View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Whinge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whinge. Show all posts

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday 17th April, Sea King in flight

Whinge warning

Bimbling through the delightful Oxfordshire countryside earlier today, having had a wonderful few days with good friends Daundering in the Chilterns, I heard the quite distinctive sound of a Sea King helicopter.

I knew I wasn’t lost, nor was I in need of rescue so I was quite satisfied it wasn’t looking for me. My emotions were really quite mixed: I’m really miffed that the government has privatised Search and Rescue. It can only be a matter of time before those unfortunate enough to need a helicopter rescue will be invoiced for their folly.

I know the Sea Kings are well past their sell-by date, but in their time they’ve saved many, many lives – military (their prime purpose) and civilian. They’re quite a magnificent machine, crewed by even more magnificent personnel. 

Now I’m not the brightest of people, but I fail to understand why a service that was designed to save military personnel lost in action at sea (and other places) shouldn’t be run by the Ministry of Defence – ie the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

The S.A.R. crews have gained invaluable experience answering calls to rescue those at sea or in the mountains. I can’t see any commercial outfit being anywhere near as dedicated, skilled or experienced – not unless they can turn a decent profit.

Surely our caring government can’t be putting money before saving lives. Can they?

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This morning’s Sea King was returning to RAF Benson. I wonder how many more sorties it will fly before being scrapped.

End of whinge. For now.

Monday, 3 November 2014

16th October, A Nangreaves Recce

Rick and I needed to get out for a walk – it’s been, er, such along time since our last outing.

I had a route in mind for the Tally-Ho! that really needed checking out. It’s all very well plotting a route on the map, but it’s often a different matter when you actually run (or walk) the route.

Kick off is the Lord Raglan, home of the Leyden Brewery, in Nangreaves near Bury – where all the best black puddings come from. That’s Bury….although the Leyden Brewery might make black puddings too, I don’t know.

A short bit of tarmac up Snape Hill was endured before hitting decent footpaths and Land Rover Tracks. All went swimmingly well until we came across a ‘Private’ sign, barring our way through the Public RoW through the farm yard at Croston Close – SD820158 if you want to harass the property owner.  An additional sign offered an alternative route – a concessionary path across a boggy field. The sign pointed out that the original Right of Way was still valid – but it was quite clear that the owner’s successful deterrents had , er, successfully deterred walkers wishing to use the path.

The appropriate authorities have been informed.

 

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The next ‘challenge’ was Croston Close Bottoms. This is a valley where, if the map is anything to go by, is an easy navigational exercise. Ho-ho, oh no it isn’t! We spent a long time trying to locate the path on the ground – we did eventually but it was damned hard work. And my feet got rather wet.

Around Ashworth Moor Reservoir following footpaths across what was Water Board land we crossed the Edenfield Road and began a gentle climb up to Knowl Hill – passing the thoughtfully planted windfarm en-route. The wim-wam trig point / pile of rocks at the top served as our lunch stop.

 

P1030205bRick posing, apres-lunch, in front of the pretty windfarm 

Following the route of the Rochdale Way, we descended in an Easterly direction (East is good….etc, etc) towards some reservoirs – where a pretty view was prettily presented to us:

P1030206a

Naden Middle Reservoir with Naden Lower Reservoir peeking out on the right (=south) 

P1030208aNaden Higher and Naden Middle Reservoirs 

It’s pretty obvious that land owners don’t want you around here: barbed wire is abundant in totally inappropriate places, many paths are blocked and footpath signs just don’t exist where they really should. It’s a poor show.

P1030209b 

Just for Alan:

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Some of paths were dead easy to locate and follow, although the stony surface of this one may well catch out the faster runners:

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More blocked and unmarked paths followed that entailed some serious map studying – much to the amusement of the audience that was gathering. Even sheep deserve a giggle sometime I suppose:

P1030215aAnother Right of Way difficulty presented itself at Sale’s Farm (SD818150 if you want a whinge). A Right of Way is clearly marked on both the 1:50K and the 1:25K maps – but not on the ground. There’s no footpath sign or any indication at all that a Right of Way exists. It DOES exist, and goes through a private house-type farm yard & stables. The addition of an openable (not sure if that’s a real word, but you catch my drift) electric fence gateway adds to the feeling of general path obstruction / lack of Right of Way.

Again, the appropriate authorities have been informed…..but don’t hold your breath.

Whatever, in a couple of weeks 20 – 30 hairy-arsed trail runners will be piling down that Public Right of Way – and there’s some big lads amongst them.

More blocked / overgrown footpaths followed:

image Can you spot the Footpath sign?

We eventually got back to the Lord Raglan at too late an hour to have a pint so we headed off back home – just in time to miss the worst of the rush-hour traffic. What we were expecting to take around under 4 hours actually took nearly 6 hours. I’ll be out on a re-recce next week, apart from needing to tweek the route I need the exercise.

At the end of the day we’d enjoyed (endured?) our little outing, there are some really cracking bits to the route – unfortunately there’s really crappy bits too.

This is what we SHOULD have done:

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8.5 miles with around 1200’ of ascent.

We ended up doing nearer 11 miles after all the faffing about.

 

Reporting footpath problems

Footpath problems can be reported using FixMyStreet at www.fixmystreet.com

It’s very simple, just specify the location and describe the problem…..and your work as a responsible member of the great walking public is done.

FixMyStreet will then forward your complaint to the appropriate authority who will (hopefully) deal with it.

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
P1020171
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:

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Check out the route I actually did on Viewranger.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Tuesday 8th July 2014, LDWA Red Rose 100 recce, Day 3


Barley to Tosside

At 5.30am the bright sunshine on my tent woke me, Barley was waking up too. By 6am I was wrapped around my first cup of coffee of the day as the village dog walkers wandered by. The tent was once again wet through with condensation, both inside and out. I managed to spread it out on a wall so it could dry out in the sunshine – that was hot even at this early hour. As the tent steamed gently I used the facilities and managed a full top-to-toe wash down in the washroom of the public bog.
P1020127 Barley campsite park
First objective of the day was Pendle Hill, famous for black pussy cats, broomsticks and witches. This area is perhaps most famed for the Pendle Witches, a bunch of unfortunates who were tried and hanged for witchcraft at Lancaster Assizes in 1612.
‘The Lancashire Witches’, written by William Harrison Ainsworth is recommended reading for anyone wanting to know more. A more speculative work, but very readable, is ‘Mist Over Pendle’, written by Robert Neill.
End of Eng Lit lesson.
Back to the walk: I set out in the direction of Pendle Hill, passing the Pendle Inn, famous for good ale and brill pie & mushy peas. I may have mentioned that bit before, but it WAS good.
P1020129 Cobbled path leading out of Barley
It’s a bit of a tug up the side of Pendle Hill, but quite do-able. There’s a choice of a couple of paths up to the top, I’d suggest the zig-zag route – a bit further but much easier. Easier is A Good Thing.
Once on the top it’s easy to spot the trig-point, even if it’s dark a well-worn track will lead you to it.
P1020130Pendle Hill 
Another zig-zag path on the north slopes of Pendle guides you nicely through Downham Moor down to a road and then another path leads to the very attractive village of Downham.
P1020136Approaching Downham 
My first job was to locate the Village Hall, the venue of Checkpoint 5. It wasn’t difficult to find, on leaving the footpath you have to climb uphill and AWAY from the village and the general direction of the route. Oh well.
P1020137
Checkpoint 5, Downham Village Hall.
It was still quite early and I hadn’t yet had breakfast – only a Mars Bar, an Eccles Cake and my compulsory two mugs of coffee. I found a rather good tea room on the edge of the village. Two pots of tea and a large BLT roll set me up for the next section of the day’s walk.
The next few miles weren’t without excitement – a herd of cowlets decided that I was worthy of following…perhaps they thought I was carrying their dinner in my pack!
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P1020143    Disappointed cowlets
Then there was this nice little bridge (crossing Ings Beck?):
P1020146
I was now heading for the River Ribble and the village of Sawley – that DIDN’T have a checkpoint, but it did have Sawley Abbey. Well it had it’s ruins anyway:
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According to English Heritage, Sawley was a Cistercian abbey founded in 1148 and lasted until its dissolution in 1536. Monks were in possession until the execution of their abbot. Nice.
Sawley lies on the River Ribble, one Lancashire’s more famous rivers…..perhaps because we share it with North Yorkshire. That’s it with Lancastrians, we’re generous y’see.
P1020151River Ribble
The stretch alongside the Ribble and then Skirden Beck varied between highly walkable to thrashing through overgrown undergrowth. If you get my meaning. It wasn’t terribly difficult to navigate but I think it must have been a good year for triffids. I imagine that in May the plant life and general weedery will be much easier to walk through.
Checkpoint 6 at Bolton-by-Bowland Village Hall was one I didn’t photograph…..’cos I was hot and bothered…..and forgot.The Village Information Centre, loo and car park at SD785493 is a great spot to sit down, visit the loo, have a wash-down, fill up your Platy etc if you’re doing a recce. You might need this facility ‘cos there was bugger all open when I passed through. Not even the boozer. The actual Village Hall is just a little further to the east of the information centre and isn’t difficult to find.
Continuing north there was another navigational / Right of Way confusion. I’m easily confused, you may have noticed this. The turning to Green Ford Farm at Stoop Lane was quite overgrown. The signpost was difficult to spot – the Route Description does point this out. I ended up walking a little further north and taking the farm track at SD783509 instead.
The next little problem was negotiating Newhurst Farm at SD778512. According to The Map (OS Explorer 041) the footpath goes right through the middle of the farm….which doesn’t appear to be a farm anymore, rather a posh residence.
Click on the photo below to see the details of the alternative route by a concessionary path. What I find REALLY bloody annoying is that the original path has been blocked in spite of it not having been extinguished. I shall be on to the council about this and I suggest you do too. Try entering the details on Fix My Street – this takes all the hassle of reporting problems of Rights of Way issues. The website automatically sends your complaint to the appropriate local authority - it’s good.
If you intend having a whinge about this you’ll need the Post Code for the location of the problem…..Newhurst Farm, Forest Beck, Bolton By Bowland, Clitheroe BB7 4NZ. You can view my whinge here.
P1020156 
Enough whinging….for now.
I ended up using the concessionary path to get past the farm pretentiously posh residence.
Next came Witton Farm:
P1020159Welcome to Wittons Farm 
Easy enough to find, I used the farm track rather than the footpath through the field ‘cos the field was being fettled by an enormous tractory-thing and I didn’t relish the idea of being threshed, thrashed and baled.
Approaching the farm there’s a locked electric gate:
P1020160Just before this locked gate, in the dry-stone wall on the right, is a gate that allows you access into the farmyard.
Once out of the farm the route follows tarmac for around 4km. This allows for a decent turn of speed (Ho-ho!) – the surface is good and navigation is dead easy. This was A Good Thing….especially considering the sky was turning a decidedly dark shade of rain. The faster I went, the more threatening the clouds. A steep descent to cross Bond Beck meant an ascent towards Tosside, my goal for the day.
Looking at the map I could see a footpath off the road that would take my directly onto my intended campsite at Hartley’s Farm. This was COMPLETELY blocked by triffids, nettles, man-eating thistles and heaven knows what else:
P1020162Stile at SD770553 
This blockage wasn’t the end of the world but I do find this sort of thing irritating.  A couple of hundred metres on tarmac got me to the access road to the site….but even this wasn’t without it’s problems:
P1020163 At the entrance to Hartley’s Farm Campsite, Tosside
The rather expensive campsite (£15 for a solo backpacker) had a shower block, a loo, and flat, smooth grass. After a shower I wandered up the road to the pub in the centre of the ‘village’. It was closed….at 6.30pm!
Not only was this pub closed, I later discovered it only opened on Saturdays and Sundays between mid-day and 5pm. I don’t think they want the business.
Things got worse. The Old Vicarage Tearoom, a very attractive establishment with a stomach-rumblingly good menu outside along with signs advertising that they were ‘Now Open’ proved to be utter cobblers.
P1020173The very closed Old Vicarage Tearoom, Tosside 
Not only was the door locked, there was no indication of when the place might open. The menu listed a couple of nice breakfasty items so I rolled up the next morning, hoping for breakfast. Not a chance, it was completely shut. And I was completely hungry.
You may gather that Tosside didn’t endear itself to me. You would be quite right. I can only assume that business for both the pub and the tearoom must be so good that they don’t need to open very often.
On a more positive note, Checkpoint 7 at Tosside Community Hall looked nice:
P1020172

The day’s route:

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13.6 miles with 3500’ of ascent.

A more detailed view of my route on Viewranger should be available here. Be aware that my route differs from the route described on the LDWA 100 website ‘cos of my navigational problems.
If unable to open the link, just go to Viewranger and search for  LDWA Red Rose 100 Recce, Day 3