Raining On Us Again

Fred Astaire Into the Forest Lunch in the parlour Morning Coffee (its not raining) We wish our bus was this posh!
Two Roses Way Part 5. Settle to Slaidburn. Wednesday August 26th.

Start: 10.30 Settle; finish 3.40 Slaidburn. 14 miles (just)

“The rain it raineth every day” – or so it seemed when we left home. But as we boarded the bus in Slaidburn car park it was not raining. It was also not raining when 19 of us left Settle carrying with us dire stories from the first recce team which had been lost for 4 hours (Norman says) trying to follow the Gisburn Forest OS paths which no longer existed on the ground, the forest having been turned into a cycle speed track.

Reg had led (Stanley after Livingstone?) a second recce party four days later and darkest Gisburn was opened up to a new route for us to try.

After that the landscape began to blur a little. My memory log includes:

• An ascent up to 330m. with two trees guiding direction up through the tallest and spongiest, wettest and greenest sphagnum moss in all Europe. (Note: it did not rain and my shirt did not get soaked.)

• Clumps of bright red rowan berries hanging over peaty tumbles of rocky water – a reminder that G.M.Hopkins lived just down the road at Stoneyhurst when he wrote of the “bead-bonny ash that sits over the burn”.

• The clumsiness of the Forestry Commission in shutting a footpath at Brown Hills Beck to do some logging but forcing as a result two river crossings – the one offering a bridge of Himalayan quality, that is, split tree-trunk planks laid over two poles, one pole 30 degrees higher than the other making a tumble into the beck inevitable one day. The other crossing had no bridge, so most of us got a bootful of water.

• The 19th century barn at Ing used for a lunchstop. Snuff-dry inside, very quiet with no hint of the wind we had just quitted, and with a mezzanine hayloft floor which just forced one walker into a Fred Astaire dance routine to scare the sandwich-eaters below. (Note: it had not rained and I had only imagined that my cagoule had let water in.)

• The deer grazing on the forest edge before flying into the trees as our noisy rear guard approached.

• The surprise of going round the back of the relocated tiny Newlands church and ex-mortuary to find a neatly-sited 60-foot wind turbine providing 2.5kw of electricity to the batteries that lighted the place.

• And, finally, something I learned at the Hark to Bounty back in Slaidburn: never put your hand up to attract the attention of the landlord’s wife at the same time as Hilary is asking for a volunteer to write these notes. (however, the coffee was excellent in quality, quantity and price.)

• Note: I was asked to emphasize that it did not rain.

David Hudson

The Dad's Army version.

Stupid boy was away on manoeuvres in Wales so it's up to mum again to bring you all up to date.Today was definitely the day Captain Mannering decided to bring us up to speed with a bit of "Jungle Training" He chose a good moist day (Hurricane Bill?) to begin with and regaled us all day with tales of how good the weather had been on the recce. Coffee stop:- "Oh, you should have seen it last week, we were searching for sun cream, it was so hot." Crossing the moss;- "Oh, we were absolutely boiling going across here " - I'm sure you get the picture.

On entering the forest it was a gate to climb, some real tussock jumping, lots of mud to slosh through but the piece de resistance was to come. The bridge that had been built by a drunken joiner was swiftly followed by a crossing of a stream that had been a trickle on the recce, but now had lovely foaming water to wade through, with lots of mossy stones to catch the unwary. Bernard was quite traumatised by this, not his favourite sort of terrain.

Luckily Sargeant Wilson had returned to prevent a repeat of the tour of Gisburn Forest encountered on the recce. His route meant that we avoided the worst bits (!) Lunch was taken in the shelter of a barn, with the main space as the "parlour", others stayed near the entrance and missed Private Taylor dancing in the hayloft.

If the organ had been working at Newlands Church, we could have had a sing song but we had to make do with reading the very informative history and culture boards located in the church.

The army marched back into Slaidburn and celebrated in true style at the Hark to Bounty Inn, another successful mission completed.
Barbara tackles the sloping bridge David crosses the raging torrent The start of Jungle Training.