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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


Monday, 23 November 2020

Walking in a bad mood

 Sunday 22nd November 2020 - Whitbarrow and Fairie's Cave

There were aspects of this walk that I did not enjoy. I wanted to visit Fairie's Cave which has recently come to my attention, and also a climbing crag at Slape Scar further south. I had walked on part of the route only a few days ago with not much enthusiasm passing close to the cave, and then plotting a satisfactory circular route to incorporate the crag was problematical. I decided to go for it anyway and improvise after the crag depending on visual assessment of the terrain. Having given the subject of objectives in a recent post an airing I now found that I was restricted by them to the extent of being forced to plot a route that did not appeal as an overall walk.

The path through the woods was unpleasantly squelchy and I found myself irascible right from the start. I was following a poor description for the location of the cave from an Internet post and spent longer than I should have not having a mental picture of the cave's situation and appearance. When I did find it there was no mistaking the huge deep cleft which I circled on steep pathless terrain with almost vertical forty foot drops into the depths. I tried to get a decent photo but the cleft was filled with trees. I could not see a reasonable way into the foot of the ravine without descending steep wooded hillside. If I was intending to explore this cave I would suggest abseiling in from the top. There seems to have been limited exploration which is a pity. with some persistence there may be a larger interesting system here The most  I could find on the Internet was this report from 2011.

Fairies' Cave (Pool Bank Cave)
The entrance is the dark slot above the choke of mossy boulders. The sound of running water can be heard inside although none was visible emerging. In 1979 the cave was extended by the Cave Diving Group to a length of 37m but became too tight for further progress. This is a shame since there is a lot of limestone above and good potential for a significant cave system.

Approaching the edge of the very steep forty foot drop into the cleft

After circumventing the rim at some peril I was able to look into the location of the cave from on high,
it is further away and deeper down than it looks here. It was not possible to get a good representative photo, but perhaps that was down to my slightly bad mood.
Zoom to cave

After visiting the cave I carried on reversing part of my route from a few days ago including the steep rocky ascent of Bell Rake. I vowed not to include its rough descent on my return. The next level section on the open Whitbarrow land was the best part of the walk and my spirit was briefly lifted.

As I approached furthest south where Slape Crag was supposed to be according to another poor website description, I reckoned  I would have to climb steeply through dense boulder strewn trees which completely obscured a view otherwise. Then it started to rain. I gave the crag a miss. I carried on finding more swampy paths until eventually coming out onto the more pleasant Whitbarrow open terrain, but with no alternative but to connect with the main ridge path up to Lord's Seat where dozens of folk were passing in both directions imposing some Covid anxiety. I used to run here then descend to the path that goes back though the woods and today I couldn't find it and pressed on trying to find a way down  but that was blocked by a substantial wall and bit by bit I traversed on until, much to my annoyance, I  found myself again at the top of Bell Rake which I had vowed not to include on my return. The only relief was that the rain had stopped and I picked my way down that steep rocky descent and then splashed my way back to the car.

Oh for those warm summer days and ridge walking high up on dry close-cropped turf.

Ascending Bell Rake, much steeper than it looks here

The best part of the walk

I stopped for coffee and a sandwich looking at this pretty view of blue sky, limestone, and silver birch before the path became unpleasant

At last out of the swamps

The pins show location of Fairie's Cave and supposedly Slape Crag which I never saw. The horrid path was the second half of the north/south bit. Bell Rake is marked close to the cave if you enlarge. The blue line is part of my route from a few days ago. Ignore the other blue route at bottom left


  1. This one caught my eye. I wondered if there might be an equivalent for Tone Deaf; there is, though the presentation would have to be different:

    (1) I read an excoriating review of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in The Guardian more than thirty years ago. The reviewer not only detested the performance but hated the music itself. Loathed even the concept. His vituperation sticks in my mind.

    (2) Several years later VR and I receive an unexpected invitation from a Bradford acquaintance then resident in London to join a group of people attending a concert at Alexandra Palace, a windy iron-girdered wreck of a place in north London. For reasons I cannot now explain I accept without paying too much attention to what piece of music I will hear.

    (3) In the chat before the concert I overhear the Bradford acquaintance refer to the piece on offer as "a secular cantata". I become mildly apprehensive.

    (4) The piece is, of course, Carmina Burana. I dislike it but find myself wondering if my dislike would have been so intense had I not read the Guardian review.

    (5) At odd moments during the ensuing years I catch snatches of CB - always the same passage - usually backing some form of video-ed publicity. My dislike blooms into outright hatred.

    (6) I regularly pose the question to myself: can music itself be hateable or can it only reach this state via other associations? I have yet to find an answer.

    Should you choose to respond do not assume, as usual, that there is some hidden message in all this. There isn't. Take what I've said at face value. I have strained to make it easy to understand.

  2. RR - Strauss Waltzs do it for me. There is no association but my hackles rise immediately and I rush to switch off.

  3. Listening to the introduction to Carmina Burana as I type and imagining your triumphant arrival by abseil into the mouth of Fairies' Cave.
    Shame your bad mood precluded you finding Slape Scar, it is apparently 150 m long but only 10-12 m high. Sounds interesting. Grid reference SD 447 864 for when you try again...

  4. BC - Your comment caused MY imagination to wander on and I started thinking about how I was going to get back out of the Fairie hole - don't forget the Jumars!

    The website suggests an approach to Slape from the east so I might give that a go when good mood and good forecast are together in ascendance.

    Looking back at the post I realise I lost a whole paragraph somewhere describing the path from north to south to arrive in the vicinity of Slape. The path gradually became less established and developed into a mini stream running over a bedrock of polished limestone with potential for a slip so more and more care was needed. It then entered into an area of swamp and twisted gnarled trees with with small yew and Hawthorne and infant birch impeding progress, and all that nasty thrashing about was compounded when it started to rain, hence me aborting the mission.

  5. Not just the waltzes but any kind of music included in concerts called Viennese Nights, etc. And especially those that are paraded at Christmas. I'd go further, anything called "light" music I find abominable, of which operettas are the absolute pits. The sopranos are always smiling insincerely and pursing their lips.

  6. RR. I take it that you are not a fan of André Rieu. That wasn't even a question.

  7. I've only just become aware of him. The hairstyle doesn't go with his chosen instrument. Conceivably he could be a source of replenishment for the bow.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Above comment removed because I posted a reply on RR's blog on my own by mistake.