Thursday, 6 February 2014

Walking on Warton Crag

Today I walked up Warton Crag from the car park at the east end of Crag Road, (Warton, Lancs., UK). After calling at the Carnforth bookshop for two OS maps of Galloway ordered from (only £5.71 each for new 1:25000) and, as predicted, getting distracted by the secondhand books, yes, and buying a guide to Bulgaria, I'd left it late, late enough to watch a wall of dark rain advancing determinedly from the south. I saw Heysham's hideous nuclear power stations fade out of view and, shortly afterwards, Ingleborough too. Then, halfway up the hill, I heard a distant call and thought perhaps a cow's calf had been taken away, but the bellow had come from a locomotive at Steamtown in Carnforth.

My inexpensive, unpretentious, totally waterproof jacket, a new, dark orange 1970s-style Helly Hansen, not (yet) a smelly Helly, was causing me to steam as I approached the beacon on the summit. At 163m (535ft) Warton Crag is only a hill, but my route from the south had brought me over several false summits formed by concentric rings of limestone crag. The rock was slippery, more so in the rain, and even more so with wet clay stuck to well-worn boots.

To the northeast are two incomplete, but very large, long, curving, defensive walls of limestone rocks covered in moss so thick it would look at home in a rainforest. Before slip-sliding southwards I came upon my second disappointment (the first was bringing my camera without its memory card): great amounts of well-seasoned ash wood, much of it in one metre-ish lengths and quite portable, if only I'd brought my 1970s-style external-framed backpack (bought 2-3 years ago very cheaply on eBay), and some good strong straps. There is no better burning wood than ash.

And talking of burning, as I arrived home in Lancaster, a real steam locomotive was chuffing up the West Coast main line towards...., well, Carnforth probably.