An uneventful run, except for the minor detail that we lost young Lewis somewhere around Yellowslacks, and didn't find him again until we had been back at the cars for some time. No doubt he will have a tale to tell - he certainly has, see below. The rest of us visited Hern Stones, Yellowslacks and the pond on the side of James's Thorn, which bizarrely on my map is shown just as a ring contour, no blue in sight, then returned via the eponymous path. As seems standard at the moment, claggy and damp conditions prevailed for most of the run, fortunately the beer in the Snake Inn was as good as it was last week.
This was going to be your usual light hearted banter about this week's warting. But John has beaten me to it on that score. So I thought some might feel it worth an open and honest account of my own outing on a foggy, wet, blustery and cold January evening. The rest of you will probably be bored by it….so be it.
26 of us set out from the eastern end of Doctors Gate on the A57. Initially proceedings were slow. They must have been, I was near the front frequently! Notable in the first half was the way we managed to split up in to two groups 200 metres apart in the 600 metres between stops in Hern Clough and at Hern stones. After that we headed off to Dog rock, with some debate as to where it was - it only being named on the OS 1:25,000, not the Harvey's map. From there down to Yellowslacks brook.
Here we parted ways! Whilst the main body headed up the ridge line onto The Pike, I contoured round mistakenly thinking that the next clough (Wigan) would be a deep one too. My line took me immediately onto steep, rough ground that prevented me from looking at my map. I knew that I'd lost the lights to my left and already had the feeling that the next spell was going to be something different from the normal wart.
Looking at the map now. I see that I left Yellow Slacks well below where I thought I was. and so was not traversing the edge of The Pike itself. My line took me well west of the appointed pond at 498m below James's Thorn. At the next key point in my outing, I knew I was 100m too low for the pond, but did not know whether I'd overshot it, or undershot; north or south (and certainly below it). Then I saw lights. A group going up above me and a group going down below me. I didn't know what they were doing and after a quick dither decided not to try and second guess them. I elected to head back under my own steam. Staying safe on the ground was an important part of the plan. Visibility was poor and the possibility of a fall not something to contemplate too long.
Crucially, I did not know the next waypoint for the rest of the warts was dropping down onto Doctor's gate, and then to climb out via Crooked Clough - a bit path like for our esteemed leader! I also did not know that terrain. Heading down toward Glossop under the circumstances felt counterintuitive. I elected for a rising traverse, with a constant plan to climb whenever the going got uncomfortable. I'm familiar with the route from Shelf moor Trig down to the Pennine way. I fully relocated myself quite soon and ticked off key features as I went. I had a quick look for the trig, but instead just satisfied myself I was within 100 metres (and picked up the trod off). I got sucked into a wrong trod after crossing Crooked clough, which was actually the grossest of errors I made all night, but as I was close to the road by then it had least impact. I did encounter a clear trod that did not make sense. I chose to stick with my plan - just as well because had I taken it, I would have probably headed in the wrong direction. I popped out on Snake Summit (almost as planned) where the Pennine way crosses just a Richard pulled up (thanks Richard).
The way I came back was slower that the warts' route, but it kept me on ground I was familiar with. It was also consistent - all corrections I made were in the same direction, taking me up onto more level ground.
It was a pretty bleak night out! I'm generally comfortable with my navigation (ha!). But its even easier to make a mistake when you are cold, tired and pushing on, than when you are running in a group, many of whom are very good navigators. I was comforted in knowing I had a good set of survival kit on me should I be forced to stop.
What happened? I probably didn't spend enough time looking at the map in Yellowslacks. I was distracted by watching everyone down to the brook and I was distracted by other people using my map. Then I didn't check to correct once I lost sight of everyone, because I was on steep, rough ground - I stuck with my plan. After that? I now know the lights were people leaving the pond. Some over the top and some down to Doctor's Gate. After that I was reasonably soon fully relocated. I went a bit wayward again at the end just because I was close, cold, tired and pushing on down hill.
I knew I could, but I never felt the urge to head down hill and into Glossop. I always had an expectation of getting back to the car; I just had to cross Crooked Clough safely - which meant high up to me. I figured I'd be missed. If the club had searched for me on the hill, it would have been a long cold night. It was not far off an hour back to where I was last seen. and without communication on the hill, people may have been out for many hours - whether or not I was found. I figured I could not go more than one hour overdue - those at the cars would be too cold by then. The thought of Mountain Rescue being called out made me wince, even when I was feeling bleak about my circumstances. It was definitely less fun than usual and definitely mentally taxing.
After my initial mistake, I'm generally happy about the choices I made and why I made them, right up until I started making mistakes at the end.
I hope the next person to go walk about fares no worse than I…and there will be someone.
I'm happy to be considered for the Pertex, but I might feel the urge to join a more adventurous club if this is all it takes to win it.