The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 8 December 2014

Freeholds Top and Hail Storm Hill

We woke to find that there had been a flurry of snow overnight, followed by a dip in temperature, resulting in roads like ice-rinks. Colin tip-toed along those ice-rinks to take us up onto Todmorden Moor. It’s not the start-point I had intended for Freeholds Top, but I was feeling particularly nesh in the face of today’s biting wind, so plumped for the least-effort option.

Having waited out one snow shower, we soon found that it had another close on its tail and, as we made our way through a construction site, within five minutes of setting out, it was really coming down:

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There’s a track that would have taken us almost all the way up this hill, but not wanting to play with heavy plant in the construction site, we left that track to take the Rochdale Way instead. That was a mistake. What awful underfoot conditions we met there, with no evidence that anyone ever walks that route (probably because there’s a perfectly good track running parallel, close by!). We persevered until we were way past the machinery, when it occurred to me that there was no longer any reason we couldn’t drop back down to it.

A relatively easy stroll then took us uneventfully up to the top:

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Contrary to the photographic evidence I’ve given above, we did get some clear weather on our way, and we could clearly see Stoodley Pike from the top. An interesting top it is too, with its summit pool (just a few feet to my left in the pic above).

Our return route was remarkably similar to our outward one, except that we went straight through the construction site. Machines were stopped for us, but as there is no formal path closure in place, nobody could object to us being there. We arrived back at Colin, with sleet falling, having covered 3.9 miles with (wait for it … drum roll…) 300’ of ascent.

Having arrived back with our outer layers wet, I was suffering a severe reluctance, after lunch, to re-don that wet garb to tackle our final Marilyn of this trip. A bit of a pep-talk saw me right, and off we strode up towards Hail Storm Hill.

The hill didn’t live up to its name. In fact, it remained dry the whole time we were out on this one, which was a bonus, considering the nature of its top, which is a huge, sodden featureless plateau, where (apparently) there is, somewhere, one tussock which is an inch higher than the rest.

Given a top like that, it was definitely the ascent which was of the most interest, as we walked through old quarry workings…

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… and admired the views, before leaving the Pennine Bridle Way to yomp in the general direction of the top.

After a bit of wandering around, I declared that the tussock on which I’m standing in the snap below was ‘the one’, and the GPS track later proved that I was in fact correct (or at least, it confirmed that we had passed over the high point):

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Goodness me! That’s a map and compass in my hand.

We could have completed a circuit, which probably would have been pleasant, if it hadn’t been for the biting wind, but what we actually did was go back the way we had come, with just a couple of little variations. We had covered 3.6 miles on this outing, with a more respectable 800’ of up.

And so, that’s it for Marilyns on this trip. There’s now just one top within Region 36 with which I have unfinished business (incredibly, that’s Kinder Scout; I’ve been up there plenty of times, but I’ve never sought out the high point. I’ve declared that to be an outing for either a sub-zero day or a summer-dry-spell day, rather than for this trip). Considering that it’s approaching the middle of December, I think we’ve done rather well. Eleven hills in 6 days and we’ve had a view on all bar two, and only had rain on one (albeit we had snow on 4); only today has the wind been really noticeable.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Pendle Hill and Boulsworth Hill (Lad Law)

Putting my reputation as a fair-weather walker in jeopardy, we set out from the car park in Barley this morning in pouring rain. We could have sat it out, but, based on the frequency at which squally showers had been passing through all night and into the morning, we felt sure that we would be caught at some point in the walk even if we delayed our start, so off we went regardless, in the direction of Pendle Hill.

The steep, engineered path up the hill suggests that it’s a very popular place, and even early on a Sunday morning we were in company as we left the car park. The other groups headed off in different directions (it transpired that the people parked next to us walked the same circuit as us, but in the opposite direction), and even though we could see people ahead of, and behind, us as we huffed and puffed our way up, we had the summit entirely to ourselves. Moreover, after walking initially through rain, and then through falling snow, we topped out with blue skies and excellent visibility in most directions:

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Our circuit took us south off the hill, to walk past Ogden Reservoirs. There’s no engineered path on the hill in that direction and the ground had suffered from the amount of rain that fell last night. Likewise, the side-streams which are probably usually single-step-across trickles were fair rushing by today.

The car park was almost full by the time we got back, and cars were lining the streets of the village, so we freed up a space and headed off to … well, to a steep little lane that’s not very near to any significant area of habitation.

Variously in hail, snow and sunshine, we took a track across some glorious moorland, before setting off to yomp up to Boulsworth HIll. We later discovered that, if we had continued to the end of the track, there’s a trodden path up the hill from there, but the route we took wasn’t arduous.

We were in total agreement that, after the unpromising start, it had proved to be a good day for walking after all, as we enjoyed the views from the top of this lovely hill:

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Having spotted the trodden line back to the track, we took it - and found it to be very soggy indeed!

The track sped us back to Colin, where we arrived having covered 3.8 miles with 600’ of up on this outing (Pendle Hill was 4.9 miles with 1200’).

Ward’s Stone

“You do choose some good routes” said Mick not long into yesterday’s walk. I took it as a compliment, even though the fact that he uttered the words whilst contemplating how to get across a boggy wallow suggested that there may have been more than a little sarcasm present. That boggy wallow actually turned out to be one of very few wet areas we encountered, as the night had been cold enough to freeze the ground solid, and thus instead of slip-sliding our way messily along the wet, bare-peat path along our ridge, we crunched our way across the frozen surface.

So, the frozen ground was the big bonus of the day. On the negative side, by the time we had ascended from Jubilee Tower up to our ridge, the day had transformed from dry and bright to low cloud and rain and thus we didn’t get to see much of our surroundings. From what I could observe, we were walking across a substantial area of peat moorland, but that’s about as much as I can say.

By the time we reached the summit of Ward’s Stone, I paced the limit of the visibility out at under 50 yards, but it wasn’t restricted enough to hide my ridiculous pose on the top:

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The rain hadn’t felt too bad on the outward leg of our walk, but it turned out that was because it was on our backs. It was rather less pleasant once we turned back towards our start point, but, by good fortune, after half an hour or so, it petered out.

The cloud did not lift when the rain stopped; on the contrary, it was far lower than we had appreciated, enveloping our starting car park too; we were nearly back at Colin before we saw him.

Whilst I would have preferred to have seen our surroundings (because, based on everything else we’ve seen over the last few days, I feel sure they would have been worth seeing), it wasn’t a bad little outing. It came in at 7.7 miles with 1200’ of ascent.

Given the conditions, the afternoon was spent with heads in books.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

White Hill and Fair Snape Fell

After a cool night it was under fair skies that we set off this morning, for a couple of miles of tarmac. Admittedly, we could have parked at Cross of Greet, where we left the road, but to do so would have resulted in either an out-and-back or a significantly uphill end to our circuit. Far better, I thought, to park at the lowest point and start with the tarmac. With the road being so very quiet and the surroundings so lovely, the tarmac wasn’t a hardship.

I knew, from internet reports of this hill, to expect bogginess on our way along the boundary fence, and bog is exactly what we got. Hampered we were, too, by the low sun blinding us, so that we couldn’t see where we were walking. I can’t blame the sun, however, for the incident that saw me lose my left leg up to the knee in a peat-boggy-wallow. That was because of a piece of heather completely hiding the entrance to this foot-sized hole. A bit of effort saw my foot extracted (complete with accompanying slurping noise); little did I know at the time that the mud covering my lower left side was nothing compared to how I would look later…

The summit plateau of White Hill is an interesting place with some pools and a chimney-like structure, as well as the trig point. 

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With the air clarity of Wednesday having returned, our views covered (amongst others lumps) the Yorkshire Three Peaks, and we drank them in for a while, before yomping off over very rough ground to pick up (eventually) a track which led us back to Colin at Cross of Greet Bridge. It was in amongst that roughness that (unusually ahead of Mick) I heard a commotion behind me and turned just in time to see Mick complete a forward-roll and spring back to his feet. He came up grinning, so no harm done, which seemed quite a miracle when he went back up the hill to show me the hole down which he had fallen and the distance of the resulting forward-roll.

Even with Mick’s acrobatics, we both agreed that we were glad to have walked the route in an anti-clockwise direction. It would have been hard work to have ascended our descent route (not to mention it would have required far more navigational attention than following a road then a fence!).

By the time we were in the final few yards of our descent, there was not a cloud to be seen…

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…which gave me a bit of a quandary in terms of where to go next. Clearly, in this weather, we needed to go up another hill, but the short days of this time of year suggested that (again) it would be cutting it fine to go to the next hill in my original plan and make it up and down before dark. Fair Snape Fell was the decision made, and off we headed to enjoy (or so we thought) an afternoon of wall-to-wall sunshine.

We couldn’t help but notice the dark skies and approaching rain as we reached our next parking area, and lunch became a prolonged affair as we waited for the rain and hail to pass, feeling sure it was just a shower. Pass it did, and off we set in reasonably fair weather. It lasted until after Parlick* (apparently a very popular place, by the paths leading up to it and the massive pile of stones and shelter on the top, giving it the appearance of a major summit, rather than a pimple on a shoulder), but by the time we were half way to the trig point on Fair Snape Fell (which isn’t on the top), we were walking straight into a snow storm…

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…which was still going strong when we reached the summit proper. What you can’t see in this photo is all of the peat about my person. It was one of those foot-shoots-out mud-slides which saw me land with a big splat in a patch of bare peat and comprehensively dirty my newly-laundered jacket (well, and the trousers, but they’re old and of a colour that doesn’t show the dirt, so I didn’t mind about those so much). Between us, it was obviously the day for slips, trips and falls!

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The maps told us that our descent route involved a track, but the map was wrong (or, more likely, out of date), as that track is most definitely just a path these days. It was still an obvious, well-trodden line (in fact, for the first while it was a newly surfaced path), which Mick observed didn’t seem to be taking us in the right direction.

We were off the hill by the time we made the turn which saw us heading back in the direction of our starting point and by then the snow had passed. In fact, by the time we got back to Colin, it was difficult to believe the conditions we had been in up there an hour before:

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Both of today’s hills were visited by way of circuits, rather than short out-and-backs, so the stats for the day look a little healthier, at 5.6 miles with 1000’ of up for White Hill and 5.9 miles and 1200’ of up for Fair Snape Fell.

(*Given my other mishaps of the day, perhaps I shouldn’t admit that I was so busy looking at the view on the top of Parlick that I completely failed to notice the short fence post sticking out of the ground until I walked slap into it. Ouch!)

Longridge Fell and Easington Fell

We had expected Thursday to dawn fine and bright, but it didn’t. The air clarity of the previous day was gone and it was decidedly overcast. Still, it was dry (save for a few spots of drizzle) so it wasn’t a bad day to visit more tops, this time in the Forest of Bowland. It’s an area that has now, finally, moved off my ‘must go there’ list!

Longridge Fell came first and it hadn’t struck me, from its representation on paper, that it would be a popular place, but I was wrong. There were other cars in the car park we chose, and a large handful of other people were seen on the hill.

It was such a shame that the views were curtailed, because from what we could see, they were worth seeing. It was also a shame that it wasn’t a tiny weeny bit colder, as the semi-frozen bogs would have better tackled when fully frozen!

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It was another very modest outing (2.7 miles; 300’ of up), but there were other hills on our list for the day, so off we headed for the next one.

Easington Fell was another modest outing, but rather damper underfoot than Longridge Fell had been. Again, the bogginess was semi-frozen, but this ground was far more extensively wet.

It didn’t take us long to reach the pile of stones which marks the top, where I snapped Mick, just to prove that he is with me on this trip:

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Standing there on the top, we both agreed that a nearby top, Waddington Fell, looked higher. A check of the map showed it to be lower, but as there was only 1 metre in it (moreover, as by now we were really cutting it too fine to be able to get to our next objective and walk the full circuit I had intended within the hours of daylight remaining), we decided that we may just as well go and visit it. We considered it to be insurance, in case any future survey should show it to be the taller of the two after all! Here’s a snap of Waddington Fell (the one with a mast on top), taken from Easington Fell:

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The huge quarry around which we walked to get there was a point of interest and before we knew it the trig point was before us, from where Easington Fell looked to be higher. Not bad views to the west:

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Those to the east required you to look past the mast (and the two grinning fools in the foreground):

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Our intended descent route was scuppered by the wall you see behind us in the photo above. With no crossing point within our sight, we opted for an about turn.

A whole 3 miles had been walked, with (between the two hills) 300’ of ascent!

Off we then went to our chosen car park for our next hill, where (as expected) we arrived too late to walk the hill that day. So, we settled in for the night, perfectly positioned to tackle it on the morrow.

Billinge Hill & Winter Hill

Billinge Hill is a place that I’m sure you would only visit if you either lived in the immediate vicinity, or if you were ticking Marilyns or HuMPs off a list. It’s not the sort of place that, but for those reasons, would jump off the map and demand a detour from the M6 to visit it. However, now that I’ve taken an interest in the Marilyn list, we did take the detour (detour on our way to where? Well, to other Marilyns, of course!).

It’s not a particularly interesting hill, save for the views from its summit, and there’s nothing in its surroundings that led me to think that a circular outing would be worthwhile, meaning this was an outright out-and-back bagging walk. A walk of smack on a mile, three quarters of which was along a tarmac track, took us to the top and we revelled in the glory of the day as we took in the vista.

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Then we turned around, hot-footed it back to Colin, whereupon we pointed his nose in the direction of Rivington.

The car park at the south end of Rivington Reservoirs was busy, but I would guess that most people were visiting the reservoirs themselves, as only a very small handful of people were seen on our route, which was up Winter Hill – a far more pleasing looking hill.

We didn’t quite go to the top of Rivington Pike on our way, but we did enjoy the view back to it as we continued on our route:

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A very pleasing walk over moorland, saw us onto what looked to me, from the map, to be a track, but on the ground gave every appearance of a public road. Amongst many masts up there, one in particular stood out (1000’ high, says t’internet) as a focal point for much of the outward walk:

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Whilst the trig is in amongst the masts, they didn’t detract wholly from the merits of the place, nor did they destroy all of the views, which were fine and far-reaching. It was still a good place to be (in fact, in the case of the huge TV transmitter, it was quite a spectacle; I’ve never been that close to such a tall antenna before!).

Making a mental note to check later* whether Google could give us any further information as to the ‘barbarous murder’ in 1838 of George Henderson (who is remembered by a plaque), we made our way, via a slightly different route, back to the Reservoirs car park.

The stats for the day were 2 miles and 250’ of ascent for Billinge Hill and 5.8 miles and 1000’ of ascent for Winter Hill.

(*As I type this two days later, I’ve still not had any internet coverage in a location where I’ve been at liberty to use it.)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Gun

Having plenty of daylight and energy remaining following my jaunt up Shining Tor, as I headed back to Blackshaw Moor I decided that it would make sense to take advantage of today’s good weather and take the trip up Gun, which (in this morning’s re-plan) had been deferred until tomorrow.

Aside from the weather, being already out and about in Colin meant gave me the further advantage of being able to park a bit closer, saving a good mile of road-based out-and-back when compared with starting from the campsite. Not knowing whether there was any parking (moreover Colin-sized parking) very near to the hill*, Colin was abandoned in Meerbrook (a couple of kilometres east of my objective) and off I strode.

Grazing land bordered the road, giving me the initial impression that I was right that this wasn’t going to be an interesting hill. Then came a sudden change as I reached the summit of the road: off to the north was moorland, and that was the direction in which I was heading.

The patch of moorland isn’t large, but it’s certainly popular and affords excellent views, including Shining Tor, on which I had been standing a few hours prior:

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I think, but could be wrong, that Shining Tor is the rounded lump to the right of the notable peak

Incredibly, considering the number of people around, the only company I had near the summit was a radio ham (see, there he is in the photo below):

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My initial thoughts of ‘what a disturbance’ and ‘why does he need to shout?’ morphed into interest as I realised how far away were the people to whom he was talking (although I’m sure the distance didn’t necessitate the shouting!). Florida and Ohio were included whilst I was there, and he certainly seemed to be rattling through contacts without pause, so I didn’t disturb him with my nosiness.

On the spur of the moment, I didn’t turn to retrace my steps, but instead opted for a circuit, even though that was going to take me past some farms with the attendant danger of more killer-dog encounters. Fortunately, the only dog which took an interest that I would perceive as aggressive didn’t reach the path until I was safely over a stile and hot-footing it across a field.

Although cloudier than the morning had been, no rain arrived until a good couple of hours after I was ensconced back within Colin (after 4.3 miles on this little outing with 600’ of up), happy to have achieved all of this week’s hills in good weather.

The question now is what to do tomorrow?

(*as it happens, there is a parking area almost opposite the footpath to the summit, but it was also full)

Shining Tor

Peeking out of the window just as the day was thinking of dawning, a swift re-plan was had. With clear skies and not a hint of fog, compared with a forecast of rain and ‘almost nil’ probability of cloud-free summits for tomorrow, it made eminent sense to visit the more interesting-looking hill today, saving the less interesting for tomorrow’s poor weather.

That did mean that Colin would have to move, necessitating a flurry of activity whilst an explosion of stuff got re-stowed, but it was still before 8.30 as I set out towards Derbyshire Bridge for a trip up Shining Tor.

The frost was heavy and the views (particularly of the Roaches and Ramshaw Rocks) were truly superb as I trundled my way north, but the final approach road to my car park was doing a good impression of an ice rink. The road along which I then needed to walk for a while was similarly slippery, so I was glad to get off it, even though the temperatures hadn’t been quite low enough to fully freeze the bogginess I then encountered.

My ‘why are you working when you could be here?’ email to Mick from the summit told him that it was “either a grin-inducing place to be on a day like today, or a grin-inducing day to be in a place like this, but either way the combination of place and weather are mightily pleasing”. Unfortunately, my snaps from the summit don’t do justice to quite how far the views extended:

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There was low level fog visible in the distance in this direction, as well as three valleys along to the east.

It certainly wasn’t a day for a quick out and back, so along the ridge I continued to Cats Tor. The path was getting busy by then, including a group of 20 or so who merrily took up the entire path, forcing me off it. Even so, they all got a cheery “good morning”. Later, having dropped down to the road and then veered off towards Errwood Reservoir, I wasn’t quite so cheery to the owner of a killer dog (although I concede that ‘Baldrick’ is a good name for a dog!).

Foxlow Edge took me back upwards for a while, which looked the better alternative (rather than simply heading down the valley) on a day like today. It was so nice up there that I declared it to be lunchtime at the top of the pimple, even though it was only 11.15. I do consider lunch to be a very moveable feast!

Down at Errwood Reservoir, there was a severe lack of water, but that added to the interest, I thought:

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Gorgeous weather, and still frost in the shade

A couple of miles along the (still icy in places) road took me back to Derbyshire Bridge with 8.8 miles walked with somewhere around 1600’ of ascent.

What I should have done then (I now realise) was take a trip over to Shutlingsloe. It had been such a feature in the morning’s views, that I have no idea why I didn’t think of it at the time, given that I had plenty of daylight and energy remaining. Instead I headed back to Blackshaw Moor and …

…to be continued (don’t get excited, there’s no cliff-hanger. If I hark on much longer here, it’s going to be a ‘mare to get this to post; as it is I have to hold the laptop at an uncomfortable angle at the window to get enough signal.)

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Cloud and Rudyard Reservoir

If this morning’s hard frost wasn’t the first of the winter in the Midlands, then it’s certainly the first that I’ve noticed. Perishing it was (particularly after being spoilt with such mild temperatures thus far) as I left the house and pointed Colin’s nose northwards. On the plus side, there was absolutely no hint of fog, and lots of blue sky. Was I actually going to get a view from a summit?!

At just after 9am (and after a number of multi-point turns that I’m not going to disclose; it wasn’t my finest bit of driving navigation!) I pulled into a car park in Rushton Spencer and, over a cup of tea, promptly changed my plan.

The original intention had been a 11.5-mile circuit, taking in The Cloud (yep, another Marilyn), but as I sat there, tea in hand, looking at the 1:25k map, I noticed that I was very close to Rudyard Reservoir, and that the larger scale of map (in contrast to my newer 1:50k mapping) showed a path going the whole way around it. My circuit therefore became an out-and-back, to be followed by a circumperambulation of the reservoir.

After a bit of muddy farmland and a bit of muddy woodland, a few more muddy paths took me up to my objective, and before I reached the top I could already appreciate what a fine place it was going to be. With a bit of a grit stone outcrop on top, the lump stands proud amongst land which is, predominantly, very flat indeed. I couldn’t resist sending a smug email, complete with photo, to Mick to let him know what he was missing; .

The topograph by the trig point gave me the ability to take a self-timed photo (far better than an arm-outstretched, double-chin-inducing selfie), but I now realise that I completely failed to even glance at what the topograph was telling me.

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Cloud-free on The Cloud…

After cake and no small amount of view-admiration in solitude on the summit, I saw that people were approaching from all directions at once, which I took as my cue to leave. The return journey was remarkably similar to the outward one.

Lunch and more tea in Colin set me up nicely for Walk #2. Initial indications were that it was going to be far duller than the map had suggested, as I trogged along first an ex-railway line and then a tarmac track. It all came good after a while, with the main source of interest for me being the variety of dwellings dotted along the water’s edge to the north of the village of Rudyard. Varying from shacks to a stone-built house that sits fully within the water, I’m sure they all boasted fine views, although some of their boat-ramps were clearly currently useless, with the water sitting many feet below their ends.

It didn’t strike me as a lake big enough to be attractive to yachters, but this snap suggests that I know little on the subject. It also, hopefully, conveys what a pretty spot this is:

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The railway bed on the east side of the water is not entirely an ex-railway, as part of its width (admittedly a very small part!) has been taken over by a narrow-gauge, an engine on which was just testing out a newly repaired bit of track as I passed by, but it wasn’t interesting enough to cause me to break stride. Only the views (I took lots of photos today!), waylaid me from my route, until, at the end of the reservoir, the views ran out and from there it was only thirteen hops, eight skips and a few jumps until Colin was back within my sight.

The stats for the day were 5.6 miles on the first outing and 6.2 on the second, which I make to be 11.8 miles in total. I believe that Anquet has seriously over-reported the ascent on both walks and that rather than 2400’, there was actually nearer to 900’.

Tomorrow, I shall be visiting the Marilyn with the shortest name. According to the last weather forecast I saw, it’s going to be foggy in the morning and raining in the afternoon, and I’m not fancying my chances of hitting the middle ground, after the fog has lifted and before the rain arrives!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Walton Hill (Worcestershire)

I was almost at my chosen start point for this morning’s walk when it struck me that the number of brown ‘Country Park’ and ‘Visitor Centre’ signs meant that it wouldn’t be a free car park. That was a bit of a problem, and on this occasion it wasn’t entirely due to my severe aversion to paying for parking that made me rethink my start point; it was the fact that the entirety of the cash I had with me was 2p. Even if this was a cheap car park, it wasn’t going to be that cheap!

A quick re-plan and I headed off to park at the foot of my hill, which wasn’t my ideal choice. Parking further away makes sure that I don’t get overcome by laziness and call it a day after just nipping up the hill and back. Happily, not far from the Country Park I came across a large (and empty) layby, which served my purposes perfectly.

After a few crop fields, a lane (which I walked in both directions without meeting a single car) took me through extensive attractive woodland whilst taking me down, down and down some more. Why was it taking me downhill? So that I could climb back up, of course!

The climb back up gave me pleasing views:

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With lovely autumn colours in some directions:

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Then a gently rising path, initially through more woodland, took me to the top of Walton Hill, where I did take a selfie but it’s so awful (far more so than yesterday’s!) that I’ll keep it to myself and just share a piccie of the trig point itself:

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So much was I enjoying myself, that I opted to walk on further, dropping the north side of the hill to venture into the Country Park that lay in that direction (a different Country Park to the one I didn’t park in – this little area doesn’t seem to be short of Country Parks). There was a view point marked on the map there and I reckoned that I would reach it just about lunchtime. Lunch was thus taken admiring the view from a bench by the ‘Four Stones’. A fine view it was too. I could only imagine what it would be like on a clear day.

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The topograph nearby proved difficult to read, but it has stood there since 1929, and it must be a popular place (i.e. lots of fingertips rubbing over the names), so it’s not surprising it’s a bit on the worn side:

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A perusal of the map over lunch gave me a route for my return (it’s such a nice area that I wanted to see more of it, rather than retracing), and off I set in the direction of Clent. Some of the paths were horribly muddy…

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…although in the case of the one shown above, I shouldn’t have even been there. I got my compass out to check my direction before I took this path, and have no idea (having now looked at the GPS track) how I came to the conclusion that this was the right way. I hadn’t gone too far before realising my error, but to put myself right, I had to wade right back through it again.

Back on track, more fine colours were around me:

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It was a lollipop shaped walk, and as I re-joined my outward route I passed this view again…

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That’s the same as the first photo above, but with slightly better weather

… before I had to go up, up and up some more on that little lane I had descended along earlier.

It was a most enjoyable little outing, measuring exactly 8 miles in distance with 1600’ of ascent.

(For anyone wondering what led to these last couple of walks, it was all down to those hill-list gpx files that I downloaded last week. Both Bardon Hill and Walton Hill are Marilyns, and having visited them I’m now left with just one more Marilyn within sensible day-trip driving distance of home.)

Neither The Weather, Nor The Season

I suspected that the lack of joy that I took in yesterday’s surroundings was largely due to the weather and the season. Today I proved that not to be the case.

On paper, I thought that yesterday’s walk in the area circled below…

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The red triangle marks Bardon Hill, which was my objective

…looked more promising than today’s walk in a little chink in the urban sprawl that surrounds Birmingham:

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Today’s red triangle was Walton Hill

Paper can be deceiving. Yesterday’s walk was mainly thoroughly dull surroundings, walking along muddy alley-esque paths behind houses, across open land that had a wasteland look about it, through old woodland that boasted no prettiness, and past quarry extension works. There were a few short good bits, but they were the exception.

Today I only knew that I was so very near to major urban areas because the map told me so. If someone had just plonked me there blind-folded and sent me on the walk I walked, I would never have guessed my true location. The weather was similar to yesterday’s and obviously the season is still the same (mud, mud, glorious mud…), but there were fine (even if severely curtailed) views, the woodland was (without exception) attractive, the autumn colours stood out (thanks to the lumps and bumps in the landscape) and it was all quite lovely. I’d very much like to go back on a sunny day.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Heady Heights of Leicestershire

It was nice and sunny when I left home this morning – a fine day for a walk up the biggest hill in Leicestershire – Bardon Hill.

Somehow (not to mention rather cruelly), I’m still suffering the same luck as stalked me on the latter part of my Scottish trip, as the sunny day had transformed itself to a grey one as I crossed the border into Leicestershire and, by the time I had ascended up to the heady heights of 278m, I was well and truly in the cloud. Harrumph!

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First ‘view’ of my objective. How inviting…

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There’s the trig point – and a hint of blue sky

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Proof that I was there, and a stunning view behind.

With the hint of blue sky above me, I thought that the sun might be about to burst through, so (even though it wasn’t yet 11.30) I sat myself in the shelter of the trig point for lunch, overlooking the huge quarry below. Or, more precisely, overlooking lots of cloud, in the direction from which quarry-like noises were emanating, and where the map tells me there is a huge quarry.

I might have sat up there even after my sandwiches had been despatched (for example, I might have drunk my flask of tea, if it hadn’t still been sitting next to the kettle at home), except that it was rather cool, so rather than putting my jumper back on, I hauled myself back to my feet and opted for the shorter descent route. I’d walked around the base of the hill before ascending and it wasn’t an attractive route. My descent path was one of the nicer bits of the outing.

Back at the car (which I’d parked at Cademan Wood, just north of Whitwick), I thought it would be rude not to make the very short out-and-back detour to the trig point shown in the woods. It only took a small handful of minutes for it to come into view, on a little rocky outcrop:

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It even boasted a bit of a view (only a bit though, on account of the trees). This snap doesn’t really show it off; I might have managed a slightly better snap if I’d had the camera with me.

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The whole outing was 7.5 miles with a whole 850 feet of ascent.

Incidentally, I used the Ivanhoe Way to get me from Cademan Wood to Bardon Hill, and I’m not sure if my perception was unfairly skewed by the weather and the season, or whether it really is the dullest of walks. Apparently (so t’internet tells me), it’s only a 36-mile circular route, so I saw a reasonable chunk of it. The bit through a National Forest plantation was pleasant enough (but exactly the same as the National Forest plantations near home), and Cademan Wood was okay too, but otherwise it didn’t leave me feeling inspired to investigate any more of it. On a positive note, it was reasonably well waymarked – once you know to scrutinise street name signs for the smallest waymarking stickers known to man.