Legendary Bolton climber Fred Dibnah fights to retain his flat cap on the first ascent of the north face of Bacup Brick works.
By late afternoon, having consumed the suet pudding and pale ale, we stumbled across stunted heather towards a smaller rock-walled depression on the far side of the moor. This, we learned from our knowledgeable guide, was the famous Brownstones Quarry, historic scene of many bitter and bloody struggles. It was here, way back in 1949, that Eric Parr, Prince of Brownstones, subjugated the ferocious 20ft fissure of Parr's Crack, and where Hank Pasquill, Duke of Wilton, later reigned unchallenged for almost a decade by his ruthless application of tight-fitting EBs. Viewed at dusk these sombre ramparts can still evoke their turbulent history.
In the green dell beyond the quarry we reached our lodgings for the night. Eric had pedalled on ahead, and by the time we staggered into the clearing, tangy woodsmoke was already curling into the still evening air from among the circle of abandoned gipsy caravans.
There was bread and dripping for supper, and a gallon of silk-textured stout to round our bellies. As we sat in a circle around the campfire, doubled up with abdominal pains, Eric played the harmonica while Sandra entertained us with her exotic dances. During the poignant interludes while she recovered her tassles, we listened in awe to the sounds of the wilderness. Beyond the fireglow, in the shadowy gloom at the perimeter of the clearing, we could hear the rustling of rodents as they scavenged among the sacks of household refuse, while from nearer at hand came the staccato bursts of flatulence as our alimentary expulsions ripped through the night air.
This Friday: Another classic slice of Ashton.