I wake to bright sunshine but take some time and coffee to get going. The health of two of my best friends is deteriorating; one with heart and kidney failure, the other with cruel dementia. I was talking to them both yesterday and it struck me that it doesn’t seem long since we were out climbing and walking together. So you have caught me in a pensive mood, not at all that ‘happy new year’ feeling. I should have arranged a walk with one of my other friends for today – to ‘get me out of it’ but now it’s too late, I’ll just have to go myself which is not good for those introspective thoughts but I usually find the combination of sunshine and exercise clears my mind.
I’ve had enough of muddy fields recently so I’m happy to walk on roads for some much-needed exercise after the season’s excesses. Living where I do I’m lucky to be able to walk out my door and ascend a fell, in fact, the most southerly named fell in Britain, Longridge Fell. I’ve done it hundreds of times before. No matter there is always something new or worthwhile. To start I spot a half dozen partridges running across the road in front of me, is it a covey or a bevy? And then a buzzard on the telegraph wires. After that, I seem to run out of wildlife sitings. Longridge is surrounded by water in the form of reservoirs and I pass the smallest one on my way out of town. Then I walk below the golf course which looks in fine fettle for winter but it must be a struggle in the wind, it is so exposed to the elements.
The road, the old Clitheroe road which kept to high ground, goes up and down towards the New Drop Inn. Few cars pass me. Turning the corner here I am walking in the footsteps of the Romans, this was their way from Ribchester to Carlisle. The highest point on the road is reached near Cardwell House and looking back Pendle Hill looks as proud as ever. I bump into an old friend taking his dog for some exercise up the fell, we chat about all things local. This is his favourite hill and he’ll have his ashes scattered nearby. Coincidentally this is also one of my favourite viewpoints and my ashes will be here too, I told you I was in a morbid mood. Years ago I asked a local artist, A Lord, to paint me the view from here over Chipping Vale with the Fairsnape/Totridge ridge in the background.
This painting is one of my prized possessions with its links to a past friend and to this great viewpoint. In the painting are the white iron railings that were a common sight on road corners around here to improve visibility for the motorist. They are slowly disappearing, I’ve always thought they should be listed as unique structures.
The weather was changing, dark rain clouds circling around the hills with the occasional rainbow over Chipping. Soon it was all downhill back to Longridge. Five miles with five hundred feet of ascent in one and a half hours. That’s how you clear your mind. Oh, and I found three good golf balls to boot.