Walking up Great Hill with Freddie.

The weather was glorious today, after a windy and wet start. This is one of the joys but also penalties of living with a maritime climate. The Irish Sea, about 15 miles to the west, sends us an ever varying diet of weather conditions, which can change quite quickly. I loaded the dog into the car and drove to the hamlet of White Coppice, which is often on the route of my mountain bike rides. From there we walked round the picturesque cricket pitch to start the first steep climb up Great Hill.

The surface holds quite a lot of water as muddy patches in winter but the soil, which is very peaty, is thin with a firmer, rocky surface beneath. I wouldn’t expect to ever sink more than a few inches into the gloop. Young Freddie, a tan and black Jack Russell terrier, is rather cautious over wet ground, choosing to walk around visible puddles. I let him off the lead for a time and he bounced happily along, clearly excited by the environment. There were some other walkers on the hill today and a few made a fuss of Freddie as they passed in the opposite direction. Fortunately he’s always friendly with people but he’s a terrier so he judges other dogs before either playing happily or being foolishly aggressive, for such a small dog. Today he took a distinct dislike to only one dog which was a sturdy looking bull terrier who walked away disinterestedly. I took some photos on our ascent.

Drinkwater’s farm is more than half way up the hill but up to the late 19th century 2 more farms were located even higher.
Taking a picture towards the sun created a broody scene looking across the the higher Winter Hill with it’s 1,050 feet TV transmitter.
Freddie summitted first, (though like Hilary and Tensing on Everest, we climbed it together.)
Darwen Hill looks a long distance away in today’s light but is really only a few miles and a regular target for me by bike.

From the top We turned south towards Winter Hill on a stone slab path before turning west towards the site of Black Brook. This stream turns into a small river which flows into the River Yarrow a few hundred yards from home. The valley is narrow and steep sided with the water plummeting over stone slabs many times. Some way down is evidence of the mining, particularly of lead, which took place in this ravine.

A tunnel goes into the hillside. It starts level and is around 2′ 6″ (65 cm) in diameter. I wish I’d had a torch to see further. How far would you be prepared to crawl in yourself?

The path further down becomes very sketchy and needs concentration to remain safe with a 20 feet drop to the rock strewn stream. Arriving back at the car we’d both enjoyed a good walk. It’s not as tiring as a mountain bike ride unless you run it. I’d been overtaken earlier by 2 fell runners but after my recent run of less than 4 miles on easy gradients I accept that I’d need a concerted training effort to run the hills as I did in the past.

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