View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label LDWA Red Rose 100. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LDWA Red Rose 100. Show all posts

Friday, 1 August 2014

Friday 11th July 2014, LDWA Red Rose 100 recce, Day 6

Mellor Brook to Rivington….and the end!

I was woken at 4am by a god-awful screechy, whining racket. Sticking my head out of the tent I saw the source of the racket - a pussy cat. Probably lovelorn, poor bugger.
It was so warm overnight that I slept virtually out of my sleeping bag and with the tent door open. Everything was wet from the dew when I got up.
P1020243
I was packed and on my way by 5.30am – just as Mellor Brook was stirring. The first part of the route was on tarmac so at least I didn’t have to suffer wet grass. Not for a few minutes anyway.  
Unfortunately it wasn’t too long before I was wallowing across dew-laden grass and my feet were once again sodden.
P1020244 Long and wet grass. And an almost concealed wall stile.
This was to be the hottest day of the entire expedition – and consequently the hardest. I don’t do heat very well and frequent stops plus loads of water were the order of the day.
The better news was that the ground improved as the day progressed, there were some nice dry tracks and quiet lanes.
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P1020246
Hoghton Bottoms 
P1020247
Close to Hoghton Bottoms – anybody got a clue what this is?
I was pleased to see that Hoghton Tower was on the route – in the 1960s I spent some short breaks in Hoghton, staying with an Aunt & Uncle. They were very happy times.
 P1020250 Hoghton Tower
The first major objective of the day was the next checkpoint on the route:
P1020252 Hoghton Village Hall, Checkpoint 13 at 89 miles into the route

Blocked Footpath Warning:

The first navigational challenge of the day came whilst trying to get onto the Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath, just to the south of Riley Green. It was easy enough to get onto the towpath from the road, but there’s a Right of Way goes through a garden at SD624251. There isn’t a signpost so it looks like walking through a garden is all a bit wrong. An added complication is an almost completely concealed set of steps in the garden wall – the house-owner clearly doesn’t want anyone using the path.
It’s quite easy to get on to the towpath by using an ever-so slightly different route: crossing the road and walking the ‘wrong’ way up the canal for a short distance. This is all very well, but there’s a Public Right of Way that’s been effectively concealed AND virtually blocked….and that’s just wrong. I feel a letter coming on….
P1020259 The very narrow and almost completely concealed steps in the garden wall.
The heat got hotter as the morning wore on and I was taking advantage of any shade I could find, the canal bridges proved to be invaluable for this purpose:
P1020262
For what seemed the first time in ages I heard the sound of noisy traffic, the canal was crossed by the M65 motorway and it was very busy.
Leaving the canal close to Ollerton Fold I was soon back on tarmac, there was very little traffic though. Officially my next objective was Checkpoint 14 at Brinscall….but my stomach had other ideas. I diverted from the route by going through Withnell where there’s the most wonderful Woodlands Cafe in the old Co-op building:
P1020401 It might not look much from the outside but to a tired and hungry backpacker it was an absolute lifesaver!
P1020402
Two mugs of tea and an enormous breakfast later, I headed back to the route and St Lukes Church Hall at Brinscall, venue for the checkpoint. My diversion only added a couple of hundred metres onto my route but I really needed a good sit down and a substantial feed – I got both.
P1020404 Checkpoint 14, 94 miles – St Lukes @ Brinscall
The route out of Brinscall is straightforward enough but be aware that it’s easy to go wrong SD624210:
P1020408 DON’T go straight on here, but turn LEFT…..
P1020410
…..to pick up this lovely path
The rest of the route is very straightforward and is on really excellent surfaces:
P1020411 Just what you need after 95 miles of walking: good tracks and easy navigation
Anyone who’s done the Anglezarke Amble will recognise much of this last section:
P1020412  White Coppice….NOT a checkpoint!
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P1020418
Anglezarke Reservoir
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After leaving the reservoirs there was a bit of tarmac (no mud!) to the Start / Finish at The Anderton Centre. It was closed when I got there so you’ll have to make do with this photograph of the entrance:
P1020427 The Event HQ, The End, The 100 mile point, whatever. If you made it this far- Well Done!
The route description gives the distance of the section from Checkpoint 14 to the end as being 6 miles, I made it 7 miles, even allowing for the bits where I went off route. I measured the distance with a Garmin Etrex20 set to GPS + GLONASS = max sensitivity and accuracy. When I get the time I’ll go through the mileages on the route description and the distances measured on my GPS.

The day’s route, 16.5 miles:

imageAt the end of all of that walking I drove home, had a few beers, showered, then treated myself to a takeaway….I really couldn’t be mithered cooking!

Conclusion

I always struggle when navigating through field footpaths and this route wasn’t without it’s challenges. These problems were mainly apparent in some sections between Slaidburn and Chipping, and bits towards Mellor Brook. There are a few obstruction problems that I’ve reported to Lancashire County Council…but I’m not holding my breath!
The terrain is generally very good although I’m sure there’ll be more than a bit of mud after heavy rainfall. Whilst that may be the case I really wouldn’t expect any significant problems, there’s loads of really well surfaced tracks.
I struggled with overgrown undergrowth – hardly surprising in the height of summer! At the end of May 2015 I don’t think that will be a problem at all.
The profile of the route (up and downery) isn’t a problem. It’s not a flat route by any means but the lumpy bits are all highly do-able.
I’d like to clarify that I didn’t always follow the route exactly. This was for various reasons, such as needing to find somewhere to put my tent, needing to buy food etc. Interestingly some of the route sections I did follow exactly sometimes differed in distance when comparing the route description to my GPS-measured distance.
I think it’s a brilliant route, I thoroughly enjoyed backpacking it. I feel it’s so good that it deserves to be recognised by Lancashire County Council and promoted as a Long Distance Path. There are a few bits that need tweaking – that’s already receiving attention from the route planners. When the tweaks are sorted it will transform the route from Brilliant to Absolutely  Marvellous!
All you need to do now is to pray to Freyr for a decent May 2015….get praying!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thursday 10th July 2014, LDWA Red Rose 100 recce, Day 5


Chipping to Mellor Brook

Chipping starting stirring at around 5am – dog walkers, agricultural stuff and so on. My tent was absolutely wet through after yet another clear and still night. I draped it over a wall in some warm sunshine to dry – it didn’t take too long being as wot the sun was hot, even at this early hour.
P1020214My pitch around the back of Chipping village Hall, Checkpoint 10, 68 miles
I was aware that I probably wasn’t drinking enough on this trip…we all know the signs, eh? I filled my 2 litre Platy water carrier and promised myself that I’d make a concerted effort to drink more that day.
P1020215 The mist appeared within a couple of minutes – caused by the hot heat?
Chipping’s public bog had a plentiful supply of hot water and I managed another top-to-toe wash down before setting off on the next leg of the recce at around 7am.
P1020213 P1020216
Chipping’s tractors
Crossing the grassy fields to the south of Town End was a bit tedious – it wasn’t terribly easy to navigate. Navigating through farm fields isn’t always easy, there are often missing or worse, moved signposts. Blocked stiles, often hidden by overgrown undergrowth just adds to the problem.
I would imagine (and hope!) that at the end of May 2015, when the event takes place, the overgrown triffidness won’t have grown too much and that signs and stiles will be easier to locate.
My feet were wet through within minutes, the dew-laden grass combined with seriously un-waterproof (and almost new) Goretex-lined North Face Hedgehog XCR shoes. A fairly major kit-failure methinks.
P1020219 Lancashire welcomes you!
It was an ‘interesting’ footpath that headed away from Thornley Hall at SD632412 – it was actually a running stream at the time. Having sploshed through in my wet footwear I thought my troubles were over…oh no!
Another ‘footpath’ running from SD633410 to SD626404 was a complete jungle of boggy bits and overgrown nastiness. I imagine the overgrownedness may not be a problem in May, but I would expect the boggy bits to be boggier.
Giles wasn’t too easy to get through, although reading the Route Description just might have helped me. Koff. The gated exit from Giles is very easy to walk right past – I suspect that there may be a few folk wandering off through the private grounds on the event itself. Just like wot I did.
It’s a horrible climb out of Giles up to the road near Myers’s Farm – at least that’s what my notes say. There is bog, ill-defined footpaths and considerable overgrownedness. Oh, and it’s an uphill up. I was glowing by the time I got to the road….all hot, sweaty and a bit mithered.
By this time stomachly noises reminded my that I’d not had my breakfast and I needed to stop to rest, eat and drink. And perhaps locate an ice-cream van.
There wasn’t an ice-cream van but there was a nice grassy bit on the road by Longridge Fell. It was very hot indeed by now and I decided to sit out the next hour and a half or so. My backpacking towel protect my delicate skin from the worst of the sun’s ravages, and that same sun dried my feet, shoes and socks. 
P1020220
P1020221
Longridge Fell 
Longridge Fell was very popular with Hang Gliders that day – the were loads whizzing around he skies. I don’t know why, but I didn’t take any photos. I should have done, some of the aerobatics were lovely to watch.
My next navigational faff was to very effectively miss the section through the grounds of Stoneyhurst College. I put this down to enjoying my walk and not paying attention to where I should be going. This was really a major error on my part, it’s a spectacular establishment and really shouldn’t be missed.
P1020224 Hurst Green Memorial Hall, Checkpoint 11, 76 miles.
Hurst Green Checkpoint 11 at the Memorial Hall (76 miles) was next.
I should point out here that the mileages I quote alongside the Checkpoint number refer to the distance into the actual 100 route, and NOT my mileage covered. My mileage was different ‘cos of the unique and quite interesting (to me) method of finding my way around. Or not.

Wonderful Tea Shop Warning:

The checkpoint was quickly followed by another extended stop at a very wonderful tea shop, Millie’s in Hurst Green. It was friendly and welcoming and provided all I needed for the next leg of my walk. I must confess to spending an hour and a half just chilling – quite literally.
What a difference to the unpleasant atmosphere of Puddleducks in Dunsop Bridge.

End of Warning.

Leaving Hurst Green in the very hot heat I walked south to pick up the Ribble Way. There was no wind and the sun was burningly hot, this all made for difficult walking. don’t worry though, by next May it will be cold and wet!
P1020225 
Locating the Ribble Way wasn’t too difficult but walking along it wasn’t so easy, main problems were overgrownedness and hidden stiles and signposts. Nowt new there then!
I needed to leave the route to pick up food and stuff so I diverted to Ribchester’s Spar for ice cream, electrolyte drink, more ice cream and some food.
P1020226 Bridge over the Ribble at Ribchester
The final stretch of the day into Mellor Brook presented a few access problems. I was getting the idea that this part of Lancashire didn’t welcome walkers on it’s paths:
P1020228 Footpath from nowhere
P1020229 Oh no sirr, I don’t of any path going thataway
P1020230 Broken footpath sign
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P1020234 
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Triffid-laden stiles
Eventually I arrived in Mellor Brook and found Mellor Brook Community Centre, location of Checkpoint 12 at 89 miles into the 100 route:
P1020238
Checkpoint 12, 89 miles
After locating the pub and shifting a few pints of rather good ale I nipped into the bogs for a wash down before heading out of the village to sort a quiet spot for my tent. This was far easier than I expected, within 5 minutes I found a field that was completely shielded by a tall hedge. Half an hour later I drifted off to sleep to the sound of Radio 4 in my right ear ‘ole….not before taking a piccy of the sunset from my tent:
P1020240

Wot I did:

image

19+ miles of hotness.

With this much up and downery:

image That high bit is Longridge Fell
This was really quite a tough day – mainly down to the high temperature and having to deal with obstructions on the route. It wasn’t helped by the fact I was a bit tired and was carrying 20lbs+ on my back!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Wednesday 9th July 2014, LDWA Red Rose 100 recce, Day 4

Tosside to Chipping

There had been a bit of a breeze overnight so condensation in and on the Laser Comp wasn’t too bad.
A lovely sunshiny, albeit hungry start to the day. Tosside’s only two eating establishments remained firmly shut. Fortunately I was carrying some emergency rations so things weren’t too bad. I need to lose some weight anyway.
P1020164 Campsite at Tosside
Before leaving my overnight pitch, the campsite owner took time to show me some of his tractors – these will be of particular interest to Alan R
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P1020167 P1020170
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The route out of Tosside is very pleasant indeed. Equally important, especially for the navigationally challenged like me, it’s dead easy to follow. Turning right after the (CLOSED…..I might have mentioned this before) Dog & Partridge pub onto a well surfaced track / roady thing into Gisburn Forest. A good pace can be attained on this stretch. If you like that sort of thing.
P1020174 The good track into Gisburn Forest
P1020176 Thisaway
It wasn’t long before I took a wrong turning. This was my fault entirely, I was having such a lovely time wandering down the forestry tracks that I waltzed right past my turning at Bottoms Beck. I actually spotted the turning and thought that it looked quite nice, but I still carried on. What an idiot!
Anyroadup, this was really no big deal. There are loads of forestry tracks and as long as you have an up to date map it’s quite easy to get back onto the route, which is what I did. It would have been just as easy to double back but I was quite happy in exploration mode. 
The Route Description points out that this is an area frequented by cyclists, it most certainly is. Even on this midweek day there were low-flying mountain bikes whizzing around everywhere. Bicycle bells must be seriously not cool, I didn’t hear one. You’ve been warned!
Arriving at Stocks Reservoir I was treated to a lovely cool breeze blowing in from the water. It was hot even at this (relatively!) early hour and any relief was very welcome.
P1020181Stocks Reservoir 
The next point of note is Dalehead Church – and if you have the time I’d suggest a quick look inside. The church was built in 1937 from material from Dalehead Parish Church which was demolished when Stocks Reservoir flooded the village of Stocks-in-Bowland. A few years ago the building began suffering a severe bout of dampness. A small wind turbine was erected at the rear of the building in order to generate electricity to warm the building. Along with some remedial works the building is now warm and dry.
P1020184 P1020182 Dalehead Church, outside and in
Back on the road again, now heading for the Elizabethan Hammerton Hall. I was just about to photograph the hall when I jumped out of my skin – the RAF were playing nearby and a fast (and loud) turbo-prop ‘plane appeared out of nowhere:
P1020185 ….well I think it was one of ours
P1020186
Hammerton Hall. And shorn sheep.
An easy section from Hammerton Hall (and it’s shorn sheep) delivered me into Slaidburn and food and drink.
The village shop / Post Office was doing brisk business flogging butties and cups of tea. A bench seat outside the shop was just the job. I kicked my shoes  & socks off and rested whilst enjoying my lunch. It was so hot by this time that I decided to sit out the heat of the day for a couple of hours.
I was tempted to call into the Hark to Bounty, but if I’d have done that I wouldn’t have walked any further that day.
P1020188 The view from my lunch bench

Whinge Warning!

Directly across the road from my bench was Slaidburn YHA. It had the look of a ‘real’ Youth Hostel, not one of the new breed of fancy hotels that masquerade as YHA hostels.
P1020189The Youth Hostel Association – providing a bed for the night for young people, especially those of limited means.
Who are they trying to kid?
Remember when Youth Hostels used to save beds for cyclists and walkers? That was a LONG time ago. Booking online with your Credit Card is the New Way. That’s provided the hostel hasn’t been taken over by a school party – they demand sole occupancy. Or a Hen Party. It’s all very sad, but rucksacks have given way to suitcases.
I wonder what those who donated buildings to the YHA would think now if they saw the way things have changed.
I now prefer to use Independent Hostels – often cheaper than YHA hostels and more often than not much better.
End of whinge.
Slaidburn has a distinctive War Memorial, really quite serene – if that’s the right word:
P1020190
Just down the road from the War Memorial came the next checkpoint at Slaidburn Village Hall:
P1020191 Checkpoint 8, 56 miles
There was something going on in the hall, there may have even been a WI coffee morning / afternoon or whatever, but I needed to head off on the next leg of my walk to Dunsop Bridge.
The next section was lovely, generally following the course of the River Hodder:
P1020192 That’s the River Hodder on the left. Honest.
In spite of an extended lunch break it was still very hot. This made fast progress all but impossible. At least it wasn’t raining.
P1020195Footbridge over the River Hodder 
There was a bit of a navigational faff around SD682502. I didn’t find it particularly easy to follow the path. On reflection I might have been better off following the road into Dunsop Bridge. This thought was reinforced when I had to walk through a horribly fetid swampy bit of path around SD667503. Considering that I was doing the walk in a particularly dry spell of weather, I suspect that this bit could be a bit nasty in the wet.
There were a couple of other hindrances on this section:
P1020196 The dodgy stile and the gate wired shut with barbed wire
P1020198
The fallen tree blocking the footpath
I imagine the tree problem will be sorted in time for next May but I’m not convinced that the dodgy stile will be repaired.
Dunsop Bridge has a curious tea room – Puddleducks. It probably gets that name from all the ducks that wander around that part of the village. What’s curious it that it closes at 4pm – just at the time when I would suspect most people might want their tea! I managed a piece of cake and a pot of tea at 3.55pm but I could tell that I was considered a bit of a nuisance. I was a bit miffed when I was directed to the garden hose when I asked to fill my Platypus. Puddleducks didn’t strike me as a friendly or welcoming place.
The next 2km (around 1.25 miles in old money) were on tarmac, a lovely quiet lane that just happened to pass the next checkpoint:
P1020201Checkpoint 9, 61 miles
Leaving the road at Hareden, the route climbs up the side of Totridge (Fell?). It’s easy to get diverted from the proper route here and I had to keep an eye on map and compass….and, er, GPS.
P1020202 Hareden, with Totridge behind
I found it best to keep to the left of the wall as you ascend the hill, this will get you to the stile and gate at SD644497 and everything will be hunky-dory and rather spiffingly good.
P1020203 A spiffingly good gate and stile
My intended camp spot was just before Lower Fence Wood but the ground wasn’t really good for camping, there were too many moo cows around and the running water looked a bit fetid, even for my Travel Tap.
I decided to continue through Lower Fence Wood and keep my eyes open for a nice grassy spot with a fast running stream close by, a pub (with a chippy next door) in walking distance etc but it was not to be.
As I walked through the wood on what was initially a good path, I came across a major blockage. Of the path that is, not me. I was fine.
There were over a dozen fallen trees completely blocking the path. There was no way round –the woodland was too dense. The only way was forward and it took me ages to get through. This really needs to be sorted for next May – whether it involves a re-route or a man with a chain saw. (I’ve got a chain saw…..just sayin’).
P1020207 Just part of the blockage at SD642481
Once through that little lot I thought my troubles were over, they were really. It’s just that going through Dinkling Green Farm at SD 639468 was a bit confusing. I’m easily confused. I may have pointed this out before….
By this point it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to find anywhere to camp, the farmland just didn’t lend itself to stealth camping let alone a ‘proper’ campsite. I decided to continue to Chipping – for there would be beer and maybe even a chippy.

Navigation Heads Up:

About 1km south of Lickhurst Farm, at around SD631453 (it’s good to have a GPS handy!) where there’s a dodgy ‘bridge’, take care in plotting a bearing to the footbridge (SD629452)that’s seriously well hidden at the bottom of a deep gully. I’ll leave you to do the Pythagoras-type calculation. Or you could just follow your nose until you find the gully. The gully isn’t terribly difficult to locate but the hidden footbridge is a pain in the derriere to find – especially in the dark.
By the time I’d battled through that lot it was getting late. I had a lovely cool walk into Chipping….where there isn’t a chippy (well not one that I could find anyway), but there IS a most wonderfully excellent pub: Tillotson’s.
You should visit Tillotson’s, not when doing the 100, but whenever you get the chance. The beer is tremendous, the landlord (Curly) is a great bloke – he even offered his back garden as a camp spot for me, the food is good….it’s a proper pub. You should definitely go.
P1020217 Tillotson’s in Chipping.
As it happened the pub’s back garden wasn’t really suitable for pitching my tent because the ground was a bit too lumpy. I ended up walking over to the Village Hall and I put my tent up on it’s lawn. A quiet and comfortable night’s sleep followed.
P1020212 Checkpoint 10, 68 miles

The day’s fun and games:

Route

20 miles..with some up and downery:

image
Check out the route I actually did on Viewranger.