These Hills Are Ours

I’ve put the music at the top of the post for once: I think it deserves pride of place.

So, as advertised, finally, here it is. Back in March, I signed up for a brilliant project which combined singing and hill-walking. There were just two rehearsals, the second of which I couldn’t make because I was in the Tower Captain’s car on the way up the M74 for our weekend at Bridge of Orchy.

Actually, there was a third, very last minute, practice, on the morning of the event, in the Morecambe lifeboat station…

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…for which purpose, the lifeboat people had very kindly moved their hovercraft out…

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Then we wandered down to the end of the stone jetty for the first performance…

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It was wet and windy and  absolutely perishing. Sounded good, though, to my untutored ears.

And, through the wind and the rain, our destination, Clougha Pike, briefly appeared above the buildings along Morecambe’s seafront…

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“Breakers, rollers, pebbles, sand, Half at sea and half on land,”

Admittedly, it is a bit hard to pick out in the photo, but it is there.

I lived for a while in a third floor flat on the promenade and the views of the Bay in one direction and across Lancaster to Clougha in the other were superb.

Anyway, our aim was to climb Clougha starting from the sea front and then get down safely before it got dark, so there was no time to hang around. We passed the Midland…

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And joined the network of cycle tracks which connect Morecambe and Lancaster.

We crossed the Lune by Carlisle Bridge…

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And then set-off on a long loop along the quay and then a footpath to Freeman’s Wood, where we sang again.

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The graffiti is part of the lyrics from the song.

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Freeman’s Pools.

The route had been cunningly devised to bring us all the way through both Morecambe and Lancaster on either footpaths or very quiet bits of road.

An arrangement has been made with the Fox and Goose pub, on the outskirts of town, so that we could use their beer garden for a quick break and use their loos. We’d been walking for a few hours without really stopping and I was more than ready for a sit down, a drink and a sandwich.

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The next part of the walk was inevitably confined to the roads, there being an unfortunate lack of paths linking Lancaster to the hills above it. At least we could see Clougha more clearly now and the weather was improving too.

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We stopped again at the Rigg Lane car park, where the ascent would begin in earnest, and where we were offered an impromptu stretching routine…

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Some people had opted to miss some parts of the walk, and joined us again at the car park.

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“The brook is from a picture book”

An unnamed (on the OS map) tributary of The River Conder, which itself drains into the Lune near Glasson Dock; which makes this walk one of my Lune Catchment walks.

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Clougha Pike.

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Morecambe Bay.

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“Rocks like booby traps.”

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The going was pretty rough here and the pace predictably slowed. I’d been feeling a bit bushed, but picked up now that we were off the roads.

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Approaching the top.

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Most of the people I talked to seemed to belong to at least one of the, I discovered, many choirs in the Lancaster area. I used to sing with the Carnforth Community choir for a while, and enjoyed it enormously, but the meetings changed to an evening which I can’t really make. One positive outcome for me of joining this project, aside from the fact that I had a great time, is that I was told about a choir which sounds very welcoming and which meets in Lancaster on a night which is much more convenient. Well – used to meet in Lancaster and will, at some point presumably, be meeting again.

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“Rain will slick the stones, Wind will wind around your bones.”

We sang one last time on the top and then it was just a matter of wending our way back to the car park and then the logistics, thankfully well organised by Dan, of getting everybody back to their cars and/or homes.

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We were none too soon heading down – the sun was getting low in the sky.

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Some links to the creatives…

Daniel Bye who wrote the words.

Boff Whalley who wrote the music.

and Bevis Bowden who made the film.

Maps:

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Mapmywalk gave a little over 16 miles all told, from car to car. Dan told us that from the end of the stone jetty to the top of Clougha was 13 miles, which sounds about right. You could shorten it a fair bit by taking a more direct line through Lancaster, which would be pleasant enough, although that would also necessitate a fair bit more up and down I think.

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Have you ever climbed a hill with a choir? Or tried a sea to summit ascent?

These Hills Are Ours

Clougha Pike

(Or Unexpected Bonus 2)

Out on my own for a post-work walk.

Across the peat and gritstone moorland of Clougha Pike on the edge of the Forest of Bowland. Overhead an everchanging sky. Underfoot springy heather and bilberry. (I shall have to return when they are purple with flower and loaded with berries respectively.)

The views over the Bay, and of the sinuous curves of the Lune where magnificent. So where the views of the Lakeland fells.

Nearby on Caton Moor the wind turbines where stately in their slow rotation.

I have colleagues who were prominent in the successful campaign to prevent an extension of this wind farm, but if I’m honest, I like them. I know that many people feel that they are a blot on the landscape, but I think that it’s important to remember that our landscape has been very much shaped by man. The moors themselves only look this way because they are managed for grouse. I crossed several areas today where the heather had been burned, or where the regeneration process had begun and the tough old heather had been superceded by short tender new plants. The rattle of grouse calls was my constant companion on this walk. At one point I had three of them clacking at each other with me stuck in the middle. I was surprised by the vivid scarlet of their combs. I also often heard the weird burbling call of curlews. At one point whilst I was concentrating on where I was putting my feet a soft bass ronk ronk made me look up to catch the eye of a raven. He was following the edge, as I was, but his ascent was enviably effortless and he soon disappeared over the summit. A shiny black millipede narrowly avoided being crushed under one of my clodhoppers. Watching it crawl across the peat was fascinating. It’s tiny legs came together in a series of triangles which then seemed to flow along its length.

Ingleborough’s dark shape is recognisable from any direction. I don’t envy the Brigantes in their hill-fort on the top.

I had some sandwiches in my rucksack for my tea and precious little else. Not for example, a hat and gloves, which would have been welcome as I ate the sandwiches sat amongst the gritstone boulders slightly below the trig point.

On my way down, I passed this squat tower. It evidently once had a door in it, but that has been ‘bricked-up’. I have no idea of its purpose, but the area around it is a jumble of rocks, half-built walls and shelters. I suspect that some form of quarrying or mining has been carried out here.

Finally – is this mackerel sky?

Clougha Pike