Posted in Fitness challenges, Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Walks in the Yorkshire Dales – Walk 2: Buckden Pike

At the top of Buckden Pike – looking tired and windswept!

Buckden Pike – 702 metres (2,303 ft)

It had been a while since I had walked up a hill (the 500ft Pendle Hill was the last on a particularly sodden wet and windy day, I didn’t make it to the top on that occasion) and I felt a sense of trepidation at the idea of walking up one of the Dales hills. I love hills and mountains, the views from them en route or on the top, the sense of achievement, having reached the top, the sense of achievement having reached the bottom, the feeling of a well-earned pot of tea afterwards (and maybe a slice of cake?) But the actual journey itself of going up a hill… My lungs protesting at every step: “This is too much, Clare. Take a breath, look at the scenery. Have some water.”

And never does water taste so wonderful as it does while going up a hill!

The start of the journey

We parked in a car park in Buckden, close to the start of our trek. Next to the car park was a wooden gate leading to a path in a field. There was a signpost stating Buckden Pike – two and a quarter miles.

A nice short walk then! Ha! It didn’t feel like that to me – never trust a sign pointing up a hill.

The signpost directing us to Buckden Pike

Apart from the sounds of the skylark and curlew, sightings of wheatears and pippits, it felt like we were the only ones on the Dales. It was so quiet and peaceful. Maybe it was because it was Monday and the week after the Easter holidays. But it did feel like we were the only two inhabitants on the dales. Not a soul or hint of civilisation could be seen.

Yorkshire Dales

A steep hill – where we noticed wild pansies – took us to the top where we walked along the ridge to the trig point at 702 metres. Buckden Pike actually narrowly misses out on being the highest peak in this area, it is Great Whernside which earns this title. Instead, Buckden Pike is the seventh highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales and is eight metres higher than Pen-y-ghent itself – one of the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks’. I had gone up Great Whernside (704 metres) before – or at least most of it as it was a terrible day weather-wise. (You can read that story here: https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/trek-diary-part-1-oct-nov-2017-2/).

From the top of Buckden Pike, on a clear day, one can see the three peaks Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Buckden Pike

There is a stone slab pavement at the top. According to the National Trust: ‘The moorland here is important blanket bog and we are creating a path with old mill flagstones. This will protect the delicate peat from erosion.’

On the way back, along the ridge and then over a ladder stile into another field, we came across the Polish War Memorial commemorating a crash from a Second World War plane. Five Polish soldiers died when their plane crashed in 1942. If you look closely at the base of the memorial, you’ll see a fox’s head. That’s because the only survivor reached the village of Cray in the snow by following a fox’s footprints.

The memorial on top of Buckden Pike

We continued along a stone wall, gradually going downhill. There were some boggy areas, considering how the recent weather had been fairly dry I could imagine how soggy it could get if there had been recent rainfall. Some walks turn off at Starbotton, the next village but we carried on until Kettlewell.

Not too far from Kettlewell, we came across an older couple, who looked as tired as I felt and yet they had only really embarked on their journey. Luckily for them, they were heading back to Starbotton, not quite as far as the trek we were on.

The &Then cafe we went to yesterday in Kettlewell was closed so we ventured into the cosy Bluebell Inn for a well deserved pot of tea and glass of lemonade. We noted ‘local wild foraged garlic’ among other tasty items on the menu. The menu was tempting for an evening meal. (And indeed we did return on our last evening). Once refreshed, we continued along the River Wharfe back to Buckden. This time the sign said four miles…

We saw a lamb on the other side of the fence which provoked a dilemma, should we help or would intervention make things worse?

On the first night, Simon had proved to be a successful sheep wrangler, helping to herd a few straggler sheep and lambs away from the road, and then away from the nearby housing estate back into their own field. They had ended up in a neighbour’s garden, munching away at the lawn, at one point! But this was a different scenario and we didn’t want to startle the lamb into running off and getting lost. As it turned out, while we were pondering this, the lamb ducked under the fence and went back into its own field itself. Problem solved!

Lambs in the Yorkshire Dales

On our gentle river stroll back to Buckden, we saw river debris evidence of what looked like recent flooding and a male goosander. We also saw what looked like mandarin or wood ducks. From a steep hill climb to a relaxing river stroll, this walk had plenty of variety.

Posted in Fitness challenges, Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Walks in the Yorkshire Dales – Walk One: Grassington to Kettlewell

Yorkshire Dales

The Dales Way – Grassington to Kettlewell (12 miles)

It was the first full day of our Yorkshire Dales break, we had enjoyed a hearty breakfast and were now all set to explore the surrounding countryside. This ramble, the first of our holiday, would be a village to village walk via The Dales Way in Wharfdale. We took our sticks from the car and started walking away from our dwelling in Grassington to a nearby path leading into a field. Although we didn’t go up any steep hills, the various inclines meant I was glad we had our walking sticks. It was approximately six miles to Kettlewell and another six miles back.

In case you were wondering, the word ‘dale’ means ‘lowland valley’ which gives an idea of the type of terrain we were walking in today. This part of Yorkshire is also noted for its limestone scenery (although nowhere beats Malham for that, more about Malham in another blog post).

On our journey, we also went past Conistone Dib, a dry limestone gorge. We saw an oystercatcher and pipits and heard the call of the curlew. Our walk through the fields gradually took us to our mid-way point, a little hamlet called Conistone.

Conistone

There appeared to be a maypole in the middle of the village. I wonder if it was used for maypole dancing back in the day, or maybe even nowadays?

Back on the dales, we spotted a curious rocky ‘hill’ which we nicknamed the ‘castle’. I later learned that it’s a limestone outcrop and its real name is Conistone Pie not Conistone Castle! I suppose it does look a little like a pie to a hungry rambler from a distance …

Off the dales and onto a quiet road nearing Kettlewell, we went past Scargill House, a Christian holiday and conference centre founded in 1959.

We also came across two unusual ‘locals’. We were used to seeing white fluffy animals grazing grass – but these two ‘sheep’ looked rather different!

Alpacas grazing in the Yorkshire Dales

After our six-mile walk, a refreshing pot of tea was enjoyed at the little &then cafe in Kettlewell.

&then cafe in Kettlewell

We then explored St Mary’s church and churchyard. According to the church’s website, it’s situated beneath the slopes of Great Whernside.

Kettlewell Church

The beautiful churchyard is home to various wildflowers and limestone gravestones. There is also a meadow labyrinth, made of limestone and created in 2020. It’s no surprise that, in 2021, it won North Yorkshire’s Best Churchyard Competition.

Rather than going back via the dales, we headed back along the quiet country single road. Normally we would avoid roads but apart from a long convoy of MG sports cars (I felt sorry for the motorist who was heading in their direction and had to reverse some way to let them pass), this was very quiet and more like a country lane.

We took a quick detour into Grass Wood on the way back, but it was much bigger than expected so we decided to explore it another day. If we looked over to the right, we could see the River Wharf flowing beside us.

River Wharfe

It was a very pleasant walk, with ups and downs (on the Dales Way towards Kettlewell rather than the flat road going back) but nothing too strenuous. Even so, I was certainly ready for my pizza meal that evening at The Foresters Arms in Grassington!

  • Facts of the Day
  • 1. The word ‘Dale’ ‘probably shares a common root with the Welsh ‘dol‘, meaning meadow, pasture, valley’ (Country Walking Magazine).
  • 2.  The Dales Way is a long distance footpath of about 80 miles. It runs from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere.

Posted in Charity, Fitness challenges, Walks

Update – Fitness Challenge March 2021: Step into Spring for Marie Curie

Photo by Mnz on Pexels.com

In February I decided to sign up for a 10,000 Step daily challenge in aid of Marie Curie, which cares for terminally ill people. I bought two pedometers (one was a spare and has now been given to my mum) and shared my JustGiving page across social media. It was a way to get fit, get out of the winter lockdown doldrums and raise money for charity. A win-win situation you might say.

March 1 started well with a 30-minute YouTube video – Joanna Soh’s indoor step challenge. Unfortunately the 10,000 steps she labelled it was a little off the mark and it was nearer 3,000. Still, a good start. But a day home working once again took its toll and I didn’t gain many more steps. But I put on my dancing shoes that evening and danced to Soft Cell, the Proclaimers and some more tunes. Finally, eventually, I reached the magic 10,000 steps. Now for bed!

From then on, I formulated a strategy. Walking to the supermarket, meeting a friend for a walk (and discovering beautiful secret areas of my home town), walking my parents’ dogs….

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

There were days when I felt too lazy to go walking so I became a fan of YouTube step instructors. Joanna Soh, Leslie Sansome (Walk at Home) and Rick Buellis became my go-too instructors. Leslie was always cheerful and Rick had a handy stepometer on his videos to help me along.

Whereas normally I would have ventured on longer treks further afield, restrictions meant I was supposed to stay local. So I turned this to my advantage and explored the hidden spots of my home town.

I discovered Preston’s Conway Park – literally 15 minutes walking distance away yet I’d never encountered it before – and rediscovered an ancient shrine, was delighted to hear a new nature reserve/park was being created and enjoyed the delights of various woodlands near me, courtesy of The Woodland Trust.

A Woodland Trust wood

I found that if I went outside for a walk, the steps added up, but leaving steps to the last minute was not a good idea. A lesson I learnt quite early on.

And by the end of it, I walked a total of 330,000 steps and raised £120. Now for my next challenge ….

Posted in Charity, Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge March 2021: Step into Spring for Marie Curie

Photo by Mnz on Pexels.com

I usually try to have at least one fitness challenge a year, as an incentive to get fit, as an adventure (see Chesterfield Canal), as something to look forward to… Of course, last year’s ideas of walking Lancaster Canal and climbing Ben Nevis ended up being pipe dreams. Even when my gym was reopened (for a brief period of a few months), I felt too cautious to return and so my fitness has deteriorated over the last year. But enough is enough. My fitness, my weight, my physical health, my mental wellbeing needs a helping hand and so it was that I came across a newspaper story about the charity Marie Curie looking for people willing to take on the Step into Spring Challenge.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Marie Curie cares for terminally ill people and their loved ones. The charity has nurses, hospices, a support line and a bereavement service. Marie Curie says:

We’re here to support everyone in the UK through all aspects of dying, death and bereavement – and to fight for a society where everyone gets to lead the best life they can, right to the end.

Marie Curie

The challenge asks fundraisers to walk 10,000 steps every day during March. This can be in any way, whether walking up and down the stairs or doing a fitness class via Zoom or going for a local walk. It’s a tad trickier during lockdown as we’re not supposed to venture far for a walk. Oh, and then there’s the fact that I work from home at the moment so I can’t even walk to and from work.

So, interesting… I will let you know how it goes! Saying that, there have been various stories about fundraisers using initiative and resourcefulness to raise cash during lockdown, such as the 100-year-old Captain Tom who walked around his garden.

Here are some ideas:

  • Walk the dog
  • Walk to the shops
  • Stepping while on the phone
  • Stepping while watching TV
  • Enjoying a local nature walk
  • Walk with a friend
  • Dance to some music

If anyone would like to sponsor or feels inspired to take part themselves, the web links are below. Maybe you don’t live in the UK or you have a different charity close to your heart, why not make your own Step Challenge for your favourite charity?

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/

https://step-into-spring.blackbaud-sites.com/fundraising/clares-step-into-spring-fundraiser-for-marie

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved/fundraise/stepintospring

Posted in Fitness challenges, Reblog, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Trek Diary: Part 1 Oct/Nov 2017

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Rainbow en route to High Peak, Fairfield Horseshoe, Ambleside, Cumbria

I wrote this post a few months after starting my blog, back in 2017. I haven’t been able to go on any big walking challenges this year because of lockdown, so I’ve been looking back at some of my previous adventures.

May 2020

Like many of us, over the years, I have put on weight. Too many treats, over-reliance on my car and not enough exercise has meant a few pounds have been added here and there. But to be honest, this isn’t about weight. It’s about being happy and healthy. It’s a quest to be fit. Me and fitness have never got on. The minute the pace gets faster, I want off the treadmill. But I’m sick of feeling sluggish, of being out of breath too easily. I want to challenge myself next year. Perhaps a fundraising challenge. Maybe a mountain. Possibly a long-distance trek. Something that will motivate me to finally become fit and healthy. And stay that way. For good. Thus begins my bi-monthly trek diary.

Great Whernside – 650m (out of 704m). Three hours

Sunday, October 22 2017

I met Simon at Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales, a pretty little village of stone cottages and picturesque surroundings. Weather was okay to begin with, which was lucky as Storm Brian had been out and about that week. But as we walked along the track towards the hill of Great Whernside, passing a large farmhouse (now a Scout’s centre), the rain began. The drizzle got worse and the stone path gave way to grass – and bog. The higher we got, the boggier the ground became, the wetter my walking boots became (thank goodness they were waterproof), the unsteadier the ground and more blustery the wind. 🌧️

I’m sorry to say we did not make it to the top. Our (roughly) three-hour walk took us to about 650m of Great Whernside’s 710m. But all I kept thinking about was tea and cake! (We had brought water and sandwiches with us but somehow we lost the desire for a cold cheese sandwich on the cold, windy moorland).

We reached the village about 1.30pm and ventured into Bluebell Inn for a delightful pot of tea by the fire, just what we needed after being soaked through to the skin. A trip to Zarina’s cafe for more tea, a sausage buttie (not very healthy, but warming) and a Yorkshire curd tart. When in Yorkshire, eat what the Yorkshire folk eat… My first time eating the delicacy, and very tasty too.

And so my training began. Oh, if only it could be tea and cake all the time! ☕🍰

Walk Facts

1. Great Whernside is 704m (2,310ft) high. We walked roughly three hours from 10.30am to 1.30pm to reach 650m.

2. It is located on the boundary between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

3. Until 1997, there was no public right of way to the summit of Great Whernside.

Fairfield Horseshoe – Full day (eight hours) 11 miles (roughly) 873m

Saturday, November 4

Today’s challenge was a toughie. A hill walk from Ambleside, where we were staying for the weekend, up Low Pike (1,657ft/508m), High Pike (2,152ft/656m), Dove Crag (2,603ft/792m), Hart Crag (2,698ft/822m) to get to our destination – Fairfield (2,863ft/873m).

And then back down again via Great Rigg (2,513ft/766m), Heron Pike (2,003ft/612m) and Nab Scar (1,493ft/ 455m). I feel exhausted just thinking about it!

We were staying in Ambleside for a weekend and had decided Saturday would be our day for a hill walk. Laden with rucksacks and (for me) hiking poles, we headed away from the town centre. A resident told us we were going the wrong direction and needed to walk towards Sweden Bridge. A quick detour and we were on our way. Up, up, up (so it felt to me)…

Crossing Sweden Bridge took us into fields with Highland Cows, actually my favourite breed of cow with their shaggy red hair, but I always feel a little apprehensive around cows, especially if they have calves. However, these lasses were quite happy to share their fields with hikers.

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Our first hill was Low Pike (1657ft), I would keep stopping and turning to see the panoramic view (a ‘look at the view’ and ‘catch my breath’ stop) of Windermere down below. The higher up, the more expansive the scenery below – Rydal, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere…

Once we reached Low Pike, S said we were a quarter of the way up. I was surprised, but I should have queried him more on this statistic. A quarter of the way up to Fairfield or a quarter of the way up to High Pike, the next fell? Needless to say the true answer would have disappointed me.

I believe it was around here where there was a short rocky scramble… and my boots got wet in the marsh.

The route to High Pike was along a stone wall, fairly gentle. It was here where it started to drizzle on and off for the rest of the day. And the place where full rainbows were seen. Will we reach the pot of gold that is Fairfield?

I regarded the rainbow as a sign of hope – completing the Fairfield Horseshoe is possible, even for me! 🌈

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We continued to ascend Dove Crag and Hart Crag. Relatively gradual, happily, apart from a scramble section at the top.

At one point, Simon heard a mouse-like sound and I spotted a brisk brown blur from the corner of my eye. Silently, we ventured nearer and observed a tiny shrew scurrying amidst the rocks, before escaping into a hole.

It was hard to know when we actually arrived at Fairfield. The top is very flat, a ‘grassy plateau’ says Wainwright. There are many stone cairns which might be there to help hikers find their way in the mist although Wainwright thought the abundance could actually be a hindrance. Some ramblers were huddled in a stone windbreak shelter when we arrived.

The route down has a clear path. When there is no mist, it is easy to see where one is going.

We were descending Nab Scar when a young couple passed us. The woman was athletic looking, wearing sports clothes rather than rambling gear, and was striding along confidently, clutching a water bottle. The man, lagging behind – so much so I wasn’t sure if they were actually together or not – wore a jumper, jeans and wellies.

When it comes to hill walking, it is a case of walking boots…  yes. Wellies… no. A big no.

Anyway, the pair passed us. Not long afterwards, the woman came back up and approached us, asking if we had any spare water she could give to her partner. Luckily we did. He was lying on the grass next to the path, looking absolutely exhausted. S poured water into the woman’s 1 litre container. Later, we saw them, the worn-out man sitting next to the path. S gave them the rest of the water (the man had already drank the litre Simon had previously given) and three biscuits from the B&B. They thanked us and assured us they would be fine, and sure enough, we later on saw them descending the last section.

It turned out that, while we set off at 9.30am, their hike began after 12noon – in a bid to finish before it got dark, they had no choice but to rush the Horseshoe.

Passing Rydal Hall and Rydal Mount, we opted for a wander beside the river, pleasant until it became dark, started raining heavily, and we took the wrong turning out of Ambleside. An extra mile I could have done without! Still, an exhilarating if tiring walk and I look forward to my next adventure 🏃

Walk Facts

1. On the way to or back from The Fairfield Horseshoe, the hiker goes past Rydal Mount – the home of William Wordsworth.

2. Water is essential for hill walks! And it has a wonderful taste when you’re going uphill!

3. The Fairfield Horseshoe goes up one ridge and down another within a valley. Be careful in the mist.

Sunday, November 5

Stock Ghyll Force, Ambleside – One mile (roughly)

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Legs felt a little fatigued today so we enjoyed a gentle stroll to Stock Ghyll Force waterfall. This is a roughly mile-long woodland walk, 5 minutes from Ambleside. Leaf-strewn (in autumn) paths and steps along a river and woodland takes you upwards towards the waterfall. A very pleasant town walk (although it doesn’t feel urban in the slightest) for tourists and tired-out ramblers!

Walk Facts

1. Stock Ghyll is a tributary of River Rothley.

2. Once there were 12 watermills driven by the power of Stock Ghyll and other streams.

3. Stock Ghyll Force is a 70ft waterfall.

To read about a 2014 Hadrian’s Wall adventure, visit: https://mysabbatical2014.wordpress.com/

Posted in Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge: 2019

pair of white running shoes
Photo by Mnz on Pexels.com

Oh dear, the last time I wrote my Fitness Challenge diary it was last July. Now it’s February, the following year!

Here’s a quick review of the last six months, what went well, what went wrong and what I’ve learnt.

July to December 

I started having personal training sessions in June and this continued until the second week of November. A total of five months of consecutive weight-based exercise twice a week.

Now commitment to exercise has always been a problem for me. I get bored, I start wishing I was sitting with a good novel and a lovely cup of tea, I start dreaming of cake…

But this actually worked… For a while.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The sessions were held at 8am, Tuesday and Thursday, at my local gym. They weren’t extortionate but not cheap either, so I wanted to make it worthwhile going. Paying for the 45-minute sessions and having to meet the personal trainer twice a week did made me feel accountable.  Although I did cancel a couple of times, it wasn’t as easy as just deciding “I can’t be bothered going to the gym”. I felt as if I had to have a good reason. Which is good for motivation!

So twice a week, apart from the odd time I cancelled, I headed to the training sessions. I did lunges, sit-ups, press-ups, squats, arm and leg weight exercises among others. The variety stopped me from getting bored.

During the week, I took myself down to the gym for cardio exercises.

K, the personal trainer, suggested a weight loss app and a calorie intake of 1,300 calories a day. Now, my aim was to be fitter and fit into my clothes again. But counting calories wasn’t really something I was too interested in. I still wanted to eat cake! But I did want to become a healthy and fit woman.

So I tried. For a while.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And it worked. My weight dropped nearly a stone, my too-tight clothes started to fit again and people started to notice I was losing weight.

In all my months of fitness challenges, this was the first time this happened!

But the summer months turned into the autumn months of October and November. 6am was once a bright and light time to wake up and an apt time to let the hens out before getting fit. How constructive a morning for me and the chickens!

But by October, the hens were still fast asleep at 7.45am, never mind 6am (quite sensible too). But I felt more and more sluggish waking up at such an unearthly hour. And although it felt worthwhile after the session, beforehand I felt like I’d lost my motivation.

And of course, Christmas was coming soon, together with all its edible treats. Did I really want to continue paying for a trainer and counting calories when I would want to be eating Christmas pudding and the like?

person on elliptical trainer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So I stopped, for now. I did find a personal trainer a fantastic motivation but, personally, I would prefer to tie that in with a challenge to aim for. Working with K was good in the beginning but by the fifth month, I needed a new goal as I started to feel aimless.

That’s no reflection on the trainer. As I said, it worked and I saw and felt the physical and mental effects. But motivation becomes an issue for me, especially during the winter months.

So this year I thought if I tie in personal challenges during the year with, possibly, a personal trainer for a month or so for the bigger challenges, this might work. Maybe.

Ironically, while I focused on personal training, my walk challenge didn’t do so well. I aimed for 1,000 miles by the end of the year. Instead, I walked 817. That means an extra 200 on top of my 1,000 target this year!

So my first challenge is Fitness February, with an attempt to try to do some type of exercise every day.

Posted in Fitness challenges, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part 3

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Walking along the River Ribble, towards Avenham Park

Day one of the Guild Wheel, seven or eight miles of it, was relatively easy, certainly compared to the 14-mile stretch which faced me today.

From the Tickled Trout Hotel, I walked on along the River Ribble towards Preston city centre. Some ways into Preston are less than beautiful, but the three miles along the Guild Wheel takes one along the scenic river route and into Avenham Park, what must be Preston’s hidden treasure. If you ever visit Preston, seek it out. It’s down the side streets but well worth the detour.

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One time I walked this way – via the River Ribble – with Mum (just to the city centre, not the whole Guild Wheel route). There was a nervous moment when we came across a herd of cows but there were no calves and they ignored the strange two-leggeds. This time the bovine beauties were safely in a field, enjoying their grass.

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I had a little tea break at the cafe in Avenham Park and then set off again.

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Past the New Continental Pub, a popular entertainments venue, into Broadgate and here I continued along the river.

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Eventually this took me to Preston Docks. Now it has pubs, cinema, shops and residential waterfront living but it was once a major industrial point, which opened in 1892. Cotton, timber, oil, coal and fruit were among the products imported and there was even a ferry service to Northern Ireland. By the 1970s though, the Docks started to decline until it eventually became today’s leisure and residential centre.

This was where I thought I would get lost but the trail is so well signposted, with clear markings on the road itself and on signs, that it was remarkably easy to find my way.

The Guild Wheel also passes a railway track – the train sets off from the Ribble Steam Railway Museum.

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Circling the Docks, I found myself next to a main road. For the first time, I doubted my map-reading skills. And for the first time, the signs seemed a little lacking compared to before. The road section is a tad boring but then I found a sign and realised, thankfully, I was on the right track!

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After crossing a bridge over a dual carriageway, my river and dock stroll turned into a canal ramble, along Lancaster Canal.

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And then it was past the university sports hall, and into the world of suburbia and new housing developments.

And at 3pm on Sunday, I reached home. A full circle that was 21 miles long and took about 28 hours (with a night’s sleep in between).

And if I wasn’t tired on the Saturday after 8 miles, I was definitely ready for a sit down and a cup of tea after my 14-mile stretch on the Sunday!

Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part 2

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It was raining, my friend was too ill to join me on my Preston Guild Wheel walk, I was alone and wondering if I would get bored and then…

I saw a deer (pictured below). Of course, with my rather average camera phone, it doesn’t look like one unless you enlarge it and then you might see a little blob. But it really was a deer and I saw it with my own eyes. This part of the walk is suburbia but a path leads onto a large open space of green that has been left for people and dogs to enjoy, and wildlife to live. The Woodland Trust looks after part of it.

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This curiosity (below), and others like it, can be found in the parkland. I think it’s an ‘insect hotel’ for bees etc to live.

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The Guild Wheel took me through both a natural and industrial landscape.

Sometimes it was a path with railings on either side, hiding behind were factories and offices.

Other times it took me on a detour of beautiful greenery – despite a motorway just minutes away.

Along the way, I entered the exterior of Preston Crematorium, a peaceful place, and continued along a tree-lined path which took me to Brockholes Nature Reserve.

But first I encountered the now disused site of Courtaulds, a manufacturer of rayon. Built in 1939 and closed in 1979, it was the largest site in Britain to produce rayon (according to Wikipedia). At its peak, 4,000 people were employed there and when it closed in 1979, 2,800 jobs were lost (Keith Johnson, Cherished Memories of Old Mansion and Rise of Industry, https://www.lep.co.uk ).

There also used to be an old mansion in this area but alas, it is no more.

It always surprises me how brown belt land often seems to be reclaimed by nature.

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The trail continues towards Boilton Wood, neighboured by Nab, Redcar and Tunbrook Woodlands. Boilton Wood is a site of special scientific interest and forms part of the biggest stretch of ancient woodland in Lancashire (information from Visit Preston website).

When I reached Brockholes Nature Reserve, I spotted this delightful fellow.

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And another colourful resident can be seen here…

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Brockholes is a fabulous and unusual 250-acre nature reserve, owned by the Wildlife Trust. It’s such a peaceful natural haven that you wouldn’t think it is so near to the M6 but it is. The former gravel quarry actually supplied materials to build the motorway and only opened in 2011, after being bought by the trust in 2007.

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‘Village in the Reeds’ Photograph by Jim Beattie. Courtesy of The Lancashire Wildlife Trust. http://www.brockholes.org

It’s located on a flood plain of the River Ribble so has a unique floating visitor village!

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After a delightful and filling leek and potato soup at the cafe, I continued the last mile along the River Ribble to the Tickled Trout Hotel in Samlesbury. I was lucky enough to have a lovely pastoral river view from the room window, and was able to watch the cows munching the grass alongside the River Ribble.

I was glad I embarked on this journey after all!

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Part 3 coming soon..

(For more information about Brockholes, visit https://www.brockholes.org)

 

Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part One

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Near me is a 21-mile cycle route called the Preston Guild Wheel. Although I don’t ride a bike, I think it is a marvellous route, connecting the outer ‘green ways’ of the city, courtesy of founder and keen cyclist Peter Ward. Happily for me, it is an inclusive path and cyclists, families, dog walkers,  canines and intrepid ramblers can co-exist as we explore the natural highlights of the city.

As a dog walker, I have walked a little of this circular pathway several times. I have also rambled a stretch of it with Simon, family and friends on various occasions to the fabulous Brockholes Nature Reserve and back. But this year, a friend and I thought we would walk the whole route.

All 21 miles of it.

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Courtesy of Google Maps

It is possible to do it all in one day but we thought we would make a weekend of it and stop off at a hotel en route. A new swanky hotel was due to open in the city centre and we thought we might be able to splash out a little for one night. But alas, it turned out it would not be open by the time of our adventure so we opted for The Tickled Trout Hotel instead, three miles out of the city and overlooking the River Ribble.

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The start of my Preston Guild Wheel walk

The date was set – June 1. Maps were printed off. We agreed to meet near a point of the wheel and either walk 8 miles the first day and 13 miles on the Sunday, or vice versa.

But sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

The afternoon before, my friend texted. She was feeling ill and didn’t think she would be able to make it. She hoped she would but was alerting me that, just in case, she might not be up to it tomorrow.

I felt a sense of disappointment and, if I’m honest, was tempted to cancel the whole endeavour and snuggle down on the sofa with a good book.

It may have been June but the weather wasn’t very summery.

But the hotel was booked and, as it was so much short-notice, I would have lost the money.

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The start of my Preston Guild Wheel walk

So that decided the matter.

Ever the trooper, the next day, when I received confirmation that C was too poorly to do the walk, I put on my walking boots, lifted my rucksack onto my back (including a paperback thriller which I swear got heavier and heavier with each step) and left my house, heading to the start of the Guild Wheel, a mere 10 minutes walk away.

Now, I love spending time by myself on walks. However, these are usually for shortish periods of time, and rambling, ruminating, musing and daydreaming for an hour or so is very pleasant but a whole weekend of listening to my own thoughts? Will I bore myself?!

And to match my mood, it was raining, a miserable drizzle….

But I will persevere… Preston Guild Wheel, I have arrived and I will explore all 21 miles of you. The adventure begins now! ☺️

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See Part 2 coming soon ….

 

Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Bow Fell and the Good Samaritans

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Back in October 2012, I have an entry in my diary saying ‘Lake District Mountain’ and ‘sunny’. Wainwright would have been horrified at such scant details. Thankfully at a later point, I had penned the name of this mystery mountain in a different colour of ink.

Bow Fell. My first ‘proper’ mountain (excluding Pen y Gwent in the Yorkshire Dales) and my first ever Wainwright. I actually can’t remember my first time that well, maybe I was too focused on breathing while going steadily upwards! I seem to remember a river while going down though…

So it is now May 2019, with about 12 Wainwrights completed, Snowdon, the three Yorkshire peaks (not all at once), Mam Tor and Kinder Scout, I may be a few years older but surely more experienced at hill walking?

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Sundew spotted en route to Bow Fell

Bow Fell Part 2 must surely be easier than Part 1…

No.

It was a bad start when we realised that we didn’t have the map we actually needed. It was left in the house and instead we had an older, less defined map which would just have to do.

There were a few flattened out plateaus, but it felt mostly uphill and heavy going. Strangely, for a bank holiday, there were not many hikers until nearer the top.

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We passed three tarns and walked and scrambled up many peaks, each time I thought, is this it?

And each time my hopes were shattered. We finally reached the top and decided, instead of going back the way we came, we would take a shortcut down and walk along the river. We followed the river the last time so it must be the right route.

By this time, the rain had got heavier and it was getting more difficult to see with the increasing mist.

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Wearing glasses ironically makes it even harder to see when the water lashes down onto the lenses and smears the vision.

So there was poor visibility, poor weather, and the steep downhill section had, what looked to me, slippery rocks, ready to trip me up.

Here’s the truth – I’m not scared of heights. I am scared of falling, slipping, sliding and doing myself an injury.

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At the top of Bow Fell

I did it on Skiddaw (skid by name, skid by nature). I ended up with a sprained ankle, not a nice experience but it could have been worse. Much worse.

So our wet, slippery journey down the mountain was not fun. Hence why there are not many photos of this particular walk, I gave up taking photos fairly early on.

Finally we reached the bottom and continued along the river, where we passed a tent, feeling envious of the dry person or persons inside while we traipsed on what seemed a never-ending trail, sogging wet.

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Eventually we got to a farmhouse and a road, not quite a main one, but a road nevertheless.

But it was bad news. We didn’t have a clue where we were. The river was not our river, not the stream we walked along the previous time. This watercourse was some random one that had no connection with where we wanted to be.

We were tempted to ring the bell at the farmhouse. Instead, we looked at the location in the red phone box, tried to locate it on the vague 1972 map, which isn’t much good, and eventually we two luddites tried to get Google directions on our phones.

We hovered at the side of the road, soaking wet and miserable, awaiting unsuspecting passer-bys.

A cyclist came around the corner, he was in no mood to stop but Simon waved him down and asked about directions. The cyclist was annoyed, he was actually in a race but he reluctantly – though helpfully –  told us we were eight miles away from our car park and two miles away from the nearest village in the opposite direction.

This was not good news.

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We grovelled our thanks to the cyclist, feeling bad about interrupting his race, and feeling even worse about our location. If it was not wet, if we were not tired or exhausted, we could walk to the nearest village and hopefully there would be a pub to dry off and a number to ring for a local taxi to take us where we wanted to be.

It was our only option.

Later, Simon told me he didn’t think I would be able to walk those two miles – that even he would have found it hard. It’s amazing to think how little two miles sound when you’re not soaked, exhausted, chilled and hungry.

Despite this, we started to head in the direction of the village despondently.

There may not have been a pub, or even any taxi service nearby. But we will not have been able to walk eight miles, that was for sure.

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And then two angels (that is how it felt for me!) arrived, in the form of a young couple driving a large blue van.

Simon asked about directions again and…

Words to my ears…

‘Do you want a lift back to your car? We’re going in that direction anyway.’

They even apologised about us having to sit down on the floor of their van! They chatted throughout the journey, putting us at our ease and after about 20 minutes or half an hour, we arrived at our car.

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They wouldn’t even take any payment!

There are two ways to see this particular and memorable day.

We should have had a proper map, I shouldn’t be so reliant on Simon, we both should have paid more attention. If I was fitter, I wouldn’t have been so exhausted at a point that could have been more worrying had we not received such kind help.

So a lot of lessons to learn.

On the other hand, it’s when you fall on hard times, even as temporarily as this, that is when you do encounter kind, generous people, such as Phil and his partner, who restore one’s faith in humans.

Thank you.