Monthly Archives: May 2014

NICKY NOOK AND THE WYRE WAY.

SAM_3660

I came across The Wyre Way whilst  walking up to Ward Stone Fell a couple of weeks ago. I decided to investigate further.   http://www.visitwyre.co.uk/xsdbimgs/WyreWay.pdf

See my map for today’s circular route.

As you drive up the M6 north of Preston a well known landmark is a church spire poking out of the trees to the left of the motorway. This is St. Peters Church, Scorton and it is here that I started my walk today.

it must be 20 yrs since I’ve walked up Grize Dale and climbed Nicky Nook 215m!  It was a popular walk for us when the kids were young. The fell seemed to be cloaked in colourful escapee rhododendrons giving it a strangely Nepalese look. The view over Morecambe Bay was as extensive as ever but a little dull for photos.A direct route off the hill down pastures alive with lapwings and curlews took me onto quiet lanes heading north with lots of reminders of the past local history.

Old cheese press.

  Old cheese press.

One sign brought back memories of when I was cycling the byways to get fit for a trip to the Pyrenees, I ignored the sign, skidded on the cobbles and ended up in the river with 20 miles to cycle home feeling rather cold and stupid,

Lower Dolphinholme was reached and the converted worsted mill, which once employed over 1000 people, passed to arrive at last on the River Wyre.

Date stone 1797.

Date stone 1797.

Picked up the Wyre Way signs here and was immediately taken away from the river and down the valley passing further mills.

The walking was not as good as the map suggested, entering several busy caravan and camping sites with the noise of the motorway ever present and the river a poor companion. The best bits were when passing by the numerous popular fishing lakes, presumably old gravel pits.There was a good view back up to Nicky Nook from the frenetic motorway bridge!

Bits more of the River Wyre led me back to Scorton with cafes and ice cream.  A pleasant 10miles but the highlight was Nicky Nook rather than the Wyre Way. Will explore more of the latter in the coming weeks to see if it has more to offer as a short LDW.

SAM_3730

          A weir on the Wyre.

OUT ON THE LOOSE AGAIN. Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

CLOUGHA PIKE.

Following on from my post of a few weeks ago –  https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/the-heart-of-bowland/  – we had unfinished business in the West Bowland hills.

A sunny Bank Holiday Monday found the four recycled teenagers [old gits] in the Rigg Lane car park above Quernmore. A quern is a grinding stone which, along with Grit Fell, gives a clue to the bed rock in these parts and there appeared to be lots of rocks visible on the hillsides above. As we followed the path up alongside Rowton Brook several old mills were passed, all now restored and converted into desirable rural residences.

Soon we were sitting in one of the stone summit shelters on Clougha Pike 413m enjoying the extensive views over Morecambe Bay, ranging from Wales to the Lakes. Onwards now towards the rather featureless Grit Fell on a more boggy path. On the way I noticed some prominent stone structures to the North and recalled reading of Andy Goldsworthy installations for the Duke of Westminster’s Abbeystead estate. So a a diversion over rough ground (hence the blip on the map) brought us to the three pillars set in an abandoned stone quarry.

Several photos later we retraced our steps to eventually reach the rounded Grit Fell 467m. From here we looked over the heart of Bowland and Wards Stone where we capitulated last time, what a desolate yet strangely alluring area.

Turning North the path took us past many shooting butts, who would want to be a grouse up here, to a well constructed estate road. Range Rover access for the rich assassins is obviously essential but the road certainly disfigured the moors. We’ve had this argument before.

More uplifting were the stately outlines of Ingleborough and it’s neighbours dominating the skyline to the NE.

The ‘road’ winds it’s way back towards the coast past many small stone quarries where the rocks were split to produce slabs and shingles. As navigator I was relying on a 20yr. old OS version which had little detail of these new tracks and I failed to spot our path heading northwards Littledale. At one point we came within 100m of the Goldsworthy statues we had made an arduous detour earlier! Three tall stone cairns more crudely built dominated the skyline as we approached the sea.

Committed to, but becoming bored with, the hard surface we followed it down to the edge of some woods. Rather than taking the easy option of a direct return to the car park I tried a footpath eastwards into the valley of Littledale.

This indeed gave us some variety only to become lost climbing walls, barbed wire and dilapidated bridges on non existent paths through Cragg Woods. This was a lost world and clearly private. We staggered on passing what looked like illegal, short noose rabbit snares to emerge onto the road, at least there had been no man traps.

Again my map was wanting and concessionary paths through the woods back to the car park were ignored for a long tramp along the road.

I didn’t get many marks for navigation today. I made up for it though, the motorway was packed so I took us through Preston to have a great curry at Bangla Spice just off the motorway near Leyland.

Off to buy a new map of the area tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEACON FELL BIVI.

  BEACON FELL WITH THE BOWLAND HILLS BEHIND.

After my last post about rain the summer-like weather has been around for a few days and I was tempted out bouldering one afternoon which left me with an extremely sore left big toe. So back on my cycle for a few short rides but I felt the need to get into the hills. Was tied up most of Saturday until tea time, but then a quickly packed sac with basic bivi equipment saw me strolling out of Longridge at 6pm.

I planned to follow the first stage of my Longridge Skyline Walk [https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/longridge-skyline-walk/] and spend the night somewhere on Beacon Fell. What a beautiful warm evening as I walked through fields with lapwings tumbling overhead. The May blossom in the hedgerow was at it’s best.

Cattle were out enjoying the rich grass and were being a general inquisitive nuisance, charging about, one just has to be aware of any possible danger. The sheep and playful lambs were easier to share a field with.

Onwards through Goosnargh Golf Club with the fairways in prime condition. Further on the building work on the old Cross Keys Inn seems to have come to  a standstill. inside is a surreal builders’ dining table. Made me think ‘Hotel California’ somehow!

More troublesome cattle accompanied me up the fields into the woods of Beacon Fell. A few families were about in the car park but the cafe was closed. I had planned to arrive at the summit for sunset but cloud spoiled the scene.

A new owl sculpture has been installed in place of the ‘hanging bat’ and I stumbled upon  a wooden carving of a crocodile to complete my collection of Beacon Fell sculptures.         [https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/beacon-fell-views-and-sculptures/ ]

As dusk fell I found myself a comfy bivi spot with views of the Bowland Fells.

Roe deer were wandering about and barked noisily for a while, obviously I was on their territory. Sitting there I was treated to a spectacular low flight of a Barn Owl looking for prey – spellbinding. And then the bats started there rapid flypast.    Sweet dreams.  I awoke at 5am as the sun came up but managed to doze off till 6.30, so I was away to a leisurely start by 7am.

My plan was to walk down the valley of the River Brock for a few miles. Bluebells and wild garlic abounded  in the shade.

 

I was impressed by the depth that the small river has carved for itself over the centuries. This is Dipper and Wagtail territory. The path was in a poor state boggy an eroded so progress was slow. Nothing much else stirred until I came across the tents of D of E teenagers near Waddecar Scout Camp, they were just stirring!

Soon I was at Brock Bottoms where a few early dog walkers were out. This area has been tarted up with graveled paths etc. I just remember days with my kids hopping down the river and exploring the ruins of one of the many water mills. Now the ruins seem smaller with no sign of the wheel or any millstones.

Once out of the valley at Walmsley Bridge I followed field paths to emerge at the delightful thatched, old farmhouse of Scotch Green, I do wonder about the derivation of these names but there was nobody about to ask.

A rest stop at the village cross of Inglewhite was prolonged by a chance meeting of an old friend out walking her dog. The  pub was closed for restoration, hopefully it will still have a bar for the locals who would keep it alive. The local chapel seemed to have a sizable congregation. On a wall was one of the old AA information plates – remember these.

Onwards down an old bridleway and ford, now bridged for safety reasons, into Goosnargh and back home for lunch! 

That’s how I recharge my batteries and connect with the land in this beautiful area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LET IT RAIN.

 

To fit in with our ‘6 day a week’ workers Sunday was set aside for a walk. It had rained heavily for two days and the forecast was not encouraging so the weaker members of our team even thought of aborting the day. Several phone-calls later they were brought into line and we would get out whatever. This was my adapted low level walk to suit the conditions —

The meeting in Downham was not auspicious as dark clouds hung overhead. Only one of our party didn’t show up – we were down to four heavily waterproofed assailants.

Turning our backs on Pendle a pleasant stroll past limestone knolls led to the Ings Beck, with it’s old corn mill and up the valley profusely carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic – what perfumes!  The rain stopped as we emerged onto a lane next to a large limekiln. In a field behind is the quarry which produced the limestone  years gone by. This quarry is known to rock climbers as Witches Quarry and most of the climbs names allude to The Pendle Witches’ tales. We couldn’t resist the short diversion into this delightful spot to recall the many sunny evenings climbing here.

Gaining the brow of the small hill just north of the quarry usually gives the most extensive views over The Three Peaks and the Craven valley, but today mist curtained most of it. Maybe because of this I looked behind and realised the the outstanding situation of Witches under brooding Pendle.

Rural lanes and wet fields led through isolated farmsteads and an early lunch perched on some stones at Hollins Hall. A diverse collection of sandwiches appeared – Beetroot with feta, Tomatoes with mayonnaise, Cheese and pickle,  Ham and mustard. Setting off again talk turned to culinary matters and our own version of TripAdvisor for the local eateries. During this we managed to get lost in long grass and were faced with a fast flowing stream before some back tracking reveled a footbridge heading the correct way. Safely over the busy A59 we picked up the Ribble Way, now sadly and controversially diverted away from the river, Through farms with the odd agricultural relic – they rarely throw anything away.

It was a bit of a shock after our quiet country wanderings to arrive at the pub on the Ribble at Sawley and hordes of people out for Sunday lunch. The Cistercian  Abbey is mainly ruins now but is in a dramatic situation and as we walked by we were aware of all the surrounding medieval field systems.

A cobble lane led back over the A59 and down to a beautifully situated arched bridge over Swanside Beck. I remember camping here on one of my backpacking trips through Lancashire.

The rain returned briefly as we headed back up to Downham and a visit to the open fired bar of The Assheton Arms. As we supped our pints we felt quite smug with our simple day’s  walk snatched from the dire rain of the forecast.

 

A CUMBRIAN BACKWATER.

Following on from my recent walk in the Silverdale area, https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/a-lancashire-backwater/    I was back up here on a bank holiday weekend to meet up with an old friend, Sir Hugh of http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/

This time set off from Arnside which is in Cumbria to drive a short distance to Halfpenny  to walk the quiet byways in this forgotten area. Being a well organised host he provided me with a map of our route but I was still mystified most of the day as to our whereabouts in this backwater. However it was stress free being guided by the hand.

 

Most of the hamlets named on the map are only 2 or 3 houses. Halfpenny was one of these by the delightful St. Sunday’s Beck. ‘Beck’ is an old Norse term for a, usually, swift flowing stream and I think only encountered in the north.

The bluebell woods were at their best and for a while the sun broke through giving us some welcome warmth.

Also in the woods was a good crop of wild garlic, we had some debate on whether it was edible and if so the leaves or the bulbs? My answer came a few days later eating out at a rather expensive venue – ‘Jersey potatoes, wild garlic leaves and flowers with asparagus and a soft egg’ – a delicious starter.

                                                                         Wild Garlic.

Our first encounter with the locals was as we approached some farm buildings and first a light plane emerged followed by a powered hang-glider. Almost something out of a scifi movie. The farmer was preparing for a trip up in his lawnmower powered glider and we saw him above us later. Great hobby, I once had a trip up as a passenger in a similar ‘plane’ – very exciting, sadly my pilot that day died in a glider crash a few years later. I’ve not been up since.

Another unworldly sight was further on where they were using polythene strips to warm up some unidentified crop in the fields. Not sure of the environmental effect of this as last year’s strips were still in evidence littering the ground.

We wandered on chatting about old times rock-climbing and stories of mutual friends, many now sadly departed. The next encounter with a local was a friendly ‘gentleman’ farmer who had transformed some of his fields into a natural looking lake, I think enhancing the scenery. There was fishing there but he preferred to keep it to himself, we suspect he has private means and breeds a few horses. One can only dream of such an existence.

We took a few photos on the way…………

Old Root Shredder.

                                                   Old Root Shredder.

 

 

A duck to water.

                                                   A duck to water.

Which way?

                                               Which way?

A few more delightful wandering paths over hills and over becks somehow brought us back to Halfpenny, satisfied with our part of the world.

 

 

THE HEART OF BOWLAND.

 

Distant Wolfhole Crag

                                                                            Distant Wolfhole Crag

Another day out walking with the lads from Bolton was planned with a 9am, we enjoy a lie in these days, rendezvous just off the M6 junction. To ring the changes I had planned a round of the fells from Tarnbrook and was in sole charge of navigating and the map.

To my horror as I reached the meeting place I realised the said map was still on my kitchen table – necessitating a rapid turn around and subsequently a ribbing for the delayed start. The twisting lanes leading  from the next motorway junction north seemed to go on forever, more than my memory of them. The hamlet of Tarnbrook thankfully hadn’t changed at all though.

Tarnbrook.

                                                                                    Tarnbrook.

We were greeted with a warm sun and clear skies which promised well for views on the fell tops.

. Most of the land around here is now open access from the CRoW act of 2000. Prior to that we were evicted several times whilst climbing on the rocks up at Thorn Crag, lying high above Tarnbrook. This is grouse shooting land previously strictly restricted. A sad observation is that the estate has now built several ugly ‘roads’ through these remote hills. The other observation is that one doesn’t see the Hen Harriers or Peregrines any more.

I came across this interesting article and debate about raptor persecution in the area….     http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2014/01/06/politics-is-still-undermining-raptor-conservation-in-lancashires-forest-of-bowland/

Getting back to the walk we headed off in an Easterly direction on what is marked as The Wyre  Way past a few old farms and onto rougher, virtually, trackless ground leading up onto Brennand Hill. Slow progress necessitated a coffee break in a clough  on the way.

Sign of the times.

                                                                          Sign of the times.

Eventually we reached the stoney outcrop marked on the map as Millers House. Here we found the odd abandoned millstone hewn from the gritstone – what a life.

Noticeably there were far fewer gulls in the area than before, I think culling by the NWWB has reduced the upland breeding population.

Onwards brought us to the fence on the broad ridge and a diversion for a lunch stop at Wolfhole Crag.  This must be one of the most remote bouldering venue in England, but there was some chalky evidence of recent ascents of the harder problems.   http://www.lakesbloc.com/guides/wolfhole-crag-guide.pdf

 

Our own clumsy ascents would be better not recorded.

The day had changed and was now dull and cold so views to the Three Peaks and the Lakes were poor. The never ending plod westwards along the boggy ridge didn’t have much merit in these conditions. Crossing one of the aforementioned, incongruous estate ‘roads’ we came across several areas of heather reseeding and stabilisation in the peat bogs. Respite came at the first trig point on Ward’s Stone, 561m. We realised that we had been walking steadily uphill for the best part of 4 hours to reach this point! A welcome flat area led to the next trig point, 560m. The views to Morecambe Bay were sadly limited but the Wyre estuary was clear, that’s where all the water from up here goes.

Our planned route continuing westwards to the more interesting Grit Fell and Clougha Pike was curtailed to another day as we dropped off the fell and down the endless lane into Tarnbrook.

Descent into Tarnbrook.

                                                                   Descent into Tarnbrook.

12miles over this rough territory was enough for us today. We saw only two other walkers all day and that on a Bank Holiday weekend!  We will be back for Grit Fell and Clougha Pike.