Getting back into walking

The grand walk around Smithills Moor on 24th April, 2021

I’d promised myself a ‘getting back into the swing of things’ type of walk for a week or two and with the onset of good weather, I couldn’t remember the last time we’d had rain, this weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity, whilst Chris stayed at home and did the gardening. I didn’t relish the idea of driving well over 90 minutes to get to Pendle and I also thought that given my current lack of fitness that to attempt Pendle Hill would have hospitalised me! A gentle stroll up to Rivington Pike and a meandering route down back to the car would have been just what the doctor ordered then…

Eventually, after some arguments between me and my iPhone cable splitter – which cuts out, I reached the start of the walk at around 9:25 and was on route by 9:30. I did toy with the idea of mapping this out via my Fitbits ( I had both on because I don’t trust them) in conjunction with the phone app but then decided this would zap my battery, or my data or more likely both!

The first port of call was the Pinetum, we don’t have many trees where I live now, so this afforded me the chance to see something more than Amelanchiers and Cherry trees and it is a nice flattish kind of start to the walk.  By 9:45 I had already decided that this would not just be a “Pike and back” route, having seen it from afar for the last few car outings, I wanted to nail Winter Hill summit but on my own terms – I would not be choosing any of the harder routes up to the top. I know  how boring this can sound but I wanted to bag the summit via the road route. This meant heading west and then south in order to get to the start of the Winter Hill road off George’s Lane – I had done this before, twice, so I was familiar enough with the route. I was surprised to see that the Dog Hotel that was, had now become a pop-up eatery, selling all sorts of drinks which were all neatly laid out, on a table, becoming increasingly warmer and less and less palatable! They also advertised that they sold Greenhalgh’s pies – I declined the chance to cart around with me – something as hot as Mercury’s core with heart attack potential, things like this were at least in part to blame for my current ‘rotund’ physique! Walking past was easy.

After some time I arrived at the turn-off for Winter Hill (the road) and began the gradual ascent. I had anticipated there being lots of folks out and about today, more so than normal given the freedoms now afforded to us in post lockdown…I had no idea they would be spread so far and wide, I saw people going the same way as me! Thankfully the three men that I did see decided to take a path which I had once considered, but decided against (which I believes leads all the way up to Crooked Edge Hill). I did get talking to a man who was walking down Winter Hill who had said that the Pike had appeared teeming with people since more or less first light this morning. That’s kind of a good and bad thing, good in that people are getting exercise and socialising and bad as I have now been possessed by the spirit of the late, great Alfred Wainwright and want all of the countryside to myself! Don’t get me wrong, I do like people, I do enjoy talking to them on route…but I don’t like having to wait for them at stiles and kissing gates and well most places to be honest! The distant views of the Pike were instilling in me the belief that towards that direction lay an awful lot of ‘waiting for people’.

Counting Hill in all its majesty.

I found myself to be coping so well with walking that the notion of extending the route to detour around Dean Mills Reservoir leapt into my mind and wouldn’t vacate. Hence I resolved to walk on past Two Lads and instead took the right hand turn onto yet more moorland – or at least the slabbed path which leads down and south-west, passing the former site of Smithills shooting hut. Progress was quite quick, given that I did occasionally stop to take the odd hazy photograph. Overhead – or at least all around me, were invisible sources of constant sound – Skylarks and by goodness were they on form today! I exchanged pleasantries with a couple who looked to have come from where I was heading and who were heading where I’d been. There was another friendly exchange between myself and a man who was a dead ringer for my one-time next door neighbour and then finally I was at the top of the little slope and in front of me was the small but perfectly azural Dean Mills reservoir.  To be honest you could possibly fit eight of these into the Lower Ogden Reservoir (my all-time favourite body of water) but that should not detract from this being in a lovely location and the shade of blue from a reservoir which has previously labelled as brown or peaty…well it was so worth the trek here.

I decided not to loiter as I was feeling a little bit hungry and thirsty and in need of a sit down. Although there was nothing wrong with the ground I fancied there might be somewhere nicer to sit further uphill and duly began the gentle ascent of this lesser visited of the West Pennines: Counting Hill. I think the last time that I was in this vicinity was in the winter of 2013 when I met up with a lady from the walking forum for a walk which turned out to be one of my favourites of the year – with snow, not normally my favourite weather condition. The terrain is essentially one giant peat sponge, soaking up every bit of water that falls on the twin plateaus of Counting and Winter hills, filtering it and conveying it on to the abundance of reservoirs situated to the south and west of the area. This is not the most arduous of climbs in fair weather, pardon the pun but it is a breeze! In inclement weather the organic path vanishes, in fact it is hardly visible at the start and end. Today I got lucky, so lucky in fact that I only saw one person on this hillside until I was within striking distance of where this path merges with the one which branches from Winter Hill road all the way down to Belmont Road. I found a very handily placed arrangement of rocks at which I sat and ate my lunch and tried to get some decent photographs but the haze was destroying clarity leaving everything looking a bit washed out on the monitor afterwards – you can’t have everything! Within seconds of my rising from my dolmen of a seat, a cute little bumble bee had landed and began foraging for whatever bumble bees forage. This would lead to one of the clearest photos of the day.

Who knew there was a tarn up here?
It’s yours truly trying to look enigmatic!

Winter Hill, the true summit of Winter Hill now beckoned and having not been to the top of this for close to three years I was up for the quite gentle task of traversing the remainder of Counting Hill and onto the col which is now gaining popularity at the top of Winter Hill (the road). I was almost sad to be leaving Counting Hill as this was a wonderfully tranquil and solitary place where I think  I could easily spend large amounts of time and only come away feeling good about myself.  I think I counted twelve people who’s path I crossed on route to the ordnance survey column – my only one of the day! Ordinarily, it’s rare to see more than one, I think this is the post pandemic phenomena – people are so bored of staying at home that even more are coming out into the countryside, well, as long as they don’t get in the way I suppose… It was a really welcome change to approach the column without my boots getting a liberal coating of mud, people can dress it up however they want but I do know the difference between peat and mud – mud stinks, peat does not! There was no spectacular view to the Yorkshire Icons to be had today so I quickly stood up and made my way back to the road, took a left and after a few metres took a right to begin the longest downhill section up to this part of the walk. Again I did encounter a lot of people on route, far more than normal, Winter Hill never used to attract the hordes but I have a feeling that’s transitional.  I was torn between wanting to wander across the great wide track across Rivington Moor to the Pike and bagging Crooked Edge Hill once more.

There’s nothing spectacular about this particular hill, yes there are two great mounds of stones and another budding ‘lad’ at “Two Lads” but it’s not like they offer a mobile phone charging station or vend a nice full-bodied merlot, they’re just two mounds of stones which people have taken to treating with a certain sentimentality which eludes me (and yet I actually love Pendle Hill!). All the same, it’s important to stick at one’s objectives for the day and the ascent of Crooked Edge Hill had been part of my itinerary for…a few hours. Having stumbled upon a path which seemed to have potential to escort me over towards the Pike track I made a deal with myself to bag Crooked Edge Hill and return to this path to achieve all relevant objectives. That being said, the possibility was denied me as I couldn’t find (or devote the time and patience) this path to the Pike and instead filtered off back down the bumpy and vertigo inducing drop down Crooked Edge Hill to the former dog hotel / pie shop! This is not my favourite part of the route and I was delighted to be back on terroir – almost firmer at the front of the shop. I was only slightly tempted by the sight of what had to be by now, bottled warm water and decided to have a seat at another large stone and with a large helping of fortune discovered I still had some energy gels with me, which were readily consumed. By this time Apple Weather app was reporting the local temperature as 17 Celsius – it felt a good deal hotter than that!

The reward for the slog uphill, the Tower atop the Pike.

I’m not a fan of the section from the Dog hotel of old; to the irrelevant lump which is Brown Hill, it’s boring and seems to go on forever. The highlight was watching two young lads leg it up the side of an extremely steep – I want to say ‘sheep trod’ but no sheep in its right mind would attempt that thing, in less than 17 seconds – the two lads from their party who had stayed on the ‘road’ were not subtle when it came to reporting the time taken. It was very impressive, I had looked at this slope in awe on my way past many hours earlier!

By now the sun was truly beating down on me as I turned off the main road and headed slowly up the track which would lead me to my turn-off for ‘The Pike’. There was no way in hell that I would attempt the southern ascent, which is fairly steep and obviously more exposed to the merciless sun. The path I took almost loops around the entire mound but then turns 180 opposite the path to Winter Hill. It’s more easily ascended, thankfully and far less exposed – there’s itself in the way if you get what I mean! Soon enough I had ascended my last ‘peak’ of the day. To be fair to the Pike it is the steepest one, just it also happens to be the summit with the least altitude, the views everywhere today were essentially crap so really with the Pike overlooking the activity just below it – dozens of people enjoying their day out in the sun whilst taking in scenery other than their own back gardens, had to be the summit with the best views of the day!

After very carefully descending the stone staircase and then the more eroded path I spent a moment talking to a couple of wags about their dog – a lovely Caucasian Shepherd (female) who looked only slightly smaller than your average pit pony! I did want to take a photo but figured that might be a bit:

  • Invasive – the woman has a right to walk her dog wherever she wants without people ‘papping’ her!
  • Dodgy – this could have been construed as me pretending to take a photo of her dog in order to get one of her
  • Daft as the woman who owned the dog was a bit on the attractive side and this would probably have got me in trouble with Chris.

So I moved on with best intentions intact. Which leads me nicely to the next section: the Rivington Pike Terraced Gardens. Oh my where do I start? Since 2016 when the Repairing Rivington project secured £3.4M  from the Heritage Lottery Fund  to essentially tidy the place up, things have been changing. Their website : https://www.rivingtonterracedgardens.org.uk/get-involved/the-restoration-project/ words it differently but we are both pointing at the same sun if you catch my drift! I appreciate the drive and efforts and intentions of the project. But, by God has it ever made things bloody confusing around here now as old paths (and now lakes >>> ) are unearthed. It’s quite possible to spend a lot more time here than what you might have originally intended and that would be mainly down to the fact that you are now essentially lost in a maze of paths, and castellated things! It’s lovely here, don’t get me wrong, but part of the attraction pre 2016 was the knowledge of ‘how it had been’, we’d become accustomed to it looking a certain way and now it’s looking a different way, not all together different, just more paths – you kind of see where I’m heading here (pardon the pun). Stop it with the incessant path unearthing…or I could just get over it and if I don’t like it, don’t bloody go here, hey they are leaving Great Hill alone!

Ultimately I ambled on over to the start of my walk on the long driveway having spent roughly five hours walking around in the sun – good job I’d put some factor 30 on hey?

Summary

I was over the moon to have got around this trek and delighted when I looked at my Fitbits (yes, I had then both on) to discover I had done 30K steps as I would really have been content with just the bagging of the Pike and Two Lads, so to have taken in the other two peaks was a real bonus. Counting hill, well more specifically the stones where I took my lunch stop was a little slice of heaven that I was lucky to find given that this was not part of my route when I set off this morning.  There is something rather special about the less frequented summits – even though there was evidence enough that many more people have traversed that hillside, that path didn’t lay itself! i wasn’t surprised to see so many people out and about, moreover, I’d expected Rivington to be teeming and by the time I finished it was. I am not against the Rivington renovation projects per se and it won’t put me off returning every once in a while, but for now my friend Great Hill beckons and I’ve really missed her!

To discover more about the Rivington Restoration project and other articles about Rivington and days out there, take a gander at their web site: https://www.rivingtonterracedgardens.org.uk/

Distance covered: roughly 12 miles (19km)

Ups and downs: Around 1800′  (540+metres)

Song stuck in my head: Harry Styles – Adore You

 

Here’s the route on plotaroute.com – with my fuckup included!

Going Green!

Planning and building the new garden

Our house...at the corner of our street
Our house…at the corner of our street

We’ve been at our new house for so long now that it’s starting to not feel quite so new. Who am I kidding, it still feels weird to drive up to it every day and I’m not looking forward to the day that it doesn’t! But, after several false starts, the time has finally come to get to grips with the various gardens – because we have a few! Most houses have a front and back garden. If they are lucky then there can also be a side garden. We’ve got all of these plus a side corner bit and don’t even get me started on the fact there is also effectively a lawn slap bang in front of us and thanks to the street being narrow, but people still needing to have stuff delivered, there are now corner borders on the edges of the street – and we’ve ended up with one of these, more on this on another post but those who know me will rightly assume that one morning in October I will be mass planting daffodils and snowdrops in ‘ours’!

Back to our gardens, those that really are part of our property. In September I did attempt a spot of gardening, planting some small shrubs in what I have come to label as the “front border” – okay imagination seems to have deserted me in naming that one! This consisted largely of some Cyclamens and a few past-their-best Osteospermums – which promptly died (expected, they are an annual) and some fading Geraniums (don’t ask me which type as I really don’t know). I had to abandon fairly early in the process as the sound of the neighbourhood pile driver was making me want to pull my own ears off! Honestly, when that thing gets in your head it is the only thing in your head! They looked pretty bad and begged the question from a passer-by “why is he planting dead plants?” There wasn’t much greater success in planting the Daffodil bulbs in the Manor / Ellie border (it’s not a regular naming convention that I’ve deployed!). I had wanted to plant in a naturalistic manner (have them popping out of the grass) but the tiny sods which came up using my foot-powered bulb planter, kept getting stuck, forcing me to shift them by hand. Not a swift process!  By the time I had planted EIGHT I was at the “oh forget this for a game of soldiers” stage, and that was the polite version! Since then I have learned that it is meant to do this as the next sod pushing up pushes this one out of the way.

By December I had tidied up my previous dead plant, plantation and put in some others (which apparently I failed to document)  along with four of those grapefruit-smelling Cupressus Macrocarpas. These would suffice whilst it was too cold and I had too little time to do anything about it. Then around six weeks ago I decided to take on the mammoth task of the “Shady Border” – this is the seven square-metres border which gets hardly any real sunlight but is the biggest single stretch of ground that we own (on this side of the wall).  The builders (landscaping team) had previously decided to plant:

  • Hydrangeas
  • Mock Roses
  • Creeping Buttercups

And on top of this they had laid a decent layer of bark mulch…which swiftly broke down and became fertiliser for this weed array! I for one, question their intentions. Were they motivated by blandness? What a nondescript collection of blah! These had to go, the Hydrangeas were tiny anyway but the Creeping Buttercups and Mock Roses were ubiquitous! Also, they had planted four Pyracantha but two had been starved to death by these other beasts! I rescued the other desperate duo!

Ironically, it has taken a long time to ‘lazy dig‘ the soil. At first when we used to get twenty minutes worth of rain every thirty minutes, the soil was heavy, but soft. Since then the clay that was has now dried out to a near concrete-like consistency, it still weighs a tonne and you wouldn’t want to try planting anything in it without some for of conditioning agent – I’m using store-bought, all-purpose compost.  Whilst I was doing this behemoth Chris took over the front border and planted some new Hebes and Heucheras and it all looks rather nice (if not a little twee) now. My long suffering Mint Julep Juniper has found a home in the sun next to our Amelanchier  Tree which is something of a reward seeing as Google describes the habit of my Juniper as “gracefully arching branches” in reality they are more akin to ‘crawling desperately’.  I had planted a ‘smoke tree’ Cotinus Coggygria in the same border (but about 10′ away) in September but as of yet this is putting on a really poor showing, I wasn’t expecting ‘smoke’ yet but leaves might have been nice, it’s just about budding.

So anyway, I thought it might be nice to introduce the borders visually as well as in text. So without further delay, here goes:

The first border that you encounter when approaching from the west (north west actually) is … the Welcome Border (aha bet you were expecting it to be named Western!). I want this to ultimately set the stall out for what is to come, ‘white, white, white’ – as in the flowers. This decision was the result of having been to Dunham Massey one day in Spring 2019 and witnessed a beautiful white border dominated by Cherry Blossom and Magnolia trees and backed up with various white flowering perennials. Allied to this, Barratts’ homes landscapers saw fit to leave us a wonderful little Hawthorn tree of the white flowering variety (we had a pink one at Red Lane) so this underlines the theme, or at least it will when the flowers all arrive at the same time. That’s all very well for spring but we are going to need some more bloom once the daffs, snowdrops and other earlies have finished their song? That’s going to be a work in progress, no matter how small it looks this is not really a small plot with all of its stretches and foibles. Ideally I would like some foxgloves and Gladioli here – but the former are biennials and the latter a pita because they need staking or else they fall around and self-destruct very quickly.

Photo of the Shady border
Sorry, seem to have a partial ‘Welcome border’ photobomb here too!

Moving on in a very slight easterly direction is our biggest border – the Shady Border. This piece of land is baked in sunlight all day long…when the sun rises in the west! To be honest, I could throw some real money and manpower at this area. I wouldn’t say this is a dark zone per se but it seriously lacks sunshine and at best looks grey all day long. Finding nice coloured plants for this is going to be a challenge but one to which I must rise as I really don’t want a seven-metres-long border full of the slug bait which are Hostas, Heucheras and Ferns of all sorts. I’ve already replanted the two rescued Pyracanthas as referred to in the preceding text, plus I had one of my own brought from Leyland Road that used to share a plastic trough with the Mint Julep Juniper, what goes around comes around! I have bought two bargain basement Clematis (one of which is ‘Destiny’) to hopefully climb up the wall behind them and I think this could be a lovely location for my four tiny Acer Palmatums group: Atropurpurea, Butterfly, Orange Dreams and ‘Going Green’ as this is the first year that I have had some survive not only the winter but the summer sun as well! I have a plan to put a path of “Yorkstone” circular cobbles in to break up what will be a densely mulched border and it goes without saying that such a large tract of space is just crying out for an array of Geraniums which will be punctuated by some tiny autumn and spring flowering Cyclamens and any other plants I can get hold of which don’t mind spending their life in gloom! I read that Lily of the Valley will do well here, I may have to buy plants as getting hold of the bulbs / corms / tubers / rhizomes has proved impossible for me this year. Likewise I had managed to get hold of one of what I believe is a Japanese Anemone but this appears to have been munched on already. I don’t what greedy insects we have in our immediate vicinity but they’ve had a go at some primulas and my hellebores too!

the Winter border

Moving ever more east and we’re into the third border that I started off last year. Directly below the kitchen windows you’d be forgiven for thinking that the obvious name for this border would have referred to that room but no, that might imply that I am growing stuff for us too consume and the only thing I’m really feeding albeit unintentionally, is whatever little pest is snacking on my hellebores and primulas. Bulbs will dominate this space as it gets very early morning sun and that’s about it. We had two electricity mains sockets fitted here for external decorations and they are not pretty so I have planted ferns either side of them to (in time) hide the ugly grey / black plastic box. Once the Daffodils here have finally gone off and the leaves had a good chance to feed the bulbs then I will lift and store them somewhere dry (no idea where) so that I can do the whole border again in a more neat but diverse manner. I fancy getting some Erythronium  next and maybe even trilliums and a quick google around has revealed Caladium Florida which are fond of shade / partial shade, well I can supply that in spates. For the rest of the year it will have to be a case of admiring the ferns although if I add some grit I maybe able to deter the slug population from feasting on any Hosta I may plant.

Slightly north of this border is an area that as of yet we are not treating as a border…but I want to! The stones here will look just exquisite punctuated by autumn flowering Cyclamen and perhaps (if the budget allows) a few Colchicum of the ‘autumnale’ variety or possibly some of the true autumn Crocuses – the Saffron species – Sativus.  Oddly enough this little patch receives sun in the morning until around an hour before noon (on a good day prior to the Spring equinox) so it seems a genuine waste to not plant anything here – even Sedums or Sempervirens may well thrive…I just have to learn to like the things as I am really not a fan of all things alpine, except for the Alpine Laburnum</ Moving on we reach what is unimaginatively referred to as…the Front Border – well there’s a point when you just have to call a spade a spade. As I have mentioned in the opening paragraphs we have four Golden Monterey Cypresses here and to be honest they are surviving as opposed to thriving, I think they need more sun. In addition where they are located is actually really close to the concrete footings for the pavement and road so they are almost self-bonsais such is the restriction on their roots. These may need moving around the corner where the sun beats down for most of the day although that being said I have known this tree to dry up and die quickly from our Leyland Road days and an interfering pseudo gardener!

And so we take a right hand turn here, avoiding the Amelanchier tree with its on-going mission to whip around from side to side so violently that it may one day uproot itself. Turning south and onto the eastern facing “Manner border” – the house directly facing this border looked so very grand as it was being constructed and the paving on the opposite side of the road looked like a very formal path leading directly to its door. It sounded good at the time! Along with many other areas of our little site, this locale was festooned with horrid Coyote Bushes when we first arrived, in fact when we first viewed the house I vowed to rid us of these ugly, ugly plants, now just four remain, their one redeeming feature is that they are easy to dig up – I did a few with just my bare hands. I had planned to grow a range of Dogwoods here but Christine is most definitely not in favour of that, honestly just because I was going to make it a rare two-tone, red-yellow combination! Instead it looks like we will be planting more Monterey Cypresses (tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) as my secondary plans for grouping various perennials in threes and fives seems to have also hit the skids!  It could be worse, she likes Box (Buxus) which I have silently sworn an oath to destroy if they ever make an appearance here! Seriously I will buy in spores of box blight if she ever brings home just one of those characterless plants.  In situ at the moment is a rather lazy smoke tree which appears to be the last plant on earth to hit bud burst and some Miscanthus / Carex which we both like but could do with spacing out and multiplying. The last border is not yet a border – this is the boundary between our house and the path belonging to next door – Ellie is her name and will be the name of this border. I plan to just put in a row of mixed dwarf conifers and to let them merge / one dominate!

 

And so it came to pass…

I have now finally left the #walk1000miles Facebook group for reasons of mental wellbeing. We all get a little overwhelmed by needy people, well that group was kind of like their ‘hang out place’!

Here are some examples of typical questions:

“How far should I walk?”
“Where should I go?”
“How do I know when I’ve walked too far?”
“Do only ‘boots on’ walks count?”
“What does ‘boots on’ mean?”
“Can I include running?”

You get the point, God they piss me right off, so needy and in desperate need of confirmation and validation for every single last thought they have! It’s all about sharing, sharing every single last bastard brain fart they experience!

I am so well rid of that hourly annoyance!

Shortest post for a long time!

I’ve done a walk

No hills – other than an ascent of the bridge on Birkdale Cop which traverses…a muddy stream!

This was my first walk for quite some time so I kept it short, and urban! I left our house and yes, I’m still very happy to refer to where I live now as a house and not ‘the flat’, and headed to Tesco at Kew. From here it was a nice, if somewhat noisy (lockdown, what lockdown?) amble in a south-easterly direction towards Ormskirk until I turned off at Turning Lane – I do like it when things work out like that! I’d only ever walked along Turning Lane once before and that was in the opposite direction and as part of an epic route home from work, so was a bit too knackered to appreciate its charms, of which it has many. Who knew that we had a caravan park quite so close at Alderlee Park? The gardens were pretty much standard, nothing spectacular, no houses were draped in Wisteria – a great shame as this can be a truly remarkable sight, of done just right. The views across to Kew were mesmerising and if I had not already been using my phone to track the route I would have taken a lot of photographs, which doubtlessly would have impacted on the time taken.

At the end of Turning Lane I took a right and on to Jacksmere Lane where again I was afforded more views of lots and lots of greenery. We may be expanding the town with regards to the amount of new estates popping up, but there are still large tracts of relatively unspoilt greenbelt land at which we are still able to gaze. After a short while the pavement ran out, not literally, although I think most people would pay to see such a spectacle, but physically the pavement was no more. And for the next mile or maybe even two (because it felt like ten!) this was not a nice perambulation! I rounded the corner and onto the road effectively known as Birkdale Cop – to me it was purgatory! The wind was driving into my face and for over a mile, the notion of a pavement appeared to have been a none-entity in the minds of the town planners. Given that this road incorporates a 50 Mph speed limit for most of the stretch that I was (by now) hobbling along, this was something of a nervy and debilitating slog. I have walked this stretch before, it was not quite as windy then and the traffic was around the same for speed in passing me and regularity. What was different? My preconceived perception! Because this road is essentially the backbone of our estate, I had expected the speed limit (which is now 30 in places) to have had more of an effect that it has really had. At some point in the future, there will be driveways leading to houses on the land that I was grudgingly traversing. It appears that I was wanting things to progress at a quicker pace than is occurring, ultimately my fault, but not that bloody wind!

Eventually, after much swearing into the dry maelstrom I reached Town Lane, this is closed for the most part, a determined trespasser could, if clean footwear is not a motivator, make it on to the estate by foot, the rest of us simply take a right then a left and onto the tarmac path at Kew Woods – South, I thought it best to give the area a name; given that the Ordnance Survey has not yet deemed this a necessary measure!

At last the bloody wind calmed somewhat! I could hear noises other than vehicular traffic and my own curses! Now distant bird cries of Herring Gulls, Starlings and the ubiquitous collared doves were all around…and the sun was out, to be fair it had been out for all of the walk thus far, it had just been hard to appreciate with traffic whizzing past and the wind trying to get me squished! Soon enough I had ventured onto the only-recently re-opened Wight Moss Way – my new favourite road, as it leads onto my estate. And from here it was only a few minutes walk to home.

It was by no means a big walk at a mere 4.00 miles and thirty-something floors (390 feet or thereabouts!). Further to this my overall speed was not one for the record books – well possibly for my slowest walk ever on flat terrain! I can’t let myself get bothered about these things, I’m still very injured as my right leg will attest. I have an appointment with a physio / consultant online next Tuesday. If I thought this walk was an arduous slog then words might fail me when attempting to describe the uphill battle for which I am attempting to prepare myself in connection to getting some help / therapy. Dam lockdown, I remain adamant that lack of exercise lead to this horrid condition which blights my every footstep one second and then leaves me alone the next.

But, I will return to the pavements…just not necessarily the ones covered on Tuesday 6/4/21, for a while…

Rather useless map:

New Year’s Day walk

 

Walked around Birkdale, crossed over Lulworth Road and on to Coastal Road, then all the way up to Ainsdale and Station road before returning home via Segars Lane, Guilford Road and Bentham Way and the northern section of Kew Woods.

The route

 

Date Area Mileage
01/01/2021 Ainsdale & Birkdale 11.4

2021 Going forward

I know a lot of people don’t like it when others end their sentences with “going forward”, personally I couldn’t give a rat’s arse!

Wow, it’s been so rainy this year. I know there have been many other far more pressing concerns in the world – like the coronavirus, and whether it’s real, and if it is will the vaccine be a real gamer-changer…or not! Agreed. However, I’ve had a fucked-up right knee followed and then joined by a fucked-up pair of feet (I’m going to see  podiatrist today, don’t you know!), these issues can get fixed, or a workaround via pain management found. What can’t be fixed is the crappy weather we’ve been having since September…when we moved here! I don’t remember there being two successive days when it hasn’t been raining in my local area. If the doomsayers and foretellers of global climatic change are to be believed then this is only going to stay the same – oh shit where’s the rope? But then just a minute…how many times have there been predications of ‘rain all day in the north west’ only for my walk to be cancelled and then a beautiful sunny afternoon and vice versa? So, in essence, just because the meteorologists are saying the climate is going to hell in a hand basket, I’d be more impressed if they could predict tomorrow’s weather error free, and they don’t seem to be much good at that!

So, I’m going to start paying less attention to weather forecasts up to the point of if they predict it will rain – I’ll take some waterproofs, if they say sunshine – I’ll plat shit! No, if sunshine is predicted I’ll put my factor fifty on…and take my waterproofs any ole way!

Because this has been one shit year, from a walking perspective. Oh sure I just about got my 1,000 miles in (and how some people from those groups are beginning to get more than a bit tiresome!) but my last real countryside, no-roads walk was the Amble in February! Shit! I’m not doing that two-years-running, no sir! Next year I’m going out regardless! On a related note the LDWA have cancelled all of their planned Winter / Spring walks…fucking pandemic!

So in a bid to get myself back to some positive level of fitness, and because I genuinely do believe that solo walking (or walking with Karl and Sue) is good for me, I started to put together a plan of action. Now, I’ve done this before and proved myself to be a past master at ignoring plan of actions, so instead of saying when I’m going where, I’m just going to stick with where and try to keep them in order – for success:

 

    A first glimpse of Rivington Pike’s tower.

Rivington Pike, and I’m not even adding Winter Hill and all of the other minor summits I normally traverse.

 

 

 

 

 

Pendle Hill, this will be when I’ve got a lot more fitness under my belt as we all no know, Pendle is no push over!

The king of the West Pennines, Winter hill looms majestically as seen from Catherine Edge.

Then it’s back to the Winter Hill massif for a more circuitous round taking in Rivington Pike and Winter Hill and possibly Two Lads and the big drop down the north face to Belmont road before returning via Catter Nab.

Pendle (again) with Stang Top Moor thrown in and (if I’m fit enough then) going up Pendle via ‘the middle way’!

 

 

 

 

The 'Nose' of Pen-y_ghent
The ‘Nose’ of Pen-y-Ghent

Pen-y-Ghent. And so it begins, the training for 2021’s Y3P – this is all very much pie in the sky at the moment, I’ll need a working pair of feet and knees for this let alone the bigger 24.5 miles challenge.

 

 

 

 

Anglezarke Reservoir framed by Silver Birches.

The Amble – solo obviously as they’ve called off the event, I plan to do the full thing solo, of course this will have to be after a relatively dry spell (anyone remember those?) and in later spring when the light will be around for me to see where I’m going – especially on Darwen Moor where the path is a bit, undefined!

 

 

 

 

Ingleborough, I’ll try to factor in Simon Fell and Park Fell as they are really overlooked in favour of the big attention grabber on the same massif.

 

 

Sefton Coastal Path. Well why not? I’ve been banging on about doing this for yonks and to be honest, it’s the right of every Sandgrounder…

Ominous Whernside!

Whernside. But, I will be going from Ribblehead, to be honest if I never get to do this beast from Chapel le Dale ever again, that’d be fine with me.
The Three Peaks of Yorkshire – solo, with a sensible amount of water – not half a gallon like last time!

Scafell Pike from Dungeon Ghyll and taking in Great End. Well it looks amazing so why not! (Photo to be added when I find it, stupid ass laptop won’t connect to my WD MyCloud anymore!).

If I get that lot in, with a few walks with Karl and Sue then it will have been a successful walking year. Not like this one!

So much has happened…

It’s difficult to know where to start!

We finally moved house. And that was fun! If I can offer one bit of advice to anyone, if you can, try and avoid completing and exchanging on two houses in one day, a bag of laughs it is not, especially when your deposit for your new house magically disappears for a couple of hours before reaching your purchasing solicitor, damn that was fun. All the same we did do the sensible thing of booking a night in the Premier Inn,  a little bit indulgent but way better than trying to build the bed whilst the removal company were y’know, moving us in!

There will be lots more articles / posts featuring the moving in process and how our lives are changing (for the better) to the new home.

Sadly, we’ve both lost our dads this year. Richard, Christine’s dad, died in September and the day before his funeral, my died finally joined mum in the next world. I’m saddened, I think I’ve succeeded this time in not squashing my feelings into a repressed ball of degenerative anger (like I did with mum). Obviously, I’m going to miss the pair of them for the rest of my time here, but these things are part of life and to deny them…it’s just not healthy.

On a physical level, my body has been an absolute git this year! First there was the  iliotibial band syndrome, affecting my right knee, which royally screwed up my walking. Now this has been either replaced or joined by Palmoplantar Psoriasis…which makes your feet look awful and hurts to even stay still. At least the treatment for the foot thing is an actual cream smeared all over my feet twice a day. The treatment for the knee thing involved exercises that I could just never do as this started whilst I was still living in a box-filled flat with no room to swing a cat, not that either of us is strong enough to swing ‘Pepper’ anywhere!  On Thursday I (embarrassingly) fell downstairs and whilst this burned my right elbow, bruised my left forearm and gave me a bruise I cannot even see on my left buttock…it seems to have done something magical to my right knee! The evidence of this is that I went for a six-miles walk yesterday morning and although my feet were overheating to the max by the end of the walk, my knee was great, no pain at all.

Okay, so that was an extremely condensed version of my last three or four months. I do plan on keeping a bit more up to date as I can see myself getting more accustomed to our home office where I have a linux PC setup – with two monitors, just for net stuff !

Bye for now.

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!