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 its 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 outstanding situation of Witches under brooding Pendle. (Header Photo)
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 continued on 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 revealed 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.