I’ve set the bar high with trying to keep my feet dry in the wet weather we’ve had. But I’ve found another walk which takes me on lanes into the rough fell country between Chipping Vale and the Bowland Fells, namely Stanley Fell. There is nothing more evocative of this wild habitat at this time of year than the cries of the Curlew and the Lapwing. They were both present in voice and vision whilst in the gale-force winds unable to be photographed, but you all know what they look like.
Walking up the road there was little traffic. More hens out on the loose than cars. White railings were used on corners of country lanes to improve visibility. I turned off into the Leagram Estate and passed the dell where snowdrops were in profusion last week. The next farm has a surfeit of sheep and lambs under roof all looking very healthy, they breed BlueFaced Leicesters here..
I come out onto a road where Saddle End Farm is up the hill, I’m not going that way today but buy a half dozen free-range eggs at the end of their lane. I wonder if anyone is up on Fairsnape in this gale.
Turning right I follow the last of the tarmac which leads to the remotest farm, Burnslack. A culverted stream runs alongside. I recall coming here with my young children and exploring through the concrete pipes, admittedly not in flood conditions, to emerge higher up the stream – nine out of ten for child cruelty.
There is an old ford over a lively stream, I often feel an urge to follow these waters up to their hidden source, an endless task. This is remote country, not a coronavirus insight. As I come over the watershed there are the limestone knolls of Dinkling ahead and in the background Birkett Fell and Warrington Fell. Expansive uplifting scenery.
The track drops down to Lickhurst Farm, now a complex of stone residential conversions. Below is a little valley, a motorist parked up asks me where the Forest of Bowland is – I tell him he is in it and direct him through Little Bowland to the Inn at Whitewell. An old limekiln is passed…
… and a little further a low bridge over a stream, this used to be a ford and alongside is the original stone clapper bridge. This is unique in being a single stone over 15ft long. [Now guarded by wooden handrails.] All evidence of a way of living long past.
I have friends living in the Higher Greystoneley farm buildings so a cup of tea is very welcome. From there another stoney bridleway drops down to a ford, with wooden footbridge, and through limestone country to my car. I drive home in the gale knowing my feet remained dry and looking forward to poaching one of those farm eggs for lunch.