Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Winter Hill – 26 November

Another ‘sensible’ week and my knee seems ready for something a bit more testing which is fortunate because out of the mists of autumn some winter adventures are emerging. Some are old standards – Anglezark Amble / Winter Hill fell race on the same weekend in February and the Marsden-Edale or “The Double” early in January but there are others too. “Xmas on the Fells” is a FRA Forum inspired gathering which we have always looked at but never been able to get to. This year may be the same but having had an email invite we’ll try a bit harder. There is mid-winter Bob Graham Round planned and I have had to decline the chance to support a leg because of an existing commitment. There is plenty to be ready for this winter and as if this list wasn’t enough there is the prospect of a winter “Tan-Cat” – the longest, highest pub crawl in England. This is a simple Rucksack Club idea – a walk between the two highest pubs (Tan Hill Inn and the Cat & Fiddle) in England, that there is almost 120 miles of high, difficult ground between them is neither here nor there and, really, if you want to make it worthwhile – do it in winter. The last successful winter “Tan-Cat” took place in 1979 and needed about 61 hours but there is some optimism that this could be beaten this year.

So with plenty to look forward to before the clocks change I set out on Saturday for a long run over Winter Hill and the surrounding moorland to find out how much my knee has improved.

2011-11-26_WH-001The Mast

2011-11-26_WH-002The summit kissing gate and the (newly painted) trig point

2011-11-26_WH-003Lower Whittacre Farm

2011-11-26_WH-004Favourite Oak Trees on Great Hill

2011-11-26_WH-005Winter Hill from Great Hill

2011-11-26_WH-006Coppice at Drinkwaters Farm on Great Hill

2011-11-26_WH-007Darwen Tower

2011-11-26_WH-008Underground stone byre near Brinscall

2011-11-26_WH-009White Coppice

2011-11-26_WH-010Fungi on tall tree stump

About four and half hours later with just over 20 miles run my knee had barely murmured – a couple times awkward twists produced painful reminders that it isn’t yet perfect. I am very encouraged and while I won’t be aiming to get over 50 miles this week I should get over 40 for the first time in too long.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Winter Hill – 19 November

After an easy week, in terms of running, my knee is showing signs of recovery despite the occasional painful twinge. A golden start to Saturday made the early start worthwhile. Running somewhat gently, especially to begin with, helps and allows the day to be fully savoured. My target of twelve miles was easily exceeded and by the end I was beginning to wonder if my knee has sorted itself already but a final twinge reminded me that another easy week will help.

WH20111119-001Looking south on the M61

WH20111119-002Sun about to shine on Georges Lane on Winter Hill

WH20111119-003The trees between the quarries

WH20111119-004Looking over Bolton

WH20111119-005Looking south towards Manchester

WH20111119-006Bracken catching the sun

WH20111119-007Freshly painted Trig Point

WH20111119-008The masts from Counting Hill

WH20111119-009Balloon drifting east

This was a glorious morning, one that was over too quickly, one that reminded me why I run in the hills and, more importantly, one that reminded me I need to continue allowing time for my knee to recover. Half-formed plans for next year are already beginning to look doubtful and while a plan B is lurking even it will need two sound knees so another gentle week beckons.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bomber Memorial – 13 November

With no ill effects from yesterday I decided a few more miles today would probably do no harm either so a short run to the Bomber Memorial for the Remembrance Sunday service seemed just right. Over Spittler’s Edge to Great Hill and back to the memorial in Lead Mines Clough over Round Loaf was fine.

LMC-002Spittler’s Edge

LMC-001Great Hill

 

LMC-003Drinkwaters Farm (in the furthest clump of trees) below Great Hill

Operational Training Units, or OTUs as they were often called, were a vital cog in the running of RAF Bomber and Fighter Command. Their aim, as the title suggests, was to train pilots, navigators, wireless operators and air gunners in the art of Operational flying. This meant carrying oxygen for high altitudes and live rounds of ammunition for gunnery exercises. Bad weather was also something the crews had to get used to.

On a cold clear moonlit night the crew of Wellington Z8799 boarded their bomber at RAF Wymswold (Leicestershire) for a night training flight in almost perfect conditions, apart from the sub-zero temperatures. Almost four hours later with ice on the wings and ailerons adding weight and causing stability problems the aircraft went into a steep, uncontrollable dive causing structural failure and eventual impact with high ground three miles north of Horwich, Lancashire. The Australian crew of six, skipper F/Sgt Joe Timperton, Sgt ER Barnes, Sgt, JB Hayton, Sgt RS Jackson, SG GE Murray and Sgt M Mouncey were killed instantly as the impact spread the wreckage over several hundred yards on Anglezark Moor above Yarrow Reservoir.

In June 1955, in remembrance of the crew, The Rotary Club of Horwich erected a memorial in the form of a stone pillar and a brass plaque which bears the names of the crew. Unfortunately the stated date of November 12th, 1943 isn’t correct – the crash occurred on at 02:40 on November 16th, 1943. For a number of years local hill walkers, fell runners, cyclists, the Mountain Rescue Team and others have gathered to remember these young men, and others, who gave their lives for the rest of us.

 

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LMC-007The Bomber Memorial

Harrock Hill sunset – 12 November

After running inside a cloud this morning on Winter Hill we were happy to go and try to see the sunset from somewhere else late in the day. Harrock Hill has some attractions although convenient parking isn’t one of them. This meant that we had less time than planned but it also meant that we arrived while the security guard’s supervisor was still on site at the reservoir. This may all seem somewhat oblique but there is some maintenance work being carried out on the covered reservoir and that seems to warrant a night watchman – normally the site is all fenced off with no public access to the Trig Point but Pauline asked nicely if we could photograph the sunset. Not quite sure why anyone would want to, the supervisor allowed us on to the site, to the Trig Point and to enjoy the sunset.  

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Something of a contrast with the almost entirely grey morning on Winter Hill which was clearly visible behind us but too far to photograph in the failing light.

Winter Hill – 12 November

After being stuck indoors (almost like being on the “naughty step”) all week with an unhappy knee I set out for a steady 10 miles to see how much the rest had improved things. Despite the very wet ground and the low clouds it was great to be out again and my knee was tolerably happy – and so am I.

WH_20111112-001The Shooting Hut

WH_20111112-002Inflow at Smithills Reservoir

WH_20111112-003Below the Shooting Hut

WH_20111112-004Looking towards Barrow Bridge

WH_20111112-005Dropping out of the clouds at Montcliffe Stone Quarries

WH_20111112-006Trees between Montcliffe Stone Quarries

All being well with my knee I might manage  a few more gentle miles on Sunday to get to the Remembrance Day service at the Bomber Memorial.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Parlick Fell Sunset – 06 November

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to spend all day on the hills and so it was last Sunday, despite the glorious weather. A sunrise run, a day of chores and then off to Parlick Fell late in the afternoon to watch the sun setting over the Irish Sea. We weren’t the only ones on Parlick Fell late in the day, many were going down but a discerning few were heading up.

 

PF-001Must be good, whatever it is they are looking at

 

PF-002From Parlick Fell looking to Fair Snape Fell

PF-003Descending to the south west

PF-004Another photographer waiting on the last of the light

PF-005Windsock

PF-006Finger Post and Stile

Monday, 7 November 2011

Rucksack Club: West Pennines Walk – 05 November

Pauline’s second Meet as Leader and for the second time it is a November walk which means all planning can be wrecked by bad weather – it also means a week of forecast watching, trying to decide what might be realistic on the day. Having decided, last weekend, that the original first half was too ambitious was a good decision except that it might mean a sheltered spot for lunch could be difficult. Despite all the forecasts the day started a bit damp and gloomy but improved throughout and ended in golden sunshine.

RC_WH-001Felled tree at Rivington

RC_WH-002Road from the Upper Barn car park

RC_WH-003Bathing Pool in the Chinese Gardens below the Pigeon Tower

RC_WH-004Winter Hill masts from the Two Lads

RC_WH-005Rivington Pike with the Lancashire Plain beyond

RC_WH-006The party at the Trig Point on Winter Hill

RC_WH-007Winter Hill above Belmont Reservoir

RC_WH-008Dennis with Murphy who seems awfully interested in the piece of Parkin

RC_WH-009The Holy Well at Hollinshead Hall

According to Wikipedia a Holly Well or Sacred Spring is a small body of water emerging from an underground source and revered in either a Pagan or Christian context although it may often refer to a water source of some significance in local folklore. While Hollinshead Hall probably takes its name from the family name there is evidence of settlement of Saxon/Viking origin and it may be that Hollinshead is a corruption of Holy Well instead.

 

RC_WH-010On Great Hill summit

RC_WH-011Winter Hill from Great Hill

RC_WH-012White Coppice

RC_WH-013Fungi on a tree near White Coppice 

 

RC_WH-014Late afternoon sunshine across a reservoir

RC_WH-015Winter Hill in sunshine

RC_WH-016Winter Hill under the moon with the masts, Pigeon Tower and Rivington Pike all visible on the skyline