This is where the 25 milers re-join the shorter route. They usually just grab a sandwich and keep moving. Many of them overtook us whilst we were lounging with full plates of food.
Then we set off again.
JJ and I braved the elements to drive to the outskirts of Bolton, a test for JJ’s winter tyres, and join 16 others on an East Lancs LDWA walk advertised by Norman as ‘A Little Ray of Sunshine’.
Rain in Timperley turned to snow as we approached the environs of Winter Hill, and by the time we arrived at the 9 o’clock start the planned walk over snow clad Winter Hill had been abandoned in favour of an easier circuit to White Coppice and back. Wimps!
Actually, given that Norman is nigh on 80 and there were other elderly participants, the decision may well have saved the local mountain rescue folks a call out as the planned descent route from Winter Hill is notoriously steep and slippery.
So we took a gentle route past Ormston’s Farm.
A suitable spot for a group photo was found. Despite dire warnings regarding the weather, it was only slightly inclement, the worst of the rain coming after we had set off back home.
It was however rather damp underfoot. Some of those wearing trail shoes got rather cold and wet feet.
Small waterfalls were encountered.
Whilst the Camellia in our Cheshire garden is in full bloom, spring seems some way off in Lancashire.
A random point above Anglezarke Reservoir was chosen for a five minute elevenses break. Well done Norman – it was spot on 11 0’clock.
Suitably refreshed with coffee and cake, for some the pain of stream crossings became more like a jolly splodge.
The familiar environs of White Coppice were reached well before noon, after we’d passed the aqueduct draining water from Anglezarke Moor.
Despite Norman’s earlier promise, the café was shut, so we made do with lunch on some benches under the cricket pavilion.
In a week or two folk in deck chairs under a hot sun will be watching athletes all clad in white testing the sound of leather on willow just here.
Nearby, after we’d departed from our lunch break, we noticed that a few daffodils have sprouted next to a small reservoir.
LDWA walks are judged by their length. Summits rarely feature. So it was something of a surprise to arrive at a summit – Healey Nab, an outlier of Winter Hill – 208 metres tall. Wow!
The walk progressed in fine weather past Anglezarke Reservoir then alongside Upper Rivington Reservoir.
I thought they were speeding towards one of the cafés in Rivington, but it was not to be – Norman carefully avoided the fleshpots, in favour of a visit to the remains of 'The Castle', an incomplete scaled down replica of Liverpool Castle, intended as a ruin. Another five minute break was declared, but most of us were bereft of provisions and only sustained by Hilary’s generous hand out of a variety of sweets.
The congregation was enthralled by Norman’s stories of his youthful exploits on escapades like crossing the weir at Whalley and the stepping stones at Jumbles. Happy Days!
All good things come to an end, and after more pleasant paths on the edge of Horwich’s housing estates we reached our outward route for the last few minutes back to the start of the walk, and a drive home in driving rain. Thanks to JJ for the lift.
Here’s our route – about 25 km with 500 metres of ascent, taking us six and a quarter hours including breaks.
Thanks to Norman for leading this walk in excellent company. It was good to be back with the LDWA crowd after a long break. Hope to see you again soon…
For this second stage of John P’s much vaunted ‘36 Degrees’ walk (see for Stage 1), John and I were picked up by Nick in Adlington and driven to Westhoughton Station, where Bernard joined us. The locals here have a novel method of releasing cows whose heads get stuck in fences.
After a train ride, and welcome coffee in Burscough Bridge, we set off in light rain along the towpath of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
We soon turned north, up the Rufford Branch of the canal, the last of the autumn colours still illuminating an otherwise grey day.
After leaving the canal at Prescot Bridge, we soon crossed Eller Brook at Wham Bridge and passed a deserted airfield.
The rain was intermittent, the paths were flat, and sometimes tarmacked.
We passed a house that has recently been acquired by one of John's friends for use as a barber's shop. We gave him a cup of coffee and some medicine before continuing merrily on our way.
Shortly afterwards, Bernard was found negotiating a particularly dense section of East Lancashire Jungle.
On the ascent of Harrock Hill we raced past a disused artefact of the Industrial Revolution. Our leader was anxious to press on. There were worries of a finish in the dark!
There was however time for a group photo.
Here's the view in the other direction (north) from the same point near Hill House Fold.
Winter Hill was now looming through the mist ahead of us, but one o’ clock had been and gone, as had the M6 motorway, beyond which we made progress to a point where the noise was reduced. A couple of pallets were spotted, making an excellent base for lunch, where we all sat next to each other, with four different views.
Nick’s new dog, Buster, was soon brought to heel, and we continued past a smart plaque near Chisnall Hall Jubilee Wood.
By the time we reached Bogburn Hall Farm, Nick had sold Buster to a passing hobo and our very own Hoarse Whisperer found a friend on whom to practice his not inconsiderable skills.
It was a day of showers, with occasional sunshine. John and Nick broke into a run after a pot of gold was spotted. Bernard was rooted to the spot. He could see two pots of gold and was unable to decide which one to aim for.
A little later, we negotiated a tricky entry to a field. Bernard fell in. Then we had to return the same way as the footpath had been diverted and there was no other way of escaping from the field. Bernard fell in again.
John proceeded to give a masterclass in finding his way to Holt Farm.
After this series of tricky manoeuvres, we all headed in increasing gloom down a diverted path to an al fresco tea stop in John's back garden. At this point the walk could be subtitled ‘0 Degrees’.
Soon we were on our way again in another sharp shower, before long finding our way back to where my car was parked in Adlington.
Here’s our route: 25 km, 300 metres ascent, in 6.5 hours. Click on the image to see a larger version.
There’s a captioned slideshow (34 images) .
That was a nice walk. Very jolly.