Still recovering from lockdown

Day 10

 

I was grateful for the rain on Tuesday night as Monday’s walk had been a bit of a crippler. Likewise I set off in relative high spirits last night only to be brought to a painful halt a few times en route. Google maps has my route for last night down as pretty much dead-on five miles, my Fitibt (and me) would estimate this to be closer to six. I suppose in the end it doesn’t really matter that much, as long as I am still out there walking and getting in some exercise.

But it’s not just exercise which is leading me out of the house, no sir! More often than not I am going for ‘mindful walks’. Yes, I’m not a fan of buzzwords and new fangled ways of thinking but in this case it’s actually true, walking for the sake of getting out of the house and away from the TV does make me feel better, well not just better but good! Every so often this ‘good’ is punctuated by a bout of pain as yet another thing screws up in my knee, but when that subsides I do feel optimistic, upbeat even! This effect tends to intensify the further I go away from civilisation, on The Moss I’m practically euphoric! Of course every so often it does get squashed when I fear I may be taking the wrong route…but well we can’t let that stop me now can we?

 

Recovering from Lockdown 2020

Day 9

Let’s celebrate our losses.

Well, because I had to go into work – I promised for some reason, I thought that getting the 10K in would be a synch, just have a walk around the fitness trail at lunch – that always nets around 4.5K then get the rest at night. Ahem, storm Francis had a different theory which worked out as: ‘Let’s torrent it down all down with a 50 m.p.h. wind! Subsequently I only managed to get in 7K for the day, essentially walking to the car and back. To make matters even more sinful, what did we have for our evening meal? Well lets just say that this was inspired by a white-haired American gentleman with a deep south accent (or so the legend goes). So, I’m not going to dwell on this, onward shall be the silent cry and we’ll just deal with it.

Flushed with the success of last Saturday’s walk incorporating some of the best of Marshside, Churchtown and The Moss, I’m hoping for similar weather this weekend, and thankfully I have three days to aim at to get out and about. I don’t know where yet but it would be nice to get over to the coast road as it’s such a lovely place to amble when 1. it isn’t raining and 2. it isn’t closed – which it is at the moment but I don’t know if this is just for cars etc.

Recovering from lockdown (2020)

Days 3 – 7

 

Still recovering and more importantly how quick was it before I got too busy to carry on with the daily updates? It’s always the same, normally I get to around day three then just never seem to make the time to carry on…hence the compressed version.

So anyway, the healthy eating kind of petered out – especially closer to the weekend, the lure of the chip shop plus we have been really bad at food shopping, we are such authors of our own demise, when we shop properly we do it healthily…Anyway, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to cut out the bread again.

On the urban walking side of things, the knee is slowly getting better, or maybe I’m just adjusting my walking gate so as to avoid putting as much pressure on the right as I am on my left? Monday to Wednesday I kept to the 10,000 steps per day then had a lousy Thursday and Friday which meant a tad of overcompensating on Saturday. Chris had to work at home so that left me free to do a fantastic walk which headed up towards Marshside, through Churchtown and onto The Moss which I followed all the way to Pool Hey Lane where I then dropped back down to Scarisbrick and picked up the road back to the Norwoods before turning off and filtering back through some of the quieter roads before joining Sussex Road and onto home. All told this topped out at 23,000+ steps and over ten miles so I was happy all weekend! I even managed to just about get in a 4.25 miles walk around the Hesketh loop and park on Sunday which made for a good start to this week. Tonight however, we have to go food shopping so I might not get out for a walk tonight and I’ll be chasing the daily total all week again. Maybe we should go food shopping on Sundays instead of ambling around garden centres that always have too many sheeple in them!

 

 

Recovering from Lockdown…kind of!

Day 2

During this pandemic I have tried to stay active…

Welcome to day two,  no I didn’t think we’d get here neither!

 

Breakfast was: A conference pear with Blueberries covered in Tesco Greek Yogurt with Honey.

Morning walk was: postponed because of Christine’s OCD about being ready for visitors to the house, it’s a boring story for another day

Lunch was: Part of the remnants of  last night’s Carne sin Chili.

Lunch walk was: A plod around Hesketh Park taking in as few vertical steps as possible…because they hurt.

Evening meal will be a can of Tesco’s lean stewed steak with some spinach and celery.

Evening walk The Hesketh Drive loop…I’m hoping.

 

Recovering from Lockdown

Day 1

During this pandemic I have tried to stay active. With regret, I’ve done something wrong in the pursuit of this.

Although I wouldn’t say I’ve been pounding away and amassing many miles, I did try to do at least my ten thousand steps per day, and some times far in excess of this. However, my legs did start to hurt more and more. At first I wrote this off just to being Southport and its highly uneven pavements…but I did a google around and some of the descriptions of symptoms sounded a bit like mine and to be honest, our diet has been lousy with way too many chips and take-outs….and way too much alcohol on my behalf.

Anyhoo I contacted our Doctors – an event in itself that could turn one to drink, and was given an over-the-phone-diagnosis of “Iliotibial Band Syndrome”. Essentially this is inflammation of a tendon around the side of my right knee. A ‘sports’ injury’ no less, I was almost proud. However, given the GP didn’t even see me in my new found, portly++ status I think the diagnosis might be a bit off, we tend to assume people are relatively fit unless information to the contra is available. The GP has advised me to make an appointment to see the Physiotherapist at the Hospital and I do intend on following through with this…once I find out where I stand with this at work, as I need to be able to get to the hospital during the working day and currently I can’t build up any flexi-time in order to do this.

The above will be sorted as I believe there is a case to say that if I am not afforded the time off; they (my works), will be instrumental in delaying my recovery (and who’s to say that being sat indoors all day every day has not been a causal effect? But, let’s not pretend that I’m free from blame here, I’m not. Now, more than ever, I simply have to take better care of myself. With regards to exercise, for now, baby steps will have to be taken, but taken consistently.   I’m hoping to keep to my 10,000 steps per day, there is no scientific evidence available to say that this figure is at all key, in any way. What this figure does do though is to set a target, 10K steps per day still has to be better than none! For my implementation of my recovery I believe that a morning, noon and night regime of around 3-4 thousand steps gained by walking either around Hesketh Park or by walking around the near-neighbourhood should aid without causing any further damage. This has not been possible lately, but only because of really feeble excuses and I think now it is vital to just get things done…in order to stay alive and not lose any limbs, it’s that important.

Also, I think keeping some sort of journal may help “Tad-ah!” I know that I do struggle to keep to routines for blog / diary type entries, but I have to give it a try, we don’t change without changing, and I really want to change.

Enjoy the header picture, two Willows at Hesketh Park.

Breakfast was: A conference pear with Blueberries covered in Tesco Greek Yogurt with Honey.

Morning walk was: from 07:45 to 08:15, around 3,200 steps.

Lunch was: a can of Sardines with a handful of olives, a large cup of spinach, some Aldi sun-dried tomatoes and three teaspoons of Tesco Chill and Tomato Pesto .

Lunch walk was: a circuit of Leyland Road, Roe Lane and Park Road returning via Queen’s Road  at 1800 steps (The latter half of which were very painful). Then I had a chance to add to the total by going to McColls for a can of kidney beans – they had none, then back home and out again to the Spar for said kidney beans and some milk and some chopped tomatoes.

Evening meal will be a stew of red kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, a chopped pepper, onion, Worcester Sauce (1 tbsp)  250Gm of lean minced beef (5% fat), chestnut mushrooms, a clove of garlic…essentially it’s Chilli con carne but without the Chilli as Chris is a Chilli wimp!

Evening walk didn’t need to happen as I’d got most of my steps in during the day and cleaning the hallway got the rest.

 

The Circle closes

Warning:

This post contains frank and robust language, if you are easily offended (you big snowflake) then you’d be best flouncing off now!

 

I’m fairly sure that I’ve pinched that header from Stephen King’s epic pandemic-themed “The Stand”, kind of poignant given the state of things.

So, what’s been going on?

  1. The world turned to shit – sorry, did you miss that bit?

2. The flat sale fell through, either as a direct result of point “1”, or because one of the below was a complete incompetent:

  • a. The potential buyer, who was a bit soft in the head and for a thirty-something year-old really should learn to speak up for himself.
  • b. Our Solicitors’ “Conveyancer & Team Leader” was at best, a dick!
  • The buyer’s solicitor got fired…or at least that’s what we were told. Personally I think the buyer’s control- freak of a father put that one out there as a delaying tactic to try and get the price down! Never admit you’ve got a purchase lined up folks – some twats will use the possibility of you losing your purchase as a bargaining tool!

3. Both Chris and I have been working from home…and enjoying it, well it’s hard to feel bad about a three-second commute!

There’s no two ways about it, working at / from home is a completely different experience, you get to have the TV or radio on – we’ve chosen to alternate as too much TV can be really quite boring and each mainstream internet radio station has a playlist of about thirty songs, and there’s just only so much Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa to which you can be subjected!

Now, it’s hard to deny that we are right on the border of comfortable working, the flat is too small for two people to live let alone set up an Argos table and two chairs and two monitors and two laptops every day…but we manage. And I drink a lot of coffee!

Of course I’ve still had to get out and about, whereas some people took every instruction and guideline from our wonky government as gospel…no matter how much we tried to get it mixed up, they said we could do an hour’s exercise, then someone who sounded like they knew what they were talking about said – there was no time limit…I was never going to stick to any time limit anyway and on V.E. Day (to which I still strongly object) I walked close to twelve miles…not in an hour!

I am lucky to live near “The Moss”, a large tract of agricultural land punctuated by the odd road, which only Southport cyclists seem to find worth venturing upon! Thus this leaves most of the area free for me to walk with limited fear of catching Covid 19 off someone hyperventilating, even I have to agree that I couldn’t say the same about a potential walk to either of my two local haunts, the West Pennines and Pendle. In essence, this is a compromise, however, it doesn’t feel one when you’re pounding the pavement on route to Longmeaneygate – yes, that’s really the name of a street, admiring the Cow Parsley and Ragwort, and by God has there been a lot of those aforementioned flowering weeds in bloom this year! In addition I’ve started to ‘Covert! – ‘oh really?’ I hear you wonder, no, nothing sinister, I plucked up the courage to walk through a small wooded area, purely out of curiosity really and its name is Pitts House Covert…I found this vaguely amusing. This little micro-forest has quickly become a favourite and when Chris joins me, even she likes it there, the Photo’s to follow.

So although I’ve not exactly being stomping all over the county (country?) I have been getting in the odd mindful walk to counteract the effects of otherwise being stuck in the flat for almost 24 hours per day, some days.

On a related note, hasn’t it been sodding hot this spring / summer. I’m not against that, but as we live in a first floor flat, lugging 15 litres of water down to hydrate the flowers etc does get to be something of a chore which is why I’ve practically basked in the odd fleeting shower – again photos to come, of the flowers – not me basking!

The lockdown in itself has been good for me. There, I’ve said it. There was no denying that January’s and February’s (God I fucking hate this laptop’s tiny keyboard!) stress over the flat sale and subsequent fail took its toll on me in terms of stress, the lockdown purely and simply took that away. No, I would not have wanted tens of thousands of my fellow countrymen and millions of people across the world to die just so I could destress, that would be ridiculous and inhumane. I’m just saying that for me, it’s worked out, by and large, to be quite therapeutic. I’ve even enjoyed shopping, albeit at the height of the “key workers are angels” phase it was obnoxious being treated as fodder by store workers – hey treat me as you would want me to treat you is all that I would want.

We’ve put the flat back on the market, and up to now: 16/6/2020 we have had three viewers. I was suckered in by the first one who was oh so positive about the place that I thought he was going to put in a bid there are then – I’ve learned, this means ‘I’m too embarrassed to tell you how much I don’t want this place!’ I don’t expect we’ll get any real interest until lockdown is well and truly over and even then it might not be until after Christmas, so we’ll just have to deal with living life as it is and not get stressed. I don’t like stress – it smells metallic, yes it does!

Ultimately with regards to the year thus far, I do find myself harking back to the Amble in February walking along Catherine Edge with the brilliant “Everything I wanted” by Billie Eilish going through my head and just contrasting how different everything was then compared to now.

And as I am ready to click publish, we have just accepted an offer on the Flat – one circle closes…

 

 

 

 

Introducing the Walk of freedom

Coming soon, but only after lockdown, Saturday 5th September, 2020

What’s your motivation for this walk?

Well, this is an easy one, I’ve not been on a walk of over five miles since February when I did the 17-miles version of the Anglezarke Amble. I miss my time out on the moors immensely. I am a member of the Facebook group “I belong to Bolton “ where during the lockdown there have been numerous posts related to the magnificent scenery which makes a fantastic backdrop to most Bolton scenes. This walk will be a celebration 🥳 a huge and resounding sigh of relief of having made it through this terrible virus 🦠

Route map for Walk Of Freedom by Mark Wild on plotaroute.com

For those requiring a text description, I’ll add a printable pdf at some point but for now, here goes:

We start off at the smallest two car parks at Rivington near to the Rivington Hall Barn. We head west for a couple of hundred feet before taking a right hand turn. This bears right and for a few minutes we’ll be heading in the opposite direction to which we just came from, fear not, all too soon we will be on the main bridal way to lead up to all the attractions. We’re now going uphill!

After several hundred metres, the path splits, we are going to take the left hand route, the right hand one will lead you back to the Japanese gardens should you so desire. The path steepens a little but then levels out. There are numerous left hand turn-offs but essentially we are keeping to the same track until next to the disused toilet block, a lovely feature of the route.

Now, we are going to take the obvious route up to the Pike via the steps. These can be a bit of a nightmare so if you want to take the slightly more circuitous route which branches off to the left hand side then go for it, we’ll see you at the top! For the rest of us it’s a short, sharp ascent of the huge steps before puffing, panting and swearing at me and then we are at the top of the first climb.

Have a breather (please), take some selfies and enjoy the view. Yes that really wide path does lead up to Winter Hill, no, it is in no way as easy as it looks, but it’s brilliant in snow!

Okay, lazy bones, the next part is really easy as we head south and fall off the pike towards the unremarkable Brown hill. Mind your footing here, gravity is not your friend on this descent. When we’re sick of watching our own feet, turn left and onto the broad track. This is a bumpy road but it’s very easy to follow and makes for a lovely distraction before we turn…yes, left again just after the Rivington dog hotel. This starts off steep but does get progressively easier in time. After the major climb you’ll notice a yellow marked finger post, keep to the right of this, just for fun, I’ve thrown in Two Lads! Its proper name is Crooked Edge Hill, Two Lads refers to the gigantic cairns at its summit, sometimes there are two cairns and other times there can be up to five.

Again, have a breather, take some photos and recall happier times when that big stadium you can see used to play host to a premiership team 🤦‍♂️ We’ll head off slightly east before joining the road which (eventually) leads us past the main television antenna. Once at the apex of the road we’ll be turning left and off up the service road before leaving the road in order to tap the o/s column at the highest point of the walk, with regret, it’s usually the muddiest too! Congratulations, we are now at the apex of the walk.

So, there is some more observing of the feet to be done once we set off through the muddy gate (you’ll see!) but believe me this is where this walk starts to get all kinds of beautiful as we drop hundreds of feet to Hampsons Pasture. We walk along a collapsed wall and cross a race track! We are now in the land of the river Yarrow and once we start to climb up to Will Narr you’ll even see a plaque dedicated to that body of water courtesy of “The friends of the Yarrow”.

By now, (September) the path should have reapaired itself from the damage inflicted upon it by the hordes of mountain bikers who frequent the area. Or, if it’s raining then we’ll be back to a bit of uphill slip and sliding, it isn’t that bad and the path we are taking is not at all hard to follow, look dead ahead and the tiny bump which seems to keep growing bit by bit is Great Hill and is our next destination summit. I say that but in all honesty we have to surmount the peaks of first Spitlers Edge then Redmonds Edge, good luck finding them as there are no ciarns or trig points and all of the summit plains look the same height from up close. Soon enough we hit the slabs. These are apparently the broken up millstone floors of, well former mills I guess. Where there are pools of water they can contain all sorts of colours and there is only the odd one which tips up and soaks your feet when you stand on it!

Throughout this walk I’d recommend that you watch your footing, not that it is so bad but nobody wants to twist an anle on this moor – we are now on the best of them – Anglezarke and we’d need to call Mountain Rescue if you injured yourself as no ambulance could ever deal with this terrain. Look! We’ve got closer to Great Hill it’s just over this stile, then up that tiny slope.

From here it’s all lovely…okay there are some muddy patches in between the ruins of Drinkwaters farm and the turn off near the trail shafts at another Brown Hill (notice how these are nearly always muddy, what does clean brown look like?). Just look at the views, someone might need to nudge me if I’m gawping at Pendle Hill…I do that! The slabs lead us away from Great Hill’s summit – wasn’t that cruciform shelter handy for avoiding the wind, also wasn’t it hard to stand up after being sat at the shelter? We head quite swiftly downhill. A number of times the path stops looking quite so engineered and y’know neat, but it is easy to follow. Stop for a few minutes at Drinkwaters farm (ruin), don’t drop any litter (anywhere, ever) but especially not here, you’ll kill the peaceful vibe this place has in spates!

And so we take the turn off left – or end up in Brinscall and I don’t think history shows anyone ever really meaning to go to Brinscall! So take the left with the dodgy looking handrail (if it is up on the day), use it at your peril because it isn’t attached to anything so, y’know, good luck! The path really drops its pretentions of being a path here, so you’ll have to either follow the millions of footprints or wait for me! Soon enough we run into a little bit of a boulder track, it’s easy to fall over here but it is just as easy to stay on your feet, just slow down a bit…I find no problem at all in doing that! We gingerly snake our way down this ever-narrowing rock path and notice that by now water has started to trickle onto the track. One last severe drop and we are on the final few metres to White Coppice Cricket Ground. I hate cricket with a passion but we will wait for a while for people to take photographs of Lancashire’s most picturesque ground. Once relaxed and refreshed we pick up the trail again and head off along quite a wide track which undulates as it passes the notorious Stronstrey Bank – I gathter it’s quite well regarded by crag rats and the like. There are lots of sheep around but these are quite easily spooked and shouldn’t bother us.

Onwards and through the gate as we cross over Moor Road, watch out for cyclists as this is an adrenalin drop of a slope and they don’t take prisoners who have dawdled in their way! Gape in awe at the sign informing you that this patch of land(?) belongs to Southport Angling Society (well we only have the Sluice and that’s devoid of all fish!), as we drop down a bit then up a bit and onto a really narrow path punctuated by the occasional weird bridges which are no more than eight inches elevated and have a welcome mudbath at either side! I don’t know who “Alice” is but she seems to have graffited herself onto every gate and stile from now until the end (and you’ll be pleased to hear that this is now less than three miles away!). We pass along a sheeptrod which can be really slippy or a breeze to walk upon depending on recent weather. And then it’s a big drop, not very far but it’ll have you watching your feet for definite!

Now we go uphill for a little stretch – more metres than miles I’m glad to say and at its summit we turn left to pass by the empty High Bullough Reservoir. Through the gate with the big heavy lead counter weight (don’t bother trying to steal it, you’ll die of either Lead poisoning or exaustion before you get two miles!) and then we are up to another major drop. Seriously, you would not want to expose bare skin to this  surface which looks like a cross between tarmac and millstone grit, I imagine this would sting like a ******* so don’t fall!

We make it to the bottom of that gigantic drop and corner (what do you mean it was only about twenty feet?), and now it’s time for some lovely ambling as we gently pass the magnificent Anglezarke reservoir on our right hand side…and some interesting moss on our left – it’s absolutely lovely here.  After what feels like two miles, it isn’t, we hit the road which in effect is the other side of Moor Road which we passed ages ago. Cross carefully, you’ve been warned, there’s a killer of a blind corner here. We turn right (aha!) and then cross to eventually wind our way up the Chute! This is another impressive spectacle when it’s in spate. Uphill some more and ultimately we reach the green wall which is the western slope of the Yarrow reservoir, turn right. This path is very straight forward and if we’d only done a mile or so then it would be a breeze to walk on, however, by this time we have walked close to ten and the attention is not quite what it should be, it’s hilarious to watch others stumbling but when it happens to us… The views to Winter Hill, Dovecote and Rivy Pike open up remarakably here, go on…bask, you really have earned it.

At the gate which has seen better days, turn …left, then after less than 20 metres, turn right and go through another kissing gate, then we walk carefully alongside a stream which never gets a name in any publication I’ve read. Ultimately, just as we are thinking ‘oh this is all very civil’, we are confronted with a flight of steps. They are far easier than they look and after that it really is all plain sailing all the way to the final kissing gate where the skinny amongst us won’t struggle, but the rest of us will have to take off our backpacks, it’s a tight squeeze.

And then we fall out and onto Sheephouse Lane, god willing we won’t get mowed down by passing traffic. take a left here – hey it’s far safer than going right, and we will head uphill for a few hundred feet until a side entrance can be seen on the right. Take that and it will bring us back onto the long track back to the car park.

There, I’ve got us all around Rivington and Anglezarke, anyone fancy signing up for the 24-miles version of the West Lancs LDWA Anglezarke Amble in February, I’ve blatantly pinched about five miles of their route for this one?

 

 

 

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!)