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…