Withnell Moor And I - In The Dark
by Jordan Fadden, Chorley
I always walk around the South West Pennines - the beautiful Rivington Moor and Winter Hill overlooking Bolton & Chorley - and Darwen Moor is also pretty delightful.
There really is no denying that when you are amongst this vast 50 - 80 sq miles of moorland and long winding country roads, it is pretty obvious that you are in the company of the most heavenly of all lands.
However, people mainly forget just how much of a struggle it can become and especially the locals who gather up these areas fairly often forget that it is an actual wild moorland.
Last week, just me and my little dog headed off up into the hills and decided to carry on to Belmont.
Time went on and I was completely unaware of the lateness of the hour.
After walking along the main road I turned off up Withnell Moor, whose treacherous winds and bogs silence the most competitive of hikers - especially in the dark still of the night, with nobody for miles on end and paths that vanish suddenly.
Without a compass it is an impossible task to direct yourself appropriately to safety and I panicked for my very first time as it went on for so long.
I was well equipped, to a more than sufficient standard - stove, jackets, hydration backpack, walking poles, food, hat, gloves and great boots etc etc...
It went dark heading up the first hill of this moorland crossing, my first time crossing this one in particular. The wind was keeping me from maintaining the path and a 'pins and needles' style crosswind with harsh rain-droplets.
I couldn't see 10 feet ahead, not even my torch could.
The danger of crossing moorland in the pitch black is enormous, and I also saw some very weird lights and figures here and there, like on another planet.
Tripping and having to run just to walk, walking in knee-high bog and unexpected rocks, falls, walls and an illusion of distance, all with the added pressure of heavy shoulders and eyes constantly on the dog.
I really couldn't help but pray for people who have been in a similar situation, twas hell!.
Becoming slightly on-edge and worrying is the worst thing you can do - as some people have summed up. Even with a little rain some people become breathless and their hearts pound.
It was really an enormous challenge in the dark, I even had the nightmare of coming across the same point time after time after time. Frightening.
I just think that it needs to be made 100% clear that this is harsh, and with darkness falling, a struggling climb.
In daylight Withnell Moor and others are stunning. With bad lighting it is a raging beast with no mercy.... be careful, and we are certainly not alone!
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