to be in the company of so many others all striving towards that end goal – to complete the Yorkshire three peaks. It isn’t the frenetic and frantic steeplechase across the moors which everyone envisions! This is much more dignified and human. People talk, people definitely encourage one another and this is really spiritually uplifting to witness. I don’t know how many people asked me if I was ‘okay’ whenever I would take a breath of muggy air. The sunscreen caustically scurging my eyes must have made it look like I was in tears, I suppose technically I was, they were just not natural ones as made by yours trully!

I found myself frequently in the company of one of the teams, I think from a school, and this is where I let myself down by not actually asking people questions about what they are doing and why. Most of them were women, from age 20 and upwards, with one man in a tutu…I don’t know why, who seemed to be performing some kind of leadershiop role. Each member offered to let me pass as I strode along and toward Whitber Hill but I gleefully responded back ‘oh it’s okay I am happy to slipstream you all!’ which brought smiles and smirks in equal measure. I had struggled alongside this team all of the way up Pen-y-Ghent and was by now feeling a kinship with them. This continued all the way across to High Birkwith where one of the team even went so far as to give me one of her Jelly babies – normally I find these things revolting but today it was sugary bliss.

I think it was around about the iron bridge very close to Nether Lodge where the doubt set in. This is that nagging doubt who quickly erodes at one’s confidence in the ability to complete a task, in my case to continue the walk. I spent some seconds, possibily a minute leaning on the bridge and watching wave after wave of walkers enter my immediate environment. In addition, there seemed to be some sort of organised fell race on which was causing innumerate runners to approach from behind and then to pass me. I would hear the runner first and decided which way I would redirect in order to not hold them up. This worked well apart from the fact that it left me having to be constantly on my guard or else have a runner up my rear end! In short it was destroying the solace that the walk up until now had been bestowing on me. In essence, this new minor annoyance coupled with the quickly accumulating fatigue was weakening whatever resolve that the humidity hadn’t saturated away!

The thought kept surging forward to the front of my brain ‘the train station at Ribblehead’. I was aware that the trains were only every hour-or-so but that just gave me longer to relax and do nothing. The determination-wrecking escape plan would not leave me alone. I kept trying to rise out of the depths thinking to myself ‘just imagine how proud you will feel if you do the whole thing’. I was at war with myself. Two younger women, whom I had passed a number of times and who had also passed me the same amount of times came into view and we spent some time talking and walking. They were part of a four-person team and I had passed the other two members a number of times as well. All four were from Halifax and had stayed at a local bed and breakfast overnight. There’s something to that, preparation, being aware that you don’t have to drive to and from here on the same day as you are walking 24 miles and over three mountains must give one a little bit of a boost. I am always too aware of the sixty-something-miles back to home and how fatigue could play a devastating role in the day’s itinerary.

At Ribblehead we said our goodbyes as I confessed I was ‘going to find a nice spot to collapse’. At the time I was resolved to carry on the walk…but then I sat down!

Sitting down is bad news for me. It’s the ultimate in resolve eroders! I had my energy gel (the second of the day), the second half of a Bounty I had started some hours ago,  a pint of water…cos it had been weighing a tonne no matter how much I had already drank and a steak pie (and I genuinely can’t remember the brand). I felt full, not bloated but as if I had taken on enough calories to see me to the top of Whernside. Alas, when I stood up my legs felt like they were composed of some sort of wrought iron – gelatine combination and I have to admit to staggering quite violently (I thought I was going to crash into people).

I crossed the busy B-Road in order to set off on the long slog up Whernside…and could almost feel the last traces of my inner resolve run down my legs! I quit.

The Ribblehead train station was just too close for me to ignore any longer and I headed off in that direction, even this seemed like an arduous, uphill struggle. As it transpired I had an hour to have a couple of lattes and to chat with the staff and some patrons. I had a good time and for a change was not figuratively beating myself up about not completing the challenge successfully. And why not?

Because now I am fully aware of what I have to do:

  1. Lose weight…and not to become distracted by any weight loss.
  2. Practice, more hills, walking nine miles home is no mean feet but if it’s on the flat then I have to find some hills somewhere – the west pennines are a beckoning!
  3. Look into booking a place to stay before and after, to take the pressure off that 120-miles round trip in one day.
  4. Partner up with someone, I loved meeting and talking with all of the people whom I had the privellege of meeting today, but a team-mate is a different prospect who will spur me on to success (and vice-versa).
  5. Not take so much bloody water it weighs 1kg per litre and doesn’t half slow down ascensions!

What to take from this walk:

  • Pendle Hill looks majestic from anywhere!
  • The new steps to descend Pen-y-Ghent make the route narrower and I would hate to try to ascend this way.
  • It’s no fun having a stone kicked at you whilst attempting the third scramble of Pen-y-Ghent.
  • The walk across Horton Moor and the lesser summits around Whitber hill are really quite nice and worth doing as part of a walk that encapsulates all of them without worrying about having to do the full challenge.
  • Whernside looks fearful from Ribblehead, if you are tired.

And yes, I’ve vowed (to myself) to do this again next year, on the 30th of May!

 

 

Yorkshire Three Peaks Itinery

Planning for the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk

So, even though I’ve been thinking this through since 2015, I think it’s now time to get all super organised about the day including:

  • What to eat
  • When to eat
  • Where to take stops (should be the same as the previous point really)
  • At what time I should be at which point.

I’ve been saying to myself that I want to do this in a minute under the allotted twelve hours. If I did then it would be great but if I did it even faster, given that I am a good few kilos heavier now than I was in 2015, that would be amazing. Outside of the twelve hours would not be a disaster in itself…I just want to try and avoid this. Is my timing relistic? I think so.

It’s important that I eat on the day, but none of this Chicken Caesar Wrap nonsense because you never feel like you’ve consumed anything. I don’t want to end up bloated but I do want to feel as if I’ve given myself a fighting chance. What I believe I have going for me is stamina. I’ve picked up a lot of stamina thanks to doing these long walks home. Admittedly there has been no hill climbing between Ormskirk and Southport and it’s true that other people will fly on past me whilst ascending Pen-y-Ghent. But, I did get up Blencathra, on a quite warm day and I’d say that route was as tough as Whernside from Ribblehead if a couple of miles shorter!

What to take and Where to take it!

  • Avocados – 3, (need 2 but take 3 just to be certain).  1 at the start, 1 at Bruntscar
  • Bananas – 3, 1 at the start, 1 at Bruntscar, 1 at Frodo’s steps
  • Cans of red Bull: 2,1 at  Frodo’s steps 1 on the drive home).
  • Bounty bars – 2, 1 at Nether Lodge, 1 at Bruntscar.
  • Energy gels – 6. 1 at various points on route.
  • Coconut water – 1 carton  for Simon’s Fell Breast (the col after Ingleborough summit).
  • Steak Pie / Bake – 1 at Nether Lodge
  • Melon slices – 1 pack for Simon Fell Breast
  • Brazil nuts  – 1 pack for the entire walk.
  • Water – 1 Bladder’s worth and two bottles.

Extras

  • Additional pair of socks to change over at Bruntscar if possible / if not then at Simon Fell Breast.
  • Portable charger for phone.

If all goes well I should be at the following:

Place nameTime due here
Set off06:30
Top of Pen-y-Ghent08:00
Whitber Hill08:50
God's Bridge10:00
Nether Lodge10:10
Ribblehead Viaduct11:00
Top of Whernside13:15
Bruntscar14:00
Philpin Lane14:30
The Hill Inn14:45
Humphrey Bottom15:30
Frodo's Steps15:50
Top of Ingleborough16:30
Simon Fell Breast16:45
Sulber Nick17:05
Horton Train Station17:45
Back at Car18:05
Screen capture of Nether Lodge on the OS maps
Nether Lodge will be my main rest and feed spot as Ribblehead can be a bit bedlamic!