Monthly Archives: May 2015

WEST CRAVEN WAY – Barnoldswick Thornton East Marton.

The friendly people at The Fountain Inn produced a perfect breakfast for a walking day and I was away about 9. Rather grey start to the day. In the market square the stall holders were setting out their goods, mainly cheap clothing I’m afraid, but there was a fruit and veg stall from where I bought a couple of bananas. Soon I was onto the canal tow path, Leeds-Liverpool, and passing The Anchor Inn. This is an old turnpike inn which later became a canal side attraction. In its basement cellar is an amazing and unexpected  stalactite display.

Anchor Inn cellar.

Anchor Inn cellar.

There were  a few boats moored up but no canal traffic. After a short stretch I took to the fields towards Kelbrook Moor and was soon climbing alongside the delightful Lancashire Ghyll with the mighty Pendle Hill and the diminutive Blacko Tower in the background.

The next farm’s warning signs were all too accurate…

The Pendle Way was followed for a short distance, this is a 45mile route I walked over 2 days a few years ago only to find on my completion a note on my car from a ‘countryside warden’ worrying about my whereabouts. He had been on the point of calling out the mountain rescue. It is always a dilemma when you leave your car for a backpacking trip, putting a note on the windscreen advertising your absence has never seemed sensible. I am circumspect now where I park.

The next couple of miles were through rich pastures and not well signed, I was glad of my leaflet’s directions. The way took me towards Lothersdale, a whole new world of rough moorland fields. This was perfect territory for Lapwings/Peewits displaying their wavering flight and plaintive call. Trying to photograph one in flight was almost impossible.

To the west Earby town lay below and Weets Hill dwarfed Barnoldswick at its foot.

Weets Hill, Barnoldswick and Earby.

Weets Hill, Barnoldswick and Earby.

Dodgson Lane followed a clough down the hill and into the farmyard of an isolated and abandoned property. This was in an idyllic situation but with no suitable track to it has so far escaped the developers eye.The area here is steeped in old farming traditions, the stone walls a testament to their labours and everywhere reminders of the past.

The pretty village of Thornton was a contrast to the moors.Here I joined The Pennine Way [walked 50 years ago as a teenager with a heavy pack and tent]  I was now back into the lush farmland and met a farmer, the only person encountered today, checking his fences. We chatted of old times, his older than mine, shared acquaintances and places. These people are a pleasure to spend time with and full of local knowledge and worldly wisdom. A short stretch back on the Leeds – Liverpool canal and I was back in East Marton. I had time to look around St. Peters Church, with a Norman tower, which I had never visited.  Apparently in the churchyard there are memorials to some of the navvies who built the canal – but I couldn’t spot any. The next disappointment was that The Cross Keys pub in the village was closed for refurbishment. At least there were no notes on my car windscreen.

I’ve enjoyed this varied walking route and stayed dry for the trip, although the sun was shy and those cold winds persist. I am surprised that no one else seems to be out on the long distance trails.

WEST CRAVEN WAY – East Marton Bracewell Barnoldswick.

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Bowland from Weets Hill.

The West Craven Way is described as  “a dramatic walk through some of Lancashire and North Yorkshire’s most beautiful countryside”  by Pendle Borough who produce a leaflet and internet download of the route. 24 miles in two halves, I decided to start at East Marton anti clockwise on the western half, spend the night in Barnoldswick [just off route] and complete the eastern section the following day.Z WCWCaptureA rainy morning delayed my start from E. Marton but with an improving forecast I was soon wandering up the lane to the impressive 17th century Ingthorpe Grange. Met a man using the metal coat hanger water diviner trick trying to discover the blocked drains causing flooding to the track. Hope he was successful. The rolling countryside hereabouts apparently is mainly composed of drumlins, deposited by the last ice age, overlying the limestone – very picturesque in the sunshine. The lanes here have an antiquity about them… Passed by Marton Scar, a limestone outcrop, alas too low for any climbing. I do wonder about the environmental impact of some of the modern farming practices, all too  common in the area, is this really necessary… Tracks wound through fields full of sheep and lambs to enter the old hamlet of Horton, now mainly gentrified farms and barns. Crossing the busy A59 was not easy. A lazy stream, Stock Beck… …was followed into another small hamlet, Bracewell, where the second person I met was in the garden of the old post office. He was proud of his village and pointed out the plaque on the wall stating it was originally built in 1867 for the village school master. with funds from the sale of an organ and collections in church.Opposite was the church with its Norman tower and I sheltered from the wind in its porch for a snack. A little further on I passed through what appeared to be a motor cycle scramble circuit, agricultural diversification, god knows what the noise and disturbance will be like on a race day.Narrow lanes and fields took me towards Weets Hill where I joined The Pennine Bridleway up to an isolated house on the shoulder from where I couldn’t resist the climb to the top at 397m. Here I met my third person of the day, an elderly fell runner enjoying the sunny weather. One gets a 360 degree view from here [Pendle, Longridge Fell, Bowland, Three Peaks, Barden Moor, Kelbrook Moors and Boulsworth Hill.] all a little hazy today and as the wind was ferocious I didn’t hang about.

Weets Hill with Ingleborough in the hazy distance

Weets Hill with Ingleborough in the hazy distance.

Along the ridge was a house with giant heads, why? I found some lovely little paths down from the hill and into the former mill town of Barnoldswick. The terraced houses harp back to that period but now there is Rolls Royce, Silent Night, smaller industries and a remaining textile mill.  Barlick, as the locals know it, was once in Yorkshire but was transferred to Lancashire in 1972. As one wanders in this area you are never sure of which county you are in.

I would like to give a big thanks to Fountain Inn, my accommodation for the night, lovely people –  great ales – good supper – comfy room – spot on breakfast.

Ain’t no sunshine.

Stonyhurst College.

                                                                                Stonyhurst College.

Sunday mornings can be depressing when you wake up to rain and dull weather. This tune came into my head and I couldn’t get rid of it all day.  Listen whilst reading……

So I was late setting off to do a walk – felt I had to have some exercise once the rain eased. Most of my walks up Longridge Fell are from the NW side where I live but as the wind was from that direction today I decided on an approach from the gentle south side. Parked up near the Bailey Arms in Hurst Green. There is a lovely path that drops down to and then follows the Dean Brook past several old Bobbin Mills. As one walks beside the stream there is ample evidence of diversions to form mill races. These have been cut into the soft sandstone and give an evocative view of life here in the past.

A little further up the dean over to the right is a small former quarry, Sand Rock, where a few years ago Simon and I climbed an E2 5c route up the middle of the main cliff. Looking at it today it looks desperate and in need of a clean, but there would be some possibility of bouldering on this face. [Robin please note].

Anyhow today that wasn’t high on my objectives, I was happy just to harvest some wild garlic leaves for supper tonight. The path crosses a bridge where I often played poo sticks with my children and then grandchildren. Climbing out of the valley you come to the 16th century hunting lodge of the Shireburn family, original occupants of Stoneyhurst, its buttressed structure evidence to its longevity.  An adjoining building functions as a camping barn.

The track continued with views up to the fell.

Passing Crowshaw Quarry, [scene of some recent bouldering exploits] over the road and into the trees of Longridge Fell. There has been a lot of felling recently because of the Rhizosphaera needle-cast fungus. The hillside looks like the Somme battlefield. But everywhere new life is springing up with baby trees, will they be fungus free?

Up through the woods to near Green Thorn farm where there are some magnificent beech trees. This is the one I want to climb  – if you have read Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places  you will know what I mean.                                                                                                                          









I didn’t go up to the trig point today but headed for ‘Sam’s Best View’, a northern view over the Chipping valley to the Bowland Fells. A shaft of sunlight pierced the sky whilst I was there. Back south down through the trees to emerge onto the road and then a footpath I have never been on. I ended up lost, misplaced in the garden of Fell Side Farm. With no help from any waymarks I made my way down a delightful small valley which brought me out onto the road heading to Stonyhurst College. The college was founded in 1593, and located at Stonyhurst Hall in 1794.Today it provides expensive boarding and day education to approximately 450 boys and girls. The church of St. Peters was open today and I was able to view the interior and the stained glass windows.

A stroll through fields below the cricket pitch brought me out next to the Alms Houses in Hurst Green, These were originally built on Longridge Fell at Kemple End but ‘moved’ to the village after the war.

So despite the poor weather and lack of sunshine this little walk provided a few hours diversion although I hardly saw anyone on the fell, which is unusual.

More of the same.

The forecast was encouraging – warm, sunny with little wind. Perfect for a day’s climbing at this time of year. We could have tossed a coin or made an informed decision as to where to climb. We didn’t really succeed with either – a few clouds seemed to sway the team away from the good open higher climbing on Robin Proctor’s Scar to the low level South Giggleswick Scar. We were last here a couple of weeks ago, time for a change really. A couple of teams were already on the crag and as we arrived late the temperature was already rising. Now I can’t complain about belaying in the sun – but why here. It’s a winter crag after all and we are now in mid May. Did four decent routes, couldn’t be bothered with the last scrappy one, actually I thought  the whole place was scrappy today. I found the routes hard and fingery, struggled to stay in contact and certainly couldn’t have led them in my present state of unfitness.  On the positive side it was great to be out with good friends Dave and Rod as I’ve hardly climbed at all this last year – it showed!  We caught up with all our news and adventures. They are already planning climbing trips abroad but after today’s effort I just can’t raise my enthusiasm at this moment in time.

For the record –

Rawhide 5+

Bonanza 5

No Wavering 6a

Bramble Jelly 6a

High on 'No Wavering'

High on ‘No Wavering’

ANGLES WAY – Hopton to Knettishall Heath.

Our last day was only a short stroll to finish the route. Hopton Fen was circled on paths and from then on we kept to small lanes. One was lined with lilac trees creating a unique aromatic feature. The Horse Chestnut candles were also blooming.

We were blessed with a beautiful warm clear morning to enjoy our leisurely stroll, cuckoos were calling, calves were sunning themselves and all felt right with the world.

Passing small estate houses on a driveway we emerged in front a grand Georgian country house, turns out to be Riddlesworth Hall boarding school built in 1792. Achieved fame from Princess Dianne attending as a pupil, it still looks a very privileged institution.Our path was ‘quite rightly’ diverted around the grounds – we were a bit scruffy after all. On the lane leading to the Heath we recrossed the Little Ouse for the last time, a man from the Environmental Agency was donning waders to do some sampling of invertebrates, nice work on a day like today. he had some lovely Water Boatmen.A path through the heath took us to the start of the Peddars Way and the end of the Angles Way. Mission accomplished – we had completed the circuit of paths. A lift took us into Thetford and lunch before our rail journeys home. Whilst eating we enquired at the next table as to the whereabouts of the station – it was not close and all a bit complicated. No problem, later we were presented with an accurate hand drawn map on a  serviette. With this delicate navigational aid we located the rail station and proceeded on our separate ways. Can the OS match this……..

So what of the ANGLES WAY..

Well it served its purpose of our annual reunion walk, graded easier each year. Good to meet up with Mel and share the pleasures of the walk.

The walking was of an easy standard [as planned] and the days readily accomplished with good accommodation each night. All our overnight villages were of interest and  we were able to eat well and drink good ales.

Each day the fen scenery was expansive under those massive skies.  The flowers and trees were superb and the variety of birds we casually saw impressive. A walk made for naturalists. We must have missed so much more. The weather was on the whole kind to us.

Where next year Mel?

ANGLES WAY – Diss to Hopton.

The walk through Diss was interesting with lots of old premises and in the centre a large mere with its quota of ducks, what a great asset to a town.A delightful lane led out of town through Royden Fen with some fantastic cottages which would be a delight to live in. Meadows full of sheep, gorse covered heaths and thatched cottages made for great walking.SAM_2010Yet another church demanded attention. St. Mary at Wortham. St. Mary has the largest round tower in England dating from Saxon times, 10 metres across. Round towers seem to be an East Anglian specialty. Inside the pews are worth a look, their bench ends are carved into various figures illustrating apparently the 104th psalm, dating from the 1890s.







Open fields and ditches seemed an ideal habitat for cowslipsSheep and lambs were everywhere though none of the typical Suffolk breed. This one, no 3, had a multicoloured dream coat…A wonderful stretch through Redgrave Fen reserve took us to the watershed between the Waveney and the Ouse. You can hardly believe that these sluggish streams become great rivers. We then passed large pig farms and even larger industrial poultry farms [factories].  A well preserved windmill at Thelnetham also demanded some close attention but unfortunately not operating today.

The dark clouds blowing in produced a heavy shower before we reached our excellent B&B at Hopton. The local pub, The Vine, served some great ales and cooked us a fantastic meal. Thanks. These little rural inns need all the support and mention they can get.

ANGLES WAY – Harleston to Diss.

The weather forecast for today didn’t look good – gales and heavy rain. Set off with hope and by the end of the day we were wind battered but dry, most of the rain blew through. That is often the case when you decide to go in the face of a poor forecast.

The morning was on good paths with glimpses of the river. Mid way we climbed up to the pretty  village of Brackish and yet another interesting church. This has been a feature of this walk –  the number of historic churches.

The afternoon in the valley was rather disappointing as we never got close enough to the river, although two swans were spotted on the nest and hobbies were flying low over the fields.

On the way into Diss several restored manor houses were passed – they look in the million pound class.

Another old inn, The Saracens Head, gave us a fine nights lodging with the obligatory sloping and creaking floors.