As I out was on a walk on Sunday, taking some photos (below) and musing over why Pule Hill is the shape it is, I felt a bit like the guy from Close Encounters – focusing on his mashed potato mountain. The ‘mountain’ in this case was said hill, I’m not sure what classification of hill it is (I’d need to check the exact height) but mountain it certainly isn’t. I’m not obsessed by it as such but I kept it pretty much in sight for the whole of the walk and used it as pivot to base an improvised route around.
Anyway, back to the walk. After a couple of (really nice) busy weekends / trips away, I’ve missed the hills and giving the dog a long trip out. I’ve also been really conscious that I’m heading up to Rum in a few weeks time and I need to be a LOT fitter for that.. so I headed out on sunday for a leg stretch. I vaguely planned to end up Pule Hill and see Simon Armitage’s sculpture / poem , which I only found out about recently.
That said : I only had about 3 hours spare – the afternoon held a pre-arranged trip over to my dad’s (but I’m going to do the 5 – 6 walk along parts of the Pennine Way to his place again soon) so doing a decent walk and getting up to the top was a bit ambitious, particularly as I started by heading in the opposite direction.
I started out heading out of the house, up the footpath behind us and as mentioned, in the opposite direction to Pule, as that’s the easiest way to gain height for me.. up toward (but not as far as) Deer Hill reservoir to meet the catchwater path there:
The path was strewn in places with loads of spawn : not sure if it was Frog, Toad, Newt , Moors Dragon – any eagle eyed blog readers know?
We followed the path as it turned into the Heritage Trail, round to waymarker stone ‘number 9′. I still don’t have a definitive list or map to explain why these stones are in the specific positions they are. They seem to denote particular views (or historic events?) but I can’t find any info online or in leaflets that explains the spacing or location of them. Number 9 gives a great view over Butterley res across to Pule Hill though:
From here we headed south along the heritage Trail before we took the short and steep path down hill on our right to the Deer farm at Wessenden Lodge. The deer looked lovely in the sunshine, albeit in a fenced off space.
There was a short section walking back towards Marsden down the valley before we cut down a steep path on the left, which is the Pennine Way and then onto the paved section across the moors toward Swellands and Black Moss Reservoirs. This was pretty much the only part of the walk where we couldn’t see Pule Hill (had the mothership landed?! Quick! I had to get it back in view!! .. enough of the Close Encounters nonsense, sorry).
It was really tranquil on this section, the sun was out and thoughts of work/money worries (for another time) disappeared.. open spaces, wide skies and spring warmth kind of quieten the mind. Even the dog wasn’t pulling , less rabbit or hare scents maybe and certainly no sheep to feel compelled to chase (which is why she’s always on a harness and lead up there).
I grabbed some short ‘footage ‘ of the space up near Swellands.. gives you a feel for the area if you’ve never been there (the audio was poor so I added some music with Youtube’s new instant soundtrack thingy .. ever the geek):
We cut around Swellands res and past another reservoir – Redbrook. Keeping that to my left I picked up a really faint track away from the well-worn path that seemed to aim straight to the bottom (south-facing) side of Pule. It got a little bit boggy in parts but we got to the base of Pule (and Mount Road) at which point I decided not to head up it but to complete the trip downhill and home.
I was running out of time, so the poetry stone and a general mooch around the top up there will have to wait.
Turns out I wasn’t the only hiking blogger using Pule as a waymarker or pivot this weekend – have a read of Paul’s Walking blog.
We seemed to have circumnavigated oposote sides of Pule in circular walks .. doing a figure of eight and possibly at the same time.
- Keep Our Rights of Way Open (stravaigerjohn.wordpress.com)
Score : 5 out of 5 for grip
5 out of 5 for ease of use / fitting
4 out of 5 for snow accumulation underneath.
(score posted after a snowy / icy trip up Snowdon).
I’m heading up Snowdon at the weekend so I thought some snow spikes would be prudent.
I’m not a proper / climb K2 kinda mountaineer, definitely a hiker but the conditions on Snowdon at this time of year can be tough, treacherous even.
Snowdon last year was okay without crampons / spikes but in hindsight I didn’t know that and should have had a pair stowed away in case.
I fell down a mountain once via icy slopes.. don’t want to do it again thanks
So I wanted to be better prepped this year but I didn’t think it was worth getting hard-core crampons that wouldn’t get much use at other times.
I asked around and the Hillsound Trail Crampons (spikes) looked a good solution (and thanks to @JeffreyBowman for the tip).
I did look at some “micro spikes” options (Grivel, Pogu) but I judged that for Snowdon and the possible snowfalls and / or ice, micro spikes could be a bit too, well, micro.
Anyway, we just had some decent snow on the moors around me, so this Sunday was the time to give them a testing. And to try getting them on and off – without being at the top of a mountain
Firstly, they fold away really well, don’t weigh much at all and will go with ease into my rucksack. They don’t come with a stow bag though, which is a shame. The spikes look like they may quickly rip through the (spare) old poncho bag I had to hand.
Getting them on: They’re really easy to fit on, the rubber upper section stretches nicely around your boot with easy to grip tabs (even with gloves on) and the velcro top strap kept them firmly secured.
The paths on the tops were pretty icy in parts but they gave me good grip. And I gave myself the added ‘stress test’ conditions of going up and down some steep snowy slopes, with the dog pulling ahead in her usual unpredictable fashion.
There’s nothing like 18Kg of excitable sheep-sniffing dog to test the digging-in ability of any boot or spikes! And there were a lot of sheep hidden in the shadows of some of the steep valleys..
My only niggle is that one of my boot soles got partly balled up with hard ice after trudging through some deeper snow for a while. I needed to stop and clear it off a couple of times. It could have been that I hadn’t ensured the rubber upper support was as taught as it should have been but it was a bit disconcerting to have it clog up. Everything else about them was great though. They could make the difference between getting to the summit / trig point on Snowdon or not.
More info on the spikes here : http://hillsound.com/2products/crampons_overview.php
I bought mine from Amazon as it was the easiest option (with my account all set up) and only a couple of £ either way (at £49) on costs compared to other sites.
- Sensible Crampons (becomingoutdoorsy.com)
I had a walk out this morning with my son Joe as we both wanted to blow away the cobwebs. Him from being stuck indoors a lot finishing his 3rd year dissertation and me from having overstretched myself in the present buying and wrapping stakes (amazing how tiring that can be). And I fancied I should build up some credit in the health bank before I eat my body weight in turkey and chocolate in the next couple of days of course
It wasn’t much of long walk really and certainly didn’t really trip into ‘hike’ mode (e.g no mountains or wilderness and only about three and half hours in all) but it was really nice. Firstly for the company : having a geologist with you makes for interesting conversation (fracking, who knew, obviously not me.) .. and he’s a great conversationalist about anything from music to quantum mechanics. I know I’m biased but if I do a long trek (vague thoughts for Nepal at some stage) or another road trip (like we did in Iceland a couple of years ago), Joe would be on my list for trek buddy. And he should be on yours. Professional trek buddy , is there such a thing ? He’s looking for work from summer onwards, hire him. I’ll pay the outward travel fees, contact me.
By the way , we got talking about the what and the how of ‘a good walk’ and I mentioned a book I read recently that I’m passing to him. If you like your walks and hikes (and guessing you do if you’re here) then get hold of Geoff Nicholson‘s ‘The lost art of walking‘, its a personal and historical essay on what it means to be a walker (remote, rural or city based).
Oh – just googled to get a link whilst typing this and Geoff has a blog about walking in hollywood area .. it looks great, some holiday reading for me I think (http://hollywoodwalker.blogspot.com/)
It was also a nice walk because despite some rain and a lack of blue sky, it took in some great views back down the valley to our village. And also involved some deer spotting (not hard as they are enclosed in a deer farm) and some Ram avoidance (the horns on the biggest were really impressive). And we had a good chat with the ladies in the road side mobile cafe at the top of the valley. (So the health credit thing didn’t really work out – it was a bacon sandwich for me).
The route we took was straight up the Wesenden valley along some reservoirs .. and straight down again, nothing complicated but still really nice to spend time with my son and chew the fat (and the sandwiches).
happy Christmas / holidays to you
Some photos (bit blurry I know) from the walk
- A snowy hike .. nearly (nearly) the Black Hill circular (halfwayhike.wordpress.com)
I planned a walk on Saturday to get vaguely in the zone for a hike up Scafell Pike on 26th Nov (vaguely, as in one walk won’t get me as fit as the other guys doing the walk!).
And it turned out to be the best day of the weekend with blue skies all the way.
My sketch of a route, planned a couple of days before, was one I’ve done before .. up along the old packhorse trail out of the village , up on to the moors and then doing a circular trail which takes in part of the Pennine Way. For part of it I would be walking along ancient lagoon beds (now sandstone cliffs) before turning down through the Standedge cut that divides Yorkshire and Lancashire and then winding my way back down to the village.
But one of the hills in the distance when I got to high ground on the trail caught my eye . I’ve seen it before obviously but never mooched over to it, so this time I did a detour. As seen by the sticky-outy part of my track on the map below.
If you go out an about in the Marsden area , more info on the fuller walk is on my viewranger page :
March Haigh Hill is above March Haigh Reservoir (built to feed the new canal back in the 1790′s I think?) – there was a bit of a boggy route to get to it but the path that was discernible and although dog and I got muddied up, it as worth it for the views at the top.
This stitched together phone photo shows you the sweep .. with the old pub at Buckstones on the left then panning right (Emley Moor mast way off in the distance) and then across to Pule Hill. You can’t really make it out but there’s a hanglider in operation from off those cliffs to the right.
Where I stood to take the photo is a Mesolithic hunter-gatherers hot spot. Obviously not now, they’re long gone. Hangliders scared them away maybe. But yes there was a thriving early-man tool making scene here, from what I’ve read – there have been small stone tools / blades found at the spot over the years. I didn’t go looking as I think you would need to dig and its also something that is probably best done by people who know what they’re looking for. And I also don’t want to disturb stuff that’s maybe of scientific interest for others. And the dog would have been bored.
March Haigh Hill also seems to be a popular geocaching location. I think due to the views and it is close to the A640 with parking nearby for those geocaching folk who head out around the countryside each weekend.
As mentioned, there were a couple of hangliders launching of the Buckstones cliffs as I stood and took in the scenery , it’s a popular spot for that and the acoustics of the cliffs meant it sounded like the small dots of people I could see down on the ground were only feet away.
The walk itself:
This is a 4 to 5 hour walk depending on weather and if you have a camera with you (there are lots of great views along parts of the walk).
It can get a bit boggy underfoot in parts if it has been raining but for a mid range walk its a good one and probably the best views for this part of the world.
Some moody shots (as in I used the black and white mode on my Vignette phone app) of the sandstone cliffs and boulder fields:
Ask Google about the ‘Marsden Moors Heritage Trail’ and you get a range of links but none that definitively explain why there are a number of stones dotted around the valley and moors.. and why they are in those specific locations. Or what the specific number on each relates to.
I had a lovely morning walk out up the hills with the dog today and as I was glugging some water stood at Stone Number Nine it occurred to me I have no idea why it is Number Nine, or why there.
I asked the Peek District Countryside Ranger I saw half an hour later and he knew as much as me.. something to do with those other moors stewards, the National Trust.
Just after I left the ranger the dog did one of those sudden down hill lurches into the rust coloured ferns and rather than flushing out the usual slow witted sheep, two pheasants clattered a protest and flapped up into the blue sky.
They were cross, I was cursing as she nearly pulled my arm out of its socket, but she was really pleased with herself and they looked beautiful gliding away down the valley.
Back to the Mystery Trail Stones – when I got home I googled the term above because I’ve seen the stones on a few walks around the moors above my village, you can’t miss them, but as I’ve said, I don’t know what they mark.
I already knew the National Trust put them there as I’ve seen a blog post that details some of the installation work done with them. But I don’t know what each number corresponds to, or where they all are. I did see Stone Number Ten but didn’t want to stop and Foursquare that one so soon after the previous feel-stop.
So.. excellent reason for planning some walks that take them all in in some combo or other. And an excellent reason for outdoors geekery. I’m going to tag them all in foursquare as locations. And in lieu of them having qr codes (or just a simple information plaque on the reverse side if you want lo tech) or me finding a leaflet or website about them.. I’m going to work out what I can see from each one and figure out why that particular spot is significant. A mill here, a distant canal there etc
I noticed my flickr friend, great photographer and all round nice bloke Gary has take some shots of them:
And above is my far poorer (camera phone) capture of Stone Number Nine. Now a geolocation point on Foursquare.. you won’t get a free cup of coffee if you check in there but you will get a lovely view especially on a blue sky autumnal day like today
Update (7th Nov 2011)
- I found a map of the heritage trail with the Stone locations (and numbers) marked out :
I still can’t figure out what each signifies though.. there must be a key somewhere ?