Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 20 January 2012

Joe’s Cup

Joe's Cup 

The old enemy (time) has delayed the write up of my continuing perambulation along the Lancashire Trail with East Lancs LDWA group.  I’ll write about that next week, but here’s a highlight from Wednesday’s ‘plod’.

On the moor above the quintessential English village of White Coppice, stands the ruin of Drinkwaters Farm.  Norman claims to have known the old farmer – he probably hastened the poor man to an early grave!  The farm was so named because of a nearby spring which still flows, rather gently, just below the path from the summit of Great Hill.

Not far from the farm ruins is a small, discrete memorial to a local fell runner, Joe Whitter (1939-1991).

Joe, a member of Wigan Phoenix,  was one of Lancashire’s true fell running characters well known for his ultra-distance runs over these moors. The spring at Drinkwaters was used regularly by Joe and his companions on Sunday morning runs.  The February 1992 Fellrunner magazine contained an obituary where it was observed

“Joe Whitter was one of those essential characters that make fell running what it is. The Anglezarke Moors will be a poorer place without him and he will be sadly missed. Typically, Joe requested his ashes be scattered on the moors he loved, and there are many fell runners who will now be unable to run past Drinkwaters on Great Hill without remembering him.”

Norman seems now to have taken over custodial duties in relation to the cup, which is now used to collect small donations – here Anne is doing just that, making a donation.  With my money!  I’m sure it’ll go to a good cause.

Much of the text for this posting was taken from Ian Charters’ excellent running blog – here – I do hope Ian doesn’t mind.

I’m heading north for the weekend in a few minutes, so will be back next week with a fuller report on Wednesday’s walk from Rivington to Abbey Village.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Back to Lancashire Trail Index

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Five Days of Winter Sunshine

Witchhazel at Dunham Massey Winter Garden - 15/1/12

The wet weather had to end sometime, and the forecast of fine weather was reliable enough to allow Rick, Stuart, JJ and me to enjoy a superb day in the Lake District on Friday.

The good weather continued until Wednesday morning, when we woke to fine drizzle from a low cloud.  I’m slightly ashamed not to have taken better advantage of the fineness, but the Parkrun on Saturday was under clear skies, and JJ joined Sue and me for a very pleasant 10km stroll to Dunham Park and on to Altrincham on Sunday.  The header image is from Dunham’s Winter Garden, and there’s a slideshow from that walk/visit here.

Monday saw me take advantage of the continuing fine, frosty conditions via a bike ride to Lymm and back, but the small camera (Canon Ixus 105) that I thought had dried out after its drowning last week decided to remain poorly, so no images of a lovely sunrise.  All was well until the sun caught the frozen mud of the towpath.  The surface couple of millimetres soon thawed sufficiently to be dragged up by each turn of the wheels.  It was like cycling through glue.  Glue that was thrown up and gradually enveloped both cycle and rider!  So whilst the conditions looked perfect for a ride, they were actually the opposite.  To cap it, our outdoor hose was frozen, so cleaning was laboriously attempted (‘achieved’ is not the correct word) using buckets of warm water to swill the mud…

Tuesday was another nice day, that somehow disappeared in a fog of forgotten activity.

And so to Wednesday, and fine drizzle from a low cloud – more of that later…

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Friday 13 January 2012 – An Ullscarf Round

The steep ascent to Brown Rigg

My plan to pop up Moel Siabod, on this the first day of really good weather of the year, were soon adjusted when I realised I could enjoy a lift with JJ and Rick, whose target was a very pleasant round from Thirlmere, involving Ullscarf and six other minor summits.

After abandoning Rick’s car at a leisure centre between Carnforth and Milnthorpe, we were all transported by Stuart up to Thirlmere, where we drove around for some while looking for free parking.  We gave up, but £7 for a day’s parking does seem a bit steep.

Anyway, we ‘booted up’ and set off along the lane to Dobgill, where readers may prefer to park should they follow in our steps (same price, but the short road walk is avoided).

It was a lovely day, and we soon warmed up as we headed steeply up (pictured above) beside a wood in which trees were crashing down in the wake of a Forestry Commission chain saw.

Pausing for breath by a small ring of iron railings that may reveal the site of an old well, with Bella, Stuart’s young collie, the dog posed obediently, fooling Stuart into thinking she would be well behaved today.

Above the high point of the forest the gradient eased as we made our way towards the balanced rock that marked our first summit of the day - Brown Rigg (463m).

Navigation was no problem at all on this bright, sunny day, despite the pathless nature of most of our walk.  But it was easy going throughout, and we dropped gently down to Stone Hause before ascending an obvious ramp up to our second summit, Blea Tarn Fell (558m), with fine views towards Skiddaw.

Heading into the sun towards Standing Crag, the following image portrays the terrain and skyscape that was typical of this lovely winter’s day.

Descending in the sun from Blea Tarn Fell towards Standing Crag

After skirting around to the left, Standing Crag (611m) was easily attained.  Here’s JJ on the summit, with Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw in the background.

JJ on Standing Crag, 611 metres

We contoured high above Blea Tarn, gradually rising towards a raven sentry on the Low Saddle of Coldbarrow Fell (656m), where superb views drew the eye north to Watendlath, Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake.

The view to Watendlath, Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake

Time for a Team Photo: Martin, Stuart, Bella, Rick, JJ:

Team photo at lunchtime on Low Saddle of Coldbarrow Fell (656 metres)

Lunch was taken, by four of us, anyway, whilst Bella disobediently foraged for victims on the fellside and finished up with JJ’s tasty scones. 

On the road again, we were soon looking back to High Saddle of Coldbarrow Fell (675m), from the ascent of Ullscarf (726m).

Ullscarf summit, our only ‘Wainwright’ of the day, afforded fine views of much of the Lake District, with Great Gable prominent to the west, and nearby Fairfield to the east.

To the south, we looked down to Helm Crag, with Windermere in the distance; Skiddaw and Blencathra vied for attention to the north.

From Ullscarf a pleasant descent over rough ground led to Wythburn Fell, with Seat Sandal and Fairfield directly ahead of us.

Descending from Ullscarf to Wythburn Fell, with Fairfield dead ahead

Here’s the approach to our seventh and final summit of the day, Wythburn Fell (508m), with the slopes of Helvellyn in the background.

Approaching the summit of Wythburn Fell (508m)

Our descent route on this short round continued north east along the broad rough ridge of Wythburn Fell, skirting a beacon and eventually picking up a path leading from Ullscarf Gill.  A right angle turn then took us gently back down to the car park at Wythburn.

From where a short drive led to this excellent rehydration point, starring ‘Collie Wobbles’, which is what Bella may also have had after stern words from Stuart.

The Watermill at Ings - for essential supplies

Here’s our route - approx 13km, 600m ascent, taking a leisurely 5 hours:

An Ullscarf Round - approx 13km, 600m ascent, 5 hours

Our 7 summits are marked above as points 2 to 8.

There’s a 37 shot slideshow here.

All in all an excellent first mountain day of the year.