Holmfirth and Hepworth circular

I missed the opportunity to play out in the snow last week as by the time the weekend came around it had all but vanished from the hills of West Yorkshire. Nevertheless I needed air and to stretch my legs so headed out around the Holme Valley in the winter sunshine.

Starting from Holmfirth, we headed up the hillside to Cartworth Moor Road which we followed until reaching the track at Elysium farm, where we swung a sharp left to follow the track towards Hollin Hill Reservoir. Mud galore today! The mountain bikers across Cartworth Moor Road were certainly covered in mud from head to toe.

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From the reservoir we headed on the road, up to the small village of Hade Edge before circling around the north side of the reservoir and then heading along the lane to Hepworth (and the Butcher’s Arms pub for lunch!)

From Hepworth we turned down behind the church to follow an amazing path between drystone walls down to cross between the mill ponds, before returning through Scholes, Totties and back to Holmfirth. Only about 8 miles, but a nice afternoon walk.

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Autumn on Bleaklow

I should have gone cycling on Saturday in training for my next big trip. But I’m not a cyclist at heart, so when a friend asked if I wanted to go hill walking it didn’t take long for me to say yes. Especially when I saw the forecast was going to be sunny.  I’d never been up Bleaklow in the sunshine before.

Bleaklow, in the Peak District, is about 30 minutes drive over country lanes from my house. The typical weather I endure is dense fog and rain, but instead on Saturday I had glorious sunshine, although it was cold and windy.

We parked at the car park at Torside Reservoir, next to the Longdendale Trail. This is a section of the longer Trans-Pennine Trail, which is a fantastic long distance route for cyclists and walkers. Our route for the day was to head up Wildboar Clough to check out a mini scramble up the river before heading across the fell top to the summit cairn. From the Trans-Pennine Trail track we clambered over a couple of rickety stiles and through the woodland on a path that is clearly little used.

We soon found that the river, while being a great route to handrail up  or down the hill in the mist and fog, is largely full of green damp and slippy boulders, making a walk hard work and a bit lethal. As we’d both started to slide on the rocks, we decided to head away from the riverbed and up the grassy sides of the clough avoiding the scramble and the potential catastrophe.

There was a lovely view from the top of the river though. IMG_1812

From here we enjoyed a bog trot to get onto the Pennine Way which we then followed to the cairn marking the summit. Bleaklow summit is a bit of a non event, as a huge plateau larger than its neighbour Kinder Scout (but lower) it is a featureless terrain which can test even the best navigators in poor visibility.

At this point, with time on our side we decided to carry on to High Shelf Stones trig point – while this is not the summit top of the plateau (and busy as close to the Snake Pass road) it is considered a top in its own right and worth a wander over to as it has great views out across Manchester and beyond. However, on Saturday it was windy and cold so we had a look at the aircraft wreckage as we passed it and hid behind rocks near the trig point for lunch.

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The aircraft wreckage on Bleaklow is some of the most complete and extensive that I have seen in the Peak District but it is certainly not the only one around as the area is littered with wreckages.

From High Shelf Stones we contoured around to Dog Rocks and then turned right and headed directly across the moors thankfully not bog trotting. We crossed the line of newly restored grouse butts to pick up the Pennine Way trail and head back to the cars in the valley below. The whole walk took about 5 hours, including a lunch and a lovely 15 minutes lying in the heather gazing at the blue sky.

Limestone in Crummack Dale

Its hard to find peace and quiet in the Yorkshire Dales at the weekend unless the weather is horrible. Despite heading out from Clapham, a favourite starting point for walkers heading to the top of Ingleborough, if you avoid the hill top its possible to find peace and also some fantastic limestone pavements, which in my opinion are more impressive than those at Malham Cove.

Following the track up the river from Clapham you head through woodland and Trow Gill, a narrow ravine. As the path appears out of the top of the ravine follow it onwards to the access point for Gaping Gill one of the largest caves in the UK at 98m deep. Twice a year the cave is open to the general public through the caving clubs.

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From here head across the moorland towards Juniper Gulf, another popular caving point.

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To head around Crummack dale it is necessary to climb over the fence and head across towards the limestone towards the Pennine Bridleway.

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Follow this only a little way as to see the full splendour of Crummack dale you need to skirt around Moughton Scars heading southeast, eventually up towards the trig point.

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The reason I think that Crummack dale is more impressive the Malham Cove is for the expanse of limestone pavement which is far larger than that at Malham, and as you stand near the trig point looking back at Moughton Scar you can see the impact of glaciation and erosion on a large scale. Its also a hell of a lot quieter, I didn’t see anyone once I past the Pennine Bridleway.

From the trig point head down hill, cross the Dales High Way and head across fields to walk below Norber, passing the erratics left by the ice age, to head back to Clapham.

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Wandering down the Irwell

Manchester. Not somewhere I would have ever thought I’d write about on here. To start with its not my definition of an adventure since I spent 7 years at the universities there. Manchester is the city I feel at home in, if a country girl is ever going to feel at home in a city.

Nevertheless I found myself out on a city walk run by new manchester walks on Saturday and explored the Irwell, a bit of the city I’ve never really explored before.

We met at Manchester Victoria station which has my favourite map in a building –

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I hadn’t realised though that this map was originally an advertising poster for the rail company which explains why the line between Manchester and Sheffield doesn’t exist on it. It doesn’t explain why there are stations for Meltham and Holmfirth despite neither of these places having rail lines!

Fun facts learnt:

– Victoria station once had the longest platform in Europe when Victoria had an adjacent station called Exchange, run by a rival company, and the platforms joined.

– Arches on the wall at the Irwell near the station are originally boat access point from a ticket office which was underground near the Cathedral. During the war these were used as air raid shelters.

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– Mr Brotherton was one of the founders of the Vegetarian Society

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– New Bailey near Salford Station is the site of the last public hanging in Britain in 1867,  for three men who were responsible for shooting a police officer. Their deaths were gruesome as only one died immediately from hanging so it was decided that executions would no longer be done in public.

– The old building next to the People’s History Museum was the pump house talking water from the Rochdale Canal for powering trams in the city and nearby buildings as well as the town hall clock.

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– Spinningfields is not named after the textile industry (prevalent in the city) but from the name of a copse of trees in the area.

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– Bees are the symbol of Manchester representing the industrial nature of the city, and the City’s crest represents the trade it did with the rest of the world. Salford’s crest emulates its relationship with Manchester as the hub of industrious working and packing.

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– The name of the Irwell river comes from ‘ere well, meaning good wishes for trade.

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Bruised knees, bashed elbows and stuck bums

I have to start this post by stating that I am not a climber. I have dabbled indoors, but having never had a consisted partner to climb with I rarely manage the local climbing wall. I do however lack the ability to turn down a good offer and the chance to do something new, irrespective of the level of pain or humiliation it might cause.

Armed with brimming optimism and boundless ignorance I set off to North Wales with two friends (both very good climbers). I’d made them well aware of my lack of ability so thought nothing more of it, we are all Mountain Rescue team members so they’d understand I was being serious, right? A few training walls and perhaps I’d be left to potter off on my own for the afternoon while they tackled something more interesting? How wrong I was.

Saturday kicked off with what was going to be an epic walk of the Ogwen valley’s ridges, tackling the North face of Tryfan (a particular favourite of mine as I do like scrambling) and then onto Y Gribin ridge to ascend the Glyders and back down Bristly Ridge. I was happy with this, scrambling is loads of fun.

We headed off in typical North Wales murky weather and started our ascent up Tryfan.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Tryfan rises up out of the Ogwen valley like a half buried prehistoric dinosaur (think stegosaurus) and the North ridge is a very popular scramble.

Taken from grough.co.uk

It is however, responsible for a significant proportion of the 150+ Ogwen Mountain Rescue Team‘s call outs per year, due to its seemingly obvious path from the road, which soon disappears as you have to navigate your own route through the rocks to the summit. The ascent is short and steep, and at times it is easy to drift too far east or west and find yourself in serious climbing territory. Hence the high number of call outs the team has from inexperienced walkers unaware of the dangers.

We were acutely aware of the number of people on the mountain that day who were woefully under-prepared – from one person wearing jeans, to a family out with a child wearing trainers. I really can not emphasis enough that this is not a mountain to take lightly.

That said it is a tricky mountain that can catch out even experienced climbers and mountaineers, you only have to read the team’s call out list to discover that even hard core climbers come unstuck on Tryfan. Despite our experience we still managed to find ourselves in awkward cracks and exposed steps requiring a confident grip and the occasional removal of rucksacks to get ourselves up and through the rocks.

Of course the cloud descended as we reached the summit so we had a quick lunch and headed off the back of Tryfan and down to the valley.

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Our plans quickly changed as the heavens opened so we decided to retreat to our rather lovely accommodation for the weekend at Ogwen Team’s HQ. (Being able to use another team’s base for the weekend is definitely a perk!)

Sunday was always planned as climbing day due to the better weather predicted. Well, I survived scrambling with the two hardcore climbers so how hard could it be? I’d be on rope and they’d be warned about my lack of experience…

We set off on Sunday knowing we were heading for great weather later in the day. I mean this is virtually the same shot as from the day before and look at the sunshine! In Wales no less!

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We started out on Tryfan Bach tackling Slab 2 route – apparently a VDiff. (Which in my book constitutes a route which takes the skin from the end of your knees and your fingers, but is easy enough to not ruin your confidence!)

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This was however my first outdoor climbing so I was impressed (rather than terrified) that they thought it wise to take me on a short multi pitch route.  After a bit of swearing I made it to the top with ego intact.

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Since the sun was out we decided to finish the day round at Milestone Buttress to tackle the Direct Route which despite the glorious weather was quiet. 5 pitches, yeah I can do that! Commence a bit of swearing and praying resulting in very sore knees and toes.

Pitch one was ok – follow the crack and then step out and over the rock. It’s a bit polished to start but otherwise ok, although the step around the rock at the top of the pitch caused a few leg jitters.

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I’ll be honest I don’t remember much detail of the other pitches as I continued to climb upwards and despite the swearing and wondering why I was climbing a rock instead of walking over mountain tops, I was also having loads of fun.

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Pitch 3 did cause a fair bit of swearing as I confronted the chimney and my fears of sliding down the rock gripped only by pressure from my bum on one side and my feet on the other. Very undignified but I managed it. Eventually. And I had feet to greet me at the top!

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Pitch 4 had a scarily long step across a void after traversing a crack and round a rock. So that had to be done in one go to prevent me sitting on one side and refusing to get back up.

After an easy pitch 5 we descended the gully to get back to our kit via abseil as it was very wet and fully of midges, so speed was our priority. In all it took about 6 and half hours for three of us to scale Milestone Buttress and get back to our kit.

Despite the moaning, swearing, sore knees and toes I thoroughly loved my first venture into rock climbing outdoors and it was loads of fun to second a multi-pitch route. I’m a long way off ever leading anything though!

I should thank Owen Phillips for the mis-use of his photos – though I’ve only used those with me in them (yellow helmet) so I assume it was ok to use!

11 days to go…. Rescue Ramble 2014

Got a free day on the 13th September 2014 and fancy a day walking around the gorgeous countryside of the Holme Valley in Huddersfield?? Fancy doing so on behalf of the local Mountain Rescue Team to help raise a bit of money for their Headquarters appeal?

There are 3 length of walk to undertake – 8 miles, 16 miles and the full 25 miles of the Holme Valley Way.

All routes are on the Bradford & Hudderfield Explorer Map No. 288 which is 1:25,000 scale.  The major part of the routes will be along tracks and paths crossing fells and pastures, with some pathless sections crossing moorland.
While the routes are way‐marked and a full route description will be sent to you prior to the walk if you pre-register, the onus for route finding is with you, the walker. So the challenge is all yours!

If nothing more its a great chance to see the local area, grab yourself some homemade cake at each check point, and get chance to meet members of the team and learn about their work in the local area.

For more details and a registration form see:

http://holmevalleymrt.org.uk/fundraising/hvmrt-rescue-ramble/

Borrowdale and Easedale

The joy of assessing young people doing the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions is the excuse to be out in the hills myself. So last weekend I spent a few days around Borrowdale and Easedale as they headed off on their expeditions. Thankfully the weather was pretty good.

I met the at Walla crag first walking in from Ashness Bridge. I had to wait a while but great views over Derwent and Keswick so who cares?!

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I then had time to head up to the National Trust cafe at Watendlath tarn for a coffee and toast before heading up the hill onto High Tove to meet them. I did get caught in a few heavy showers but in between the sun was glorious.photo 4

After they camped at Blea Tarn the following day I walked in up Easedale valley to meet them at Greenup Edge. They were struggling with the walk this day so I had plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine and a flask.

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Weekends in Oxford

Oxford is a lovely city which I definitely recommend for a weekend break and whilst here a few times over the summer I’ve stayed in some of the neighbourhoods surrounding, which are worth a visit too. Cowley is a young and vibrant neighbourhood with lots of bars and restaurants and Iffley is a quiet relaxed place just next to Cowley and yet so different in feel.

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I also had a trip out to the Vale of the White Horse, a lovely spot for a walk. From the summit you can see forever and the landscape is vastly different from my home in the Pennines with its wild moors; here it is neatly managed farmland and collections of little villages.

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Moel Hebog and the best ice cream in Wales

It may not have been glorious sunshine and it has been pretty windy and cold, but today has still been a great day to get out on the hills – and Moel Hebog was today’s calling.

I’ve stared at Moel Hebog a lot over the years when I’ve been around Bedgellert and for some reason the closest I’ve ever been is when I did Moel Lefn and Moel Ogof about 6 years ago as the second day of a two day expedition and I was a bit gutted at the time for missing it out (even if I was knackered by that point in the day). I’m not sure why its taken me so long to get around to this one, but today seemed like a good day to.

I arrived in Begellert early enough to dump my car on the road just out of town and headed off over the river following the new signs for the footpath between Bedgellert and Rhyd Ddu. The landscape has certainly changed since I last walked in this area as the steam train now runs through the valley and the footpath has been resurfaced. Here is the junction to head up Moel Hebog.

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The route up Moel Hebog is straightforward to follow as you pick your way through the boulders and zig zag up. It feels like you should head for the col (sorry, Bwlch) between Hebog and Moel yr Ogof, but resist the urge to add miles and follow the polished rocks where feet have gone before you, heading directly up the spur.

I was certainly surprised to reach the top so quickly as from the valley Moel Hebog looks quite oppressive. But up close it is a friendly scramble over the rocks making the walk interesting. Once at the cairn the wind was strong so it was a bit of a battle to reach the trig point, so I was grateful of the wall to hide behind to refuel myself with chocolate.

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I strongly resist the urge to return the same way on any walk so I continued across the top to descend south and then east to head back to Bedgellert. While its easy enough to do so, picking the way through the scree is less fun on this side of the mountain.

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This last photo shows the route down across the top and down through the scree, if I was heading up this way I’d be less than impressed having to pick through it. I take the rocks to the northern side any day! Once out of the scree the going is quick over the grass heading down Cwm Cyd following the river.

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My intention was to head for the top end of the thin strip of woodland, but got carried away descending and found myself bashing through the woodland instead. Ah, brings back memories of evenings on close country search exercises with the Mountain rescue team!

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Once I’d made it out of the assault course I could eventually see the route to head through the woodland of Parc Cae-Morys, which is a much more pleasant woodland to walk through and eventually takes you down to the railway and the road.

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And once back in Begellert there is nothing else you can do to top off a really good hike but to have a fabulous ice cream from the parlour. Whatever the weather!

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Finding myself again, on the Nantlles

Today’s been a great day of walking, even if I’m definitely sunburnt. I seem to have walked myself through the stressed that have been getting me down over the last few weeks and through sweat and over exertion I have found myself again. Happy and content as a solo walker. And back on the Nantlle’s!

Its been nearly ten years since I did the first half of the Nantlle ridge, back on my ML training as part of the two day expedition. So it was nice to finally be back to finish it off.

I parked at Nantlle village and walked back to pick up the path across the fields in the direction of the campsite at Tal y Mignedd Isaf. I momentarily forgot I was in Wales and that footpaths are rarely signposted from the road and require a bit of hunting out. So it was reassuring when the Snowdonia park ranger pulled up as I was doubling back with my map in hand. He kindly confirmed that the house I was stood next too was indeed where the path was and while it was due to be diverted (hopefully a signpost will appear then!) for now it was fine to wander through their gate. So if you’re looking for the path from the B4418 that crosses the river to the east of Llyn Nantlle yes, do go through the gate at the house called Tyrpeg Gelli.

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Cross the bridge over the river, but instead of heading to the campsite cross the second bridge immediately opposite and pick up the track which leads upwards to the open access moorland to ascend Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd.

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Heading upwards you can eventually see the obelisk which marks the summit. It was another scorching day so whilst I’d at least found my walking rhythm again, I could feel myself baking in the heat. (I can confirm a very red neck despite a buff!) Its a bit of a monotonous plod to the obelisk but worth it for the view.

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Nantlle ridge to the north east
Nantlle ridge to the north east

After a massive handful of jelly beans and nuts I headed down following the fenceline and picking my way through the rocks to reach the col (sorry Wales, I mean Bwlch) and then headed up Craig Pennant. This turned out to be a great route up as you pick your way through rocks all the way up, nothing too scrambly and difficult but requires concentration nonetheless. The top is marked by a shelter.

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From here I headed down following the wall to the north west all the way to reach a small car park at the end of the road at Maen Llywyd.

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The route from here back to Nantlle was intended to follow the paths down to the quarry but to start with the path  just after the ruined house at Bryn llidiard (517498) was on the wrong side of the fence to what my map said. Not wanting to rip another pair of trousers on barbed wire I followed the path.

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Which then  meant I couldn’t head north east towards the quarry! So I headed down continuing to follow the fence and squeeze through a hole in the fence ahead next to the ruined building.

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Which at least meant I could see a track through to lead through the tips adjacent to the quarry and then out on to the road. A typical end to a welsh walk in many ways!

From there I had a mindless plod back along the road to Nantlle but at least I got to see this view!

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