Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.
Today’s walk followed that futile theme and the rhyme filled my head.
Duddel Brook rises quite high on the southern slopes of Longridge Fell and reaches the Ribble in Ribchester. This Brook has carved its way down the hill and created a wooded valley [seen on the OS map as a green caterpillar] for the most part secretive. The other obvious stream is Dean Brook passing through Hurst Green. Their importance in the past was related to the many small mills powered by the rushing waters and hence they are worthy of exploration today.
From near the Roman Museum in Ribchester, I set off along the Ribble to where the Duddel Brook issues close to a Roman bathhouse whose outline has been excavated. Normally field paths from Stone Bridge would lead across to Gallows Lane but at the moment they are virtually flooded so I followed the main road before turning up the Lane. A mullioned cottage at Lower Dutton is outstanding. I gained access to the brook a little higher and wandered through the beech woods alongside the water. An old mill appeared with signs of a mill race, lodge and ruined wheel installations. I believe that bobbin making was the main industry here but I may be wrong. Above the deep valley there was a brief view of Dutton Hall a prominent C17 house with a commanding aspect over the Ribble Valley. I crossed the brook on bridges and eventually deep in the valley recrossed by a shallow ford.
The path climbed away from the stream into fields. A lone oak tree, perhaps 300yrs old, was a waymarker across the field. On the road a small wholesale unit purveyed vitamins as well as ‘sweets’, I didn’t
only half-way up – neither up nor down
Again I took the easy drier tarmac option, walking up Huntington Hall Lane past several expensively converted houses and barns. After a steep section, Huntington Hall itself appeared on the right, a 17century house which has had a lot of money spent on it in recent years. At the road corner I was back into the fields with views back to the Ribble Valley, I meant to say this was a rare, sunny, dry day. Cresting a hill Intack Farm came into view, again a place spending lots of money with a horse arena right across the footpath but the diversion was no problem and well signed – but is it legal? A quick peep into Crowshaw Quarry showed it to be remarkably dry, could be bouldering here later this week. Crossing the road the main forest track was taken eventually leading up to the trig point on Longridge Fell. Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills were fairly clear but that was not really today’s objective.
when they were up, they were up
I came down by the track to Lennox Farm near where the Duddel Brook probably starts life. A lane took me past Goodshaw Farm where the new lambs were being tended, the farmer told me he had 600 sheep to lamb this year and was concerned about the wet fields he was placing them into. Below the farm was an old barn, Smith Bottom, which on close inspection revealed two perfectly shaped cruck frames thus giving a clue to its medieval age. Down steeply through beech woods overgrown with rhododendrons to a bridge over our brook. This lane leads up to the highly secretive Dutton Manor in its cloak of trees.
Across the next road was Duddel Farm on its exposed hill. The farmer was feeding cattle in the barns and bemoaning the wet conditions, but despite that remained cheerful and chatty – we had many mutual friends and interests. He was right about the conditions as the next few fields leading back to Ribchester were almost afloat and the mud slowly crept above my knees.
I was keen to reach the last two listed buildings at Stydd. First was St. Saviours a simple C12 chapel. Its plane interior has a flagged floor with ancient gravestones, a stone coffin and wooden pulpit and rails. Very evocative. Further down the lane is Stydd Almshouse built in 1728 to house the poorest parishioners. It is an architectural gem with its central staircase and diminutive size.
So back to where I started.
I would like the challenge of an entire ascent of Duddel Brook – obviously in dry summer conditions and with a good degree of so called trespassing. Watch this space.