For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Sunday, 31 March 2013

Lancaster Canal - Hest Bank to Carnforth

This project has been in two halves. I walked the sections north from Hest Bank to Kendal on my own, and south from Hest Bank to Preston with Pete (we still have one more trip to finish at the terminus in Preston).

Originally, walking with Pete had no particular objective other than a regular Thursday outing. It was only when I had done a couple of legs on my own on the northern section that I conceived the idea of walking the whole canal. At that point I knew I had walked the first of the northern sections from Hest Bank to Carnforth several weeks earlier, so I let that count, but now realise that I had taken no photos, nor did I post on the blog. Every other section on the canal has its own post, so  yesterday I cycled and photographed this missing section so that I would have a complete record on the blog.

My bike at Hest Bank

This section mostly runs through pleasant residential territory on one side and the A6 between Lancaster and Carnforth on the other ; the path is hard surfaced as a cycle track all the way

Distant Warton Crag

This was Easter Saturday - one of many dog walkers and casual strollers met along the way just about keeping up with the narrow boat. I must get a better bell for my bike

Close proximity to the A6 most of the way

Moorings at Carnforth

Exit the canal at Carnforth - I cycled back on minor roads

Friday, 29 March 2013

Lancaster Canal and Ribble Link

My last post recorded our continued mission to walk the Lancaster Canal and the Ribble Link, and revealed my puzzlement regarding the continuation of the Ribble Link after the first tier of locks.

Two issues arise: my own failure to look at the scene properly on that visit, and secondly the limitations of the Ordnance Survey 1:50000 map.

Our trip today started a kilometre down The Link from the aforementioned junction with the Lancaster Canal at the point where we finished last time. From that road bridge we followed a surfaced cycle path as far as practically possible. The Tarmac developed into a rough path which was terminated by a tributary flowing into The Link with no easy means of crossing, and no indication on the map that orthodox progress to the junction with the River Ribble a kilometre further was possible.

We returned by the same route then drove back to The Link junction with the Lancaster Canal to try and unravel the mystery.

Looking down the three tier locks and straight ahead the canal apparently continues as an unnavigable stream blocked by a fallen tree, but then we noticed a footbridge going off to the right halfway down the locks, and further examination revealed that the Ribble Link doubles back acutely on itself immediately at the foot of the locks, to flow under the footbridge, followed, again immediately, by a tunnel going under the adjacent road (Tom Benson Way), and straight after this, on the other side of the road another tunnel takes the Link under the railway. A hundred yards or so after that tunnel the path joins the path shown on the OS map which we arrived at by a much more circuitous route last time (see my sketch map).

Chatting with a Waterways worker we were told that the boats are instructed to enter the acute bend at the bottom of the locks in reverse because the space available makes turning unreasonably difficult.

The enlarged OS map below shows a congestion of information, and that there is just no room for the mapmakers to indicate a footpath continuing under the road and the railway. Occasionally the 1:50000 map is just not up to the job, but I still much prefer it to the larger scale 1:25000.

Hopefully we will be out again next Thursday when we will complete this exploration of the Lancaster Canal, when, barring further navigational stupidity, we will arrive at the terminus in the centre of Preston.

The orange marker shows our route which was as far as we could proceed within reason

These guys were not canal workers - they were employed just to lift these Waterways boats out and transport them - they were not very communicative
There is a golf course on the other side

This didn't look high enough for boats to pass underneath - another mystery? Oh no, don't let's start again!

As far as we were prepared (in both senses) to go

The apparent continuation of The Link from the top of the last of the three locks - the Savick Brook was blocked by a tree just after the second arrow. The Link doubles back on itself as indicated by the single arrow. The visible water is not conducive to easy turning of the boats and they go through the hairpin back right in reverse

Click to enlarge
The pink marker shows our original lengthy route.
The yellow marker shows the correct and shorter route
The red dots show public footpath as shown on the OS map

The Link is running under this road. The tunnel under the railway is just beyond the end of the fence on the left

The tunnel under the road and the tunnel under the railway visible behind

Through the railway tunnel. The footpath shown on the OS map commences on the banking beyond, but it is a longer circuitous trip through a housing estate to get there from the Lancaster Canal

Looking back at the three tier locks with The Link doubling back on the left. How we missed all that on our first trip I do not know

The Savick Brook emerging through the tunnel - its continuation at right edge of picture is blocked by a fallen tree

Enlargement of OS map showing the difficulty of showing a footpath going through the road/railway area. The red dots of the two footpaths are visible which explains to some extent the route I took attempting to link them both together

PS - Previously when I clicked on a photo the whole sequence appeared as thumbnails enabling the viewer to see them all as a slide show. Now I seem to have to click each one individually, returning back into the post each time. Anybody got any ideas?

Friday, 22 March 2013

Components of exploration

Thursday 21st March 2013

At the start of an outdoor trip I suppose I hanker after the unexpected, barring outright catastrophe.

There are numerous possibilities. Weather or time may compel plan modification. Interesting highlights may occur worthy of pleasurable Googling back home. Entertaining, objectionable, or bizarre people can be encountered, and then there are miscellaneous unexpectednesses; all these combine with the satisfaction of traveling through an aesthetically pleasing environment and create a unique experience for every outing.

Today we arrived at the Ribble Link on the Lancaster Canal which enables connection with the River Ribble and thereby, after a possibly perilous downriver journey, connection with the Leeds Liverpool Canal, and the UK canal network.

The Ribble Link branches right into a mini marina leading to descending locks, and then a mystery. At the bottom of the locks a shallow, unnavigable stream partly blocked by a tree runs off into the distance.

At home Internet failed to enlighten, and a phone call to the number displayed (see photo) was answered by an office in North Wales, and Ruth, my potential source of information only works Mondays and Wednesdays, so anticipation will be prolonged, unless some enthusiastic commenter intervenes.

Pete and I both value our after walk debriefing in a café, and now, driving further, walking time or café time has to be sacrificed. A conference resulted in a shortcut on the walk (see map), so we could indulge in our new discovery, Café Ambio at the recently built livestock mart near Junction  36 on the M6.

A public footpath took us by concrete steps to a road. I was three steps off the horizontal concrete leading onto the road when a workman across the adjacent railway line bellowed a fortissimo warning not to proceed. The concrete platform had been severed eight feet from the road - the unwary would likely take a painful fall if proceeding. We had to divert over a wire fence into a field and over another wire fence onto the road - no diversion had been fixed.

There is a bit of previous orange route from last time top left corner. Our shortcut is indicated by the pink route

Chacun à son goût
I quite like some of this stuff when it's done well

The Ribble Link going off left (from the south), difficult to photograph...
...leading to this marina...

...and to these locks

At the bottom of the locks there was just a shallow, unnavigable stream?
We wondered which sign came first?

The steps leading to oblivion, taken from the road. We exited field left

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Cracoe Fell and Sharp Haw (two Marilyns north of Skipton)

Tuesday 12th March 2013

Rylstone Crag and Rylstone Cross lead north along the ridge to the war memorial obelisk on Cracoe Fell.

I have climbed often at Rylstone Crag. My last visit (13th Sept. 1992) was not joyous.

Tony, Rod and Pete had decided to set off at 12:30 from Preston. I was unhappy about the late start, so drove from Preston at 7:20 am to Whitbarrow (south Cumbria), did my one hour run and returned to Preston in time to meet up with the team at 12:30.

The rest of the day was a mess:

"Pete and I did Castrol VS. Pete took a long time leading it, and I got very cold. I had a desperate time on this climb, the worst since my return to climbing. We must have been two hours on this 30 ft. climb! My heart is not really in this gritstone stuff, but this has been the wettest August and September this century, and we haven't been able to get up to The Lakes. After Castrol we did Dental Slab. S., an old favourite which I led twenty years ago.

All that way for two gritstone climbs!"

The anti-gritstone statement was a knee-jerk reaction, and does not reflect my normal favourable opinion.

Today I looked down Dental Slab from the top and was close on a bilious attack.

A five minute drive down the road took me to the start for Sharp Haw, and I was up and down within an hour. This is a true mini mountain with a sharp peak and extensive panoramic views. A chap from Skipton caught me up on the descent and we chatted - he knew Brian Murphy, an acquaintance from attending Yorkshire Mountaineering Club Easter meets with Malcolm Lomas a few years ago.

A good day on the hills, and a  welcome contrast to my 1992 visit.

Click to enlarge. 

From the car. Rylstone Cross is top of nearest hill, Cracoe Fell far skyline

Cracoe Fell obelisk war memorial just visible on skyline

Crookrise Crag, zoom from start for Sharp Haw. This was another frequently visited crag in my climbing days

Down to Cracoe and my return route from Cracoe Fell

This track became a path just after the extent of this pic. Sharp Haw, my mini mountain is the obvious peak.

C'est moi

Zoom to Rylstone Cross and Cracoe Fell. The cross is on the hill in the foreground

Friday, 8 March 2013

Lancaster Canal - Blackleach to Salwick

Thursday 7th March 2013

Would you set off if:

1. It was raining?

2. You thought you may be nuked?

It was raining. I rang Pete at 9:00 am, (arranged departure was 10:00).  I was sure he would concur with a trip to Ambleside to buy new approach shoes.

Pete studies the forecast on tele and identifies precisely where those lava lamp expanding, contracting and moving blobs of approximate rain location occur, and unquestioningly accepts their accuracy. Although rain was generally forecast, as my trip to the garage freezer had dampeningly confirmed, Pete’s analysis told him it would de rainless in Preston - I was thwarted after concocting  my ingenious excuse for spending money.

At Carnforth rain had ceased. Sky was bright and remained so for the rest of our day.

Our initial attempt at finding our previous final bridge failed. Having found the correct one we chatted with a guy arriving to fish for pike in the canal. He showed us a picture of one he caught a few days ago - over 7 pounds, “...and it’s only three feet deep”, he said.

Having previously lived in Preston, or closer study of the map, should have made me more cautious. At the Salwick Hall bridge a large noticeboard told people to get into their boats if they heard a siren, batten everything down, turn on the radio, and listen for further instructions. We were in the vicinity of the benignly named Springfields, a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant.

On the bridge we found another notice for pedestrians advising them to flee the area as quickly as possible if the siren sounded, but no advice on which direction to take!

Further on our proposed route was diverted twice. A white road on the OS map turned out to be private, and a farmer had allowed his disgusting slurry pit to overflow necessitating  a footpath closure. Our 6 mile walk became 7.2 miles.

The red dots show the white road which was private and the closed footpath

You never know what may be round the next corner

Click to enlarge

Add caption
Springfields - sounds like a middle class residence

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

To go or not go?

RR queried how much importance walkers attach to a summit view, and would we set out knowing there would be none?

Here are my own thoughts - others may differ.

The summit view is not the principle objective, but it can be a chunk of double metaphor icing on the cake.

The attraction is in just being amongst the mountains.

Often swirling cloud with  glimpses through to mysterious crags and ridges is frequently more inspiring than brilliant views on sunny days, and in those dramatic circumstances I can fantasise that I maybe the first human to set foot there. Along with such enhanced perceptions there is the challenge of navigation which can be rewarding when successful, like a physical version of solving a crossword puzzle. The sentient human has an innate satisfaction with problem solving be it mental or physical -  read Darwin. 

As the wind freshens just below the final ridge you know you are close to the summit, and arrival there is always a matter of satisfaction in the achievement for its own sake, coupled with the aforementioned compensations on the ascent, regardless of view or no view. I have never found myself thinking that lack of view had nullified the experience.  Descent from a Himalayan peak with odds against survival would be a different matter - you may well regret having set out in the first place, but this is not view related and something I have no experience of.

The most off-putting occurrences, although not view related, are non-stop rain and violent wind. The former is difficult to be philosophical about, except for the smugness of having bought some excellent clothing which is doing its job, and the latter has on two occasions made me turn back before getting to the summit, but even then I have retained powerful memories of exciting days in the hills.

I suppose the philosophical defence to myself is that if I don’t have a go there will be no reward, and if I do and the outcome is incomplete, I know that I have given it my best shot and retained, or maybe enhanced my own self respect.

Burnmoor Tarn from Scafell Pike - an old slide from the Sixties - for me it was worthwhile on a mediocre day - no views from the summit

Friday, 1 March 2013

White Hill (Bowland)

Tuesday - 26th February 2013
Marilyn 283

White Hill is a moorland undulation, and my walk  was only 4km there and back, and not particularly interesting today, especially with hazy conditions, but it has a respectable height of 544m., and views would be extensive on a clear day.  It is worth going there from the north for the the drive on what must be one of the wildest roads in England running 20km or so from High Bentham to Slaidburn.

Along with the trig point the summit sports a stone built tower. This was one of several, including Cragg Hill above Long Sleddale which I visited a few months ago. The towers were built for sighting purposes  in the construction of the amazing aqueduct from Haweswater to Manchester between 1934 and 1941. The Haweswater valley and its village were flooded and dammed to provide water for Manchester 75 miles away (crow flight).

When I arrived there was one car parked. I met one other couple on the way to the summit. My return to the car coincided exactly with the occupant of the other car who had walked a circuit on the eastern side of the road to take in the trig at Bowland Knotts.

The route to the summit - following the fenceline of the old county boundary

Part of the tower and the trig
The tower

Ward's Stone


I had to be up early to take the car to Morecambe for door lock attention from where I drove to do this walk. This is sunrise from my living room window. Ingleborough is silhouetted at left end of the skyline (worth clicking to enlarge)