Clearwater revival

At last, the move is done, and we are settled.  The outdoors has peeped it head from within sleepy Dorset and the rock and hill and water that surrounds us have become a playground.  

  I have rediscovered the Jurassic limestone that bears the ridges and cuestas north of Sherborne and ridden my bicycle around new bridle ways.  Sarah has explored these by horse whilst we have been directed to clear them.  

We have climbed at Portland and Haytor and revisited Chudleigh.  Bouldering at the Oxley has been good too.   

I’ve rediscovered my kayak with a mellow jaunt down the canal at Taunton and found a store full of boats …

Walking has picked up, with a jaunt up to Cadbury Castle with the Ten Tors aspirants and a trip to the Black Mountains too. 

 I managed to climb Pilsdon Pen, just about in the month of September leaving the next westernmost county top for October.  

Most especially I’m still getting out twice a week for a run, climb, bike or swim and I can feel my fitness returning.  Life is good. 

Quick nip up the Dent

Trying to loosen up my post rescue legs I went for a quick climb with Bob and Tiff.


The road was closed from Wath Brow giving us a different view.  Do you know what the fell in the foreground is called [clue in the file name!]


Enjoy [beer later …]

Pursuing Permitted Paths

New local walks are enticing. Since I have become a dog walker again the impetus to explore anew has returned.

The saddleback of land dividing the sea from Rottington and Sandwith was carved as ice moved from north to south. To cross this involved a hike from Sandwith, up a private road before accessing the heights of Hannah Moor. In the past efforts had been made to link Rottington common land with Fleswick Bay. An obvious direct link.

The post on the common.
The permitted path exists and I have tried to find the true line twice. Only recently, with clues from both ends have I successfully linked together all of the clues.

I started on the corner above Christy Meadow bridge, parking at the end of the footpath but leaving the farmer plenty of access. I then walked up the road through Rottington turning left at the signpost into the woods.

The two mistakes made in the past come early on. Firstly, stay on the left hand side of the stream (going up; river right). This leads to a small quarry on the left, probably used to extract the local red sandstone. The path veers right crossing the stream but the way on is up the bank ahead. This is way marked but no specific path exists. Several poles are followed dot to dot before breaking out onto the field above over a dip in the bank.

There is a map here detailing the common access land but without all of the field boundaries this is difficult to follow.

The next key element is to head slightly downhill, towards the sea and along the track. This leads to a ramshackle and overgrown stile, the gateway to the rest of the walk.

An alternative to this stile has been devised by the occasional walker but next time I am up there I will take secateurs.

Once this boundary is crossed follow the ruts and use the hedge on the left as a handrail. You pass one or two remains of brick structures before emerging at a new stile at the top.

From here the path zig zags through the next gate keeping the hedge on the left. A random tree is passed; a good spot to turn and look out to Whitehaven.

Towards the top the trig appears but the path continues past
This turning abruptly left and heading direct to Fleswick. The light comes into view and framed by the gate Scotland appears beyond.

It would be great if you could continue along the crest from here but no rights of way exist and the barbed wire is very good. To access the moor a descent towards Fleswick is necessary. You pass a hollowed out telegraph pole before meeting the coast path up from St Bees. I met a lovely couple and then turned left.

The path along the South Head is now almost all single track; south of Coastguard Station viewpoint it descends sharply.



Once the Rottington Beck bridge comes back into view it is simply a matter of turning left and following the fields back up to the corner; one or two have some quite interesting gates atop walls.



The real ‘The Pike’

A gap existed in my Birketts.  A day remained of the holiday and a top towered over the Duddon.  Crossing Birker Moor I searched for a pull in, parking lower than I hoped.  This did not line up with the bottom of the path I had exited on previously but a bash across CRoW land is always good.

The Pike

From Acre Gate I cut immediately south west surmounting the fence and then heading to a new fence on the hill above; the view opened up.


You can cross the fence behind the rocky knoll to access the summit although the footpath would be easier as I ended up on the wrong side of the wall.


The view at the top reveals the bowl of Whitfell and the small reservoir but to the south the Duddon opens up right out to sea.


The steep descent in this direction had several attractions: A circular walk, some welcoming woodland and a mine or two.  In reality it was very steep and not easy to find a way around the fence system.  I found a new gate, eventually dropping into the woods and across wire and up through the original wall.  This is an interesting area but the rights of way are difficult to follow in the woods.

I exited via Baskell farm to rejoin the road, car and some toffee flapjack in Ulpha.SONY DSC

Back to GG

As part of the big five zero bucket list and birthday celebrations I wanted to return to Gaping Gill. As a CPC member I had been previously three times but recently had headed south instead.

I wanted to walk up from the cottage in Horton in Ribblesdale rather than the usual trek from Clapham. This is longer but heads over the limestone pavement and the views are much better.

I had asked previously but there was some disagreement whether to cut across at Nick Pot or climb onto the flanks of Simon Fell.

Leaving my canyoning kit at the cottage [I was guiding Wednesday] I headed u p to Sulber Nick before skirting across to cross the wall at a sheep fold. If the mist is clear you can see a standing stone and isolated tree.

From here you can enter the heads of the valley crossing around to a deer stile on the next wall.

i dropped into Gaping Gill as they were on the final winches of the afternoon.

It was great to be back and good to catch up with some old friends. I was fortunate that three of the four beer fairies were around and other club members from Somerset too. Paul arranged a trip through Stream and out Bar and I guided twice and had two sessions.

As I live a little further away I struggled to get kit over early and so carried it all on my back. With caving kit at 90kg and the same in tent, food, stove and sleeping bag, my bergan was far too big.

I enjoyed the return leg opting for a climb up Fell Beck onto Simon Fell at about 500m before crossing the wall and returning on the main path; I only wish my pack was lighter.

It was great to be back but I think a few years before I return again.

Pillar Rock by Slab and Notch

Tuesday was revolting. This was day 4 of Bob’s time off and we had arranged to head to Pillar Stone by bicycle to climb to the highest point. At sea level it was continuous drizzle but as we cycled up the valley the mountain mist intensified reaching down to ground level.

Bowness Knott is only thirty minutes from home but the inaccessibility of a car ban has meant a long walk in or dual day with bicycle and climbing kit. I felt the additional weight on my saddle as we cycled towards concrete bridge.

[(Photographs taken in descent]
20140730-085356.jpgFrom the turning circle on the south track we headed up hill, the first path was identified, the parking place for the rescue vehicles and then a small cairn indicates where the public footpath crosses. This was where we were to changes modes. We locked bicycles, dumped tubes and considered waterproof trousers. By now visibility was nil and it was raining continuously.

20140730-091450.jpgThe climb is in three sections, the path through the forestry, the waterfall at the pinch point and the climb into Pillar Cove. Once you reach the rock on the forested section your break out into the open moor is imminent.

20140730-092021.jpgThe climb to the fall was soggy despite the dry weather of late and then the climb up into the cove relentless.

After a conversation with Nick the night before we had decided to modify our original plan approaching the western side and climbing Old West. On ascent we had climbed too high up the Eastern side and so opted for a traverse across the Green Ledge. This was the first time that we started to fully appreciate the precarious nature of the polished rock, in mist, on Vibram. A polished step up and around at the end of the Green Ledge provided the key to the west waterfall but on sight the climb back out was slimy and running with water. A retreat was probably a difficult but safe option. Later we questioned this decision, we had a 20m rope with us [expecting to scramble], I had a long sling and short rack of nuts whilst Bob had slings, extenders and hexes. Decisions to retreat are one of the harder ones to make but time has told that often climbers push on far too high.

Time for a re-think; not a difficult one, lose our height or revert to the original plan, Slab and Notch. We went for the latter and once back on the path quickly picked up the junction from Robinsons cairn. The tea-table was passed until a larger cairn was reached and the key to Pisgah and the Jordan gap revealed.

    Still, by far, the best plan of the whole area from Cram, Eilbeck and Roper’s guide.

20140730-100328.jpgDescending from Pisgah the slab of Slab and Notch is obvious, so we traversed around following the worn patches, arrived at the base of the scramble and topped up with bait.

20140730-103537.jpgSlab and Notch is superb. It is definately grade 3 and in the wet and windy conditions touched on the rock grades in places. We were glad of harnesses, helmets and a small rack.

The route starts in a obvious corner and climbs to the top of a slab which you then descend immediately. This is an ‘en derrierre’ move with heels placed firmly in grooves. Moving towards the notch Bob then called

Ten feet!

Suddenly I reliased the disadvantage of our shorter 9mm walking rope.

I stepped up on the second pitch, searching for the polish and then belaying on a precarious sloping and slippery stone above the notch. Bob came up, moved around and re-belayed which acted a key to the final arete and chimney. Bob led the final pitch up the Chimney and topping out secured by my bomb proof thread. This would not be good in descent.

At the summit i began to realise that my bucket list 50 was almmost complete. With Jack Rake complete and now Pillar Rock and with lots of the Industrial sites bagged this year I was lining up for a crescendo in December. We considered options for retreat eventually deciding on the abseil into Jordan Gap. We fitted prusik brakes, enjoyed the exposure and inspected Jodan’s gap west, a no go.

I enjoyed the descent from the gap West facing outwards and using some caving techniques. Very soon we were back at the base of the scramble and back up on Pisgah base. We tried the west descent but part way down decided to return and retreat via Shamrock. It was at this point that the mist suddenly lifted and we were able to see, for the first time our conquest.

20140730-110950.jpgWith the mizzen clear the descent was far more straightforward. We took our time, the camera came out and I looked around reflecting on the day. Although worn I do feel that many of these classic lines will no longer be reclaimed as the access situation, and no options for permits has reduced the visits to practically nil.

Some of my greatest days out have been spent with Bob, both on Mountain and wheel. To associate these for my 49th hit was a true honour.


Scrambling Jacks Rake

An old friend from Allhallows had been in touch and suggested we meet up. He had some time off amidst a Duke of Edinburgh group shadowing. I drove over the passes to meet with him at the Blea Tarn car park. The original plan was to climb Lingmoor Fell and possibly do some ropework as Philip was part way through his Summer ML.

Arriving early, as had Philip, it became obvious that we would have time to change to our original plan, Jakes Rake so we changed bases and set off from the campsite in Great Langdale. Climbing at Stickle Ghyll it was a blistering day and the ghyll scramblers were making the most of the water to keep cool. I elected the true left side of the beck [river right] as the smaller path looked interesting and the visitors would probably be less.

At Stickle Tarn we turned left, chilled for a while before circumnavigating clockwise to pick up the diagonally ascending path across the scree and up to the base of the Rake. As it opened up above us Philip began to realise that this would be a straightforward climb.

Jakes Rake is a fantastic line, never difficult as long as you carefully consider route options. In two places you are pulled rightwards into the slot, which steepens. A reversal or down climb usually reveals an edge or ridge as a more straightforward by-pass. We soldiered on, emerging at a corner, vertical and bulbous. The route continued over smaller slabs or around to a ‘She’ traverse along the cliff edge. We opted for a harder former upward climb.

We emerged at the top, heading right and making for the high point, chatted and then descended towards Harrison Stickle. The final descent stuck to the left side of Stickle Ghyll stopping to admire a fantastic strainer before consuming ale at the Stickle Barn.



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