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 17 March 2014

Hangers-on with the Outdoor Writers’ Guild

Ten members of the Outdoor Writers’ Guild (plus Tilly the dog) met at the Pen-y-Ghent Cafe on Saturday morning, where we just happened to be enjoying a pint of tea. “They won’t notice if we tag on behind them” we thought, and thus after they were done faffing in the car park, we surreptitiously followed them up the road, across the foot-bridge over the Ribble to follow the river downstream.

One of the group, David, is a veritable mine of information about the National Park and all things natural, so various stops were had along the way as we learnt about a large variety of features of the area. You don’t get that on just any walk!

Having left the river and crossed fields..


…and having passed a farm with a large array of tractors and machinery in varying states of decay…


We took to a lane for a short while before peeling off to pass Feizor Woods (highly recommended by David, but time constraints/hunger didn’t allow the group to go exploring on this occasion) on our way to the hamlet of Feizor, which is the home of a popular and busy tea room.

Handily, there were a couple of spare seats at the table booked by the group, and Mick and I managed to sneak in at opposite ends of the table without anyone rumbling us as interlopers.

Food eaten and vats of tea drunk, we expected an equally gentle bimble back up the valley. But, no! After sufficient gentleness to allow the food to digest a little, suddenly we peeled off and up became the theme for a while:


The top of the climb was marked by a narrow, steep stile, missing a rung on each side (the remaining rungs weren’t that healthy either). It was a challenge for those of us with little legs, but even more of a challenge for the one with four legs.


Until now the day had been pretty fine. Overcast, but with the cloud base much higher than the previous days. Alas, as we ascended, so the cloud descended to greet us:


Learning about (amongst other things) burial mounds, the plant life in the grykes and the dying juniper bushes as we went, decomposing limestone pavements were crossed…


…to pick up a right of way which took us back down to Horton, where the path leading down to the level crossing proved to be the most dangerous part of the whole walk. If anyone made it down that polished-stone-set-in-concrete surface without slipping, I’d be surprised. Even though I hung back to warn those behind me, I heard a variety of ooohs of slipping-surprise as I proceeded down with utmost caution.

Arriving back in Horton some seven hours after we had left (it had been a long lunch and there had been many informational pauses), we had covered 11 miles with 1300’ of up.

Thanks go to the members of the Outdoor Writers’ Guild for allowing us to tag along with them (particularly to John Manning for inviting us). They were a very nice and interesting bunch of people with whom to spend a day.

Here’s the route we took:


The big splodge in the bottom right of the route is where I forgot to stop the Garmin Gadget when we went in for lunch, meaning that it added on half a mile of wandering whilst we were indoors!

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