Sunday, 23 June 2013

No 34 some new paths on Bowland

Now it is summer and the van is on the road, even if not completely finished, Bob is keen to get out on the hills with me. As the forecast was decidedly dodgy we picked somewhere local in case we had to abort. So by 9.30 we were parked at a deserted Fell Foot.
Fell Foot in the afternoon sunshine
It was raining, but not hard. We had different routes planned but they did cross in the middle so we might see each other later. Bob anticipated starting slowly so was putting on more gear. I had arrived in shorts and cag but ready to run. I jumped out and was off before the rain could change my mind. I did not want to repeat an earlier run so opted to explore some new routes and paths. After contouring the base of Parlic I headed for Fosters Wood and skirted just above the wall of the access land. I had planned to go via the footpaths and farms to Hazlehurst but decided not to lose the height. Then the rain came down and so did the cloud. I should have stopped and got a compass out but reckoned I knew the area well enough. As I headed uphill across rough terrain it did not seem to fit. Looking at the map now it all makes sense..... I decided to head up and up until I recognised the slopes just below Fairsnape.
 Not what I had planned and it added a mile or so but it didn't really matter. I was soaked and chilly so shot off down to Fiensdale Head and lower ground. As I dropped into the valley the rain stopped and I was protected from the wind. The sun even came out. I love these empty hills and admired the views as I descended. It was so quiet and I bet the Lakes were crowded.
 I hoped my description of the path junction would help Bob as he came up this way later in the day. Langden Castle was deserted and I plodded on down the track getting drier all the time.
Not much of a Castle...
I ignored the temptations of the tea and burger van at the road and turned uphill to find Trough Barn. My legs were struggling even on the gently sloping tarmac- time to eat.  I had never been  on this section of route but the bridleway was well marked. Trough House has long been a ruin but I saw my first person of the day- a farmer spraying muck. As I headed up to the skyline to the east of Whins Brow I wandered where Bob was upto and if we would meet. I stood on the stile and remembered my snowy run in the Brennand area earlier this year.

Back to Parlic and the hills of the morning
 Then it was a fast descent to the farm. No sign of Bob so I added a little detour past the Lower farm to look down the Dunsop Valley. Still no sign so I was off up to Whitendale. I hope the people who live up there appreciate it- what a lovely deserted valley with beautiful views. The path carries on past the house and alongside the stream.
Efforts to restore the Forest to Bowland?
 It was boggy in places but a wonderful little path marked with wooden posts all the way to the old Roman Road. As I emerged onto the track I was surprised to find I had company, and even more surprised to see it was Mick and Sheena Cottam.
We had a quick chat but I was conscious of the time. I was curious to see the Towers on White Hill which I visited once before in thick mist and without a camera. Today the distant views were very hazy but I could see down to the NW and out into Morecambe Bay and also across to Ingleborough.  It was a bit of a flog up the fence line but I eventually got to the trig and a tower. I need to research them. The main part is stone and seems to be a chimney? but there is concrete on the top.

Time was ticking on so I raced back down to the track. I was a bit reckless and took a huge tumble which slowed me a bit. There is a 'direct' route back over Baxton Fell but I remember stumbling through deep heather a few years ago so opted for the track. It soon brough me down to the dead end tarmac road above Slaidburn.
The Romans must have thought this a desolate place
Choices now.... and all of them unknown routes. I didn't really fancy uphill but the route to Dunsop Head was signed and would cut off a big corner.  True it was uphill but I reasoned it might be better than endless farmers fields and confusing footpaths.In the end it was not so bad and from Dunsop Head it was mostly downhill across the fell towards Dunsop Bridge. Here the bridleway cut the corner so I missed the tea shop. By now I knew I would not be back at Chipping in 6 hours but could perhaps be back in 7. At Harden Farm I started on the familiar path towards Totridge but then kept low on quite a good path, through the woods and towards some odd lumpy bits of land west of Whitewell. The next bit was confusing but I worked my way to Lickhurst Farm and a track through a random patch of access land. I got a sudden soaking in a brief but sharp shower but was a only 20 minutes from Chipping now. When the rain stopped I texted Bob. Was he back? Had he moved the car to Chipping? No reply.

 Ah well. I toured the village and found no car. Tillotsons provided two very welcome mugs of tea (first time I have been in there and not had a pint!). Still no reply from Bob so I had a little wander again. The cyclist's cafe was full, the butchers was shut and the Village hall had a nosiy football match but still no car. I was just starting to get a little anxious as I watched the swallows nesting in the church porch when my phone went. Bob was at Fiensdale Head.  I did not fancy more tea and beer would probably not be a good idea so I set off for Fell Foot. By the time I arrived the sky looked dark and the wind was fierce. So fierce that I moved the car and snuggled behind the hedge. As Bob came off Parlic this worried him- where had our car gone? Sorry. He got back later than expected but 'happy tired' and most importantly just before a whole evening of rain.
Ecept for farmers I saw 3 people all day until I came off the fells.
It hadn't been a perfect June day but given the weather in ealy morning and late afternoon it could have been much worse.  Bob had expected about 17 miles and did 22. I had planned 28+ roughly with a bit of string. My garmin annoyingly turned it self off mid morning  and then the battery did not last the nearly 7 hours I was out anyway. Comparing my route with Bob's I reckon I did about 30-31 miles, certainly no less.

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