Monthly Archives: October 2015


If I had labelled this post just Plover Hill most wouldn’t have heard of it, whereas Pen-y-ghent is justifiably popular as a walk and as an iconic view along with its neighbour Ingleborough. Yes – it has a Welsh name [hill of the winds] because a version of Welsh was spoken throughout Britain before the Anglo Saxon invasion.Just enjoyed a grand half day’s walk up here. I didn’t get away early as the day was supposed to brighten later – it didn’t – setting off from Horton at 12am. To avoid the unpleasant, steep and crowded direct route from Brackenbottom I used the lanes past old barns and Dub Cote farm to join the bridleway up to a shake-hole named Churn Milk Hole. From here one gets a dramatic view of Pen-y-ghent rising above you, the bands of limestone capped with a gritstone helmet. High up round to the left out of sight is a gritstone cliff where I’ve climbed in past years. A climb called  Red Pencil Direct featured in the Ken Wilson Classic Rock ‘tick’ book, all the climbs here are steep and have a terrific sense of exposure.There are some recent reports of rockfall, it always felt a bit scary with some loose rock and those overhangs above you.

Until now I had seen only sheep but once onto the main track it became a circus of people struggling up, even being pushed up the steep bits, and falling down the slippy limestone bits.  I didn’t linger with the crowds on the summit, 694m, as the mist had come down making it cold and miserable with no views. Going due north along the ridge brings you to the subsidiary rounded summit of Plover Hill, 680m. The sedgy grasses along the way seemed to be taking on an attractive Autumnal colouring. I’d forgotten how eroded and boggy the way was, surprising really as we have had a month of relatively dry weather, any rain and it will be a quagmire!From the summit there were views of Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside as the mist lifted off their tops for a brief moment – the Three Peaks. Leaving the top and heading north takes you down to an extensive limestone bluff  through which the path takes a delightful rake. From here looking into Foxup valley the lines of limestone sink holes following some fault are clearly seen. The whole area must be perfect for geology field trips.

Returning along the valley I just had to make the detour to Hull Pot, a massive hole in the ground with only a trickle of water today.

Along here the Pennine Way is joined but I also realised I was following ‘A Pennine Journey’. This is a relatively new 247 mile LDW based on the journey of the celebrated Alfred Wainwright,  undertaken in 1938, up the East side of the Pennines to Hadrian’s Wall and back down the West side to Settle. His story of this trip is worth reading not only for his own personal observations but also an insight into rural life in the years leading up to WW II. How things have changed.

The enclosed bridleway gave quick walking back to Horton with distant views to Pendle. The clocks have just gone back so dusk came early and smoke was rising from the cottage chimneys, the sign of cold dark nights to come – maybe time to head off to warmer climes.


Walking the Eastern Side of the Ribble Valley – the known bits.

Sabden  –  Gisburn.

Just like a summer’s day from the moment I left Sabden for the moorland ascent up to the Nick of Pendle, which turned out to be easier than expected. People were parking up ready for the popular walk up the spine of the hill but I was heading straight down the otherside on a moorland path towards Pendleton. Turning my back on Pendle, views over the Ribble Valley and Clitheroe to the Bowland Fells opened up with Kemple End very prominent.

Looking back at Pendle and the incongruous ski slope.

Looking back at Pendle and the incongruous ski slope.

Kemple End with the Bowland Fells behind.

Kemple End and Ribble Valley with the Bowland Fells behind.

Wymendhouse turned out to have been a former Congregational Church hidden in the hills. At the entrance to Pendleton someone had a collection of strange little ?military vehicles, no idea what they were.






Also somebody needs to remove this forgotten skip…There is a bridleway all along the side of Pendle Hill connecting old farmhouses and it is always a joy to walk, particularly today in the sunshine. As you approach Downham limestone knolls appear, underfoot the ground is different and Penyghent is seen in the background. A new little cafe/ice-cream parlour was waiting for me as I entered the hamlet, perfect for a sit down and a coffee. I didn’t dally long as I was hoping to catch an early bus and was only halfway. The upmarket Assheton Arms was busy with diners sitting outside.This used to be our watering hole after an evenings climbing on the limestone of nearby Witches Quarry. I took the familiar path out of the village and over the hill, with Dales views, to the little packhorse bridge over Swanside Beck. I camped here many years ago whilst on a walk around the Lancashire boundary and it has always been a special place to return to.

The next stretch seemed arduous with poor waymarking, blocked gates, bulls and the close proximity to some game shooting land. Had the feeling I was not wanted. Had to remind myself I was out for a walk – stop getting angry.

Which rare birds are they shooting?

Which rare birds are they shooting?

Weets Hill was clear in front of me and a helpful navigational tool…  I was up there on my last local two day trek way back in May.

Time was getting short when I arrived onto a country lane and was able to make faster progress but this was negated by a last unmarked stretch across large fields. Maybe I stopped a little too long admiring the view over to Ingleborough and Penyghent.

Distant Ingleborough.

Distant Ingleborough.

I came down into Gisburn just as the bus passed the lane end – I’m sure he left early. Fortunately on the corner was a cafe I had never noticed before. It turned out to be a busy cafe/delicatessen/village shop/meeting place with very friendly staff. A bowl of Butternut Squash soup with chunky bread helped my bus disappointment.

I had  time to wander round the village with its many old houses, the Church was locked but I found the grave stone of Francis Duckworth, 1862 – 1941. He composed many hymn tunes including the famous ‘Rimington’ – I didn’t know that.

So a couple of excellent days walking helped by the the splendid October weather, good hospitality, new paths found and old favourites visited.



Walking the Eastern Side of the Ribble Valley – the unknown bits.

Mellor Brook  –  Sabden.

The LDWA web site is a good source of information on potential walks. You can search in whichever area and for whatever length, maps are displayed. Looking for a two day local trek, whilst the good weather holds out, I unearthed the 26mile ‘Walk the Eastern Side of the Ribble Valley’ from Mellor Brook to Gisburn. A booklet is available from the author Trevor Headley, though I managed without it. I’ve sent off for it as I feel there will be useful information for some unanswered questions en-route.  Some of my climbing friends have gone off to Kalymnos, I declined from lack of fitness, and it was strange that I parked up almost outside one of their houses in Mellor Brook this morning.SAM_6223

I walked out on the original A59 through the village…SAM_6225 … now thankfully bypassed, and climbed back up to the village of Mellor. The village loos have been sold… Further on the way I passed the Methodist Church which has been tastefully rebuilt after the old one was demolished, probably an improvement though I can’t find pictures of the original. Next up was Mellor Moor, one of Lancashire’s best kept secrets.  At the top there are 360 degree views, well not today, of the whole region from the Lakes to Yorkshire and to Wales. Uniquely this modest hill, 223m, has a defunct Royal Observation Nuclear Blast and Fallout Monitoring Station from the cold war era . The monitoring post was opened in July 1959, and was decommissioned in October 1968. Many local people still believe that this was a nuclear shelter for the use of the  population during times of war. A millennium viewpoint pillar has been more recently erected.

Local field paths were followed with ancient stone squeeze stiles, agricultural paths or inter- village routes. I speculated on the traffic in the 18th century or before.   Going past the barking dogs of Hagg’s Hall I came upon a row of derelict and abandoned wooden homes, ?weekend retreats. They formed a nostalgic link with the 50’s and 60’s but I can find no information on them.

PS May 2016

Enclosed paths through the gardens of suburban Wilpshire brought me out onto the well groomed Wilpshire Golf Course, there has to be one on every long walk. I walked through in under par despite the low drizzly cloud. Open moorland had me scanning for bulls – this one looked quite friendly.

Another new area to me was the delightful path above Dean Clough reservoir with views opening up towards Pendle as the weather improved. Sitting on a bench on the outskirts of Great Harwood I ate a banana. Lanes led me to the surprisingly active Bowley Scout Camp, another of Lancashire’s hidden secrets. Acres and acres of camping and adventure activities. An ancient scout helped me navigate out of the site down to the River Calder.

I had no time for a drink at the Game Cock Inn with it’s inscription –  ‘House of Massey’ –  a defunct Burnley Brewery. Crossing the river at Cock bridge I was soon entering the impressive grounds of Read Hall. As I walked up the drive way I couldn’t but help notice the wrought iron railings, in my street all that remains of these are stubs in the stone walls after they were removed for the moral boosting war effort of the 40’s. I asked myself why not here?

In the lanes above Read some farmer had a sense of humour…More local [?original] humour seen on the way…

After many fields of horses I climbed up into lovely autumnal woods and a surprise stone base of a cross – unknown origin? After that it was all downhill to the secluded village of Sabden in the bosom of Pendle Hill. The Nick of Pendle, tomorrow morning’s  objective was plain to see way above.I couldn’t find accommodation here so I caught a bus to Clitheroe and spent a comfortable night [I was knackered] at The Inn at the Station. Recommended.



THREE-IN-ONE – a fulfilling weekend.

It’s that period of the year again, the leaves are turning and the evenings darkening, and it’s time for the annual autumn visit from my old mate Mel.

[ See previous posts to get an idea of what we get up to. — ]

His wife packs his thermals and sends him up North. This year however we are blessed with warm and calm weather so were able to make the best of his visit.

In brief we ate an Uzbek banquet [haven’t posted about my trip to Uzbekistan yet],  a couple of local restaurant curries, a take away Chinese and some bar snacks.

Uzbeck banquet.

Uzbek banquet.

Thankfully interspersed were three good and variable outdoor days’ exercise.

1. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

A long drive over to Wakefield and we arrived at Bretton Hall whose stately grounds act as the backdrop to the YSP,  I’ve been meaning to come here for ages. Hepworth,  Gormley, Goldsworthy,  Moore,  Miro,  Caro, Frink …  they are all here and many many more. A real feast for the senses. We wandered around the grounds in beautiful sunshine like two kids in a sweet shop, new discoveries round every corner.SAM_6069One cannot see everything in one visit and I’ll have to do a separate post on the YSP soon. We were lucky that the spectacular Cummins/Piper ‘Poppy Wave’ installation [from London] was in the park and attracting a lot of visitors.Another stroke of luck was the opening today of several video installations from Bill Viola, these powerful visualisations explore the human condition in a unique way using light and water. The Chapel and the Underground Gallery where they are staged seem to be perfect locations. This show is on until April  – a reason in itself to visit the park. Try this video for an impression of Viola’s work….

2. Fairy Steps Limestone / Dallam Deer Park.

We met up with Conrad [] at Milnthorpe for one of my favourite short walks on a promising morning. The tide was out as we climbed away from the Kent sand banks. I was keen to revisit a fascinating area of water eroded limestone above the large quarry. From there we followed delightful woodland paths to the Fairy Steps – a cleft in the escarpment in which legend says if you don’t touch the sides the ‘fairy’ grants  a wish, fat chance; excuse the pun. Down to the 16th century coaching inn The Wheatsheaf in Beetham for a light bar-snack and a pint of Wainwrights. Dallied in the working 18thC Heron Corn Mill and strolled through the manicured Dallam Tower deer park. A perfect walk in miniature.

3. Walking Preston Guild Wheel and Brockholes Reserve.

Making use of local buses we were able to walk a segment of the Guild Wheel. As we walked down the road to the Crematorium I think Mel had his doubts but we were soon into woodland above the Ribble. Next was the extensive Brockholes Reserve, created from worked out sand pits which has become a local favourite since opening four years ago. We didn’t have time for a full exploration but made use of the ‘floating’ visitor centre for a cup of coffee overlooking the lake and reed-beds. A coot was feeding directly in front of us and proved difficult to photo in half dive. I will have to return here more often this winter to appreciate the wildlife and visit the hides. Up to now we had seen few people but from now on there was a steady stream of cyclists using the path in both directions and enjoying the sunny weather. Level walking alongside the River Ribble and on into the outskirts of Preston. Avenham and Miller Parks have been much improved in recent years and are a credit to the town. Cyclists were flocking to the new pavilion for sustenance. We just kept walking and were soon into the regenerated Docklands area. The Marina cafe served good coffee and we called it a day catching a bus up to town and then one back to our starting point. I’ve ridden the 21miles of the  Guild Wheel several times but now realise how easy it is to walk segments using the radial buses, you certainly see more walking.

Oh Happy Day – Hutton Roof Climbing.

Why don’t you click to play whilst reading  –

This was the summer we never had. Perfect blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind. Since my last trip to climb in the lakes I’ve been busy helping my son with his garden and pretending to do a bit of bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge, subsequently I’m knackered. But arrangements were made and we found ourselves parked up in the hamlet of Hutton Roof, remarking on the number of renovated cottages. The path up to the crags above the village seemed longer than we remembered – don’t they all. The bracken was high and the  ways not clear, one of our party spent an hour or so wandering the hillside looking for the rocks. By then Rod and I, having bypassed the difficult South America Wall, had soloed a dozen or so short routes in sectors  Cave and the recently cleaned Sunny Wall. The climbing here is more soloing than true bouldering, and that was the order of the day.  The rock is remarkable limestone with abundant jugs and water-worn pockets just asking to be climbed, as the photos show. Alan turned up with his own video crew [father-in-law] and set too with enthusiasm [first time out for awhile]. A group of other climbers were leading some of the longer climbs on Sector Ronson Kirkby and when Barry eventually emerged from the jungle I led him up some of these. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed ambience – this was a magic day’s climbing and socialising. Simple pleasures.

Barry is in there somewhere.

Barry is in there somewhere.

South America Wall.

South America Wall.

Rod - Cave area.

Rod – Cave area.

Alan - Ronson Kirkby.

Alan – Ronson Kirkby.

The popular Ronson Kirkby Area.

The popular Ronson Kirkby Area.

Barry - the lost man of Borneo.

Barry – the lost man of Borneo.