Cath and I both used our sat navs to get to Wycoller and had managed to end up in different car parks! My route went through Hebden across Keighley Moor to Oxenhope and then across to Wycoller past a couple of big reservoirs but most of the journey was in such low cloud that I didn’t see anything. I strolled down to the Visitor Centre and we decided to set off after a hot drink. We went to the cafe where I thought I’d seen Celia Imrie several years ago. We both had huge pieces of freshly baked and very good Bakewell tart. Yes it was. Our plan was to spec out one of Cath’s advanced walks for the book she is writing and to agree an outline for how we would teach navigation skills on a day walk.
We set off from Wycoller, passing the ruined hall, my last trip there had been to see the Midsommer Actors doing The Hound of the Baskervilles as a walkabout, very atmospheric location for the play. Wycoller is also where Chris saw a ghost on the bridge, not sure which one, I don’t think the ghost was any of those listed here.
The first part of our walk was very pleasant along leafy lanes, past fields with lambs and calves. Once we crossed the road onto the access land the cloud was on top of us and we could not see far at all. The idea with this walk was that people would have some handrails to use but would then go off piste for the advanced skills part. We came across the first hiccup when we had to climb a wooden fence. Whilst we felt ok about doing this as we were on access land, we didn’t think it would be ok to encourage walkers to do this in a book and we weren’t sure of the legalities of it or how one would get permission. We carried on over the clumps and bumps and bog, it didn’t rain much but everything felt damp because of being in the cloud. We practised a bit of timing, a bit of pacing, did a bit of walking on a bearing. We remembered to trust our tools and worked out that we had not gone far enough to reach our objective which was a footpath crossing the bog. Sadly this was a path that existed only in the cartographer’s mind and not in reality. Cath went off to see if she could find it and started to disappear so I went after her. We actually ended up where the path should be according to my GPS. So this was a mixture of using our maps and compasses plus the GPS for backup. I put the backup away as it had confirmed that we were where we thought we ought to be. As the terrain was hard going, we decided to head back to the road, stopping for a quick bite to eat in the bog as it was late for lunch by then.
We saw a couple of geese and a couple of grouse, well they were minding their own business and probably thought we were quite mad to be tramping about in the mist.
We got back to the road by walking on a bearing, again good practice as we both had the feeling that the direction was other than that indicated by our compasses, but because we trusted our tools we got to where we wanted to be. It really would have been very easy to walk round and round in circles without a compass in those conditions.
Cath had already decided that the moor we’d been on wasn’t a suitable addition for her book by this point as it had been a bit of a bog slog.
We thought we would take a footpath back to my car park and get off the road which was misty, narrow and a bit busy so we took a sign leading out of a disused pub’s car park and across a field with sheep in it. The path clearly went across a field boundary on the map but in reality this was a tall stone wall with a lot of barbed wire, we tried to get over but it was a bit too hard so we went back to the road and climbed over a fence with barbed wire to get out of the field, managing to make some holes in Cath’s map in the process.
Back along the road to the car and then down to the cafe for making notes and plans. This time we skipped the cakes!
I’m just glad that I was with Cath for all these adventures. I will be writing to Lancashire Council about the blocked footpath.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.