Oh what a play on words!
Since 2020’s Angelzarke Amble which occurred at a time of enormous chaos for me (and the rest of the world) I have had many fond memories harking back to my time on Catherine Edge. Wait, no I haven’t gone all Alan Titchmarsh and started writing sex prose. For Catherine Edge is not a person, it’s better than that, it’s a footpath!
After the warm realisation that came on my last excursion to the West Pennines; that I could actually still walk in spite of both legs being somewhat fucked up, I longed to be back here essentially in my heartland…well I wasn’t ready for Pendle yet! Sunday presented me with that special chance with the instructions from Chris of “Just get out and enjoy yourself!” Who was I to argue?
I arrived at Crookfield Road car park at 9:45 and by 9:50 (a memorable time if only because one can sing along to ‘The Archers’ theme music with the words ten-to-ten, to ten-to-ten…)I had donned my now decrepit walking boots and was on route to Catherine Edge. The aft view to a distant and mostly hidden Great Hill was amazing and gave me a real sense of what was to come, there would be few, if any, surprises! I was in no rush to get anywhere today as the weather was just right and for a change under foot was as dry as a bone in most places which normally have a liberal coating of mud or dirty water. I passed the large farm building which is probably named on maps…and was delighted to see that the huge and (it has to be said) Caucasian Shepherd (dog) was sprawled out occupying all of the front doorstep. This dog is immense and when it’s awake is an angry git! As much as I wanted to take a photo of it, I turned down the chance as I am not one for taking photos of occupiers’ front doors – it just seems wrong to me, and you would not want this beast disturbed, believe me. It is a very handsome dog though! They also have two Akitas – I think that’s what they are called, so lord knows what they are trying to protect here but I was thankful that those vicious twats weren’t around neither! Catherine Edge is not without its foibles, and some have the potential to be quite deadly!
I have to throw in some photographs here as it is just such a damn photogenic place:
After what felt like a couple of miles I finally reached the end of the named section of this route / path. The path continues for a little while but now falls under the confusion of the “Witton Weavers Way” which to me is about as clear as…I can’t think of anything that unclear! The overall LDP(?) known as the Witton Weavers Way incorporates four shorter paths all bundled up together to offer some kind of path baggers’ appeal, it hasn’t yet lured me in. I do wish that someone would label Charley’s Pole as a major feature – either the ordnance survey map company on paper or whoever looks after this footpath in real life, I thought the idea of letting us know where we are was paramount these days, so to me sticking a sign saying “Charley’s Pole’ on the post pictured to the left of this text, to me would aid in this pursuit. It’s still a nice chunk of steel though! On the day of the !AA! this section is usually pretty damn wet and chewed up…mainly by a couple of hundred people all marching over it. I am not fast enough at walking to be classed as a marcher! Today it was lovely, oh yes there were still damp parts and a couple of stretches of mud, but nowhere near as bad as what I have been familiar with each February. The turn-off is damn well hidden though and I have to say that I missed the official one and went all sorts of off piste here! Fortunately, you’d have to try really hard to get lost around here as the familiar beacon of the mast at Great Robert Hill is a blessing. So I frightened a few sheep – they scare when you’re not even trying and ultimately stumbled my way on to Longworth Lane in pursuit of the path which would take me down the side of a moor / field at Higher Whitaker (this means white acre but believe me, none of these fields are white!) .
I tentatively crept down a slope that seems a whole lot steeper when you’re climbing it, trying not to give any of the cows present a reason to trample me to death! I think they were just too damned hot to give a shit about me and I made it successfully through the kissing gate and on to the next downhill section. This involved the skirting of an ornamental lake – actually it is lovely and the crossing of a footbridge (for some reason I do love a good footbridge) and then it should have just been a case of ploughing on to Greenhill farm, except I took a dodgy turn and added fifteen minutes on to my walk. At least the detour took all of the steepness out of this section and before long I was on the tarmac all the way to the A675. I’d been dreading the crossing of this road since alighting the car as it is a bit of a race track and although designated 50mph, cars tend to go past a whole lot quicker than that! Thankfully I made it across and was by now beginning to get pretty damn peckish (that’s hungry in English!)
I had decided to take my lunch stop at the top of the path which runs all the way from Belmont Road (a675) to the crossroads atop Winter Hill just five minutes walk away from the trig point. But the hunger was so great that I abandoned that idea and started my wraps at Lower Height, just a handful of minutes away from the road. They were so awful that I threw them back in my rucksack and just had a moment or two taking in the lovely views and for once admiring the Azaleas that seemed to be having a population explosion, I never realised there were so many of them here. The slog up Winter Hill from this aspect is not bad really, in fact I only used the phrase ‘slog’ because of the sun which was by now beating down on me. The morning had been sunny, now just after noon, it was sweltering! I was thankful not to be on any of the real slogs such as Whernside or the utter git of Steel Fell! I was tempted to go off piste (this time deliberately) and head on over the very slight ridge onto Counting Hill, just because it’s so nice, but thought better of it and just kept on gradually ascending and before long I was at the bench near the top of this part of the hill watching a lad and his very attractive girlfriend (punching, very definitely punching) pass me before dropping all the way down Winter Hill (the road, don’t get me started!) towards Two Lads , which is not a hill in its own right no matter what is said on Wikipedia!
And so I was now on to the apex of the walk, the o/s column at Winter Hill for the second time in two months. The going underfoot was even better than the time before which was a joy!. The next task was to find the illusive path to take me down to Horden Stoops / Hampsons Pasture – seriously? They have one name for a hill and a road and an area, another two roads share the same two names and then one half mile descent gets about three names!!! I found the path by looking down into the field below, locating the wall and then following that back up to my immediate environ, quite clever I thought!
I don’t like this drop, it makes me walk like a very nervous lumbago sufferer! I could see two women a matter of less than a hundred lateral meters away awaiting…thankfully they took my descending reticence as an opportunity to have a break and sat down, I was grateful. Within an epoch I had lost enough height to instil in me the confidence to walk with a certain reckless abandon, as if I no longer believed I was going to fall from this lofty precipice, or even stumble down the north face of Winter Hill. To be fair I have done the ascent version of this route and it is only bettered by “Frodo’s steps” at Ingleborough for steepness. Eventually I made my way down to the level ground after not plunging to my death, sinking in one of the abundant springs and not twisting my ankles walking on the walls! I do love this walk! Having completed the next obstacle, the crossing of Rivington Road I gazed off at Will Narr again this is actually the side of a hill and not a person! This is my favourite kind of slope, one where it looks far steeper than it really is. Effectively this was the end of another section of the walk and onto the last one – the magnificent Anglezarke Moor!
The jury is still out regarding the naming of the hills around here. Is Spitlers Edge really just a spur of the slightly larger Redmond’s Edge? Is Hordern Pasture a hill at all? These are fodder for Wikipedia arguments (having instigated at least one of them about the parent peak of Pendle – is it hell as like Kinder Scout!) All that is important as this is most definitely Skylark territory and how they were on form today and buzzing with gusto aplenty! I can remember a time, possibly a dim and distant time, when I used to get the entire moor to myself when traversing this vast and expansive bugger all. Those halcyon and peaceful days are now way behind us and I think I counted 25 others on route, one of whom enquired as to my state of health “Are you alright?” he insisted, activating my tightly-wound hypochondria! I met with the same man (a fell runner no less) later on and we engaged in the usual walker’s pastime of competitive hill name dropping. This was something of a tie as we had both done Scafell Pike and Snowdon but neither had ascended Ben Nevis and I was sure as hell not going to throw the likes of Montserrat and Mont Sant at him. So we moved stealthily on to day-long walks and I’d like to think that I won, oh sure we’d both done the Yorkshire Three Peaks, but he hadn’t even tried the shorter Amble – let alone done both such as yours truly! He used up 15 minutes of my deadline to be at the top of Great Hill but I still made it…just. As for being back at the car for 15:30, well that was looking doubtful, damn these social niceties!
All the same the views from atop Great Hill were much better than the last time that I was in this vicinity a few weeks ago and i could even just about make out the profiles of Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough, Whernside was more or less visible on an instinctive basis, you can’t really see it but memory tries to convince you it’s just behind Ingleborough and that if you squint a bit more you’ll see it, or burst a blood vessel! It’s a long time since I last descended Great Hill in the direction of Simms, it sounds easy, follow the tracks and when the tracks fade to nothing then just keep heading towards the noise of the A675. Yeah, I took a wrong turn which luckily enough had me bypassing a cobbled staircase – result, I hate those things! Of course it wasn’t long before i bumped into someone else who wanted a chat, this time about the weather…and if Southport was ever going to sink, or be swallowed up by the Irish Sea.
I was bordering on dehydration by the time I reached the car, and with dismay because I had forgotten how long the final walk from Simms to the car park was – well it feels longer with knobheads flying past at 70+ mph! I don’t think I was far outside of my 15:30 deadline and was happy to have enjoyed such a lovely long walk, not really struggled, fallen over or made a general tit of myself, We’ll ignore the three wrong turnings seeing as I didn’t get that lost! All in all a wonderful walk which evoked magnificent memories of last year’s Amble and instilled in me the desire to do next year’s.
And that can’t be bad!
Distance covered: roughly 12 miles (19km)
Ups and downs: Around 1800′ (540+metres)
Song stuck in my head: Tate McRae You broke me first
I would put the route on plotaroute but oh my god it’s so fucking difficult to edit routes using that piece of shit!