Sunday 28 August 2011

Rivington Country Park

Distance 7.5km; Ascent: 220m; with Lynsey & Isabel

It was turning out a to be a typical bank holiday weekend weather wise, with plenty of heavy showers yesterday.  It was forecast to be marginally better today, so we decided to head out for a walk.  Given that the Peak District was likely to be extremely busy, we opted for a walk in the fine West Pennine Moors and there was a pleasant sounding one in our Lancashire ATP book.

We set off from the Great House Barn car park under threatening skies soon after 9:30am and headed down towards Lower Rivington Reservoir.  We followed a path south  through windy, but pleasant, woodland for a kilometre or so to reach The Castle.  This interesting folly is a replica of Liverpool castle and was built by Lord Levershulme between 1912 and 1925; there were excellent views out over the reservoir from here, although it was still quite windy.

The Castle, Rivington
View across Lower Rivington Reservoir from The Castle
From the castle we followed the good path ESE towards the road; the windy dropped considerably now we were no longer next to the reservoir.  Once across the road we locked the front wheel and started to ascend the tree rooty path past an enclosure containing wild boar and goats.

We soon joined a better track, which we forsake after a minute to take a muddy path further up the hillside.  After a few minutes we reached the bottom of a wide cobbled track leading up into the hills.  It was tricky getting the pushchair established on the track once through the gate due to the eroded ground.

On way up towards Rivington Pike
It was hard work pushing Isabel up the hill, whilst trying to pick the easiest route through the cobbles; however the views were excellent, especially now that the sun was out!  We zigzagged up the hill to reach another cobbled track just below Rivington Pike, which we turned left onto, heading into the wind.  After a few hundred metres it transpired that we had taken a wrong turning, due to an unclear description in the book; I should have paid more attention to the OS map instead!

We decided to continue along the wrong path and just miss out Rivington Pike, which would have been very windy anyway.  At a disused toilet block we rejoined our planned route and forked left downhill.  However there was a kissing gate that was far too narrow for a pushchair to negotiate first; therefore Lynsey carried Isabel whilst I lifted the pushchair over.

After a short distance we reached an unexpected T junction with no guidance in the book about which way to go.  It looked like either way might take us downhill, but which one would be easiest with the pushchair?  After a consultation with OS Explorer 287, I concluded that we should turn left.  This we did and soon reached a further junction where we turned right.  We soon passed underneath a fancy bridge, which was mentioned in our ATP book, thus providing us with evidence that we were on the correct path.

Fancy bridge in the Chinese Gardens, Rivington
The bridleway turned into a road at a car park; here we turned left down another bridleway into the woods.  The sky was looking increasingly threatening again and a heavy, but short-lived shower broke shortly before we reached Rivington Hall Barn.  The paths were much busier here and we took a track next to the road back to the car park, where we arrived at around 12:15.  It had been an enjoyable morning's walk and we treated ourselves to lunch in the tearoom :)

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Chinley Churn

Distance 5km; Ascent: 240m; with Isabel

I guess this was starting to become my routine on my Tuesday off work with Isabel, i.e. heading out for a walk in the hills with Isabel in the rucksack carrier, as this had now been the case every other Tuesday since Lynsey returned to work.  Today however the weather didn't look as promising as the previous weeks, so I decided to stick with something shortish and close to home and therefore settled on a walk up Chinley Churn.  I was reasonably sure that Lynsey & I had walked around here before, but I couldn't remember whether I had previously visited the summit, so now was a good opportunity to make certain.

I set off walking from Chinley with Isabel in the rucksack carrier at around 10am and passed a group of 8 walkers on the road before picking up the footpath towards Chinley Churn.  The first section of path was fenced in with many trees and bushes, which occasionally required care to pass due to the height of Isabel in the backpack.

It soon started to rain lightly and we continued to climb uphill.  Soon a sign at one of the stiles indicated that we were entering the open access land.  At this point, I managed to turn right slightly too soon and take the wrong path, but we soon rejoined the correct path.  There were good views out over Chinley as we ascended.

Crags on Chinley Churn
The path traversed underneath a series of crags and small quarries before we eventually reached the ridge.  From here it was only a short distance northwards, past a herd of cows, to reach the small cairn on the summit of Chinley Churn (HuMP) at around 11am.

Summit of Chinley Churn
From the summit, we headed west across the moorland to pick up a reasonable bridleway enclosed by drystone walls.  This we followed for around a kilometre, with good views across to Whaley Bridge and the moors beyond.  By the time we reached the road, the rain had completely stopped and the sun was now out.  A road walk of just over a kilometre brought us back to the car just before midday.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

A Moorland Stroll on Gun

Distance 3km; Ascent: 55m; with Isabel

I was again in luck with the weather for my day off with Isabel; it was dry, sunny but a bit windy out on the hills.  I therefore decided to go out for a short walk in the Peak District this morning with Isabel in the rucksack carrier.

We set off from the car at around 10:45am and briefly followed the road south for a short distance before turning left and following a reasonable path north over purple moorland due to the flowering heather.  We reached the summit of Gun (Marilyn) at around 11am, from where there were good views across much of the SW of the Peak, including Shutlingsloe and the Roaches.

After leaving the summit, we continued along the moorland path, surrounded by bilberry plants in fruit, heading north for around 800m to reach a concrete track, which we turned left along.  This soon turned into a minor tarmaced road, but we left it shortly before a farm to head back to the car along a pleasant field edge footpath and we returned to the car at around 11:45am.  A pleasant morning stroll.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Near Solitude in the Northern Carneddau

Distance 15.5km; Ascent: 1000m; Solo

It had been two months since I had last been for a full day's walk in the hills, so I was looking forward to today's walk in the northern Carneddau with the aim of visiting my last two remaining 2000ft tops in the Carneddau: Llwytmor and Pen y Castell.

After an entertaining drive up the narrow gated road from Rowen, I set off walking at 10:30am from the car park at the road head under an overcast sky.  I followed the vehicle track WNW over Bwlch y Ddeufaen and had to don waterproofs after about 15 minutes, soon after passing a mountain biker.  I continued on the track for a further 2km, before leaving it and heading SW to the summit of Yr Orsedd (Dewey), which I reached at around 11:30am.  The views from here were excellent across to Anglesey and into the heart of the Carneddau.

A few hundred metres west was the summit of Foel-ganol (Dewey), which I reached at around 11:45am; again the views were excellent.  The steep southern slopes of the hill were covered in a carpet of purple and yellow as the heather and gorse were both in flower; I picked a way down these slopes to reach the Afon Anafon.

I crossed the river easily and stopped for lunch on the far bank.  The lower slopes of Llwytmor were covered in bilberry plants in fruit so I made slow progress on the ascent as I kept stopping to pick and eat bilberries :).  At around 650m, I entered the cloud and continued to ascend as the rain re-started.  I reached a cairn on the summit of Llwytmor (Nuttall) at around 1:15pm where I had a second lunch stop; here I met only my second person of the day.

In the mist it wasn't entirely clear where the highest point of Llwytmor was so I had a bit of a wander around the summit plateau before heading SE towards the main Carneddau ridge, which I reached at the summit of Foel-fras (Nuttall) at 2:15pm; there were a couple of other walkers by the trig point.  The cloud cleared whilst I was at the summit and I soon had excellent views over the hills out to the Irish Sea.

I made swift progress NE along the ridge, passing a group of four walkers, to reach the summit of Drum (Nuttall) at around 2:45pm; by now the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to break through.  Here I forsake the main Carneddau ridge and instead headed ESE to reach the summit of Pen y Castell (Nuttall) shortly before 3:30pm, which was covered in bilberries; tasty!  I opted for a direct route, just west of north, back to the car across rough ground: a mixture of heather, bog and reeds and I reached the car at 4:30pm.  It had been a good walk and I had achieved my main aim of finishing the 2000ft peaks of the Carneddau and I had hardly seen anyone else in the hills, despite it being a Saturday in the middle of the summer.