Saturday, 25 April 2015
Friday, 24 April 2015
This was billed as a morning walk for more dilapidated members of the East Lancashire Lodge of the Long Distance Walkers Association. By no means a ‘Long Distance Walk’!
“Meet at Bury Metro Station (SD 804 105) at 10.30 am for a muddled (perhaps muddied) route via Greenmount to the Hare and Hounds in Holcombe Brook.” said the flier, “approx 10 km (6 miles)”.
And so it was, apart from the mud. We even failed to miss any turns or manage a ‘Martin’s Meander’ – apart from an enforced diversion due to a path closure.
From Bury Metro terminus we soon found our way past nesting swans to a bridge over the Irwell. Here’s the view towards Bury. All very green and fresh, despite being a few metres from the town centre – but can you spot the shopping trolley?
Soon after a tea and cake break by the pedalling cyclist (pictured above) and his two henchmen (Laurel and Hardy), we abandoned the easy stroll along the disused railway in favour of some ducking and diving beside Kirklees Brook. Here’s today’s team, including John’s mate, Les, who hadn’t been for a walk for six months and had been told it would be three miles on the flat! Whatever is the LDWA coming to?!
Much to my surprise, we managed to stick to my convoluted plans until reaching a barrier near Tower Farm. Work was clearly under way, so we headed off in another direction.
That led to a slither down a bank with good handholds (roots) and a splash across the Brook. I think we all kept our feet dry though, and there was certainly no mud after a couple of weeks of fine weather, though the lesser celandine, butterbur, forgetmenots and other flowers were rampant.
Those of us who take part in the ‘Two Crosses’ challenge walk recognised the view below – the viaduct at the end of the reservoir is crossed near the end of that 26 mile walk.
My planned route passed right next to Tower Farm, but the diversion took us a little further from it. The tower looks recently refurbished.
Nearby, an emu seemed to be enjoying slightly squalid conditions.
Across the railway and around the golf course at Greenmount, the temperature rose and the Peel Tower above Ramsbottom drew closer.
Now we were well and truly on the Two Crosses route in reverse. I hadn’t noticed this when planning the route, so it was rather odd to find we were walking on familiar paths. It was a glorious summery day.
Soon we reached Redisher Vale, where we left the Two Crosses route that descends abruptly down the bank pictured straight ahead.
The area is full of industrial heritage. Here we passed a barrier that may have been part of a water power installation.
Slightly more recent, this Massey Ferguson TE35 Gold attracted Alan’s attention. Perhaps he built it?
After 10 km and 2.5 hours or so we came upon the Hare and Hounds at Holcombe Brook at 1pm – time for a welcome beer and a bite to eat in the garden, after as pleasant a morning stroll as you could imagine.
Here’s our rather convoluted route:
After lunch, the two Johns and Les sidled off, and Alan and I took advantage of the wonderful weather to stroll back down the disused railway line to Bury.
Crossing the bridge pictured earlier beside the reservoir, young mallards were scooting energetically below us – a handful for their mum, and the first mallard chicks I’ve seen this year.
The town centre of Bury had a holiday feel to it, with people lazing in the sunshine near the impressive memorial to Robert Peel.
We hastened past, to return to the Metrolink and our tram back to Manchester.
Here’s our 7 km route, taking an hour and a quarter.
Thanks for your company, folks. That was an excellent little outing.
I wrote about ‘A Tale of Three Tilleys’ on 1 March 2010. That posting contained images of my old Tilley hat, and a bright shiny new one provided by Cotswold. The new one looked identical to the hat shown above on the left. To its right, and below, is that same hat (the one pictured as new in 2010), now looking like the five year old hat pictured back then.
Last week I trotted back to Cotswold with the worn out hat. Unfortunately they were unable to give me a new one. This time they referred me to Tilley’s website. How times have changed! But not that much. It was easy to locate and print the requisite returns note and put the hat in an envelope to Tilley Endurables Limited together with a cheque for £6 for postage and packing.
The hat on the left arrived by return of post.
If I survive another five years, I have little doubt that the hat on the left will look like the one on the right, as each of my previous three hats seems to have lasted just about five years before disintegration has set in. Had I needed to buy the replacement it would have cost me £65 (up from £51 five years ago).
A big thanks to Tilley, therefore, for honouring their lifetime guarantee for the third time. This really should be some comfort to those shelling out £65 for their first hat. You can do it in the knowledge that the one-off payment will secure ‘a hat for life’, even if it may occasionally need replacing free of charge if it wears out.
The hat, by the way, is an excellent product – an item I wouldn’t be without for summer walking. The best you can get.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
My beautifully crafted entry contemporaneous entry disappeared into the ether on Saturday night, so here’s a more retrospective effort.
This was my first backpacking trip since last year's TGO Challenge, and Sue's first for six years. We were supposed to be checking our gear prior to this year's TGO Challenge, but the weather put paid to that. It was very different to what we expect to be thrown at us in Scotland in May.
However, we proved that Sue can still shoulder a reasonably light rucksack, so the main objective of the trip was achieved.
Alan and Sheila joined us.They bring good luck with Lake District weather. Coffee and tea cakes at the Farm shop on the Kendal by-pass got us in the mood for a slow swoop up the Langdale valley, where an athletics event, the Langdale 10km race, was in full flow. But thanks to the farmer at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel there was plenty of parking space for everyone and we were soon on our t-shirted way up the path to Loft Crag.
Here we are, setting off from behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel shortly before noon.
Raven Crag glinted in the sun, Dungeon Ghyll was crossed, and below us the large group of runners set off on their 10km race.
We headed up towards Pike Howe, before turning left up Mark Gate, from where there's a good view back down the Langdale valley. The trees in the valley are just gaining their spring foliage, so at last the season is visibly changing from the cold winds of winter to the warm breezes of summer.
Windermere came into view, as did Blea Tarn, pictured below during one of our many pauses during the steep 600 metre ascent.
It was a day spent under a bright blue sky with lots of happy people smiling at each other and offering pleasantries to strangers.
Lunch was taken below Loft Crag, with good views across to the Langdale Pikes. Sue and I enjoyed our first outdoor brew for some time in a spot sheltered from the cool breeze. Then we summited Loft Crag and strolled on to the distinctive cone of Pike of Stickle.
Here's Sheila with Pike of Stickle, from Loft Crag.
There were lots of fell runners about. Some were training, others we thought may have been on an orienteering exercise. We found one of their tally points on the top of Buck Pike, as we wandered over Black Crags on our way to Rossett Pike, but we later discovered that the event wasn’t being held until the following day.
From Pike of Stickle we enjoyed good views across to Esk Pike, Great End, Allen Crags, Great Gable and Glaramara, to name but a few.
Then we descended to Stake Pass, admiring the bulk of distant Skiddaw whilst Alan replenished his water supply and Sue foraged for brown trout.
Making our way towards Rossett Pike, with a backdrop of Bowfell, Sue was intrigued and puzzled by a man in lycra who ran past. “Did you notice his white underpants?” she remarked. Turning around to watch him disappear towards the pass, there was a glint of white through the lycra. Perhaps he wasn’t wearing any underpants at all?
From Black Crags we admired the view down Mickleden.
Buck Pike summit, and its orienteering point in preparation for the following day’s event, came and went. We took another break on Rossett Pike, before Angle Tarn came into view and we descended past folk lounging in the sunshine beside the Tarn. Then on the climb up by Tongue Head, we met a cheerful group of thirty as they descended, apparently on a training walk for a charity event.
From our high point on Allen Crags, Keswick and Skiddaw shimmered in the distance, whilst to our left Sprinkling Tarn and the Gables glinted in the afternoon sunshine.
We were aiming to camp in the dip below us, nearly half way along the broad ridge to Glaramara. And so, over the final summit of High House we scrambled, before reaching a fine camping spot beside the eponymous tarn.
Soon the tents were up and brews were on, with the dome of Great Gable looming in the distance from the inside of our tent.
Tea brewed, we then enjoyed soup in the sunshine, any wind having disappeared, leaving us to admire the reflections on the glassy tarn. Nearby, a man and his small dog kept their own counsel, coming near us to watch the sunset but not deigning to pass the time of day.
High House Tarn - a brilliant spot to camp, with sun beaming into the tents whilst reflections danced across the tarn.
Sue knocked up a fish supper. I’m afraid to say though that the brown trout tasted very much of tuna.
Dusk arrived, and considering the clear sky, it was a lovely sunset.
With the others in bed soon after 8.30, I thought that was a bit early so my torch was dug out of my dry bag and I set off towards Glaramara, a couple of kilometres further along the broad ridge. The red sky behind Great Gable was stunning, and I wandered slowly over the intermediary summits of Lincomb Head and Looking Stead before visiting both tops of Glaramara in fading light.
The lights of Keswick glimmered far below as I paused to try to send a picture to my blog. It didn’t appear to transmit, but I later discovered that it had done, at the first attempt. It looks dark even then! (Here)
Unfortunately the introduction of a second draft email on the new S5 phone seemed to have resulted in the deletion of a long entry that I’d been writing during the evening, as I didn’t want to have to spend ages writing my ‘diary’ (this blog) when I got home.*
Never mind, it was a lovely evening, albeit once the last glimmers of red had disappeared it was pitch black. The only light in the sky for a while was a bright planet, Jupiter I thought – but it may have been Venus (either way it didn’t shed any light on the Glaramara paths), lounging above Great Gable. As I made my way carefully back to camp, navigating with the aid of this planet, the sky slowly filled with a myriad of pinpricks of light from a seemingly infinite array of stars.
I was surprised to see lights outside our tents when I got back soon after ten o’clock. Sue had panicked. When I had asked her to root out my spare torch I should have told her that I did intend to use either that one or the one that was already in my pocket, and that “I may be some time”. I do apologise (again) to Alan and Sheila for being woken by Sue, who thought I must have fallen down a hole (or something!). Anyway, luckily I was back before anyone else set off in search of me and did actually fall down a hole. It was great to be out on such a lovely night – that brought back many happy memories. Should do it more often!
Here's the day's route, 16 km, 1500 metres ascent, moving time 5.25 hours. (Those who didn't visit Glaramara walked about 12 km, with a bit less time and ascent.)
Sunday 19 April - we woke to a cold, cloudy day. Alan and Sheila's tent had shipped some ice overnight; it had been cold.
By 8.15 am we’d breakfasted and packed up. I think we’d kept Alan and Sheila waiting, but it’s not too shabby a time to have started, after having put our first brew on at 7 am.
We returned to the top of Allen Crags then ascended Esk Pike, with views towards brighter weather to the west (Eskdale), where the Scafells were bathed in sunshine.
It was pretty cool on Esk Pike, from where we admired views towards the Langdale Pikes and Windermere. After visiting the summit of Pike de Bield we ambled down to Ore Gap and the bouldery ascent of Bowfell, at the top of which we found an orienteering point and a number of competitors. These people, many in shorts, buzzed to and fro past us all day in search of ‘points’. We admired their fitness with a degree of envy.
Meanwhile, Sue and I had donned overtrousers to deter the rainclouds that were encroaching from the east, and to combat the cold, as we headed down Bowfell to Three Tarns and onwards towards Crinkle Crags. The overtrousers worked, and the threat of rain slowly subsided. It was bright and clear out to the west, with the Isle of Man seemingly very close across a narrow stretch of the Irish Sea.
After following the frequently cairned path over the summits of Shelter Crags and Crinkles numbered Two to Five, we averted our eyes from the excellent view down towards Little Langdale and concentrated on descending the Bad Step, described by Wainwright as “the most difficult obstacle met on any of the regular walkers’ paths in Lakeland”.
I’m usually nervous in such places, but not here – it’s really very easy, especially if you pass/throw any walking poles and rucksacks down to the bottom. Even Sue managed to get down without incident, though I have been entertained in the past by folk who don’t spot the easy route.
From between the First and Second Crinkles, Crinkle Gill leads down to Oxendale. You can see the dodgy weather to our east, but thankfully the rain stayed in sight but out of reach.
After wandering over our final (First) Crinkle, Sue and I headed across to Stonesty Pike, then back to the easy bump of Great Knott, before descending to join Alan and Sue near Red Tarn.
Runners were coming and going in all directions as we tucked into our lunches – tuna picnics for me and Sue; home made salads for Alan and Sheila.
The original plan had involved a there and back visit from here to Pike of Blisco, but we saved that for another day and set off down the paved path into Oxendale.
Here’s the start of the path, near Red Tarn, with Bowfell above Sue's head.
The end was in sight, but it was still a tiring descent to the valley, albeit still with fine views, especially looking across to Hell Gill and Bowfell.
Alan was with us. That meant tractor spotting. This David Brown was my favourite.
Sue prefers 'Lamb Spotting' – you’ll have to visit the slideshow for that picture.
By the time we got back to the ODG at around 2.30 pm, Sheila was desperate for a glass of wine, which she enjoyed in warm sunshine outside the hotel in between bouts of photography with a miscellany of cameras and ‘phones.
In fact we all enjoyed a tipple of our choice, and lazed here, taking in the ambience, for quite some time before an easy journey home.
Today's route - 14.4 km, 700 metres ascent, moving time 5 hours.
So, a successful little outing in excellent company, with Saturday being memorable for its perfect weather and a great wild camping spot.
I’ve uploaded a few more pictures (67 in total), and the slideshow can be viewed in a few clicks from here.
Alan has also written an excellent report and slideshow – here.
* For Samsung S5 users: I can only explain this problem, that has now happened to me twice, as arising from an accidental swipe to the left before opening the draft email. This gives a ‘Delete’ or ‘Undo’ option, and in the dark or in a hurry it would be easy to brush ‘Delete’ on the screen. Great care is therefore needed. On the other hand I’ve found some old drafts have been saved although the relevant emails have been sent and finished with. I like the phone, but getting the best out of it and avoiding certain pitfalls is something of a challenge. Next up – how to load my Anquet maps to the phone…
Saturday, 18 April 2015
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
After some delays in returning from Mallorca, due to a French air traffic controller strike (we chose Jet2 whose flights were merely delayed, whilst Ryanair and EasyJet flights were being cancelled), Friday was spent sorting out at home before Ken arrived from Ottawa to join me on the Calderdale Hike.
Entered as runners, we enjoyed the luxury of a 9am start, the walkers having left at 7am for the 37 mile route and 8am for the 26 mile route. All the runners leave together, and we spent the first half of our walk with those doing the 37 mile version. That had more entrants as it is on the ‘Ultra-running’ calendar that is currently quite popular. Here are the runners, amassing at the 9am start, just as the rain stopped.
Ken and I were dressed more appropriately for hiking, though we did do a bit of jogging.
It was a new route this year – full details are on the Calderdale Hike website (note that the route changes, so in time this link will show a different route).
I was fooled at the start, as everyone headed across some playing fields by way of a short cut to Bowood Lane. No doubt it was shorter, but due to the long queue to squeeze through a narrow gap, it was probably slower for those of us at the back. Never mind, it helped everyone to spread out and find their own pace.
There were very few people behind us as Ken and I headed up Rishworth Moor.
As we got higher, a buffeting NW wind ensured that very little running took place, with Ken rather keener than me on that form of perambulation.
We moved relentlessly towards a checkpoint on the Oldham side of the M62 motorway, reached via the Pennine Way footbridge that rather puzzlingly had rather a lot of mud on its convex surface.
After this, Ken forged ahead along the easy slabs of the Pennine Way, towards the summit of Blackstone Edge. By now we were passing many of the walkers who had set off in heavy boots at 7 or 8 o’clock. Ken and I used trail shoes today. My four year old Keen Targhee ll shoes with nearly 2000 km under their soles performed brilliantly and with the aid of some sealskinz socks kept my feet dry and warm.
I tried to find the actual summit of Blackstone Edge, then went to the trig point (pictured at the head of this post, not the true summit), reached via an awkward step.
Ahead of me, Ken fell over near here and hurt his ring finger – eventually requiring a hospital visit when he got back to Ottawa. I caught up with him at White House checkpoint, the sixth of nine checkpoints for the short route, excluding the start and finish point.
We watched those on the long route (the majority) jog off down the hill towards Sladen Fold, and I left Ken munching sandwiches and headed off towards several reservoirs beside which the Pennine Way passes. Here’s the good path beside Head Drain, leading towards several small reservoirs.
Ken soon passed me – “see you at the end”. This is a flat path. It should have been ideal for a little gentle jogging, but unseen in these two images is the strong, buffeting, cold NW wind that led to instant dismissal of any thought of making progress in any other way than walking.
Eventually the Pennine Way turned right and the recommended route turned left. Given that the next checkpoint, Lumbutts Church, was more or less straight ahead, that’s the way I chose despite the paucity of a path.
Across Langfield Common, the ‘path’ was a little tricky to follow, but I soon encountered some runners who told me they’d had a navigational nightmare. I suspect that was true as they were much quicker than me and soon sped off into the distance.
Lumbutts Church is always an excellent support point. I enjoyed a butty and a drink and the obligatory banana and jelly babies here, before setting off along the Pennine Bridleway below Stoodley Pike, which unusually was not on today’s itinerary.
I hadn’t been doing much running, so it was surprising to be passed by quite a few short route runners. It seems they had chosen a more elongated itinerary than mine. This event has no set route – you are simply required to visit all the checkpoints in the correct order.
Here’s a short route runner passing me, and in the distance is Ian Symington, the eventual winner, about to overtake me after he had gone 30 miles as opposed to my 19 miles. Well done Ian, who just carried on running and finished nearly an hour ahead of me. He completed the 37 mile route in about five and a half hours. (The results haven’t yet been published as I compose this report.)
Some time later, three or four miles from the end, Ken caught up with me. Strange, as I thought he was ahead of me. Anyway, he soon dashed off and finished the 26 mile course in 6 hours 19 minutes. I managed a steady jog for the last downhill mile, to come in 3 minutes after him, though if I’d taken it a bit easier I may not have felt stiff for so long afterwards!
All in all, an excellent day out, and thanks for your company, Ken.
Thanks also to all the numerous helpers and marshals who made the event run so smoothly, and to those responsible for the lavish amounts of food at both the checkpoints and the cricket club at the end. Brilliant!
Here’s the 42 km route, with 1300 metres ascent, taking me 6 hours 22 minutes.
(Click for a larger image)