Sunny Wednesday was a day made for the hills. After several dull and damp days recently, often spent laboriously at a climbing wall, it was good to be driving out to Bowland. I parked in the small village of Dunsop Bridge, which has been designated as at the centre of the Great Britain. The 100,000th BT phone box, on the green, proclaims this. Parking is now pay and display but £1 for 4hours didn’t seem extortionist, and Ribble Valley Borough Council seem to be keeping the place tidy. I do however feel these pay and display machines seem out of place in countryside car parks. They are everywhere now and I’m not sure what one does if needing an overnight stay for an extended camping trip.
The walk I set off on today is partly one of the sections of my Longridge Skyline Walk, see previous posts, leading out of the Hodder Valley over the little trodden Kitcham Hill on Birkett Fell.
Crossing the Hodder by a bridge brings you to the houses of Thorneyholme opposite where the river Dunsop joins the Hodder. A delightful stroll south by the river soon had me in good spirits, with clear views over to Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll. Despite the ground frost the ground was still fairly boggy.
Soon I was climbing alongside a beck in Fielding Clough above Burholme, despite the low air temperature I was soon sweating in the sunshine. The rough climb in heather, up alongside the wall, onto Kitcham Hill [283m] made things worse and I was glad of a break at the top to admire the 360degree views and get my breath back. The top is marked with a few stones near a stunted lone pine. I always enjoy time spent up here enjoying the peace and wandering in the pine and beech trees surrounding the summit. Today a pair of buzzards were crying and circling above me. Ingleborough and Penyghent were just visible in the haze to the north.
From the hill top I went south on rough ground, this whole area is access land created under the 2000 CRoW act, see the latest OS maps for areas covered. As one reaches the plantation to the south the access land finishes 200m before a public right of way/footpath. This is one of the annoying anomalies of some areas of access land – you end up trespassing to get out of them! Not that worries me as I end up climbing walls to reach the footpath into the plantation. Already, though, because of this problem I feel a little annoyed. Will write to Ribble Valley about it.
Once onto the public footpath things get worse, there have been a lot of trees blown down, presumably this last winter, making the path almost impossible to follow by most people. My climbing skills were needed to force a way through. Another letter to the Ribble Valley.
Once through, at great risk to my appendages, there is a lovely stretch across open hillside with views to the north. I was now approaching Crimpton Farm and was confronted with signs suggesting a rather lengthy, muddy, diversion around the premises but in small print stating that the right of way still existed onto the lane through the ‘farm’. Now I knew this property was of historic and architectural interest and used the right of way to look at it. After the reformation a wooden image of Our Lady Of White Well was brought to the isolated Crimpton for safety. Hence, the farm was well known to Roman Catholics as ‘Our Lady Of The Fells’. Apparently there is also a sulphur spa here with miraculous healing powers, so the locality has historic importance. Also the building is grade 2 listed with interesting seven hand loom weaving windows. I ask why a diversion is being suggested, apparently with official approval, away from this important house. A third letter to Ribble Valley!!
I would ask that anyone else following this public right of way ignores any suggestion of diversion and writes to the authorities in protest. John Dixon in his excellent Aussteiger Guide book to Bowland is of the same persuasion. Such was my anguish that I forgot to photo the interesting house and the parked up obligatory Range Rover! While on my high horse how did they get planning permission for the ‘porch’ extension on a GRADE 2 LISTED BUILDING. I have little faith in the planning authorities.
Progressing onto the old Roman road across Marl Hill I took off to the left on a wild path down to Birkett Farm and down to Giddy Bridge over the brook. What was the purpose of the stone projections on either side below the bridge?
Now I was able to follow a well signed concessionary path through the grounds of Knowlmere Manor [a contrast to the restrictions at Crimpton]. Try counting the chimneys on the manor….
Onwards in the sunshine brought me above the Hodder River back to Thorneyholme where I came across a chain saw massacrer [artist] working on a tree stump to create a Rodin masterpiece. A lengthy chat ensured about art, recession, medicine and the state of the world. This bloke is very talented.
Back through the tall Wellington Pine avenue gets me to the car within the 4hour, £1, fee!! It shouldn’t have to be like this. A day of stunning scenery and spring weather to hopefully come. But there are some sour tastes left regarding access. I’ll get over it.