Wednesday, 31 July 2013

No 39 North-South Bowland Crossing, but starting from Hutton Roof

A last minute change of where the boys intended to climb meant a sudden change of plan for me too. I had been thinking of the Bowland Crossing but did not really want to add the miles by starting in Lancaster and running on the Lune cycle track. Hutton Roof would allow me to add almost exactly the right amount of miles and let me explore some new areas. We had a leisurely start and it was about 10.20 when I leapt out of the car and started my garmin.

The forecast had mentioned showers but for now it was dry, warm and sunny. A good bridleway led me through undulating fields to a level crossing and more fields and a lane. The views inland were fantastic and Ingleborough was going to be there, with a slightly changing profile off to my left all day.

 At the posh looking Storrs Hall I ran along the road for a few hundred metres to pick up the next path. It was well signed from the road but then I lost it when the signs stopped and cereal crops seemed to bar my way. Despite a bit of wandering I eventually made my way to the river Lune and Loyn Bridge. From here there was no alternative except the road to get me to Hornby but it was only for about a mile.

Then I was able to turn off again and follow footpaths to Wray. It is a pretty village and most of the houses in the centre seemed to have been built in the late 1600s. It was getting warm now and I was drinking lots as I climbed out of the village and onto the east side of the Roeburndale Valley. By the time I arrived at Harterbeck Farm I was out of water. The stream was full but the same colour as my legs- I hope it was just peat. A few more boggy fields and some inquisitive cows brought me to High Salter Farm and the start of the Hornby Road.  This well maintained and wide track goes right through the Bowland Fells almost to Slaidburn and parts of it, if not all, follow the course of a Roman road.
We mountain biked it years ago but you rarely meet many people up there. I had not quite decided how I would leave the track and get to Wolfhole Crag. The ugly shooting track looked helpful but I did not want to drop all the way to the river Roeburn. Around Guide Hill there was a substantial quad bike track complete with huge mats to help vehicles over the worst bogs. This would taking me in the right direction. It ran out eventually but I boulder hopped and picked up sheep trods and burnt heather areas for the rest of the climb. I was swooped by hundreds of seagulls here and before long I understood why; there were quite a few baby gulls still with fluffy brown feathers and not yet ready to fly. I found the noise of all the birds quite intimidating and was pleased to reach the skyline and leave most of them behind.

Wolfhole Crag was deserted but despite a quick photo stop I pushed on as here I got the first few spots of rain. The path along the ridge is good for about a kilometre and I made the most of it knowing that it would not last. At the fence junction I turned south onto a smaller trod and over Brennand Great Hill and then Millers House with its enormous boulder.  I have to agree with Jim D as I cannot make an elephant out of the rock either. Roy must have an amazing imagination. These two friends from Preston Harriers had been for an adventure over the route earlier this month. Brennand tarn was surprisingly quiet with just a family of geese- perhaps that had scared off the gulls?
I cannot see an elephant!
The next mile or so was a bit of a plod but at least the rain ad come to nothing. The path deteriorated and the climb up Whins Brow sapped my strength. I sat and had a bite to eat and finished my water. Duncan Elliot's original plan for the N-S crossing was to keep a straight line . I couldn't face the idea of the deep bracken I might meet on Staple Oak Fell so I went west and then trespassed my way down to the Trough Barn bridleway. I had hoped the tea van might be at the end of Langden Brook but no such luck. I did find the tap at the back of Smelt Mill Cottage that now houses the Mountain Rescue Centre.

Leaving Miller House with Totridge looming
 It was a toss up whether the beck or the hose pipe attached to the tap would be most healthy but at least I had water again. Only one more big climb now. The climb up Totridge seemed to take for ever and I wondered where the rest of the family were and whether I would be able to get a lift home. I had set out with no fixed plan but knowing that I could try for a bus or even hitch if they were still out climbing. Failing that I could wait in the pub for 3 hours and join the Harriers when they finished their Tuesday run. I ran to the trig point and paid my respects to Bill Smith briefly and then it was across the boggy tops on ground I know well.
As I left the fence line and battled my way across the top of Burnslack my phone rang. They had just left Hutton Roof and wondered where I was. Great, we should both arrive in Chipping at about the same time. I soon picked up a grassy trod and arrived at Burnslack. In my haste I missed the path to Saddle End Farm and ended up on the lane but nevermind. I then got confused again and missed the direct path down to Chipping and went for a bit of a detour to Chipping Lawn and Leagram Hall. I didn't complain as it was easy runing and I discovered some beautiful 'parkland' and a farm making sheeps cheese.  Sadly when I got to Chipping everything except the pubs was shut so I did not get the ice cream I had hoped for. I just had time for a photo on the church steps and to start removing all the heather and vegetation from my socks and shoes when my lift arrived.

They had also enjoyed a successful but exhausting day. It was a shame to miss the Harriers but 'wasting' 3 hours in the pub with just £4 to my name would have been a tall order. After almost 29 miles I was happy to go home for a shower and food.

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