Winter wonder walks, night 2

Photograph of Christmas lights in someone's top window on Hawshead Street.
And this is a pretty desperate photo on a night of awful weather and not much content.
Photograph of a Christmas tree in a residential home.
A tastefully decorated tree.

Rain, rain, go away..oh okay you’re not listening to me then.

Very little content for these pages tonight. What was available was washed out by the haze of rain. So, as far as slim pickings go… this was their night! Here’s hoping that future nights will deliver better visibility and an increase in opportunities!

 

 

 

And the winner on the night, mainly because the building is so damn cute:

Photograph of Christmas lights in a hairdresser's.
Photo taken on 25th November, 2019 on Mount Street,

Winter wonder walks

Winter wonder walks, night 1

Same as last year, one nightly walk, take some photos of people’s Christmas decorations and decide which was the nicest…or the most outstanding!

Tonight I had just a short two and a half miles walk and to be honest, I didn’t see that many decorated houses, well it is still November. This left hardly any scope, the competitors to the gawdy image below were at best subtle and my Iphon decided it was going to take truly awful photos with the flash set to auto and ‘on’ as witnessed at either side of this text <<< >>>

 

 

 

Photograph of the gawdy house on Norwood Ave, Southport
Gawdy!

2019 The walking year that never was

The more observant of you (two) will hardly have failed to noticed that I have not really done much walking this year. There are many contributing factors:

  1. Work, I do the odd open day or Welcome Sunday and I get overtime, difficult to turn this down to be honest.
  2. Bad weather, this has been the first year that I can remember when at times it’s just been too damn hot as well as the normal – too damn wet!
  3. Families / Birthdays / bloody Bomfire Night!
  4. Laziness, there are times that I could have got out and about…I mustn’t have wanted to do so badly enough.

So essentially I am writing off 2019 the walking year. It was lovely to do Blencathra with Sue and Karl, it was fantastic to return to Pendle and yes I am embittered to have not gone more often. I loved the walk I did over Anglezarke Moor and the Southport ambles…but there just were not that many walks. I normally average around twenty ‘boots on’ walks but this year….hmmm!

Right, so, plans for next year:

  1. As I have previously posted on Facebook I have signed up to do the 17 (used to be sixteen) mile version of the Anglezarke Amble in February.
  2. In preperation of the next item, I do fancy giving the full 21 miles Sefton Coastal path a go in April.
  3. And then in June…it’s back off to do…the Yorkshire Three Peaks. This should be a surprise to nobody. And this (next) year I do plan on finishing the thing, ‘though it’s likely I’ll be doing it on my own.

Of course there should be others, but we have a major event (hopefully) happening some time in the first three months of the year which has to take precedent over everything (even the Amble!). If I could have my dream walking year then I would do the following in addition to the ones listed above:

  1. Snowdon, via the Ranger path – it looks stunning, quieter than the Llanberris path and not as steep as the Watkins path.
  2. Scafell Pike – any way, I honestly wouldn’t care but if Great End could somehow be factored in then all the better.
  3. Skiddaw, again any route would be lovely but there is just something amazingly airy about going via the Ullock Pike ridge.
  4. The full Pendle featuring Stang Top Moor, Big End and then Fell Wood and Saddlers Height.  I struggle to believe that I haven’t already done this one.
  5. Likewise, the full Seven Peak traverse of Winter Hill and Anglezarke Moor encompassing Redmonds Edge, Spitlers Edge, Will Narr, Winter Hill, Crooked Edge Hill, Rivington Pike and Great Hill. I’ve got very close to completing this but…!
  6. Helvellyn, not via Striding or Swirrel Edge but just any route up this monster of a mountain would be great.
  7. Pillar, it’s been on my to-do list for too long now, time to get it bagged.
  8. Any circular walk featuring Catbells, but if it factors in Maiden Moor and High Spy then all the better!

Of course there should be more, but I don’t want to get all excited about talking about these walks without doing them!

So, only time will tell, wish me luck folks!

 

 

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!

 

 

This weekend’s additions

Now, I like my plants…

But it’s getting to the point now were hardly a weekend goes by without me coming by at least one more of the things. Take this week for example, I had run the gauntlet of visiting Morrisons without Chris, which generally means I can impulse buy, I shouldn’t…but often do. And yet, I survived. I returned from the store without any new additions, I was so proud. The afternoon sped along and soon enough I was picking up Chris from work and promising her a cup of tea from Dobbies – well, I figured she had earned both it and a slice of whatever cake she fancied for working on a Saturday. We ended up with scones once again, and a can of diet Doctor Pepper, if anyone wants to know, I think it’s a new level of disgusting, but that’s just my opinion! I had diet Sprite which was beautiful and all the better for having ice with it, this was a rare break in the clouds and topped out at a very respectable 22℃. Had summer arrived?

I made no secret of the fact that I was there to see if they had any pots for which I cound find a use. As it transpires there were a number of very affordable ones and a really attractive crop of Calatheas, again, I could not recant which variety as UK Garden Centres just don’t do that, y’know tell the customer exactly what they’re buying! I did pick up a baby Calathea which could have been no more that six inches tall, and a pot which would have made a good host. Suddenly I suffered from an attack of guilt. You see just recently I have been saving £2.55 into our impulse savings account each time that I would normally buy a latte. We have something like £17.00 saved up now which would normally have been processed into, well, y’know, urine! So for me then to go and spend another £2.99 on the plant and a further £3.x (can’t remember the cost of the pot) having just bought scones and drinks, well this would have been just not right (I am certain there will be a far more fitting adjective to use but I can’t think of it just now!).

I congratulated myself for putting the plant and pot back on the shelf and we left Dobbies sans plant, pot and guilt! It has to be said that if Dobbies had more staff running the tills on Saturday afternoons then I might not have had such a long time in which to change my mind!

Fast forward by twenty-four hours and we are in Bradley Fold Garden Centre, Radcliffe and I have thus far avoided buying any more plants. This is not something that I find easy to do in spite of the fact that most houseplants are toxic to cats – we have Pepper and we have no room for anymore and the fact that I am now making my office desk look more like how I would imagine a botanist’s desk would look…it’s covered in plants. I know before long, someone is going to say, “Erm, the boss says you need to knock it off with the plants!” And they’d be right, but it feels nice and the humidity is much better for my eyes (I no longer need the eye-spray three-four times per day) but let’s be very fair here…it’s an office for crying out loud, not Kew Gardens! But, those two driving factors for not buying any more plants did not deter me, oh no!

Photo of the Peperomia plant
He’s a bit wounded but I’m sure I can bring the best out of him.

Enter my first new plant, who at fifty-pence I could simply not decline: Mister Peperomia (again, no varitel name on the pot, but a quick google search conjured up the name “Obtusifolia” – fantastic). Chris was almost mocking as the poor thing had almost no roots, some of the compost was missing from the pot and what was present was bone-dry. I persevered however, and took it upon myself to find a new home for this bargain of a specimen (okay; a specimen of neglect!) and would not put him back on the display. Within thirty minutes I had found a puddle and with the aid of the red pot (I’ll upload a photo later) I had given him a much-needed drink. The jury is out on just how pure the water from the puddle was: yes it could have been pure rain water; but there was mud very close, or it could have been tap water which would have been chlorinated. There’s no way of knowing, I just hope that the little trooper (do I project much???) comes into his own and begins to thrive, I’d never even considered buying a Peperomia until catching sight of this little charmer so he must have something going for him!

Photo of the purple plants
The ‘purple’ selection.

So, on to plant number two. I had decided to call it a day with just the one addition to the forming jungle but whilst outside in the main ‘outdoor’ plants section I began to crave a varigated Ficus Benjamina that I could recall seeing before Pep grabbed my attention. Previously my attempt at propagating a cutting from the one at work had amounted to nothing and at £3.49 (I think) this was worth the money. The only problem was that once I had made my way back to the house plants section, the one remaining varigated Ficus just didn’t pull at my heatstrings the way that Pep had. Maybe if it had been showing visible signs of neglect…However, I had previously considered buying a Fittonia from B&Q, when faced with a bit of a selection of these then I simply gave in and picked the one that I thought would blend in most with my ‘purple’ collection on my work’s desk. You think I’ve finished? Well, read on…

A surprise arrival x TWO!

So after calling in at Dad’s and setting up his new PC and the YouView box my sister had got for him we went down to Lynn’s house and lo and behold, I was presented with another plant, two in fact! I complemented them (Lynn and her husband Karl) on their spider plant, as it has the longest leaves I’ve ever seen one of this species. Karl said thanks and then gave me the two yourngsters in their tiny peat (not sure) pots / modules? I am grateful, I’m just not sure that the little blighters will survive as they have practically no roots. I’ve decided to put this in with my variegated Dracaena on my desk at work so that Pepper doesn’t eat them and they’ll get stable conditions as I can’t garantee this at home on the kitchen windowsill which is sometimes gloomy and other times a sun trap. I really like spider plants and would have got one for myself before now if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve just inheritted one thanks to my colleague being seconded for twelve months. So in the space of three days I have progressed from having no spider plants to three of the things! I now have four members of the ‘purple’ zone and ‘Pep’ the neglected Peperomia Party.

I might not buy any more plants this coming weekend, how will I pass the time???

 

 

 

The newcomers

Photo of a Jade pot plant
It may yet fall off the PC it’s resting on!

I went out nice and early this Saturday morning with the intention of going to Morrisons plants section to see what they had. To be honest I was hoping for a bargain Acer Palmatum …something or other, well, there are so many. And yes there were a couple of Acer Palmatum Phoenix but I didn’t think that they were spectacular enough for me to part with £10 for each one. I had wanted to check out the house plants with a view to picking up a Snake Plant – Sansevieria trifasciata, but don’t ask me which one as I haven’t yet made my mind up about that. Anyway, they had no snake plants on sale so I looked for an alternative and was immediately drawn to this bendy looking Crassula / Jade plant. Growing up, mum had a really well established one of these which looked essentially like a bonsai and weighed a ton! This Crassula is a different kettle of fish; its weight would appear to be in proportion with its size, but this is still much more than other plants and the two ‘trunks’ appear to have had some kind of falling out / or divide and conquer strategy! Honestly I am already considering getting a more hefty pot or planter in order to anchor the thing wherever I put it, or else spend a small amount of time picking up the pot and any spilled soil every day. Hey-ho, I have wanted one of these for most of this year so am very glad to have one now that I may be able to nurture into a nice shape. I should add that for reasons which escape my comprehension, a lot of the leaves have become speckled with glitter and look ‘fabulous’ – as in y’know, Christmassy! I’m hoping this changes soon, real soon!

Photo of the Dracaena Sandriana
My plant, a real Dracaena Sandriana.
Photo of Lucky Bamboo
This is not the plant I have, silly google!

Moving on to plant number two which immediately hit me as being a Dracaena Marginata…oh you silly boy, no it isn’t. No, dear readers, according to the label (which for the life of me I can’t find) this is a Dracaena but a Dracaena Sandriana. Enter “Dracaena Sandriana” into Google and see as it tells you that this is one of those Lucky Bamboo things which is not actually bamboo…the jury is still out on whether it’s lucky or not. Everybody loves a good varigated plant and I’m no exception. Yes, currently it does look quite a size – it’s about 28cm tall. However, my little cubicle is not the most illuminated corner of the globe and I don’t imagine it’ll get much taller than 45cm or so over the next decade, so proportionally it’s not going to dominate my desk…much!

A Peace Lily…which I didn’t know I was buying!
Photo of Peace Lily flower
The beautiful and stately flower of a Peace Lily

And now onto the third plant (which has made it onto my desk), this is a Spathiphyllum. A what? Spathiphyllums are what we call “Peace Lilies”, I did not know that when I bought it, and perhaps that’s for the best as I might not have bought it because subtle these things are not! I’m anticipating this thing putting on plenty of growth, amazingly enough I got it because I liked the foliage, the rest of the world buys these for the flowers which are huge and if memory serves me right, aromatic? Google indicates that these plants are ‘lightly fragrant’, time will tell but I seem to remember one of these from a place I once worked and it smelled nappyesque(?) yikes! Ah well if it stinks it stinks and I’ll deal with it if and when.

I have one more plant to smuggle onto my desk, I don’t know what type it is and anything about how it will grow or if it will even fit on the desk but ah well, if that’s the most risky thing I do this year then it’ll be a calm year so we’ll have to wait and see. I definitely don’t have room for any more plants after this so it looks like the illusive Snake plant will have to go on hold for some time, I’d take on home but I think they may be toxic to cats and Pepper has a good old chew at every and anything and I love the little bugger too much to make him ill.

Photo of Pepper
Who’d want to give this lovely little sod a dodgy tummy? Not me!

 

Until next time…

 

Star Trekk 2019

Walking beneath the stars

Each year Queenscourt Hospice organises the Star Trekk” sponsored walk in order to raise funds. For a town with a population of only around 90,000 there is generally a good turnout, this year for example, at least two thousand people participated in the walk and raised tens of thousands of pounds for a very worthy charity.

The routes are generally easy to follow – what with us all adorning luminescent orange t-shirts and there’s always some clowns with pink hair!

Chris and I did this last year and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the event. There can be no denying that we set off at a blistering pace, I’d estimate that we were easily hitting 3.5 – 4.0 miles per hour for the first quarter of the walk.

This year the event took place on the 17th of May, which I am sure was a little bit earlier in the year than last year. As far as the pace goes, there was only one difference… we never actually slowed down! Seriously I’ve walked (marched / cantered!) with the East Lancs LDWA (not for bloomin’ long I hasten to add) on one occasion and the pace was practically identical.

Thankfully the route had been chopped, well, in as much as it was a completely different route. Last year we went as far north as Churchtown in our 8.5 miles (ahem, yeah right) walk. This year in our 6.5 miles (seriously, who is doing the measuring and why are they not looking at said measurement?)  race around in the dark we headed off to Meols Cop via Scarisbrick Road (and yes I do appreciate that most of the world won’t know to where I’m now referring!) before dropping down Southbank Road and then veering off into Birkdale. I’d been looking forward to this section as I’ve not really done a lot of walking around this area and I had all sorts of anticipations about the streets being full of rowdy supporters and well-wishers and y’know a kind of carnival atmsphere. There were a few but it was a little bit disappointing, still rain had been threatened all night (we got the odd thirty seconds worth of splash) so this had obviously had an impact.

I have to say this, the marshalls, and there are scores of them, do a wonderful job of not only making sure everyone knows where they are going, but also in keeping people’s spirits up. This is no mean feet as probably half of us had done a full day’s work, woolfed down our evening meal, put on the most god-awful, offensively coloured t-shirt and then gone marching around with the odd smattering of rain until late in the evening, on a Friday! I’m pretty sure that takes some dedication to a cause, but i don’t remember hearing anyone moan. Even when one of the marshals at Kew roundabout decided to tell us that we were just short of half-way around. I’d have lied and said ‘over half way now‘, well nobody needs to know that actually means ‘you still have over half-way to go...’.

No matter, as far as I know, we all made it back (in two hours and twenty minutes in our case) and will have raised considerable funds for Queenscourt Hospice.

And…the pub was open long enough for us to get a pint in! Result!

 

 

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!