Monday, 31 December 2012
Saturday, 29 December 2012
At this time of year, East Lancs LDWA traditionally arrange a trip to Ghyll Head Bungalow, just south of Bowness on the eastern slopes of Windermere’s shore.
After zooming back from Center Parcs a quick turnaround saw us heading on up to Ghyll Head, where the LDWA group had already been in residence for a day. Most of them had enjoyed a circular walk to Staveley, including a visit to Wilf’s Café, under the expert guidance of Peter Haslam.
Tuesday – Holme Fell and Black CragWe woke to cloudy skies and a light drizzle that pestered us all day.
Whilst a few folk headed up to Borrowdale for an assault of Cat Bells, and Reg headed south for some ‘essential repairs’, the majority, pictured below at Glen Mary Bridge car park, took the road to Coniston for a pleasant, albeit short stroll over Holme Fell and Black Crag.
A field path from Glen Mary Bridge to Yew Tree Farm led to a gentle ascent over rough ground through a meadow occupied by hardy sheep and a herd of Belted Galloways.
Our first summit, Ivy Crag, was soon under our own belts. This modest peak which fails to measure up to even 300 metres sports excellent views to the south down the length of Windermere. We were able to savour that view despite the lingering cloud.
Beyond Ivy Crag, a steep gully led to the 317 metre summit of Holme Fell. We spotted a small group of deer as we ascended, though Little Ann may have missed these as she needed all her concentration to master the climb to these dizzy heights, where elevenses and fudge brownies were utilised to resuscitate everyone.
Nearby, the snowy slopes of Wetherlam were cloaked in cloud, but there was a clear view north to Little Langdale and Lingmoor.
Soon we reached Hodge Close Quarry, a site of Cathy’s erstwhile diving exploits. She recalled finding a wheelchair in the depths of the quarry, but thankfully no skeleton was attached to it.
After lingering for a while at the quarry we enjoyed a pleasant path which led to High Oxen and an idyllic cottage notwithstanding the drizzle.
We continued past Low Arnside for an al fresco lunch in light rain near Iron Keld. “Where’s the pub?” clamoured my charges, somehow forgetting that I’d told them that despite the proximity of the Drunken Duck, there was no pub on this walk!
After that we wound our way up to the high point of the day, Black Crag, 322 metres. Barbara showed off…
Dancing on the trig point became de rigueur, as most of us took turns to occupy the pedestal.
The pleasant stroll was soon under way again, and the slithery path past Pullscar Plantation proved too much for Little Ann's slippery soles. A number of my assistant leaders manfully rescued her whilst Cathy and I looked on, puzzled as to why some of the group were taking so long to descend the stony path.
After we had plodded about in the rain for a while, Tarn Hows finally put in an appearance and its ducks were duly fed.
One Peter then found a money tree, which delayed his progress for some time, enabling the other Peter to do his Plank Impersonation Trick. [Later, John 'The Plank' Picton showed everyone how that should be done by remaining in situ as a Plank for well over three minutes.]
The descent from Tarn Hows to Tom Gill Waterfall, in gathering gloom, proved most scenic.
The steep path soon degenerated into an easy stroll back to the car park, from where a scenic journey back to Ghyll Head preceded an evening of good food and frivolity, the latter being stage managed by Quiz Mistress Cathy.
Today’s route was about 14km (9+ miles), with 600 metres ascent, taking 5 hours or so.
Wednesday – Birch Fell and Gummer’s How
Wednesday morning brought fine views (see header image) as we looked up from our breakfasts and gazed across Windermere to the Coniston Fells as they were slowly emblazoned by the rising sun.
After breakfast I set off with Roy and Sue, up Ghyll Head Road, whilst others headed to Helm Crag or to indulge themselves with some seasonal treats (ie a shopping trip!).
Soon we left the road and headed up towards Ludderburn Park, from where there were fine views across the M6 divide to the snow-clad Howgill Fells.
Passing puddles frozen into delicate ice formations, we proceeded rather erratically to the summit of Birch Fell, which was in a forest.
From there an easy stroll took us to Gummer How's 321 metre summit, an excellent viewpoint from which many photos were taken. That's Windermere and the Helvellyn massif in the distance.
After chatting to some children who were enjoying a stay in the main building at Ghyll Head, we soon followed them down to cross a minor road then head east towards the Mason's Arms at Strawberry Bank. We had taken butties, but they weren’t needed. Beer and soup was the order of the day for me and Sue, whilst Roy was somewhat more indulgent.
We didn’t feel any need to hurry, so by the time we left the pub the sun had dipped low and we made our way back across waterlogged fields to cross the River Winster in the gloom of the afternoon at Birks Bridge.
From here a cool breeze blew us along, past an old lime kiln, towards Winster, where a clay pigeon shoot was in progress. It was coming to an end as we arrived, and the shooters seemed friendly enough.
Moving on towards Ghyll Head, we took a roundabout route and circled anti-clockwise around some woodland to reach an impressive memorial bench at Rosthwaite Heights, before moving on to the actual summit, which sports a fine view across Windermere.
Later, we enjoyed another excellent meal at Ghyll Head. Sue had to work the following day, so sadly we had to skip the bingo and quizzes and shoot off homewards.
Our route today was about 20km (12+ miles), with 600 metres ascent, taking a little over 6 hours.
This was a most pleasurable couple of days, in excellent company. Thanks, everyone.
There’s a fairly comprehensive slideshow here.
And here’s a plug for Ghyll Head, which in these times of recession is having to become more commercial to survive. The bungalow is an excellent self-catering venue for up to 16 people housed in small dormitories. It’s eminently suitable for a birthday gathering, or just for a group of people wanting a few days away. It currently costs £22-25 pppn so long as there are at least 10 people in the group. As well as the many paths for walking, this is a good mountain biking area, and instructors are available at extra cost should anyone need them – kayaking, climbing, etc are on offer.
Finally, my apologies for the lateness of this posting – there are numerous competing priorities at this time of year – I hope the wait was worth it!
Monday, 24 December 2012
Thursday, 20 December 2012
I organise quite a few evening walks during the course of a year. They are attended by a very select group of enthusiasts, sometimes numbering just one person! However, as last year, this traditional yomp up Shutlingsloe was the best attended evening walk of the year, with twelve people turning up on a lovely calm evening. Well done everyone, it was most pleasurable.
There was a smidging of mist on the summit, which reflected any attempt to get a reasonable group photo, but this one seems to include everyone but me and Richard, who was still en route from work at this point.
We spent some time on the top, waiting for Richard (we met him later on the way down), congratulating Alistair who announced that he was to be a dad for the second time (big congratulations to him and Lynsey, and we hope the morning sickness diminishes soon, Lynsey), and singing a small selection of Christmas songs led by choir-mistress Sue in the absence of JJ who was on ‘Dad Duty’.
There was also a selection of goodies which for a change rested calmly on the trig point, and Diana had brought a huge flask that looked more like a rocket launcher and contained fuel that propelled the younger members of the party back down the hill with no significant complaints.
As you can see, images were obtained basically by pointing the camera in the dark and pressing the shutter at random:
(I never realised Joe’s legs were so short!)
Here’s Andrew hoovering up the flapjack and helping Diana dispense fuel from her rocket flask.
On the way down we met Richard, puffing his way up the hill after another hard day at work. He made it back down from the summit just as we reached the cars, and was in plenty of time for a pint at the Leather’s Smithy, where for some reason the conversation turned to ‘Adventures on Half Dome’.
I think Richard found the ascent of that iconic hill rather easier than I did, as he zoomed up beside one of the ‘handrails’, whereas I nearly met my demise on the very steep and scary slope and will never venture there again without a via ferrata kit.
Sue’s report on our day up Half Dome is here (I think Graham may be amused by it).
My Garmin gadget shows the evening’s 5.3 km outing to have followed the following dark course.
Friday, 14 December 2012
It was our annual day out at Center Parcs.
Thanks go to Robert and Lyn & Co for inviting us along to enjoy a somewhat active day from which my muscles have still not recovered.
Sue still has the squash bruises; Roger’s knee still hurts; Stuart remains a poseur; Louise has taken to wearing a lion’s suit to work; Chris is still building submarines; Robert remains a disturbingly lanky 6’ 9” after the stretching exercises; Lyn is busy preparing next year’s shopping list; Jim is practicing his tennis serve; and Peg has ordered herself an American Pool table for Christmas.
Thursday, 13 December 2012
Is it really nearly five years since I did this walk? It appears so, as I last recorded it on 1 January 2008. Details of the route etc are given in that posting. Since then I’ve been up Y Garn on one of Bill Birkett’s ‘Great British Ridge Walks’ – described here.
So it was a pleasure to be able to take advantage of a fine day after much rain.
There’s an annotated slideshow here, so I’ll be brief.
The kiosk at Ogwen has gone. They are building a new ‘Ogwen Centre’, to be opened next summer. Meanwhile, the toilets are still there, and the parking is free for the time being.
The warm rain in Manchester had fallen as snow above Llyn Idwal, so I enjoyed a day of glistening snow and glassy lakes. Stupidly, I’d forgotten to pack my ice axe and crampons, so when I found myself unable to move backwards or forwards on a steep slope near the top of Y Garn, I was left with no option but to deploy the Yaktrax foot grips that lurk in my rucksack all winter. One went on easily enough from the awkward stance, but the other one catapulted off down the icy slope. At least it wasn’t me who slid down the slope, but this was a harsh reminder to don such footwear before it’s needed, not at the crux of a climb!
Several others were on the hill – a group of four climbers, a young lad who had lost his sunglasses, and a couple of chaps coming up from the south.
The firm snow on Y Garn contrasted starkly with the softness of the Glyders’ covering. Here I bumped into a few more folk – everyone was chatty today and of the dozen I saw there was just one other pensioner, the rest being people who’d simply taken the day off to go for a walk.
There were excellent views of Snowdon (see above), and crampons weren’t really needed in the softer snow of the Glyders. However, once I’d removed my remaining Yaktrax I kept slipping on the black ice that’s a feature of the descent below the snow line back to Ogwen Cottage. No damage was done though, and I was home in time to cook tea after a most pleasurable day out, as you will gather from the slideshow images.
Here’s the route – 12km with about 1000 metres ascent.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
There are other excellent and more timely reports on this fun day out, so I’m just providing a brief overview here before moving back a couple of weeks to try to catch up with some overdue postings.
Gayle’s report, composed literally as the walk was finishing, is here.
Alan R managed to raise himself from his sick bed just in time to take part and his report, which sadly doesn’t seem to offer much for his tractor spotting fans*, is here (‘Martin’s Christmas Mud Fest’).
My short slideshow (not many pictures were taken) is here.
Last year’s report on the same walk, with route details and more information, is here.
28 sundry strollers set off gently in unusually persistent rain, along the Tissington Trail, whose surface had the texture of gluey cement which was soon replaced on our boots by the gluey mud on the descent to Mill Dale, where we were led by the unlikely apparition of a mud loving vampire dressed in a Sherlock Holmes outfit (see above).
The stupid and lazy ploughed through a flood beside the bulging River Dove, leaving them with rather moist underparts. The more sensible avoided this obstacle and even occasionally gathered for a head count (I was taking my leadership duties seriously). All 28 were still in tow by the time we approached the junction between Wolfscote and Biggin Dales.
Then it stopped raining and some blue sky appeared, as is customary on most of my walks. Spirits were high as we ploughed on past a heron and a kestrel to the narrow bridge that marks the entry to Beresford Dale and the last lap to the Charles Cotton Hotel, where we arrived early and left late, after the usual sumptuous Christmas lunch. Thanks go to all the staff who looked after us so well, albeit they failed to nail the vampire, who very strangely seemed to run out of puff on the latter stages of the subsequent stroll back to the cars in the dark. Before the night had completely engulfed us we passed through a field of sheep notable, as last year, for the newborn lambs that were tottering around in the gloom.
Then there was much fumbling with Christmas cards in the dark, and we went home. Thanks for coming, everyone – it’s great to see you, albeit only once a year in some cases!
A quiz took place at lunch time. Mick, Gayle and Jeff won it, and they lightened my bag by relieving me of some prizes. If anyone would like to have a go at this quiz – and there’s another prize on offer for the ‘best’ submission by 31 December – it’s reproduced here.
Next year’s walk will be on Sunday 8 December 2013, with further details not yet decided.
* Alan’s blog has an astounding number of followers due to his lifelong obsession with tractors and the tantalisingly occasional iconic images with which he teases those fans!
Friday, 7 December 2012
Maps from A-Z – see here - £5.45 including postage if you use discount code TRMB250
I was fortunate enough a few days ago to be approached by ‘A-Z’ to review a new product that they have launched. Their ‘Adventure’ series of maps comes in the ‘A-Z’ booklet form that is familiar to many of us who over the years have used their Street Plans.
The ‘atlases’ are at 1:25,000 scale and utilise the latest Ordnance Survey mapping data. They come in a 24cm (9½”) x 13½cm (5¼”) format which is effectively the same as the OS Outdoor Leisure maps that cover the same areas. They weigh in at about 140gm, compared with around 200gm for an OS laminated map.
My Peak District Outdoor Leisure maps dating from the 1990s are decidedly tatty, so ‘A-Z’ kindly sent me their 80 page White Peak product and their 60 page Dark Peak atlas. They are a revelation, and made me realise that my old maps were long overdue for replacement. It’s remarkable how many changes have occurred in the past 15 years, and the mapping legend is now much clearer to read, with some of the tracks that I use (for example in Macclesfield Forest) now actually shown on the maps!
The replacement OS maps are double-sided laminated Outdoor Leisure editions costing £13.99 each (discounts of up to 30% are available). Advantages of the OS maps are their waterproof quality and the ability to lay the whole map out when planning a route. However, the A-Z booklets score highly in that:
- they are very competitively priced at £7.95, subject to a £2.50 discount (see below);
- they don’t require completely re-folding when moving from side to side of the area covered;
- they are relatively light;
- they have durable covers with fold out bookmarks on the front and rear frontispieces, on which all the public rights of way and public access legends are printed;
- they include a key at 1:200,000 scale to the map pages that shows the principal roads and will be useful for planning and overview purposes;
- at the back of each atlas there’s a comprehensive and very useful index that provides the page number and square for every map feature, as well as its OS Grid Reference;
- there’s also a section on safety and security when walking or cycling, and a list of QR codes enabling those with the latest mobile devices to scan for such useful information as the latest weather forecast.
Whilst the A-Z product is not waterproof, it does fit into a map case just like its OS counterpart, albeit you can’t view both sides of the map in its booklet form.
Paper versus Digital: whilst I use digital mapping at 1:50,000 for much of my route planning, I usually try to carry a paper map at 1:25,000 as back up to any digital print out of my planned route, and as my digital mapping is rather dated, having the latest OS mapping data for the Peak District will be useful.
The current range of these 1:25,000 scale atlases covers Dartmoor, the Peaks (two booklets), the Lakes (two booklets), Snowdonia, the Broads, and the South West Coast Path (5 booklets).
Here’s an example of a page from the White Peak booklet.
Readers can use a discount code TRMB250 which will give you a £2.50 discount off any Atlas in the range. The discounted price of £5.45 includes free postage.
This discount code is good for any Atlas in this series and should be valid until at least 31 December 2012. (It works – I’ve bought the Lake District booklets.)
At first sight this series of maps/atlases is an excellent innovation on the part of A-Z. I’m delighted to have the Peak District atlases and
I’ll certainly be updating I’ve now updated my Lake District maps, given that the entire Lake District at 1:25,000 costs just £10.90 including postage.
My only significant reservations about these maps are that they don’t facilitate a detailed overview, they could be awkward to use in rain as you progress from page to page, and they won’t be as durable as the OS laminated maps.
Great little Christmas presents!
Later…. I used the atlas on our Christmas Lunch Walk on 9 December, and I’ve also noticed Tony Bennett’s comprehensive review here. The bookmark flap tore slightly when I tried to keep the map in my trouser pocket, and I found having to remember the relevant page number a little tedious as I kept forgetting to use that bookmark flap. I now agree with Tony that the atlas will be best used in an Ortlieb A5 map case, which is small enough to be kept in a jacket map pocket and will keep the map dry and in good condition. Unfortunately the map case will cost about a tenner, plus postage. Bob and Rose supply it as competitively as anyone.
Finally, here’s A-Z’s take/specification on their ‘White Peak’ product:
“The A-Z Adventure series features the accuracy and quality of OS Explorer mapping in a convenient book, complete with index.
The A-Z Adventure series is an innovative concept that utilises Ordnance Survey Explorer mapping in a book, therefore eliminating the need to fold and re-fold a large sheet map to the desired area. OS Explorer is Ordnance Survey's most detailed mapping at a scale of 1:25 000, showing public rights of way, open access land, national parks, tourist information, car parks, public houses and camping and caravan sites.
Unlike the original OS sheets, this A-Z Adventure Atlas includes a comprehensive index to towns, villages, hamlets and locations, natural features, nature reserves, car parks and youth hostels, making it easy to find the required location quickly. Each index entry has a page reference and a six figure National Grid Reference. At a book size of 240mm x 134mm it is the same size as a standard OS Explorer map when closed.
This A-Z Adventure Atlas of the Peak District White Peak features 68 pages of continuous Ordnance Survey mapping covering:
- Peak District National Park (southern part)
- Hope Valley
- Dove Dale
- Monsal Dale
- Lyme Park
This A-Z Adventure Atlas has the accuracy and quality of OS Explorer mapping indexed within a book, making it the perfect companion for walkers, off-road cyclists, horse riders and anyone wishing to explore the great outdoors.
Saturday, 1 December 2012
After being ‘Billy no Mates’ for the last couple of evening walks, I was pleased tonight to have the company of Andrew and Graham for an easy stroll down the Bridgewater Canal towpath to the Swan with Two Nicks in Little Bollington, for a good pint of ale.
Perhaps they were enticed into action by the thought of Sue’s mince pies appetizer, which were indeed excellent, although Sue declined to join us for the walk.
A pleasant evening, albeit a bit wet in places on the towpath, and on the path leading to Dunham Massey Hall – understandable as we’ve had quite a bit of rain.
Strangely, some of the park’s roe deer seem to have made their beds in dense piles of fallen leaves right next to Smithy Lane and its attendant traffic and street lights.
We managed to navigate our way uneventfully across the golf course to Altrincham, and find a tram back to Timperley after this very pleasant 10km stroll.
We are now away for a few days, so last Thursday’s mountain bimble, and whatever we get up to in the next few days, will probably be recorded after a break of a week or so.
Friday, 30 November 2012
This was a fine day for Rick’s final recce for an East Lancs LDWA walk that he is leading next Wednesday. Viv and Steve also arrived on time, but JJ was a mere speck in the distance. He was afforded the benefit of the doubt and we waited for him, though next week such stragglers run the risk of being abandoned, victims of traditional LDWA punctuality.
We started from Altrincham’s Clock Tower, a grade 11 listed structure built in 1880, a year before Altrincham & Bowdon Station (renamed Altrincham Station in 1974) opened to replace earlier stations, and made our way to Goose Green, where some metallic peacocks glowered at us from a lofty pedestal. JJ, having caught up, demanded sustenance from Costello’s. Luckily the bar was closed or the recce may have ended here!
We trundled through the streets of Altrincham, plodding up Regent Road before turning down Normans Place, where none other than Norman himself made a brief if rather threatening appearance before resuming his official duties as a Barber and House Husband.
Normans Place leads to the salubrious surroundings of Lyme Grove, before launching the unwary walker down Bowdon Road and then onto a slippery meadow known as The Devisdale that leads to Denzell Gardens. These gardens and The Devisdale sadly fell into neglect between 1980 and the late 1990s, before being restored by a Friends' Group, whose work continues to this day.
Our route then passed by Denzell House, which was built in 1874 as a home for Henry Scott, who sadly never occupied it due to his death in the Zulu Wars. It is now used for offices.
The path emerges onto Green Walk at a Lych Gate which is in the process of restoration. The word 'Lych' survived into modern English from the Old English or Saxon word for corpse. In the Middle Ages when most people were buried in just shrouds rather than coffins, the dead were carried to the Lych gate and placed on a bier, where the priest conducted the first part of the funeral service under its temporary shelter.
Across the main A56 road, the path skirts Dunham Forest Golf Club before heading into Dunham Massey Park, where the roe deer didn’t seem too nervous despite their annual cull having been carried out during the previous few days.
Rick had carefully planned the route to keep as far as possible from the nearby headquarters of the Dunham Massey Brewing Company (insofar as Costello’s Bar isn’t their real HQ), as a safeguard against JJ’s wayward tendencies.
We paused to identify black-headed gulls, mallards, moorhens, coots and a shoveler, amongst the bird life on Island Pond in Dunham Park, whilst keeping a wary eye on JJ, far behind us, presumably muttering stuff like ‘Where’s that brewery, I know it’s here somewhere, I want some…’
We pressed on to Dunham Massey Hall, which dates from 1616 but has subsequently been 're-modeled', for a coffee break’.
It was Viv's birthday. Just as well I'd brought cake!
The narrow bridge over the River Bollin offered a good view of the spate that fully justified its ‘river’ status, compared with its usual stream like qualities as it flows over a weir.
Beyond the Swan With Two Nicks we joined the Bridgewater Canal towpath for a short stretch down to Agden, where Rick pointed out a listed structure. “I’m not joking” he assured us, “It's The Bridgewater Canal, Case to Waterpoint on South Bank of Canal, 15 Metres West of Agden Bridge, Agden."
“Wow!” we exclaimed in unison, squinting at the black casing…
We left the canal here in favour of a route through fields to Lymm, familiar to me as a summer evening route. We crossed one field then hugged the perimeter of others, noting the singular absence of any bird life on the recently planted fields by Helsdale Wood.
We passed St Peter's Church, where one of our North American correspondents still wants a picture of the font. [I’ve found one here – it’s reproduced below.]
Continuing through the ginnels of Lymm, we soon reached St Mary's Church, which overlooks Lymm Dam, Lymm's ornamental lake.
We paused beside the lake for lunch, and for JJ to catch his breath. The picnic tables are rather widely spaced, so Rick will have a battle to keep his wandering charges together on next week’s ‘proper walk’.
A cormorant flew past as we set off again.
"Is that Lymm Dam?" asked Steve as we rounded the southern aspect of the lake, confirming that it was a bit early in the day to get any sense out of him.
We headed next for Lymm Village, where the ducks as usual played on the weir, the males vying to impress the females by showing how close they could get to the edge without being swept away.
It was a struggle to distract some (mainly one) of our party from the local fleshpots, but eventually he spotted Lymm Cross, another listed structure dating from C17, and decided to scarper from the nearby stocks.
The path to Oughtrington took us through another newly planted field to Heatley, where we emerged near the site of the sadly demised Railway Hotel, another listed structure. Gone. This used to be the home of Bernard Cromarty’s Lymm Folk Club, and the fire that destroyed the old pub on 2 November 2011 must have deeply saddened him and other members of the folk club.
Opposite the building site that used to be the Railway Hotel, the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway line provides a fairly quick off-road route to Altrincham for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Nearby, Heatley & Warburton Railway Station opened in 1853 and closed in 1962, but the building survives, beyond which Rick led our merry brigade along the good track.
Even Rick’s military schedule allowed time for a final bout of tea and cake, but despite this sustenance JJ was now flagging and, muttering ‘Costello’s’ under his breath every few moments, he continued to struggle to keep up with Rick's cracking pace.
However, we soon entered the outskirts of Altrincham, where the school kids had just escaped from lessons and children and pensioners alike were enjoying the play furniture in John Leigh Park.
The sun had almost gone by the time we returned back to the Clock Tower and JJ’s long cherished wish for a visit to Costello's was finally granted.
A full slideshow (51 images) of this classic round can be found here.
The route, shown below, proved to be around 24-25 km (15 miles) with minimal ascent, taking less than 6 hours, so next week’s ramble should easily finish by 4 pm and Rick can sleep easy in the meantime after this most enjoyable recce.
My Garmin Gadget recorded our progress as follows – if you click on ‘View Details’ then on the ‘Out on a Lymm’ course and magnify it you can see precisely where it goes, with street names, etc, not on the OS map.
Thursday, 29 November 2012
Monday, 26 November 2012
Sue has had the last two Tuesdays off work. So she has joined me for a walk on both those days. The first walk, with Tom in the Lake District, was notably wet. We thought the same would happen today, as we fought our way through the busy traffic to Long Preston to meet up with TGO Challenger Heather T-S for an outing. But luckily, by the time we had enjoyed a pot of coffee and a chat with Heather and had eased our feet into our boots, the rain was much diminished, leaving us with a largely dry stroll to Settle for lunch in the Talbot Arms, which had been carefully chosen as a luncheon venue in view of the dire weather forecast and the fact that I’d omitted to pack my ‘lunch tent’.
“You can eat those” Heather assured us, pointing to a variety of Waxcap mushrooms that littered our surroundings. She’d told me this before.
So we collected a few of the Crimson variety and, not put off by their slimy caps, we later fried them in butter and garlic as a starter – and excellent they were too.
The route chosen by Heather involved fording the normally demure waterway known imaginatively as Long Preston Beck. The girls splashed through whilst I hopped across the stones. Sue wears unzipped gaiters, so she got wet feet. I think the gaiters must be used to keep her trousers clean rather than her feet dry!
Soon we emerged onto Langber Lane, which we followed for a few minutes before heading off into Attermire.
Attermire, also pictured above, is a picturesque area full of little peaks and a variety of caves, on the well trodden path between Settle and Malham.
This is one such ‘cave’ – in this case just a small hole which could just about be used to shelter from a storm.
A grassy path leads down from Attermire to the town of Settle.
We could see rain approaching quickly from the west, so we hastened past Castlebergh Crag to find a stream in which to douse our muddy boots before dirtying the pristine carpets of the Talbot Arms.
But we did pause for long enough to note from an information board that “this limestone crag has been recognised as a beauty spot ‘for centuries’ – ever since the start of tourism of Britain’s natural wonders.
The first visitors, in the mid 1700s, wrote that the rock had been laid out as a giant sundial, but by 1800 the sundial was long gone and instead the people of Settle had laid out a path to the summit of the crag so that visitors and townsfolk alike could enjoy the view.
Over the next 100 years the area was gradually developed by way of a network of paths, the planting of trees and shrubs, and recreational aids such as swings and a roller skating rink.
The railway brought visitors in unprecedented numbers, and Castlebergh became a popular picnic spot. There was a small charge for entry, and hot water for tea making could be obtained from the gatekeeper (just like a modern day mountain hut!).
Settle Town Council now own the site, to which access is free.
Whilst the crag might have been assumed to be ideal for climbing, there was no recorded climbing history here prior to 2009. A lone relic of a rusty piton halfway up the central corner is perhaps the result of an aid climbing attempt probably back in the 1960s. Others may have tried but the state of the rock would have deterred them, and climbers may have just assumed that being so close to the town centre climbing would not be permitted.
Early in 2009 a rock-fall caused by invasive tree roots on one of the lower buttresses was the catalyst which forced the Town Council to act and close the area to the public. Subsequently there was a unique collaboration between the Town Council and a group of eight local climbers who, in conjunction with the council and supported by several local traders transformed the cliff into an excellent climbing venue.”
Nigel Baker, who is responsible for the following image, was one of those climbers – I hope he doesn’t mind me using his image in which the numerous different routes are displayed.
You can find out more about Castlebergh Crag here, but if you follow our lead you’ll just make it to the pub before you receive a drenching.
The pub lunch was a good move, as the rain was easing again by the time we left, to take the short route back to Long Preston via the heady 315 metre viewpoint of Hunter Bark, and the unsurfaced track that is Edge Lane. Pausing to spy a flurry of witches on Pendle Hill, Sue enjoyed a cuppa whilst Heather gathered a bag full of rubbish left by some errant picnickers who had clearly strayed beyond their normal comfort zone.
It was good to see Heather, and we hope to enjoy more ‘escapes to the country’ with her over coming months. Today’s route more or less repeats earlier ones, but for the record it’s shown below -approximately 17km (11 miles) with about 500m ascent, in 4.5 hours (including stops).